Veronica McDonnell sees the need in St. Louis, and she wants to give a hand up. As a health care professional for more than 20 years, the local renal dietician and consultant has firsthand experience with patients’ challenges—from struggling to pay for medications to educating their children and paying for food and utilities.
Through the Missouri Baptist Healthcare Foundation, McDonnell strives to make a difference for those patients. She has founded and chaired two fundraisers—Choose Your Shoes and Choose Your Shoes 2—which raised more than $700,000 for state-of-the-art medical equipment, including a new digital mammography van and a technologically advanced breast biopsy bed for Missouri Baptist Medical Center’s Breast Healthcare Center. The equipment provides free health procedures to underinsured women. “I feel I can be instrumental in making the hospital experience more personable and help to ensure that we continue to have state-of-the-art equipment available in our community,” McDonnell says.
Beyond health care, McDonnell has a passion for education. “Through education, people become better able to help themselves and in the future, perhaps, assist others.” She is active in various educational organizations, including CHARACTERplus, which aims to develop positive character traits in young people by providing a high-quality character education process and resources to schools, homes and communities. “Because of the work of CHARACTERplus, studies have shown that bullying has decreased and attendance and academic performance have increased in schools that have the program in place,” she notes.
McDonnell also gives back to the arts as VP of the Saint Louis Art Museum Friends board, trustee and capital campaign cabinet member for the Missouri History Museum and co-chair for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’ 2009 Spring Gala. In addition, she is a chairperson for the Missouri Dietetic Association Annual Conference. McDonnell’s efforts in health care and education have been lauded with honors, including a 2007 Fontbonne University Founders Award for Distinguished Service in Dedication to the Community and a 2010 Missouri Dietetic Association Volunteer Award.