Welcome to NonProfit PRO's 2016 Nonprofit Professionals of the Year Awards. This entry is for Nonprofit Professional of the Year. To view all of this year's award winners, click here.
The Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women’s Lives (STS) program is the cornerstone of Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance. The program, which brings ovarian cancer survivors into classrooms to share stories and teach future medical professionals how to diagnose the disease early, is offered in 96 medical schools, 100 nursing schools and 40 other various medical programs. It reaches 34 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the U.K and Canada.
To say that it is integral to Ovarian Cancer Research Fund’s mission would be an understatement.
So, when Alison Silberman took over as director of field engagement for Ovarian Cancer Research Fund in 2012, tasked with overseeing the STS program, it was a big deal for the health-care nonprofit—and for Silberman. The program’s future was in her hands.
Silberman was up to the challenge. She had a vision for the program. Under her guidance, it grew by 40 percent in three years, and in 2015 reached 10,750 students—a 10 percent increase over the prior year. But it wasn’t just about numbers.
“Our program is conducted by volunteers who are either survivors or caregivers and family members,” said Susan Leighton, STS program director. “Alison gets that this is personal to them and encourages all of them on a daily basis. When we lose a volunteer to this disease, Alison is the first to reach out to the family and the first to express the need to continue our program, so that other women will not face the same fate.”
It is that personal investment in the program that sets Silberman apart—and she has brought that dedication to all aspects of her work at Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance. She spearheaded the Advocate Leader program, growing it from a handful of loosely organized volunteer survivors to a group of 24 trained legislative advocates. She manages a program that offers assistance to 50 partner member organizations, and has organized the alliance’s national conference for the past three years.
“Bottom line—she understands survivors,” said Leighton. “To her, the alliance is not a business. It is home to the ovarian cancer community. She makes us feel welcome and united. She is a true force of nature who has enriched our community with her presence and friendship.”