By Ann Miller Baker
FOR BILL BRAND, THE STORY IS EVERYTHING.
Ten years ago, he relocated to St. Petersburg’s HSN. It was a creative stretch for someone who already had an impressive resume in entertainment programming, but then-CEO Mindy Grossman was confident that he was just what the network needed to reimagine the shopping experience.
“Everything has a story,” says Brand. “So when I realized the potential for marrying entertainment and storytelling to products, and for connecting directly with consumers, I thought, wow – that’s an interesting place to be!”
Now president of HSN, Brand has broadened the multiplatform retailer’s connections to its customers around the country and to its local community through programs like HSN Cares, which is committed to empowering women and helping families in need. It’s a corporate commitment to mirror HSN customers’ values by participating in philanthropic and volunteer work. HSN team members put in nearly 25,000 volunteer hours each year for causes of their choice - or as Brand puts it, “roll up the sleeves and get involved.”
For Brand, that includes volunteering his time on the Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation Board. The commitment was forged through networking, when Moffitt Foundation Board Chair Ed Droste invited Brand to lunch with Moffitt President and CEO Alan List, M.D., to learn more about Moffitt’s story.
Brand was hooked by another creative stretch. “When I look around these board meetings, I think - ‘one of these things is not like the other.’ I come from a very different background. I am able to marry storytelling and marketing to the work at Moffitt - that's why I'm there.”
His arrival on the Foundation Board and membership on the cancer center’s Marketing and Public Relations Committee coincided with the undertaking of a new branding effort – what would become Moffitt’s award-winning “Courage” campaign, with inspiring stories told firsthand by Moffitt’s patients, caregivers and researchers.
Brand is beyond enthusiastic about it. “My goal is that, when anyone hears the word ‘courage,’ they immediately think of Moffitt. Courage is what Moffitt is all about.”
He’s learned that firsthand, from the friends and colleagues who now reach out to him about their cancer experiences. “I had no idea that by joining the board, I would also then hear from people I care about and what they need.” In fact, he says the greatest and most unexpected reward of board membership has been the ability to inform and connect people to Moffitt for expert care.
No wonder, then, that Brand welcomed the opportunity to serve as the 2017 Honorary Chair of Miles for Moffitt (M4M) – an annual family-friendly run/walk fundraiser that holds a special place in Dr. List’s heart. Since 2006, the signature event has raised over $4 million for Moffitt research.
Brand built his own M4M team of HSN colleagues and fellow Moffitt board members as runners or “virtual runners” for the May 13 event on the University of South Florida campus. “It's fun to bring people together other than around a conference table every quarter,” he says. “I think it will make a stronger board. I think it will make the event stronger. And it will show the entire Moffitt community, the entire Tampa Bay area that this is important.”
“I live on the St. Pete side,” he adds. “Tampa can feel pretty far away. I go there for the airport and the mall. And now I go there for Moffitt. Were it not for my volunteer role on the board, I would never have understood what's happening here. I mean, we have the number one cancer center in the southeast - the number six cancer center in the country right here in Tampa Bay and it's just thirty years old. Some of the most important research in the world is happening right here in Tampa Bay.
“That's just mind-blowing, something that we should all be really proud of. Why wouldn't you want to be a part of that and give more people access to it?”
To learn more about how you can help to support life-saving research, visit www.Moffitt.org/Give-Back.