Posted on: Thursday - Mar 23, 2017

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is known around the world for its research and charitability and is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The main focus of St. Jude is making sure that each patient and family has the best care imaginable.

St. Jude, located in Memphis’ Pinch District, announced in Nov. 2015 plans to expand its campus, which would create 1,800 new jobs. In order to expand at the magnitude planned, St. Jude received assistance from the state in the form of a $12 million investment in public infrastructure projects. The city of Memphis will also be investing $25 million in public infrastructure projects. With these two public investments, the surrounding area will flourish from St. Jude’s expansion. 

It means a great deal that St. Jude is a vital and growing part of Team Tennessee. TNECD talked with Rick Shadyac, CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude, to learn more about St. Jude, its life-changing mission and the ongoing expansion in Memphis.

  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital means so much to so many people. Can you give a description of St. Jude’s mission? 

RS: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. St. Jude is not just a hospital that treats desperately ill kids; St. Jude is also a research institution whose scientists are on the cutting edge in the search for cures for childhood cancer. And families will never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because we believe that all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

  • What is ALSAC and how do ALSAC and St. Jude work together?

RS: ALSAC’s sole mission is to raise the funds and awareness necessary to operate and maintain St. Jude. Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from individual contributions, St. Jude has the freedom to focus on what matters most – saving kids regardless of their financial situation. ALSAC is committed to raising the funds necessary to fulfill St. Jude President and CEO Dr. James R. Downing’s bold vision to make St. Jude the global leader in the fight against childhood cancer. We wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Downing’s statement about the urgency of our mission - “if not St. Jude, then who?”

  • What is it about Memphis and Tennessee that makes it the perfect location for St. Jude? 

RS: Danny Thomas, our founder, was first drawn to Memphis by his spiritual mentor, Samuel Cardinal Stritch, who served in the Catholic Diocese of Memphis and considered it his home. But Danny knew after he visited Memphis that this community would be a faithful and enthusiastic partner in St. Jude’s efforts to cure childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The Memphis community did embrace Danny’s vision of a hospital that would serve children regardless of their race, creed, or financial situation. Today, St. Jude is part of a vibrant community filled with caring and generous people who are dedicated to making Memphis one of the best places to live, not only in Tennessee but throughout the United States


  • You recently announced an expansion for St. Jude. What does that expansion entail? 

RS: We have several additional projects on the horizon as part of our long-term strategic plan, including an outpatient facility, clinical office building, new research building, and patient housing. The expansion includes close to $1.3 billion in capital investment and another $1.7 billion in additional operational spend over the life of this six-year strategic plan, which began in 2016. All told, the total expenditures for ALSAC and St. Jude during this strategic expansion period is close to $9 billion for both the expansion plans and our continuing operation. We anticipate creating 1,800 new jobs and the return to the state and local communities in tax revenues and economic activity is substantial. These plans are in discussion with the ALSAC/St. Jude Boards of Directors and Governors and subject to Board approval. 

  • What will this expansion do for the Pinch District revitalization efforts going on in Memphis? 

RS: We are confident that the areas around St. Jude can be transformed in a positive way for not only our employees, patients, families and guests, but all those who live, work and play here. All of the state, city and county money is to be spent on public infrastructure that will benefit the local community. A thriving Pinch area, a Medical District area that is improved and enhanced, and a state, city and county commitment to our neighbors will generate businesses, tourism and more residents – and create opportunities to recruit and retain our most valuable assets – our people.

  • What is your favorite part about working for St. Jude and ALSAC?

RS: To be a part of this amazing institution – to come to work every day knowing that you are supporting the lifesaving mission of St. Jude and carrying on the legacy of Danny Thomas – is truly humbling. I am grateful for the sheer privilege of being able to work with the most talented professionals anywhere and to know that our mission is making a difference in the lives of some of the people I most admire in this world – the children and families of St. Jude. 

To learn more about St. Jude Children’s and Research Hospital or to donate visit stjude.org.