Kohlis Give Back to Provide Opportunities

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Kohli Hall at Youngstown State University, which houses the Excellence Training Center, is the most visible sign of Dr. Chander and Karen Kohli’s philanthropy, but hardly the only one.

The Kohlis will be honored with the Outstanding Philanthropists award at the Association of Fundraising Professionals Mahoning-Shenango Chapter’s National Philanthropy Day Awards event.

The Kohlis, who live in Girard, were nominated by Paul McFadden, president of the Youngstown State University Foundation, and Scott Schulick, senior vice president/investments at Stifel Financial Corp.

“Their love for the community and generosity is evident in their personalities,” says Schulick, who served on the YSU Board of Trustees with Chander Kohli and now serves with him on the YSU Foundation board. 

“They are very special people,” McFadden says. “They have extremely kind hearts. They’re very concerned about the community and they love the community. They want to see it prosper and they want to provide opportunities for people.”

Chander Kohli, a native of India, came to the United States in 1966, after graduating from medical school and serving three years in the Indian army, to pursue neurosurgery as a specialty.

“When I was in the army, I read the medical books,” he recalls. “I was interested more in neurology and neurosurgery than in any other specialty.”

During an internship at Elyria Memorial Hospital, Kohli met a nurse there, Karen Lee Prindle, whom he eventually married.

“He was the best resident we had,” she recalls. “When you needed something, you called him and he would come.”

After they were married, the Kohlis moved to Canada where he had accepted a neurosurgery residency, and then to Pittsburgh to complete his residency. The couple eventually wound up in Youngstown, where he partnered with another local neurosurgeon, and practiced at area hospitals.

Over the years, beneficiaries of the Kohlis’ philanthropy have included YSU and Northeast Ohio Medical University, where he served as a member and as chairman of both institutions’ boards of trustees.

Much of their giving has been in honor of their late son, Aneal, who died in 2007, to keep his name alive, Chander Kohli says. In his memory, they donated more than $1 million to NEOMED, which recognized the contribution by renaming its library in his honor, the Aneal Mohan Kohli Academic and Information Technology Center. Their contributions also have paid for the streaming of lectures for NEOMED students.

“My son dearly loved technology,” Chander Kohli reflects. “I learned a lot from him, so I wanted to get involved with technology in his name.”

The Kohlis’ $5 million contribution to YSU, made as part of the We See Tomorrow capital campaign, funded 19 “classrooms of the future” on campus.   

“Most of the donations we’ve made were in his name,” Karen Kohli says.

Others who have benefited from the couple’s giving include the India Association of Greater Youngstown, United Way, American Cancer Society International Institute and Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center, to which they donated a magnetic resonance imaging scanner.

“When you’re blessed enough to have enough, it feels like the right thing to do, to share it,” Karen Kohli says. They get letters from students who have received scholarships named after their son. “It feels good to know that someone else has benefited,” she says. “It just feels like the right thing to do.”

Pictured at top: Chander and Karen Kohli focus their philanthropy on advancing medical education, research and technology.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.