Where Are They Now? Derek and Emily Rapp Seek to Grow Support for JDRF

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When Derek stepped down as President and CEO of JDRF last year, he vowed he’d never be far away.

Holding true to his promise, immediately after relocating back to St. Louis, he and his wife Emily checked in with the local chapter. What could they do? How could they help build the strongest base of support possible through the Greater Missouri & Southern Illinois Chapter to support the entire T1D Community and raise as much as possible for T1D research?

“Their warmth, compassion and commitment all run so deep. And their offer of help, as always, came with no limits,” said Ellen Leake, Chair of the JDRF International Board of Directors. “They simply told the local team: ‘we are here. And we are here to help.’”

When the chapter asked if they could honor the Rapps at the 2020 JDRF Hope Gala, Derek and Emily accepted — with the caveat that the honor be tied to building greater support for JDRF’s mission. 

“In nearly two decades of involvement, Derek has helped create strategic partnerships, increased efficiency and raised millions of dollars that have transformed T1D research,” said John Kurowski, Chapter Board President. “We are so proud to honor Derek and Emily and showcase their story as an example of how powerful being involved in the JDRF mission can be. Each of us can and should strive to make as big of a difference in our own way as they have.”

Derek and Emily say they are no different than any other JDRF supporters: committed until the disease is cured.

“Our family has directly benefited from JDRF-driven research advances,” Derek said. “We also know that we are getting so close to finding cures. If more funding will help us get there, we will raise more money!”

Derek and Emily have been active supporters of JDRF since 2004 when their son Turner was diagnosed with T1D. Derek volunteered for 10 years in a series of highly influential roles, including serving as Research Chair and member of the Research Committee, the Lay Review Committee, the Strategic Alliances Committee, the Development Committee and the Advocacy Committee. He joined the IBOD in 2010, serving as Vice Chair until he was named President and CEO in 2014, a role he held until 2019, when he passed the baton to current CEO Aaron Kowalski.

Emily worked as an avid fundraiser and JDRF presenter, and also as Board President for the Greater Missouri & Southern Illinois Chapter.

 “Derek and Emily are committed in every way to leading by example and doing everything they can to help find a cure,” said Elizabeth Foss, Ride Champion and Former Chapter Board Member. “They have even put in thousands of miles on their bikes for the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes, raising money for research, sharing stories and cheering on fellow riders along the way.”

Derek and Emily moved from New York back to St. Louis when Derek accepted the role of Managing Director at RiverVest Venture Partners.

Working with the Greater Missouri & Southern Illinois Chapter, Derek and Emily hope to strengthen and expand the network of JDRF supporters in the region and across the country.

 “This organization is part of our family, and the research that JDRF has and continues to drive has changed our lives. Our youngest son is living a healthy, full life thanks to the technology and advances brought to us by JDRF,” Derek said.

“JDRF has been a gift to us. We will continue working to ensure that same gift helps others and eventually, together, we celebrate cures for the entire T1D Community.”

If you would like to join the Greater Missouri & Southern Illinois Chapter in honoring Derek and Emily at this year’s Hope Gala, please click here to make a donation. For event details, or to purchase a table, or tickets, please visit the JDRF Hope Gala website

By Ayana Young