Eight years ago, Carla Tardif approached Rick Morello, Family Reach Founder and Executive Director at the time, with a shared vision. She knew that Family Reach had the potential to change the face of cancer for families in the fight – and in the past eight years, she has proven just that.

Rick currently serves as President of our Board of Directors. He handed the reigns of Executive Director over to Carla in 2012 and just recently, the Board made the decision to promote Carla to Chief Executive Officer. We had the chance to sit down with Rick to talk about Carla’s impact on Family Reach and what we can expect with her behind the wheel as our new CEO.


What was it like when Carla approached you and, what at the time, was a small family foundation based in New Jersey and Boston?

When Carla approached me, I knew right away that I had found someone special for Family Reach. Not only was she an extremely successful fundraiser and business leader, but the mission was personal for her. Carla was a great friend of Pat Kelly, a former NFL player who had lost his battle with brain cancer five years before. Pat had committed much of his time to kids fighting pediatric cancer – spending years visiting patients and their families across the country. Before Pat passed away, he made Carla promise that she would do something for the thousands of families he had seen in financial ruin because of cancer. When Carla discovered Family Reach, she saw a way to put an end to this often overlooked problem and came to me ready to make a difference.

 What was Carla’s impact in those first years?

I brought Carla on as a development consultant in early 2008, when our gross revenue was about $240,000. At the time, we were partnered with eight hospitals on the east coast, supporting a couple of hundred families per year. In three years, Carla increased our revenue to over $1 million and helped expand our hospital partnerships to fifteen across the Northeast and California. She had a small but dedicated network of volunteers and donors, and her eye for real growth catapulted us from being a local non-profit to a regional cause. It made perfect sense to promote her to Executive Director at that time.

What difference did Carla make once you handed the reigns over to her as Executive Director?

When Carla took over as Executive Director we were considered a regional organization. We were so excited about our success at that point but Carla kept asking, “How do we do more?” She knew we could get from $1 million to $3 million. She knew we could get from regional to national and she was the best person to lead us to the national stage. Since 2012, our staff has tripled, our revenue has tripled, and most importantly the number of families we are able to serve each year has grown more than 1500%! In 2015 alone Family Reach supported 2,400 patients and their family members thanks to Carla’s leadership.

 What does Carla’s promotion to CEO signify for Family Reach?

The move from Executive Director to Chief Executive Officer is about the arrival of Family Reach as a social enterprise that will institute long-term, sustainable change. At the top level, we have to run this organization not only as non-profit leaders, but as social entrepreneurs. We are not just a cause, we are a movement. We know that the financial burden of cancer is an urgent problem that needs to be solved now – this is the core of our organization that drives us every day. With Carla’s leadership as CEO we will push our partners, our donors and our entire community to build and implement sustainable solutions.

What do you envision for the future of Family Reach?

We now have a national stage and a mission that is actively addressing a major unmet need for families facing cancer. And, we have had the good fortune of engaging some well-known, compassionate people like Ming Tsai, Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski and Marc Benioff who have enabled us to greatly expand our national exposure and footprint. We are increasing our efforts with the biopharmaceutical industry and the hundreds of companies pursuing cancer breakthroughs who are also recognizing the financial reality of the disease and its dramatic effects on patients and families. With the continued growth of our mission and the increasing power and resources behind it, we believe Family Reach is on the cusp of having exponential impact on this incredibly important cause.

We expect the next five years will be a period of continued growth, sustainability and diversification of our programs. The topic of cancer and financial toxicity is more real today than it has been in our entire history. As we see the cost of healthcare going up, the safety nets for these every day families are just not big enough. This movement is not just about awareness. It’s about intensity, hard work and building a true coalition of people and organizations that will ensure families have compassionate support and the best access to care. And we’ve got the best team in place to do just that.


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