As the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) steps into a new chapter, the NPF Board of Directors selects Leah M. Howard, J.D., to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Howard has been with NPF for 10 years, serving recently as the Chief Operating Officer before stepping into the Interim President and CEO role on January 1, 2022. She has more than 20 years of experience working with voluntary health care organizations.
This role is personal for Howard, who has been living with psoriasis for more than two decades. She recalls that her symptoms first appeared while working full time, attending law school at night, and planning her wedding. About a decade later, Howard joined NPF as Director of Advocacy and Government Relations. Over the last ten years, she has played a key role in establishing NPF’s office in Alexandria, Va. and positioning the organization as a leader in patient and health advocacy in Washington, D.C.
News of Howard’s promotion comes alongside the announcement that NPF will move its national headquarters from Portland, Ore. to the Washington, D.C. metro area. This move will raise the profile of the organization, while placing NPF closer to its many D.C.-area partners, donors, and coalitions. No staff positions will be lost with this change, as NPF will enhance its coast-to-coast reach by also maintaining its footprint in Portland, where the organization was founded in 1967.
“NPF is ready to press the gas pedal. We have had a very successful 55 years since our founding, and now it is time to end the burden of chronic disease and accelerate our drive to a cure,” says Ron Grau, Chair, NPF Board of Directors. “Leah is the perfect leader at the perfect time. She is courageous, persistent, and optimistic. With NPF positioned to grow and thrive in our new home, this timing is ideal.”
Howard’s appointment to CEO comes after a diligent nationwide search led by an independent executive search firm and overseen by a search committee comprised of members of the NPF Board of Directors. “We as a committee were charged with ensuring NPF finds the right leader to carry out our ambitious vision of a world without psoriasis or PsA,” says Carol Ostrow, chair of the search committee and Chair-Elect, NPF Board of Directors. “We had several highly qualified candidates. After six months and countless interviews, we are incredibly confident in our decision. Leah’s bold vision for the future and her personal connection to the disease are going to advance NPF forward.”
“Throughout my career, I admired Leah as a leading and high-regarded health policy expert and patient advocate. We share a dedication to people with chronic conditions by promoting access to innovative and effective treatments to help them best lead their lives,” says Randall Rutta, Chief Executive Officer, National Health Council. “Leah has always been my ‘go to’ resource for thought leadership and strategy to advance patient interests through health systems reform. The NPF made a brilliant choice in selecting her for CEO; they could not do better. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with her in support of NPF and the National Health Council’s mission and membership.”
Howard officially begins in her new capacity immediately. NPF leadership will now be centralized in the Washington, D.C. area, with a move to a new headquarters in the coming year.