CFIDS Association president and CEO
K. Kimberly McCleary
From the Desk of K. Kimberly McCleary
Special Edition — June 2007
Why Does History Matter?
Marking the passage of time is often bittersweet, whether it’s watching a child reach certain milestones, celebrating a birthday or attending a class reunion. So how does an organization—one that exists solely to eliminate the need for its own existence—recognize passing a 20-year milestone? Certainly not by celebrating. Nor by touting its own accomplishments. However, there’s a shared history worthy of recognition. And there are individuals and organizations that warrant acknowledgement.
As the CFIDS Association of America “comes of age,” beginning its 21st year, we will honor our roots, share some of the timeline of events that shaped the Association—and that the Association shaped—and bring you the stories of people who’ve been behind the scenes or in front of them over the past 20+ years. Our coverage begins with an overview of what’s in store followed by “People Making History” —profiles of some of the many extraordinary individuals who’ve contributed to growth and progress in the CFS community. And we invite you to share your historical prespective with us using the questionnaire provided in this issue of the CFIDSLink.
Looking back, it’s revealing to see how individual acts and singular events contributed to change and progress that wasn’t evident until many years later. This year, through Chronicle and CFIDSLink stories, as well as a special publication planned for fall, we hope to weave together some of this history—documented as it unfolded at the time, but not often put into perspective until now.
Over two decades interesting patterns emerge. For example, viruses were the focus of CFS research in the very early years, but lost steam in the mid-1990s when known and novel culprits defied classification and case-control studies didn’t stand up to tough scrutiny. Then in January of this year, at the International Association for CFS/ME research conference, viruses were popular again, thanks to technologies that gave scientists new tools to better explore their role. So, looking back may also give us fresh ideas about where future promise lies.
Personally, it’s hard to believe that I’ve been part of this community for more than 16 years. Before joining the Association’s staff in early 1991, I remember feeling challenged to catch up with an organization formed 4 years earlier and to learn about and meet dozens of key movers and shakers on the forefront of education and research. Founder Marc Iverson was hesitant about hiring me, feeling that a September 1990 report linking CFS to an HTLV-2-like virus might mean the job of running the Association wouldn’t be needed for long. Still, Marc convinced me I could conquer the learning curve, and I convinced him I was eager to do it, even if it proved to be a short-term pursuit. How I wish we’d succeeded at quickly finding the cause, but I remain convinced that we will, and I am committed to fulfilling that mission.
Meanwhile, I hope you’ll join the CFIDS Association in honoring the history we’ve shared while striving to make this illness a thing of the past.
K. Kimberly McCleary
President & CEO
The CFIDS Association of America
The CFIDS Association of America is the largest charitable organization dedicated to conquering chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is also known as chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS), myalgic encephalomyelitis and myalgic encephalopathy (ME). Through your donations, the CFIDS Association leads national efforts in CFS research, education and public policy.
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