A few weeks ago, the Rivkin Center announced that Molly O’Connor has joined the team as the incoming chief executive officer. Get to know Molly and what drew her to the Rivkin Center’s mission.
Q&A with Molly O’Connor
Why are you excited to work at the Rivkin Center?
I’m excited about it all because there is still so much more for the Rivkin Center to do and so much energy from the Rivkin community, board members, and donors to do more – and I love a challenge. We need to reach more people with our education work around ovarian and breast cancer and make sure we’re focused on and connecting with communities most at risk. We need to raise more funds to support research for early ovarian cancer detection, treatments, and cures. And we need more people to know about the Rivkin Center, which has been a powerful but relatively quiet leader.
What’s your connection to ovarian and/or breast cancer?
Last April during the pandemic, I became the executive director of Susan G Komen Puget Sound. Professionally, it was a huge leap in new knowledge and relationships but not in mindset. Before Komen, I spent 12 years focused on early childhood care and education issues. Better outcomes for just about anything in life require a commitment to prevention and early intervention AND a commitment to changing inequitable systems and removing barriers of all kinds to give more people access. Komen Puget Sound drew me in with its community work to ensure more women had access to information and screenings and, should they need followup tests and treatment, people they trust from their community to support and guide them.
Unfortunately, a national Komen reorganization led to the closure of Komen Puget Sound at the end of 2020. While many conversations are still to come, I’m hopeful Rivkin will grow its influence and impact around both ovarian and breast cancer by integrating some of the community partners Komen Puget Sound once had.
Who inspires you to help women live longer and healthier lives because cancers are prevented, caught early, or cured?
My boys. Their dad died of lung cancer five years ago when they were 11 and 14 years old. He died one month after being diagnosed. Telling my children that their dad was going to die is the worst conversation I will have in my life. I now have to do all that I can to take care of myself, get screenings and checkups, be my own best health advocate, and stay in this world as long as possible.
What do you do outside of raising awareness of ovarian and breast cancer?
See previous question. I’m a single mom. While the kids are now a sophomore in college and a junior in high school, I’m still at the younger one’s baseball and football games. I take care of myself by working out every day, walking and talking with friends, reading, and trying to find something decent to binge-watch. Seriously, though, I need to start work on my empty nest plan because that last sentence was a bit sad, and I didn’t even tell you about the cats.
What else should we know about you that’s going to shape your Rivkin leadership?
- I understand and fully embrace the difference Rivkin wants to make in the world. This is what I will use to filter data, stories, and new ideas and inform decisions.
- I am committed to bringing diversity to our board, staff, and within our work. Our growth efforts will be intentional and inclusive; while I already have some thoughts, we will do this together.
- I can come across as quite driven and serious, but I am also playful with a wicked sense of humor.
Join Molly and the Rivkin community at this year’s annual Family & Friends Auction on November 6, 2021 at the Bellevue Hyatt.