RYE BROOK, NY, July 20, 2020 - The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) announced today National Board Officer appointments and four new members to its National Board of Directors, who will work alongside LLS leadership to ensure that the organization continues to deliver its cancer curing mission and impact for patients, despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Effective July 1, 2020, the new officer appointments include: Ralph E. Lawson, Board Chair, Jeff Sachs, Vice Chair, Ruben Mesa, M.D., At Large and Kathleen Meriwether, Secretary/Treasurer.
Also effective July 1, 2020, new board member appointments include: Richard Bagger, Richard M. Rendina, Alessandra Tocco and Freda Wang.
"Volunteers are the soul of our organization and volunteer leadership is a key factor in the success of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We look forward to witnessing the impact of our new slate of officers and we are incredibly honored to welcome these distinguished members to the LLS Board of Directors," said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS president and CEO. "Our board comprises a broad range of impactful world-class leaders who collectively use their passion, talent and expertise to drive the LLS mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Despite the uncertain times we are all living in, I am confident LLS is strategically positioned to ignite unprecedented cancer breakthroughs and remain laser-focused on our pursuit of a world without blood cancer. Our patients need us now, more than ever."
LLS Board & Leadership Announcements:
- Board Member, Rich Bagger, (Westfield, NJ): Bagger served as executive vice president of corporate affairs and market access for Celgene from January 2012 through December 2019, where he oversaw communications, patient advocacy, government relations and policy, market access, global health and corporate responsibility. Before joining Celgene, Bagger was chief of staff for New Jersey governor Chris Christie. His public service also includes 11 years in the New Jersey senate and assembly, where he was chair of the appropriations committee and majority conference leader. Previously, Bagger worked at Pfizer for more than 16 years in a series of positions of increasing responsibility within the company's U.S. pharmaceuticals, corporate affairs and worldwide pharmaceuticals divisions. He currently teaches at the Rutgers University Eagleton Institute of Politics and is a Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He received a bachelor's degree from Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs and a law degree from Rutgers University Law School.
- Chair, Ralph E. Lawson, FHFMA, CPA (Parkland, FL): Lawson is a widely acclaimed expert in United States Healthcare. He has testified before Congress and has spoken at hundreds of healthcare meetings and conferences nationally and internationally. During his 30-year tenure as the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Baptist Health South Florida, Inc., he was instrumental in expanding Baptist from a single hospital in Miami to the largest provider of healthcare services in South Florida. Baptist now operates eleven hospitals and more than 100 outpatient facilities and physician practices in four counties with more than 23,000 employees. Before joining Baptist Health in 1989, Lawson was a general partner with Deloitte and responsible for the Florida healthcare practice. He meets the Sarbanes Oxley and SEC definition of an Audit Committee Financial Expert. Presently, Lawson serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of Boca Raton Regional Hospital, and is the Chairman of the Board of Catholic Health Services, the largest provider of post-acute healthcare services in Florida. He is the past national chair of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, with more than 40,000 members and 68 chapters. Lawson is retained by Navigant, Inc., as a National Advisor. He earned a bachelor's degree in science from the University of Colorado, and a master's degree in business administration from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. As a 25-year cancer survivor, he is deeply sensitive to the ravages of the various cancer diseases. He has long been an LLS champion and philanthropist, including serving three times as the chair or co-chair of the Light The Night Walk in Miami.
- Secretary/Treasurer, Kathleen Meriwether, (Philadelphia, PA): Previously At Large of the LLS Board, Meriwether retired recently as the Americas Life Sciences leader for Ernst & Young LLP's Forensic & Integrity practice. She specializes in assisting health sciences companies with global risks and compliance assessments and regulatory compliance analysis. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, she served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She previously spent more than 16 years with Bristol-Myers Squibb Company in a number of legal, regulatory affairs and compliance positions, including division counsel for the Oncology and Immunology franchise.
- At Large, Ruben Mesa, M.D., FACP, (San Antonio, TX): Dr. Mesa is director of the Mays Cancer Center, home to the UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, where he holds the Mays Family Foundation Distinguished University presidential chair. Dr. Mesa has been principal investigator or co-principal investigator in more than 70 clinical trials for patients with myeloid disorders and played a lead role in various FDA approvals. He has been a funded investigator of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) throughout his career and currently is Co-Principal Investigator of the NCI Program Project Grant Funded Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Research Consortium, where he co-leads the clinical trial consortium. Dr. Mesa plays a range of leadership roles with the American Society of Hematology, and is chair of the Standing Science and Education Committee for the International Society of Hematology. Dr. Mesa completed his undergraduate training in nuclear engineering and physiology at University of Illinois and attended Mayo Medical School in Rochester, MN, where he completed his internal medicine residency and hematology & medical oncology fellowship. He was then on the faculty of the Mayo Clinic in hematology and later served as deputy director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center from 2012-2017.
- Board Member, Richard M. Rendina, (Jupiter, FL): Rendina is chairman and chief executive officer of Rendina Healthcare Real Estate, where he has led all strategic and operational functions of the company since December 2006. Under his leadership, Rendina continues to develop, acquire and manage a premier portfolio of healthcare real estate throughout the country. He has personally overseen the development and acquisition of nearly two million square feet of real estate in 13 states, representing project costs of approximately $500 million. In 2013, he received the "Ultimate CEO Award" from the South Florida Business Journal, and was the recipient of the 2014 "Legacy Award" from the Palm Beach County Medical Society. He earned a bachelor of business administration degree from University of Notre Dame, majoring in management and entrepreneurship.
- Vice Chair, Jeff Sachs, (Duluth, GA): Sachs is the North American managing director of Jones Lang LaSalle's Hotels and Hospitality Strategic Advisory and Asset Management Group. Before joining JLL, Sachs was a founding partner of Strategic Advisory Group, which was acquired by JLL in early 2016. Prior to forming Strategic Advisory Group in 1998, he was the national director of the public assembly consulting practice and the southeast director of the hospitality practice for Ernst & Young. He earned a bachelor's and master's degree in accounting from the University of Iowa. Sachs has been a volunteer with LLS since 2005, one year after surviving a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia.
- Board Member, Alessandra Tocco, (New York, NY): Tocco has over 30 years of experience in the alternatives investment industry. Most recently, she served as a managing director focusing on business strategy for a fixed income asset management firm, Good Hill Partners. Prior to joining Good Hill Partners, she was a managing director at J.P. Morgan, sitting on the prime brokerage management committee, where she was responsible for creating and overseeing the Global Capital Advisory Group. Before that, she was a director of US capital introduction at ABN-AMRO, focusing on macro and fixed income strategies. In 2015, she was honored as one of the "50 Leading Women in Hedge Funds" by The Hedge Fund Journal. Outside of the office, she supports several local charities and civic organizations and is the current president of the New York Alternative Investment Roundtable, an organization tasked with promoting education and best practices within the alternative investment industry. Prior to joining the LLS Board, she sat on LLS's investment committee and the youth development committee of the NYC Chapter of the YMCA. Tocco holds a bachelor's degree in finance from Mercy College and continues to work closely with the development office at Mercy, where she helps students prepare for a career in finance.
- Board Member, Freda Wang, (New York, NY): Wang is a managing director in Goldman Sachs' Public Sector & Infrastructure Group within the investment banking division. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, she was a managing director and head of structured banking within the Municipal Securities Group at UBS. Wang has spent over two decades providing investment banking services to some of the country's largest public sector organizations, including state and local governments, public utility systems, transportation and mass transit agencies and other public and quasi-public organizations. Freda was named the 2018 Woman of the Year candidate for LLS's Connecticut Westchester Hudson Valley Chapter. She currently serves as treasurer and board member of FUSE Corps, and as vice chair of the board and chair of the finance committee of New York City Health & Hospitals. Freda earned a bachelor's degree in urban studies with a concentration in economics from Columbia College of Columbia University in New York City.
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is a global leader in the fight against cancer. The LLS mission: cure leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit www.LLS.org. Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., ET.
The LLS Children's Initiative: Cures and Care for Children with Cancer
The LLS Children's Initiative is a $100 million multi-year effort to take on children's cancer through every facet of LLS's mission: research, patient education and support and policy and advocacy. The LLS Children's Initiative includes: more pediatric research grants, a global precision medicine clinical trial, expanded free education and support services for children and families and driving policies and laws that break down barriers to care. To learn more, visit www.lls.org/childrens-initiative.
Contact: Andrea Greif
Vice President, Communications