From Participant to Mentor to Board Member: Biro’s ABCD Journey Helps Develop Organization's Roadmap - After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

From Participant to Mentor to Board Member: Biro’s ABCD Journey Helps Develop Organization’s Roadmap

July 6, 2022

Cheryl Biro has been involved with ABCD for almost 10 years and has seen the organization through several different lenses during that time, first as a Participant, then as a Mentor, and now as a Board Member.

“I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at the end of 2013 and one of the first phone calls that I made was to ABCD,” Cheryl said, noting she was referred to the organization by her nurse navigator. Soon thereafter, she was connected with her Mentor who helped guide her through her cancer journey.

“Having someone who not only had gone through the same type of cancer I had, but who also was further down the road in terms of her recovery was an invaluable resource–not only from the standpoint of symptomatically what was going on and what I could expect, but also providing hope that this is a journey and you’re going to get through it,” she said.  

“My experience was so profound that I knew at that point I wanted to give back,” she added. As soon as she was able, Cheryl went through Mentor Training and began providing others with that same, customized 1:1 emotional support she had received during one of the most challenging times of her life.

To date, as a Mentor, she estimates she’s been able to help 25-30 other individuals facing their own breast cancer diagnoses.

And, when she retired from her role as Director of Organizational Development at Harley Davidson in 2020, she knew she could help even more–this time in a different capacity.

Cheryl reached out to Executive Director Ellen Friebert Schupper and Judy Mindin, Director of Program Services & Healthcare Partnerships, offering to put her professional skills and experience to work for the organization.

“[At Harley Davidson] I was responsible for helping leadership teams create and articulate their vision and plans in addition to determining the most effective approach to share it with the broader team.  Part of that process was to think about the talent and how the organization might be set up to support the vision,” she explained.

After helping with some customer service and administrative tasks, Cheryl eventually began assisting ABCD with developing a strategic plan, or, as they refer to it internally, a roadmap for where the organization is headed.

“The idea of doing strategic planning, goal setting and those kinds of things … I’m naturally driven that way, to create goals and capture the ideas on paper. When I got closer to the organization and I realized that we didn’t have those tools, it felt like a place I could offer my services,” she said.

That led to an offer to join the Board, which she immediately accepted last July. 

“Our growth as an organization has happened organically and we were at a crossroads. If we wanted to be more intentional and thoughtful, how would we do that? That idea turned into what we call our roadmap for the future,” she explained. 

Cheryl and Ellen have refined the roadmap, which is looking ahead to a three-year window of actions and deliverables (2023-2025), presented it to the Board and have received input on the two primary initiatives on which the organization wants to focus: 1)  re-engaging the ABCD’s healthcare liaison program and 2) re-engaging programming for individuals in underserved communities to provide more resources for African-American, Hispanic and Native American, among others.

In the past, ABCD has already made many strides in both of these areas; however, due to the impact of COVID-19, like most businesses, internal changes and outside factors limited their impact.  

Now that everyone is aligned on these two main objectives which they believe will profoundly drive the future of the organization, the next step is working with smaller groups made up of ABCD staff and board members to help create an action plan to maximize that impact. 

There are, of course, other goals and objectives on the roadmap, such as continuing to engage donors with the goal of driving more intentional participation, as well as, determining how to best demonstrate the organization’s nationwide and even international reach.

“We know what our vision is: No one should go through breast cancer alone. That’s our mission, that’s our passion. In my opinion, we have been contributing so much to the positive experience that people have–if they can have a’ positive’ experience while they’re going through a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. We do this very well.  But to continue to do it in a great way, we have this opportunity to think about how we are going to provide services so that we can use our resources in the most thoughtful way, and make sure we help as many people as we can,” Cheryl said.

With a strong vision, strong staff, and strong Board, comprised of many others like Cheryl, who are willing to share their professional expertise for the good of the organization, ABCD has the map and direction to put them on the road to success in that endeavor.

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