This month we are showcasing CMOs who use their time and talent to make a positive impact and highlight charities that have benefited from CMO expertise through participation in the CMO Club Cares program. This time around, we highlight CMO Club member Wendy Newman, Patient Engagement and Community Consultant at Reneo Pharmaceuticals, for her work with the International Esperanza Project, providing hope to people in developing countries through healthcare, education, and community development projects. Wendy also is the Chair of the Board for The Clearlity Foundation, providing science-based treatment information to patients and families based on each woman’s unique needs and priorities.
CMO Club — Welcome. Two great causes. Tell us about your involvement with The Esperanza Project. How did that connection come about?
Wendy Newman — Interestingly enough, The Esperanza Project was an organization we partnered with when I was CMO at AMN Healthcare. They needed doctors and nurses to take down to Guatemala, so we helped to recruit those doctors and nurses for that first trip. I wound up volunteering on the medical side at the clinic down there, triaging patients, assisting the dentist they had, anything I could do to help. I have a Master in Public Health degree, and my passion for healthcare in developing countries goes back to that background. I’ve been going down ever since. I just got back a few weeks ago from Central America, putting stoves in these simple huts for families so that they can stay safe and healthy.
CMO Club — How about The Clearity Project?
Wendy Newman — As for The Clearity Project, the board was made up of all for-profit biotech people without any experience in not-for-profits. Someone who knew me and knew my marketing background asked if I’d join and help with branding and organization. I’m now Chair of the Board there.
CMO Club — Any stories that touched your heart that you can share?
Wendy Newman — Every time I go I find it hard to control my emotions. I would say the first trip was pretty impactful, working with these little kids. That first trip I worked a lot at the dental clinic they had set up. These kids would come in without their parents, and they would be so stoic and thankful. One kid, an autistic, non-verbal child, maybe seven years old, had this massive tooth infection. They had to pull the tooth and the only way I could get him to calm down was to sit with him and just keep talking, showing him how to use a toothbrush while they worked on his mouth the whole time.
It’s so hard to say one single story. In the field with these families, hundreds of families over the many years I’ve been going down, installing stoves in these remote villages. They mostly use open fires in the middle of these huts to cook with. We install wood stoves and sometimes we install water filtration systems for them. it’s hard to put words on that, how it’s impacted families.
CMO Club — What has this meant to you personally?
Wendy Newman — It’s changed my life. I remember the first trip, I came back, and I’d listen to friends complaining about everyday problems, in their garden and how hard it was getting to the gym that week, and I remember going an entire week without being able to go out to stores or food shopping. It was hard to explain the impact it had on me being around these people who are so gracious for everything they have and everything you do for them. I get so emotional because when you see how they live for yourself, beyond your wildest dream of what it’s like, it changes you forever.
CMO Club — Do you think what you’re doing has made an impact?
Wendy Newman — Absolutely. The last time I went down there I met this baby at one of the clinics who had a massive tumor on the side of his face. I asked the mom if I could take a photo and was able to pass that photo onto the medical team. That baby is now getting the attention he needs to remove that tumor. When you build and install stoves, you do two things. You cut down on deforestation, and you cut down on all the respiratory illnesses that come with open fires inside homes, especially for those kids living in that smoke. Those are just two tangible things. There’s so much more, not only them, but for me as well.
Check out how other CMOs have made an impact here!