|Alison Olig, Executive Director|
Last week, Sarcoma Alliance announced that Alison Olig has been selected as our new Executive Director (ED). In preparing the questions for this first interview with Ali, I thought it would be interesting to start with the same first question I asked of retiring ED, Arthur Beckert . . . .
How much did you know about sarcoma before you started your work with Sarcoma Alliance?
Prior to volunteering with Sarcoma Alliance, most of my sarcoma knowledge came from personal experience. At the age of thirteen, I was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. My treatment included eleven rounds of chemotherapy, five surgeries, and radiation. I am happy to share that I have been cancer-free since the end of treatment.
Through my experience with sarcoma, I developed a deep understanding of the physical, mental, and social ramifications of the disease and its treatment, both to patients and caregivers. By volunteering with the Alliance I gained a much broader understanding of sarcoma, the more than fifty subtypes, its treatments, and the various needs of those affected by connective tissue cancers.
How does being a sarcoma patient make you uniquely qualified to be the Executive Director of Sarcoma Alliance?
Two main reasons come to mind:
The first is mentioned above, in that I have a genuine clear understanding of what someone goes through as a sarcoma patient. I know what it feels like to sit in a doctor’s office and be told that I have cancer, to deal with side effects that sometimes seem as challenging as the cancer itself, and to watch the toll it takes on those I love.
The second is that I can state, without a doubt, that I am completely and utterly committed to the work of Sarcoma Alliance. I am passionate, dedicated, and will put everything I have into furthering our mission.
This is not, not will it ever be “just a job.”
Can you tell us more about your professional background?
From high school on I hoped to eventually have a career in nonprofit management. In furtherance of that goal I obtained a B.S. in Finance, followed by a J.D. Throughout this time I was also very involved with various nonprofits, gaining valuable experience along the way.
After graduating from law school, I worked as an attorney and then in regulatory compliance, all while staying committed to developing my nonprofit skill set. I volunteered for Sarcoma Alliance for several years, specifically as a Board Member for the past three years and as a member of the Executive Committee for a majority of that time.
How will Sarcoma Alliance stay the same under your direction? What changes are you looking forward to? What are the priorities for the Alliance?
Our retiring ED, Arthur Beckert, has accomplished much in support of our mission to provide guidance, education, and support for everyone affected by sarcoma. I hope to continue, and grow upon, this work as well as his commitment to honoring the legacy of our founder, Suzanne Leider. This work will include efforts toward current programs like our Assistance Fund providing grants for second opinion consultations, our Peer-to-Peer Network, and our Facebook Support Group. It will also include new endeavors, such as expanding our working relationship with social workers and increasing sarcoma awareness among general practitioners.
The biggest challenge at Sarcoma Alliance has been obtaining the funding necessary to grow programs. I will work with our Board to generate new sources of funding – and to assist those who wish to fundraise on our behalf – to ensure continued support of the sarcoma community.
Finally, what do you want us to know about you?
How incredibly honored, humbled, and excited I am to have this opportunity.
But for a little about myself – I am married to an amazing man, and together we love spending time with our six-month old son, two dogs, and two cats. They keep me laughing and on my toes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
To learn more about Sarcoma Alliance and our mission to support those affected by sarcoma, please visit our website.