About Us



At the Miller-Dwan Foundation, we take the time to truly understand our region’s health care needs – your needs and the needs of your family, your friends and your neighbors.



From the Caring Ways Cancer Resource Center and Solvay Hospice House to Amberwing – Center for Youth & Family Well-Being, the Miller-Dwan Foundation bravely develops solutions to our region’s most challenging healthcare problems.



The Miller-Dwan Foundation is committed to addressing the long-term needs of our region. We work to transform, enrich and save lives by sustaining vital existing programs like the Nat G. Polinsky Medical Rehabilitation Center, the Dwan Burn Center and countless community efforts. You can trust that we will be both prudent and daring in supporting existing needs and exploring the unknown. Because the future of our region, our health, and our families rely on each of us realize the power we hold today. With millions invested in area programs, projects and initiatives, we take care of those you care about.
This is our responsibility and our privilege.



The Miller-Dwan Foundation is firmly rooted in the tradition of noteworthy individual philanthropy. From a historical bequest given by A. M. Miller that created Miller Memorial Hospital to the longstanding and expansive interests of Mary C. Dwan, charitable, community-minded people have shaped the legacy and the future of the Miller-Dwan Foundation.


Andreas Mitchell Miller 1838-1917

Painted portrait of Andreas Mitchell

Andreas Mitchell Miller was the visionary and sole financial contributor to the original Miller Memorial Hospital, now Essentia Health Duluth (formerly Miller-Dwan Medical Center). A. M. Miller was also an important figure in the development and economic health of Duluth, using his financial expertise and civic responsibility to guide the community from its money troubles. This lead to his position as mayor in 1877.


During the years that followed, Miller saw many Duluthians suffer and die from waves of typhoid fever epidemics. Despite Lake Superior’s endless supply of fresh water, the municipal intake pipes were improperly placed and contaminated by raw sewage, therefore making people deathly sick. Through his financial backing, the city was able to take over the waterworks, build deeper intake pipes and a pump house nine miles distant from the center of the population. Andreas Miller retired from active business interests in Minnesota and relocated to New York City, where he built and owned the controlling interest in the Savoy Hotel, but his concern for the city never waned.


That was proven on January 5, 1917, when he instructed the United States Trust Company of New York to change the terms of a trust that he had created. The trust—containing $600,000 of municipal bonds—said that the income would go to Miller during his lifetime and to several charities when he died. Miller told the trustee to delete the charities, and gave the Trust Company a piece of paper instructing it to replace the charities with the following language:


“… upon his death to transfer and pay over said securities in property to the City of Duluth, Minnesota, for the establishment of a free and public hospital and dispensary, in a cheerful and convenient location within the city for secular use and benefit of worthy sick and helpless poor, without distinction of sex, color, creed, or nationality who are not afflicted with any loathsome or contagious disease…”


At his death, he not only left the bequest for the municipal hospital and dispensary, but he left substantial sums to various private institutions and to the city for playground facilities. The A. M. Miller Memorial Hospital opened on May 13, 1934, almost 17 years after the death of its donor.


Mary C. Dwan — 1973

Black and white portrait of Mary C. Dwan

Mary C. Dwan was born in Faribault, Minnesota, where her grandfather had been a pioneer. The daughter of a widow, she worked her way through the University of Minnesota, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Upon graduation, she taught school briefly, then went to Washington, D.C. during
World War I to do medical social work with hospitalized soldiers.


Mrs. Dwan was an exceedingly generous philanthropist. In addition to a lifetime of giving, she donated $2.4 million in 1968 to help expand Miller Memorial Hospital. Upon its completion in 1971, the facility was renamed Miller-Dwan Hospital and Medical Center in honor of her gift.


Dwan’s desire to give would become her legacy, and in turn, the legacy of the Foundation. After her death in 1973, a gift in the form of a charitable lead trust provided more than $2.7 million for the establishment of an endowment to benefit the hospital and related community healthcare activities. This gift formed the beginning of the Miller-Dwan Foundation and a lasting family relationship.


Mary C. Dwan’s wishes, and those of her family, continue to guide the Foundation and are reflected in the Foundation’s activities and special projects.