The story of one Honors College graduate and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Cystic fibrosis affects more than 30,000 people across the United States with hundreds
of those affected living in South Carolina. Imagine learning that your child was diagnosed
with a disease that had a median survival rate of 17 years of age. In 1984, this was
the reality facing Honors College graduate Catherine Cameron McLoud, ’71 Management,
when her son was diagnosed with CF at age two. From that day forward, McLoud, along
with friends, family and many others, would help rewrite what it means to live with
CF and change the lives of thousands of patients.
“The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and its amazing community have had a significant impact on my life,” McLoud says. “I have felt the power of hope and seen the results of boldness and innovation as a result of the Foundation creating a new approach to drug discovery and development called venture philanthropy.”
McLoud currently serves as the chair of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s board of trustees and has served on the board for more than 30 years. Her time at the University of South Carolina, in what was then called the Honors Program, was spent learning business leadership, performing with the concert choir and listening to the advice from her professors.
“I saw the professors providing personalized academic advice and counsel, treating each student as a unique individual with special gifts and strengths, allowing me and others to stretch and experiment in a safe and nurturing environment,” says McLoud. “We were encouraged to think outside the box which fostered an entrepreneurial spirit in my career and in my work at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.”
Following her time at South Carolina, McLoud pursued a career in the hospitality industry, after growing up in her family’s hotel business in Myrtle Beach. She then went on to hold senior leadership roles with Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton and IHG. Now as president of Commonwealth Hospitality LLC, McLoud realizes her business and leadership training were crucial in her role with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
“The complex interdependence of different departments in a hotel reflect the multifaceted
work of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation,” says McLoud.“As in the hospitality business,
all of us at CFF celebrate and encourage diversity and appreciate unique strengths
and talents necessary to advance the sophisticated work required to advance our mission.”
McLoud has witnessed the impact of efficiency and discipline in a non-profit setting, mirroring the effective operation of a successful hotel, which allows the precious dollars that are given by many to be maximized to further the CF cause.
“I have seen venture philanthropy open doors for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to
work with drug companies to develop daily cures for many impacted by CF, with more
drugs in the pipeline to propel the cause while also creating significant resources
to reinvest in an ultimate cure for all people with this disease,” McLoud says with
hope and enthusiasm.
Now that McLoud is back in South Carolina after living in Atlanta, Georgia and Florida, she’s excited to reconnect with the Honors College. She recently spoke to a group of current students and encouraged them to think beyond just their job and how their job can affect people’s lives.
“Use your gifts and strengths; keep your eyes, ears, minds and hearts open to opportunities that you are passionate about and where you feel called to make a difference,” says McLoud.