What inspired you to join the Board of Visitors?
I believe anyone who has a strong and focused conviction about any idea in life should roll up his or her sleeves and get involved in making that idea evolve into reality. The noble goals and mission of MD Anderson sit well with my philanthropic ideas. Therefore, I had to become part of the effort to reach its goals.
As BOV vice chair, what are your goals?
We should become ambassadors at large for MD Anderson around the world. The board also should strive to provide practical and innovative ideas for implementation by the institution's leadership.
Please describe your role as chairman of the Membership and Board Development Committee.
In this function, I channel all energies into recruiting likeminded philanthropists to join our effort and get involved not only financially but also intellectually.
What is most rewarding about the BOV?
For me, it's the satisfaction that I've made a difference as a member of a team of dynamic and progressive visionaries, as well as to see the ideas and guidelines we've developed and implemented at work right before my eyes.
What motivates you to devote your time and resources to MD Anderson?
Back in 1999, I chaired a fundraising effort for a young Iranian student in Houston who was diagnosed with leukemia. Obviously, the best choice for his treatment was MD Anderson, so I initiated contacts with the institution. I found everyone to be extremely courteous, cooperative and welcoming. This initial experience prompted me to expand our charity effort into a nonprofit organization with a broader mission to assist cancer patients with limited or no financial means. Through the activities of this organization, I became far more educated about MD Anderson's services and facilities and its mission to reach out to all cancer patients without prejudice and discrimination. The faculty and staff with whom I came in contact convinced me that MD Anderson is indeed a worthy cause in serving humanity and an excellent institution for research toward eliminating cancer. This was reason enough for my motivation to devote my personal and financial resources to promote its mission.
What challenges lie ahead for the BOV?
The most stimulating short-term challenge for the Board of Visitors is to help navigate MD Anderson through the current uncharted economic downturn. The ultimate challenge, however, is to help the institution reach its goal of eradicating cancer. In the meantime, we must continue to spread awareness of MD Anderson as the best cancer research and treatment institution in the world.