Black Philanthropy Month Donor Profile: Maude Lofton, MD
Coming Full Circle: A Beneficiary of Black Philanthropy Becomes A Committed Donor to Women & Girls of Color
Growing up in the segregated South, Maude Lofton, MD, experienced the effects of racial bias and discrimination first hand. Despite limited opportunities for people of color, her family made many sacrifices to ensure she and her siblings received college degrees. Dr. Lofton not only received a college degree, but several advanced degrees.
“My mother died when me and my siblings were very young, and we were raised by my father and grandmother. My father never remarried and his mother took over the task of helping him raise us. He was the valedictorian of his senior class but left college and entered the army because he wanted to marry my mother. He achieved the rank of 2nd Lt. but never completed his degree, as he had promised my grandmother he would.
“He worked as a letter carrier alongside many of his college degreed former high school classmates and friends, and my grandmother was a maid. In those days, opportunities were severely limited for people of color. Through their hard work and determination my siblings and I not only completed college, but all achieved advanced degrees.”
“There was always someone trying to keep the kids safe”
In the segregated South, there were few to no investments in women or girls, Black or white. But in the Black community there was always someone trying to keep the the kids safe and prepared for a future they dreamed was yet to come. One such example in her life was Mr. & Mrs. Griffin, an elderly couple who organized the neighborhood children under the banner of the “2-G Civic Club.” Under their direction, the kids elected officers and held weekly activities rooted in civic responsibility all in preparation for the better life that the Griffins dreamed lay ahead for them.
Looking back on her childhood in Jacksonville, FL, Dr. Lofton understands that the Griffins were not alone. The community pulled together to uplift, embodying the spirit of Black philanthropy long before it had a name.
“It’s those kinds of simple, small interventions that occurred in my life that really helped me become the person that I am now. Without them I don’t know where I would have ended up. I do anything I can do now to support those grassroots organizations and programs that support women, girls, and boys.”
Dr. Lofton acknowledges that the Griffins just did what they did instinctively, and that is what she does, too, with education, health, women, and girls at the heart of her giving.
Bringing equity to education and healthcare
After high school, Dr. Lofton entered Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., with the intent of becoming a school teacher. During her junior year at Spelman she was introduced to the field of medical technology, and her career choice took a decidedly different path. After graduating from Spelman, Dr. Lofton competed a one-year internship at a hometown hospital and began a career as a medical technologist. After 10 years in the field, she decided to pursue an advanced degree in biology at the University of Florida.
At the time there was a push to recruit qualified minority students, especially women, to medical schools throughout the country. Because of her hospital experience, an academic counselor at the university encouraged her to enroll in a post-baccalaureate degree program and apply to medical school. Impressed by the Black medical students she met already enrolled there, she decided to take the plunge. After a year of study, and an acceptable MCAT Exam score, she was accepted.
Dr. Lofton credits her experience as a medical technologist as giving her an edge up in medical school when clinical rotations began. She decided to specialize in pediatrics and returned to her hometown of Jacksonville to begin her residency program.
It was there she met and married an aspiring hospital administrator and started a family. His advancing career would take the family to Howard University in Washington, D.C., the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and the University of Kentucky in Louisville before finally ending up as the chief executive officer of a hospital system headquartered in Denver.
The frequent relocating did not hinder her career. While at the University of Alabama she was able to acquire advanced training in child development and create a primary pediatric practice for siblings of children being studied to determine the long-term effects of exposure to drugs in utero. With the move to Louisville, came the opportunity to work at the Sparks Clinic, the child development center affiliated with the University of Louisville in Kentucky where the family lived for four years. When the family moved to Denver, Dr. Lofton elected to retire from the active practice of medicine.
From pediatrics to philanthropy
Upon arriving in Denver, Dr. Lofton was introduced to the Colorado philanthropic community by Tina Walls. She first fell “in love” with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. Her affinity for the organization continues nearly 20 years later. In 2019 she participated in CPRD’s “Dancing With the Stars,” in which civic and community leaders perform with ensemble members.
She also supports the Center for African-American Health, a grassroots organization improving the health and well-being of African Americans in Metro Denver by offering community-based, evidenced-based, disease prevention and disease management programs, events, and services.
“Healthcare disparities have existed forever, even before a healthcare system developed. People of color are under-represented among those in charge of setting up the systems. It’s important for them to be part of decision making and bringing a point of view to the table,” said Dr. Lofton.
She points out that COVID-19 brought to light the inequities in many systems, most overtly, healthcare. “I think it’s going to force the entire world to take a step back and look at things differently and work together more cooperatively.”
Her appreciation for grassroots organizations is one of the reasons she also gives to WFCO’s Women & Girls of Color Fund. In addition to putting the grantmaking decisions into the hands of women and girls of color, the fund helps dozens of small, grassroots organizations grow and strengthen their programs.
“My donations go further if I donate to women and girls through the Women & Girls of Color Fund,” she said. “I see it as a multiplier effect. It’s the most effective use of the money I can donate.”
Black philanthropy is more than money
While she is in a position to make significant financial investments in the organizations she supports, she insists Black Philanthropy cannot be measured in terms of money.
“If you look at black philanthropy, a lot of it is in-kind. That’s one of the things that makes Black philanthropy different. When you total up all of the intangibles that go along with Black philanthropy, it swells the amount of giving.”
She points out that time is an important philanthropic instrument, like the afternoons that Mr. and Mrs. Griffin gave to entertaining the neighborhood kids. So are passion and sacrifice.
As an aside, before moving to Denver, Dr. Lofton co-authored a book chronicling the history of a Black professional organization she has been a long time member of, the National Association of Health Care Executives (NAHSE). The organization owes its origin to Whitney M. Young, father of the The Women’s Foundation’s of Colorado President and CEO, Lauren Y. Casteel.
“When I moved out here, I found out he was Lauren Casteel’s father. Then I had a chance to go the Annual Luncheon when Lauren interviewed Misty Copeland,” she said.
After learning about the work of The Foundation to create equitable opportunities for women and girls, Dr. Lofton knew she had found another home for her philanthropy.
“I didn’t always know what I was going to do in life but I always knew I would be be successful,” she said. “There are lots of young girls and boys out there who will be successful at life if given the opportunities. The Women’s Foundation provides those opportunities!!! I’m just very happy that I found The Women’s Foundation and The Foundation found me.”
Donate to the Women & Girls of Color Fund today.