Charitable Gift Annuities Create Opportunities

Mary Lee Mantz ’69 MSN

Nurse, public-health advocate, and professor Mary Lee Mantz ’69 MSN is passionate about the education of healthcare professionals. She has established several charitable gift annuities that provide her a dependable source of income now and will later fund scholarships for students in the Yale School of Nursing (YSN). Mary Lee has also established a charitable remainder trust, benefiting family members, which will eventually augment her scholarships. 

“I’m thrilled that the School of Nursing is offering so many new programs and opportunities,” Mary Lee said. “The demand for skilled nurses grows year by year, and I think Dean Kurth is doing an impressive job with both clinical training and research opportunities for the next generation of nurses.” 

When Mary Lee graduated from high school, there were few options for a woman from her small Wisconsin town. “My guidance counselors told me that I could be a secretary, a teacher, or a nurse,” she said. “I wanted to be a professor or a doctor, but they said, ‘Women don’t do that,’ so I went to nursing school. I saved all my money from my first hospital job, and then got my B.A. at Marquette, where the faculty encouraged me to shoot for the stars and apply to Yale. I couldn’t believe it when I was accepted to this incredible school. “It really was a revolutionary time in nursing,” she said.

“Nurses needed more and more education, and at Yale I found passionate teachers like Virginia Henderson and Donna Diers who helped me confront large problems in medical care.” Mary Lee eventually joined the YSN faculty and then taught at University of Vermont Medical School, where she founded and directed its nurse-midwifery service. She later joined the faculty of Case Western Reserve University, which posted her to Uganda to establish the first B.S. in nursing in East Africa. Mary Lee devoted fourteen years to international public health programs throughout Africa, leading the Ugandan Nurses and Midwives Association to honor her with an African name, Akikii, “the gentle one.” In 1994, the School of Nursing gave her the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Leaving Africa, Mary Lee worked for another six years in the post-Communist countries of Eastern Europe. She retired in 2010 to Cape Cod, where she shares her healthcare experience as a local volunteer.

Scholarships help YSN recruit the best students and position them for success after graduation, but the school’s financial aid endowment is small relative to its growing student body. In the master’s program, the average student receives $10,000 each year in Yale scholarships and may graduate with more than $122,000 in debt. Gifts to the endowment are critical for the school’s future plans.

“Yale opened so many doors for me,” Mary Lee said. “I want to hold those doors open for the next generation, because the opportunities for Yale-trained nurses continue to expand around the world. As part of my planned giving strategy, the annuities provide me with income during my lifetime, and the trust will provide income for family members after my death. These gifts will ultimately benefit students through named scholarships, a legacy I am grateful to be able to provide.”