• Carolyn Lopez, MD

    Chat with Carolyn Lopez, MD, for a few minutes and you’ll quickly realize that this “retired” family physician remains busy caring for her community and our specialty. While Lopez no longer sees patients on a daily basis, she still serves as president of the Board of Health for the Chicago Department of Public Health, she continues her work in physician leadership training, and she is an inaugural member of the AAFP Foundation’s new Family Medicine Legacy Society.

    Her ongoing involvement reflects her roots: Lopez learned the importance of giving back as a child and never forgot.

    “Growing up in a middle-class family, I was the first person in my family to go to college directly out of high school, and the first person to go to a professional school,” Lopez says. “I had always been taught to think about what you can do to help others – I was raised to think I’d been given a great deal and needed to give a great deal back. You don’t just take and not return.

    “My interest in family medicine coalesced in medical school. I really liked the variety and the ability to have an impact on individuals and a community as a whole. You don’t become a family physician unless you’re hoping to have a positive impact on people’s lives – not in a narrow way, but in a way that allows you to see things grow and develop.”

    Lopez says her own ability to “grow and develop” was strengthened by family support.

    “Unbeknownst to me, my Aunt Margaret wanted to be sure I stayed in medical school and left money to me in her will,” Lopez says. “That bequest didn’t come into fruition until I was well into my career. I invested the nest egg, and it became the seed money for my philanthropy.”

    In addition to empowering her philanthropy, Lopez says her family shaped the focus of her donations.

    “Most of us experience at least one life-changing, impactful event – the experience that shapes you and makes you think of things differently. For me, it was after my mom passed away. My younger sister became ill. In thinking about everything the family went through with her illness and eventual passing, I thought of my brother-in-law and my niece, who was just 6 years old at the time. Seeing this situation as a sister – not as a physician – made the difference.

    “By then I was very familiar with the Foundation. I recognized that I had been blessed with the money my aunt left me, and I didn’t believe she left me money so I could enrich myself. I wanted to use it to help other people continue on their road, their path.”

    Helping others

    After discussing options with AAFP Foundation staff, Lopez used her “seed money” to make a significant gift of appreciated securities to fund endowments at the Foundation, a proven, strategic approach to achieving both philanthropic and tax-saving goals.

    Lopez divided her gift three ways, establishing two endowed funds with the AAFP Foundation, along with a separate gift to her state chapter, the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians. The Joseph and Angela Lopez Fund, in memory of her parents, supports Family Medicine Leads programs that encourage medical students to choose the specialty and support development of future family medicine leaders. In memory of her sister, the Carmen Lopez Pollina Fund supports practice-based research to improve patient care through the Foundation’s Family Medicine Discovers Rapid Cycle Scientific Discovery and Innovation (FMD RapSDI) program.

    Create a legacy

    In addition to providing the endowed funds, Lopez made a bequest to the AAFP Foundation, becoming part of the new Family Medicine Legacy Society and setting an example other family physicians can easily follow.

    “Not everyone will receive an inheritance, nor be generous or fortunate enough to recognize such a blessing as an opportunity to make a charitable gift during their own lifetime,” says Mike Armstrong, donor relations at the Foundation.

    “As an Hispanic female physician leader, Carolyn has been breaking barriers her entire career, and she continues to lead by example through her generosity to the specialty.  As a member of the Family Medicine Legacy Society, Carolyn is setting an example that any donor can follow. You can join her by including a bequest to the Foundation in your will, revocable trust, or simply by naming the Foundation as a beneficiary of a specific asset, like a retirement account.” 

    Extend your impact

    Make your impact on the future. Click the button below to learn more about the Family Medicine Legacy Society, or contact Mike Armstrong, donor relations.