By Patrick Livney, Board Chair and Co Founder

As we move from being a startup to the leading foundation seeking to cure CMT, we can look back with great pride on our progress to date: We have raised almost $10 million in three years, funded 12 projects (with two in the preclinical stage), and in months achieved 50% of our 3-year capital campaign to end CMT1A. To optimize our strategies, operations, and staff to assure we are positioned for maximum growth over the next three to five years, will require an even greater effort from all of us. 

I have challenged the entire organization to answer: How can we greatly increase the dollars we have raised? How can we best take advantage of the scientific breakthroughs that get us closer to a cure than ever in history? And how can we participate in the investment environment where institutions and venture capital firms are showing growing interest in life sciences, and biotech startups in particular? What new innovative funding models will enable us to maximally leverage this trend on behalf of those living with CMT.  

One of the answers is to add significant strategic, financial, and management experience to our leadership team. To that end, I am pleased to announce that Cleary Simpson will become CMTRF’s CEO starting January 10th. Susan Ruediger, the foundation’s co-founder and current CEO, will become Chief Mission Officer. In this new role, Susan will continue to serve on the Board of Directors, helping support CMTRF’s rapid financial growth and she will remain a primary spokesperson for the Foundation. She will work closely with Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Keith Fargo to develop strategic scientific partnerships and cultivate new translational projects around the globe, and with Chief Operations Officer Erich Fasnacht to ensure exceptional relationships with CMTRF’s donor community.  

Cleary is a founding member of the Board of CMTRF and brings three decades of leadership experience, including numerous startups, acquisitions, long-term strategy, and consulting for major corporations on how to optimize their staff structures and strategic plans. She held senior positions in sales, marketing, business development, and general management at Time Warner, working with major brands and advertising agencies. More recently, she was managing director at consulting firm MediaLink, advising early-stage digital ventures, as well as mature media companies, on business strategy, revenue acceleration and organizational restructuring. Before that, Cleary was Senior Vice President for Global Marketing Solutions managing multi-platform partnerships with iconic national brands. Prior to that, she worked in leadership roles at several Time Inc. properties including TIME Magazine and Sports Illustrated. 

We have tasked Cleary with ensuring our operations keep pace with the Foundation’s rapid growth, launching and managing partnerships, determining how to structure new ways to finance our projects, and setting a strategy to increase our fundraising in general. It will be her job to position CMTRF for faster growth in a rapidly changing business and philanthropic environment.  

As my co-founder, Susan has been a visionary for the foundation. After almost four years leading this foundation, Susan has expressed her desire to contribute in new ways going forward, including spending more time with major donors and the scientific community.   

We are confident these changes give us the organizational structure to leverage our success and build an even more successful future.