I have learned that every person can make a difference every day, and that serving others changes you for the better.
Richard Shadyac, Jr.
I’m the President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
What inspired you to do what you do?
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has always been a part of my life. It all began with Danny Thomas, a close friend of my family. My dad, Richard C. Shadyac Sr., was a Justice Department lawyer when he received the call from Danny Thomas to help make his dream of a children’s research hospital a reality. Danny did this by founding ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Dad was committed to raising funds for the hospital, which opened in 1962, and he served on the St. Jude and ALSAC boards for decades before becoming CEO. I am incredibly proud that my father said yes to Danny Thomas, that he and my mother dedicated so much of their lives to helping support the mission of St. Jude, and that they taught me the call we have to serve others.
What are your biggest hopes around the work you are doing?
My greatest hope is to be able to provide the servant leadership needed to raise and steward funds necessary to operate and maintain St. Jude, elevate awareness of our lifesaving mission, and continue sharing the extraordinary expertise and care of St. Jude to families everywhere in the world who are facing cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Are there any men (past or present) you particularly admire or who have influenced you?
I am deeply inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” As someone who is motivated by serving others, I would urge all young people to consider Dr. King’s question when pursuing their interests and careers.
What advice would you give to other men interested in doing what you do, or otherwise making a difference in their community?
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others – per the Gandhi quote. I strive to follow a style of leadership called servant leadership, meaning you serve the mission of your organization and serve the people who are advancing the mission. It is my great privilege to lead an organization that supports the brilliant scientists and compassionate staff of St. Jude who work tirelessly to find cures for cancer and provide exceptional treatment for children facing life-threatening diseases. The fundamental tenets of servant leadership are authenticity and passion. I am passionate about our mission of providing hope and help to the moms, dads, and kids who come to us after receiving the most devastating news that anyone could imagine – “Your child has cancer.” It’s why I’ve decided to dedicate my life to this great cause and encourage all people to find your passion and then serve it daily.
What have you learned about yourself as a result of this work?
I have learned that every person can make a difference every day, and that serving others changes you for the better. It’s the little things and the big things, the small acts of kindness and the major sacrifices to go above and beyond to get the job done. I am privileged to work alongside colleagues who are the very best at what they do, and we are all completely committed to our mission. For me, there is no greater mission than serving the kids of St. Jude.
What’s next for you and the work that you do?
Looking ahead, I hope and pray I will have the privilege of leading ALSAC for many years to come as we support the expanding mission of St. Jude. But whatever role I am in, I want to make a difference in the lives of those I serve. I am especially passionate about the opportunity to reach even more people and engage them in the mission of St. Jude, and help them find their passion to serve in their communities.
Learn more about ALSAC and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at www.stjude.org.