April 11, 2014 | News
A Beloved Leader’s Legacy Offers Hope to Patients Searching for a Cure
In 2009, Marlon Layne was diagnosed with Lymphoma, yet it was impossible to notice. Hidden behind his handsome face and contagious smile recalled by many of his colleagues, Marlon kept the issues that were greatly affecting his health unknown to most.
A natural leader, Marlon inspired his colleagues through his drive and commitment to success through his achievements at Ogilvy & Mather, a global advertising, marketing and public relations agency. Even as an accomplished and driven leader in a supercharged industry, Marlon never came across as pretentious or arrogant.
He was always thinking of others. A colleague Devonna Cousins noted, Marlon was never “too busy to stop and say hello or just share that wonderful smile & laugh of his. He surprised me on several occasions by giving me birthday gift, [Administrative Professionals’ Day] acknowledgement or including me on a lunch outing when he didn’t have to. He was a true gentleman and a scholar”
Marlon faced two choices, lie in bed and give up, or continue in his tireless mission to empower a younger generation of Black talent.
Moreover, Marlon took pride in his African-American heritage. Through his efforts to transform a younger generation of Black talent, Marlon co-founded Ogilvy’s Black Diaspora, an employee resource group supporting his African-American colleagues. Loren Monroe-Trice recalls Marlon’s commitment to the bigger picture through his diligence in attending executive staff meetings. “He should have been home resting but insisted on attending because he knew he was one of very few African-American on the leadership team and needed to represent diversity in the workplace.” He was passionate about his work and loved being part of the Ogilvy family.
Leslie Howard, who shared an office with Marlon, recalls the day when Marlon, a very private man, disclosed that he was sick and afraid. The next time Leslie heard about Marlon’s illness, he had lost his battle with Lymphoma at the age of 41.
With only 7% of African-American bone marrow donors on the Be The Match registry, the probability of finding a compatible donor for an African American patient is slim.
Former mentee and colleague, Omari Jinaki, keeps Marlon’s spirit alive through his participation in The Matchmaker 5K Run/Walk. The annual event benefits The Icla da Silva Foundation, whose mission is to save lives by recruiting bone marrow donors and providing support services to children and adults with leukemia and other diseases treatable by marrow transplants. More than a dozen Ogilvy employees have already registered.
“While we cannot bring Marlon back, we can aspire to be more like him,” says Omari. Continuing Marlon’s legacy will give hope to patients in need.
Marlon would want to make sure we do not lose another life due to the lack of diverse donors on the registry. – Omari Jinaki