Working to defy cancer: Meet Kristen Whaley

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 Kristen Whaley, Senior Administrative Director, Office of the Senior Vice President.

Pictured above: Left: Kristen, bottom right, celebrates with her Jimmy Fund Walk team at the Finish Line. Right: Kristen holds up a sign reading, “Take that cancer” during treatment at Dana-Farber.

What brought you to Dana-Farber?

My first direct connection to Dana-Farber was when both my grandmother and aunt were treated here as patients. Cancer sadly took both from us too soon, but my family held such fondness for the treatment and care they received that I was already invested and donated when I could through events and fundraisers. It wasn’t until I received my own breast cancer diagnosis, at the age of 35, that I experienced the incredible research and care firsthand.

The staff, nurses, and doctors are like a well-oiled machine that focused on me as an individual with unique needs. It was then that I made it a goal to explore opportunities to work here and help advance the critical mission of Dana-Farber.

Can you describe your role?

The word I use most often to describe my role is a conduit—I serve as a conduit between the Office of the Senior Vice President and other teams, including the President of Dana-Farber, the Office of General Counsel, and my colleagues in the Division of Philanthropy. Additionally, I support and oversee the intersection of the Board of Trustees and the Division of Philanthropy’s revenue goals. For example, I provide administrative support to the Trustee Philanthropy Committee. Overall, I am responsible for leading the team supporting our SVP, while building and implementing systems that help us collaborate with all of these stakeholders to ultimately advance Institute and Division of Philanthropy goals.

Are you able to share a little bit more about the work of the Office of the Senior Vice President and its role within the Division?

We work with so many different teams that every day can feel different, but the end goal is always clear—to advance strategies and priorities that help us meet our revenue goals so that the Institute can provide the best research and care for our patients and families. We are also working on articulating the “4 Cs,” priority areas Melany Duval, our Senior Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer, has laid out:

  • Culture: How our staff experience is shaped by the organizational mission, values, and inclusion, diversity, and equity initiatives that manifest in our day-to-day work
  • Community: How we collaborate and engage with our broader Dana-Farber, Trustee, patient and family, and donor communities to achieve our goals
  • Campaign: How we work together as a Division and with stakeholders to set ambitious goals and create strategic plans to accelerate our vision
  • Connection: How we come together as a diverse group of individuals to create an inclusive and collaborative team

The 4 Cs help guide our decision making and how we operate as the Office of the Senior Vice President and the Division-at-large.

Is there anything you would like to share about working in the Division of Philanthropy with prospective candidates?

It’s exciting, fast-paced, and mission-driven. The Division of Philanthropy intersects with so many different aspects of Dana-Farber. There’s never a dull moment, and for me, that means I am always learning and growing. I have yet to encounter someone who isn’t deeply invested in the mission of Dana-Farber, and I am consistently inspired and reminded why I serve here.

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

It means I can honor those we’ve lost to this terrible disease and support others like me who may need the incredible research and care that Dana-Farber provides.

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 virtual Information Session.

We also encourage you to support Dana-Farber & 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