Life Sciences Diversity

NextCure’s Inaugural International Day Celebrates Life Sciences Diversity, Mission-driven Spirit

Africa. Jordan. Haiti. China. India. France. Myanmar. El Salvador. 

These are just a few of the regions, countries and cultures represented and celebrated at NextCure’s first ever International Day, which was held at the company’s Beltsville, Maryland headquarters in early November. 

On International Day, the entire company had a chance to put down their laptops and lab coats for a bit to celebrate their remarkable diversity.

“It was so exciting to bring our entire workforce together to share in the cultural diversity of our team, which hails from some 25 different countries,” stated Michael Richman, NextCure’s President and CEO. “Anytime you’re looking at the cutting edge of innovation it’s important to bring people together from different educational and cultural backgrounds and different ways of thinking. It’s this enrichment of diversity that empowers our company to come up with groundbreaking new ideas that can impact our business and help develop next generation immunomedicines for patients.”

Richman kicked off International Day, stating “Welcome to our first International Day. I’m so excited. I couldn’t sleep all weekend. We’ve been planning this for a long time. Being able to have an event like this is what makes NextCure a great environment that combines outstanding science, our focus on helping patients and having an employee base from all over the world.” 

The first half of the day was spent enjoying presentations from their colleagues on a wide range of topics about their home countries, including their favorite childhood memories, their immigration stories, their home country’s histories as well as facts about the landscape, food, and the diversity of cultures, religions and lifestyles of their homelands. It was an authentic opportunity for the NextCure team to learn more about their colleagues and their various experiences. The International Day presentations were lively, interactive and, frequently, filled with interesting information, good-natured laughter and genuine curiosity.

After the presentations, the entire NextCure team enjoyed a multi-cultural feast in an outdoor area decorated with various flags representing the diverse nature NextCure’s culture. 

“We put this day together to celebrate our staff and culture. This day was a great opportunity for our team to talk about their backgrounds and contributions and to experience as a group the feeling of inclusivity that we’ve created here at NextCure. International Day was a great way to celebrate one another,” stated Stacy Rollinger, VP of Human Resources.

International Day presenters included Daniel Ngabire, Research Scientist (Burundi); Han Myint, CMO (Myanmar); Chelsea Zhou, Scientist I (China); Ingrid Meza, Supervisor, Animal Caretaker (El Salvador); Million Wolde, Scientist I (Ethiopia); Mikias Abebe, QC Analyst (Ethiopia); Tigist Tirussew, Protein Chemist III (Ethiopia); Sebastien Maloveste, VP of Business Development (France); Yvon Joseph, Senior Director, Quality Assurance (Haiti);  Kushal Prajapati, Scientist III (India); Sourav Kundu, Senior VP, Development & Manufacturing (India); and Hasan Abukharma, Associate Director of Bioanalytical Sciences (Jordan). 

“International Day means a lot to me; it means that we are all included. We are one melting pot here like the United States and we need to take advantage of this,” shared Yvon Joseph, who made a wide-ranging presentation about Haiti that included the history of its flag and some of its most prominent historical figures.

Stephanie Gray, Senior Manager, Business Administration, was instrumental in making International Day happen. The event went off without a hitch and there was a tangible sense of enjoyment and appreciation throughout the day. 

“This event reflects the fact that NextCure cares about where you come from and who you are. There was a quote that was in our presentation that ‘The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people’, and this event shows that. I’m very new here and this was a great opportunity to get to know our team and for them to get to know me,” shared Gray.

It was truly a day for coming together at NextCure and the spirit of the event was perhaps best captured during Hasan Abukharma’s presentation. He began his presentation about Jordan recognizing what made International Day so special and why it’s important for NextCure, and companies in general, to take the time to recognize and celebrate the experiences, stories and cultures that collectively make a workplace authentic, fun and productive. 

“All of the presentations were great and I just felt this tremendous sense of gratitude listening to all of the wonderful stories and about how we are all connected through the pleasure of eating, or enjoying beautiful scenery…and how we are also connected through pain and suffering,” stated Abukharma.

“It’s amazing how this all evolved to where we all coexist and live together. All of these experiences make us what we are now. We’re all walking through the world and I’m looking at all of you and you are going to have ideas—and as Michael always says ‘People with ideas are constantly planting seeds and we should never undermine any idea because it could turn into something huge’,” he added.

The spirit of International Day was also wonderfully captured by CMO Han Myint’s closing segment of his presentation about his homeland, Myanmar, which included the concept of Metta. 

“If you have a strong desire there is nothing you can’t accomplish. Look at my story. If I can do it, you can do it…We are all the same. I wish you all the accomplishments of success through strong desire, strong effort and a strong mindset with Metta. Metta is the concept of wishing everyone to be successful without wanting anything in return,” stated Myint.  

NextCure’s diverse, inclusive and ever-evolving workplace culture is that fertile soil in which great innovations—with Metta—can flourish and change the lives of patients across the globe suffering from cancer and immune-related diseases.