Healthcare Foundation of La Porte • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

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Seasoned fundraiser Maria Fruth guides Healthcare Foundation of La Porte

Maria Fruth leads Healthcare Foundation of La Porte
Maria Fruth is the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte CEO. Her career in community health care in Northwest Indiana started in 1996 with the former La Porte Hospital.

As the first president and CEO, she has guided the process of creating the foundation from the proceeds of the sale of the former Indiana University Health La Porte Hospital in March 2016.

“It’s the importance and excitement of creating a plan of action and then seeing the result,” she said.

She also is motivated to make wellness a priority for the La Porte community.

In addition to her strategic direction, Fruth led the process to blend the former La Porte Hospital Foundation into today’s Healthcare Foundation of La Porte. That process included hiring the foundation team, assessing community needs and assets, and implementing a grant-making structure plan to grow the capacity of the nonprofits in the community.

“One of my key projects was work with our board and staff team for the building of our new Healthcare Foundation of La Porte Conference and Learning Center, which is 13,000 square feet,” Fruth said. It opened in August 2020 and was celebrated with a ribbon cutting in July 2021.

Since the foundation launched, it also has distributed more than $35 million in grants to the community, she said.

Scott Siefker, chair of the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte the past three years, worked closely with Fruth to help structure the foundation and board.

“The Healthcare Foundation of La Porte works to make a transformative change in the health and well-being of our families, friends and neighbors,” he said.

He helped lead the transition from IU Health La Porte Hospital before its sale finalized in March 2016 to Community Health Systems, a for-profit hospital system based in Franklin, Tennessee.

“I was also chairman of the hospital board through the sale process,” Siefker said.

He also chaired the Council of Chairpersons, which was the body responsible for determining where the hospital sale proceeds went.

“So, in effect, the Council of Chairpersons established the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte,” Siefker said. “As chair of the La Porte hospital board, I appointed six out of the initial 11-member Healthcare Foundation of La Porte board, and then the chair of the hospital foundation appointed the remaining five.”

Siefker describes Fruth as “a vibrant leader” for the organization.

After years of teaching and community service with business experience, Fruth began her career with La Porte Hospital in 1996 as the director of development. In January 1998, she was named CEO of what was then the La Porte Hospital Foundation, as well as her responsibilities as executive vice president of La Porte Hospital.

During her 20 years at La Porte Hospital, Fruth provided overall coordination for the La Porte Hospital Foundation. She helped raise more than $17 million for the hospital services, health programs, scholarships, and community health in the form of grants, campaigns, special events and major gifts.

“It was the foresight and dedication of civic leaders from the 1960s through to today that provided Healthcare Foundation of La Porte with financial resources combined with the outstanding connection to community and leadership of Maria Fruth that will bring La Porte and the surrounding area to the vanguard of healthy living in the state of Indiana,” Siefker said.

Born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, the oldest child of a family of seven siblings, Fruth said most of her education was in Brazil. She said she first came to the U.S. as a high school exchange student for a few months in North Carolina. Then, during college, she came to Indiana for a teaching program. She already had earned a degree in languages with an emphasis in Portuguese and English as a second language from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, in Brazil, she said.

“Whether it’s education or helping nonprofit organizations, I’ve always been dedicated to giving back to my community,” she said.

Fruth and her husband of 46 years, Greg, a retired teacher and football coach at La Porte High School, live in La Porte and have three grown sons and four grandchildren.

Click here to read more from the October-November 2022 issue of Northwest Indiana Business Magazine.


  • Philip Potempa

    Philip Potempa is a 1992 graduate of Valparaiso University. He covered entertainment in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois for The South Bend Tribune in 1992 before joining The Times of Northwest Indiana and Illinois in 1995 where he worked in features for more than two decades. In 2016, he joined The Post-Tribune and Chicago Tribune Media Group. He is the author of three published books chronicling stories, interviews, recipes and memories from his personal and professional experiences. He also is an adjunct instructor in communication at both Valparaiso University and Purdue University Northwest.


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