A tribute to Marilyn Dix Smith

Date: October 26, 2018

By Peter J. Neumann, PhD (ISPOR President, 2005-06), Director 

There is a saying that “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”  Marilyn Dix Smith, Ph.D., the founder and longtime executive director of ISPOR who passed away this week embodied these traits and more.  Marilyn was a remarkably energetic and visionary leader who founded ISPOR and then willed the society forward and upward.  She famously put the expenses for the first meeting in the mid-1990s on her own credit card.  She built the organization from a small gathering of a few dozen American researchers to a broad-based society, which today boasts 20,000 members around the globe, regular meetings in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East, and a growing community of student and regional chapters.

Like all great leaders, Marilyn could be strong-willed and demanding, but she enjoyed loyalty, respect, and affection among ISPOR staff and members because of her enthusiasm, personal touch, and sure-handed direction.  Many years ago, I was chairing an ISPOR Task Force that (somehow) got behind schedule.  Marilyn decided to sit in on one of our in-person meetings to see what the problem was.  Message received, our report was soon delivered.  Thank you, Marilyn!  We will miss her and our thoughts go out to her husband (and first ISPOR President), Bill McGann, and her family.

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