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Ed Forum 2017

Introducing the new IWMF President & CEO: Rick Smith

Aug 16, 2019

Since our inception, the IWMF Board of Trustees has been an Operating Board of all volunteers. That means that the Board not only directs the big picture strategy and policies of the IWMF, but is hands-on in executing everything we do, from writing, proofreading and executing IWMF eNEWS pieces like this, to selecting, contracting and monitoring progress on all of our research projects. This structure means one or more IWMF Board members works with our staff and other volunteers in every single aspect of our work. As the IWMF has grown, our Board has been stretched far beyond what volunteers can be expected to do. In order to accomplish our ambitious goals, in February, the IWMF Board decided to move from an Operating Board to a Governing Board. This change will enable us to better serve our members and to intensify our search for a cure.

As the first step, the Board initiated a search for a full time IWMF President & CEO. We created a job description, placed an ad, and alerted all of our partners that we were looking, in case they knew any good candidates. We received a strong response from a lot of qualified candidates who were intrigued by the chance to make a difference in the lives of WMers everywhere. We carefully screened and reduced the resumes to eleven candidates for preliminary interviews, then to six semifinalists for more online interviews, and then to three finalists for in-person interviews. We were very careful and diligent about the process to ensure we found exactly the right person to lead us forward.

We are excited to have found an outstanding person and leader in Rick Smith, who started as the IWMF President & CEO (Chief Executive Officer) on August 12th. Rick has made non-profit work his entire career. Some highlights:

  • Area Vice President with the American Diabetes Foundation
  • Chapter President in several locations at the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation
  • President & CEO at the American Liver FoundationA
  • CEO at the International Dyslexia Foundation

If you want to know more, Rick’s resume is here.

Since that’s such an impressive background, why did Rick choose to join the IWMF?

“I was lucky to find what I loved when I was just 20. I was a scholarship athlete at the University of New Mexico. As part of my scholarship, I was asked to do public service. I found I loved the work at the local YMCA and have made non-profit work my entire career. I’ve always been drawn to making a difference in people’s lives. I want to go to bed each night knowing that I’ve done something to help someone somewhere."

“When I saw the IWMF ad asking if I wanted to make a difference, I was intrigued. In investigating the IWMF, I found a passionate organization that was doing excellent work in three critical areas: patient education, patient support and leading the search for a cure. I felt I could help the IWMF take the step to become an even stronger organization and touch far more people’s lives at their immediate point of need. As our essential movement gets stronger and louder we will create better future pathways for people, caregivers and families whose lives are impacted by Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia.”

Carl Harrington, who has been our volunteer President since 2012, says: “I am absolutely thrilled to have Rick join the IWMF team. I’ll be staying on with the new title of Chairman of the Board of the IWMF, and helping Rick and the IWMF Board of Trustees build better tomorrows for WMers everywhere. This is a great day for WMers and bad news for WM cancer cells!”

A little final information about Rick: His legal name is Rex but he goes by Rick. That’s because his brother couldn’t pronounce Rex as a young child – it always came out as Wreck! And that became Rick. So don’t be alarmed if you get an email or call from Rick and the address or caller id says Rex….it’s really Rick. Rick lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, his 14- and 10-year-old sons and his mother.

Please join us in welcoming Rick to the IWMF team. You can reach him at rsmith@iwmf.com or by calling the IWMF Office, 941-927-4963.

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