In this blog series, we are featuring the members of the Alliance’s Board of Directors. This month, we’re featuring Michele Markus. Learn more about Michele:
When did you become a member of the Alliance’s Board of Directors and why did you decide to join?
I first heard about the Alliance in 2015 through a client and friend who had worked with the Alliance herself for many years. Through her experience, I started to learn about the great work of the organization. At the time, my grandfather was transitioning to a new living situation and my family and I were more active in his care. I witnessed firsthand some of the challenges in our system and some of the amazing heroes working every day to address those discrepancies. As a kid I had volunteered in homes supporting older adults and now as an adult working in the space, I wanted to do something more impactful than sporadically helping on the sidelines with a family member; I wanted to contribute in a vaster way. Then I met Sue and I was amazed—and continue to be—by her and the Alliance’s work. My joining felt like all these pieces fitting together.
Where do you work and what is your current role at the company?
I lead Global Health Accounts at Omnicom—it’s an amazing role in an organization of superbly talented communicators and advisors. I have the privilege of working with clients across the spectrum of health and harnessing the power of our talent across all of Omnicom to solve problems where communications can have true impact in health—which are a lot of places!
Where are you from, and where do you currently live?
I was born and raised in New Jersey and have lived my adult life in New York City. I love where I live with my husband, son, and the community we have here in New York.
What is your favorite part of being a member of the Alliance’s Board of Directors?
The amount I learn from other Board Members and from the staff at the Alliance is truly fantastic. Whenever you bring individuals with unique experiences together you can garner great perspectives—in the world of health, never has this been so essential: we need to solve old and new problems in specific and varied ways—it requires the ideas, experiences, and knowledge that only diversity of thought can bring.
Do you have a personal connection with any of the health issues/conditions the Alliance works on?
One unique aspect of the Alliance is the group has mastered the balance of focus to go deep on critical issues with thoughtful breadth. So many challenges from heart valve disease awareness (I have a family history of individuals with this condition and who have died from complications) to educating patients and caregivers on how to engage in clinical trials to ensure innovative, patient centered approaches (Talk NERDY To Me)—the work of the team is significant in its impact and deeply felt by myself and our members.
How has your view of aging changed as you have gotten older?
Like many others, the awareness one has on the complexity of aging as a topic—the emotional, mental and physical processes we go through as a form of humanity in its most basic. And the vulnerability—it’s a whole new level of awareness as one lives it though family members and then with oneself. I’m very optimistic though—the science, innovations, the changes in the system— the arc of history here is really moving to a positive place. It’s why the work the Alliance engages in is so very crucial.
How do you practice healthy aging?
To me, it’s just as much about keeping my mind and spirit engaged as it is my body. I like what I do everyday because I am always learning! I also try to be conscious of how I’m living: what I eat, how I exercise (I enjoy running, weight training, and yoga), and how I sleep. I also spend time with those I love and who nurture me.
What is your favorite book?
One of my favorite activities is reading so this is a tough question for me as I have so many! During the height of the pandemic and lockdown in the U.S., I had trouble sleeping so reading was my late-night solace. I enjoy reading widely and often the extremes of either non-fiction or science fiction. At that time, I read some really formidable works including The Splendid and The Vile about the Blitz in England, The Underground Railroad which was a brilliant and deeply moving historical fiction. I also devoured Alfred Lansing’s Endurance. It was important to me to read about moments of survival and human perseverance and spirit at this time. I recommend all of these novels.
What is one thing that not many people know about you?
The last 4 digits of my social security number. And I plan to keep it that way!