Anna LauBach, Robert R. McCormick Foundation

TITLE: Senior Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS: Veterans' issues, including mental health and workforce development

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: This country invests considerable resources in preparing people to wage wars—there's recruitment, physical training, linguistic and technical training, housing, medical costs. . . The list goes on. But after you serve your time as a warfighter, then what? How do you transition from having most of your basic needs met (in exchange for adherence to the grueling military lifestyle) to living a civilian life of little guidance and limited safety nets? Especially if, like many veterans, you're facing the heavy mental toll of having just been through a war? The shift from the military to the civilian world can be a cultural and emotional challenge. And that shift is precisely what Anna LauBach works to help veterans make in the healthiest manner possible.

LauBach is the Director of Veterans Initiatives at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, a non-profit committed to "fostering communities of educated, informed, and engaged citizens." Established in 1955 by Col. Robert R. McCormick, wealthy founder of the Chicago Tribune and a military man himself, the foundation is one of the country's largest. It holds more than $1 billion in assets and awards upwards of $50 million in charitable grants annually. The foundation's primary areas of focus (intended to honor the legacy of the newspaper man/Colonel for which the organization was named): civic education and engagement, community welfare, Illinois education (birth through third grade), journalism, and veterans' issues.

LauBach comes to McCormick with a background in social welfare, and previous experience working for McCormick earlier in her career. She obtained her master's in social work, worked for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation as a program officer in the area of community welfare, subsequently worked as a senior program officer at the Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation, and finally returned to McCormick in 2008 to head up the foundation's veterans programs. Her goal: "developing and implementing a strategic grantmaking program... that address the unique needs of post 9-11 veterans." Among LauBach's priorities in her veterans work: workforce development and mental health services.

Judith Klein, Open Society Foundations

TITLE: Senior Program Advisor

FUNDING AREAS: Disability rights in Central and Eastern Europe

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Before joining the Open Society Foundations, Klein, a lawyer, worked to promote disability rights in the U.S. Specifically, she represented people with disabilities in guardianship and detention hearings. Her foundation bio shares: 

Judith Klein is a senior adviser to the Open Society Public Health Program.

Klein is a human rights lawyer who founded and has directed the Mental Health Initiative at the Open Society Foundations since 1995. The Mental Health Initiative focuses on ending the unjustified and inappropriate institutionalization of people with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities by advocating for deinstitutionalization and the development of community-based alternatives. For the past 22 years, Klein has pioneered the development and the replication of innovative models of community-based services that allow people to live dignified lives, as equal citizens, in their local communities. Klein is now leading the incubation of an independent non-profit, a global legacy mental health project of the Open Society Foundations, to be launched in late 2018. The new organization, INclude, builds on Klein’s decades of work at the Open Society Foundations. INclude is a social venture that will work with partners to seek systemic means of achieving sustainable social and economic inclusion for people with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities.

Prior to working at the Foundations, Klein, a member of the state bars of Florida and Michigan, litigated on behalf of people with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities in the United States.

Tracy Orleans, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

TITLE: Senior Program Officer/Senior Scientist

FUNDING AREAS: Major causes of behavioral issues leading to preventable death, chronic diseases, childhood obesity, tobacco control

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Orleans is a senior program officer and senior scientists at the RWJ Foundation. Her foundation bio shares: 

As the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s senior program officer/senior scientist, C. Tracy Orleans, PhD, leads the Foundation's efforts to develop and disseminate science-based strategies for addressing the major behavioral causes of preventable death and chronic disease. Orleans also is the Foundation’s first distinguished fellow (2005-2009), a role in which she is developing innovative approaches for assuring that the Foundation's commitments in key goal areas, especially tobacco control and childhood obesity prevention, will have a broad and lasting impact. She oversees a current portfolio of more than $375 million in RWJF national programs and grants.

Recruited to the Foundation in 1996 as a national leader in tobacco control and health behavior change research and practice, Orleans focused through 1999 on expanding the Foundation's investments in policy-based approaches to tobacco cessation, and on defining the Foundation's strategy in health care system-based approaches to chronic disease management, as convener of both the Tobacco and Chronic Disease Management Working Groups, respectively. She then led the Foundation’s Health & Behavior Team, through 2004, in promoting the adoption nationally of healthy behaviors, including the team’s pioneering investments in “active living” policy and environmental approaches to physical activity promotion. She has led or co-led over a dozen research-based national programs (e.g., Addressing Tobacco in Health CareHelping Young Smokers Quit, the Substance Abuse Policy Research ProgramBridging the GapImproving Chronic Illness CareActive Living Research, and Healthy Eating Research) and has directed numerous external program evaluations.

Orleans describes working at the Foundation as “an extraordinary opportunity to make a difference in trying to solve some of the country's most pressing health and health care problems—to do pioneering conceptual work, and at the same time to have impact populationwide, and to do so with extremely creative and committed colleagues inside and outside the Foundation.”

A clinical health psychologist, Orleans served as president of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in 2000, is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, and was elected to the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research in 1998 for her distinguished contributions in clinical health psychology and population health behavior change. She has been awarded the American Society of Preventive Oncology’s Joseph Cullen Tobacco Control Research Award, the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s Distinguished Scientist Award and Distinguished Service Award, and the John Slade Tobacco Policy Leadership Award of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.

Orleans was the first behavioral scientist appointed to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. She has contributed to several Surgeon General’s Reports and co-edited the first medical text on the management of nicotine addiction. In 2005 she was recognized by the journal Tobacco Control as one of the 100 most widely cited authors in the field of tobacco control. She continues to serve on numerous journal editorial boards, national scientific panels and advisory groups (e.g., Institute of Medicine, National Cancer Institute, National Commission on Prevention Priorities, Legacy Foundation). She has been a principal investigator of many National Institutes of Health grants and has authored or co-authored more than 200 publications. She is especially pleased that her early innovative work in tobacco control and cessation programs continue to have wide impact in helping smokers quit, including the Johnson & Johnson worksite tobacco control program; “Free & Clear”, the first “proactive” telephone quitline; and pioneering programs for older adult smokers (“Clear Horizons”) and African American smokers (“Pathways to Freedom”).

Prior to joining the Foundation, Orleans served as vice president for research and development of Johnson & Johnson Applied Behavioral Technologies, full member and director of Tobacco Research at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, research associate at the Cecil B. Sheps Center for Health Policy Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and assistant professor of Medical Psychology/Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center.

Orleans earned a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Maryland with a clinical internship at Duke University Medical Center, and a BA summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Wellesley College.

Orleans lives in Princeton with her husband, Jeffrey, executive director of the Council of Ivy Group Presidents. They have two sons, Jesse and Alexander. They are year-round baseball fans, readers, and visitors to New York City, and make family trips to North Carolina’s Outer Banks whenever they can, but not often enough.

Louis F. Reichardt, Simons Foundation

TITLE: Director, Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative

FUNDING AREAS: autism research

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: A mountain climber, neuroscientist, and inspiration for the 1991 movie K2, Louis Reichardt excels at pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and capability. With seemingly boundless energy and optimism, and an impressive background in brain research, this Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) leader guides the foundation in its mission of understanding and treating autism. His foundation bio shares: 

Louis Reichardt joined the foundation to lead SFARI in 2013. Prior to assuming this post, he was the Jack D. and DeLoris Lange endowed chair in cell physiology at the University of California, San Francisco, where he had directed its renowned neuroscience graduate program since 1988. A Fulbright scholar with an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Stanford University, Reichardt was a research fellow at Harvard Medical School and a Howard Hughes investigator for more than 20 years.

The recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship in 1985, he is a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was one of three founding editors of the journal Neuron and is a senior editor of the Journal of Cell Biology. He serves on the editorial boards of several other journals as well as the scientific advisory boards of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis Foundation and the Myelin Repair Foundation.

Reichardt’s research has focused on neurotrophins, a family of proteins that play a key role in neuron functioning, and on another family of proteins that promote the adhesion of nerve cells to each other. He has made major contributions to the study of intracellular signaling pathways that mediate the effects of these proteins — including the Wnt pathway, which may play a role in autism spectrum disorders.

Reichardt is also a noted mountaineer who climbed both Mount Everest and K2 by new routes 30 years ago.

Susan Fitzpatrick, James S. McDonnell Foundation

TITLE: President and Chief Operating Officer

FUNDING AREAS: Brain cancer, complex systems, and human cognition

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Susan Fitzpatrick has filled many roles in her career: brain scientist, charity fundraiser, and media critic, just to name a few. Her foundation bio shares: 

Susan M. Fitzpatrick is President of the James S. McDonnell Foundation, St. Louis, Missouri. The McDonnell Foundation is one of a limited number of international grant-makers supporting university-based research in biological, behavioral, and complex systems sciences through foundation-initiated programs. As President, Fitzpatrick serves as JSMF’s Chief Executive Officer.

Fitzpatrick received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Neurology from Cornell University Medical College (1984) and pursued post-doctoral training with in vivo NMR spectroscopic studies of brain metabolism/function in the Department of Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics at Yale University.

Fitzpatrick served as the Associate Executive Director of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis (1989-1992), a comprehensive basic science and applied science research center focused on restoring neurological function to persons with spinal cord injury. Her responsibilities included all public outreach and educational efforts and she served as the scientific liaison to the development, fundraising, and public relations staff. As Executive Director of the Brain Trauma Foundation (1992-1993), Fitzpatrick guided the Foundation through a re-organization. BTF is now a leader in advancing the acute care of patients with traumatic brain injury. Fitzpatrick joined the James S. McDonnell Foundation in 1993 as the Foundation’s first Program Officer. She was promoted to Program Director in 1997 and to Vice President in 2000. Fitzpatrick is an adjunct associate professor of Neuroscience and Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis) and teaches neuroscience in both lectures and seminars. Fitzpatrick lectures and writes on issues concerning applications of neuroscience to clinical problems, the translation of cognitive science to educational settings, the role of private philanthropy in the support of scientific research, and on issues related to the public dissemination of and understanding of science.

Fitzpatrick serves on the boards of the Ontario Brain Institute and Research!America, is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation Science Council, and is a member of International Advisory Council of the Rotman Institute for Philosophy. Fitzpatrick is a past member of the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, and is a Past-President and former Chair of the Board of the Association for Women in Science.

Gerald Fischbach, Simons Foundation

TITLE: Distinguished Scientist and Fellow

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Fischbach currently has the title of distinguished scientist and fellow at the Simons Foundation. His foundation bio shares: 

Dr. Fischbach joined the Simons Foundation in 2006 to oversee the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI). He then became the foundation’s first chief scientist and fellow and currently holds the title of Distinguished Scientist and Fellow. Formerly dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences at Columbia University, and director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health from 1998-2001, Fischbach received his M.D. degree in 1965 from Cornell University Medical School and interned at the University of Washington Hospital in Seattle. He began his research career at the National Institutes of Health, serving from 1966-1973. He subsequently served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, first as associate professor of pharmacology from 1973-1978 and then as professor until 1981. From 1981-1990, Fischbach was the Edison professor of neurobiology and head of the department of anatomy and neurobiology at Washington University School of Medicine. In 1990, he returned to Harvard Medical School where he was the Nathan Marsh Pusey professor of neurobiology and chairman of the neurobiology departments of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital until 1998.

Throughout his career, Fischbach has studied the formation and maintenance of synapses, the contacts between nerve cells and their targets through which information is transferred in the nervous system. He pioneered the use of nerve cell cultures to study the electrophysiology, morphology and biochemistry of developing nerve-muscle and inter-neuronal synapses. His current research is focused on roles that neurotrophic factors play in determination of neural precursor fate, synapse formation and neuronal survival.

Fischbach is a past president of the Society of Neuroscience and serves on several medical and scientific advisory boards. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a former non-resident fellow of the Salk Institute.


Laura Sherman, Klarman Family Foundation

TITLE: Director, Greater Boston Grantmaking

FUNDING AREAS: Public health and arts

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Laura Sherman, the Klarman Family Foundation's Director of Greater Boston Grantmaking and former senior program officer, has spent her career in the philanthropy business, and she's seen it from quite a few angles and gotten some great perspective. Sherman has been with Klarman since 2009, but her varied experience prior to that has made her instrumental in the foundation's success.

Before joining the Klarman Family Foundation, Sherman worked for a couple of years as a program officer at the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation. Her current role might feel  familiar to her, as the two foundations have similarities; both are Boston-based philanthropies founded on the assets of wealthy businessmen. In the case of the Klarman Family Foundation, that businessman was the soft-spoken and publicly shy Seth Klarman, and the foundation has more than $255 million in assets.

Sherman also understands the flip side of the non-profit equation as well. She worked as an independent consultant to non-profit organizations for five years before diving into family foundation work. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, she served as vice president of strategic planning and development at Crittenton Hastings House, a Boston-based nonprofit aimed at housing, education, and workforce improvements. Unlike many other program officers, Sherman has worked on the outside, the inside, and on the side. She's been the one trying to get grants, help others get grants, and now decide who is worthy of grants.

Sherman earned her bachelor's degree in anthropology and liberal arts from Vassar College and an master's in health policy and management from Harvard School of Public Health. During her time at the Klarman Family Foundation, she has served as a contributing member of the State Street Foundation's youth violence prevention initiative. She's also served on the working committee of the Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion initiative, which has exposed arts education to thousands of students during the school day. However, Klarman really draws upon Sherman's background in public health, as that's one of the foundation's primary focus areas.


Kevin Lee, Ellison Medical Foundation

As of November, 2013, the Ellison Medical Foundation is no longer pursuing biomedical grantmaking. Please read our article about their sudden announcement here.

TITLE: Executive Director

FUNDING AREAS: Biomedical research, age-related disorders, and neurological research

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: The Ellison Medical Foundation, with offices in New York and Mount Airy, Maryland, is putting serious cash into biomedical research with the intention of finding solutions and cures for elderly people affected by age-related disorders. Behind Ellison's efforts is Kevin J. Lee, a biologist and executive director of the Ellison Medical Foundation.

His foundation bio shares:

Dr. Lee is a graduate of the University of Michigan and received his Ph.D. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His career spans over 25 years of research experience in molecular genetics and neurobiology in biotechnology, academic research and not-for-profit settings. He was appointed Executive Director of the Foundation in September 2012, having served as Deputy Executive Director from 2007-2012. Prior to joining the Ellison Medical Foundation, Dr. Lee served as Executive Vice President-Research of Sentigen Biosciences. He was responsible for the start-up and development of this New York City-based biotechnology company leading to its acquisition by Invitrogen Corporation in 2006. He has served as a member of the Scientific Review Board for the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative in New York. Dr. Lee’s scientific research career employed genetic approaches to learn how neurons in the brain are “wired up” during development to make functional circuits that relay sensory information and control behavior. He worked with Dr. Thomas Jessell in the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia University, where he studied the specification, axonal projection, and functional connectivity of nerve cells in the spinal cord. He is the recipient of biotechnology patents and is the author of numerous research publications.