September 20, 2021
The Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) announced today that CEO M. Eileen Widmer, CAE, CFRM, will step down at the conclusion of the SSO 2022 International Conference on Surgical Cancer Care in March 2022, following more than 15 years at the helm of the Society.
“Eileen’s leadership, dedication and commitment to the SSO has made an imprint on all aspects of the Society and its programs, helping to transform SSO into an influential global organization of surgical oncologists having an impact on all aspects of surgical oncology professional education and development, fellowship training, and improved care of cancer patients,” said Douglas Tyler, MD, SSO President. “Beyond her impact on the profession, she is recognized for the outstanding staff which she has developed and mentored over the years. The volunteer/staff partnership is exceedingly strong at the SSO, and it has been another key factor in the Society’s unparalleled growth and evolution.”
Widmer’s tenure with the Society began in 2007 when the Society was managed by an association management firm. In 2012, at the Society’s request, Widmer directed a volunteer-led transition to self-management and established SSO’s headquarters in Rosemont, Ill.
Under her leadership, SSO has achieved significant growth. The Society’s annual budget has grown by more than 60%; its membership by 47%, and net assets have more than tripled.
Consistent and ongoing strategic planning during Widmer’s tenure engaged volunteer leadership in significant decisions including establishment and growth of an extensive array of live and online educational programs; successful collaborations with other cancer-related organizations; and growth in the Society’s quality of care and research initiatives.
Ongoing attention to the SSO’s operations, including introduction of new technology to support the Society’s growing infrastructure needs, has enabled it to anticipate and meet operational demands. A complete rebranding of the Society and its Annual Meeting, now known as the International Conference on Surgical Cancer Care, also helped to strengthen the Society’s domestic and global brand.
“The Society’s global footprint has strengthened greatly,” Widmer adds. “The creation of international observership programs, faculty exchange initiatives and development of the Best of SSO program (providing SSO-developed content at surgical oncology meetings across the world) have contributed to SSO’s role as a dynamic, influential and successful international Society,” she said.
Most recently, Widmer’s leadership focus has been to steer the Society through the COVID pandemic, including securing Paycheck Protection Program loans in both 2020 and 2021. Her approach minimized the fiscal impact of in-person event cancellations and penalties. Volunteers and staff were mobilized to deliver education on Society-developed, surgical-related guidance materials on cancer management during COVID-19, and more than 100 new online educational programs and virtual tumor boards were offered to SSO members and other health professionals involved in the multi-disciplinary cancer care team.
During her remaining tenure as CEO, Widmer will focus on the successful launch of the SSO HUB during the SSO 2022 International Conference on Surgical Cancer Care. Her vision for a new way to engage conference attendees and industry sponsors underpins this innovative approach that will transform the clinical meeting experience.
Widmer notes, “SSO is solidly positioned for a continued growth trajectory into the future. With ideas like the SSO HUB, SSO is focused on meeting the needs of a new generation of cancer surgeons.”
“It has been my honor to serve the surgical oncology community during this time of unparalleled opportunity for the Society and the profession it represents,” she said. “I look forward to the pursuit of other professional interests once my tenure with the SSO is concluded.”
The CEO Search Committee, chaired by SSO President-Elect, Sandra Wong, MD, FSSO, will partner with executive search firm Sterling Martin, Washington, DC, to identify Ms. Widmer’s successor. The search for a new CEO is expected to take 6-8 months.