Cancer Support Community Names Debbie Weir as New CEO

March 3, 2022
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Former Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Everytown for Gun Safety leader will be the first social worker to lead the international non-profit

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 3, 2022 — The Cancer Support Community (CSC), the world’s largest provider of cancer support with a network of 175 locations across the United States and Canada, announced today that Debbie Weir will serve as its next Chief Executive Officer, starting March 7, 2022.  Weir has spent her career lifting the voices of people impacted by life-changing events, expanding the visibility of those causes, and leading advocacy efforts that make positive change.

A social worker by training, Weir brings more than 30 years of proven success in nonprofit management.  Most recently, she served as Chief Mission Officer at Everytown for Gun Safety. Prior to that, Weir spent 15 years at Mothers Against Drunk Driving in roles of increasing responsibility, culminating in her serving as MADD’s National CEO from 2012 to 2017. Prior to her work at MADD, Debbie built and directed St. Paul’s Hospice program in Dallas, after leading the Social Services Department at St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Worth for four years.

“I’m so excited to join CSC,” said Debbie Weir. “Patients and families living with cancer deserve psychosocial support and education to navigate their journeys. I started my career as a medical social worker and, to my core, I am passionate to lead an organization that provides direct support and services. When I look at all the work I’ve done, there’s so much of what CSC is doing in it that I believe I can seamlessly bring my skills and leadership to help grow the mission and reach even more people.”

Weir brings to CSC relevant experience and a vision to expand its impact to new and more diverse communities. Having lost her father to suicide after a lengthy, debilitating cancer diagnosis and treatment, caring for her mom who is a breast cancer survivor, and recently serving for months as her brother’s primary caregiver until his own death from cancer, Weir understands in an extremely personal way the impact of a cancer diagnosis and the critical importance of CSC’s mission to serve patients and their loved ones. On the professional side, Weir arrives with an extensive and proven track record of operational excellence and business acumen — working to build large, complex, mission-driven organizations ­— and vast experience leading advocacy efforts and grass roots engagement initiatives executed on a national, state, and local level. Weir describes health equity and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) as moral imperatives to be a voice and resource for people who historically have lacked access to comprehensive healthcare and services. 

“Today, there are nearly 17 million cancer survivors in the United States, plus many more friends and family who provide them informal care,” remarked Lauren Barnes, chair of CSC’s board of directors. “As we look forward to serving even more impacted individuals, it is clear to me that Debbie Weir is the exact right person to lead CSC at this time. I am deeply impressed with her success both building and leading national networks comprised of hundreds of chapters, thousands of volunteers and millions of members and supporters. Likewise, her ability to galvanize advocates, stakeholders, and supporters around mission priorities is masterful.”

“Whether impacted by traumatic tragedies due drunk driving, gun violence, or a cancer diagnosis, people experiencing life-altering events require strong advocates who provide support, education, and community,” said Ken Scalet, Interim CEO and longtime board member. “Debbie Weir’s demonstrated success as an action-oriented executive, tireless advocate, and inclusive collaborator make her an ideal leader to grow CSC and improve the patient experience for this generation of patients, caregivers, and survivors, and the next. As we mark our 40th anniversary, I’m excited and optimistic for our future under Debbie’s leadership.”

Both Barnes and Scalet are confident that Weir’s approach aligns with the incredible commitment of the professionals who deliver the gold standard of care at CSC and Gilda’s Club centers and through hospitals and other healthcare partnerships.

Weir joins a strong and seasoned leadership team at CSC, including its Chief Experience Officer Sally Werner and its Chief Operating Officer Jeff Travers. Werner is an oncology nurse by training with a master’s degree in health administration. She is a recognized leader and patient advocate with over 25 years of experience with nonprofit and for-profit hospitals, as well as community-based organizations. She has overseen all aspects of cancer care, including inpatient and outpatient oncology units, cancer research, cancer registry, supportive services, radiation oncology, infusion centers, and centers for breast health. Travers has an MBA and more than 30 years of non-profit management experience in healthcare and education. He has served as CSC’s operations and finance lead since 2016. His broad experience includes strategic planning, fundraising, communication, real estate development, and program management.

Weir expects to initially spend a great deal of time listening to and learning from CSC’s community, from the licensed healthcare professionals that work directly with patients and caregivers, to its educators, researchers, and advocates as well as its Network Partners located across the country and abroad. She will also connect with CSC’s various stakeholders, including supporters and partners in the cancer, health equity, and policy arenas.

“I am authentically passionate about CSC’s mission. I can’t wait to lead and work with others so more people will know the tremendous impact of this organization that provides support in a way nobody else is quite doing,” said Weir. 

Weir holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Norfolk State University and Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Longwood College. Her volunteer work includes serving on the National Board of Directors of the One Love Foundation and Safe Kids Worldwide. Weir also serves as a volunteer on MADD’s National Helpline.

 

About the Cancer Support Community

The Cancer Support Community (CSC) is a global nonprofit network of 175 locations, including CSC and Gilda's Club centers, hospital and clinics, and satellite locations that deliver $50 million in free support services to patients and families. In addition, CSC administers a toll-free helpline and produces award-winning educational resources that, together with the locations, reach more than one million people each year. Formed in 2009 by the merger of The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club, CSC conducts cutting-edge research on the emotional, psychological, and financial journey of cancer patients. CSC also advocates at all levels of government for policies to help individuals whose lives have been disrupted by cancer. In January 2018, CSC welcomed Denver-based nonprofit MyLifeLine, a digital community that includes nearly 40,000 patients, caregivers, and their supporters that will enable CSC to scale its digital services in an innovative, groundbreaking way.