HIS LEGACY CONTINUES TO GROW
Charles Alexander, RN, MSN, MBA
President and CEO
The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland
For better or worse, it is rare these days to build a career with one organization. But that is exactly what Charles Alexander has done at The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland (LLF). LLF works with hospitals throughout Maryland to improve the organ and tissue donation process. The organization identifies physician/clinical champions in Maryland hospitals to collaborate for high-level donor and family care throughout the process. Since 2005, LLF has seen a 25 percent increase in organ donors and more than a 35 percent increase in the number of organs transplanted.
Alexander has been in the field of transplantation since 1995. He began his career at LLF as an operating-room perfusionist and later held a position as an organ recovery coordinator. In 1999, he started the hospital development department for the organization and later became the manager of hospital services. In 2003, Alexander became the director of clinical and hospital services and the next year was named president and CEO of the organization.
With all of his experience, not only in the field of transplants but in nonprofits as well, Alexander can provide unique insights on taking a small organization and putting it on the growth track.
Q: What is the single greatest challenge you face as a leader at The Living Legacy Foundation? How do you overcome that?
A: We have been fortunate in experiencing substantial growth over the past several years. We have evolved from a small healthcare nonprofit with a very focused mission, to a medium-sized organization that has identified ways of growing the mission and serving more Marylanders than at any time in our history.
Managing growth is difficult, from the impact on leadership and project management, to the staff that we rely on 24/7/365 to carry out our life-saving work. We have managed it well, but I wouldn’t say we’ve overcome it just yet. We remain in a growth stage, and seem to be improving at how we manage and implement our new programs.
Q: You have worked for The Living Legacy Foundation for 20 years. What is it about this organization that has made it a place for you to build a career?
A: I think like so many people that are on our team, you become wedded to the mission. It is very difficult to not feel fulfilled each day when you look at your ability to positively impact people’s lives in the course of doing the work we do. I have been given an opportunity to grow professionally and personally, and we do our best to be sure that everyone on our teams has the same opportunity.
Q: Is having an entrepreneurial spirit an important quality for an executive at your organization?
A: Absolutely. Working for a nonprofit organization sometimes makes it easier to be entrepreneurial. I know many would disagree with that statement, but it has allowed me (and our team) to channel our innovation towards a fixed mission. It keeps us on track, and keeps us in a net-forward direction when it comes to idea generation and execution of those plans. We have expanded our services to Marylanders in ways we would have never predicted a few short years ago, and in turn we are better today than ever before.
Q: Beyond a resume, what qualities or skills do you look for when hiring employees?
A: Because our work is so specialized we rarely have the chance to recruit new members of our team with the exact experience we’d require. It has led us to a more behavioral based approach to recruitment, where we look for the best organizational “fit” as opposed to the most qualified. We do a substantial amount of re-teaching in our field, and we have learned that if we invest in people that are like-minded then we will have a better chance of keeping them engaged, interested, productive and happy for a longer period of time.
We have a very young organization, and the energy from that drives us each day. We are very fortunate to be able to serve our organ and tissue donor families, waiting recipients and our local hospital partners with a very passionate team.
Q: What new programs have you implemented in the last 12 months? How did you identify those needs?
A: In the past twelve months we have expanded our 24/7/365 clinical call center to serve patients and donor cases outside of the state of Maryland. In addition the call center now supports clinical research on hepatocyte recovery from very young donors where organ donation was not an option. We continue to identify mission consistent opportunities to broaden our service to the community.
Q: What are the priorities for The Living Legacy Foundation in 2016? Where are your target areas for growth?
A: As a mission driven nonprofit, our priority will always be service to our organ, tissue and eye donor families whose generosity allows us to provide a life saving/changing opportunity for our waiting transplant recipients. In 2016 we are looking at how we can better serve our hospital partners in this process, leveraging our new simulation labs and training center for the betterment of the donor process for all.