Changing faces for a changing landscape.

Here are some random thoughts for you to chew on this weekend. I’m not suggesting anything here, just doing kind of a “what if?” riff in my head and spilling it onto this page.

I was thinking yesterday of the change at the top happening at both JDRF and the American Diabetes Association. Both CEOs are stepping down. Jeffrey Brewer has in fact already stepped down from his post at JDRF after four years, replaced by Derek Rapp. And Larry Hausner is leaving as CEO of ADA at the end of the month. No replacement has been named yet.

The American Diabetes Association and JDRF are by far the two largest diabetes organizations in the United States. Sometimes competing, sometimes not, they both look to raise both money and awareness for their cause. In JDRF’s case, “Less Until None” for Type 1 patients. And For ADA, to “Stop Diabetes” of all types, though almost by default, a lot of their mission is geared toward type 2s, who represent the overwhelming majority of diabetes patients worldwide.

I thought about this yesterday, and then thought of other big organizations fighting for recognition, donor money (both governmental and private), and volunteers to aid their missions. Love them or hate them, Susan G. Komen is the face of breast cancer awareness. MDA is the go-to group for Muscular Dystrophy. The American Heart Association is, for us in the States anyway, the reliable resource for all things related to heart health.

Yet I can remember, more than once, asking someone to donate to a JDRF fund raiser and being told “Oh, I already gave to ADA”. And Or vice versa.

Am I suggesting that ADA and JDRF merge their missions into one huge conglomerate of an organization? No. Never.Gonna.Happen. For about a thousand different reasons. JDRF is an international organization, ADA is only U.S.-based is the first. The other reasons are so many and so varied that I don’t really need to repeat them here.

But there are a number of facts that are changing the landscape of the diabetes community. Among them:

– An increasing awareness that the diabetes community has spent way too much time and energy in silos, leading to distance and even animosity between types.

– Recognition of the fact that this is changing, and Type 1 versus Type 2 versus insert-your-type-here is a dead end going nowhere.

– A widening awareness of D-stigma, and a growing desire to squash it like a bug on the windshield of a speeding automobile.

– The growing role of social media in our community, and how, like Moore’s Law itself, it is changing roles, perceptions, the number of contributors, and sources of income faster than ever before.

I wonder if this moment in time represents, in a way, a chance for these two organizations, and the greater diabetes universe, to look at their missions in a new light. How can we work together? What can we learn from each other? And certainly: How can we help patients people today while planning and adapting for the future?

I’m not sure these questions can be answered easily. But I think the best time to ask them may be right now.

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  • kevinruess  On July 27, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks for the insight. Yes it’s interesting to see these two organizations evolve. It’s interesting to me – in response to a condition like diabetes, as humans we create organizations, institutions, even technology to improve things. What would happen to all these institutions if someone created a simple cure? What would happen to all these people working in all these institutions and companies? What would become of their identities – having spent so much of their lives (our lives even) identifying with fighting against something. The organization, institutions, and companies all supposedly want the cure and work for it. Yet if it really came, would they want it then, knowing it would end their fight?

    I too have no answers, just questions – ones that concern me sometime 🙂


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