When Horse People Need Help They Go to Other Horse People

Monday, November 16, 2015
Posted by Sue Weakley


Con Hogan

When one of our own needs help, the horse community has always lent a hand. Sometimes, what one of us needs is more than a helping hand; sometimes, it’s a kidney.

Jane Savoie recently sent a mass email asking for help for Con Hogan from Plainfield, Vermont. He is the father of dressage rider and trainer Ruth Hogan- Poulsen, who is based out of Vermont in the summer and South Florida in the winter. Con needs a new kidney and Jane forwarded Con’s plea, which is included below.

“My Dad is in total kidney failure,” Ruth said. “He has been on dialysis for more than two years. He’s been on the kidney transplant list at Dartmouth Medical Center in New Hampshire for two and a half to three years now. I volunteered to give a kidney (and anyone’s blood type will match my Dad’s), but I’m not a tissue-type match, so I could not.”

Then, when he turned 74, he was no longer eligible to receive a kidney according to the Dartmouth list rules. He has since transferred to the list maintained by the state of Maryland. He still goes to work five days a week in the Vermont state capital to fight for the betterment, rights and healthcare of Vermonters every day, despite undergoing dialysis for five hours a day, five days a week.

So, why does Con Hogan deserve a kidney? Ruth said that her father is the type of man who has made everyone’s world a better place by educating people and preventing problems, and he believes he has a lot more to give.

He started a program in Vermont that allows every child under the age of 12 to receive healthcare, no matter the circumstances. He was the Secretary of Vermont’s Agency of Human Services (AHS) from 1991 through 1999.

Prior to serving as AHS secretary, Con had a 15-year career in corrections, including serving as Vermont's Corrections Commissioner, in which he helped close substandard prisons. He was also president and CEO of a successful mid-sized corporation for a decade in the 1980s.Con served as a consultant and trainer both nationally and internationally for governments, public agencies and communities.

The first Con Hogan Award for Creative, Entrepreneurial, Community Leadership was given to Ellen Kahler on Oct. 8 at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. The $15,000 cash award is in celebration of mid-career community leaders who share Con’s vision of a better Vermont−one that places the highest value on the public good−and who seize the responsibility for making that vision a reality.

“Because of his work in the public, nonprofit and private for-profit sectors, he exemplifies the kind of thinking and leadership that Vermont needs as we address the challenges of a new century,” the award criteria states. “Con’s down- to-earth management approach is backed by both sophisticated, tested theory and a nuts-and-bolts practicality.

“Whether the focus is corrections, child well-being or health care, Con serves his state by working to understand the fundamentals of the current situation, finding experts who can educate him about what he doesn’t know, setting a vision for what’s possible and getting to work to make that vision reality,” it continues.

“Throughout this process, he keeps his eye on whether his project is producing the desired results. If it’s not, he looks for another way to get the results.”


According to Ruth, during the awards ceremony in which 500 people from around the world attended, the emcee for the event, Sister Janice Ryan, said, “And by the way all of you, Mr. Con Hogan needs a new kidney.”

Ruth had tried to get her father to allow her to ask for help on Facebook or to stand on a street corner and advertise her father’s need for a kidney, but her father would hear nothing of it. “Sister Janice is the only one who could get away with this,” she said. “My dad is a very proud, private man. It opened the door for us to say, ‘Yep. We need a kidney. Please pass this information on.’”

A 2011 vtdigger.org article about Con called him an ideas man who sees the big picture and knows how things fit together. Several Vermont governors appointed him to high-profile positions including the chair of the Commission on the Accessibility and Affordability of Health Care, and Gov. Richard Snelling’s Transition Team, and Gov. Peter Shumlin’s Green Mountain Care Board.

Con is a mover and a shaker, and he believes he has a lot more moving and shaking left to do. He just needs a kidney to help him do so.

To learn the specifics about the qualifications and evaluation criteria, testing via a blood test, and the rewards and risks of donating a kidney, contact Cheryl Mitchell at cheryl.w.mitchell@gmail.com

Below is the text of the email:

Dear People,  
At the first annual Hogan Award at Vermont College of Fine Arts on October 8, Sister Janice Ryan, who was emceeing the program, announced at the very end “Con needs a kidney.” It was a surprise to the 150 people or so at the function, and was certainly a surprise for me. For those of you who do not know about the Hogan Award, it is a recently established award to be given to a mid-career leader of fifteen thousand dollars, honoring their important work improving the lives of Vermonters. The award will be given each year for ten years. This surprise caused me to seriously consider my situation.   

At the age of 74, I am still working as a member of the Green Mountain Care Board in Vermont. It is work I love, but my health issues are sometimes slowing me down. I’ve been on the transplant list at Dartmouth Hitchcock for over two years and am close to getting on the list at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. But it is increasingly clear that the likelihood of receiving a kidney through this process is getting ever more remote. I’ve had ten related surgeries over the last 3 years, and some of the surgeries require a wait of 6 months before I’m allowed to be active on the list again.   

I have decided to reach out to a network of family, friends and colleagues to see if there is someone out there that might want to donate a kidney. If I had an independent donor that matched my profile, I could go forward with a transplant as early as February.  

When you receive this note, would you please share this with any others that you feel comfortable contacting.  Please know that we are not trying to put anyone on the spot, we are just trying to reach potential interested donors.  

Cheryl Mitchell, who worked with me closely over a lengthy period when I was Secretary of Human Services in Vermont, has volunteered to be my third party organizer of this effort. If anyone who reads this note is so inclined they should contact her at cheryl.w.mitchell@gmail.com. She can guide anyone interested through the testing and evaluation process.  

I am feeling thankful that I am still alive. I believe I still have much to contribute to our world.  I deeply appreciate your sincere consideration of this letter.  

Sincerely Yours,  
Con Hogan