Palomar Health Foundation Welcomes New Leader


It’s apparent when you first meet the Palomar Health Foundation’s new Vice President of Philanthropy, Wayne Herron that he is a man of conviction, a man guided by principles he developed through years of divinity training and listening to his mentors. He uses words like “servant leadership” and “I aim to lead in a pastoral manner.”

Wayne’s path to a career in philanthropy (he says he likes “philanthropy” much better than “fundraising” because philanthropy literally means “love of people” in Greek) has taken some unusual turns since his early high school days when he says he wanted to pursue a career in finance. He attended a religious retreat during his junior year in Burbank, California to pursue a girl but instead Wayne said he had a powerful faith experience that changed his life’s trajectory. Not raised in a religious home, Wayne became a Christian before he came home giving up partying and joining the youth ministry.

“I felt that God called me to the ministry,” Wayne said.

A year later he attended a college recruiting event and followed his heart to New Hope Christian College in Oregon followed by earning his Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. He began his career in pastoral church ministry but after five years became restless with his decision.

“I wanted to live my life in the (secular) world, not inside a church,” Wayne said of his desire to pursue something related to serving people and Christ but not as a pastor in a church setting any longer.

By this time Wayne had already married his wife Yvonne (“I was captured by this woman,” Wayne said) and had started his family that would bear three boys: Kyle, Ryan and Jeremy.

As he searched for his next calling he was introduced to a man who did fundraising for a small college. After learning about the career possibilities he approached the seminary he was involved with and they hired him as a major gift officer in 1996. He has been involved in philanthropy ever since.

“For a while I wondered why I went to Bible college and seminary; it seemed to have nothing to do with what I do. Well actually it does. This is my purpose.”

Wayne believes his purpose is much more than just raising money. For one he says he’s passionate about “growing employees to greatness.”

This passion is embodied in his five strengths, as identified in the Strengths Finder Test: developer, belief, positivity, discipline and includer. Wayne says he seeks to live them in his professional and personal life.

He’s also passionate about envisioning possibilities and making it factual.

“Visionary leaders look at the future and see it as reality,” Wayne said. “You operate in a very different mindset because you believe that preferred future will happen as opposed to hoping it will happen.”

Wayne said he developed his leadership philosophies from his mentor, Ray Rood, whom he meets with regularly. “Ray is my Tuesdays with Morrie.”

It was Ray who was among those who helped Wayne decide it was time to leave his previous employer and come to Palomar Health. He said it’s his leadership philosophy that you should always be working yourself out of your job, that is doing such a great job that the organization can carry on without you. Before coming to Palomar, Wayne’s teams had raised over $100 million and he had received the Outstanding Professional Fundraiser Award and the Outstanding Leadership Award as nominated by his staff and selected by his peers.

“Those are pinnacle moments in my career,” Wayne said. “I never dreamt that it could be me.”

Wayne’s decision to come to Palomar was also influenced by what he sees as great possibilities.

“We’ve got a special group of people here with all kinds of potential (staff) and I’m meeting people in the community who care deeply about Palomar, this is their hospital,” Wayne said.

While Wayne said he envisions the Foundation eventually tripling its fundraising volume, he says it’s not about the numbers, “it’s about the impact it’s going to do for people’s lives.”

That sums up Wayne’s guiding principles, started during a high school retreat that improved his life for the better. Now he seeks to help others improve their lives for the better.  

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