She explains, “Like most of us, I’ve been touched by cancer. I’m from a small family, and my oldest cousin — there were only five of us — passed away from a glioblastoma when he was 40. Now his mother, my aunt, has lung cancer. I’ve lost many friends to cancer and I know so many people who either are survivors or are living with cancer. I’m very passionate about finding ways to prevent it, cure it, or enable people to live meaningful lives with it.”
Edwina joined the Board 10 years ago, after her former father-in-law, Louie Woodbury, a founding member of the Board, asked if she and her husband, Dennis McGill, might be interested in serving. “I was familiar with UNC Lineberger because I had been invited to attend the dedication of a lab named after the Woodbury family. I had a good feeling about the organization, so we agreed to serve.”
She chaired the Communications Committee and then served on the Development Committee before agreeing to serve as Vice Chair. “In preparation for my first Board of Visitors meeting as Vice Chair, I got a call from the Chair who said she had a family emergency and couldn’t attend. I had to step in and chair the meeting. It went fine, but of course the staff at UNC Lineberger makes it easy.”
After serving as Chair, Edwina headed the Nominations Committee. “There is a very effective leadership succession plan in place. First you serve as Vice Chair, stepping in when needed and observing the board leadership process, and by the time you’re Chair, you know the ropes. Then, when you step down from the position of Chair, you lead the Nominating Committee which closes the circle because you’re aware of what the Board needs and what’s involved in being a Board member, so you can contribute more to the nomination process.”
She says, “Over the years, I’ve been able to watch UNC Lineberger grow, and I feel like I’ve been able to ride the wave as the organization has become so much bigger and the scope of its work so much broader. One of the most wonderful things about being involved with the Board is that we learn so much about what’s going on both in research and clinically from the updates we get from staff. It’s exciting to me because not only am I able to contribute my efforts to the organization and pursuit of its mission but I also have the opportunity to hear about the really groundbreaking research that’s being done before it’s ever transferred to the clinical phase.”
Edwina vows to stay involved with UNC Lineberger. “Whenever there’s a need, I’m just a phone call away.” She now serves on the Board of the Medical Foundation of North Carolina and does other non-profit work. She and Dennis own a book publishing company, The Chapel Hill Press, which keeps them engaged and busy.
Shelley Earp, MD, director of UNC Lineberger, says, “Edwina’s extensive experience serving on corporate boards truly helped UNC Lineberger as our Board of Visitors expanded and became more alive. Her blend of leadership and humor were simply terrific. She made Board and Committee meetings fun and productive!”