Since April 2012, I have had the pleasure and privilege of serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), and its legacy organizations, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) and the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI). Today, I am announcing that I will be stepping down as CEO of FARE on August 30 to pursue a new business opportunity. You can find the full announcement here. Before I go, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate with you the terrific work we have done together.
In the past two years, FARE – and the food allergy community – have experienced tremendous progress and growth. First, through the formation of one national organization with a common mission—to find a cure for food allergies and to keep individuals with food allergies safe and included. From the merger, we developed a new brand, launched a new website, built a national field operation with six offices across the country, expanded grassroots fundraising opportunities, and exceeded previous fundraising records for luncheons, the FARE Walk for Food Allergy program, and major gifts. In our first full year as a new organization, we raised more than $16.5 million to support important food allergy research, education, advocacy and awareness initiatives, which represents an increase of more than 25 percent over the combined total raised by FARE’s legacy organizations in 2012. This would not have been possible without your generosity and commitment to our cause.
With these funds, we have made important progress in every area of our mission:
- We established a new proactive research program based on the input of the leading scientists in the field and increased our investment in innovative treatments.
- To further our education mission, we launched a national program to enhance restaurant safety for diners with food allergies, developed a program to help students with food allergies transition to college, held our first FARE National Food Allergy Conference, and introduced our free monthly webinar series to provide food allergy education to anyone with an internet connection.
- In November 2013, President Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, a FARE-directed effort to incentivize states to stock epinephrine in schools. We have also been proud to support many successful state stock epinephrine initiatives led by dedicated local advocates.
- We dramatically increased awareness of food allergy as a serious public health issue through our new award-winning website, media outreach, our social media outlets, and the nationally televised documentary, “An Emerging Epidemic – Food Allergies in America,” narrated by Steve Carell.
These are just a few highlights, and all of this success was made possible because of the dedicated staff, volunteers, donors, supporters and Board members who gave their time and resources, and worked long hours to make the world better for people with food allergies.
Thank you for everything you have done to help advance the cause.
The transformation of FARE and the food allergy community over two years has truly been remarkable. I am so proud to have been a part of that, and I will keep the individuals and families I have met and worked with at FARE forever in my heart.
I see a bright future ahead for FARE and the food allergy community, and know that a time will come when the hard work will have paid off, and we will have safe and effective treatments for all individuals with food allergies. Thank you for the opportunity to serve, it has been an honor and a privilege.
John L. Lehr