For June Kinney, associate director of the Wharton Health Care Management program, it was time for her long-time fans at the Wharton Health Care Management Alumni Association (WHCMAA) to give back. They did so in spades.

Those who know Kinney—which is just about everyone at WHCMAA—speak of her commitment, guidance, compassion and friendship.

“Everybody has a ‘June story’ about how they were influenced by her or how she helped them with career opportunities or through a moment of soul searching,” says Tracy K. Johnson WG86, former WHCMAA president and co-chair of the scholarship steering committee.

Members of WHCMAA note how Kinney plays a key role in shaping the incoming class, guides harried students through the rigors of the program, and helps them look at jobs and careers in the health care field.

“June’s the person to call if you are looking for a connection. She knows so many people, and everybody thinks very fondly of her. She’s really the matriarch,” says Jody Schuhart WG84, scholarship implementation committee member and vice president and owner of Cornerstone Billing Solutions.

“Her interest in the students goes beyond the school and their careers,” says Elayne Howard WG76, president of Elayne Howard & Associates Inc. and a member of the steering committee. “She knows where they are at every point in their lives and what’s going on.”

Before Kinney’s arrival in 1981, the position was a revolving door with directors and managers leaving every two or three years.

But Kinney, who is also a senior fellow at Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Care Economics, stayed and built the program into one of the most highly respected health care graduate management programs in the country.

Unlike the popular professors or philanthropic alumni whose names adorn most scholarships, Kinney does not possess those qualifications, though she has added teaching duties over the years. Kinney is so central to the tightknit health care management family that the Kinney Alumni Scholarship organizers knew they had a winner in Kinney even before the public fundraising began.

The public fundraising for the Kinney Alumni Scholarship began November 2013 and closed on June 30, 2014, with 314 donors pledging $621,413, Schuhart says. The goal had been $500,000.

The success of the fundraising drive was no accident. Strong leadership and effective communication from the steering and implementation committees led to a honed and targeted message. Johnson, who is owner of health care planning firm TKJohnson Consulting, advises other programs looking to raise funds to name the fund in honor of a living person who deserves recognition.

When it came time to recognize Leadership Circle contributors who gave $5,000 or more, the organizers gave out June bobbleheads. The base reads, “Call June Kinney.”

This week, WHCMAA announced that incoming Wharton Health Care Management MBA students Steven Cupps and Alex Wittenberg will each receive the $10,000 Kinney Alumni Scholarship for their first year.

“In addition to helping to attract the best and the brightest, the scholarship is also another way for alumni to give back to the program and strengthen our ties to the students. We hope that will encourage students to continue to be involved in the alumni association after graduation,” Johnson says.

—Cyril Tuohy