Former Chairman of the Board of Directors, Jim Watson has faithfully served as a Celiac Disease Foundation Board member since 2014. Diagnosed with celiac disease after a period of prolonged and profound health issues, Jim has been one of the most empathetic individuals ever to be involved with the Foundation. As he departs our Board, we are mindful of his generous, caring spirit, and his deep and abiding commitment to improving the lives of all people affected by celiac disease.
Jim provided invaluable leadership and guidance as Board Chairman from 2017-2019, after serving as a Finance Committee member from 2014-2016. He also served as Treasurer from 2020-2021, and concludes his Board service with yet another term on the Finance Committee. Jim has also shared generously of his time and energy as a support group leader.
Without fail, Jim has been sensitive, analytical, and judicious in every interaction with CDF Board members, staff, partners, and our entire community. He was – among many other things – instrumental in the rapid scaling of our research and advocacy programs and has helped advance this aspect of our work.
During Jim’s tenure as Board Chair, the Foundation’s annual revenue experienced a significant increase, and we launched the NASPHGAN Clinical Guide for Pediatric Celiac Disease, the Patient Advocacy Program through PCORI grant, iQualifyCeliac patient recruitment software and services, the USC Celiac Disease Residency Training Program, our Young Investigator Research Award – and to top it off – our EXPO attendance expanded to 3,000 attendees.
Jim’s ability to quickly understand complex financial models is remarkable. He appreciated, better than many at that time, the critical role of a Board in fundraising efforts and was a model through his personal and professional outreach in support of our collective mission. Jim involved his wife, Rebecca, in supporting the Foundation’s communications efforts which enhanced our marketing and public relations efforts tremendously, including our website launch.
As part of his dedication to growth, leadership, and fundraising, Jim secured his firm’s commitment to designate the Foundation for the “BTIG Commissions for Charity Day” in 2015 and 2017 – encouraging corporate philanthropy and investment in our efforts. Jim will also be remembered for his fireside chat videos for our Annual Gift of Hope campaigns which warmed hearts everywhere on behalf of our shared mission.
Jim leaves a legacy of leadership and dedicated service. We thank him on behalf of the entire celiac patient community, and we will continue to lean on his insight and compassion in our efforts to accelerate diagnosis, treatments, and a cure. We wish Jim the very best in his future pursuits!