The last words I heard on my first day at Hope & Heroes were “We’ll make it up – it’ll be fun!” The date was April 28th, 2005, and my new colleague was Heather Maloney, then the Executive Director. She was completely right; not only has it been fun, it has also been some of the most fulfilling work of my career.
After a fantastic decade-plus at Columbia, however, I am now ready to take on my next challenge. This is my last week at Hope & Heroes, as I am moving on to a new challenge at the New York Genome Center, where I will be fundraising to support their work translating genomic research into clinical solutions for serious diseases, including cancer in both children and adults.
As you may or may not know, I began my work in the nonprofit field after my son died at the age of 2 ½ due to a brain tumor. Other people may have felt differently, but I loved the idea of working in a hospital setting. I have always felt it was a true privilege to work alongside the extraordinary doctors, nurses, researchers and support staff who have dedicated their lives to doing amazing things for children with cancer and their families. Getting to know doctors like Dr. Michael Weiner and Dr. Andrew Kung, among so many others, has been a constant source of inspiration.
In fact it was Dr. Kung’s work with precision medicine that got me interested in the New York Genome Center. I truly believe that the future of better treatments for cancer and many other difficult diseases, such as ALS and Alzheimer’s, lies in harnessing the information contained in our DNA, and I am thrilled to be able to do my part to advance this work.
While I am very excited about what comes next, there is much I will miss about working at Hope & Heroes. I have met so many incredible families along the way, all of whom have turned the most difficult experience of their lives into hope for others, and many of whom have become good friends.
I am very proud of all I have accomplished here and know that I am leaving Hope & Heroes in good hands with Bob Bomersbach and Katie Leiby, not to mention our board of directors, who support this cause in so many ways. I will be cheering from the sidelines at all they do for children and families in the coming months and years.
In any case, you will see me and Team Jacob at Hope & Heroes Walk on May 22nd – we wouldn’t miss it for the world and it’s just one of the ways I plan to remain a part of the Hope & Heroes community. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, goodbye is too strong a word, so I’ll just say “See you soon.”