A Conversation With Mike Wargo

Mike Wargo, COO, Hospice Foundation

Biography

Mike Wargo is Chief Operating Officer of the Hospice Foundation, supporting foundation of Center for Hospice Care, and U.S. partner of the Palliative Care Association of Uganda.

Following graduation from Indiana University, Mike served a 4-year stint in the U.S. Air Force and then spent the next several years teaching college and working as a human resources professional in the banking industry. Mike joined Quality Dining just as the company was preparing to embark upon an initial public offering to expand its operations nationally. As vice president of human resources, he lead growth of the company’s employee base from about 2,000 to more than 12,000 during an aggressive corporate expansion period in which the business grew from just 48 restaurants operating in three states to more than 300 company-owned stores in 40 states.

Throughout his professional career, Mike has served in board and leadership positions with numerous not-for-profit organizations, including WNIT Public Television, the Indiana University Executive Council, Northern Indiana Workforce Investment Board and the South Bend Parks Foundation. In addition, he’s served as board chairman of the Indiana University South Bend Alumni Association, the American Institute of Banking and Workforce Development Group. In 1997, Mike became involved with Center for Hospice Care, eventually serving as its board chairman and as a founding member of its supporting foundation.

In 1999, Wargo ventured out on his own to start up a new business venture that ultimately became what he’s retrospectively labeled a total employer outsourcing solution. What began in a spare room of his home as Wargo & Associates soon evolved into an amalgamation of multiple related partnerships and business entities, each providing services in which they specialized, and collectively providing clients with everything from payroll processing and benefits administration to recruiting and outplacement services. As Wargo Enterprises Inc. continued to expand into the real estate development and retail industries, Mike became even more involved with his volunteer work in the hospice movement and ultimately felt a call to refocus his full energy in that direction. In 2008, he sold his various business interests and began devoting 100% of his time and attention to building the Hospice Foundation that he helped establish just a year earlier. This renewed focus has lead Mike toward supporting international efforts to deliver hospice and palliative care in third world countries. As a result, the Hospice Foundation has become active in supporting organizations like Global Partners in Care and the Foundation for Hospices in Subsaharan Africa, through which it was connected to the Palliative Care Association of Uganda.

The goal of educating people about the plight of those dying deep in the villages of Uganda, as well as that of the children they leave behind, lead Mike to produce and direct documentary films that raise awareness of those issues. His first film, entitled “Okuyamba,” the Lugandan word meaning ‘to help,’ follows the work of nurses caring for patients dying deep in the villages of Uganda. As a follow-up, “Road to Hope” focuses on the challenges of children who cared for their dying parents and who now have no one to care for and no one left to care for them.

Mike has earned certificates in Non Profit Executive Leadership and Executive Fund Development Leadership from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame and associate’s and bachelor’s degrees from Indiana University South Bend. He resides in Granger, Indiana with his wife, Dena, and enjoys spending time with their three children: Michael, Grant and Blair.

For more information about his work, visit Mike's foundation website.