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Prestipino creates opportunities for YSPH students, now and later

When she was a public health student at Yale, Ann L. Prestipino, MPH ’80, had a date with a medical student which ended up in a setting that hardly screams romance. “After dinner, he took me to the Anatomy Lab, because I was totally fascinated with this course that all first-year medical students had to take. I just couldn’t get enough of it,” she said. Prestipino had seriously considered a career as a physician but is grateful for “good advisors” who convinced her that her skills were better suited to administering the systems that made good care possible.

Prestipino recently retired as the senior vice president for operations and clinical strategy at Massachusetts General Hospital, a position that came with a huge portfolio within the storied institution. In her career, all spent as an administrator at Mass. General, she considered it a high compliment when people asked if she was a doctor or nurse. “It’s important for administrators to understand clinical realities,” she said. As an administrative leader, she made a point to frequent the emergency room and other care settings to make sure that she grasped the daily challenges that nurses, doctors and patients faced.

During her more than three decades at Mass. General, she served as a preceptor there for Yale students studying with Dr. Howard Foreman, professor of Public Health, Management and Diagnostic Radiology. The students worked with Prestipino’s staff on “a real-life project” while she also set up brown bag lunches and other informal opportunities for them to meet with health leaders.

She took it upon herself to create these connections because she was “so grateful to people who gave me a safe space to ask questions, who just spent some time with me showing me the ropes” when she was at YSPH. That gratitude is reflected in a bequest that she’s made to the school, similar to one she’s arranged for her undergraduate alma mater, Brown.

“Without the growth and development that I experienced in those two institutions, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. I don’t think I would have ever had the opportunities that I had professionally,” she said.

Prestipino benefitted from financial aid while at Yale and finds it fitting that her gift could go to support future students, as well as drive program development and other initiatives to strengthen the school. Bequests are by their nature planned gifts and so eligible to trigger a transfer of equal size to the YSPH endowment through Yale’s $50 Million Challenge. Prestipino said that she had arranged the bequest before the challenge was active. “I do hope that this opportunity to double their impact inspires my colleagues to think about planned gifts!” she said.

She has kept in touch with classmates through her service to the Association of Yale Alumni in Public Health, where she chaired the Awards Committee. Her class was particularly close because they all began their programs taking the same courses. Prestipino said that the arrangement fed her love of science and also gave her early exposure to understanding and valuing other people’s specialties – which is critical in working in any health care system.

She paired her career in administration with teaching at Harvard Medical School, a pursuit she continues. Prestipino also serves as an advisor in Brown’s Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership Program. “Selfishly for me, teaching pushes me,” she said. “There’s a lot of bidirectional learning that comes out of it, and I just find it very personally rewarding.”