Samantha Masterson - Chief Executive Officer
Samm comes to MGFA with more than two decades of non-profit experience, serving in executive leadership roles for healthcare non-profits such as March of Dimes, National Brain Tumor Society, and the American Liver Foundation. She has an extensive background in organizational management, strategic planning, board and volunteer development, and revenue generation that results in growth and impact. As MGFA’s Chief Executive Officer, Samm is responsible for providing the vision and strategy to fulfill the work identified in the organization’s strategic plan that supports MGFA’s vision and mission, and to ensure that both the operational and board structures support this work.
Craig Strenger - Vice President, Development
Craig joins MGFA with more than 30 years in the non-profit sector and has served as an executive leader with Muscular Dystrophy Association, American Diabetes Association, and National Brain Tumor Society. Craig is known for his creative and innovative approach and for his keen ability to cultivate teams that are results-oriented and that drive impact. As Vice President of Development for MGFA, he leads all areas of donor stewardship and individual giving, field operations (event fundraising), and corporate engagement.
Michael Antonellis – Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Michael brings more than 25 years of marketing and communications experience to MGFA, serving in impactful leadership positions at healthcare non-profits, high technology corporations, and marketing and public relations agencies including the National Brain Tumor Society, Harte Hanks, Stratus Technologies, VISTAGY (Siemens) and Lois Paul & Partners. As Vice President of Marketing & Communications for MGFA, he leads all awareness, communications and promotional marketing campaigns that drive development, programs, research, and patient support initiatives across a wide variety of audiences and channels.
Wendi Huff - Vice President of Programs and Clinical Care
Wendi has a diverse background serving healthcare organizations, specifically rare disease and health disparities. She has worked with global thought leaders to advance medical research, convene stakeholders and improve patient health outcomes at national non-profit and private sector organizations, including executive leadership positions at the National Brain Tumor Society Foundation, Morehouse School of Medicine and Chief Executive Officer of a YWCA chapter. At the MGFA Wendi works collaboratively medical professionals and specialists, academic researchers, pharmaceutical companies and patient advocacy organizations to remove the barriers to rare disease. She is responsible for developing and implementing comprehensive MGFA programming to support the MG community and activate mission deliverables as guided by the organization’s strategic plan.
Daryl Lee - National Director of Finance
Daryl comes to MGFA with a diverse business background. Starting his career as an aerospace engineer, Daryl has transitioned to various finance and leadership roles within the fields of technology, health care and non-profit. He is known for using his team building skills and analysis to support his coworkers throughout the company. His most recent positions were at Providence St. Joseph Healthcare and Working Wardrobes for a New Start.
Dova Levin – National Senior Director, Program Management & Education
Dova started her career in non-profits in Los Angeles at UCLA Extension, where she worked as the Registration and Cashier Manager for ten years. She moved to New York City and had the opportunity to work at the United Nations Population Fund. Upon returning to Los Angeles, Dova worked for over ten years at the World Molecular Imaging Society as their Administrative Director doing many different tasks including running national and international scientific conferences for 1500 to 2000 attendees. She joined the Myasthenia Gravis world in 2017, as the Executive Director of the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of California and has been with MGFA since the beginning of 2019. While being passionate about her positions in the past, Dova finds her current position to be extremely rewarding. She values the relationships that she has built with her team of co-workers, with volunteers and with the MG community.
Genna Mvalo – National Director, Patient Advocacy & Community Engagement
Genna brings a wealth of experience in nonprofit management and public health program implementation. most recently having served as the National Director of Development at the Patient Empowerment Network. Previously, Genna held development and management positions at prominent non-profit organizations including National Brain Tumor Society, Partners in Health, Accion International, Princeton University, and Delta Community Supports. At the MGFA, Genna builds and executes on strategic programming, leads our Our Voice patient advocacy program, and our young adult programs while managing educational resources such as webinars and patient-centric campaigns.
Caroline Gayler – National Director of Development
Caroline is the Director of Development for MGFA. Her passion is understanding the interests of each donor she works with, and learning how best to connect their passions with investing in our mission. She has worked for multiple health-related non-profit organizations in development, including her most recent role at March of Dimes, and has served as a global health consultant for various international organizations. Caroline has a master’s degree in Global Health Implementation with a focus on reproductive health highlighted through her research work. As the Director of Development at MGFA, Caroline works directly with donors to share the impact of their giving and aid donors in reaching their philanthropic investment objectives.
Tasha Duncan – National Director of Field Development
Tasha brings more than 15 years of non-profit development experience to MGFA as a multi-faceted fundraising professional. She has served as a frontline fundraiser for two different multi-million-dollar capital campaigns. She brings a wealth of experience in development operations, such as corporate sponsorship support, peer to peer fundraising and event management. Prior to her time at MGFA, Tasha was the Director of Major Gifts at Lutheran Medical Center – SCL Health, and before that she served as the Director of Regional Development, Southwest for the National Brain Tumor Society. As the National Director of Field Development for the MGFA, Tasha will be working directly with donors, volunteers and staff, leading strategic fundraising initiatives throughout the country to support MGFA’s mission and goals.
Nick Patrone – Visual and Web Design Manager
Nick joined the MGFA team with more than 15 years of graphic design and web development experience. He drives creative and web design projects and digital media as well as focusing on brand management and content communications across a multi-channel framework. Prior to joining the MGFA, he worked for a community development non-profit in Cleveland, OH for seven years, leading all of the organization’s marketing design initiatives. He has also held a freelance design position and a web-based, creative design opportunity in the printing and fulfillment industry. Nick brings his passion for technology and design to help advance all types of communication, education, and engagement for the MG community.
Amy Peterson – Project Manager
Amy has worked for more than 10 years in the educational nonprofit sector, most recently connecting Harvard Business School alumni in Northern California to pro bono consulting opportunities with nonprofits through the HBSANC Community Partners program. Prior to this, she worked for an education fund whose mission was to empower individuals in the healthcare workforce to advance their careers. Amy offers programmatic project management support to the MGFA team as part of their education, advocacy, and research efforts.
Brian Gladden – Chair
Brian Gladden serves as Chair of the MGFA Board of Directors, and is the Chief Financial Officer for Zelis, a Bain Capital and Parthenon Capital sponsored healthcare technology company. Zelis is the US healthcare industry’s leading claims cost and payments optimization platform with superior technology and solutions to price claims, pay claims and explain claims. Prior to joining Zelis in early 2021, Brian was an Operating Partner with Bain Capital Private Equity, where he worked to create equity value across the portfolio companies of the North America Private Equity funds. Prior to joining Bain Capital, Brian was the Chief Financial Officer of Mondelēz International, a Chicago-based $30B global consumer products company where he oversaw all aspects of the company’s global finance function including treasury, accounting, tax, FP&A plus mergers and acquisitions, information technology, facilities and global business services. Prior to Mondelēz, Mr. Gladden was Chief Financial Officer at Dell, the $60B diversified technology company based in Austin, Texas. He also served in CEO and senior leadership roles at SABIC innovative Plastics and General Electric. Brian was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in 2015. He received a B.S degree in Business Administration from Millersville University.
Bill Sauerwine – Vice Chair
Bill Sauerwine is the Vice Chair of the MGFA Board of Directors. After more than 30 years of serving as President and CEO of W.J. Sauerwine Custom Homes, Inc., an award winning, high-end custom home builder and real estate developer, Bill retired in 2017. He is currently managing a private mortgage portfolio as well as providing consulting to private investors. In addition to founding and operating several successful businesses, he has an extensive financial background. His banking career began in 1967 with The Philadelphia National Bank. Over a span of a 19-year banking career, he also worked for The Bank of New Jersey and Continental Bank of New Jersey. Bill held several senior management positions progressing to Executive Vice President and CFO. For 12 years he served as Treasurer and CFO for the municipality of Lindenwold, New Jersey, responsible for budget preparation, investment management, oversight of all revenues, and providing consulting to the mayor and council. Bill attended Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the University of Virginia Graduate School of Consumer Banking
Justin Stachtiaris - Treasurer
Justin Stachtiaris serves as Treasurer of the MGFA Board of Directors and Chair of the Finance Committee. He is currently an Associate at Bain Capital in their Healthcare Private Equity Group. Justin focuses his time working with and investing in companies across healthcare software and life sciences research. Prior to joining Bain Capital in 2020, Justin spent three years at Bain & Company where he worked with clients across pharma research, retail healthcare and consumer products. While at Bain & Co, Justin also led the Boston chapter of Inspire, a non-profit organization that provides pro-bono strategy consulting to growing NGOs across healthcare, education and global development. In October 2019, Justin led an Inspire engagement where he worked with Brian Gladden and Nancy Law to create the current MGFA 2020 - 2022 strategic plan. Inspired by the MGFA mission and touched by his conversations with community members, Justin stayed involved in the organization and assisted with ongoing strategic initiatives. He received a B.S degree in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia.
Celia R. Meyer - Secretary
Celia Meyer is currently Secretary of the MGFA Board of Directors and has served on the Board since 2018. As a Registered Nurse and a U.S. Navy Veteran, Celia is a seasoned leader, and well-versed in the health care advocacy world. While in the Navy, she served as an advocate and care facilitator for active-duty personnel who were hospitalized outside of military treatment facilities. Celia is a committed and influential advocate within the MG community. In addition to providing individual MG patient support, she ensures that news, information, and opportunities from the MGFA reach the MG community at large in her role as an admin for five separate online MG support groups. In addition to her support group leadership, Celia works tirelessly to promote the MG Patient Registry. In 2018, she received the MGFA Chairman’s Award for her efforts with the MG Patient Registry. She has also been recognized for her superior fundraising efforts as Co-Team Leader for the annual National MG Walks. Celia lives with her husband on a small coastal farm in South Carolina. Before her own myasthenia gravis diagnosis in 2013, she was an avid horsewoman. Although MG limits her riding now, her passion for animals remains undimmed, and she has turned her farm into a loving home for multiple rescue animals. She is a graduate of Columbia College with a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. She received her nursing degree from Motlow College.
Board of Directors
Phil Cogan heads the communications working group in support of the VP, Marketing & Communications. Phil is a communications and crisis management practitioner with more than 45 years of experience serving organizations in the corporate, government and non-profit sectors. Cogan’s crisis management experience includes management positions in the U.S. military, the U.S. executive branch, law enforcement, and the American Red Cross, all of which followed a dozen years as a broadcast journalist. He served as vice president of communications for the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. and held a senior position at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He was part of more than 100 Presidentially-declared major disaster communications efforts and in 2001, he directed federal media relations activities at Ground Zero following the attacks on the World Trade Center. Phil is currently a senior volunteer disaster manager at the American Red Cross, Greater NY Region. He retired as a Commander in the U.S. Navy. He earned a B.A. in speech and oral communications at UCLA and an M.A. in communications and communications law from the University of Washington.
Kim Eldridge has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Technology from Western Kentucky University, and currently works for Humana, Inc. as a Microsoft SharePoint Subject Matter Expert. She was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in 2011, which prompted her to begin working with the MGFA. Kim spends countless hours supporting the MG community. She currently runs the local Support Group in Louisville, KY. She is an administrator for three online support communities, and participates in others. She works to educate myasthenics on how to advocate for themselves, helps the newly diagnosed navigate their new world of the chronically ill, and educate people on the disease. Kim Eldridge currently serves as Co-Chair of the MGFA Advocacy Committee. She also works with other non-profits such as the Rare Disease Legislative Advocates to help effect legislative change for those living with rare diseases. Kim is the Walk lead for the local Louisville MG Walk and was the 2017 Walk Hero.
Michael has served on the Boards of Turtle Nest Village and Kids@Home, two programs designed to help young people transition from Foster Care to successful adulthood. He was a member of the UJA (now JFNA) National Young Leadership Cabinet, serving on the Executive Committee, as well as the regional and national committees for Overseas Allocations. With UJA, he was trained as a solicitation trainer, and has traveled to communities throughout the country teaching lay leadership effective fundraising skills and techniques. He also served on the Boards of Community in Schools, a program that provides positive measures for at-risk students to succeed in their school careers, as well as several arts organizations. His involvement with the Foundation began when his aunt was diagnosed. He also has three other family members who are living with MG.
Kevin C. O’Connor, PhD
Dr. Kevin C. O’Connor currently serves as the chair of the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of the MGFA. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Tufts University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He completed his post-doctoral training in Immunology at Harvard Medical School where he also spent several years on the faculty as an Assistant Professor. He is now on the faculty at Yale School of Medicine, serving as a tenured Associate Professor of Neurology and Immunobiology.
Jeffrey D. Pilgrim
Jeff Pilgrim is an attorney and partner at Pilgrim Christakis LLP, a Chicago-based law firm representing banks and other financial services providers in individual and class action cases filed across the country. Prior to founding Pilgrim Christakis LLP, Jeff was a litigation associate and then partner at Arnstein & Lehr LLP (now Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr). Before law school, he worked as a consultant for Hewitt Associates (now Aon Hewitt), a national employee benefit and compensation consulting firm. Jeff was diagnosed with MG in 2004, and was elected to the MGFA Board in 2010. As a member of the MGFA’s Board of Directors, Jeff served as the Chairperson of the MGFA’s Bylaws Committee and member of the Audit Committee and Board Development Committee.
Robert Ruff, MD
Robert Louis Ruff, M.D., Ph.D. is a member of the MGFA Board of Directors and past Chairman of the Medical Scientific Advisory Board of the MGFA. He previously served several times as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Director of the MGFA and was a Doctor of the Year for the MGFA. He was involved with diagnosis and treatment of myasthenia gravis and neuro-rehabilitation for over 35 years. His research interests include understanding how myasthenia gravis impairs neuromuscular transmission, recovery of motor function after stroke, recovery following traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the use of brain computer interface technology to improve communication ability for individuals with impaired motor skills. Before retiring at the end of July, 2014, he served as the Director of National Neurology Service and acting Director for the Rehabilitation Research and Development Service of the Office of Research and Development within the Department of Veterans Affairs. He was a member of the NICHD advisory council, which oversees the NIH medical rehabilitation research program and a member of the NINDS advisory council, which oversees medical and basic research for diseases including MG. He is Professor Emeritus of Neurology and Neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Washington and did his Neurology residency and a postdoctoral fellowship in neurophysiology at Cornell Medical Center in NYC.
Paul Strumph, MD has served on the MGFA Board of directors since 2020 and is Chair of the Governance & Nominating Committee. Paul is a consultant in Diabetes and Endocrinology drug development, with over 25 years of experience in the field. He most recently served as Chief Medical Officer at Metavant Sciences. Previously he was VP of Clinical Development at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, where he led global clinical development of sotagliflozin, a first in class dual SGLT1 and SGLT2 inhibitor as an oral adjunct to insulin in type 1 diabetes, which was approved in Europe. Prior to that he held senior executive roles at Quintiles (now IQVIA) as the Founder and Chair of the Diabetes Center of Excellence, VP Therapeutic Strategy Head of Diabetes, and North American Regional Chief Medical Officer; He also served as Chief Medical Officer at the non-profit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and held positions of increasing responsibility at GlaxoSmithKline, Merck KGaA/EMD, and Bristol-Myers Squibb & Co. Paul received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University, his M.D. with distinction in research from the University of Rochester and completed residency training in Combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Emory University. After completing fellowships in both Adult Endocrinology (University of Pittsburgh) and Pediatric Endocrinology (Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh), he was in private practice for 6 years while also serving as a Clinical Associate Professor at UNC in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. Paul is one of only a handful of endocrinologists to be a diplomate of 2 specialty, and 2 subspecialty boards. Paul and Fran (Carroll) Strumph have been married since 1983 and live in Virginia. They have 2 children and two granddaughters. Paul has personal experience with chronic autoimmune diseases, as he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1966, and myasthenia gravis in 2019.
Esther is a retired marketing specialist from Dematic, a materials handling equipment company, after 45 years of service. During her employment years and beyond, she has volunteered for Myasthenia Gravis. She became acquainted with MGFA when she was diagnosed with MG in 1960. She has been involved ever since on the national and local levels. In 1975 she co-founded the Great Lakes Chapter of MGFA where she served in several board positions. She joined the MGFA national board in 1985, serving on numerous committees until 2009, including board chair from 2003-2007. With a passion to assist those afflicted with MG, she continues her dedication by encouraging and supporting patients throughout Michigan.
Marcia S. Lorimer, CPNP, RN
Marcia Lorimer, CPNP, RN is Assistant Professor Emeritus at Duke University School of Nursing, where she served as lead faculty and director of the nationally ranked pediatric nurse practitioner major for many years. She is a graduate of the Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing, the City College of New York (BS), Albert Einstein College of Medicine (PNP Certificate), and the University of Virginia (MSN). Marcia was diagnosed with myasthenia at age 10. She has served the MGFA Board in various capacities since being elected to her first term in 1991, including chairperson, committee chair, and NAB representative. She currently serves as the chair of the Audit Committee.
Marc Kalish, JD
Marc Kalish is a former Air Force fighter pilot and a retired attorney whose now serves as a mediator and arbitrator. He first joined the MGFA Board of Directors in 1991, while he was also serving as President of the Arizona Chapter. He was elected MGFA Board Chair in 1992, a position he held through 1996. He was reelected to the Board as Vice-Chair in 1997 and served in that position until 1999 when he was forced to resign after having been appointed to serve temporarily as judge. After joining the Finance Committee in 2006, Marc was reelected to the Board in 2008 and served as its Treasurer. Marc has been married to Ginny (Virginia nee Morrison) since 1970 and they have two children and two granddaughters, all of whom live close by in Phoenix. Ginny was first diagnosed with MG in 1958.
Susan is a retired Senior Vice President of Human Resources. She spent 29 years of her 35 year career in HR at Citigroup in various Human Resource roles across the corporation. Her expertise lies in problem solving, performance management, communications and recruitment. She also has particular interest in employee advocacy which has easily translated into patient advocacy. Shortly after she was diagnosed with MG in 2004, she became involved with the former Metro NY Chapter of MGFA, joining its board of directors in 2005. She joined the National MGFA board in 2008. Susan has volunteered with the Medicare Rights Center as a Health Advocate and also served as a board member and HR chair for Human Development Services of Westchester, an organization which provides multi-discipline programs for those recovering from mental health issues. Sue earned a BA in Sociology from Brooklyn College and attended the Baruch College graduate Business Management School. Susan co-leads the Greater NYC MG support group. She has served on several MGFA committees; has been board Secretary, Vice Chair and Acting Chair.
Sam was elected as a member of MGFA’s Board of Directors in 2005 and subsequently served as Treasurer and then Chair of the Board until 2016. He has over 40 years of operating and senior executive leadership experience in both public and private sectors. Sam was one of four Technical Directors of GE’s Corporate Research Center responsible for the oversight of five of the Center’s thirteen Laboratories and GE’s Environmental Research Center. He was also accountable for the day-to-day program management of technical efforts for GE Capital and its set of 25 businesses. Before joining GE, he served as Associate Vice-President for Applied Research and as Vice-President of the University of Pittsburg Trust. Prior to that, he held senior level political appointments with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, The Action Agency (Peace Corps and Vista) and as a Deputy Special Assistant to two Presidents of the United States. During his career, Sam has been involved with several technology start-up ventures as a founder, investor and Board Chair.
Currently Sam is MGFA, Chair Emeritus and a member of MGFA’s Board Governance Committee. He’s also on the Board of the Gulf Beach Art Center, Inc.
Posthumous Chair Emeriti
Nancy Law served as CEO for the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America from March 2016—February 2020 and was appointed Board Chair in 2020. She was a board member for the organization for 8 years prior to accepting the CEO position. Nancy retired in 2015 from a 28 year career with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, where she served as an Executive VP. She led the Society’s efforts in programs, services and clinical care, working to achieve high quality programs for people with MS and their families nationwide, and increased access to quality health care. Diagnosed with MG in 1996, Nancy was always excited about working on behalf of her own disease and led implementation of new MGFA programs, including telephone peer support (MG Friends), and Partners in MG Care, and expanded MGFA’s visibility and relevance in social media. She served on several national and global MG patient councils. After retiring from the NMSS and before taking the MGFA CEO position, Nancy provided consultation to the pharmaceutical industry on program design and strategies to enhance patient/physician communication. Nancy had graduated with a degree in speech/communications from Ohio Wesleyan University and received her social work license in Ohio in 1986. Before joining the MS Society she had work experience in child welfare, foster home certification and supervision, and volunteer management. Nancy passed away in 2021.
Ed joined the MGFA Board in 2010, was Treasurer from 2011 to 2016, and served as the MGFA Board Chair from 2016-2020. Ed passed away in 2021. Ed was a senior executive with 30 plus years of international financial and operating experience in Corporate and Consumer financial services. Since retiring from Citibank/Citicorp where he was Executive Vice-President (EVP), Chief Administrative Officer, Consumer Lending, he became involved in several startup private equity ventures where he served as a Board member and investor. As EVP he was responsible for all asset product offerings other than credit cards for Citibank/Citigroup and accountable for the management of $222B in assets.