Joe and Judy Cook:
Philanthropy as a Long-standing Tradition
Published August 2008
‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’ These are the words by which Joe Cook, Jr., and his wife, Judy, live. This Nashville couple’s dedication to the American Diabetes Association Research Foundation is just one of many testaments to their belief to give back.
Once a group vice president of Eli Lilly and Company, Mr. Cook made a conscious decision to give back to the health world in the tradition of Eli Lilly, a past president and the grandson (and namesake) of the company’s founder.
“Mr. Eli believed that we should take care of patients first,” says Mr. Cook, who retired from Lilly in 1993. After Lilly, Mr. Cook began working with Amylin Pharmaceuticals and, in 1998, became Chairman and CEO. While at Amylin, he was able to transfer this “patient first” focus to the young company.
“The culture of serving rather than being served is based on sound business and moral principles,” says Cook. “As a faith based family we also believe that this is a calling for managing the resources with which we have been entrusted.” The Cooks have been among a growing family of generous individual supporters of the Association.
Because of his long-time professional familiarity with diabetes at Lilly and Amylin, Mr. Cook felt “closely connected” with the Association’s mission to help people with diabetes. “A logical relationship” evolved between the Cooks and the American Diabetes Association. Ultimately, Mr. Cook became a Research Foundation Board member and helped fundraise for the organization.
Never hard-pressed to discuss the American Diabetes Associaiton, the Cooks closely identify with several of the aspects that make the Research Foundation special. “We find it reassuring that all the Association-funded scientific projects are vetted through the peer review process,” Mr. Cook says.
“More than ever, donors are concerned of the efficiency of their dollars,” he continues. “100% of the money donated to the Research Foundation stays with research, and none is lost to administrative costs.”
The Cooks also appreciate what they call the Association’s “open spirit of accountability.” They believe the transparent nature of the peer review process and the “full disclosure” of study results—whether planned or unplanned—are advantageous to the diabetes world as a whole.
Philanthropy is a family affair for the Cooks. Mr. and Mrs. Cook encourage their children and their families to support causes that are important to them, encouraging them to give from the heart—willingly and cheerfully. The family demonstrated the importance of giving by establishing the Judith E. and Joseph C. Cook, Jr., Foundation, which focuses on faith based initiatives, social services, and education.
The couple also looks to honor and respect those who have come before them by acting as stewards of what they have been given. “We hope to use our time here in a way that makes the world a better place than before,” he says. “Remember, ‘There are no luggage racks on the casket!’”