Starting in 2018, the Cancer Policy Insitute will be profiling advocates who have been engaged in advocacy in their home state, their community, with elected officials, and more. Read on to learn more about our first featured advocate and her advice and tips for getting involved in advocacy in your own life. If you are interested in learning more about policy, advocacy, and ways to get involved, sign up to be a part of the Grassroots Network!
Bev Soult, President and CEO, CSC Central Ohio
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have worked on a variety of projects throughout my career that have led me to and aided me in my current position as President and CEO of the Cancer Support Community of Central Ohio. I have experience as VP of National Events and Partnership Development, working such events as the NCAA Final Four, NBA All-Star game, NFL Super Bowl, and more.
I was the Executive Director of First Night Columbus for 11 years and successfully led the organization to receiving top international awards including being recognized as the largest family-oriented, drug and alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event in the mid-west.
I have been a member of the Ohio Partners for Cancer Control for nine years and currently serve as Chair. I previously served as Co-Chair for the 2015-2020 State Cancer Plan and served as Chair for Patient Centered Services, Clinical Trials and Research and Hospice and Palliative Care. I also currently serve as a board member on the Hospice of Central Ohio Board of Directors.
I have had a life-long commitment to volunteerism and making an impact in my community and state. I am proud to have been recognized at the national, state and local levels for my volunteer leadership and outstanding community service. My greatest joy though is my family. I’ve been married for 39 years and have three amazing sons, two daughters-in-law and a granddaughter—plus a wedding coming up in May, adding one more beautiful daughter-in-law and a granddaughter!
How did you get connected with the Cancer Support Community?
I had been working with Athletes in Action doing national partnerships and decided to look locally at opportunities with non-profits. A friend of mine was an executive recruiter and had been associated with the – then Wellness Community. I was surprised that through all my volunteer work I had not heard of this organization. My father had lung cancer 36 years ago and after reading what The Wellness Community offered, I thought what a gift this would have been to my family. I interviewed with Harry Davidow and many, many others and my final interview was with Susan Brown who I thought the world of at national headquarters.
Did you have experience with advocacy in any capacity before joining CSC? (e.g. legislator meetings, hosting educational events, writing letters or calling, writing pieces for media outlets, posting on your personal Facebook, sharing information with your community, etc)
I’ve been with CSC for ten years, so no Facebook “way back then”. When I was Executive Director of First Night Columbus, I was heavily involved with the Governor and First Lady, Ohio Attorney General, Franklin County Commissioners and Mayor of Columbus. Our event was family focused, drug and alcohol free, and brought the entire mid-west together for a wonderful New Year’s Eve celebration. I spent considerable time in each branch of these government offices and learned so much. It truly helped me learn more about the intersection of non-profit work and the government, allowed me to network within the state legislature, and become more involved with the governor’s office and first lady.
Afterwards, I was invited to be on the leadership team of Make a Difference Day Ohio among other state led initiatives including becoming the Chair of our statewide Comprehensive Cancer Program and state cancer plan.
In what ways have you been involved with advocacy with CSC?
I first became involved when CSC headquarters started advocating for national affiliates to become more involved in advocacy. I began simply by writing letters to my elected officials. I was also lucky to have a board member who was the Executive Director of Ohio Jewish Communities and she helped pave the way to many important introductions and ultimately support for me and for CSC Central Ohio both locally and in DC. I have worked hard to devote time when I can to building relationships and advocating because I know that the more we can inform our legislature on the issues we encounter and our own stories, the more we can advocate for cancer survivors.
Is there one issue you are particularly passionate about?
I’d love to share more with our legislatures about the impact we are making on cost of care. We do marvelous research that proves we are improving quality of life and showing that real-time savings would certainly benefit our organization and our community.
What is one tip or piece of advice you’d like to share with others who are interested in becoming an advocate?
It is certainly a privilege to lead Cancer Support Community Central Ohio and I am certain that each of my colleagues feel the same way. By becoming an advocate, at any level, we are able to unify our organization throughout the nation and become one voice for Cancer Support Community/Gilda’s Club, advocating for all cancer patients and survivors. Every day we make a difference and I can’t express enough the importance of getting active in your community and state cancer organization. Getting involved in these ways brings significant benefits to our organization, but most importantly it allows all of us to join together and elevate the voices of the cancer patients and survivors that we serve every day.
Tell us something fun about yourself—any hobbies, interests, or fun facts?
I have a twin brother, I love collecting silver, china, and crystal, and I love a great cup of coffee and/or glass of cabernet with dear friends!
Are you interested in becoming an advocate like Bev? Check out our recent webinar Engaging in Grassroots Advocacy, to learn more about advocacy and what you can do to engage with policy makers on a local, state, and federal level.