Working to defy cancer: Meet Kelly Yardley

This post is part of a series highlighting staff members within Dana-Farber Cancer Institute & The Jimmy Fund’s Division of Philanthropy, to give supporters an inside peek at life at New England’s favorite charity. Today, we’re talking to Kelly Yardley, assistant director, Running Programs.

What brought you to Dana-Farber? What made you want to work here?

Prior to my role at Dana-Farber, I also worked at a nonprofit, but it was very small. I called myself the “Jill of All Trades” because I had a hand in everything under the sun. While I credit much of what I learned about philanthropy to this small nonprofit, I was ready to pursue a more focused role and develop expertise in one area. Now five years later, I can confirm that Dana-Farber is an excellent place to begin and nurture a career as a fundraising professional.

Kelly, pictured on Cape Cod

Can you describe your role here?

The Running Programs team is responsible for supporting runners in their effort to fundraise for Dana-Farber through various running initiatives. Dana-Farber has teams that participate in major races, including the Boston Marathon®, Falmouth Road Race, and B.A.A. Half Marathon®. Runners can also participate in our Run Any Race program, which means that they sign up for a race of their choice and fundraise independently for Dana-Farber. My role is a combination of program management, relationship management, event planning, operations, and communications and marketing strategy.

In simple terms, and when I describe my role to friends, I say, “You know those runners doing the Boston Marathon for charity? Well, Dana-Farber has a team of 500+ runners and I ensure they have the resources and support they need to reach their fundraising goals.”

What do you look forward to most on Boston Marathon Weekend?

The Boston Marathon has always been my favorite day of the year, so it is an absolute privilege that I can combine my love for running, this race, and cultivating relationships with people who are passionate about Dana-Farber’s mission into my career. My friends oftentimes joke, “Was this job made for you!?”

My favorite part of Marathon Weekend is the electric energy surrounding the event. There is so much city pride. Connecting one-on-one with Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) teammates over the course of Marathon Weekend is certainly the highlight. I love helping them navigate their emotions, whether it be nerves because they’re running their first marathon, fulfillment because the day is finally here, or excitement because they’ve hit the $100,000 Lifetime Achievement milestone. These interactions are all just so rewarding.

You can support the 2022 Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge runners by donating to the team and cheering them on this Marathon Monday, April 18!

Members of the Running Programs team (Kelly, pictured on the far right) at the 2021 Boston Marathon

You previously worked on Philanthropy’s Administration team. Is there anything you can share about moving between teams within the Division of Philanthropy?

I’ve had the unique privilege of working on a non-fundraising team (Administration) and a fundraising team (Running Programs). While there are major differences in job scope between the two roles and teams, we are all treated like fundraisers. Each individual staff member within the Division of Philanthropy contributes to our collective goal, and knowing your value and what you bring to the table no matter what team you’re on is a powerful feeling.

Running Programs is hiring! Is there anything you would like to share about the roles and your team with prospective candidates?

A common misconception about working on the Running Programs team is that we are all avid runners. Even though it’s a bonus, you don’t have to run at all to join our team! In fact, our day-to-day work hardly touches running. We are first and foremost fundraisers, and we look for candidates with strong organization and communication abilities, as well as backgrounds in customer service, relationship management, and/or event operations. Those who enjoy juggling multiple projects in a fast-paced environment will thrive on this team!

A passion for running is not a requirement to work on the Running Programs team, but Kelly loves it.

What does it mean to you to work here and support Dana-Farber’s lifesaving mission to defy cancer?

It is an immense privilege to work with individuals who want to channel their appreciation, grief, and/or hope into something meaningful to them: running and fundraising for Dana-Farber. Working with runners exposes me to their often emotional and inspiring stories, and it is a constant reminder that while Dana-Farber has made so many strides toward a world without cancer, there is still so much work to do.

The Running Programs team offers an outlet to those who want to show gratitude, mourn the loss of someone, or give back, and being part of this provides me with an incredible sense of purpose.

Can you share a particular memory while working here that has made an impact on you?

I don’t have a specific memory; it’s more the people Dana-Farber attracts. Some of my Dana-Farber colleagues are now lifelong friends. Many of the runners I’ve worked with have inspired me beyond belief. This community is the most selfless, hard-working, and determined group I have ever been part of.

Learn more about running for Dana-Farber and how you can make an impact toward the ultimate finish line: a world without cancer.


We’re stronger together.

In the Division of Philanthropy, we believe in the power of different voices. We encourage authenticity and diversity of every individual within our community. Our collective voices—donors, volunteers, staff, and patients alike—allow us to work together towards a world without cancer. Committed to being a place of inclusivity, belonging, and change, these are our core values. 

If you are interested in exploring a career in Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund’s Division of Philanthropy, we invite you to check out our careers page to learn about our culture, view open roles, or register for an upcoming Information Session.

We also encourage you to support Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund through The Dana-Farber Campaign, our ambitious, multi-year fundraising effort to prevent, treat, and defy cancer. The Dana-Farber Campaign will accelerate the Institute’s strategic priorities by supporting revolutionary science, extraordinary care, and exceptional expertise. As a community, we have the power to create a more hopeful, cancer-free future—in Boston and around the world. Together, we can defy cancer at every turn. Learn more about The Dana-Farber Campaign at