The Colon Cancer Coalition’s board of directors and staff are excited to introduce Holly Anderson as Executive Director.
Holly brings more than 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience to the organization. “I am honored to join the Colon Cancer Coalition’s grassroots movement, the dedicated staff, and volunteers across the country,” Holly remarked. “Working in local communities through Get Your Rear in Gear and other events is an exciting way to make a lasting impact on people’s lives. Increasing screening for the nation’s no. 2 cancer killer while supporting patients and families is the heart of this organization and a personal passion.”
“We look forward to the unique perspective and experience Holly brings to the Colon Cancer Coalition,” adds Kirsten Freiborg, board chair for the organization. “We know Holly is the right leader to guide the organization to the next phase.”
Holly started her career in Washington, D.C., at the National Consumers League. A move to Minnesota lead to a 16-year career at the National MS Society, including 10 years as Upper Midwest Chapter president. Holly also served on the National MS Society’s Senior Leadership and Management Team developing a community engagement program that was implemented across the country.
“My biggest focus right now is learning and working with staff and board to launch a strategic planning process,” Holly continues. “I also look forward to building the national programming, especially around patient support.”
To help you get to know Holly, we asked her some very important questions.
1. What are you most excited about in this new role?
There is so much, but first and foremost I am excited about working with so many dedicated volunteers. I am in awe of the Local Event Directors and the work they do. Learning what staff does and their commitment to this work only adds to my enthusiasm. There are so many people dedicated to saving lives with this powerful, grassroots movement. The momentum is contagious. I love strategy and can’t wait to start our strategic planning process.
2. Why is colorectal cancer screening important to you?
There are so many reasons. I want to ensure more people are diagnosed early. Colon cancer caught early has a more than 90% survival rate and yet there are still so many people who haven’t been screened. This is a number we can affect, ultimately saving lives.
I am also concerned with access to health care especially in traditionally underserved populations who have higher colon cancer death rates. Money should never stand in the way of an important cancer screening, and yet it does. Providing low cost screenings that are accessible to people and advocating for health care changes nationally are incredibly important to me.
3. Dogs or Cats?
Both! Though if I had to pick, I’d go with dogs and my husband, Matt, would choose cats. We have a Pug named Foofa and a Shar-Pei mix puppy named Freddie Mercury. My daughter, Adeyla, named them both—one when she was three and one at 13. My cats are Max, a seventeen-year-old Siamese and Versace, a ten-year-old short-haired exotic otherwise known as a Grumpy Cat. All of my animals are rescues. I am thrilled to work in a dog-friendly office and look forward to occasionally bringing my dogs to work.
4. What is one thing that would surprise people to learn about you?
I’m from Charleston, SC, and we chose to move to Minnesota. I spent the first 13 years of my life in Pittsburgh, PA, and the next 13 in Charleston, SC, where I met Matt. I also lived in Raleigh, NC, and Washington, DC, before moving to Minnesota in 2002 and starting our family in the Midwest. Matt says I had a Minnesota accent practically before I moved to Minnesota. Neither of us kept our southern accents, but when we are home for a day, the “y’alls” come back full force!
5. What do you do when not at work?
I love animals, so I spend a lot of time with my dogs and cats. I also love to garden. In the summer and fall, I like to walk and hike (I’ve participated in three 30-mile walks and one 50-mile). My whole family likes cycling in the warm months and cross-country skiing in the winter and sometimes spring because… Minnesota.
Adeyla is 13 so much of my weekend time is consumed with driving her to friends’ houses, the mall or some other activity. I am also very active in my church and serve as board chair, which takes up a lot of my free time.
Matt and I like to watch movies and we still get a movie mailed to us by Netflix, mostly movies that received academy awards from five or six years ago. We are uber Star Wars fans and already have our tickets for the new movie.
6. Before joining the Coalition, did you have a connection to the cause?
Sadly, I lost a dear colleague of mine to rectal cancer. She had not been screened. Her twin daughters and grandchildren were close. She lived with her mother and took care of her. Her family was her life. I can’t help but think that there’s a chance we could have saved her life. I want to make sure that moms and dads and sons and daughters, spouses and grandparents survive colon cancer because we caught it early. The statistics are one thing, but when you put a face to the stats and realize that we could change that one person’s life and the lives of all of the people who love them, that’s when you know why you do this work. And that’s why I am here.
7. What else are you passionate about?
I believe strongly that we have to be the best humans we can be while we are on this earth. This guided me into the non-profit world and to be a big sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters. Kids are our future. They don’t get to pick where they live and how stable their home life is.
I also care passionately about climate change I am trying to purchase more used things (including my office furniture). I have a goal of composting after the holidays. I participated in a challenge to reduce food waste in my home. It opened my eyes to the amount of food we toss and I am going to reduce that, too. I am very passionate about making the world a better place for everyone. It feels good to volunteer and to work with volunteers.