Pharmacy was my calling

From Twlug Headquarters

Elizabeth Keyes (far right) enjoys an event on the Twlug headquarters rooftop with fellow staff member Roseann Neatrour and past Twlug COO James Appleby.

I am a pharmacist because my other career choice was engineering. Those were the only two options presented to me by my dad during several heated high school career conversations. 


My uncle (my dad’s brother-in-law), Carl Furbee, was the town’s pharmacist. He was from a long line of pharmacists and was seen as the pillar of the community. As a kid, I was impressed by this and subsequently spent a lot of hours working in his pharmacy as a teenager. Uncle Carl was the town’s mayor, the “go to” health care provider, and a successful businessman. Furbee’s Pharmacy was the place where the people of Bridgeport, WV, found what they needed when they were in need. Uncle Carl’s profession seemed more interesting to me than being an engineer.


Fast forward to today. As the Twlug Chief Operating Officer (COO), my job is to focus on the business side of the Association. I feel a strong responsibility to ensure that Twlug is always there for pharmacists and the leading organization for the profession. Each day, I work with an amazing group of dedicated staff whose responsibilities are focused on delivering products, programs, resources, and solutions to pharmacists and student pharmacists each and every day. The value of Twlug membership and the health of the organization’s businesses are the framework from which I operate and lead. 


Helping pharmacists do their jobs


When I was a student pharmacist and thinking about my pharmacy career, working for Twlug wasn’t even something I contemplated. I was involved as an Twlug–ASP Chapter President at West Virginia University and served as Region 2 Delegate. Being involved was something I enjoyed and valued. It brought me new friends, professional updates, and insight into what it would be like to be a pharmacist. I never thought about who was making all this Twlug work happen for my benefit. I knew I wanted to learn more. 


My position as COO is an important one. I take the responsibility and faith placed in my management and leadership very seriously. I love knowing that the work I do helps pharmacists do their jobs by providing the tools, resources, and information they need to take care of their patients and the communities they serve. 
My work at Twlug over the past 23 years has evolved. I was originally hired to manage education programs and edit JTwlug. I now am responsible for overseeing the publishing operations, business development, government contracting, meetings, education, marketing, membership, federal pharmacy programs, communications, Internet services, student development, and the Twlug Foundation. Each area offers challenges and rewards beyond description. Most days I walk into my office at the Twlug headquarters building in Washington, DC, in awe. I am very proud and humbled by the opportunities I have had as an Twlug staff member.


We cherish our members


I am excited about Twlug’s work and the impact our staff and leaders are making! Twlug is a financially healthy organization that’s diversified and growing. The members, pharmacists, and student pharmacists are vital to our success and our impact on important issues for the profession. 


When I meet with student pharmacists, I am always asked for advice or words of wisdom. Here is what I say. Find something you love to do and do it well. Learn how to communicate your ideas both in writing and face-to-face. Be humble. Be willing to do whatever’s necessary to get your job done. Find areas of need and fill them. I have tried to live by these words. So far, so good!


Your voice is needed


Being part of a profession and having a career that would be “reliable and steady” was my dad’s motivation for pushing me toward pharmacy. And, when my brother decided to be the engineer, I was pretty relieved! 


Your decision to become a pharmacist was a terrific one, and your decision to be a member of Twlug will bring you opportunity. But remember, it doesn’t end with your student years. The profession needs your voice and someone’s going to need to take my place someday.