Gary West is a businessman, entrepreneur and pioneering philanthropist who, along with his wife and business partner, Mary West, has pledged his entire fortune to nonprofit efforts to reduce healthcare costs and enable low-income seniors to age successfully. Like their highly-successful business ventures, the Wests’ philanthropic initiatives are driven by a unique blend of vision, action, and patriotism.
While still a teenager, Gary served overseas in the U.S. Army during the peak of the Vietnam War. After returning home, he began his career as a hospital administrator in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1978, he and Mary launched their first successful business out of their garage — an innovative direct-sales venture named WATS Telemarketing. After selling that business, they went on to launch the innovative telecommunications company, West Corporation, in 1986. Over the next two decades, they grew West Corporation into one of the largest customer relationship management providers in the world with more than 35,000 employees and $3.5 billion in annual sales.
When they sold a majority stake in West Corporation in 2006, Gary and Mary were ready to fulfill a lifelong goal of sharing their good fortune and the fruits of their hard work. Having witnessed first-hand the financial and emotional strain of caring for elderly parents, the Wests decided to commit 100% of their assets to securing affordable, accessible and quality healthcare for low-income seniors. West Health—their family of nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations—deploys outcomes-based philanthropy, applied medical research, policy and advocacy to lower healthcare costs and enable successful aging, especially for vulnerable seniors.
The Gary and Mary West Foundation was established in 2006 and since its inception has awarded 545 grants totaling more than $213 million to create and advance innovative, integrated and cost-effective models of care designed to meet the needs of older adults who aspire to age in place in the communities they love. These unique care models – based in San Diego and designed for replication nationwide — include the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, the Gary and Mary West Senior Emergency Care Unit at UC San Diego Health, the Gary and Mary West Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) and Serving Seniors’ Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center.
The Gary and Mary West Health Institute, an applied medical research organization created in 2009, and the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center established in 2012, expanded the Wests’ philanthropic efforts.
Gary serves as co-chair of the board for their Foundation, chairman of board for the West Health Institute and chairman of the board for the West Health Policy Center. In addition, Gary continues to launch and lead a range of for-profit enterprises based in Southern California and the Midwest.