Leadership changes but focus on helping kids continues

Celebrating past successes and planning for the future, Friends of Children’s Hospital announced a change of leadership, from outgoing board chair Sara Ray to Sidney Allen.
Allen, who brings with him a wealth of financial experience, thanked Ray for her many years of service.
“We appreciate Sara,” said Allen, “and while she is no longer chair, she will still be involved in Friends.” Ray, a former cardiovascular surgery nurse and graduate of Mississippi University for Women, became involved in Friends in 2004, becoming president and then chair. During her tenure, Friends’ philanthropic efforts hit its stride, raising record amounts for the state’s only children’s hospital.
Allen is the fourth board chair of the nonprofit dedicated to raising funds for Batson Children’s Hospital, following Ray, Suzan Thames and Warren Hood, Jr.
Allen, a Greenwood native and alumnus of the University of Mississippi, is chief financial officer of CLAW Forestry Services, CFO and manager of Southeastern Timber Products and vice president of Van Farms, a developer of apartment and condominium properties.
In August 2016, Friends of Children’s Hospital pledged $20 million over the next 10 years to the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, a $100 million fund drive to expand and update pediatric care facilities. Friends is ahead of schedule having already donated $4 million, thanks in part to support from Sanderson Farms Championship and Century Club Charities.
“We are dedicated to reaching this goal,” said Allen, “because we are devoted to Mississippi’s future, our children, and their health.”
Children’s of Mississippi is the umbrella organization that includes Batson Children’s Hospital and all UMMC pediatric care, including specialty clinics around the state. Campaign funds will help the Medical Center expand or update  the neonatal intensive care unit, the pediatric intensive care unit, the surgical center, and pediatric imaging. A new pediatric clinic will make care for outpatients more convenient and comfortable for families. Expansion of the Children’s Heart Center is also on the drawing board.
“Friends of Children’s Hospital raised the first $175,000 toward the construction of Batson Children’s Hospital,” said Children’s of Mississippi CEO Guy Giesecke, “and their impact on the health of children in this state has been enormous ever since. We are so grateful for Sara Ray’s efforts as board chair, and we are looking forward to Sidney Allen and the expertise he will bring to this vital leadership position.”