Ira Mitchell, MHSA '75


After four years of working in hospital administration in Alabama and Germany with the United States Army, Ira Mitchell wanted to improve his career prospects. Mitchell felt the best way to do that was to pursue a graduate degree in health services administration with an institution that was accredited by the Association of University Programs in Health Administration.

"I wanted to combine graduate study with adventure," explains Mitchell. "So, I selected the program as far away from Alabama as possible - that was University of Alberta."

Upon arriving in Edmonton, Mitchell knew he had made the right choice in pursuing his master of health services administration. His class size was small, so it resulted in a rich social life with both classmates and faculty members. He was also struck by the superior academic background and debate skills that his fellow students possessed. Finally, he was grateful for the program's emphasis on critical analysis. This was something that prepared him well for the remainder of his career.

"After graduation, I returned to Birmingham, Alabama where I was offered a position with the Leukemia Society of America (LSA)," says Mitchell. "My mother died of lymphoma at the age of 49, so when I was offered the job, I felt a special calling to say 'yes.'"

Mitchell spent the next 18 years of his career with the LSA, now the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), mostly as state director.

According to its website, the LLS is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding research, finding cures and ensuring access to treatments for blood cancer patients in America.

"Scientific research, access to treatment and finding a cure for leukemia and lymphoma all require funding," explains Mitchell. "The LLS provides a significant portion of funding for this work to be done."

"Scientists have made remarkable progress in developing treatments and improving life spans of blood cancer patients. Although I feel that my impact on this progress was tiny, it was extremely satisfying."

(Last updated October, 2017)