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.
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.
Michael Lifshitz - Secretary
Michael Lifshitz serves as the Secretary of the MGFA Board of Directors, and 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.
Board of Directors
Adrejia Lajoy Ann Boutté, JD
Adrejia is a Louisiana litigator with more than 20 years of experience on both sides of the courtroom as in-house counsel and as a commercial litigator defending cases on behalf of a Fortune 500 company and various insurance companies across the nation. With a strong background in leadership in legal organizations (statewide and nationally), in compliance matters (with a focus on cyber risk), and as a life-long advocate of diversity objectives; Adrejia regularly offers trainings and presentations to individuals and companies. Adrejia thrives on “thinking outside of the box” and on bringing serious topics to any table with humor and other relatable methods. As an “MGer” of over 35 years, and with a passion for research and education, Adrejia gravitated to MGFA’s mission. Adrejia received a B.S. degree in Psychology from Xavier University School of Louisiana, a J.D. from Southern University Law Center, and a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in Business Law, with a Certificate in Compliance Studies, from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
Richard J. Nowak, MD, MS
Dr. Richard Nowak currently serves as Chief Medical Advisor to the MGFA. He is a neuromuscular fellowship trained neurologist and a faculty member in the Department of Neurology at Yale University School of Medicine. He is the founding Director of both the Program for Clinical & Translational Neuromuscular Research (CTNR) and the Yale Myasthenia Gravis (MG) Clinic. In this leadership capacity, he has successfully established and built a translational neuromuscular immunology program. The MG Clinic is recognized both nationally and internationally. It is considered to be one of the largest in the United States, and widely known for clinical and research excellence. Since formation of the CTNR program, he has initiated over a dozen studies focused on immune-mediated neuromuscular conditions. Dr. Nowak was awarded a U01 grant in 2013 to conduct one of the first NIH-sponsored interventional clinical trial in MG and served as the national principal investigator for the Phase 2 Trial of Rituximab in Myasthenia Gravis (BeatMG Study), a multicenter, placebo-controlled, double blind trial. He has been integral in establishing the recently NIH-funded Rare Disease Network for Myasthenia Gravis (MGNet) with his collaborators at Duke University and George Washington University. Dr. Nowak is not only a skilled academic neurologist but also a seasoned, senior investigator as demonstrated by continuous NIH grant funding. He brings the perspective of an independent investigator focused on clinical trials, clinical trial design and development/application of targeted therapies in order to facilitate future patient-tailored treatment approaches. Dr. Nowak remains committed to advancing MG science and patient care. He earned his BS degree from Loyola University Chicago, MS degree from Northwestern University, and MD degree from Drexel University College of Medicine. He completed his internship (internal medicine), residency (neurology), and fellowship (neuromuscular medicine) training at Yale New Haven Hospital.
Kevin C. O’Connor, PhD
Dr. Kevin C. O’Connor currently serves as the Chief Scientific Advisor for the MGFA Medical & Scientific Advisory Council. 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, JD
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.
Sangeeta Sawhney, MD
Sangeeta Sawhney has more than twenty years of experience in clinical drug development including IND, NDA, and MAA submissions. She is experienced in strategic planning, design and execution of clinical projects across multiple therapeutic areas. She has deep knowledge of regulatory requirements in key therapeutic areas and direct clinical experience in general medicine. She currently serves as vice president of Intercept Pharmaceuticals and has worked in multiple, additional roles providing leadership and oversight for a variety of projects. In the current role Sangeeta leads all development activities including Clinical Development Plan(s) from Proof-of-Concept, direct oversight of Medical Director and Clinical Scientists assigned to NASH trials and matrix oversight of project teams comprising diverse functional expertise. She is also the lead medical and scientific advisory and thought leader to efficiently execute on clinical development plans. Sangeeta also serves on the Board of a non-profit organization, NCIAP, which provides low cost medical care to the uninsured and underserved population in the RTP, NC area. Her past roles include leadership and executive positions at Immunovant, Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, and PPD. She completed her internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center and Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, Florida, 1999-2002, and she earned her M.D., Honors in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Microbiology at the University of Miami, Florida.
Paul Strumph, MD
Paul Strumph, MD, has served on the Board of Directors of the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America since 2020, where he is currently the volunteer lead for the MGFA Global MG Patient Registry, Chair of the Governance & Nominating Committee, and received the 2022 Impact Award which recognizes a volunteer who has changed the trajectory of the MGFA. Paul is Chief Medical Officer at Seraxis Pharmaceuticals and has more than 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical development field. He also served as Chief Medical Officer at Metavant Sciences and 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, an oral adjunct to insulin in type 1 diabetes. He is also the founder and chair of the Diabetes Center of Excellence and held chief medical positions at Quintiles (now IQVIA), the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and held leadership roles at GlaxoSmithKline, Merck KGaA/EMD, and Bristol Myers Squibb & Co. Paul has personal experience with chronic autoimmune diseases, as he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1966, and myasthenia gravis in 2019. 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.
Robert Thomas is currently the Founder, President & CEO of NUEnergy Payroll HR, a new payroll company. He is a dedicated and creative entrepreneur who established businesses through organizational transformations, mentoring start-up businesses, and inspiring their respective successes. He reaches out to the community through speaking engagements by using his extensive background in chief executive management for large corporations, as recent Chief Benefits Officer for Strategic Benefits Administration, Strategy, Operations & HRIS at the City of Houston, and past roles as Executive in Residence at the Houston Technology Center, Mentor/Advisor to SURGE Accelerator companies, past Advisory Board Member to the Dean at University of Houston’s College of Technology, and Advisory Council Member to the Dean of University of Texas’ school of Health Sciences. He furthers his community commitment to the University of Houston Downtown through his work as a Senior Corporate Fellow emphasizing advanced corporate finance, strategic business management, financial forecasting, and communications for finance professionals. Previously, Robert served in executive leadership roles at Fidelity, ADP, Hewitt, and Bank of America. Robert started his career with military service as a non-commissioned officer of the U.S. Marine Corps. He earned an MBA from University of Phoenix and completed Executive Development Programs at Harvard Business School and the Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley.
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.