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At Home with Dr. Stacie Stephenson

photo by Bob and Dawn Davis.

From philanthropy and entertaining, to her role as Chair of Functional Medicine at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Dr. Stacie Stephenson balances it all with grace and grit.

Dr. Stacie Stephenson lives life to the fullest. Upon graduating medical school, she was one of the only students in her class who knew she wanted to open her own practice. “I remember looking around the room because I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have the money. I had no clue, but this is what I knew: I knew I wasn’t going to work for someone, and I knew I was going to figure it out,” she says.

And figure it out she did! She went on to not only start and build her own practice, but also participate in lectures, media events, radio programming, and more before joining Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) in 2013.

Dr. Stephenson created the Functional Medicine program at CTCA and moved from traditional patient care to directing and designing programming. “I had to make the shift that I moved from helping six or eight people a day to 100 or 1,000,” she says.

Her life transformed on a personal level as well: she married Richard J Stephenson, founder of CTCA, and found herself entrenched in a new world of philanthropy and business.

We caught up with Dr. Stephenson to chat about her work at CTCA, her passion for philanthropy, and her secrets to entertaining.

photo by Bob and Dawn Davis.

HOW IS YOUR WORK AT CTCA DIFFERENT FROM PRIVATE PRACTICE?
You know, it is incredibly different compared to private practice. I lost that every day, one-on-one patient care. And that was a real shift to move from the direct patient care every minute into more of an influencer and leader. But it has been exciting to have a bigger-picture view and leadership role.

DO YOU STILL MISS THE INDIVIDUALIZED PATIENT CARE?
It’s just different. It took a number of years. I’m a big believer in self-development, self-evolution, you know, analysis of both your strengths and your weaknesses and building on those. I had a wonderful executive coach helping me through some of this transition and initially he said, ‘well, why don’t you keep 10 or 20 cases a month?’ And I did and it was really hard to give like I wanted to. Ultimately I thought that it just didn’t make sense because my energy has to be really laser-focused when developing a program.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST NOW ABOUT YOUR ROLE?
It’s really fun to have inspired professionals that feel like they had to be in only one lane and to teach them that they can take their traditional, one-dimensional thinking and they can embrace a multi-disciplinary approach. They can grab pieces of medicine or pieces of functional medicine or pieces of nutrition or spiritual care and they can incorporate it into [comprehensive care].

photo by Bob and Dawn Davis.

TELL US ABOUT THE GREATEST GATEWAY GALA YOU JUST CO-CHAIRED?
We are over the moon right now. We’re the only research organization, Clinical Cancer Research Organization, where $.99 of every dollar directly goes to clinical cancer research…we were over-the-moon thrilled to net, after all expenses, $4.1 million. I walked in that room at $2.4 million, and to move from $2.4 to $4.1 million in the span of four hours is magical. It just shows you how—when people come together to support something that means something to them—magic happens. It was everybody working together. That’s a testament to the donors and their collective belief in the organization.

From a show production experiential perspective, I love music, I love theater. I really believe that the sort of musical and experiential form of a gala that I’ve developed is special. It really is.

I think it’s fun to try to incorporate this very see, touch, feel experience to any form of entertaining.

TELL US HOW YOU LIKE TO ENTERTAIN YOUR PERSONAL GUESTS.
An extraordinary amount of my time, quite frankly, is entertainment. About 50-percent of my time in our home, we’re entertaining. And that’s from guests, to the philanthropy, to our business interests, which are global and worldwide. I almost always feel like I’m in event mode.

photo by Bob and Dawn Davis.

I love creating an experience beyond what I might call sort of a “boring” little dinner party, something out of the box. Something surprising with the cuisine. Maybe it’s music, maybe a comedy, maybe an interesting illusionist or magician, or maybe it’s simply taking a ride in a carriage ride around our property. I think it’s fun to try to incorporate this very see, touch, feel experience to any form of entertaining.

There was an equal, unbelievable switchover in my personal life into this realm. I was an entrepreneur, I didn’t run a boring life. But at the end of the day, most health professionals, like many executives and other people, we go home. And yes, you still have things to do at home, but you’re not organizing experiences or managing a chef and things like that. Sometimes I say to my husband, I just want to come home, put my feet up, watch TV and have a cocktail.

WHAT KIND OF LEISURE ACTIVITIES DO YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND ENJOY?
We both are water people. We love boating. We both really enjoy the outdoor aspects of the places where we live. He likes hunting, hiking, that kind of thing. I love the water and the season changes. We both just adore the equestrian lifestyle.

photo by Bob and Dawn Davis.

HOW DO YOU RELAX AND DISCONNECT?
I find that I have to find ways every day to do something for myself. I started yoga 11 years ago and I’ve learned that that’s a perfect example of really giving something to yourself. You get to breathe, you get the exercise; it’s such a positive benefit.

I say to try to get a little bit of time basically whenever you can. Whether it’s a few minutes in the car that you look over some funny email, for example, or maybe you have a few minutes to call a friend, or the 20-minute glass of wine on your patio.

If I don’t get the opportunity to restore myself I’m not as energetic, as fun, or as happy. With my schedule sometimes I have to go into my cave, which is funny because I live with an extreme extrovert. Like, he’s an extrovert on steroids.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE TOUCHES IN YOUR HOMES?
I gravitate to patios and outdoor living. My favorite place on our property in Illinois is our gazebo that stretches way out onto the lake. I can see the deer, I can see a lot of trees, and our English garden.

I still gravitate outside in Arizona as well. I’m always out on one of our patios in the heat and the cold. It’s kind of funny because I’m not a rugged outdoor kind of gal, but I like the features in our various homes that are sort of outdoor relaxing areas, from gardens to the gazebo.

The other places I love in our homes are the opposite—fireplaces. We both love really grand, traditional, very English-feeling large-scale fireplaces. I’ve put them in all of our homes, even places where, geographically, people think you don’t need them. I love the big, huge, beautiful, country fireplaces, and that’s where I gravitate inside our home many times.

Continuing to Drive the Dream

Dr. Stacie and Richard Stephenson have a history of providing generous support to ChildHelp, a national nonprofit organization that supports the mental and physical needs of abused and neglected children and educates on the prevention of child abuse. In 2017, the couple chaired the ChildHelp Drive the Dream Gala, achieving a record-breaking year with $1.2 million raised.

Currently, they are engaged in chairing the Diamond Jubilee 60th Anniversary of ChildHelp in 2019. The event, produced by Michael Ravenhill, will honor Senator Jon Kyl and his wife, Caryll Collins, with the Diamond Jubilee Award for ChildHelp. Kathy Lee Gifford and other special celebrity guests will celebrate the six-decade milestone of the organization, which was founded by Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson.

The event will take place at The Phoenician on Saturday, February 2. Tables and seats are available through ChildHelp.

photo by Bob and Dawn Davis.

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