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Saluting Women in Business: Finding a meaningful career in the fight against lung cancer

After deciding against an earlier career plan, Brassard found a meaningful role in the non-profit world.
After deciding against an earlier career plan, Brassard found a meaningful role in the non-profit world.

By Phyl Newbeck
Observer correspondent
Only 24 years old, Kristen Brassard is a development associate with the American Lung Association’s Vermont office. A less than enjoyable stint student teaching led Brassard to discard her initial career plans, but she felt strongly about finding another way to contribute to society and decided to enter the non-profit world.
Brassard spent two years as a VISTA volunteer in New Hampshire, working with Families in Transition, which provides housing and social services for homeless families to help them break the cycle of poverty. Her first year was devoted to managing in-kind donations and doing development work. By her second year, she was promoted to program leader, mentoring volunteers across the state.
Looking for a nonprofit in the Burlington area, Brassard saw an opening at the American Lung Association and was hired in August of 2014.
“My nephew was born with a really rare lung disease,” she said “so this was a perfect job for me.”
Brassard’s primary focus is a new American Lung Association initiative called Lung Force; a walk to raise awareness about the high incidence of lung cancer in women.
Brassard is overseeing the first Lung Force Walk Burlington, scheduled for June 25 at Oakledge Park, with the hope that it will become an annual event.
“I do everything,” Brassard said “from getting sponsorships and finding companies to field teams to planning logistics and spreading awareness in the community.” Her goal is to have 250 participants and to raise $30,000.
“Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer,” said Brassard “but there isn’t much research or funding for it and there aren’t a lot of support systems.” Brassard noted that there is a stigma attached to lung cancer, but some patients have never smoked in their lives.
“Even if you did smoke,” she said, “nobody deserves to get lung cancer.”