• Set Text Size  
   

Who We Are

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.

 

Beth Ulbrich - Chief Financial Officer
Craig Strenger - Vice President, Development
Michael Antonellis – Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Dova Levin – Senior Director, Program Management & Education
Genna Mvalo – Director, Patient Advocacy & Community Engagement
Samantha Gardner – Director of Fundraising
Betty Ross - Director of Development

 

Executive Committee

 

Nancy Law - Board Chair
Brian Gladden – Vice Chair
William Sauerwine – Treasurer
Denise Rossi - Secretary

 

Board of Directors

 

Phil Cogan
Phil Cogan is a communications and crisis management practitioner with more than 35 years of experience serving organizations in the corporate, government and non-profit sectors. His specialties include program promotion, crisis response and damage mitigation, vulnerability audits, media relations, training, and emergency simulations. 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. Cogan was vice president of communications for the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the official export credit agency of the U.S. At the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), he was deputy director of Emergency Information and Public Affairs, and led or participated in the communications team response to more than 100 Presidentially-declared major disasters. In 2001 he directed federal media relations activities at Ground Zero following the attacks on the World Trade Center. He served eight years as a sworn, volunteer police officer in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is a former board member of the American Red Cross in Seattle. He currently serves as a disaster response team leader in the Greater New York Region of the Red Cross while also providing communications support. A Navy public affairs officer, he retired at the rank of Commander. He earned a B.A. in speech and oral communications from UCLA, and a Master’s Degree in Communications. Cogan is married and the father of two. Phil currently Chairs the Communications Committee.

 

Kim Eldridge
Kim Eldridge 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 mysathenics 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. She also commits time to various MGFA committees and sub-committees, she currently serves as Co-Chair of the Advocacy Committee and is a member of the Patient & Community Services Committee.

 

Jeffrey Guptill, MD, MA, MHS
Dr. Guptill 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 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. 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 cosponsored by UCB Biosciences, Inc, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, DCRI, and the Hamner Institutes. 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. His goal is to understand why available treatments do not work for some patients and to identify targets for developing new therapies to help patients with these debilitating diseases. His research is supported by NIH, private foundations, and the pharmaceutical industry. 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), where he chairs the natural history study and career enhancement core. He currently serves as Chair of the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board.

 

Susie A. Johnson
Susie is a 1974 graduate of the University of Texas with a Bachelors Degree in Education.  She has been actively involved in community service with a particular interest in furthering children’s health and education.  As a board member, committee chair and co-chair of many successful fund-making activities she has provided effective leadership and experienced counsel to numerous organizations including the following: At 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 the wish that the child would be most excited about.  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.  During that time she served as Secretary on the Board. At the United Way of Pittsburgh Susie, Co-Chaired with her husband, 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. 

 

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 is a graduate of Columbia College with a B.S. in Information Science. She received her nursing degree from Motlow College. 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.

 

Denise Rossi
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.

 

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 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.  His Ph.D. thesis dealt with electrical properties of the acetylcholine receptor (AChR).  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 was a member of the NINDS advisory council which oversees research related to disorders of the nervous system, neurology and neuroscience for 12 years. He is Professor Emeritus of Neurology and Neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University.

 

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 was appointed to the MGFA Board of Directors in January 2020. Paul 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 the role of North American Regional Chief Medical Officer at Quintiles (now IQVIA), where he also served as Therapeutic Strategy Head for the Cardio-vascular and Metabolic Therapy Area. Prior to this he served as Chief Medical Officer at the non-profit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Earlier in his career, Paul held roles 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 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 a Project Engineer for FCX Systems, a small manufacturing business that designs, builds and installs power supplies for commercial and military aircraft around the globe. In addition, Mike provides engineering consulting services in high-pressure waterjet technologies. 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. Mike has continuously served on the communication committee, Patient and community services committee, and is the lead for the Myasthenia Advocacy for Young Adults (MAYA) committee.

 

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. He was previously the Board Chair of MGFA.

 

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
Marc Kalish, JD
Susan Klinger
Marcia S. Lorimer, CPNP, RN
Sam Schulhof

 

Counsel: Webster, Chamberlain & Bean
Auditor: Desmond & Ahearn

A World Without MG