Mary McKay, dean of the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, has been installed as the inaugural Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean. A lecture and reception to celebrate the occasion were held Jan. 26 in Hillman Hall’s Clark-Fox Forum and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
McKay’s scholarly interests are focused on child mental health services, child- and family-focused HIV prevention and care, and social service delivery to poverty-impacted youth and families. She joined the university in July 2016 after serving as the McSilver Professor of Poverty Studies and director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work.
McKay’s endowed position at Washington University was made possible by a $5 million commitment from Michael and Noémi Neidorff—leading patrons of cultural and educational institutions in St. Louis and beyond—and the Centene Charitable Foundation.
“I am grateful to Michael and Noémi Neidorff and to Centene for their continued commitment to our community and for their leadership in advancing human health and improving quality of life for people here and throughout the country,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “The Neidorffs have been wonderful advocates for the university, and their generosity will have a positive impact on generations of Washington University students.”
“We are very fortunate to have Dean McKay leading the Brown School. It gives me great pleasure to celebrate her arrival and early contributions,” Provost Holden Thorp said. “In her brief time at the university, she has been met with great enthusiasm and tremendous support. We expect that her leadership will make a significant impact on student learning and faculty scholarship, helping to translate discoveries into actions that benefit people both locally and around the globe. I am thankful for Michael and Noémi Neidorff for their generous support of this mission.”
Prior to her time at New York University, McKay had served as head of the Division of Mental Health Services Research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she received significant federal funding for research to explore the mental health and prevention needs of youth and families impacted by poverty. Through this work, she and her colleagues developed a substantial body of findings on engagement practices to improve family-based HIV prevention and mental health service delivery.
“It is a great honor to be named the first Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean at the Brown School,” McKay said. “I am deeply grateful for this permanent source of support for the Brown School’s most significant priorities. The generosity of the Neidorff family and Centene will enable us to continue making great strides in translating discoveries into actions that benefit people both locally and around the globe.”
The co-author of two books and more than 150 peer-reviewed articles, McKay has received numerous awards and honors from organizations, including the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a graduate of Loyola University of Chicago, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She earned her doctorate in social work from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
About Michael and Noémi Neidorff
Michael Neidorff grew up in Altoona, Penn., and earned his bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in San Antonio and his master’s degree from St. Francis College (now St. Francis University). He became president and chief executive officer of Centene Corp. 21 years ago and moved the company to St. Louis from Milwaukee. In 1996, Centene, a managed-care provider, ended the year with 40,000 members. Today Centene is a Fortune 500 company, a diversified, multinational healthcare enterprise with more than 11 million members in 29 states.
In addition to offering cost-effective coverage solutions to underinsured and uninsured individuals, Centene contracts with other healthcare and commercial organizations to provide specialty services, including behavioral health care, care management software, correctional systems health care, in-home health services, life and health management, managed vision care, pharmacy benefits management, and specialty pharmacy and telehealth services.
An active member of his community, Michael Neidorff has made significant contributions to the development of metropolitan St. Louis. He currently serves on many boards throughout the St. Louis area, including CEOs Against Cancer of St. Louis; Greater St. Louis Boy Scouts of America; the Grand Center Board of Directors; the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Gateway Chapter; Opera Theatre of St. Louis; the St. Louis Regional Chamber; Saint Louis Science Center; St. Louis Symphony; and the United Way of Greater St. Louis. He was appointed as chairman of the National Urban League board in 2014 and chairman of the Trinity University board in 2016.
At Washington University, Neidorff has served on the national council of the Brown School. Last year, Centene Corp. became a partner in the Envolve Center for Health Behavior Change, an industry-academic collaboration among the Brown School, Centene, and Duke University. The center, based in St. Louis, implements behavioral and public health research to improve the health of vulnerable populations. The Centene Charitable Foundation supports the healthcare mission of Centene Corp. through initiatives that improve quality of life and health in local communities. It focuses on providing resources for nonprofit organizations helping families, especially children in need.
Noémi Neidorff is a native of Budapest, Hungary, who, along with her parents, escaped during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. She went on to become a classical pianist and earn both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. She continued post-graduate studies at Columbia University. She is an active leader in the arts community, serving on the Kennedy Center’s International Committee on the Arts and the executive committee of the National Symphony Orchestra. She is a vice chairman on the board of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, chairman of the board of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and on the executive committee of the Manhattan School of Music. She also is on the boards of the Artist Presentation Society, Saint Louis Art Museum, Radio Arts Foundation, and Artists Foundation. She has played a significant role in bringing a new radio station, RAF-STL, to the region, with the mission of bringing classical music back on the air and promoting all of the arts.
In 2015, the Neidorffs were honored with the Jane and Whitney Harris St. Louis Community Service Award in recognition of their efforts to enhance the St. Louis region. The couple designated the cash prize that accompanies the award to Washington University’s College Prep Program. The Neidorffs’ generosity to the university also extends to the School of Medicine, where they established the Neidorff Family and Robert C. Packman Professorship in 2014. The professorship is held by William Hawkins, MD, chief of the Section of Hepatobiliary-Pancreatic and Gastrointestinal Surgery, and is named in honor of Robert Packman, MD, a senior vice president of medical affairs for Centene who previously served as a professor of clinical medicine at the medical school for more than 35 years.