Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


Legacy Gifts: A Powerful and Satisfying Way to Make a Difference

(left to right) Dr. Nicholas Volpe, Ms. Patricia Hoffman, and Camille Licklider, JD.

On October 10, supporters and friends gathered at a Legacy Gifts breakfast hosted by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine to learn about planned giving—often referred to as estate planning—and the powerful benefits of these commitments for the donor, as well as the medical school as a beneficiary of such generosity. 

Attendees heard from and spoke with the following speakers, all offering unique perspectives: Nicholas Volpe, MD, George W. and Edwina S. Tarry Professor of Ophthalmology and Chair of Feinberg’s  Department of Ophthalmology; Ms. Patricia Hoffman, who is a Feinberg planned giving donor; and Camille Licklider, JD, executive director of Gift Planning at Northwestern University.

Dr. Nicholas Volpe shared the story of longtime donors, Esther and Arthur Kane, now both deceased, who made a planned gift to support the Department of Ophthalmology. Over the years, Esther Kane was treated by Alice Lyon, MD, at Northwestern for macular degeneration. Dr. Lyon is director of the Retina Service in the Department of Ophthalmology, associate professor of Ophthalmology, and Leonard and Bernice Lavin Endowed Ophthalmology Research Professor. Grateful for the care she received, Mrs. Kane and her husband established the Esther and Arthur Kane Lecture in the department through a combination of outright gifts and planned gifts in 2002.

As their relationship deepened with Northwestern, the Kanes increased their giving to support research in macular degeneration.

“There is no mission without philanthropy,” Dr. Volpe said. “As far as I see it, my single most important job, after providing exceptional patient care, is connecting different people and their interests to help advance the great work we have going on at Feinberg.”

Donor Patricia Hoffman spoke about her positive experience as a patient of Leo Gordon, MD, at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. Dr. Gordon serves as Abby and John Friend Professor of Oncology Research and professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Feinberg. Ms. Hoffman shared that she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma 17 years ago.  

“The day after I was diagnosed, I phoned Dr. Gordon’s office and without hesitation was given an appointment for the next day. That appointment with Dr. Gordon was the first step in a remarkable journey, which continues to this day. I have received extraordinary care over the years, including truly amazing therapies, all orchestrated by Dr. Gordon and delivered by him and his team with the utmost kindness and compassion. Thanks to Dr. Gordon, I am living my life as I wish. Without him, I wouldn’t be here telling my story. That is no exaggeration.”

Ms. Hoffman conveyed that she wanted to find a way to express her appreciation. “Like many of us who have been fortunate enough to be under the care of these immensely talented doctors at Northwestern, like Dr. Gordon, I eventually came to the realization that I had to do something more than just say a heartfelt ‘thank you.’”

In 2014, Ms. Hoffman contacted the medical school to amend her estate plans to provide support for Dr. Gordon’s research. She was very pleased with the experience of documenting a planned gift, and stated that, with the help of staff members Terri Dillon, Camille Licklider, and others at Northwestern, the entire process only took about 10 business days.

“Leo Gordon is much more than a doctor—he is an educator, and a researcher, and he is highly regarded and esteemed in his community. It was incredibly gratifying to be able to take this step to honor him. It feels great to contribute to this effort. I definitely made the right decision, and I feel even better about it today than when I first made the gift in 2014,” said Ms. Hoffman.

To learn more about planned giving opportunities, please contact Camille Licklider at or (847) 467-5891.