Livestrong CEO Pedals To Another Cancer Biking Charity

After guiding Livestrong through its most tumultuous times, President and CEO Doug Ulman is leaving the organization to become chief executive at another cancer-fighting charity.

Ulman will become president and CEO of Pelotonia, one of the fastest-growing peer-to-peer fundraising events in the country. In a message posted this morning on Livestrong’s website, Ulman said he will continue as president and CEO through the end of this year while the board conducts a search for its next leader. He was introduced during a press conference this morning at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute in Columbus, Ohio.

Started in 2009, Pelotonia puts on a three-day bike ride that raises money for cancer research at the third-largest hospital center in the nation. More than 6,700 riders participated last year, grossing a record $19 million, up 12 percent from the previous year and ranking 16th in the Rye, N.Y.-based Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum’s annual survey. Pelotonia initially was funded with a five-year, $12.5-million commitment and a goal to raise $39 million in that time. It has raised more than $61 million since its inception.

Ulman, 37, has been president and CEO at Livestrong since 2007, and prior to that was director of survivorship for six years. He founded the Ulman Cancer Center for Young Adults in 1997. His tenure at the Austin, Texas-based organization spanned the highs and lows of one of the most recognizable nonprofits in the country, from the fundraising phenomenon of yellow Livestrong bracelets a decade ago to the fall from grace of founder Lance Armstrong two years ago after doping scandal.

Just this month, Livestrong announced its financial results for the 2013 fiscal year, which showed that donations dropped by more than a third, from $22.7 million to $15 million. Royalty and licensing revenue also dropped after sponsors such as Nike and Oakley pulled their support of founder Lance Armstrong after his blood doping scandal. Livestrong reported net assets of $99 million, with an endowment balance just short of $42 million. Ulman last year earned total compensation of $404,391, including a base salary of $305,586, according to Livestrong’s tax filings. He’s expected to officially take over at Pelotonia early next year. A cancer survivor, Ulman was named to The NonProfit Times’ annual Power & Influence Top 50 in 2009 and 2010.

Livestrong’s board has selected an executive search committee and is in the process of retaining search firm Witt/Kieffer to find a new CEO, according to Katherine McLane, a spokeswoman for the charity. “Ideally, that would produce results within six months, but they’re devoted to a good result,” she said. She dismissed any speculation that an open chief executive post could open the door to Livestrong winding down operations. “That’s not on the table. The foundation is committed to continuing its current leadership model and will need to do so proactively to construct the Livestrong Cancer Institutes,” McLane said.

In August, the charity announced it would donate $50 million over the next decade to the University of Texas at Austin to establish the Livestrong Cancer Institutes at the Dell Medical School.

“When this opportunity came my way, I knew that I would be leaving an organization that is strong and poised for its next phase of growth and evolution,” Ulman wrote in a blog post. “Our partnership with The University of Texas Dell Medical School establishing the Livestrong Cancer Institutes is a game changer for the foundation and for the way we serve cancer patients. It’s a chance to test and perfect what we’ve learned about patient-centered care, to spread new practices that improve outcomes for patients and their families and to be on the ground floor of a revolutionary undertaking,” he wrote.

“For the past two years I’ve been devoted to making the dream of the Livestrong Cancer Institutes a reality. The day we announced the launch of the Institutes was one of the proudest of my professional life. I have no doubt that someone with fresh eyes, steady hands, excellent experience and a temperament suited to the greatest nonprofit culture in the U.S. will be thrilled to help the institutes succeed.”