GREG BESNER JOINS THE NORTHEAST BOARD OF DIRECTORS The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Greg Besner of Short Hills, NJ, to its Northeast Board of Directors. Greg has been the founder and CEO of several successful technology and consumer product companies. He most recently launched a new software company called CultureIQ, Inc., to help companies use data to manage, measure and improve their corporate culture. He is also an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at New York University, teaching a class called, “Ready, Fire, Aim.” Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Greg served in the capacity of president, COO and CFO for several other successful companies and had a prosperous career on Wall Street working at Goldman Sachs and then Merrill Lynch. Prior to launching CultureIQ, Greg was the CFO of New York-based SecondMarket Holdings, Inc. Before SecondMarket, Greg led a group of private investors in the Series B funding of House Party, Inc., a growth stage digital media company, where he served as COO from 2009-2010. Prior to joining House Party, Greg was the founder and CEO of Computershare Executive Services, a SaaS fin-tech company formally known as Restricted Stock Systems, Inc. (“RSS”), from 2000 until 2009. In 2007, Greg sold RSS to Computershare Limited, a public company based in Australia, and he remained as president until January of 2009. During his tenure as CEO of RSS, Greg was named the Ernst & Young 2003 Entrepreneur of the Year in New Jersey. Greg is also an active investor and consultant for numerous successful companies and start-ups. Of note, he was an investor and consultant for Zappos.com starting in 2005 until Zappos was sold to Amazon in 2009. Greg currently serves on the Board of Directors or the Board of Advisors for 10 privately-held companies and also serves on the Board of Directors of the Young Presidents’ Organization (“YPO”) NJ Chapter. He is the founder and CEO of Leslie Hsu LLC, a fashion accessories company that he and his wife, Leslie Hsu Besner, founded in 2000. It’s fair to say that Greg is fueled by ambition and the drive to succeed. But to those who know him personally, it’s clear that his true motivation stems from a desire to fulfill the one wish of his eldest daughter, Willa – finding a cure for her type 1 diabetes. Through their family foundation, Willa’s Wish Foundation, Inc., they have made multiple major gifts to advance research being conducted at the Diabetes Research Institute. They host an annual event in NYC, Cocktails for a Cure, to be held September 13, and have sponsored several of the DRI Foundation’s Northeast events. Willa (see photo on cover) appeared in the DRIF’s Future Free from T1D campaign video last year, and her little sister, Lana, has also been involved with their fundraising efforts.
BOARD SPOTLIGHT: CRYSTAL BLAYLOCK SANCHEZ Florida Region Board member Crystal Blaylock Sanchez wears many hats — head of a family-owned business and a major, annual fundraising event, plus mother to two boys, Cameron and Matthew. Possibly the most important and challenging job she handles is “backup pancreas” for Matthew, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005 at age 5. As president of Blaylock Oil and executive director of the Shell Key West Challenge, which has raised more than $500,000 for the Diabetes Research Institute (see page 19), Crystal could easily rest on her laurels and avoid adding anything else to her very full plate. Her drive, however, to find a cure for her son and millions more is always at the core of every step taken and each decision made.
Crystal Blaylock Sanchez with her boys, Cameron and Matthew.
“Bottom line is I want a cure for Matthew and everyone else who suffers with diabetes, and we believe in the DRI,” she said with conviction, which is exactly what motivates those around her to support her cause. Surrounding her personal efforts is an impressive grassroots fundraising circle of friends, colleagues, vendors and other wholesalers who have contributed additional dollars to the DRI. From programs like Pump for a Cure, Dollars for Dolphins, and Pucker for a Cure to church and restaurant fundraisers, “Cure” ring sales and a Fish Skinz tournament, Crystal has inspired so many others to commit to fundraising projects for the DRI. Furthermore, she always steps to the plate when asked to participate in the DRI Foundation’s campaigns, photo shoots, videos, and special events. “The support I’ve received from family and friends is very humbling. But it’s because we know that whether its $5 or $500, it goes to research for a cure. No fundraiser is too small or insignificant. Every amount helps, and we can all contribute to the end result that I’m very much looking forward to — a cure.” 3 |