Message from the Chair
When I started as Chairman three years ago I could not have imagined how much the Foundation was going to change and how rapidly those changes would come.
The first major change involved the merger of the Association into the Foundation. The merger was handled by a committee drawn from the leadership and staff of both organizations and went very smoothly right up to the formal announcement and “We are 1” Celebration at the national conference in Kansas City in June 2014. Now we see clearly that the combining of our boards and staff has made us a stronger, more efficient organization with a sharp focus on finding a cure for Alpha-1 and improving the lives of people affected by Alpha-1 worldwide. The merger also eliminated the “roles-and-responsibility” confusion that existed amongst our Alphas, industry and advocacy partners, healthcare providers, donors and fellow non-profits.
The second major change came at the Board meeting in the fall of 2015, when John Walsh, the Foundation’s President, CEO and co-Founder, announced to the Board that he wanted to step down as President and CEO and work solely on his vision for the Foundation. He endorsed Henry Moehring, the Vice Chair of our Board, to be our new President and CEO. After discussion by the Board, Henry was unanimously approved as our candidate and a Committee began the task of arranging this transition. Our target date was our national meeting at the end of June in Miami.
The third major change came in January 2016, when John slipped on ice and fell in Washington, DC, suffering a severe head injury. As of now he is still undergoing rehabilitation and we can only pray that he will someday be able to rejoin the Foundation. The Foundation reacted quickly, appointing Immediate Past Board Chairman Ab Rees as Acting President and CEO, and promoting our Vice Presidents (Chief Financial Officer Bob Barrett and Chief Operating Officer Marcia Ritchie) to Executive Vice Presidents. This action demonstrated to our staff and the outside world that in spite of a terrible accident we were prepared to address the situation and would continue our work and focus on our mission. The transition committee went to work to accelerate Henry’s move to become our new President and CEO.
I am happy to report that Henry moved into his new role as President and CEO on Friday, April 29, Ab stepped down as Acting President and CEO and John was appointed as Founder and Chief Visionary Officer. We are hopeful for his return. We now have three very competent executive leaders and an equally strong staff to continue our quest for the cure. By working together, we met all of these difficult challenges and have emerged a stronger organization.
Thank you to the many who worked so hard to guide the Foundation through these challenging times.