Liz Larkin

American Cancer Society

City: Little Rock
Category: Nonprofit Executive of the Year
Year: 2001

Liz Larkin takes pride in knowing she is part of the American Cancer Society's effort to decrease the number of cancer-related deaths by 50 percent by 2015 and its ultimate goal of eradicating cancer.

But for now, the society's regional vice president is satisfied with every single life saved by their efforts.

Larkin joined the society 11 years ago, and her duties have become much more than a job.

"I love it, and I believe in what we do. It's nice to come to work every morning knowing what you do makes a difference," she said.

Her mission is to save lives and improve the quality of life for cancer victims, she said. And she does this by raising money.

In 1997, the state of Arkansas, once a region by itself, merged with an existing region consisting of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. During the year of the merger, $1 million was collected; this year, the region hopes to raise $3.2 million. In September, Arkansas once again will become its own region, with Larkin as vice president.

Larkin supervises a staff of four directors who oversee fund raising, early detection and prevention programs across the state. She credits those surrounding her for the society's regional growth.

The team's next big project is Relay for Life, which generally is held in the early summer and is one of its largest fund-raising activities. More than 50 communities will sponsor the all-night tribute to cancer survivors and victims. At the 1997 relay, the teams of eight to 12 people raised about $260,000. In 2001, more than $2 million was raised.

"Everybody has somehow been touched by cancer, whether it is the patient or the family member," and therefore can be served by the cancer society, she said.

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