The Board of Visitors: Making a Priceless Contribution
By Michelle Moore
Each fall more than 200 men and women ― business and community leaders from across the country ― convene at MD Anderson to devote their energies, expertise and resources to a cause about which they are passionate. They are the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors (BOV), the personification of MD Anderson’s mission to eradicate cancer.
The BOV is an active group of volunteers who work as a body made of many parts, all with unique functions, yet dependent on each other to work effectively as a whole. The BOV originated in the 1950s with three main objectives:
- Organize and pursue educational functions to create and disseminate knowledge of health.
- Promote, organize, conduct, support and encourage medical and scientific investigations that may result in health benefits to mankind.
- Foster and promote growth, progress and development of research, education and graduate study in medicine and its related fundamental sciences at
MD Anderson and encourage gifts for purposes agreeable to The University of Texas System Board of Regents.
Nancy Loeffler of San Antonio is the current chair and the first woman to hold that post. She joins a list of notables, including former president George H.W. Bush, who’ve consistently led the membership to meet and exceed its goals.
Tasked with assisting in raising funds, awareness and support for MD Anderson, the BOV has helped raise in excess of $700 million since its inception, says Patrick B. Mulvey, vice president for development at MD Anderson. Gifts of time and talents also are crucial to the institution’s mission to eradicate cancer.
Time and again
As the old saying goes, time is money. It’s certainly a commodity traded generously throughout the BOV. Already packed schedules somehow accommodate time commitments such as the annual meeting each fall, numerous events throughout the year and various committees targeting key areas within the institution.
One of the board’s four standing committees, for example, is the Events Committee, co-chaired by Sheridan Williams of Houston and Kit Moncrief of Fort Worth. This committee’s input is crucial to events held as effective fundraisers and “friend raisers” for MD Anderson. The recent 70th anniversary celebration at Minute Maid Park in Houston raised $4.3 million and boosted nationwide awareness of the institution’s research and patient care initiatives over seven decades.
The success of these events depends on an enormous amount of time and effort, which in turn has made many of these events a staple in the Houston community and beyond. Polo on the Prairie, held annually at the Musselman Brothers’ Lazy 3 Ranch in Albany, Texas, is one of the longest running events in MD Anderson history, celebrating 25 years this past April. The event has raised close to $4 million to date, thanks to countless volunteer hours on the part of BOV member Henry Musselman and his wife, Melinda, along with BOV member Mary Anne McCloud, her husband Austin, and a host of family, friends and supporters.
“For the past 30 years, I’ve been honored and privileged to serve as a board member and to witness the level of care given to all patients,” says Regina Rogers, whose relationship with MD Anderson began in the 1960s when her brother underwent thyroid cancer surgery at MD Anderson. “It’s indeed fulfilling to know that my time and our family’s resources have benefited an institution that has become the No. 1 cancer center in the world.”
A Conversation with a Living Legend® is a luncheon-interview format that’s had success in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. A Las Vegas version, co-chaired by Rosey Park of Cleveland, Ohio, is the newest edition, debuting in November 2011, with football legend Franco Harris interviewed by broadcast journalist Larry King. Lyda Hill, Robert Nichols and the late Charles Simmons originated the “Living Legend’ concept in Dallas in 1989. Collectively, the Living Legend events have raised more than $11 million for the institution.
Talent to spare
BOV members are encouraged to bring personal career expertise, skills and talents to the fight against cancer. A case in point is Atlantan Tom Johnson, former chief executive officer of CNN News Group. Johnson, who co-chairs the Public Affairs Committee along with Houstonian Shirley Coskey, has been instrumental in helping secure honorees for Living Legend events, even stepping in on occasion to serve as master of ceremonies and onstage interviewer. Steve Wasserman, vice president and general manager of the NBC affiliate in West Palm Beach, Fla., also supports the Public Affairs Committee, using his expertise to help bridge the gap between MD Anderson and the general public.
“I use my 45 years of experience in journalism and government to help battle cancer,” says Johnson. “Those experiences enabled me to arrange editorial board meetings for Dr. Mendelsohn with the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New York Times and PBS, as well as use my contacts in media, business and government. To the extent possible, I want to help in every way I can to defeat cancer.”
BOV members are generous with their financial resources as well. Approximately 75% contribute financially to ever-challenging capital campaign efforts. To date, the BOV has spearheaded five major campaign initiatives. The current Making Cancer History®: The Campaign to Transform Cancer Care, chaired by Harry J. Longwell of Dallas, has completed a $1.2 billion goal. Its original $1 billion goal was met two years early thanks to enthusiastic BOV involvement.
The BOV Development Committee, as well as the Strategic Advisory Committees and its advisory groups (Children’s Cancer Hospital, Clinical Business, Global Business, Intellectual Properties and Texas Medical Center/City Interactions), also help ensure funding for crucial areas of cancer research. Their collective goal is to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients around the world.
“Philanthropy is a key component in the lifeblood of MD Anderson, enabling the institution to accomplish the extraordinary, which sets it apart from other institutions,” says Longwell. “The Board of Visitors is vital to the institution’s philanthropic efforts, contributing approximately one third of the funds raised and assisting the Development Office in generating other contributions. This is a key role for BOV members in addition to their other contributions of advice, counsel and participation.”
The BOV is and has been an integral part of the success and achievements at MD Anderson. Through both tangible and intangible resources, the BOV continues to lead the way in helping MD Anderson on the journey to Making Cancer History®.
Board of Visitors Campaign Initiatives
Fulfill The Promise
- Chair: Ben F. Love*
- Original time: September 1993-August 1997
- Actual time: September 1993-December 1995
- Original goal: $151 million
- Total raised: $151.5 million
Cynthia and George Mitchell Basic Sciences Research Building
- Chair: Jack Blanton Sr.
- Original time: May 1998-August 2001
- Actual time: September 1998-August 2001
- Original goal: $75 million
- Total raised: $75 million
George and Barbara Bush Endowment for Innovative Cancer Research
- Chair: Sue and Tim Timken and Robert A. Mosbacher Sr.*
- 75th Birthday Celebration (George H.W. Bush) 1998-1999
- 60th Anniversary Celebration (MD Anderson) 2001
- 80th Birthday Celebration (George H.W. Bush) 2004
- Total raised: $50 million
South Campus Research Initiative
- Chair: Ernest H. Cockrell
- Original time: January 2005-December 2009
- Actual time: January 2005-September 2007
- Original goal: $100 million
- Total raised: $135 million
Making Cancer History®: The Campaign to Transform Cancer Care
- Chair: Harry J. Longwell
- Original time: September 2007-August 2012
- Actual time: September 2007-August 2011
- Original goal: $1 billion
- Total raised: In excess of $1.2 billion
Past BOV Chairs
|Ernest H. Cockrell||Richard J.V. Johnson*||J. Kenneth Jamieson*|
|Marc J. Shapiro||John H. Duncan||Ben F. Love*|
|Peter R. Coneway||Edwin L. Cox||John S. Dunn Sr.*|
|George H.W. Bush||Robert A. Mosbacher Sr.*||Thomas D. Anderson*|
|Forrest E. Hoglund||Dan C. Williams*||Leroy Jeffers*|
|Robert R. Onstead*||O. Pendleton Thomas*||James E. Anderson*|
|Red McCombs||T. Boone Pickens|
|Randall Meyer||Nat S. Rogers||*Since deceased|
FY 2012 BOV Officers
|Nancy B. Loeffler, chair||Harry J. Longwell, chair elect|
|Melvyn N. Klein, vice chair and membership and board development chair||Ernest H. Cockrell, immediate past chair|