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Conference Speaker

Debi Wheeler


Debi Wheeler, with her intellect and perception, has a unique insight into the world of private philanthropy. Ms. Wheeler brings a wealth of experience, strategic planning, and expertise to the core of the numerous projects and partnerships she has led during the last decade of her volunteer leadership at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


UPMC is a globally recognized center of excellence in medical care, treating thousands of patients on an annual basis.


As a seasoned philanthropist herself, after several years of advocacy for children's issues, Ms. Wheeler shifted her interest to exploit the most promising research technologies and therapeutic strategies for concepts and applications in neuroscience, especially, traumatic brain injury, both mild and chronic, as well as neurorehabilitation and product development in neuro-technology. Whether she is discussing the individual work of clinicians and investigators or assisting physicians with contacts in corporate settings, Ms. Wheeler is artful, original, and above all else, effective in her leadership activities.


From the early 1980's through the last ten years, Ms. Wheeler has worked to increase the understanding among her neighbors in the Somerset community, raising awareness of the continuous needs of children. As she raised her own son, her voice and her interests were unmistakable in all activities and projects related to all children.


A native of Somerset County, Pennsylvania, Ms. Wheeler attended school and married. She knew she wanted to dedicate her life to her family, and her early years were spent exploring the most important subjects: family, relationships, and community. She never shied away from what she describes as "the challenge of family, illness, and the opportunity to serve her community as a volunteer."


During the last fifteen years, Ms. Wheeler has served on many committees, organization boards, and civic organizational campaigns. She developed strategies, opportunities, and events for community activities that have contributed time, talent, and resources to the institutions for which they were directing their support. Ms. Wheeler is noted for collecting talented and committed civic leaders to help provide leadership, counsel, and initiative for her varied issue areas in philanthropy.


Ms. Wheeler has been recognized in the Pittsburgh community for her leadership in defining challenges confronting disease advocacy groups and has demonstrated a willingness to assist in building national and global partnerships to secure resources for these important research areas. Ms. Wheeler has often mentioned that key to her success has been her ability "to work for anyone and everyone willing to help sick people get well."


Currently, Ms. Wheeler serves with University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute Advisory Council and supports initiatives associated with the Center for Military Medicine and Research. She is interested in building a global consortium of volunteers to help transition science out of the labs and into patient's clinical care around the world. She is ready to put herself, her wit, and her heart into the best that medicine can offer.


Ms. Wheeler advises, "We have all had our memories, both personal and professional, of illness and tragedy, but our spirit must not succumb to even the most terrible problems in life. Rather, I believe we must all move forward to comfort and inspire our loved one’s memories to create legacies for future generations."


She belongs to eight (8) Global Think Tanks/Consortiums focusing on everything from Philanthropy, Industry, Government, Academia, Military, Medical and the Arts.


Ms. Wheeler spends her down time in Lakewood Ranch, FL. She continues serve as a strategic advisor to both individuals and organizations committed to building philanthropic opportunities both domestically and globally and now also interstellar with all she does with ISS and technology applicable to space.


Ms Wheeler, with co-founder Ralene DeBord has established a unique Leaving Legacies Foundation (LLF) platform. LLF is a private wealth foundation, meaning they raise money for other non-profits and not themselves. The Leaving Legacies Foundation was established to honor Ms. Wheeler’s son, who passed away in 2013 because of brain injury. The LLF focuses on Pediatric, Veteran, Human Trafficking and Child/Domestic Abuse foundations. The foundation hosts approximately 50 events a year, from Black-tie Galas, Golf Tournaments, Wine Country Weekend. You dream and we can make it happen.

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