Respecting the Past, Igniting the Future

“On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Spondylitis Association of America we are pleased to welcome Cassie Shafer to our SAA family as our new CEO. Cassie brings with her a unique set of skills that she acquired over her many years of experience with national healthcare nonprofits, where she has distinguished herself as a nationally recognized leader. We are so proud of the work that has been accomplished over the many years that Laurie Savage piloted our organization. We are confident that Cassie will harness her vast experience and lead us forward in the fight to improve the lives of the patients and families who have experienced the devastating consequences of ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases. Under Cassie’s leadership we will continue and expand support for essential research projects,  provide for the needs of our Spondylitis Community, and be a leader in the continued quest to cure spondylitis and empower those affected by the disease. Welcome.”

~ Michael Pianin Chairman of the SAA Board of Directors

Press Release

VAN NUYS, CA (September 19, 2017) – The Board of Directors of the Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) has announced that it has selected Cassie Shafer as the new Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director, effective Sept. 18, 2017. Due to a serious illness, Laurie Savage, who has been the CEO/ED for the past 10 years, will be moving into a consulting position focused on research and projects.

“We are very pleased to announce this appointment of Cassie to the Spondylitis Association of America as our fourth CEO/ED,” said Michael Pianin, Chairman of the SAA Board of Directors. “I believe that Cassie will continue the strong leadership and creativity that SAA has experienced, and take the SAA to the next level as we work to support patients with spondyloarthritis and continue to support research to find a cure for Ankylosing Spondylitis.”

Shafer has significant experience and 30 years holding executive and management positions in health care non-profit organizations, including the National Kidney Foundation, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and most recently, as the Executive Director and Pacific Region Vice President of the American Diabetes Association. Her focus has been on performance management through best practices and benchmarks, revenue forecasting and optimization, coaching staff and volunteers, and community organization and board development.

“I am so excited for this opportunity to join the SAA. I look forward to working with the Board of Directors, the Medical Advisory Board and the staff to take the SAA to the next level in terms of patient support, fundraising and research of the disease.”

~ Cassie Shafer Savage has been battling a serious illness for the past two years. Despite this, she has brought considerable success to the area of research development and will remain as a consultant to the organization focusing on this area. During her term as ED/CEO, the organization has been able to reach new levels of funding that have allowed it to support greater amounts of research in the disease. The SAA has been awarded the coveted 4-Star rating by Charity Navigator for the past three years, and has maintained at least a 3-Star rating since Savage became the ED/CEO. The SAA is the only non-profit organization in the U.S. dedicating 100% of its resources to improving the lives of the spondylitis community. SAA focuses on funding and promoting medical research, advancing education, providing extensive supportive programs and aggressively advocating on behalf of all those affected by spondylitis. We aim to be a leader in the quest to cure ankylosing spondylitis and related diseases, and to empower those affected to live life to the fullest. Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, although other joints can become involved. It causes inflammation of the spinal joints (vertebrae) that can lead to severe chronic pain and discomfort. AS is the primary disease in the group of diseases known as Spondylitis, Spondyloarthropathy or Spondyloarthritis.