Eagan, Minn., (February 9, 2021) – Nearly seven years after joining CaringBridge, first as chief operating officer in 2014, then becoming CEO in 2016, upon the retirement of founder Sona Mehring, Liwanag Ojala announced on Feb. 8, 2021, plans to leave CaringBridge after a successor is named to carry forward record-setting impact. It is a personal decision, accepted by the Board of Directors with disappointment, but also gratitude for Ojala’s years of superior leadership and growing the reach of CaringBridge.
“These past years have been so fulfilling,” Ojala said. “I’ve had the chance to be the first CEO to follow our successful founder and to reinvigorate all aspects of the pioneering nonprofit, at a time when a safe and secure online place for people going through health journeys is greatly needed.”
As Ojala, named a Most-Admired CEO by Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal in 2019, led CaringBridge, she also was author of a site for her father, for whom she was a family caregiver throughout his cancer journey. Ojala’s father died in October 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The past year has provided time for deep personal and professional reflection, and I believe it’s the right time for me to turn the page and move into another chapter of creating positive impact,” Ojala said. “I believe in the power of how CaringBridge connects communities and will continue to support the organization as a donor.” While Ojala is not leaving CaringBridge to accept a specific role at another organization, she said she expects to resume leading mission-driven work in the future.
The Board of Directors has created a search committee to identify the next CaringBridge CEO, engaging the executive recruiting firm Korn Ferry. “We are thankful that Liwanag has given us the gift of time to conduct the search and execute a smooth transition,” Board Chair Jodi Hubler said. “This level of transparent leadership and planning will keep the momentum of CaringBridge going during a time when the need has never been greater.”
In 2020, more than 43 million people visited CaringBridge, with generous donors ensuring that patients and family caregivers facing the effects of COVID-19—directly and indirectly—had a safe online place for help, hope and healing.
CaringBridge is a nonprofit social network that helps people connect with family and friends during a health journey. Founded in Eagan, Minnesota in 1997 by Sona Mehring, CaringBridge has made it simple and safe to offer or ask for support when it’s needed most. With nearly 300,000 active daily users—CaringBridge offers simple tools for patients and their caregivers to share health updates and rally their community’s support. A health journey of any kind—diagnosis, injury, medical or behavioral illness, pregnancy complications or other experiences—is difficult to endure alone. CaringBridge is here to ensure that no one goes through a health journey alone. Learn more at www.CaringBridge.org.