After 25 years of helping to provide a home away from home for families with children receiving medical treatment in our community, Lou Ann DeVoogd, President & CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Central Florida (RMHCCF), announced this week she will step down at year’s end.
DeVoogd served on the founding board of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida—when a Ronald McDonald House (RMH) was just a vision for Orlando. In 1996, the first Ronald McDonald House was built and opened in our community. DeVoogd was recruited as the first Executive Director of the organization, and has since overseen the building, funding, opening, and expansions of three Ronald McDonald Houses. To-date, RMHCCF is able to serve up to 84 families each night by providing free housing accommodations, meals, comfort, and care on the campuses of all three pediatric hospitals in Orlando.
“I have been very fortunate over the years. I have had the pleasure of meeting and collaborating with so many talented, dedicated, and generous volunteers, donors, and staff members. With everyone working together, we have accomplished so much. Our mission partner, McDonald’s restaurants, our Board of Directors, Key Initiative Young Professionals Committee members, our hospital partners, and corporate partners have all helped to expand our reach, growing to deliver our mission to support the health and well-being of children and families,” says DeVoogd. “RMHC and its mission is my passion. I will continue to support the organization—just in a different capacity.”
Over DeVoogd’s tenure, RMHCCF has served more than 36,000 families with seriously ill and critically injured children being treated at local pediatric hospitals in the Central Florida community. Orlando is one of only six cities in the country to offer three Ronald McDonald Houses, located on three separate pediatric hospital campuses—AdventHealth for Children, Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer for Women & Babies, and Nemours Children’s Hospital.
In addition to the Ronald McDonald Houses, DeVoogd has helped develop partnerships to extend programs for families within the hospitals, such as Family Gathering Rooms and Hospitality Carts. These programs provide respite to all families with hospitalized children.
“On behalf of the entire RMHCCF Board of Directors, I would like to thank Lou Ann for her dedicated leadership, passion for family-centered care, and decades of service to RMHC and our mission partner, McDonald’s,” says Liza Donselaar, Chair of RMHCCF’s Board of Directors. “Lou Ann’s legacy at RMHCCF will continue to reach families across our region, even after her departure, and we will be forever grateful. Her guidance allowed us to always remain mission focused. She departs with a strong base of support from our staff, Board of Directors, volunteers, and community partners. She will be greatly missed.”
DeVoogd began her career in the advertising business, working in Detroit, Miami, and Tampa before settling in Orlando with her husband and two sons, who are now grown. She has served on the Global RMHC Advisory Council, in addition to many other local non-profits, hospital and fundraising advisory committees throughout the USA. DeVoogd looks forward to taking some time off to relax while traveling and enjoying time with family and friends. She states, “I am not certain how long that will last—however, I have quite a mounting bucket list!”