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DECEMBER 2020 Women Investing in Science & Health    Talk to us

Board Chair's Message

From Suzanne Hensing

Suzanne Hensing  



I think we all can agree – 2020: What a year! As I write this, we are awaiting the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines. We are watching the numbers of those diagnosed with the virus and those who have lost their battle with this virus rise. But what I continue to see is innovation. I see generosity, resilience and awe-inspiring dedication from the healthcare profession. I have never been more proud of nurses, which was my own profession. I see light at the end of this long tunnel.

One of the brightest lights for our organization – now renamed WISH – is our annual allocation event, held each December. Last December, we met as a group at The Henry; this year, the event was virtual. But it did not lack in enthusiasm and energy, commitment and pride. This year, WISH was able to gift $250,000 – the funds we raised throughout 2020 – to exceptionally worthy Banner Health programs and services, after seven-minute fast-pitch presentations were offered by representatives, passionate about their particular programs and needs.

WISH members voted to allocate to the following recipients and programs:

Banner Alzheimer’s Institute:

Jeremy Pruzin, MD: The First Step Toward a Revolutionary Approach to Dementia Care and Research – $70,000
Heather Mulder: Life Enrichment: Engagement Expansion and Evaluation – $65,000
Lori Nisson: Family and Community Services: 24 Hour Support/Diversity Outreach – $65,000

General Health:

Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz, PhD: Transformative Health Screen and Diagnostic for Women Suffering from Endometriosis – $50,000

Congratulations to all, and we look forward to learning from quarterly reports throughout the year how these important programs are progressing.

This year also marked a turning point for our organization, as we made the decision to rebrand – changing our name, our mission and vision and our logo.


New Mission: WISH, in collaboration with Banner Health, provides education and philanthropic support focusing on women’s and family health.

New Vision: WISH is a highly regarded organization of women leaders in Arizona that promotes and supports women’s and family health by offering evidence-based research, trusted resources and leading-edge educational opportunities.

In the coming months, you will receive invitations to unique programming that offers enhanced networking and engagement opportunities. And, as always, please reach out to me with ideas or suggestions you may have. I look forward to talking with, or meeting for the first time, each and every one of you next year.

A local philanthropist dedicated to shaping a better Arizona, longtime Banner Health executive and former neurological intensive care nurse, Suzanne engages the community through leadership roles on boards and committees.

2019 Allocation Recipient Update

Banner Alzheimer’s Institute launched the Steps to HOPE (Health, Optimism, Purpose, Endurance) program to arm dementia caregivers with new skills to cope with grief and loss through weekly education classes, support groups, and the opportunity to learn from and bond with other caregivers. Last year, this much-needed program received a financial gift from WISH. The following is a brief update on how that gift has been applied to Steps to HOPE – in their own words:

How are the funds being used? Steps to HOPE programs had been facilitated through in-person group sessions, which were paused from the group therapy model during the COVID outbreaks and pivoted to a telehealth model to include small groups of caregivers to launch this important project virtually in the fourth quarter of 2020. Our team made up for the delay by providing Ambiguous Loss virtual classes, reaching many family caregivers locally and statewide during the pandemic. In addition, we launched a new educational program on COVID, caregiving and dementia. We also made hundreds of wellness calls to support family caregivers during this difficult time, offering individual education, care strategies and COVID related resources to help support families during these exponentially isolating times. In October, our team launched the first ever Steps to HOPE caregiver group sessions virtually. We reached out to each caregiver participant individually to administer the pre-program instruments so we can continue to measure impact of the program. The group has been running successfully and the current caregiver participants are highly engaged.

Who has been impacted? This year we have had 30 family caregivers attend an in-person presentation on Ambiguous Loss at BAI. Since the pandemic onset, 128 family caregivers have attended the lecture virtually. Earlier this year, the team led two in-person Steps to HOPE group series including 22 participants and have eight currently engaged in the first Steps to HOPE virtual group session series. As a result, many caregivers have been mobilized to improve their self-care and resiliency.

Did the funds assist with your needs as intended? The funds have most definitely supported the ability of our team to spread critical information about Ambiguous Loss in classes as well as group sessions. The support has allowed us to expand programming to our BAI in Tucson family caregivers. While the pandemic has forced us to modify programming to virtual means, with your support, our team’s dedication and caregiver persistence, we were able and plan to continue to offer this evidenced-based programming to many more caregivers to reduce caregiver stress/burden while improving caregiver wellness which translates into improved care for the person with dementia.

New Skin Test Accurately Diagnoses Parkinson’s Disease


New research out of Banner Sun Health Research Institute (BSHRI) shows for the first time a simple skin test can accurately identify Parkinson’s disease. This is a real breakthrough since there is currently no reliable test for the disease.

The study was published this September in the scientific journal Movement Disorders. Tom Beach, MD, Ph.D., Director of the Brain and Body Donation Program at BSHRI, was a lead researcher on the study.

“We conducted a blinded study of 50 skin samples provided by the Arizona Study of Aging and Neurodegenerative Disorders and the Brain and Body Donation Program based at Banner Sun Health Research Institute,” said Dr. Beach. “Half the skin samples came from people who had Parkinson’s disease and half came from people without neurologic disease. Researchers diagnosed 24 out of the 25 Parkinson’s disease patients accurately.” The study was carried out in coordination with Iowa State University.

To read the full article, click here


Get ready for a slate of new and engaging activities in 2021, cultivated specifically for WISH’s mission and vision. Invitations and additional details will be coming your way soon. But, in the meantime, save these dates – and stay tuned for more:

New Member Virtual Happy Hour
Tuesday, January 12, 2021 
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Pharmacogenetics Lunch & Learn, presented by Steven Curry, MD
Thursday, January 21, 2021 (virtual) 
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

RSVP your spot here


To learn more about WISH, visit


New Physician Members Welcome introducing:

Dark Blue Bullet  Janna Hami, MD

Dark Blue Bullet  Sarah Payne, DO

Dark Blue Bullet  Lurlyn Pero, MD

Dark Blue Bullet  Tamara Zach, MD


Visit and find out more about BAI.


BAI's BEACON e-newsletter has Alzheimer's news you can use.

About WISH

Women Investing in Science & Health, known as WISH, is a giving circle dedicated to health issues affecting women and their families, including Alzheimer's disease and care giving. We aspire to be the premier organization of women leaders in Arizona focused on providing education and resources to promote women's health.

Members of WISH pool their gifts and decide together how best to invest their collective funds in Banner Health programs important to women and their families.


Women Investing in Science & Health, in collaboration with Banner Health, provides education and philanthropic support focusing on women’s and family health.


WISH is a highly regarded organization of women leaders in Arizona that promotes and supports women’s and family health by offering evidence-based research, trusted resources and leading-edge educational opportunities.

How to join

Do you know someone who might be interested in becoming a member of WISH? To join, they can make an annual tax-deductible $1,000 gift online or mail a check to:

Banner Health Foundation
2901 N. Central Ave., Suite 160
Phoenix, AZ 85012

Call 602.747.4490 if you have questions.








2901 N. Central Avenue, Suite 160  bullet_dkblue.png  Phoenix, AZ 85012   bullet_dkblue.png  602.747.4483
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