For decades, partnerships between community and medical leaders have served as the building blocks for progress in North Texas. Southwestern Medical Foundation has nurtured these partnerships by listening to the voices and needs of people in the community and identifying philanthropic opportunities to make lasting change. A major trend in our community and communities everywhere is how to support better treatment of mental health in youth.
“Today, there is so much more awareness of the importance of mental health than when we were kids. We never talked about it and were unaware of how people struggled emotionally.”Sarah Miller
Trustee, Southwestern Medical Foundation
President and Chairwoman, Kozmetsky Family Foundation
Sarah Miller is a committed partner who is reshaping her community. As President and Chairwoman of the Kozmetsky Family Foundation (KFF), she serves on the board with her husband, Chris, and her brothers and their spouses, Tracey and Aaron Kozmetsky, Kimberley and Daniel Kozmetsky, and her parents, Cindy and Greg Kozmetsky. Dallas has been the Millers’ home for more than two decades and is where they continuously learn about the community’s greatest needs and identify opportunities for KFF to make life better for others.
In 2019, Mrs. Miller was drawn to Southwestern Medical Foundation’s mission through a friend and joined the Board, where she serves on the Nominating Committee. She learned about the work of Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, founding Director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center, who is an internationally recognized translational researcher focused on developing and validating biosignatures of depression. Dr. Trivedi oversees Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM), an evidence-based mental health promotion program delivered by certified facilitators to students in the classroom setting.
By The Numbers
Since 2016, Dr. Trivedi and his team have provided Youth Aware of Mental Health’s (YAM) five-session, hands-on program to approximately 20,000 middle and high school students across 67 schools and 5 youth organizations in North Texas.
“Children are our greatest asset and hold the promise of our country’s future.”Kathleen Gibson
President & CEO, Southwestern Medical Foudation
Why Support Better Treatments of Mental Health in Youth?
With their keen interest in supporting mental health causes, specifically in youth intervention, Mrs. Miller knew she had discovered an overwhelming impact opportunity for KFF. After a site visit to UT Southwestern last fall, KFF board members made a gift to support YAM and were thrilled to double its impact with Southwestern Medical Foundation’s Campaign for the Brain match.
YAM Program In Action
Students at a Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) event role-play real world scenarios on the topic of mental health.
“Children are our greatest asset and hold the promise of our country’s future. This tremendous gift from the Kozmetsky Family Foundation is helping shape the path to success for many participants in the Youth Aware of Mental Health programs in schools. The Kozmetsky family vision for a vibrant and resilient world from generation to generation, combined with their philanthropic funding is helping to scale an essential program in student mental health. We are tremendously grateful for this partnership with such a lovely family of leaders and givers,” said Kathleen M. Gibson, President and CEO of Southwestern Medical Foundation.
“It is truly inspiring to see leaders who have invested for many years in bettering the health of the public step forward so quickly and so generously to support UT Southwestern’s new School of Public Health,” said Kathleen M. Gibson, President & CEO of Southwestern Medical Foundation. “Lyda Hill and Richard Hoffman are remarkable and insightful leaders who understand that communities are built and made better by those who see critical needs and match vision with the right solutions. Both of them do this time and again, and it serves as a beacon to others who are encouraged by both their humanity and strategic vision.”
Generations of Giving
Being members of the Kozmetsky family prepared Mrs. Miller and her siblings to learn the importance of giving back to make an enduring impact on the world. Their grandfather, George Kozmetsky, was a successful businessman who co-founded the technology company, Teledyne, in 1960 and developed it into a Fortune 500 company within six years. He served a 16-year tenure as dean of The University of Texas College of Business Administration from 1966-1982. He and his wife, Ronya, formed the RGK Foundation in 1966, which was guided by a deep reverence for democracy and a civil society together with their values of foresight, imagination, and discovery.
In the mid 90’s, Ronya and George passed the reins of the Foundation to their son, Greg Kozmetsky, who created an adjunct board to prepare direct descendants of Ronya and George and their spouses for service on the board. At 20, Mrs. Miller was one of seven grandchildren and their spouses who joined the adjunct board, and it was where she discovered her calling. “It was a great learning experience. We were given lots of freedom and did some collaborative grant making,” she said.
Over five decades, RGK Foundation awarded more than 3,500 grants totaling over $133 million, with an emphasis on programs that serve vulnerable populations and build the institutional capacity of the nonprofit section. RGK Foundation’s signature investment included support for the creation of the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at The University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs.
In 2016, the RGK Board of Trustees ended operations of the RGK Foundation and announced the formation of two new entities, Kozmetsky Family Foundation and Reissa Foundation, for the youngest generation to write the family’s next chapter. Mrs. Miller describes KFF as a “brand new 50-year-old foundation” that started official grant making in 2017 and offers a broad spectrum of giving.
“The RGK Foundation celebrated 50 years, and we have incredible respect for its legacy. In 2017, we transitioned to the Kozmetsky Family Foundation – the extension of everything we’ve learned from RGK – which is an outstanding framework for us to reference,” Mr. Miller said.
What’s Next for YAM
Philanthropic gifts have been crucial in sustaining Dr. Trivedi’s ambitious studies to lessen the burden of mental health disorders in youth, here in North Texas, our state, and worldwide. This year, UTSW received $11.5 million from the Texas Legislature to expand YAM across the state in partnership with seven other health-related institutions that serve their respective regions. To date, Dr. Trivedi and his team have trained 125 instructors from these regions that will implement the program in area schools.
Mr. and Mrs. Miller are passionate about programs like YAM that help adolescents and teens navigate life. As parents to 15-year-old Natalie, 14-year-old Taylor, and 10-year-old Caroline, they have learned firsthand that kids face increased challenges and complexities, including academic pressures, the COVID-19 pandemic, and social media.
“Today, there is so much more awareness of the importance of mental health than when we were kids. We never talked about it and were unaware of how people struggled emotionally. We try to talk to our girls about the mental health projects we support, just to lay the groundwork for awareness. But they are also hearing about it in school, they are watching it on television, and they are even seeing it on TikTok. I do feel that today, there is more of a conversation around mental health that is peeling away the stigma,” Mrs. Miller explained.
“We see an incredible network of nonprofits scattered throughout the Metroplex with people doing amazing and innovative things that need our help and investment. We view all our grants as partnerships, and we consider our support for YAM as an investment. What we saw during our site visit to UT Southwestern was just breathtaking, moving, and inspirational. We are hoping for the best, and we think over time, Dr. Trivedi and his team will continue to show results. We look forward to their successes,” said Mr. Miller.