Editor’s note: Karen Young, CPA, serves on the Board of Directors for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN). She works as U.S. Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), where she has spent 24 years. PwC released this video about Young, which we’re pleased to share. We sat down with Young to discuss her personal reasons for getting involved with PanCAN and how she aims to make a difference through her service on the Board and beyond.
PanCAN: Karen, why did you want to join the PanCAN Board of Directors?
Young: My initial interest came from my personal loss, but the depth of PanCAN’s involvement in science and treatment for pancreatic cancer really struck a chord. The organization does a great job at raising funds and awareness for the disease, but beyond that, PanCAN is using data and insights gathered from areas like its Know Your Tumor® precision medicine service, the Patient Registry, and more, to make informed decisions about how to double pancreatic cancer survival.
PanCAN: What are some of the unique attributes that you bring to the Board?
Young: I’m a CPA by trade, so I bring financial and fiduciary responsibility, certainly, and an understanding of managing the overall financial health and wellbeing of the organization. I have spent my entire career at PwC working in the pharmaceutical industry and witness the dedication and focus in oncology initiatives with our clients.
PanCAN: What were your early impressions of PanCAN and the Board?
Young: I’ve been very impressed with the caliber. I am a big believer in the comprehensive strategy behind everything PanCAN does. As for the Board, everyone is contributing in a different way and with unique but complementary backgrounds and skills. Everyone has a specific and personal reason for being at the table.
At my first Board meeting last summer, we all had a chance to individually share our personal story of why the pancreatic cancer cause matters to us. Usually you don’t get that personal at meetings! But it was insightful to do that – it centers everyone and keeps us focused on the mission.
PanCAN: You lost your dad to pancreatic cancer. Tell me about that.
Young: My dad died six years ago – he was diagnosed at stage IV and lived nine months post-diagnosis. I also lost my aunt to pancreatic cancer (my dad’s sister). After those losses, I knew I had to do something to make a difference. After a connection through a colleague, I found PanCAN.
PanCAN: Our 20th anniversary campaign theme is “Moments Matter.” Does a particular moment stand out to you, thinking back on your involvement so far with PanCAN?
Young: Definitely – [National Pancreatic Cancer] Advocacy Day last June. The enormity of the event and being surrounded by so many people impacted by pancreatic cancer – patients, friends, loved ones of people who had passed. Hearing all the emotional stories.
Continuing to reface the loss of someone is always difficult but seeing the power in numbers was amazing. I hadn’t known what to expect from Advocacy Day, and it completely blew me away.
PanCAN: Who had the most influence on you growing up and did that person impact your career path?
Young: I’ve always enjoyed networking and meeting new people, and I learned the importance of that from my dad. He was a leader in the harness racing industry, and as a result, so much of my childhood was spent at the racetrack and barns watching him interact with horse owners, selling horses, etc. At PwC, I have constant interaction with clients and teams and enjoy continuing to build my network.
PanCAN: What would your dad say about the work you’re doing with PanCAN today?
Young: I think he would be very proud that I’ve identified an area that is important and impactful and that I’m putting energy into something that will make a difference. I don’t want the next generation to face pancreatic cancer the way my family did.
PanCAN: How would you describe PanCAN in three words?
Young: Dedication. Commitment. Excellence.