My next Base Pair is one of the most fun couples I’ve dined with while on the road for work/at genetics conferences. William A. Faucett (who goes by Andy) and his husband Richard Fogaley are partners in life, and for many years, they also were partners at work.
Here are some fun facts about my connections to this Base Pair: Andy was my boss when I was employed at Geisinger as part of the NIH ClinGen project (he was great!). And I once wrote and performed a ukulele song about Richard at a company holiday party. I enjoyed getting to know more of their backstory and love that it all started with a cup of coffee!
Meet the next Base Pair, Andy and Richard. I feel lucky to know them! Feel free to post them a message of well-wishes in the comments box below as they prepare for new adventures in 2020!
How did you get interested in genetics/genetic counseling?
Andy: In 1985, I was teaching biology at a residential “tough love” school in central Florida for troubled teenagers, and I saw a short job description in Newsweek describing the field of genetic counseling. I had found genetics fun to teach; I enjoyed running group counseling for my dorm students; and I enjoyed explaining science concepts. All this made the field of genetic counseling sound like a perfect career fit.
Richard: When we first met, I asked Andy lots of questions about genetic counseling and found it fascinating. When I met his roommate Karen, another counselor, I asked more questions. After I left journalism, I became an administrative assistant to some genetic researchers, and learned even more. It helped that Andy is good at explaining genetics and genetic counseling, and I always listened when he tried to explain it to folks we would meet. We spent several winter holidays at a resort in the mountains. Many afternoons were spent around a blazing fire with Andy answering everyone’s questions about genetics and genetic counseling, and I tried to absorb everything I heard.
Did you learn about genetic counseling from someone you knew, or did you influence someone else to attend school for genetic counseling?
Andy: When I reached out to the NSGC, I was connected with Helen Travers and Judith Benkendorf who were working as genetic counselors in Florida. They agreed to let me spend a day with them in Miami and with that introduction to genetic counseling, my future was sealed.
What is your special connection to your Base Pair buddy?
Andy: Richard and I have been life partners since 1989 and married since 2016. He’s been my sounding board as I tried out ways to explain genetics concepts. I’ve moved him around a bit as I accepted jobs in Savannah, Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia, and Danville, Pennsylvania. As a journalist, he helped edit my written work, especially anything written for the public. I’ve also used him as a resource in networking with other journalists and the media to publicize genetics and genetic counseling.
Richard: Living with a genetic counselor, and working for genetic researchers, gave me a modest basic genetic education, which has enabled me to edit papers and news releases without messing up the science.
How did you meet?
Andy: We met on a Sunday afternoon at a bar in Houston. I had walked to the bar and he offered me a ride home. We went for coffee and spent several hours talking. The rest is history.
Richard: Best investment in a cup of coffee ever!
Anything else of interest I haven't thought to ask? What’s next in store for you?
Andy: We both serve on the Geisinger Institutional Review Board. Richard serves as a patient/community representative. I currently represent genetics and genetic counseling. Once retirement starts in January 2020, we’ll both continue on the IRB, and I’ll represent the genetic counseling and patient perspectives.
Richard: I’m also the patient member of a PCORI grant team on patient engagement in research. PCORI is the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, a non-profit that works to help patients make better informed health decisions. Our grant is developing seminars that will help patients and health researchers find ways to work together on research projects. I enjoy working with researchers and helping them see things from the patient’s perspective.
Both: For our next chapter - retirement - we hope to spend a lot of it traveling, both here in the states in our RV “Fuzzy” and overseas.
William A. (Andy) Faucett, M.S., LGC, is a Pennsylvania licensed genetic counselor, professor, and researcher at Geisinger whose work focuses on oversight of genetic testing, ethical and consent issues, genetic counseling, and participant engagement. He has a B.S. from the Baptist College at Charleston, and M.S. from Sarah Lawrence College.
Richard Fogaley worked as a journalist in Texas and Georgia, covering politics, the arts, and dining, for nearly 30 years. He most recently was an administrative assistant for genetic researchers at Emory University and Geisinger Health System.