Libby and Jon Soderberg
Libby and Jon Soderberg recently made a $1 million gift to support programs and services at the Cornell Behavioral Health Pavilion.
The Soderbergs are one of those couples whose history seems to reveal they were “meant for each other. ” They attended the same college, have close relationships with their families, and love dogs, adventures and world travel. They are athletes, they value community, and they are passionate about making the world a better place through philanthropy.
Libby and Jon met in 1988 as lifeguards on the same shift at their college pool. They became friends, just friends, that year when they served as writing tutors and lifeguards together as part of a work/study program. After transferring to another university, Libby earned an electrical engineering degree while Jon went on to earn his Juris Doctorate.
Jon and Libby’s friendship endured despite the geography between them. Eight years later, Jon’s business travel took him to Florida, where Libby was working at the time. The two met for lunch and married within a year, settling together in Washington, D.C., where Jon served as senior counsel for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Division of Enforcement. He later joined medical device and technology company Welch Allyn in central New York, where he served in several roles and did a lot of international travel, including moving the family to the Netherlands, then back to New York, before settling in Sarasota in 2015.
Their home is curated with global treasures collected on their travels. At the same time, it is welcoming and obvious a family gathers here—one of their four children is still at home—and they have two adoring (and talkative) dogs. Today, Jon is managing partner at Prinsen Ventures, a healthcare technology-focused venture fund, and Libby serves on the boards of the Sarasota Police Foundation and CoreSRQ, whose missions focus on the betterment and wellness of our community.
Philanthropy Is in Their DNA
Libby shares that there is a history of philanthropy in both her and Jon’s families. Libby’s father was career military and lived a life of service. Her parents’ philanthropic contribution was mostly in the form of volunteerism. “My family’s philosophy was that you need to make the world a better place because you were here,” she says. “There are many ways you can give and try to make change where you can.”
Jon agreed. “It’s how we were raised. We’ve been blessed in so many ways, and we’ve had the opportunity to see the benefit of investing in employees and communities.” He and Libby encourage others to find their passion. “There is so much need out there it’s hard not to get sticky with something you care about.”
For the couple, and Jon’s parents, healthcare historically has been a focal point. Jon, as a relatively new member of the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation board, met with Stacey Corley, the organization’s president to look at areas at Sarasota Memorial where they could make an impact. Jon noted that behavioral health “jumped out at us —especially for children and adolescents.”
It hits home Libby says that they’ve seen many kids struggling—particularly during the pandemic. “Being a kid these days there is so much more to deal with than when we were younger.” She points to social media as a major contributor to mental health issues in teens. “The bullying, unrealistic expectations for the way you look, where you’ve traveled, what you own—it’s something kids can’t get away from because it’s always there.”
She also recognized that parents aren’t always sure at what point they should ask for help, or where to seek help. Jon added that the stigma attached to mental health is a big barrier to getting help and that others just may eschew help because they don’t have the resources. Their gift will help fill in the gaps that have existed previously in the continuum of care.
“To have outpatient and inpatient care right here if you need it is half the battle,” says Jon. “The healing process is so much easier if you’ve got your family and support network proximate to you. Supporting the Cornell Pavilion was a no-brainer for us.”
The Soderbergs are confident that Sarasota Memorial will bring world-class behavioral health services to our community. “I’ve seen a lot of things when it comes to healthcare delivery,” he says. I think we have a treasure here. We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t have faith in the professionals, the staff and the entire health system. SMH outcomes speak for themselves.”
The couple says their family gets much more back from their philanthropic relationships than they put in. “It leads to a much more fulfilling life,” Libby adds.
The new Cornell Behavioral Health Pavilion will open later this year. The Soderbergs’ gift will be recognized in the child and adolescent wing.
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