JDRF Names Aaron Kowalski New President and CEO

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Chief Mission Officer to assume leadership baton from Derek Rapp

After a thorough national search, the JDRF International Board of Directors has unanimously voted on and approved the appointment of Aaron J. Kowalski, Ph.D., to serve as its new President and CEO, leading JDRF’s race to cure type 1 diabetes and to improve the lives of those living with the disease today.

“There really is no one who can represent the needs of the T1D Community more passionately, drive our research toward a cure more strategically, and represent us with greater regard than Aaron,” said IBOD Chair Ellen Leake.

Aaron, a 15-year JDRF veteran and current JDRF Chief Mission Officer, will assume leadership from Derek Rapp, who announced in November after nearly five years that he would be step down when a new leader was selected.

“Derek’s leadership and passionate support of the T1D community has helped bring us to where we are today: a true position of strength,” Leake said. “His leadership helped us advance so many areas while strengthening the organization. I know I speak for all of us and the entire T1D community when I say we can’t thank Derek enough.”

Aaron has worked alongside Derek for many years, helping shape so much of what JDRF is today.

Aaron brings to this critical role a track record of leading initiatives and forging partnerships that are providing new life-changing treatment options and expanded access to help people with T1D stay healthy until we have cures for the disease.

A highly respected thought leader in the diabetes scientific and clinical community, he also is a talented and polished executive who brings to the CEO position a unique combination of management, leadership and people skills, and passionate and trusted voice advocating for the T1D community.

  • His vision of less burdensome and safer lives for people with T1D, combined with strategic leadership drove JDRF’s transformative Artificial Pancreas (AP) Project, which has led to availability of multiple AP systems, as well as widespread coverage for components such as continuous glucose monitors.
  • He also is a leader of the PEAK initiative, providing for the first time guidelines to help people with T1D exercise safely. He also champions initiatives to address very difficult challenges of T1D including efforts to better treat eye and kidney disease and to provide the best treatment options to women with T1D before and during pregnancy.
  • He has been a champion for groundbreaking beta cell and immunological research to cure and prevent this disease, including JDRF’s role bringing bring the best and brightest from multiple disciplines to address key scientific challenges, utilizing big data, and forming public-private partnerships to advance progress.
  • He has been an outstanding advocate for people with T1D in Washington and across the globe, helping expand government funding for T1D research, ensure regulatory pathways for T1D therapies, and expanding health care access.
  • He has inspired new engagement on behalf of our mission, through fundraising, advocacy, social media, and more. He has strengthened and formed new partnerships to accelerate our mission, and served as a highly effective media spokesperson.

Please view a video from Aaron, responding to the news and sharing his vision for JDRF.

View the media release here

By Ayana Young