Monthly news & updates
May 2020
Alcor Leadership: Change for the Future
Passing the torch pandemic style
When I joined Alcor in 1986, I couldn’t know that I would eventually take on the role of President & CEO. When I accepted that role, I was concerned that I wouldn’t last long. The average tenure at that time was 2.6 years and, for the most recent six presidents, it averaged 1 year 3.25 months. When I stepped down on Friday May 14, of this year, I had served for 9 years, 4.5 months (or, as I like to think of it: 3,425 days).

Times change and organizational needs change. New people with new skills step up. Alcor has been transitioning from the almost all-volunteer organization of the 1970s and 1980s to the desperately underpaid organization of the 1990s and early 21 st century to an increasingly professional non-profit. The complexity of Alcor’s operations – remarkably but necessarily high for an organization of this size – calls for highly-trained and qualified personnel.

When I was taken on as President at the end of 2010, I came aboard with modest experience managing non-profits, over a decade of studying numerous aspects of business, and a pretty good understanding of Alcor’s functions. With the support of staff and board, I managed to initiate or shepherd through advances in many areas:

We moved a good portion of Alcor’s operating and reserve funds out of holdings that I saw were being eroded by inflation into investments designed to generate a reasonable return over the medium term. In 2016, for instance, this generated earnings of $102,649. Among other financial changes, I raised almost six million dollars in donations, and brought about cost savings in electricity, liquid nitrogen, and other areas; increased the financial allowance for members to relocate to Scottsdale if they are terminal; introduced alternative funding options and long-term member discounts, and reductions in membership dues; and moved the budget from in the red to in the black.

I still feel enthusiastic about talking to the media and the public about cryonics, even after doing so hundreds of times. I have done numerous television, newspaper, magazine, podcast, and book interviews; greatly improved the appearance of the Patient Care Bay and the inside of the building; created and developed the Alcor YouTube channel; introduced attorneys, financial planners, and others to Alcor through special tours; improved relations with medical institutions; and led the last round of major upgrades to Alcor’s website.

Over the last decade, I have also:

  • Overseen and participated in dozens of cryopreservations.
  • Fostered a culture that looks for ways to improve rather than being overly attached to past practices and equipment.
  • Reintroduced the SCCD (for circulating ice bath water to accelerate cooling).
  • Facilitated new research, such as the c. elegans work, the brain-only initiative, the CT scanning project, and many internal technical improvements.
  • Pushed (with limited success) to upgrade our IT infrastructure, including adoption of a CRM (Salesforce), better group collaboration forums, new timecard system, and online/cloud-based accounting. Achieved backup of patient and member files to the cloud.
  • Pushed to generate SOPs and to have new people trained as backup for some core positions.
  • Introduced additional surgeons to our on-call list.
  • Improved international response capabilities.
  • Pushed for adoption of better guidelines for optimal temperature for transitioning from cardiopulmonary support to surgery and perfusion.
  • Chaired two successful conferences.
  • Improved security.

As Alcor keeps growing and becoming ever more complex, the time has come for someone with more managerial and executive experience to take over as CEO. I will still be active in full-time, but I’m relieved to say that we have an excellent person to take over the CEO duties in Patrick Harris. Patrick’s experience in large companies – and his own focused and determined personality – has equipped him with the knowledge and practical skills to lead and develop team, plan tactically and strategically, and execute efficiently on the other roles that form the chief executive position.

I won’t be going anywhere. My new role comes with the rather grand title of “Ambassador and President Emeritus”. This describes my new role:

The Ambassador and President Emeritus will report directly to the Alcor Board of Directors, using his long experience and involvement in cryonics, many contacts, institutional knowledge and decade of experience as Alcor’s President and CEO, in fulfillment of the following activities:

  • Engage in strategic thinking, planning, and marketing by both board assignment and independent initiative, communicating with the board and CEO. This includes identification of individuals and organizations with whom strategic alliances and involvement may be beneficial. Participate in fundraising in coordination with the Fundraising Committee.
  • Serve on the Deployment Committee per board appointment according to terms of the Deployment Policy.
  • Engage in public communications on behalf of Alcor, including lectures, interviews, facility tours, and networking, in coordination with other staff as appropriate. Participate in conference planning.
  • Write for Alcor News, Alcor’s Facebook page, Cryonics magazine, and the Alcor website in coordination with the editors of these publications. Serve on the Editorial Board of Cryonics magazine. Make contributions to the organization’s internal wiki to document procedures and policies. Participate in a new round of website upgrade.
  • Under the direction of the Medical Response Director assist with case logistics planning as needed during deployments, assist in the facility as may be needed during cryopreservations, and monitor facility procedures and adherence to SOPs.
  • Facilitate Research Committee discussions and votes as may be required. Report to the board at least quarterly or as requested on activities of the Research Committee including progress and status of funded projects, and balance of Research Fund relative to commitments.
  • Participate in organization legal affairs as required.
  • Participate in board meetings and email deliberations along with other senior staff.
  • Monitor the health of the organization on an ongoing basis with minimal imposition

I look forward to serving the organization for another ten years.
Max More
Ambassador & President Emeritus
Recent A-1404 Standby

Alcor received a call on April 30, 2020 after a surgery did not go as planned for Alcor member A-1404. Alcor dispatched Eric Vogt of International Cryomedicine Experts (ICE) to Texas to evaluate the member’s condition. Over the next 18 days the member was in critical care, underwent multiple surgeries, and remained in the ICU.

Fortunately, the member recovered and Alcor was able to call off the Standby. Eric Vogt of ICE said, “ International Cryomedicine Experts (ICE) was honored to have been called upon to provide Standby services for an Alcor member undergoing a series of complex surgeries. Although COVID-19 presented some unusual circumstances, which prevented ICE from getting to the member's bedside, we were able to set up outside of the facility, readily available to provide Stabilization services, if needed.

The member’s partner, A-1405, said, “ I’m very glad that she didn’t have to get into the ‘ambulance to the future’ this time, but you were right there for us! I appreciate that Blake stayed in close touch with both me and the hospital to make sure Alcor was on top of events despite the COVID pandemic.

Despite the restrictions COVID-19 has put into play, Alcor is grateful that we were able to still attend to our member’s needs. In conjunction with our valuable partnerships, we can continue to provide care for membership and be present when called upon.
Associate Membership
One of the benefits of Associate Membership is receiving Cryonics magazine. If you are already a member you can refer a friend.