AARDA Board of Directors

Officers of the Board

Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Dr. Ford has been an active member of the Board since April 1999 and has served on several ad hoc committees. He was elected Chairperson in September 2013. Dr. Ford, president of the NECABA Management Group, Detroit, Michigan, which has provided administrative management to Michigan firms since 1990, is a former bank vice president. He brings to the Board a firm understanding of finance, banking, and economics.

The Rev. Dr. Ford, who serves as pastor of the Good Shepherd Missionary Baptist Church, in Southfield, Michigan, is well respected in the Detroit area for his commitment of service to the community as a whole and to individuals. One of his immediate goals is to increase the level of participation with volunteerism and fundraising among minority organizations.

Dr. Ford intends to continue to utilize his resources to raise funds and awareness for those struggling with autoimmune disease. He and his wife have a personal interest in autoimmune diseases since their daughter has multiple sclerosis.

Vice Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Dr. Finger was a co-founder of AARDA’s Mid-Atlantic Affiliate, and he is an active member of AARDA’s Ad Hoc Advocacy Committee. Dr. Finger, a Registered Environmental Manager and Fellow of the American Institute of Chemists, has served on the engineering faculty of Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, George Washington University, and Catholic University of America. He is listed in Who’s Who in Engineering. Dr. Finger is president of Environmental Consulting and Investigations, Inc., based in Bluffton, South Carolina.

Dr. Finger is AARDA’s representative to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Autoimmune Diseases Coordinating Committee (ADCC) and is active with the National Coalition of Autoimmune Patient Groups (NCAPG). He is also on the National Board of Advisors of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Autoimmune Disease Research. Dr. Finger chaired one of the four Working Groups that drafted the NIH Autoimmune Diseases Research Plan.

Dr. Finger received a Distinguished Layperson Award from the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies and a Pratt Institute Alumni Achievement Award recognizing his contributions toward advancing autoimmune disease research, education, and awareness.

Virginia Ladd is the President and Executive Director of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc. (AARDA), an organization that she founded to bring a national focus to autoimmunity and increase collaboration in autoimmune research, education, awareness, and advocacy. She has been involved in the nonprofit community for over 35 years as a patient advocate and educator. Mrs. Ladd served as president and executive director of the Lupus Foundation of America.

Mrs. Ladd was instrumental in the formation of the International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations (IAPO), an alliance dedicated to advocacy for patient-centered health care, and is an immediate past member of its board of governors. She has served as a member of the board of directors for the UN NGO Health Committee and is a past member of the board of directors of the National Health Council. She is the founder and facilitator for the National Coalition of Autoimmune Patient Groups (NCAPG), an organization of 39 national autoimmune disease-specific groups.

She was the first non-researcher to be awarded the “AESKU.AWARD for Life Contribution to Autoimmunity,” which was presented to her at the 7th International Congress on Autoimmunity,” in Ljubljana, Slovenia–“recognizing Virginia’s tireless efforts to spread awareness and education for autoimmune diseases and to encourage collaboration among researchers and others in advancing the cause of autoimmune patients on both national and international levels.” She also was presented with the prestigious Heritage Award of the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association.

As a national and international speaker, she was an invited guest and speaker to the Fourth International Conference on Health Promotion, in Jakarta, Indonesia, sponsored by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health, Republic of Indonesia. Mrs. Ladd addressed the United Nations in March 2000 at a meeting organized by AARDA along with the Global Alliance for Women’s Health (GAWH), entitled “Women and Autoimmune Diseases: Gender and Biological Perspective,” featuring internationally known researchers, as part of the UN Commission on the Status of Women 2000.

Mrs. Ladd serves on several committees of the National Institutes of Health, including the Autoimmune Diseases Coordinating Committee; the Public Interest Committee for the National Institute of Heart, Lung and Blood; the Public Interest Group for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; and the Panel of Experts for the NIH Autoimmune Diseases Research Plan. Mrs. Ladd is a member of the steering committee of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics.

She was responsible for the progress report “Environmental Triggers of Autoimmune Disease,” prepared by the Johns Hopkins Center for Autoimmune Disease Research and the PAHO/WHO collaborating Center for Autoimmune Disorders.

In honor of her many years of volunteer service, Mrs. Ladd was a 1995 Jefferson Award Honoree of the American Institute for Public Service with recognition at the national level. In 2016 Virginia was awarded the Research and Hope for Advocacy and Activism award from PhRMA.

Ms. Bear, who serves as the Secretary of the Board, is a nationally known advocate of health care reform and champion of seniors’ issues. Originally an academic who has served on the faculties of several Washington area universities, including American, Howard, and George Mason, her interest in aging began when she was hired to establish a continuing education program at the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home, a facility serving thousands of military retirees.

Seeking effective ways to communicate with and motivate older learners led her to form a research and consulting partnership with public relations expert Lee M. Cassidy. Together they authored Introduction to Marketing to Mature Consumers and established The Mature Market Institute, an organization dedicated to teaching corporate America how to communicate effectively with older Americans. Their corporate clients included Fortune 500 companies and major trade associations.

In the 1980s, Ms. Bear edited three of the most influential publications in the field of aging: Aging Network News, Mature Market Report, and Journal of the Mature Market Institute. She published scores of articles and reports on seniors as consumers and was recognized as an expert in the development of “senior clubs” and other value-added programs targeting niche markets.

Ms. Bear also began to assist nonprofit organizations and industries with educational outreach on a variety of public policy issues primarily focused upon health care. During the early 1990s, her work on Medicare reform brought her to The Seniors Coalition where she served as a spokesperson and advocate, eventually becoming Senior Vice President of the organization. Her work there earned her the Champion of Medicare Award.

In 1998, she was named President and CEO of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, and she led that organization’s efforts to pass meaningful healthcare reform for Americans of all ages. She also became the national spokesperson for Citizens for Better Medicare and, in 2000, was chosen as its Executive Director. In that position, she traveled throughout the United States speaking to the media, seniors’ groups, and civic organizations about the need for Medicare prescription drug coverage.

Ms. Bear currently is in private practice as a consultant to publications, industry and nonprofits on matters of health care and outreach to specialized audiences. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Tulane University and earned a master’s degree from American University.

Mr. Hodge comes to AARDA with 30 years’ experience in government and industry as a healthcare administrator, health policy analyst, consultant, and government affairs director. The past years have involved work in healthcare policy, government relations, and advocacy. He is recently retired from his position as Senior Director for Congressional Affairs for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

Mr. Hodge began his career in the U.S. Army as a healthcare administrator, where his assignments included Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs in the Pentagon, and other locations across the U.S. and overseas. One of his positions after he had retired from the Army was Director of Federal Government Affairs and Public Policy for a pharmaceutical company. This involved advocating for a wide variety of healthcare issues with Congress, the federal departments and agencies, and within the healthcare industry, including national healthcare reform efforts.

Mr. Hodge earned a master’s degree in public policy and administration from Webster University, in St. Louis, Missouri, and a master’s degree in business from Trinity University, in San Antonio, Texas. His personal interests include active involvement in veterans’ issues, the Children’s Charities Foundation of Washington, and the annual BB&T Children’s Charities Basketball Classic.

Mr. Hodge says, “I hope to be able to bring my experience, knowledge, and skill set to AARDA to advance the cause of autoimmune diseases as a member of the Board in whatever capacity I may be helpful.”

Members of the Board of Directors

A resident of Chicago, Illinois, Mr. Kaiser is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a BS in accountancy, he is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Illinois CPA Society. He has more than ten years of experience in providing auditing, accounting, and consulting services to privately held companies.

Mr. Kaiser is a partner at RSM US, LLP in Chicago, Illinois. He has worked with a diverse middle market clientele, including manufacturers, distributors, food processors, service companies, not-for-profit agencies, and real estate companies.

As someone personally impacted by an autoimmune disease, he joined AARDA as a Board member with the goals of increasing public awareness, raising funds, and further educating himself.

Mr. Kaiser has a strong background in volunteer involvement with a number of organizations, including The Myositis Association, Heart of Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization (Peoria, Illinois), and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago Leadership Board.

Mike has over 25 years of operational, transaction and start-up experience in the investment management business. Currently, Mike is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) of Varadero Capital, L.P., an alternative asset manager based in New York. Prior to joining Varadero, Mike served as River Birch Capital, LLC’s COO and CCO from November 2010 to July 2015. Previously, he was a Managing Director at Quellos/BlackRock, where he had primary responsibility for the hedge fund seed capital program and was a member of its investment committee from 2002 to 2008. Mike was a general partner at Omega Advisors, Inc. from 1998 to 2002 and COO in 2002. Previously, he was COO of Lattanzio Group, LLC from 1996 to 1998. Mike made principal investments on behalf of the general partners of Steinhardt Partners, L.P. from 1988 to 1996. He became a general partner of Steinhardt Partners, L.P. in 1994.

Mike received a B.A. in Chemistry from Emory University in 1982 and an MBA and M.S. in Finance from Louisiana State in 1984 and 1985, respectively.

Ms. Ouellet has volunteered for AARDA for more than sixteen years, not only as co-founder and president of AARDA’s Mid-Atlantic Affiliate but also as an active participant in local resource development and educational events. She also served as the Secretary of the Board for many years. As a member of AARDA’s Ad Hoc Advocacy Committee, Ms. Ouellet has been instrumental in gaining a voice for autoimmune disease and AARDA on Capitol Hill. She has a deep personal interest in promoting patient education and medical research supportive of the advancement of autoimmune disease treatment.

Ms. Ouellet, a retired senior federal government director, is currently with CACI International, in Arlington, Virginia. Through her various positions over the years, she has gained federal government budget and funding experience and brings strong management and leadership skills and experience to AARDA.

Ms. Ouellet has a BA with special honors in social research from The George Washington University, Washington DC, and is an inactive member of the Federal Bar.

Dr. Phillips, a licensed psychologist who has been in private practice since 1975, is founder and director of the Center for Coping, in Hicksville (Long Island), New York. This unique organization specializes in working with individuals and families who are looking to improve their ability to cope with medical illnesses, stress, family concerns, and other life problems. A prolific writer, having authored more than 30 books and many articles on coping with physical ailments and other psychological topics, Dr. Phillips is also a popular speaker on the subject. He gives generously of his time to AARDA events, and he is a longtime AARDA Scientific Advisory Board member.

In addition to his volunteer work with AARDA, Dr. Phillips has served on the Board of Directors of the national Lupus Foundation of America and the Nassau Chapter of the American Heart Association. He serves on medical advisory boards of, and is the psychologist for, a number of major local and national organizations.

Dr. Phillips received his Ph.D. from Fordham University. He is affiliated with several major professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association and the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

Dr. Phillips brings to the AARDA Board of Directors strengths in organizational development and enhancement as well as public awareness activities. In his expanded work with AARDA, he plans to continue his presentations at public forums and additional venues to help “deliver the message” and promote the mission of the organization. Dr. Phillips sees his role in AARDA as focusing on the liaison between the medical, research, and organizational components of AARDA’s activities and the consumer advocacy and coping needs–among others.

Mr. Quinlan, a resident of McLean, Virginia, is an attorney, former public administrator, and currently a corporate executive. He is a graduate of Fairfield University, Fairfield, Connecticut; Fordham Law School, New York, New York (J.D.); and George Washington University Graduate School of Public Law, Washington, DC (LL.M).

After serving four years in the United States Air Force, Mr. Quinlan joined the U.S. Department of Justice in legal and administrative positions until becoming Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Subsequently, he has had a 17-year career with a private company, serving in various executive roles.

Mr. Quinlan is a recipient of the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award (1988), the Presidential Meritorious Rank Award (1991), the Attorney General’s Exceptional Leadership Award (1991), and the 1992 National Public Service Award presented jointly by the National Academy of Public Administration and the American Society of Public Administrators. He also received the E.R. Cass Award for correctional achievement from the American Correctional Association (ACA) in 2003, the ACA’s highest award.

Mr. Quinlan is a member of the Board of Directors for Prisoner Visitation and Support, a nonprofit agency that supports volunteers’ one-on-one visits with prisoners to help prepare them to assume a useful place in society. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of Horton Memorial Hospital, Middletown, New York, which he served as Vice Chairman of the Board for a one-year period. Mr. Quinlan also is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

Mr. Quinlan has a personal interest in autoimmune diseases because of his own 40-year challenge in dealing with an autoimmune disorder affecting his eyes (posterior uveitis).

Scott Selby works in business development for Varadero Capital, L.P., an alternative asset manager based in New York. Previously, Scott was the Director of Marketing and Client Relations at Apis Capital Advisors, LLC and Vice President at Ingalls & Snyder, LLC focused on Business Development. Prior to joining Ingalls & Snyder, Scott spent six years in Research Equity Sales at Instinet. He started his career at Thompson Financial in the Capital Markets Intelligence Group and was a member of the manufacturing team.

In addition to his volunteer work with AARDA, Scott serves on the Development Board for Dexter Southfield School in Brookline, Massachusetts and helps to run the annual Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint golf outing.

Scott holds a BA in History from Kenyon College and was captain of the Men’s Basketball team.

Lilly is a dynamic and driven young professional passionate about making a positive impact on the lives of others. She has served in the advocacy field for 10 years, starting in the anti-bullying sphere and transitioning into patient advocacy after she was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases. Lilly currently serves as the Head of Patient advocacy at Clara Health where she is responsible for conceiving and executing patient engagement strategy and ensuring the patient voice remains firmly at the center of the company.

Lilly has dedicated both her personal and professional life to patient advocacy. In her spare time, she works closely with notable healthcare and biotech companies to help ensure their initiatives remain patient-centric and shares her story with audiences across the healthcare continuum for motivational speaking engagements.

Lilly is proud to serve as a Board Member for the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) and also founded the 50 Cents for 50 Million Campaign – an initiative to raise awareness for the 50 million Americans battling 100+ autoimmune diseases. Under her direction, the campaign secured high-level sponsorships, media coverage in notable outlets, hosted several well-attended events and most importantly positively impacted the lives of patients battling autoimmune diseases.

Lilly holds a B.A. in Public Advocacy and Rhetoric and Organizational Communication from Northeastern University.

Advisors to the Board

A past member of the Board, Mr. Christian serves as a nonvoting advisor to the Board of Directors of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association and is a member of AARDA’s National Resource Development Committee. He is Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Saga Communications, based in Grosse Pointe Farms (Greater Detroit), Michigan, which owns radio stations in Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Missouri, and South Dakota. Mr. Christian was named a “1996 Entrepreneur of the Year” by Crain’s Detroit Business. He is a board member of the John Bayliss Scholarship Foundation.

Mr. Hagon is the retired founder and President of the medical supply firm Contour Medical, of Michigan and Florida. With a broad understanding of business practices, including marketing, and with a strong personal interest in autoimmune diseases, Mr. Hagon is a valued advisor to the Board. He currently divides his time between Florida and Michigan.

Stephanie is a Partner at Sidley Austin LLP in the Healthcare and Government Strategies groups in the Washington, D.C., office. She focuses her practice on healthcare regulatory, compliance, and legislative matters, including strategic counseling in connection with public policy proposals and implementation issues. Ms. Hales has experience in federal healthcare program coverage and reimbursement issues; government price reporting; healthcare compliance programs; managed care contracting; government agency and congressional investigations; and healthcare fraud and abuse.

She has advised numerous clients on a broad range of provisions in the 2010 healthcare reform legislation (the Affordable Care Act (ACA)) and related implementation issues, including changes to the Medicare, Medicaid, and 340B programs; the annual fee on brand-name prescription drugs; the development of the ACA-created Exchanges and Essential Health Benefits package; administrative simplification provisions and HIPAA amendments; increased transparency requirements under the Sunshine Act; and other reforms affecting government healthcare programs and the commercial insurance market.

Ms. Hales represents a wide range of clients, including pharmaceutical and biologics manufacturers, durable medical equipment suppliers, patient advocate organizations, hospitals, and physician practices. She also has represented a number of individuals on a pro bono basis in matters challenging Medicaid coverage denials, appealing disability benefits denials, and seeking relief in connection with criminal justice issues.

In spring 2012, she served as adjunct faculty for a graduate-level health policy course, titled “The Future of American Health Care System: Health Policy and the Affordable Care Act,” offered through the University of Pennsylvania Department for Medical Ethics and Health Policy.

Before joining the firm, Ms. Hales served as a law clerk to the Honorable Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (2007-2008 Term). She graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2007. During law school, she was an Executive Editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and an advocate, shift supervisor, and board member for the Custody & Support Assistance Clinic at Philadelphia Legal Assistance.

While completing her law degree, Ms. Hales also earned a Master of Biomedical Ethics (M.B.E.) from the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics.

Mr. Meyer is a charter member of AARDA’s Board of Directors, past Chairman of the Board, and immediate past AARDA Treasurer. In addition to serving as a Board advisor in financial and organizational matters, Mr. Meyer is president of Fort Wayne Insurance Services, Inc., in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Chairperson of the National Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Rose is Chairman Emeritus of AARDA’s Scientific Advisory Board on which he has served since 1992, first as a member and then as Chair.

An immunologist, pathologist, and molecular microbiologist, Dr. Rose long has been associated with Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland, where he has served as professor and Chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and as professor of pathology and of molecular microbiology and immunology and founding Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Autoimmune Disease Research. Dr. Rose recently moved and is now in the Department of Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Rose’s pioneering research some 50 years ago at Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, was instrumental in establishing the concept of autoimmune disease and helped immunologists understand, for the first time, that the immune system was capable of directing a response to healthy tissues and organs of the body, not just to invading foreign viruses and bacteria. He is co-editor of the classic textbook The Autoimmune Diseases, now in its 5th edition. Dr. Rose has published more than 760 articles in peer-reviewed journals, has edited or co-edited some 22 books, and has served as an editorial board member of more than 27 journals.

Dr. Rose has served as an autoimmunity expert for the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the Wayne State University Academy of Scholars. He also served as Chair of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Autoimmune Diseases Coordinating Committee.

Dr. Rose is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the College of American Pathologists, the American Academy of Microbiology, and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, and is an Honorary Member of the American Society for Microbiology.

Dr. Rose holds degrees from Yale University (B.S.), University of Pennsylvania (A.M. and Ph.D.), and State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo (M.D.), where he was chosen as the Distinguished Medical Alumnus in 1994. He also holds two honorary doctorates: Doctor “Honoris Causa” in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Calgari, Italy; and Doctor “Honoris Causa” in Biological Science from the University of Sassari, Italy.

Dr. Diamond, Chair of AARDA’s National Scientific Advisory Board, is Head of the Autoimmune Disease Center at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, in Manhasset, New York, and professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York. She has dedicated her professional career to patients with lupus.

Prior to accepting her current position, Dr. Diamond served on the faculty of Columbia University and was Chief of Rheumatology at Albert Einstein where she aggressively developed clinical care programs for the economically disadvantaged. At Einstein, she headed the M.D./Ph.D. program funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

As a researcher, Dr. Diamond’s studies in the areas of lupus in women, the role of autoantibodies in lupus, and the cognitive effects of lupus have helped define how researchers and physicians understand the disease.

In 2006, Dr. Diamond was elected to the Institute of Medicine. She also serves on the Scientific Council of the NIH National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) and on the Board of Directors of the American College of Rheumatology.

Dr. Diamond is a graduate of Radcliffe College and Harvard Medical School, both in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her postgraduate training included serving as Resident in Medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, and a Postdoctoral Fellow in Immunology, Department of Cell Biology, at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Dr. Diamond has had a long and varied career as physician, researcher, and educator. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Distinguished Investigator Award from the American College of Rheumatology, the Honorary Alumna Award from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and the 2008 Evelyn V. Hess Research Award granted by the Lupus Foundation of America, Inc. (LFA), recognizing a lifetime of achievement in lupus research. Dr. Diamond’s work has been published in more than 100 peer-reviewed journals, articles, and books.

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