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Our Leadership

Staff Members

Samantha Masterson - Chief Executive Officer
Samm comes to MGFA with nearly two decades of non-profit experience, most recently serving as the Vice President, Donor Stewardship for the March of Dimes, where she was responsible for operationalizing an integrated donor relations strategy across all functional areas of the business. Her work resulted in revenue generation and long-term, meaningful investment by donors across all channels. Prior to joining the March of Dimes, Samm served as the Chief Advancement Officer for National Brain Tumor Society, the largest national research and advocacy organization dedicated to the brain tumor community. Samm provided the vision and strategy on all aspects of development, marketing & communications, field operations and special events. She graduated from Ithaca College with a B.S. degree in Communications.

 

Beth Ulrich - Chief Financial Officer, CPA, CGMA
Beth is a Partner and co-leader of the Mueller Client Advisory Services Group with 28 years of experience in outsourced accounting and consulting. She joined Mueller in 2009 as an Audit Manager and is now working with clients in a consultative capacity offering virtual CFO, budgeting, forecasting, and financial, organizational, and strategic planning services. She is a member of the Firm’s International Business and National Practice Group and co-leads the firm’s Not-For-Profit Group. Beth’s vision is to bring clarity, insight, and a collaborative problem solving approach to leaders of vibrant and mission driven organizations. She was the proud recipient of Mueller’s Professional Service Award in 2016. Beth is a member of the American Institute of Certified Accountants (AICPA), the Illinois CPA Society, and the PKF North America Global Business Solutions Committee. She earned a B.S. in Accounting at Valparaiso University in Indiana, and became a Licensed Certified Public Accountant in 1989.

 

Craig Strenger - Vice President, Development
Craig joins MGFA with over 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. His deep development knowledge and experience in the areas of donor stewardship, field operations (event fundraising), and corporate engagement will greatly benefit MGFA and help to influence its future as we embark on our new strategic plan.

 

 

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. As Vice President of Marketing & Communications for MGFA, he leads all awareness and promotions campaigns that drive development, programs, research, and patient support initiatives across a wide variety of audiences and channels. Prior to MGFA, he was a Director of Communications at global edge computing leader Stratus and also served as Chief Marketing Officer at the National Brain Tumor Society. He has served in leadership positions at marketing and communications agencies including Harte Hanks and Fleishman Hillard. Mike is also proud to serve as a judge for the annual Bell Ringer Awards. Michael graduated from Boston College with an A&S degree in communications/concentration marketing.

 

Wendi Huff - Vice President of Programs and Clinical Care

Wendi Huff is the Vice President of Programs and Clinical Care for MGFA. She 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. Through program development, Wendi has implemented patient advocacy, education and disease navigation initiatives. She has worked collaboratively with the FDA, National Cancer Institute, academic researchers, pharmaceutical companies and patient advocacy organizations to remove the barriers to rare disease. Her extensive experience in national non-profit and private sectors have included executive leadership positions as Senior Director of Industry Affairs and interim Chief Advancement Officer at the National Brain Tumor Society Foundation, Associate Vice-President at the Morehouse School of Medicine and Chief Executive Officer of a YWCA chapter.  Wendi will be 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.

 

Dova Levin – 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 – 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. She served as a US Peace Corps Community Health Volunteer in a rural village in Malawi where she focused her efforts on palliative care, youth education and empowerment, and HIV prevention. Throughout her career, Genna has focused her efforts on capitalizing on organizational strengths and empowering colleagues to achieve mission-driven goals. She graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Public Health.

 

Samantha Gardner – Director of Fundraising
Sam has more than 20 years of non-profit experience in development including 17 years with the National MS Society, where she was responsible for a variety of local and national fundraising events.  In her tenure with the society, she opened an office in Wyoming managing several walks, a bike event, and a gala.  Sam also managed a team of development staff across the country, led the national Walk MS program, and was the Senior Director of Bike MS when she left to join the MGFA team. Sam is passionate about building relationships and growing revenue and is excited to bring her passion to the MGFA.  As the Director of Fundraising, she is responsible for the MGFA Walks nationwide and the Do It Yourself program.  Sam lives with her husband Sammy in Wyoming where they retired from the Air Force.

 

Betty Ross - Director of Development
As the Director of Development for MGFA, Betty is responsible for stewardship and recognition programs for individual and major donors.  Betty’s fundraising career spans more than 40 years in both local and national positions. Betty was the Vice President of Fundraising for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society leading nationwide events before retiring in 2016. Betty says one of the highlights of her professional career was training new development staff at fundraising conferences both in the US and Canada. She joined the MGFA team part time in early 2017 continuing her passion for making a difference through raising money. A native of Southern California, Betty lives and works from her home office in Denver.

 

Executive Committee

 

Nancy Law - Board Chair
Nancy Law served as CEO for the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America from March 2016—February 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, leading 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 to increase access to quality health care. Diagnosed with MG in 1996, Nancy is excited to be working on behalf of her own disease and has 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 serves on several national and global MG patient councils. Nancy has been a featured speaker at numerous national and international conferences. 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 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.

 

Brian Gladden – Vice Chair
Brian Gladden is an Operating Partner with Bain Capital Private Equity.  He joined the firm in 2018 after a long career as a CFO, and works 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 GE Plastics. Brian was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in 2015. He received a B.S degree in Business Administration from Millersville University.

 

William Sauerwine – Treasurer

After more than 31 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

 

Denise Rossi - Secretary
Denise Rossi earned her Masters of Social Work at the University of Souther California. She is currently working as a Social Worker supporting persons with a medical disability. Prior to pursuing her passion, Denise had a succesful career in Information Technology within the financial services sector including CTO Citigroup Belgium, Customer Delivery FIS and SVP Production Services at SunTrust Bank. She earned her B.B.A. in Business Computer Information Systems, Internet and E-Commerce Technologies from Hofstra University. Denise serves on the Executive Committee, and MG Walk/ Fundraising Committee.

 

Board of Directors

 

Phil Cogan
Phil Cogan currently Chairs the Communications Committee. Phil is a communications and crisis management practitioner with more than 35 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, county 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 United States 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 disaster response team leader at the American Red Cross and retired as a Commander for Navy public affairs. He earned a B.A. in speech and oral communications at UCLA and an M.A. in communications & communications law from the University of Washington.

 

Kim Eldridge
Kim Eldridge currently serves as Co-Chair of the Advocacy Committee and is a member of the Patient & Community Services Committee. Kim is currently working for Humana, Inc. as a Microsoft SharePoint Subject Matter Expert. She has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Technology from Western Kentucky University. When she’s not working, 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 helps coordinate the local MG Walk and was the 2017 Walk Hero.

 

Jeffrey Guptill, MD, MA, MHS
Dr. Jeff Guptill currently serves as Chair of the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board. Jeff is Associate Professor of Neurology at Duke University School of Medicine and serves as Director of the Duke Early Phase Clinical Research Unit which is the phase 1 and proof-of-concept clinical trial unit at Duke.  He then completed the adult neurology residency program at Duke University Medical Center, followed by neuromuscular medicine/EMG and advanced neuromuscular disease fellowships, also at Duke.  He was a fellow at the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) and finished a Neurology Drug Development Fellowship. Dr. Guptill’s research interests include the development of diagnostic and predictive biomarkers and conducting clinical trials of novel therapeutics for the treatment of inflammatory neuromuscular diseases such as myasthenia gravis. He leads the NeuroIMmunology BiosampLE (NIMBLE) network – a multisite clinical research network and biosample repository for rare neuromuscular diseases, particularly myasthenia gravis. He is also a member of the executive committee for the NIH funded rare disease clinical research network for myasthenia gravis (MGNet). Dr. Guptill completed a master’s degree in Anatomy & Neurobiology at Boston University School of Medicine and received his medical school training at Medical College of Virginia.

 

Susie A. Johnson
Susie Johnson has been actively involved in community service with a particular interest in furthering children’s health and education. She has provided effective senior leadership and experienced counsel to numerous non-profit organizations. At the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Susie was active as a volunteer visiting the homes of the Wish children and their families to discuss and decide on their most exciting “wishes.” Susie also served, for six years, on the Make-A-Wish board of Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the largest Make-A-Wish chapter in the world and served as Board Secretary. At the United Way of Pittsburgh, Susie Co-Chaired with her husband, and was a part of the annual campaign during which time she began the Women’s Leadership Initiative, a groundbreaking program which has been enormously successful in recruiting new donors to United Way from the ranks of women executives. Susie served on the board of the Friends of Sewickley Library and Co-Chaired “Celebrity Doodles” which was a record-breaking fundraiser. Susie was also on the board of the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, Cincinnati Country Day School and her children’s elementary schools. Susie is a 1974 graduate of the University of Texas with a Bachelors Degree in Education. 

 

Michael Lifshitz
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 Oversees 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 has also been honored to work with the Peter and Vicki Halmos Family Foundation, helping them to promote opportunities in the arts for young people.  Where most people have no idea what MG is, Michael comes to MGFA as the nephew and the cousin of two people fighting MG.

 

Celia R. Meyer
Celia Meyer is a RN and a Navy veteran. Celia was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in 2013 after being symptomatic for many years. As a member of the MGFA’s Board of Directors, Celia currently serves on the MG Patient Registry Committee and the Communication Committee. Celia also assists the MGFA with their Facebook page and social media. Celia is a tireless advocate for the MG Patient Registry, and her work in promoting the importance of the Registry to MG patients has been a driver in doubling the number of participants. She currently serves on the Communications Committee. Celia is a graduate of Columbia College with a B.S. in Information Science. She received her nursing degree from Motlow College.

 

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 the past Chairman of the Medical Scientific Advisory Board of the MGFA. In the past he twice served as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Director of the MGFA for three consecutive terms. He was a past 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. 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.

 

Katherine Ruzhansky, MD
Katherine Ruzhansky, MD is currently working as a clinical neurologist, Associate Professor of Neurology and Director of the EMG lab at the Medical University of South Carolina. Prior to relocating to Charleston, SC, she trained at Yale-New Haven hospital and Columbia University Medical Center in neurology and clinical neurophysiology. Her clinical focus has been the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders. Since coming to Charleston, she has met many wonderful people and patients who are active on the local and national level in helping bring awareness to Myasthenia Gravis. Treating patients with MG is both challenging and rewarding. Although it is a treatable disease, living and dealing with chronic illness poses daily challenges not only for patients, but also families and caregivers. By getting involved with the local support group and by actively supporting the MG community, she hopes to grow as a physician and a person. She currently serves on the Education Committee.

 

Paul Strumph
Paul Strumph, MD has personal experience with chronic autoimmune diseases, as he was diagnosed with MG in 2019 and type 1 diabetes in 1966. Paul serves as Chief Medical Officer at Metavant Sciences, bringing with him over 25 years of experience in Endocrinology and Diabetes. He most recently served as Vice President, Clinical Development at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, where he led global clinical development from early phase 2 work through successful NDA  and MAA filings --achieving EU approval of sotagliflozin, a first in class dual SGLT1 and SGLT2 inhibitor developed as an oral adjunct to insulin in type 1 diabetes. Paul previously held a senior executive role at Quintiles (now IQVIA), the Chief Medical Officer position at the non-profit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and 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 two fellowships in Adult and Pediatric Endocrinology, he practiced endocrinology for 6 years while 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 still sees patients monthly at the Bradley Free Clinic in Roanoke, Virginia.

 

Mike Ursic

Mike Ursic is an engineer  for the  U.S. Department of Energy, specializing in advanced vehicle engine, electrification and emission technologies. Mike also continuously works as a consultant within his family's water-jet small manufacturing business. Mike is a graduate of West Virginia University with a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Mike was diagnosed with MG in 2007 and has been continuously involved in MGFA programs since 2009. He currently serves as co-chair of the Myasthenia Advocacy for Young Adults (MAYA) committee and is a member of the patient and community services committee. Mike has a passion to help newly diagnosed Myasthenics navigate the initial hardships of MG.

 

Annette Zampelli, MSN, CRNP, IgCN
Dr. Zampelli is a family nurse practitioner currently employed as an Oncology Clinical Science Liaison for AstraZeneca. She functions as an educator, trainer and preceptor in this role. She has been published over 20 times on various topics from asthma and allergies to use of immune globulin either subcutaneously or intravenously in immune deficiency and neurological diseases. She presents regularly at public and professional meetings and conferences. Her over 15 years of experience in immunoglobulin therapy has made her an expert in the field. Her past professional experiences include executive board member and treasurer of the Association of Asthma Educators, vice president and president for the Central PA Association for Nurse Practitioners and member of the nurse advisory committee for the Immune Deficiency Foundation. She continues to be an active member for the Boy Scouts of America as a district representative and holds a chair position for fundraising in this role. Annette is currently the Chair of the Nurses' Advisory Board.

 

Chairs Emeritus

 

Edward Walsh
Ed is 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 has gotten involved with several startup private equity ventures where he is 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. Ed earned a B.S. in Finance and Accounting from Fordham University (1975) and is a CPA.

 

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.

 

Sam Schulhof

Sam was elected as a member of MGFA’s Board of Directors in 2005 and subsequently served as both Treasurer and Chair of the Board. He has 40 plus years of operating and senior executive leadership experience in both public and private sectors. Sam has been involved with several technology start-up ventures as a founder, investor and Board Chair. He served as Associate Vice-President for Applied Research and as Vice-President of the University of Pittsburg Trust. 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 as well as GE’s Environmental Research Center. In addition, he was accountable for the day-to-day program management of technical efforts for GE Capital and its set of 25 businesses. Formerly, 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. Sam currently is MGFA, Chair Emeritus and Chair of MGFA’s Board Development and Recruitment Committee. He also is a member of the Board of the Gulf Beach Art Center, Inc.

 

Susan Klinger

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.

 

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.

 

Esther Land

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. 

 

 

 

A World Without MG