Melanoma Research Alliance Welcomes New Chief Development Officer

By Pamela Goldsmith, MRA Director of Communications | 10 July 2017 | News


Following 22 years of fundraising and management experience in healthcare, higher education and NPOs, Joan Russo is joining the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) as Chief Development Officer.

Dedicating over two decades to efforts that combine her passion for healthcare and development, Russo brings a vast range of experience, from managing a national volunteer-driven organization, to corporate fundraising. Over the past decade, her role in development has been dedicated to major gifts in higher education and cancer research.

In her early career, Russo focused on building relationships and partnerships to advance Type 1 Diabetes, lymphoma and breast cancer research. She later moved on to implement a major gifts program at Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, where she served as Director of Development. Russo subsequently expanded that role at Rutgers University Foundation as Associate Vice President, leading major gifts, while overseeing development efforts of six schools at Rutgers University. In 2014, to support the clinical and research faculty at New Jersey’s only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, Russo went on to lead development efforts at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (RCINJ), as Chief Development Officer. Most recently her career has centered on building a cancer center development office that included a start-up grateful patient fundraising program. 

“Joining MRA is the culmination of my career in healthcare development,” says Russo. “It brings me back to a volunteer-led, non-profit organization and allows me to apply the expertise in corporate fundraising, major gifts and patient-centered development that I’ve acquired during my career.”

Russo’s role at MRA will focus on designing and implementing a strategic fundraising plan that secures financial support for MRA programs and activities from individuals, corporations, academic institutions and foundations. She will lay the groundwork for short and long-range fund development plans and implement programs that support the organization’s values and mission, while enhancing MRA’s donor base. 

Russo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication/public relations from Glassboro State College.  Her tenure with MRA begins on July 10, 2017.



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