When Ed Stritch learned about the work that H.A.S. does every day, he thought about his brother’s challenges with mental health. “He suffers from manic depression and needs constant care,” says Ed. “Having watched his struggles with it, I’m very empathetic to the needs of those with similar struggles.”
A native of Ireland, Ed came to the United States with a European perspective on mental illness. While Ed was impressed with much of America’s infrastructure, he recognizes the nation is lacking in terms of social services—particularly in the area of mental health. “The government seems to be pulling back from aiding those individuals. I’d like to see more compassion toward the elderly, the sick, and those in need. But since that isn’t the reality, we need to rely on the private sector and organizations like H.A.S. to provide that care and support. That’s why I wanted to be involved with H.A.S.—to help ensure that our most vulnerable populations have access to the services and programs they need.”
After graduating with a degree in construction economics from the Institute of Technology in Dublin, Ireland, Ed spent the beginning years of his career working in both London and Australia before moving to the U.S. in 1979. After relocating, he worked for a London-based construction cost management firm before starting his own company in 1996. Now with more than 40 years of construction consulting experience, Ed is the President and CEO of The Concord Group, a construction consulting firm headquartered in Chicago.
About 10 years ago, while he was on the foundation board for Norwegian American Hospital alongside H.A.S. CEO Marco Jacome, he learned about the organization. Ed started off supporting H.A.S. through his participation in the annual golf outing, but then last year, Ed was asked to join the Board of Directors at H.A.S. In his short time on the Board thus far, he has already put his name forward to participate in two committees and believes he can support the organization’s fundraising efforts. “As a businessman, the best thing I can do is use my business acumen and perspective to help H.A.S. maintain its sound financial position—both in terms of its revenue and expenses.”
As he gets to know a little more about the organization and its various services, he’s come to realize just how important the work is. After visiting The Living Room and witnessing what a crucial service that program provides to people in crisis, he feels even more committed to H.A.S. and its mission. “Because I am so familiar with my brother’s situation,” says Ed, “I understand that those dealing with mental illness do so for their entire lifetimes. With The Living Room, people have a place to go when in crisis, a place to catch their breath and receive support on their way to recovery. We need more places like that.”
Thus far, Ed has been very impressed with H.A.S., its staff and Board members, and everything it does for the community. He is particularly glad to see how well-structured the organization is and the diversity of the Board, in terms of cultural backgrounds, the variety of industries represented, and the fact that some members are former participants in H.A.S. programs—something Ed believes is especially important. “Having a mix of Board members is critical to the success of any organization,” he says. “Members can help advocate for the organization, provide solutions and problem-solve, and leverage their connections to raise awareness and funds.”
In addition to running his own company and serving on the H.A.S. Board, Ed also serves on the Board of the Mobile Care Foundation, which delivers no-cost medical and preventative care, education, and support to low-income children and families, as well as on the Advisory Board for Concern USA, a nonprofit that conducts international outreach. In his spare time, Ed enjoys traveling, golf (though he claims he’s not very good!), and even co-owns a boutique winery in Napa Valley, Forthright Winery. His philanthropic commitments remain one of his highest priorities. “I believe that when you’re fortunate in life, you ought to give back to the community, and that when you make a commitment to the community, you have to deliver—whether that be through your time, financial contributions, or in-kind donations. I don’t believe in philanthropy for the sake of padding one’s resume. You have to truly care about the cause in order to be invested.”
In a way, Ed has devoted his life to the concept of building—whether that be through his career in construction, the successful establishment of his winery, and of course his work building up nonprofit organizations and helping them achieve their goals for the good the of the community. As world-renowned entrepreneur Jim Rohn said, “Whatever good things we build end up building us.” Ed has helped to build a great many things, and those things have certainly helped shape the man he is today.