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Cancer Research Foundation Announces New Chief Executive Officer

Megan Zegler

The Cancer Research Foundation’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that, after an extensive search process, Matthew Moy Johnson was selected as its new Chief Executive Officer, effective March 16th, 2020. The mission of the Cancer Research Foundation is to raise funds to support early career researchers and novel ideas in cancer research with the hope of contributing to “Transformative Events” in the prevention, treatment and cures for cancer.

Prior to his new role, Johnson was CEO of Chicagoland Habitat for
Humanity, where he grew the organization and its impact in the Chicago
region significantly during his seven-year tenure. Johnson has over 25
years of nonprofit experience, with expertise in fundraising, organizational management, and strategic planning. Johnson grew up in Chicago and the surrounding area, has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s degree in business and nonprofit management.

“This is an exciting time for the Cancer Research Foundation, with its plans to build on a long, successful history and expand within Chicago and across the country,” Johnson said. “I am honored to be joining the staff and board of CRF to further advance the mission and vision of such an important organization. We all, in some way, have been impacted by cancer, and can support this critical, innovative work.”

Johnson succeeds Zanna (Alexandra) Nikitas, who will continue her leadership by assuming the role of Chairman of the Board and who will also continue to play a role in program direction. Zanna’s leadership over the past 13 years has been instrumental in growing the CRF and its role in the scientific community.

“I am thrilled to have Matt Johnson at the helm of the Cancer Research Foundation” Ms. Nikitas remarked. “At a time when scientists from multiple fields are poised to make life changing breakthroughs in the way we treat and think about cancer, it is essential for our foundation to look for new ways to grow. Matt brings significant leadership experience and a new progressive outlook to the Cancer Research Foundation, just when the researchers we support need us to expand our efforts.”

The Cancer Research Foundation was founded more than 60 years ago by Chicago retailer Maurice Goldblatt. From its beginning, the CRF has been focused on funding high leverage cancer research, often acting as “seed- financing” for new ideas and researchers just starting their careers as principle investigators. The CRF believes that this type of “high-risk, high reward” funding is best addressed by private foundations that are willing and able to bet on new hypotheses and the best new minds coming into science. Its goal is to bring these talented researchers and their best new ideas to bear in beating cancer. After all, research is the best hope in the war against cancer.