Rick Willis Appointed President and CEO of the Brain Injury Association of America
November 1, 2022
Fairfax, VA – The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) announced today that Rick Willis will become the new President and CEO of the organization, effective Dec. 1, 2022, upon the retirement of longtime President and CEO Susan H. Connors who will continue to serve through the end of the calendar year. Connors has led the organization zealously for over 17 years and has strengthened the organization and expanded its reach.
“BIAA is stronger, more effective, and serves more people because of Connors’ leadership over the years,” said Shana De Caro, Chairwoman of BIAA’s Board of Directors. “The organization is indebted to Connors, for her extraordinary efforts to strengthen and expand the reach of the organization. This is a solid foundation upon which Rick Willis will be able to grow the impact and lead BIAA into the future.”
BIAA is the country’s oldest and largest nationwide brain injury advocacy organization. Its mission is to advance awareness, research, treatment, and education and to improve the quality of life for all people effected by brain injury. BIAA is dedicated to increasing access to quality health care and raising awareness and understanding of brain injury.
Brain injury-related disability impacts the daily lives of 5.3 million Americans. BIAA works to support these individuals, and their caregivers, professionals, family members, researchers, and other members of the extended community.
Willis brings more than 25 years of leadership experience in voluntary health on a local, national, and international scale. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Willis began his nonprofit career in 1997 at the Muscular Dystrophy Association and went on to hold leadership roles at the American Diabetes Association, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and Melbourne, Australia-based Cancer Council Victoria.
Most recently, in his role as Senior Vice President of Community Engagement and Revenue Strategy with the Arthritis Foundation, Rick partnered with volunteers and staff to expand the organization’s reach and impact, advance programmatic and policy-related objectives, and deliver on a $54 million fundraising portfolio.
“Willis brings a wealth of experience as an advocate in the nonprofit world with demonstrated ability to build coalitions, drive fundraising, and position organizations to deliver on their missions. I look forward to working with Rick,” said De Caro.
“I’m profoundly inspired by the multitudes of caring people who give so generously of their time, talents, and resources to help those whose lives have been affected by brain injury,” said Willis. “Not only do they fuel the mission, but they also drive our success. I’m eager to work alongside them, building upon BIAA’s distinguished legacy, to achieve new heights and an even brighter future for those we serve.”
Willis was selected through a process led by an external search firm, DRG Talent, and overseen by an internal search committee of BIAA Board members and representatives of affiliates. His appointment was unanimously endorsed by the Board of Directors.