Spotlight: ACCOmplishing hope

As Boris Elisman’s 2023 City of Hope fundraising campaign gets underway, we are reminded of just how important our industry’s financial contribution is in the fight to cure cancer and diabetes.


Towards the end of February, about 100 personalities from the – mostly US – business supplies industry came together in California for the 2023 City of Hope Tour, Golf Outing and Hall of Fame Dinner. 

They were a couple of days packed full of information, fundraising and networking. Some of our sector’s biggest names were in attendance, including several former and one future – Essendant’s Harry Dochelli – Spirit of Life honourees and a long list of Hall of Fame inductees. And, of course, this year’s Spirit of Life honouree, ACCO Brands Chairman and CEO Boris Elisman who formally kicked off his ACCOmplishing Hope campaign at the event (read Striving to cross the finish line, below). 

For patient safeguarding reasons, the ‘tour’ itself was once again conducted at a hotel, the Langham Huntington in Pasadena. Over a series of talks, a wide range of City of Hope medical experts as well as patient speaker Ted Schwartz highlighted the groundbreaking work the organisation is conducting and how this is impacting those living with cancer and diabetes. 

We are currently building more infrastructure to optimise the benefits of precision medicine for patients worldwide

Attendees learned about City of Hope’s most pressing research right now. This, in a nutshell, is precision medicine which essentially enables healthcare providers to plan personalised care based on the genes a person inherited and/or those in their cancer cells. 

As Matt Dodd, Senior Executive Director of Corporate Philanthropy, commented: “City of Hope is dedicated to leading the advancement of precision oncology research and treatment. We are currently building more infrastructure to optimise the benefits of precision medicine for patients worldwide. 

“City of Hope’s system of provider and research entities now serves approximately 134,000 patients each year, with more than 11,000 team members, 600 physicians and over 1,000 scientists and researchers across a network of locations in California, Arizona, Illinois and Georgia.

“Our vision is to harness genomic insights, clinical expertise and advanced analytics to pioneer personalised treatment and prevention, improving quality of life for our patients and their families.”

Making a difference

None of this, he added, would be possible without the fundraising efforts by communities across the US and the National Business Products Industry (NBPI) specifically. 

As is customary during the always inspirational Hall of Fame dinner, City of Hope recognised a number of individuals who, through personal initiatives, have made a real difference in the industry’s support of the research facility. The 2023 Hall of Fame inductees were JM Smucker’s Marlin Wendland and Domtar’s Greg Strand.

Striving to cross the finish line

OPI caught up with this year’s Spirit of Life honouree Boris Elisman to find out what his campaign – and COH’s work overall – mean to him and our industry.

OPI: How long have you been involved with City of Hope and the NPBI? 

Boris Elisman: I attended my first Spirit of Life Gala Dinner in 2008 and joined the NPBI to support the fundraising efforts for City of Hope a year or so later. COH is a beacon of excellence, scientific achievement and hope that cancer and diabetes will be cured in our lifetimes.

All of us know the toll cancer and diabetes can take on our health and that of our loved ones. Both of my parents had cancer and my mother also had diabetes. Despite the tremendous progress that has been made during the past 30 years in improving survival rates and quality of life associated with those diseases, much work remains.  

City of Hope is the premier research hospital for discovering innovative treatments for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases, and bringing them to patients in need quickly. ACCO Brands – ACCO World as we were known at the time – was represented at a dinner with Jack Miller and other industry executives in 1983 when the initial decision to support COH was made. The company has been supporting City of Hope ever since.

OPI: Please tell me a bit more about this year’s fundraising campaign. 

BE: ACCOmplishing Hope is the name of our campaign. The motivation behind this name is twofold: firstly, we want to find treatments and cures for cancers and diabetes – not just work on them, but accomplish the task of funding them, ie cross the finish line. 

Secondly, we want to lead the industry in a successful campaign – accomplish the task of raising substantial funds for COH research. 

OPI: What’s the fundraising status so far?

BE: Well, as of the end of February, so after the tour and Hall of Fame dinner, we had raised $6 million for COH. There are many fundraising events yet to come, most of them taking place in the next few months.

OPI: Ultimately, what are your goals for your campaign year?

BE: Our goal is to do the best we can. Every dollar counts and it all goes to a great cause – saving lives. Last year’s campaign, led by Peter Scala of Staples, raised $16.3 million. If we can do something close or a little better, it would be a great ‘ACCOmplishment’.

OPI: What were your core takeaways from the event? 

BE: It was wonderful to see industry peers and partners again. Due to COVID-related patient safety concerns, the whole group could not visit the City of Hope campus, but a few of us were able to physically tour the facilities and see the impressive improvements made.

But everyone heard from researchers and doctors who came to the Langham Huntington hotel and updated us on their work. This includes immunotherapy trials for breast cancer and neuroblastoma, progress in curing Type I diabetes, and treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia. It was also deeply heartwarming to listen to the touching tributes that Bob Enk, Harry Dochelli and Brooks Smith gave for Mike Robledo and Jennifer Smith.  

These couple of days in February are always a potent reminder of the innovative, life-saving work performed by the team at City of Hope, and of the impact their discoveries have on regular people who often include
our loved ones.

OPI: Finally, why is it so important our industry continues to get involved with COH?

BE: Over the past 40 years, the NBPI has raised more than $250 million. These funds are used to support innovative life-saving research, attract leading medical talent to COH, and build facilities that shorten the time from discovery to production to patient. 

Our fundraising is very important to COH because, unlike government grants, it comes with no strings attached. It funds hunches, crazy new ideas and risky trials that lead to major discoveries which save or improve millions of lives. 

Medicines and treatments discovered at COH benefit 100 million patients all over the world every year. There is no cause more noble than saving lives, and our industry’s efforts do just that. Please join us in raising funds for this great cause. Like I said – every dollar counts.

Upcoming City of Hope events

7-8 May

Bob Parker Memorial Golf Classic (hosted by Essendant) – Pinehurst, North Carolina

27 June

NBPI Memorial Golf Classic Hosted (hosted by Essendant) – The Glen Club, Glenview, Illinois

23-24 July

Honouree Golf Outing (hosted by ACCO Brands) – Shoreacres Golf Club, Lake Bluff, Illinois

5-8 September

City of Hope Industry Golf Challenge – Pebble Beach Resort, California

14 September

NBPI Spirit of Life Gala – Navy Pier, Chicago, Illinois