Doug Ulman: Cancer Survivor, Advocate and New Pelotonia CEO

Dr Caligiuri and Doug Ulman

The next chapter in the ongoing story of Pelotonia, an annual grassroots bicycle tour that has raised more than $82 million for cancer research at the OSUCCC – James, has opened with the announced appointment of global cancer advocate Doug Ulman as president and CEO.

The announcement was made on Sept. 23, 2014, outside the new James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute by Pelotonia Board Chair Daniel Rosenthal, who said Pelotonia “has had an epic six years” since the inaugural tour was held in 2009. It has become the nation’s largest single-event cycling fundraiser based on ridership.

“So where do we go from here?” Rosenthal asked, and then stated that the organization has found its new CEO in Ulman, 37, a three-time cancer survivor who was previously president and CEO of the LiveSTRONG Foundation. Ulman has spent the past 14 years at LiveSTRONG growing what was a start-up nonprofit organization into an iconic global force that advances cancer causes and survivorship support.

As an internationally known leader in the cancer community, Ulman quickly distanced himself from other candidates for the Pelotonia leadership role. “What stood out about Doug was not only his ability to build a brand, but also his social media presence,” Rosenthal said, noting that Ulman has more than 1 million followers on Twitter (@dougulman). The Maryland native also has been named twice to The Non-Profit Times’ Power and Influence Top 50.

In addition to his role as president and CEO of Pelotonia, Ulman will work on behalf of the OSUCCC – James by building awareness and support for its work in cancer research, education and prevention. During the press conference, Ulman expressed gratitude for both opportunities, thanking the Pelotonia board, Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake, MD (who also spoke at the announcement), and OSUCCC Director and James CEO Michael A. Caligiuri, MD. “Dr. Caligiuri is a legend, and I don’t say that lightly,” Ulman said. “People around the country look to him for guidance and leadership. I’m excited to work with him as a visionary in the cancer world.”

He also considers central Ohio a special community. “Rarely if ever have I seen a geographical place that is so unified in its business, philanthropic and academic sectors,” Ulman said. “We are fully aligned to make an impact on the lives of people around the world. As a cancer survivor, it’s humbling and special to have an opportunity to be a small part of this great effort. I look forward to working with all of you as we tackle one goal: ending cancer.”

President Drake pointed out that it is the role of universities and academic medical centers such as Ohio State to find answers to difficult problems. “What makes our work possible is the support we get from community philanthropy,” he said. “Pelotonia is as good an example as any in the world of people working together toward one goal.”