2019 Leukemia Ball Co-chair Tom McCarthy: ‘I Can’t Think of a Better Way to Give Back’ 

Tom McCarthy

The 2019 Leukemia Ball returns to the nation’s capital for its 32nd year on March 16, bringing together business leaders, acclaimed stars and generous patrons for a black-tie evening of inspiration and charity.  

The ball, held at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C., has raised over $62 million for the National Capital Area Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society since it began in 1988.  

Tom McCarthy, partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, is a co-chair for this year’s event and has a personal appreciation for LLS and its commitment to funding drug-related research. Along with Richard Bynum, president of PNC Financial Services Group for the greater Washington area, the event co-chairs lead an executive committee to put on the 2019 Leukemia Ball, featuring entertainment by comedian Kathleen Madigan and musical group O.A.R., and a fundraising goal of $3.25 million. 

In this Q&A, McCarthy explains why he decided to co-chair this year’s event and his personal connection to LLS as it relates to his mother’s passing of chronic myeloid leukemia. He also discusses the meaning behind connecting his philanthropic work to his personal and professional interests and how the funds raised at the Leukemia Ball are used.  


Talk a bit about your work with the Center for Civilians in Conflict. How has your commitment to philanthropic work developed during your career? 

I have tried to connect my philanthropic work to my personal or professional interests to make it more meaningful, which is how I initially became a board member of an organization called 1Well, which funded small infrastructure projects in developing countries, over 10 years ago. The Center for Civilians in Conflict, which is a leader in civilian harm mitigation in conflict zones, was a natural fit for me professionally, where I focus on national security and foreign policy issues as an international trade attorney.   

Tell us more about the 2019 Leukemia Ball. What’s the fundraising goal? How will these funds be used by LLS next year?  

We are hoping to raise $3.25 million through the 2019 Leukemia Ball and the funds will be used for research, clinical patient care and all of the various terrific activities of LLS. I’m amazed at what good the organization is doing: It had another recordbreaking year of funding 21 Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs and therapies, which can be used for not only blood cancers but a variety of other cancers and diseases. The Leukemia Ball is a celebration of the progress that LLS and its donors have made and an opportunity to bring in more funds and support to continue this important mission. 

Why did you take on the co-chair role? 

Last year was the 25th anniversary of my mother’s passing of chronic myeloid leukemia. Just a few years after she passed away, LLS helped fund research for a drug called Gleevec, which has turned CML into a manageable disease for most people affected by it. I can’t think of a better way to give back and honor her than trying to help an organization doing so much good for so many people. 

How can local small businesses get involved? In what other ways can individuals or businesses help LLS?  

The easiest way is to purchase a table or make a donation, which can be done right on the Leukemia Ball website. 

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