Eric Rosenthal Reports

Thoughts and observations about issues, trends, and controversies in the cancer community.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More Merry-Go-Round Movement in Advocacy World Centers Around Changes at CancerCare


I spoke with Diane Blum, MSW, today shortly after receiving an email announcing that she would be leaving her position as Chief Executive Officer of the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) on August 28.



Late in 2009 we had discussed her then-impending move in January 2010 from CancerCare where she had served as its executive director for 20 years (plus another six years there in other positions prior to that) to another New York City-based nonprofit organization, and at that time I also interviewed CancerCare’s incoming CEO Helen H. Miller, LCSW.


So when Blum told me that she would be returning to CancerCare next week as a consultant involved in its transition following Miller’s recent departure, I was more than just a little surprised.           


Blum said that she had informed LRF’s board at the beginning of the year that she would be stepping down on June 30 to pursue consulting and volunteer work.


She said that after 46 years working in structured environments she wanted some more freedom to explore other things. She will be volunteering with Planned Parenthood and the National Executive Service Corporation, and had lined up some paid consulting work before learning about CancerCare’s need for interim leadership, she said.


She also agreed to remain throughout the summer until a new CEO was appointed, and said that former Susan G. Komen President Liz Thompson -- who resigned from that post last September in the aftermath of the Planned Parenthood controversy -- would be replacing her at LRF.


I left a phone message for Miller, and wrote to Susan Smirnoff, President of CancerCare’s Board of Trustees, who replied by email:


“Helen Miller is no longer CEO of CancerCare.  The Executive Committee of the National Board of Trustees wish Helen well in her future endeavors.  We have begun a search for a new CEO, but in the interim, we have put a solid team in place.”

Smirnoff noted that COO John Rutigliano would assume daily responsibility for running CancerCare and would report to a newly established Interim-CEO Group of Board Members, and that Blum would return as a consultant to help with programming and increasing the organization’s visibility “among critical key stakeholders.”

“As you know, social services are the heart and soul of the organization and we are honored to have Diane’s support as we look to the future of CancerCare.”

I will continue to report on these changes are they become available.