Foundation job provides personal connection for Henderson

Ethan Henderson

Ethan Henderson (MSLIS '07) is more than a staff member at the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. The funds that he raises as the foundation's senior director of advancement benefit him personally, as someone with Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's is a degenerative condition of the brain that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements as well as other issues. It is a lifelong disease with symptoms slowly worsening over time. The actor Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's at the young age of 29. Henderson received his diagnosis at 47, although he had been noticing symptoms seven years earlier. His father, who also had Parkinson's, was diagnosed later in life.

"Even though it is a neurodegenerative brain disease, you can live a very long and active life. Each day is different. One day I'll experience no symptoms, while other days it is difficult to get out of bed and start my day," he said. "Exercise, diet, and medication can give you a great quality of life."

In his job, Henderson is helping fund scientific research that will one day find a cure for all neurodegenerative diseases. To date, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research has funded almost $2 billion in research. In addition to financially supporting research, people (with and without Parkinson's) can participate in studies, such as the foundation's Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI).

Henderson's foray into advancement started at Georgetown University, when he was the curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts and an instructor.

"I was always asked to talk with donors about their collections and philanthropy, and I really enjoyed that," he said.

After several years working in advancement, curating archives and special collections, and teaching LIS courses, Henderson joined the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. He and his wife Gretchen moved to Tucson, Arizona, where they have become desert gardeners, planting native species in order to support the Sonoran desert ecosystem. The couple enjoys hiking the trails with their dog Ava and traveling—especially exploring the roads less taken. Henderson remains optimistic about the future.

"Since I exercise frequently, try hard to maintain a good diet, and keep my mind active, I am in really good shape. Of course, there are challenges. I’m conscious of what is down the road, but I don't let it affect me that much. I have an extraordinary ordinary life," he said.

Updated on
Backto the news archive

Related News

Mullally to deliver iSchool Convocation address

Alumna M. Katherine (Katy) Mullally (MSLIS '04) will deliver the 2024 iSchool Convocation address. The event will be held on Sunday, May 12, at 1:30 p.m. at the Activities and Recreation Center. The ceremony will be broadcast live online so that students, families, and friends can watch if they are unable to attend in person.

Katy Mullally

iSchool alumni and adjunct named 2024 Movers & Shakers

Two iSchool alumni and an adjunct lecturer are included in Library Journal’s 2024 class of Movers & Shakers, an annual list that recognizes 50 professionals who are moving the library field forward as a profession. Tarida Anantachai (MSLIS ’11) was honored in the Change Agents category, Lissa Staley (MSLIS ’01) was honored in the Community Builders category, and Adjunct Lecturer Zachary Stier was honored in the Community Builders category.

Dombrowski to deliver the 2024 Windsor Lecture

Quinn Dombrowski, academic technology specialist in the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, and in the Library, at Stanford University, will deliver the 2024 Windsor Lecture on Wednesday, May 1, at 5:00 p.m. in Room 126, 501 E. Daniel Street, and online via Zoom. 

Quinn Dombrowski

Get to know Shubham Kumar, Senior Product Designer

In his role as a senior product designer for the Healthy Regions & Policies Lab, Shubham Kumar (MSIM '23) uses design to break down complex concepts, visualize information in meaningful ways, and ultimately encourage broader engagement in discussions about health and society. 

Shubham Kumar