Historical Timeline

1991 – Foundation established and Cherlyn Spencer, MSW hired as founding ED of the Highland Hospital Foundation; prior to this it was an all-volunteer entity.


“Cherlyn came to the Foundation with a depth of experience. She had worked for several years with Drew Medical Center in East Palo Alto as the Assistant Executive Director and then with the County of San Mateo as a Sr. Management Analyst. Asked what led her to take the job of Executive Director of the Foundation, Cherlyn stated: “It was Ophelia Long, the first CEO of the newly formed Alameda County Medical Center, who urged me to take the job. Clorox had granted seed money for an executive director for what was then an all-volunteer Highland Hospital Foundation. I was working with the Alameda County Medical Center. Ms. Long approached me and asked me to take the job. I was impressed by her desire to ‘get the Medical Center off the hill and into the community.’ This is something that has been emphasized by the subsequent leadership of the Medical Center, and particularly by our current leadership.”

1991 – Foundation started with a budget of $11,000. Gala was main fundraiser. 1991 – 1st Annual Gala

1994 – with Alameda County Board of Supervisors and other community leaders, Foundation worked to create and implement the Women’s Hall of Fame

“In 1994, the Foundation worked with the Board of Supervisors and others to create and implement the Women’s Hall of Fame. I had worked on the committee Chaired by then-Supervisor Jackie Speier who started this program when I was in San Mateo. It seemed like a good idea to have one in Alameda County. There are so many accomplished women here, but their work was largely under the radar. The Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes and celebrates these heroines. This is another program that became institutionalized over the years. It’s now run under the auspices of the County Board of Supervisors.”

1995 – 1st Annual Golf Tournament

Mid-1990s – Foundation became fiscal sponsor of Model Neighborhood Program, which is now the HEAL program under HealthPATH. First MNP staff person was Heather MacDonald-Fine

“One of the first programs the Foundation funded was the Model Neighborhood Program, which has since become a self-sustaining program of the Medical Center. At the time I had a part-time assistant, Ann Do, who was instrumental in obtaining funding for the Program. Initially the focus was on job shadowing for middle school students—to expose them to health care careers. Over time, the focus shifted to high school students and become more of a mentoring program. It’s been hugely successful.”

1997 – Highland Foundation merged with the Fairmont Foundation, which was all-volunteer.

1997 – The merged organization was named: Alameda County Health Care Foundation.

1999 – 2005 – 1st Capital campaign for equipment for Trauma Center at Highland Hospital; $5.1 million raised (goal reached)

2007 to 2010 – 2nd Capital campaign for combined cardiac catheterization laboratory and angiography suite (“angio suite campaign”); $2.6 million raised (goal reached)

2011 (April) – Interventional Services Department launched; and first patient seen during opening of combined cardiac cath lab & angio suite

2011 (June) – Cherlyn Spencer retires

2011 (August) – Debra Barnes hired as 2nd leader (title changes to President)

2013 to 2016 – 3rd capital campaign; for equipment for Acute Care Tower (ACT) on Highland Campus – $24 million raised (goal of $15 million including $3 million for endowment exceeded)

2013 to 2016 – Equipment furnished Diagnostics and Imaging Services Center (DISC)

2013 to 2016 – Family Birthing Center

2013 to 2016 – Construction and furnishing of Simulation Center at Highland and 3T MRI suite at Highland

2014 – Foundation renamed Alameda Health System Foundation

2016 (April) – ACT opens

2018 – AHSF launches EHR campaign

2018 (April) – Simulation Center opens


2019 – 3T MRI installed in ACT

2020 (June) – Debra Barnes retires

2021 (Jan) – Preston Walton hired as 3rd leader

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