Livestrong’s General Counsel segues from HR to legal, living strong and leading actively.
By Marlene Caroselli
Mona Patel serves as the General Counsel for Livestrong, the Lance Armstrong Foundation designed to help cancer patients here and abroad. She has assumed responsibility for corporate governance, brand protection, risk management and the development of legal strategies that support the organization’s mission and vision. That’s one hat. One very big hat.
When Patel first joined Livestrong, she wore a second hat for a time: she performed human resources (HR) functions and handled merchandising for the online and on-event-store. Similarly, Patel had executed multifaceted work in her previous jobs with Athleta Inc., which she represented during its acquisition by Gap Inc., and at Patagonia Inc., where she served as Chief Legal Officer and Vice President of HR and Family Services.
Patel’s educational background also reflects her diverse interests and abilities. She holds a BA in Political Science from Boston College, a JD from Harvard Law, and an MBA from both the Berkeley Haas School of Business and Columbia Business School.
Hitting the Ground Running
In addition to her professional hats, Patel sports yet another in her active—in many cases literally—dedication to community service. She serves on the Board of Directors of Emancipet, a nonprofit that offers low-cost, preventative veterinarian care, and is a cancer advocate, having participated in various fundraisers to honor her younger brother—a non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivor—and her mother—a breast cancer survivor.
Patel was a member of the Bristol-Myers Squibb 2005 Tour of Hope National Team, the Livestrong 2006 and 2009 ING marathon teams and Livestrong’s 2012 Survivor Summit on Mount Kilimanjaro. Recently, she led Team Livestrong Ironman Kona, taking part in the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.
“I tend to operate at a speed of 100 mph, but I’ve learned there’s value in slowing down, especially when instituting change.”
The active leader likes to see her Livestrong teammates doing something outside of their daily work, the “something” in this case being 20 hours of weekly training. While preparing for the Ironman, Patel would bring her dog Cash on the run part of her bike-run workout. Still, the proud dog owner takes Cash on four runs a day.
Patel makes a point of carving out time for other hobbies, too, including photography, modern art, hiking and stand-up paddling with Cash. Patel’s knack for moving quickly from one task to another may explain how she can successfully hit the ground running, whether dealing with physical or business challenges.
Acknowledging her inspiring family as the source of her interest in social issues and “can-do” attitude, Patel speaks enthusiastically about Livestrong’s Anti-Stigma campaigns.
“In some parts of the world, people are afraid to acknowledge publicly that they have cancer,” Patel said. “We encourage those who have been diagnosed to share their cancer story in hopes of educating others about the importance of self-exams and regular medical check-ups, as well as available cancer-support resources. Early detection can improve cancer survival rates.”
Recipe for Success
Patel advises other business professionals to keep their options open—a mindset that is facilitated by being a generalist. She cautions others against adhering to too specific a definition, and encourages the learning of multiple skills in multiple realms. Further, she advises young professionals to pursue an MBA.
“Even if you are not specializing in business,” Patel asserted, “you will want to know the various aspects of business operations.”
If variety truly is the spice of life, Mona Patel leads a well-seasoned life indeed.
Marlene Caroselli is a freelance writer based in