CFIDS Association Announces Leadership Transition

The Solve ME/CFS Initiative announces that longtime president and CEO, K. Kimberly McCleary, will be leaving her role as the organization’s CEO early this summer. Ms. McCleary joined the Solve ME/CFS Initiative as the organization’s first chief staff executive more than 22 years ago; her family will be relocating in June at which time she will become an active member of the Association’s Scientific Advisory Board.

KimDuring her tenure, Ms. McCleary has directed the Association’s research, engagement and development strategies focused on making ME/CFS understood, diagnosable and treatable. Kim has been instrumental in positively influencing a wide range of research, policy and education issues, positioning the Solve ME/CFS Initiative as a credible leader and source of timely and reliable information. Her accomplishments are many, including playing an integral part in developing a policy ruling for the Social Security Administration that recognized CFS as a disabling condition and fighting to create and sustain a dedicated federal advisory committee to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on ME/CFS research and education. She helped expose the misappropriation of $12.9 million in CDC spending, restoring these funds to CFS research. McCleary provided an informed and measured voice through the period in which XMRV was linked to and then conclusively delinked from ME/CFS. She led the first-ever public awareness campaign for CFS. She also led lobbying events, organized Congressional briefings and delivered testimony at numerous federal hearings and meetings, deepening the understanding of the human and economic burden of ME/CFS on the individual, the family, the community and the world.

In 2012, Kim led the Association’s launch of its Research Institute Without Walls, the first patient-centered virtual institute for ME/CFS. That year she also represented the Association at the Milken Institute Global Conference and FasterCures’ Celebration of Science and Partnering for Cures conference. She remains steadfastly engaged in the mission of solving ME/CFS up until and well after she takes on a new role with the organization.

When I came to this organization 22 years ago, I could not possibly have envisioned all the ways in which my work would become my life and how the people I would meet would shape and redefine me. I’ve been honored to partner with thousands of volunteers, nearly 100 board members, 50 staff members, seven chairmen and founder Marc Iverson to advance the mission. I will always be a vocal champion for the organization and its vision of a world without ME/CFS,” said McCleary.

Her final day as CEO will be June 14, 2013. After that date, Ms. McCleary will continue to impact the mission through the Scientific Advisory Board. “It’s time to write a new chapter. I pledge my continued dedication through the end of my term. Even after that date, our work together will not end and my personal connection to this community will endure and leave a lasting impression on my life.”

In one of her most important contributions as president and CEO, Ms. McCleary has led the staff and Board of Directors through an intensive strategic planning process to position the organization for accelerated impact and growth.

Kim has been a driving force behind the progress we have made over the last two decades. As we look ahead, the strategic plan she and the staff developed clearly charts our course forward with amazing vision, clarity and focus. The leadership team has ensured that the patient is at the center of all that the Association does and they have the expertise needed to deliver strong forward momentum,” said Board Vice Chairman Victoria J. Boies, PsyD, who is leading the transition planning for the Board.

Never before have I been as confident in the work of the Association. I am excited for faster progress along the path ahead, confident in the direction of the Association and endlessly grateful for Kim’s leadership in getting us to a place of such strong footing as we look beyond this transition,” said Amy Squires, Chairman of the Board of Directors.

In her honor the Board of Directors has launched the Collaborate | Find | Solve tribute fund to support programs like proof-of-concept clinical trials and other research initiatives to accelerate the identification of safe and effective treatments for ME/CFS. To launch the fund and fuel the organization’s continued growth, a family that wishes to remain anonymous has pledged to match donations up to $100,000 in honor of Ms. McCleary’s dedicated service.

Learn more by watching this:
The Solve ME/CFS Initiative – Fostering the Development of Safe and Effective Treatments

The Board has also formed a search committee to lead a nationwide search for the Association’s next chief executive. Until one is appointed, Maryam Aghamirzadeh, member of the Association Board of Directors, will serve as the interim CEO. An engineer by training, Maryam has in depth experience in general management, strategic and tactical planning, services, sales, marketing and operations management with both start-ups and Fortune 50 companies as well as a personal connection to ME/CFS through her younger sister.

Along with Ms. Aghamirzadeh, the existing staff leadership team of Dr. Suzanne Vernon, Kris Hopkins, Mark Stone and Leigh Reynolds will ensure the steady, strategic expansion of programs and services that so many people affected by ME/CFS count on.

About the Solve ME/CFS Initiative

The Solve ME/CFS Initiative has been at the leading edge of ME/CFS research, policy and education for more than 25 years. The Association responsibly represents the needs of ME/CFS patients and their loved ones, working to make ME/CFS widely understood, diagnosable and treatable. Inspired by the courage and passion of volunteers and fueled by gifts small and large from supporters committed to a vision of a world without CFS, the Solve ME/CFS Initiative leads with purpose, collaboration, respect, integrity and innovation.

April 24, 2013