For Breast Cancer Awareness month, I sat down with newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, Donna Randall. This past July she began her new role with CPIC, an organization PlumpJack has supported for the past 15 years, through our annual Golf Tournament, which has raised nearly $3 million for Cancer Research.
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As former Chancellor of Michigan’s Albion College, she brings fundraising, national advocacy and financial expertise to the Bay Area Nonprofit. Dr. Randall was the first woman to serve as president of the college in its 178-year history and has served as a board member of more than 15 corporate, community and policy organizations.
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Having been a board member of the CPIC for the past 15 years I look forward to seeing Donna shape and guide the future of CPIC. In her role as CEO, she will work to advance CPIC’s mission of large-scale impact on cancer prevention.
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1. What do you believe to be your greatest accomplishment?
I think my greatest accomplishment is having raised a daughter with my husband, Paul. Kate is now 26 years old and is a bright, thoughtful, and kind person.
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2. Do you have a prized possession?
It is a wind-up toy collection! For over 40 years, I have collected wind-up toys and probably have 300 to 400 toys. I suppose I should count them one day. The collection is fun because each toy is unique (from kangaroos that flip backwards to colorful plates of sushi that spin around). The collection never fails to amuse people…all the way from three-year old’s to ninety year old’s.
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3. What qualities do you think others love about you?
I am a down-to-earth person who sees humor in most situations and who doesn’t take herself too seriously.
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4. If you could do anything other than what you currently do, what would it be?
I would probably be a tour director. I have always been fascinated by different cultures and customs and enjoy travel. As a child and adult, I have lived in many different states, as well as in France, Ireland and Canada. As a tour director, I would be able to help people experience the beauty of new lands and deepen their understanding of those people who live there.
5. What do you like most about what you do for a living/career?
I am passionate about the mission of The Cancer Prevention Institute of California. Cancer will impact one in two of us during our lifetime. Our research scientists are working hard to find out who gets cancer, why, and what can we do to prevent it. While we are making good progress, there is so much more work to be done to prevent this devastating disease.
6. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
I have a cup of coffee and read the New York Times. The smell and warmth of coffee helps me wake up, and the newspaper gives me a glimpse into the lives of others around the world and anchors my day.
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7. What’s your favorite thing to do on a Friday night?
I love to watch foreign films, especially French films. As an undergraduate, I gained fluency in French and was able to do a semester abroad in Lyon, France, as well as work for a French artist during one summer in Paris. While I no longer have fluency in French, watching French films brings back great memories!
8. What were you passionate about in your younger years growing up?
Right out of college, I worked as a white-collar crime analyst for the Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation. I was fascinated by the motivation of white-collar criminals. This passion led me to go to graduate school in sociology to study this form of deviance and later, as a business faculty member, to research white-collar crime.
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9. What are you passionate about now?
Helping to prevent cancer. Over my lifetime, many members of my family, as many other families in the nation, have been touched by cancer. I saw the impact of cancer on their lives and on those who cared about them. I want to help create a world without cancer.
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10. What’s your favorite season and why?
Definitely summer! I love the warmth of the season and the pace that comes with summer. While I like being outdoors, especially in California, I would be remiss in my job if I did not remind others that sun screen is a necessity.
11. If you were a cocktail or a drink what would it be?
Commonwealth Cocktail. This is a drink that was created just this year in celebration of the nations and territories competing in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The cocktail is billed as one of the most complicated as it has 71 ingredients, one from each nation that competed in the games. I like to think that I have taken a piece of every place that I have lived and every person that I’ve known and this amalgamation has created who I am today.
12. If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Vincent Van Gogh. I am intrigued by his art, his mind and his life. I am in awe of his talent and, especially, his exquisite use of color.
13. Do you have any regrets?
I wish I learned more languages when I was younger. I learned to speak French, but I never ventured to learn other languages. Being able to speak a language opens up a door into another world. Through language one can understand more fully the culture, history, art, and customs of a people. I am tempted these days to try my hand at learning Spanish.
14. Define Freedom.
For me, freedom is most importantly the right not to live under oppressive, undemocratic forms of government.
15. What are your personal core values?
I believe in kindness and honesty in how we treat each other and an acceptance of our own limitations. I believe that each of us is here on earth to make the world a better place.