Alison Maxwell, a versatile and celebrated journalist who served as an editor at USA TODAY for more than 20 years, will be joining SurvivorNet's editorial staff as Executive Editor, SurvivorNet announced today. Maxwell, who most recently served as Managing Editor of Life & Travel for USA TODAY, will be charged with spearheading SurvivorNet's editorial content and will report to Steve Alperin, the company's co-founder and CEO.
Maxwell also brings with her personal knowledge of SurvivorNet, having turned to it as a resource after her husband, fellow USA TODAY journalist and NBA writer Jeff Zillgitt, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2015. By 2016, the cancer had spread to his liver and was stage 4. Today, Zillgitt shows no signs of the disease, but the experience forever altered the couple's life.
"I will always be fighting cancer alongside my husband, and in our cancer journey, SurvivorNet has been something I've turned to that's made an impact," said Maxwell. "There is so much information out there, but SurvivorNet is a place that puts it all in perspective for you. I never thought we could get through it, but SurvivorNet helped us."
For Alperin, a former ABC News executive who co-founded SurvivorNet in 2018 after losing his father to cancer, Maxwell isn't just a remarkable journalist with decades of experience; she's a model of who SurvivorNet aims to reach and help with its content.
"Along with her husband, Alison is a testament to our commitment to patient-focused journalism and expertly vetted information," Alperin said. "She'd already turned to us and trusted us during hugely difficult and scary times, and it's a great comfort to know that we helped her and gave her hope. She gets us and has the journalistic chops we need in an Executive Editor."
A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Maxwell began her career at USA TODAY as an entry-level web producer before working her way up to Managing Editor of the Life & Travel section. In that capacity, she managed a team of 30 journalists creating entertainment and lifestyle content across digital, social and print platforms. The coverage ranged widely, from Obama's inauguration and the #MeToo movement in Hollywood to the untimely deaths of luminaries like Prince and Whitney Houston.
But Maxwell's experience with her husband never left her, and while reporting on the effects of COVID-19 on the entertainment and travel industries, health found its way into her work in other ways. She spearheaded the launch of an email newsletter to help people cope with the pandemic, and helped develop a prototype for a new wellness vertical. At the same time, she found herself looking inward.
"The pandemic gave me time to really think about what I wanted to do next," Maxwell said. "I knew I was already doing something that made an impact, but I wanted to take it further, especially after what I'd experienced with my husband. Doing work that helped people in a tangible and personal way became a big priority."
At SurvivorNet, Maxwell plans to make breaking health and cancer news more of-the-moment, and she's inspired to further amplify the site's wealth of video content, which she feels can reach people more easily and viscerally. She also feels that SurvivorNet's catering to a specific niche audience is a strength that she's excited to tap.
"I'm a big believer in reaching consumers where they are and I know Steve and the rest of the SurvivorNet team share that belief," said Maxwell. "There's a great responsibility in this role of reaching people with very specific needs. I know firsthand that cancer patients, survivors, and their loved ones are so needy and hungry for information. I'm proud to now be in a place where I can help give that back."
SurvivorNet is the country's leading media company for cancer information. The company has democratized access to the world's leading cancer experts, helping millions of Americans make better decisions about their care. SurvivorNet's resources are built in collaboration with leading cancer centers, including The National Cancer Institute, Cedars Sinai, Stanford, and The Dana-Farber Cancer Center. The company's daily news operation is syndicated widely and serves as an important source of information for millions of Americans every month. SurvivorNet was founded by Steve Alperin and Tim Langloss.