CEO of the International Myeloma Foundation Yelak Biru Shares His Vision for the Future.
Newly Appointed CEO Yelak Biru Shares His Vision for the Future
“Living with myeloma is not easy,” Biru said. “But having an organization like the IMF beside me during my cancer journey has helped me live with—and not for—myeloma.”
Newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) and multiple myeloma patient of over 25 years, Yelak Biru looks ahead to the future of the IMF.
After the IMF search committee chose me as the new CEO, my initial thoughts, I would say, were humility and gratitude for being alive and for being able to take on this incredible role 25 years after I was diagnosed with myeloma and was given only two to three years to live. Excitement, as this role will bring my passion, purpose, and lifelong experiences and preparation together. And then fear of the unknown, leaving the business world after 25 years, wanting to make sure I don't fail those who are entrusting me with this awesome responsibility, and wanting to make sure the legacy of our founders Susie and Dr. Durie is preserved.
I have been associated with the IMF for over two decades. From joining a support group in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to leading that support group and forming another one in the northwest Arkansas area, to being a board member in 2015, and now, to being chosen as the CEO of the organization.
For whatever reason, I have been able to live with myeloma for over half of my life. I have learned to navigate ambiguity and make decisions with sparse data. I have learned to lead with love, kindness, and empathy. I have learned to plan for tomorrow but be agile enough to tackle the unplanned occurrences of our volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. But most importantly, I have learned to share the hope abundantly.
Being the CEO of the IMF is a privilege. I don't see it as an arrival or a destination but as a beginning. It is a beginning to do more, to challenge myself and those around me to go faster. It is an opportunity to pay it forward as I know I'm here because of those who have traveled this past before me. That's why I want to pay it forward and carry the baton as far and as fast as possible so those who come after me, those who come after us, can go even further.
What the IMF's mission of improving the quality of life of myeloma patients while working toward prevention and the cure means to me, a world without myeloma or a world where no one dies of myeloma by the year 2035.
We have the right to be bold. We will experiment and collaborate for the good of the patients we serve. We will advocate for increased access on behalf of patients who have not benefited as much from the discoveries and innovations of the last two decades. We will use data for good, leveraging artificial intelligence to provide the right personalized information to the right patient at the right time. We will enhance our global alliances and will help patients to reimagine what it means to live with myeloma and challenge ourselves and our partners to accelerate the path to cure.