Featured Corporator: Charles Denault
There’s no template for what an Emerson corporator needs to be, but certain qualities are often mentioned. Words like involved, generous and enthusiastic come to mind.
Those qualities describe Charles Denault, an Acton resident who has served as a corporator—and much more—since 1991. When Emerson staff assembled a Corporator Engagement Task Force Committee in 2008 with the goal of more deeply engaging its 200 corporators, Mr. Denault was at the table.
“We had already developed a contract for corporators, but we wanted people to sign on in a more meaningful way,” he explains. “The goal was to set expectations that, in addition to serving as ambassadors for Emerson in their community, corporators should attend meetings, volunteer their time and support Emerson philanthropically.”
The task force recommended a committee structure, including a Corporator Executive Committee that was headed by Mr. Denault and Joan Litle. “From there, we created corporator orientation, which has proved to be popular, and we worked on finding ways to utilize corporators’ expertise,” he says.
After serving as co-chair for three years, Mr. Denault was then elected to serve on the Emerson Health Care Foundation Board. He feels strongly that community residents must support their hospital. “I’ve been saying for the last 20 years that when the ambulance is at your house, it is unlikely you’ll be going a distance,” he says. “Many people tell me that they go to Boston, but in a crisis, your outcome is far better when you receive quick treatment by going to the nearest hospital. For us, that is Emerson.
“Whether the ambulance is for you, your child or a parent, you want Emerson to be ready. That takes your involvement and commitment now, not when the siren is blaring, and the lights are flashing.”
Area residents should not take Emerson for granted
These days, Mr. Denault supports the notion of building Emerson’s endowment—donated funds that are set aside and invested. “As the government gets more involved in setting prices for medical services, running hospitals profitably will become more complex,” he notes. “To counter these changes, Emerson needs to develop a strong endowment that will provide support to the overall budget and ensure the institution’s long-term financial viability.”
As a member of the Annual Appeal Committee, Mr. Denault also understands the importance of raising funds that directly support hospital operations. “I’m comfortable making phone calls to ask that people give to Emerson,” he says.
When he and his wife, Katharine, settled in Acton in 1980, he connected with several organizations, including area schools. Mr. Denault, who lived in Concord as a boy and attended the Fenn School there, served as both chairman of the board and president of its alumni association. He has also been involved in supporting Nashoba Brooks School.
In Acton, he served on the board of the Discovery Museums and even found a way to keep Acton’s fitness center—part of its community education program—open when it was about to close. “We just needed a few people to run it, so I helped pull together a group of regulars to staff the center,” he explains. “I coordinate the volunteers, and we’ve been able to keep the fitness center open for the past two years. They’re even making money now.
“I like to be involved with non-profit organizations,” he adds. “Katharine and I connected with Emerson not long after we moved back to the area, with my participation as a corporator and her serving on two of the hospital’s gala committees.”
Mr. Denault is no stranger to fundraising, and he is also a successful businessman who oversees Davidson Holdings Inc. “Davidson Holdings is a small holding company that owns and operates commercial real estate properties, mostly in New Hampshire but also in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont,” he says. The office is located in Nashua, New Hampshire.
The Denaults enjoy traveling; they recently took a trip to Cambodia and Vietnam. They also spend time at their Rhode Island house, especially during the good weather. “That’s where we boat, beach and enjoy time with the family,” says Mr. Denault.
He has observed growth and change at Emerson over the years, and he is impressed. “With all of the affiliations, Emerson has become a community hospital with large-city assets,” he says. “Why go to Boston when such high-quality clinical services have come to the community?”
Area residents should not take Emerson for granted, he adds. “Everyone knows that we’re a relatively healthy community, but we’re not exempt from death. My feeling is that we need to ensure that we have a good, quality hospital within a quick drive of home.
“That is why, as a community, we need to support Emerson.”