Wise Counsel: The Foundation looks to Carl W. McKinzie for sound advice

July 22, 2015

Carl W. McKinzie’s involvement with Saint John’s Health Center began some years back—as a patient in its emergency room. An active father who enjoyed biking, skiing and playing baseball with his three sons, Carl and his boys suffered their fair share of sports injuries—necessitating occasional trips to doctors’ offices and the ER.

His close friend, orthopedist John R. Sellman, MD, eventually invited Carl to serve on the Health Center’s board of directors. “Dr. Sellman had plenty of opportunities to ask me while I was recovering from my injuries,” Carl jokes, “but he waited until I was rational.”

Carl has been a Foundation trustee since 2007 and served on the hospital board of directors from 2001 to 2007 and 2008 to 2012. He was chair of the hospital board from 2003 to 2007. A well-known and respected corporate attorney with Riordan & McKinzie and Bingham McCutchen, he was instrumental during the Health Center’s recent change in sponsorship by helping the Foundation and Health Center establish an independent governance structure. The governance bylaws empower the Health Center board to make strategic decisions for the hospital.

“I enjoy working with such caring, dedicated doctors, nurses, administrators and staff…” – Carl W. McKinzie

“Carl is a unique individual who has given so much of his time and expertise to the Health Center and the Foundation over the years but particularly over the last two transitional years,” says Donna F. Tuttle, a Foundation trustee and chair of the Providence Saint John’s Health Center board of directors. “He’s extremely bright about understanding governance and creating new concepts. Most people don’t create new concepts. They stick with what’s existing. Carl was quick to realize that Saint John’s needed new, creative concepts in governance and, more than any other individual, influenced the governance structure we have in place today for the Foundation and the Health Center.”

Carl currently serves as a strategic advisor to the hospital board and, in addition, chairs the Foundation’s affiliation fund advisory committee. When enough interest is accrued from a substantial fund that resulted from the transition of sponsorship to Providence, the committee will administer these funds. “We’ll be using the interest for health care purposes that serve a broader community across 29 zip codes,” he explains.

Carl grew up in Lubbock, Texas, where his 97-year-old mother still lives today. Although neither of his hardworking parents had much formal schooling, they instilled in him a desire to pursue higher education. “I recognized that an education would open doors for me that wouldn’t have opened otherwise,” he says.

Carl pursued an MBA, followed by law school and a stint in the Air Force. His first job in the legal profession was at Nossaman, Waters, Scott, Krueger & Riordan where he established his lifelong friendship and partnership with former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan.

Today Carl lives in Santa Monica with his wife Rena. Both share a passion for education. Rena volunteers at Santa Monica High School, and Carl serves on various nonprofit boards, including the board of The Riordan Foundation which, among other educational pursuits, supports Alliance College-Ready Public Schools—the largest nonprofit charter organization in Los Angeles serving 11,000 students in economically disadvantaged areas.

The couple’s eldest son, Wayne, is a lawyer with a large firm in Charlotte, North Carolina. Son Clinton is chief deputy district attorney in the largest judicial district in Colorado and is the author of five crime thrillers published by Random House. One of the Alliance schools, Morgan McKinzie High School, was named in memory of Carl and Rena’s youngest son, who in 1992 tragically passed away in a private plane crash during his junior year at Princeton. “His college and high school friends still stay in touch with us,” Carl says.

Carl’s home, where he’s lived with his family for 43 years, is a repository of fond memories, filled with photographs and mementos of family vacations and his active sons enjoying numerous outdoor pursuits, such as skiing, surfing, camping and rock climbing. Clinton’s novels are proudly displayed on a nearby shelf. A model train set—a memento of his boys’ childhood—circles the walls of an adjoining room.

And, of course, photographs of his five grandchildren are plentiful. When not engaged in community service or business ventures, Carl enjoys spending time with them, often accompanying them on trips to the Santa Monica pier and other Southern California tourist attractions.

He also enjoys Foundation-related activities and is excited about the hospital’s future. Sponsorship by Providence Health & Services means further growth and prosperity for the Health Center and its programs, Carl says.

“With 34 hospitals in the Providence system, we now have more resources available,” he says. “I enjoy working with such caring, dedicated doctors, nurses, administrators and staff who are making a difference for their community at large and helping those who don’t have the economic resources get the care they might not have otherwise.”