JDRF Names New Board Chair, Vice Chair


NEW YORK, February 20, 2020 – JDRF, a global leader in type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, today announced the appointment of two long-time volunteers to lead its International Board of Directors (IBOD). The two take office when the terms of current board leaders expire July 1, 2020.

JDRF’s IBOD named Joseph P. Lacher, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of Kemper Corporation, as its new Chair. The Chicago resident has been an active leader at JDRF for decades and has a powerful connection to the JDRF mission. Lacher was diagnosed with T1D while in college and both of his now-adult sons were diagnosed as children.

The board also named former attorney and high-impact community fundraiser Lisa Fishbone Wallack of Boston as its new Vice Chair. Wallack has been involved with JDRF her entire life. Her parents Marilyn and Gerald Fishbone founded the JDRF New Haven chapter after her brother Scott was diagnosed with T1D in 1970 at the age of 18 months. Her father served as JDRF IBOD Chair from 1981 to 1984. Wallack’s involvement increased further when her son Harris was diagnosed in 2001 at the age of five.

Lacher and Wallack both currently serve as IBOD members. Lacher and Wallack were elected to two-year terms, succeeding current Chair Ellen Leake and Vice Chair Jeff Plumer.

“The appointment of these two highly successful and dedicated leaders speaks to the depth of talent and passion we have at JDRF,” said JDRF President and CEO Aaron J. Kowalski, Ph.D. “We know that with their extraordinary experience and commitment, JDRF will accelerate our race to cure this disease.”

When Lacher takes office July 1, it will be the first time both the IBOD Chair and JDRF’s President and CEO will have a T1D diagnosis. Dr. Kowalski was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 13.

“My life and that of both of my sons are so much better because of the work JDRF does every day,” Lacher said. “It has been a humbling experience to be a part of this organization, and I am honored to take on this new role as IBOD Chair to help JDRF accelerate the development of cures for our community.”

Wallack said she looks forward to taking on a greater leadership role on JDRF’s governing board to advance the organization’s mission to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications.

“JDRF has been part of my family for as long as I can remember. The progress we have made in the past 50 years is inspiring, with significant improvements in the quality of life for those living with T1D and profound new understanding about the disease. I am confident that together, we can drive the ongoing progress needed to achieve our ultimate goal of curing and preventing T1D,” Wallack said.

T1D is a chronic, life-threatening autoimmune disease that can strike children and adults at any age. It requires rigorous 24/7 monitoring of blood glucose levels—even overnight—to avoid potentially lethal highs and lows in blood sugar, as well as other devastating complications such as kidney, eye and nerve diseases. While its causes are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved. Its onset is sudden and is not related to diet or lifestyle. In T1D, the body’s immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, meaning the body produces little to no insulin to regulate blood sugar and get energy from food. There is nothing anybody can do to prevent T1D, and—at present—there is no cure.

JDRF is the world’s largest nonprofit funder of T1D research. JDRF’s research portfolio and advocacy efforts are driving cures for T1D while advancing therapies that reduce the burden of managing the disease today and lower the risk of long-term complications. In just the last year, the T1D community has seen great process with the FDA authorization a second artificial pancreas system, as well as progress toward better insulin-producing beta cells, and immune therapy treatments able to delay the onset of T1D for more than two years.

Learn more about JDRF’s commitment to improving the lives of those with T1D and finding cures through innovative research here.

About JDRF

JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Our mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested more than $2.2 billion in research funding since our inception. We are an organization built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact and uniting on a national stage to pool resources, passion and energy. We collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers throughout the United States and our five international affiliates are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our vision of a world without T1D. For more information, please visit jdrf.org or follow us on Twitter: @JDRF.