Spotlight: Gary Kalbach, El Camino Hospital Board of Directors

One of Dr. Fogarty’s strengths when forming new companies was a focus on hiring experts in the field who had the ability to both embrace and expand on his vision. Such was the case when he asked Gary Kalbach to help him start the Fogarty Institute for Innovation in 2007. He became founding president and chair of the board, bringing with him more than 30 years as a highly successful capital investor with a knack for building great teams.

Much like Dr. Fogarty, Gary was an integral part of the burgeoning region of Silicon Valley as the center of tech. In 1986, he founded El Dorado Ventures (EDV), a leading early-stage venture capital firm that was an early investor in disruptive technologies, bolstering companies such as AT&T, Ciena, Cisco Systems, nVidia, Siemens and Texas Instruments.

Prior to co-founding EDV, Gary served as the sole General Partner of West Coast Venture Capital, a fund formed in 1978 that played a key role in developing the technology sector, including providing seed funding for Sun Microsystems and helping launch Integrated Device Technology and Novella Systems. “It was just great timing in the Valley to be an investor as there were so many opportunities to get involved in the early stages and help form these companies, many of which are still standing today or where successfully acquired,” says Gary.

In addition to his work as a prolific investor, Gary also has served on the boards of more than 40 technology startups. While the majority of his investments were in tech, he found a passion for healthcare in his volunteer work, first, in 1977 as the founding president of the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford; and later as the chair of the board of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and chair of the board of directors of El Camino Healthcare District – and of course to his current role as a board member of El Camino Hospital and his transformative position as chairman of the board of the Fogarty Institute.

The mentor who helped shape his career

Gary’s fascination with technology started early when he spent six summers as an intern working in different departments at Lockheed. After graduating from U.C. Berkeley with a BS and San Jose State University with an MBA, layoffs prevented him from joining the company, and instead he moved into the banking world, first in the trading loan program at Wells Fargo and later as the first lender of the technology group.

The pivotal moment in his career came courtesy of one of his customers while he was working at Union Bank — Jack Melchor, a prolific venture capitalists who aided in the early financing of over 100 companies in the Bay Area and who later founded El Camino’s Health Foundation. “Jack sat me down, and in a very direct way, pointed out that I was doing his same job, but getting paid a banker’s salary, instead of making more money and helping more companies as a VC.”

That led to Jack spending an entire year mentoring Gary on how to start and run a venture fund; and why, when and how to sit on boards of companies. “That’s how I started West Coast Venture Capital, initially with small investments by several individuals in the Valley.”

Meeting Dr. Fogarty

Relationships are everything, and when you are in the VC world, you know which folks to get behind when they start companies, Gary says. “Tom was one of them, and his name often came up in the Silicon Valley investments circles. While our businesses really didn’t intersect, we immediately connected and had a lot of mutual respect for one another.”

Dr. Fogarty quickly recognized Gary’s unique ability to form great teams that work well together and asked him to help start the Fogarty Institute on the El Camino Hospital campus. Gary not only formed a great board but also negotiated space at Melchor for a very reasonable price.

While the Institute’s initial mission to improve patients’ lives has remained steadfast, Gary has been very pleased with how the organization he helped start has grown and expanded. “The Institute is adding tremendous value to the medtech industry by helping launch early-stage companies that have the promise to greatly influence and improve patient care and by forming partnerships with organizations like El Camino Hospital,” he says.

“Tom has had a tremendous impact on the industry and to see his legacy continue on with the Fogarty Institute is extremely rewarding. I look forward to the many things that the organization will continue to accomplish, as it develops and supports the next generation of innovators.”

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