The Shipley family finds worthwhile causes, new passions after moving to South Florida
By Elaine Zeinner
Photography by Sonya Revell
hen Richard and Feyza Shipley moved to South Florida just two years ago, they knew they wanted to become involved in the philanthropic community. Richard’s family foundation has supported research and nonprofits in the Boston area for more than 20 years. They were eager to spread Shipley Foundation’s mission to the Miami area.
“This is our home now,” Richard said. “We want to be part of the community and contribute to the success of the organizations and institutions doing such good work.”
The Shipleys were quick to partner with the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Not only did Richard’s son graduate from UM with a business degree, but a researcher they worked closely with in Boston recommended the school’s innovative Infectious Disease Elimination Act (IDEA) Exchange program to the couple.
The IDEA Exchange, the first legal syringe exchange in Florida, is part of the student-run Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Department of Community Service (Wolfson DOCS) IDEA Clinic at the Miller School.
While Wolfson DOCS provides basic health screenings to underserved populations, the IDEA Clinic’s goal is to reduce poor health outcomes associated with injection drug use. Services include wound care, physicals, HIV and hepatitis C screenings, counseling, naloxone distribution, and needle exchange.
With the generous investment from the Shipleys, the IDEA Clinic also provides new approaches to treat opioid use disorder.
“The cost of medications can be an insurmountable barrier for our patients,” said Hansel Tookes, M.D. ’14, M.P.H. ’09, founder of the IDEA Exchange and assistant professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Miller School. “With this gift, we’ve been able to offer no-cost access to lifesaving medications to help patients on their road to recovery.”
“We learned a lot from the groundbreaking programs we’ve supported in Boston,” Richard said. “We saw that the University of Miami was really innovative in terms of the care they provided through this program, with effective research to drive their work and their results.”
Feyza added that substance use disorder research and recovery have always been a family focus.
“We had close friends whose families were affected by substance use disorder,” she said. “We saw firsthand that people struggle with this, and support and research are needed in the area.”
Philanthropy guided by research, innovation, and passions
The Shipley Foundation has long focused on medicine, science, education, and research. But in the past few years, it has broadened its reach to include other worthwhile causes. What remains front and center for Richard and Feyza is finding causes that not only do good but produce results.
Feyza and Richard Shipley
“We’ve put our passions into the work we do,” Feyza said. “We’re confident that future generations of Shipleys will do likewise. We hope they will shine a light on issues that are close to them.”
It’s already happening with Richard’s son and granddaughters, who’ve become involved in veterans’ groups and animal-related charities.
“It’s been very rewarding for the family to find new programs and causes to support,” Richard said.
Additionally, the Shipleys have contributed to COVID-19 relief and mood disorder research through the Miller School. They’ve also provided support to other areas, such as children’s issues, immigration rights, refugee work, and hunger relief.
So far, they’ve been pleased with the work they’ve been able to support across the Miami region, including the Miller School’s initiatives.
“Miami is a dream come true for a philanthropist,” Feyza said. “We’ve been so impressed at the number of amazing organizations and leaders who are committed to improving peoples’ lives, and we are grateful to be able to help them fulfill their missions.”
“I’ve had the privilege of working with Boston University and other world-class educational institutions over the years,” Richard added. “We’re so excited to partner with UM on these first few initiatives. We hope the Shipley Foundation can really have an impact in the Greater Miami community.”