Serving Others

Date: October 01, 2018

As a successful businesswoman and politically engaged community member, Chair of the Board of Advisors Seana Gaherin finds strength in serving others.

Dunn-Gaherin’s Food and Spirits has served Newton, Needham and the surrounding area for 27 years. What motivated you to open it and what’s the key to its success? 

My partner Bob Dunn grew up in Needham and always had an interest in the restaurant business. The key has been serving the community. Pubs are basically the original community centers—if you think about their purpose in Ireland, they really serve the community. People worked hard all day in the agricultural fields and then would come to the pubs, to socialize, to find out was going on with their neighbors, and to just connect. My passion has always been connecting with people and giving back; here, I can help bring people together. 

Where does that passion to serve come from?
I think it's my heritage; I'm a kid of Irish immigrants and they had to work hard together, collectively, to help one another survive and thrive. I was raised to believe that in order to succeed in life, you have to do more for others—giving back with no expectation of getting back. I’m inspired by Benjamin Franklin, believe it or not, one of the founders of American philanthropy, who helped open the first public hospital in Philadelphia. He saw that a wide range of people can help create, support and serve the things that we need in our neighborhoods to keep us healthy and happy.

What did you want to accomplish when you joined the hospital’s Board of Advisors in 2016?
I felt like it was such an honor and such a privilege to be one of 60 people who have this tremendous enthusiasm for the hospital. I see my role as mobilizing my relationships and making connections to help shed light on what the hospital does, to speak out about this extraordinary gem that we have in our community. 

But we can never rest on our laurels as we face new legislations and new challenges. My hope is that people in the community dig deep and understand the issues that can impact our everyday lives. We must work carefully to protect the high-quality, world-class care that we have built here.

Are there moments from your experiences here that you are most proud of?
The hospital has helped see my husband's parents through their life and so many challenges, with medical care, and just as importantly, with social work, which becomes so critical with Needham’s aging population. My brother-in-law was diagnosed at BID–Needham with lung cancer and was airlifted to the main campus, which saved his life for a  few more years through his journey. 

I’m also tremendously proud of our Emergency Department staff. They showed so much strength around the tragedies that we endured in town this year, helping assist families and friends with a great deal of compassion. 

In the end, I get to be part of this amazing organization that's led by incredible people, like John Fogarty and Sam Sherman. They bring together this level of professionalism, a vision for responding to the growing needs of the community, and I get to be a part of that team. Together, we can accomplish so much.

Republished from the Fall 2018 issue of Giving Strength; read more at