The Deju Family Joins John Muir Health in the Fight Against Cancer
Raul and Shari Deju know first-hand that “giving back” not only impacts others with positive outcomes, but also brings them indescribable joy. They are delighted to be UCSF-John Muir Health legacy donors, contributing to California’s newest major cancer center.
“We are delighted that our philanthropy is making a difference for other people,” Shari explains. “Raul and I have different upbringing, cultures, and families but we have the same set of values that serve as a guide to our contributions.”
Shari grew up in the rural Eastern Washington State community of Kennewick, close to the banks of the Columbia River and near the Hanford Nuclear government site. “We had chores on the farm, schoolwork, animals to feed, and maybe most importantly, we knew we would always work things through together,” Shari recalls. Today Shari spends a great deal of time creating magnificent quilts for family and friends, showcasing her creativity.
Days before his 14th birthday when the Cuban government would have considered him for military duty, Raul was able to legally immigrate to Florida. “I came to this country with nothing… alone with no money, and no parents or family and one day I will donate to charity that not needed by my family,” he explains. Nothing has stopped him since he arrived in Miami, Florida. By age 20 he had earned a bachelor’s degree in Math and Physics and began working on a Doctorate in a different field and by age 22 he received a Doctorate in Hydrology (Water Resources). Within a year of graduation, he had published one of the first books in Hydrology and tens of articles in his field.
The Deju’s have travelled all over the world. He has been CEO, President and other key positions of several global, multi-billion-dollar companies, written 7 additional books, taken several companies public, taught at major universities, and worked around the world, including advising various government leaders of both parties on NAFTA and energy policies. But their home in the East Bay through the last 34 years remains ground zero for Raul and Shari. In fact, he still works in the world of private equity as a partner at Brightstar Capital Partners, a private equity firm partnering with companies owned by families, founders, and entrepreneurs.
“There are many ways of giving back beyond just writing a check,” Raul added. “My time, my rolodex, my service on committees, and my lifetime connections are all part of how I can help build the best future for all of us and generations to come.” As part of inspiring the next generation of business creators, Raul founded the Institute of Entrepreneurial Leadership and has mentored students who’ve created companies collectively with current annual revenue exceeding $5 billion dollars. A year ago, Raul and a couple of his Silicon Valley friends created a free, interactive entrepreneurship course program online that can be used by any entrepreneur anywhere in the world trying to launch a business. In fact, since its launch more than 200,000 students have begun taking the course. He also serves on the Board of his alma mater’s foundation, the New Mexico Institute of Technology, where he and his wife Shari built a University Center and will soon be launching a major national hydrologic center.
Even with all his professional success, Raul claims his greatest achievement is having a growing family and a large group of friends who want to help their fellow Americans. The Deju’s feel a deep connection with John Muir Health. “This hospital is an important part of our lives,” Shari explains, remembering the care her mother-in-law received when battling against cancer. “The new UCSF-John Muir Cancer Pavilion will be a place offering the very best care to people in our local community to fight this dreadful disease.” “We are very proud to be part of this exciting project as early contributors and funders of the project,” added Raul. “We are delighted that UCSF and John Muir came together to create a world class cancer center in our backyard.”