Mary West is an entrepreneur and pioneering philanthropist who—along with her husband and business partner, Gary West – has pledged her entire fortune to philanthropic efforts to lower healthcare costs and enable successful aging in America. Like their highly-successful business ventures, the Wests’ philanthropic initiatives are driven by a unique blend of vision, action, and patriotism.
In 1978, the Wests founded WATS Telemarketing in the garage of their Omaha, Nebraska home. Inspired by the belief that there was a better model for selling products on TV, WATS Telemarketing broke new ground in on-air promotion, prospered, and was acquired in 1980. The Wests subsequently launched West Corporation in 1986, which they built 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 before it was sold in 2006.
After selling a majority stake in West Corporation, the Wests were ready to fulfill a lifelong goal dedicated to outcomes-based philanthropy focused on lowering the high cost of healthcare and improving care for vulnerable seniors. Through first-hand experience, they had learned about the heavy emotional and financial toll of caring for aging family members and the difficulties of navigating our complicated healthcare system. The Wests saw a nation driven to the brink of financial crisis by the impact of spiraling healthcare costs on families, businesses, and the economy.
In 2006, the Wests created the Gary and Mary West Foundation. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded 562 grants totaling more than $223 million to establish 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 mission. Along with their Foundation, these three nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations comprise West Health, whose mission is to lower the cost of healthcare to make successful aging a reality for seniors nationwide.
Mary currently serves as co-chair of the board for their Foundation. In parallel with their philanthropic endeavors, the Wests have co-founded and now lead a range of enterprises based in Southern California and the Midwest.