Riverside Foundation

Meaningful and Personally Satisfying

Riverside Simulation Training Lab in memory of Dr. Brandon D. Rogers
As long-time supporters of Riverside and the first donors to The Dr. Mark E. Ellis Endowment Fund in 2009, Debbie and Dexter Atkinson have long been motivated by the work of others who make a meaningful difference in our community.

When Debbie retired from her role as executive director of the Riverside Foundation in 2017, Dexter, who is a retired engineer, told her, “I want to give something to Riverside to honor your retirement.” Debbie wanted the gift to express her gratitude for 30 years of employment with Riverside. As a lifelong educator, Debbie’s original position was as a perinatal educator in an OB/GYN residency program. As careers sometimes do, hers evolved into the leadership role at the newly-formed Riverside Foundation. She took her passion for education and health care and channeled it in a new direction. Riverside gave her the support and flexibility to run with it.

It is this relationship with the organization and the many team members and donors that has affected Debbie and Dexter in such a positive way. “We changed as people because of the relationships we made through my years at Riverside,” Debbie said. “Our giving is all about our gratitude for them.” The Atkinsons are donors who want to be engaged with the cause. “The cause must be transformative,” said Debbie, “and associated directly with people.”

The couple also acknowledged their gratitude toward Riverside for caring for their family for more than 70 years. This bond strongly informs
their giving decisions. Debbie and Dexter shared how gratifying it has been to reflect on their careers and the opportunities afforded by their work. They have seen how, through giving, they are able to contribute to extraordinary change. “It has been extremely meaningful and personally satisfying,” they both said. “It honors our past.”

So, when the Atkinsons were invited to attend a dedication ceremony for the Riverside Simulation Training Lab in memory of Dr. Brandon D. Rogers, they had an “a-ha” moment. They were inspired by Lab Director Dr. Alex’s passion, and they agreed to tour the facility. Upon seeing the labor and delivery simulation suite, the couple stared at each other with knowing eyes. They had found their ultimate gift in support of lifelong learning that would encompass the values and motivations that are so important to them.

“It is an honor to fill the wise and wonderful shoes of Debbie Atkinson, the Foundation’s first executive director,” said Kristen Witt. “One of the first initiatives I took on as Debbie and I transitioned was this meaningful project to honor Dr. Rogers. What a joy it was to be with Debbie the first time she was able to see the fully completed center.”

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