George Vradenburg, Chairman and President
Founding Board Member
George Vradenburg is President of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Network, which he co-founded in October 2010. He was named by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to serve on the Advisory Council on Research, Care, and Services established by the National Alzheimer's Project Act and has testified before Congress about the global Alzheimer’s pandemic. George has been appointed to the bipartisan Commission on Long-Term Care. And he and USAgainstAlzheimer's co-convene both the Leaders Engaged on Alzheimer's Disease (LEAD) Coalition and the Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer's Disease. George and his wife, Trish, have long been dedicated members of Washington's civic and philanthropic community. George served as Chairman of The Phillips Collection for 13 years, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and The Economic Club of Washington. He has served in senior executive and legal positions at CBS, FOX and AOL/Time Warner. George and Trish published Tikkun Magazine for 10 years (Editor-in-Chief Rabbi Michael Lerner is Trish's brother).
Trish Vradenburg, In Memoriam (1946-2017)
Founding Board Member
Trish Vradenburg served as Vice-Chair of UsAgainstAlzheimer's, which she co-founded in October 2010. Her unflinching spirit, imagination, quick-witted humor, empathy, generosity and exceptional tenacity to stop the suffering of others – were all captured in her every action. UsAgainstAlzheimer’s was born of her passion to fight back against Alzheimer’s disease in tribute to her mother. Trish began her career in Washington, D.C. as a speechwriter in the U.S. Senate. She wrote for various television shows, including Designing Women, Family Ties, and Kate and Allie. Trish's novel, Liberated Lady, was chosen as Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections and has been translated into three foreign languages. As a journalist, she wrote extensively for the New York Daily News, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Ladies’ Home Journal and Women’s Day. Surviving Grace, Trish’s quasi-autobiographical play, was produced at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Off Broadway at the Union Square Theater. It is now being performed at various community theaters throughout the country, as well as in Portuguese in Brazil. She served on the Council of Theater J, and on the boards of DC Vote and the Vradenburg Foundation. Trish always listed her marital status as "happy."
Jill Lesser, Secretary
President, WomenAgainstAlzheimer's Network
Principal, JAL Consulting LLC
Jill Lesser is President of the WomenAgainstAlzheimer's Network and has been caregiver for the past seven years to her mother, Barbara Lesser, who has Alzheimer's disease. Jill also is a strategic policy consultant advising non-profit and corporate clients on media and communications policy issues, with a particular focus on consumer protection, child-safety, intellectual property rights and free expression.
Until 2002, Jill served as Senior Vice President, Domestic Public Policy for AOL Time Warner, Inc., where she led the company’s domestic public policy, regulatory and industry relations activities. From 2002 to 2005, Ms. Lesser was Senior Policy Advisor for Time Warner, Inc, advising the policy and political teams at Time Warner on issues ranging from technology and intellectual property to taxation and telecommunications, as well as other issues affecting the media industry. She joined America Online in September 1996 and managed domestic policy for AOL until its merger with Time Warner.
Prior to joining AOL, Jill was Deputy Director of Public Policy and Director of the Civic Media Project at People for the American Way, where she directed the organization’s public policy initiatives relating to new technologies and the First Amendment. She was the organization’s chief spokesperson on telecommunications policy issues, appearing regularly on national television and radio programs.
Jill also serves on the Boards of Trustees of The Georgetown Day School and the Center for Democracy & Technology.
Shawn Taylor, Treasurer
Founding Board Member
Trustee, KPB Corporation
Shawn Taylor brings her business acumen, passion for philanthropy, and commitment to her family to her work as a Board Member of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. Shawn is founding member of the Board and co-founder of two UsA2 networks: WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s and the newly created VeteransAgainstAlzheimer’s. While working to get the Veteran’s network up and running, Shawn is serving as a Program Specialist for the Code of Support Foundation, located in Alexandria, VA.
Shawn’s connection to Alzheimer’s disease is deeply personal for both her family and her husband’s. Using her expertise in sales and marketing, Shawn served as co-chair of the 2007 Washington Monuments Luncheon for the Alzheimer’s Association. When the Chapter first began discussion of a campaign focused on women, Shawn volunteered for the task force to help shape the direction of the initiative. She was selected as one of the inaugural honorees and played a significant role in the campaign, as a founding member of the Women’s Leadership Giving Circle and as co-chair of the campaign. She was a major supporter through the luncheon, the National Alzheimer’s Gala, and the new women’s campaign, and takes great pride in the vitally needed funds raised through these efforts.
Shawn’s other philanthropic endeavors and volunteerism have benefited numerous charitable organizations, from her daughters’ schools to highly recognized organizations throughout the Washington region. She is a Member of Partners in Research and an Advocate for Doctors Speak Out at Georgetown University Medical Center, a Member and Advocate for the SCORE Council at Children’s National Medical Center.
Shawn is a Vice President and Trustee for The KPB Corporation. She holds degrees in psychology and health from the University of Maryland. She, her husband and three daughters live in McLean, VA.
Meryl Comer, Founding Board Member
President, Geoffrey Beene Foundation
Meryl Comer, an Emmy-award winning and 30 year veteran reporter, producer, and talk show host , was named President of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer's Initiative in November 2007. Winner of the 2005 Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award and the 2007 Proxmire Award, Ms. Comer has provided testimony before Congress, served two terms on the National Board of the Alzheimer’s Association National Board and on the 2008 Alzheimer’s Study Group, charged with presenting a National Strategic Plan to Congress.
Comer was among the first women TV anchors (1981-1997) to specialize in business news as it relates to public policy with her nationally syndicated debate show “It’s Your Business.” She also co-anchored Nation’s Business Today for six years on ESPN, the Ten O’Clock News for Metromedia, Two’s Company for WMAR/CBS Affiliate and the Good Day Show on WCVB-TV in Boston.
Previously, Ms. Comer served as Senior Vice President for the National Chamber Foundation (1997-1999) and for 11 years prior (1987-1997) as Vice President for Communications Development at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Her Alma Mater is the University of Pennsylvania.
Ms. Comer has been the at-home caregiver for the past 18 years for her husband with early onset Alzheimer's disease. She is currently writing a book, “ Slow Dancing With A Stranger,” with 100% of the proceeds directed to support Alzheimer’s research.
Peter L. Levin, Board Member
Founder & CEO, Amida Technology Solutions
Peter L. Levin is the founder and CEO of Amida Technology Solutions, an information technology services firm that focuses on cyber security and healthcare IT.
From May 2009 until March 2013 he served as Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Chief Technology Officer of the Department of Veterans Affairs, where he led their health record modernization initiative. In this role he co-created and lead the inter-agency development of the Blue Button personal health record (now the most widely used PHR in the country), the creation and implementation of the open source electronic health record custodian (OSEHRA.org), and delivery of the first clinical components of the integrated electronic health record with DoD (the iEHR and VLER programs). He also led the implementation of the VA's social media outreach as well as their first employee innovation and industry competitions.
All these programs are part of the Obama Administration's Open Government initiative and are being institutionalized inside the department, the US government - and in the case of button-simple access to personal data - across society. Millions of people use the services he built.
Prior to joining the Administration he was a non-executive director of the open source network security company Astaro (acquired by Sophos), the lead investor and board member of the semiconductor design automation company NeoLinear (acquired by Cadence), a co-founder of the GPS-based cyber security company Zanio (acquired by an undisclosed public company). Earlier, he was co-founding CEO of the semiconductor design software company DAFCA, a venture partner of the Dusseldorf-based venture capital firm Ventizz Capital Partners, and a general partner of Techno Venture Management in Munich and Boston. He has extensive business experience in Europe and Asia.
Peter was a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator during the first Bush administration, a Clinton White House Fellow in the Office of Management and Budget, an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow in the Department Mathematical Physics at the Technical University of Darmstadt, and a winner of a NIST Advanced Technology Program award. He is the co¬author of more than 50 technical articles ranging from satellite navigation and cyber security to computer simulations and semiconductor tests. He holds patents in chip design and GPS-based authentication. His policy essays have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Huffington Post, politico.com and on the White House website.
Peter began his career at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and was later associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Engineering at Boston University. His academic research focused on electromagnetic and acoustic field theory and high performance computing, and he was tenured at both institutions. He is a consulting professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University.
Peter studied at Carnegie Mellon University, where he received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and was a post-doctoral student and DAAD Visiting Scientist at the Institute for High Voltage Engineering at the Technical University of Munich.
Greg O’Brien, Author of On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s
Greg O'Brien is author of the award-winning On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer's. It is the first book written by an investigative reporter embedded in the mind of Alzheimer's chronicling the progression of his own disease.
On Pluto has won the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Award for Medicine, the 2015 International Book Award for Health, and was an Eric Hoffer International Book Award finalist, as well as a finalist for USA Best Book Awards. PBS/NOVA, National Public Radio (NPR), and other national and regional media have chronicled the Pluto journey.
Greg has written for numerous media including The Huffington Post, Psychology Today, The Washington Post, Time, Chicago Tribune, Denver Post, USA Today, Associated Press, Boston Herald, Providence Journal, Arizona Republic, New York Metro, Boston Metro, Philadelphia Metro, and others. Greg lost his maternal grandfather, his mother, paternal uncle and father to Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
Stanley Prusiner, M.D., Founding Board Member
Professor of Neurology
Director, Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases
University of California, San Francisco
Stanley B. Prusiner, M.D., is Director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Professor of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco where he has worked since 1972. He received his undergraduate and medical training at the University of Pennsylvania and his postgraduate clinical training at UCSF. From 1969-72, he served in the U.S. Public Health Service at the National Institutes of Health. Editor of 12 books and author of over 450 research articles, Prusiner’s contributions to scientific research have been internationally recognized.
Dr. Prusiner discovered an unprecedented class of pathogens that he named prions. Prions are infectious proteins that cause neurodegenerative diseases in animals and humans. Dr. Prusiner discovered a novel disease paradigm when he showed prions cause disorders in humans that manifest as (1) sporadic, (2) inherited and (3) infectious illnesses. Dr. Prusiner demonstrated that prions are formed when a normal, benign cellular protein acquires an altered shape. His proposals of multiple shapes or conformations for a single protein as well as the concept of infectious proteins were considered heretical. Prior to Dr. Prusiner’s discoveries, proteins were thought to possess only one biologically active conformation. Remarkably, the more common neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases have been found over the past two decades to be, like the prion diseases, disorders of protein processing. Dr. Prusiner’s current research focuses on determining the atomic structure of prions, deciphering the mechanism of replication and defining how biological properties are enciphered in prion strains. In addition, he is developing drug discovery aimed at producing therapeutics that retard neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and prion diseases as well as the frontotemporal dementias.
Dr. Prusiner is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and a foreign member of the Royal Society, London. He is the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Potamkin Prize for Alzheimer’s Disease Research from the American Academy of Neurology (1991); the Richard Lounsbery Award for Extraordinary Scientific Research in Biology and Medicine from the National Academy of Sciences (1993); the Gairdner Foundation International Award (1993); the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (1994); the Paul Ehrlich Prize from the Federal Republic of Germany (1995); the Wolf Prize in Medicine from the State of Israel (1996); the Keio International Award for Medical Science (1996); the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University (1997); the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1997); and the National Medal of Science (2009).
Dr. Prusiner holds 50 issued or allowed United States patents, all of which are assigned to the University of California.
David Satcher, M.D., PhD
David Satcher, MD, PhD is a physician-scientist and public health administrator with an extensive track record of leadership, research, and community engagement. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College and holds MD and PhD degrees from Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Satcher served as the 16th Surgeon General of the United States (1998-2002) and the 10th Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services (1998-2001). He also served as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Dr. Satcher has also held top leadership positions at the Charles R. Drew University for Medicine and Science, Meharry Medical College, and the Morehouse School of Medicine. He has received over 50 honorary degrees and has received numerous awards from diverse organizations and agencies. Currently, Dr. Satcher is the Founding Director and Senior Advisor for the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia.
Karen Segal has been involved with fundraising for medical research for the last 21 years. In 1995, she founded the North Shore Medical Research Junior Board for Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Over the last 21 years, the board has raised over $4.0 million for neuroblastoma research. In 2002, after her mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Karen shifted her focus to raising awareness and fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association. She has been an active board member of the Chicago Rita Hayworth Gala Committee and co-chaired the 2014 Chicago Gala. In 2015, Karen joined UsAgainstAlzheimer’s and is focusing her efforts on advocating for increased focus on Alzheimer’s prevention efforts.
Karen earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1987 and her MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in 1993. Karen and her husband Chris reside in Glencoe, Illinois, and have three children, Andrew – 21, Jonathan – 19 and Caroline – 13.
Dr. William Vega, PhD
Dr. William Vega is provost professor at USC with appointments in social work, preventive medicine, psychiatry, family medicine, psychology and gerontology. At the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, he is the Cleofas and Victor Ramirez Professor of Practice, Policy, Research and Advocacy for the Latino Population. He is also the executive director of the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging.
Prior to joining the Roybal Institute, Vega was director of the Luskin Center for Innovation and an associate provost at UCLA.
Vega was born in East Los Angeles and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Elected to the National Academy of Medicine 2008, Vega is a specialist in the health of Latino populations, and has conducted community and clinical research projects on health, mental health and substance abuse in the United States and Latin America.
He has published more than 190 articles and chapters, in addition to six books. Vega is currently ranked by Research Gate in the top 2 percent of authors in overall research impact, and ISI Web of Science in 2006 listed him in the top half of one percent of the most highly cited researchers worldwide in social science research over the previous 20 years.
He is the recipient of many awards including the Community, Culture and Prevention Science Award from the Society for Prevention Research, and the Award of Excellence in Research by a Senior Scientist from the National Hispanic Science Network. In 2013, Vega gave the Rema Lapouse Award lecture for excellence in research from the Mental Health, Epidemiology, and Statistics sections of the American Public Health Association.
Prior Board Members
Ken Dychtwald, Founding Board Member
President and CEO, Age Wave
Dr. Ken Dychtwald is the President and CEO of Age Wave. Over the past 35+ years, he has emerged as North America’s foremost visionary and original thinker regarding the lifestyle, marketing, healthcare and workforce implications of the age wave. He is a psychologist, gerontologist, documentary filmmaker, entrepreneur and best-selling author of sixteen books on aging-related issues, including Bodymind, Age Wave: The Challenges and Opportunities of an Aging Society, Age Power, The Power Years: A User’s Guide to the Rest of Your Life, Workforce Crisis: How to Beat the Coming Shortage of Skills and Talent and a children’s book Gideon’s Dream: A Tale of New Beginnings. His new book With Purpose: Going From Success to Significance in Work and Life has also been released in paperback as A New Purpose: Redefining Money, Family, Work, Retirement, and Success. In 2007, he had his debut as a documentary filmmaker and host with the highly rated PBS special “The Boomer Century.” His most recent PBS special “With Purpose” aired nationwide in 2009 to coincide with the book release.
In 1986, Ken became the founding President and CEO of Age Wave, a firm created to guide Fortune 500 companies and government groups in product/service development for boomers and mature adults. His client list has included more than half of the Fortune 500. His explorations and innovative solutions have fertilized and catalyzed a broad spectrum of industry sectors-from vitamins and cookies to automotive design and retail merchandising to mutual funds and health insurance.
During his career, Dr. Dychtwald has addressed more than two million people worldwide in his speeches to corporate, association, social service, and government groups. His strikingly accurate predictions and innovative ideas are regularly featured in leading print and electronic media worldwide, including: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Financial Times, Fortune, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Inc., U.S. News and World Report, The Economist, Hong Kong Daily News, South China Morning Post, The Standard, The Straits Times, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, PBS, NPR and BBC.
He is the recipient of the distinguished American Society on Aging Award for outstanding national leadership in the field of aging. American Demographics Magazine honored him as the single most influential marketer to baby boomers over the past quarter century. His article in The Harvard Business Review, “It’s Time to Retire Retirement,” was awarded the prestigious McKinsey Award, tying for first place with the legendary Peter Drucker. Through his highly acclaimed presentations, his breakthrough research and consulting initiatives, and his leadership within both the social science and business communities, Ken Dychtwald has dedicated his life to battling ageist stereotypes while promoting a new and vital image of maturity.
Barry Libert, Founding Board Member
CEO, Open Matters
Barry Libert is a technology investor, corporate director, author, speaker and strategic advisor to growing organizations and their leaders. He is based in Boston, Massachusetts.
Barry specializes in helping boards and their leaders become social enterprises in order to improve customer loyalty, employee engagement, partner participation and shareholder returns. Libert has co-authored five books on the value of social interactions and communications in business, healthcare and government. His fifth book, Social Nation, was published in the fall of 2010 by John Wiley & Sons.
Barry is the Chairman and founder of OpenMatters, a technology investor and strategic advisory firm. He has spent the last ten years investing in and founding companies that deploy new technologies (social, mobile and cloud) in their businesses. In 2001, he founded Mzinga, a social software and analytics company. Prior to 2001, he was a senior partner at Arthur Andersen and John Hancock. He began his career with McKinsey & Company.
He currently serves on the board of directors of Innocentive, a social innovation software company, Activate Networks, a social analytics company (board of advisor), The Pulse Network, an enterprise social video company, The SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management and Networked Organizations at the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Libert is a graduate of Tufts University and holds an MBA from Columbia University. He is married and has two sons.