We at the Patient Empowerment Network (PEN) have been honored to have Jack Aiello as a member of our Board of Directors. Jack has served as a PEN board member since its inception in 2009 as an advocate and ambassador for the organization within the multiple myeloma community. In this role, he has helped PEN forge new partnerships and funder relationships to advance our mission and provided thought leadership toward PEN’s patient-focused strategic direction. In addition, Jack has invested his deep expertise and time to the PEN’s development of empowerment and education resources for those impacted by multiple myeloma.
On reflecting upon his experience on PEN’s board, Jack shares, “PEN has been successful standing on its own. They looked at opportunities to fulfill needs of the cancer community that weren’t being taken care of. I’ve always been impressed with the small staff that PEN has had in terms of how much they have gotten done. That’s exciting to see.”
“I watched PEN’s development of the digital sherpa™ program which provides digital literacy skills training to older adults impacted by cancer. There’s clearly a need for it, and it’s been a very successful educational program.” To-date, PEN has trained dozens of community-based organizations across the U.S. to offer the digital sherpa™ program to their local communities, through which more than 10,000 older and underrepresented cancer patients and care partners have learned to use technology to improve their treatment outcomes.
PEN also has programs addressing issues related to the psychosocial and financial impact of cancer. Jack sees the value in these types of programs as well as PEN’s disease-specific resources, “I think what PEN has done really well is dually serving all cancer patients by providing programs that are beneficial no matter your type of cancer, as well as programs tailored to your diagnosis. I can look up information on almost every type of cancer and quickly know where to start and what’s new.” For many of the cancer types, Empowerment Lead volunteers contribute their lived experience to PEN’s programs. Jack shares, “I know the Multiple Myeloma Empowerment Lead, Lisa Hatfield, very well. She has helped to develop a video series that addresses specific issues related to multiple myeloma, such as “How long do I have to take a maintenance treatment?” Some of them are just 2-minute videos to make them easy to digest, but they’re effective videos with actionable steps that go into detail, so they provide a lot of information, quickly.”
In October 2022, Jack will transition his seat on the Board of Directors to Lauri Bolton, but he will remain as an honorary Board Emeritus. Thinking back over the years, Jack feels a sense of gratitude. “I’ve met a number of terrific people through Patient Empowerment Network. They’ve been across different cancer lines, and I’ve enjoyed that. I’ve enjoyed the interactions that I’ve had with PEN’s staff and the two Executive Directors since I’ve been on the board. Both have been wonderful women who were very hard-working and did a lot with a limited amount of funding.” The PEN Board was also Jack’s first Board of Directors experience. He’s been asked to join other boards over the years, but the timing of joining PEN’s board worked out best for Jack. “I’ve enjoyed my experience as a member of the PEN Board, and I appreciate that I’ve gotten to know some really good people. PEN has certainly grown as an organization, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for their work serving people impacted by cancer.”