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Women Inspiring Scientific Progress
SEPTEMBER 2020 Women Inspiring Scientific Progress    Talk to us

President's Message

From Suzanne Hensing

Suzanne Hensing  



As this year of unforeseen developments, crises, innovation and change affecting each and every one of our daily lives continues to wind closer to the beginning of 2021, WISP is also taking this moment in time to develop, innovate and change. 

Recently, we held a WISP Board retreat to plan for the next chapter of our organization. Kathy Bollinger, who retired as president of Banner – University Medicine Division, in addition to serving in other key leadership positions at Banner Health for 32 years, skillfully led our Board members through the very productive retreat. Now, I want to share some of our aspirations, ideas and outcomes from the retreat:


A quality women's group that is welcoming and inclusive of all women
One that offers a level of education and affiliation that is highly differentiated and attracts members due to the high quality of the offerings, the members and health care experts
One that supports critical research for Banner Health through high-impact philanthropic support




Goal of 100 members by the end of 2021
Invite generationally and ethnically/racially diverse membership
Identify the numerous benefits to being a WISP member


Identify programs up to 18 months in advance
Present all programs live (when possible), streamed and recorded for future viewing
Measure member satisfaction after each presentation and conduct an annual needs survey


Establish a fundraising goal for 2020 of $90,000
Plan a robust "live pitch" process for allocation of funds to annual presenters’ programs


Identify a name that best describes the overall mission and vision of WISP that is descriptive and easy to understand and remember, along with a memorable logo

Stay tuned as we roll out these new initiatives and provide more communication and details. And, I hope to see all of you on our uniquely-WISP upcoming slate of virtual programs.

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.

Don't Miss This One

Epidemics: Intersection of Opioid Overdoses, COVID-19 and Race


A WISP exclusive event on Tuesday, October 6, Dr. Luke Peterson presents a timely virtual discussion on the state of opioid overdoses in 2020, amidst the backdrop of long-standing racial inequities and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. He will also share what Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix (BUMCP) Addiction Recovery Center is doing to break down barriers and make opioid use disorder treatment more equitable and accessible.

A 2016 graduate of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, Dr. Peterson returned to Arizona after his fellowship training having learned how to treat pregnant women in recovery from substance use disorder—a significantly underserved specialty area of medicine. He helped found the Intensive Outpatient (IOP) Treatment Program for Women & Infants at BUMCP.

“Working in the field of addiction medicine has given me the opportunity to hear people’s stories, see their hope and join in their successes,” says Peterson. “There is nothing greater than witnessing someone’s success and recovery, despite great odds, and the perseverance of the human spirit.”

Purchase tickets for this virtual event that benefit WISP here

Membership Renewal Letters Coming Your Way

WISP membership renewal letters have been mailed for the 2020-2021 season. Last fall, the board revised the renewal process for all memberships to renew in September of each year. If you joined WISP in 2020, you will receive a membership renewal letter next September. We hope to renew all current members! So, keep an eye on the mailbox and renew not only your membership, but also your commitment to our mission and vision – and all of the new member opportunities on the horizon. 

We also ask you to consider making an additional gift beyond your $1,000 annual membership this year to support Banner’s employees working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Your gifts will help provide meals, healthy snacks and beverages, personal care and comfort items, and resources to support their ongoing health and well-being.

Blood Test Shows New Promise in Early Detection of Alzheimer’s


An international team of researchers, including scientists from the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and Banner Sun Health Research Institute here in Arizona, Lund University in Sweden, the drugmaker Eli Lilly and others, have identified a new blood test showing remarkable promise in detecting Alzheimer’s disease as early as two decades before symptoms appear.

The test can detect Alzheimer’s as accurately as more expensive and invasive tests and it can differentiate between Alzheimer’s and other conditions that cause dementia. It does so by detecting early changes in two specific proteins that cause the majority of the brain damage that leads to Alzheimer’s symptoms such as memory loss, thinking problems and behavior issues: tau and amyloid. These protein-rich plaques and tangles degrade the brain beyond repair.

Read more about the story here.


New Jersey Couple Welcomes Quadruplets at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix


First-time parents from New Jersey, Jennifer and Nicholas Stepenosky, welcomed four new babies into the world on June 16 at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, in spite of a global pandemic and other major health challenges.

The Stepenoskys welcomed three baby girls and a baby boy — Caitlin, Addison, Emilia, and Elliott —at 27 weeks and 3 days.

"After finding out we were going to have a high-order multiple pregnancy in early January, we knew this wasn't a normal pregnancy," said Jennifer. "It's high risk, and there is a lot more at stake since we would need more care to make sure the babies and myself were safe."

Jennifer was first admitted to a hospital in Pennsylvania at just 16 weeks gestation after losing one of the five babies due to an incompetent cervix. This prompted the couple to start looking for alternative options for enhanced prenatal care.

Read more about the story here.

Mark Your Calendar

Get ready for a slate of (virtual) activities to round out 2020, cultivated specifically for WISP’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:

Epidemics: Intersection of Opioid Overdoses, COVID-19 and Race
With Luke Petersen, DO (see more details on bottom left)
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Integrative Medicine 
With Rena Szabo, PsyD and Santosh Rao, MD
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

WISP Allocation Meeting
Thursday, December 3, 2020
2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

More info about WISP

Thinking about becoming a WISP member or referring a friend? The WISP Membership Brochure has helpful details about the giving circle and how to join. Check it out!

And to find more information, visit

New WISP Members

Since 2020, the following new members joined WISP:

bullet_raspberry.png  Kathy Bollinger

bullet_raspberry.png  Robin Blackstone, MD

bullet_raspberry.png  Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz, Ph.D.

bullet_raspberry.png  Jennifer Huberty, Ph.D.

bullet_raspberry.png  Sheryl von Blucher

bullet_raspberry.png  Debra Wickman, MD

Banner Alzheimer's Institute

Visit and find out more about BAI.

The BEACON e-newsletter

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

About WISP

Women Inspiring Scientific Progress, known as WISP, 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 WISP pool their gifts and decide together how best to invest their collective funds in Banner Health programs important to women and their families.


Women Inspiring Scientific Progress, in collaboration with Banner Health, raises awareness of women's and family health issues through education and philanthropic support.


WISP will be the premier organization of women leaders in Arizona focused on providing education and resources to promote women’s health.

How to join

To become a member of WISP, make your annual $1,000 gift online or mail your check to:

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

Call 602.747.4490 if you have questions.






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