Katherine Edsall Wells

Katherine Edsall Wells: Passing on Philanthropy to the Next Generation

Philanthropy came natural to Katherine Edsall Wells, an attorney in Camarillo, California, who specializes in estate planning, trust, and probate law. Katherine and her brothers learned by example from their civic-minded parents how important it is to give back to their community. Teri and David Edsall taught their children that “it’s not about how much you have, it’s what you do with what you have,” Katherine recalled. Her father – and future law partner – coached youth sports, served on the board of the Camarillo Family YMCA, and supported St. John’s Hospitals in a variety of capacities, including serving as board chair of St. John’s Healthcare Foundation from 2011 to 2013. Her mother served on several Foundation committees.

As a young adult, Katherine attended St. John’s biannual fundraising galas with her family and learned about the vital support the Foundation provides to the hospitals to bring capital projects to fruition and to advance key programs like oncology, neuroscience, and behavioral health services. When her grandparents received palliative care at St. John’s Hospital Camarillo a few years later, Katherine witnessed first-hand St. John’s compassionate patient care and the humankindness staff is providing to patient’s families.

When the Foundation’s Board Development Committee asked Katherine in 2018 if she was interested in joining the board, she didn’t have to think twice. “My parents have lived in western Ventura County for more than sixty years, I grew up in Camarillo, and now my children are growing up here – why wouldn’t you want to help your community hospital be the absolute best? Why wouldn’t you want your hospital to provide state-of-the-art equipment, the best doctors, and the best medical care?” Katherine asked rhetorically.

As a board member, secretary, and vice chair, Katherine oversaw the completion of the Circle of Dignity capital campaign, which enabled St. John’s to complete several major modernization and expansion projects at both campuses, and the launch of the Foundation’s new Behavioral Health Services campaign during her first three-year term. Katherine was elected board chair in May 2021. Working with a diverse group of highly skilled and passionate board members, she seeks to complete the new campaign, which supports the hospitals’ efforts to create the first non-governmental Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) in Ventura County, and to raise St. John’s profile in the community during her second term.

Katherine is passing on the philanthropic values her parents instilled in her to others. Through their estate planning law practice, Katherine Wells and David Edsall help clients identify, set, and achieve their own philanthropic goals through bequests, charitable trusts, and endowments. In their family life, Katherine and her husband Chris are teaching their two young children that it’s important to “give what you can, find what you’re passionate about, and contribute to that whether it’s your time or your money. I want to lead by example to show my daughters how to be involved in different ways in our community and help them pursue their own philanthropic interests,” Katherine said. Like her parents before her, she is doing so through her commitment to St. John’s Hospitals.

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