Meet the volunteers who make up our Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and Advisors, who work together to keep the Foundation going and growing.
Read More About David
David is honored and privileged to serve as the President of the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation. David, his wife Jody, and their son Daniel live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Long before David ever knew anything about CHARGE syndrome, he obtained a B.S. in business administration from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and a law degree from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. He is a shareholder at Wolfe & Jacobson, Ltd in Chicago. In 1999, Daniel was born and in 2002, David and Jody's lives changed dramatically when Ethan was born with CHARGE syndrome. He opened their eyes to what is truly important in life. David attended his first conference in 2003, and he and his family have attended every CHARGE conference since then. Through their involvement with the Foundation, they have made close friends, celebrated many milestones, and shared so much information. Many of these friends helped them deal with the unexpected loss of Ethan in 2014. Those people who have worked with David know that he firmly believes that almost anything is possible with hard work. David brought that “it can be done” attitude to the Board when he joined in 2008. As the Fundraising Chair, he brought new ideas to the Foundation, which helped increase our revenue. In 2009, he joined the Executive Committee as the Foundation Treasurer. We were able to continue to increase our fundraising and control expenses. Since 2011 he has been the President of the Foundation. As President, David will continue to work hard to advance our mission. While we have come a long way, there is so much more we can and will do in the areas of awareness, education and research. He looks forward to the challenges that lie ahead. David appreciates the opportunity to serve and is available for contact with any questions, comments or concerns. Together we will take the Foundation to new heights. Together, we will make a better world for all individuals with CHARGE.
New Brunswick, Canada
Read More About Lisa
Lisa lives in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada with husband Graeme and daughter Kennedy. She also has two grown sons: Ryan and Kyle; three granddaughters: Taylor, Marissa, and Summer; and a grandson, Seth. She is currently employed with the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority (APSEA) as the New Brunswick & Nova Scotia Consultant for Students who are Deaf with Additional Challenges. Lisa became involved with the world of CHARGE syndrome when Kennedy was born and diagnosed with it in 1998. Since that time, she has been involved in a number of CHARGE-related projects in Canada and moderated the CHARGE Syndrome Listserv since 1999. In March of 2007, it was her pleasure to join the Board of the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation as its first international director, and the Executive Committee in June, 2007 as secretary. In July, 2009, Lisa became Vice-President of the Foundation. Lisa describes it as an honour to give back to the Foundation, which has certainly been a lifeline for her family. During the current term, Lisa is chairing the Outreach and Awareness Committee, which includes maintaining the Foundation website as well as social media and other online projects, overseeing the publishing of the online CHARGE Accounts newsletter and looking after any other public awareness or communications issues that arise. Lisa will also be involved with the general conference planning team and will be the program chair for the 13th International CHARGE Syndrome Conference, which will take place July 27-30, 2017 in Orlando. Please feel free to contact Lisa anytime with any questions.
Read More About Brownie
Brownie lives in Katy, Texas (a suburb of Houston) with husband Tom, and their youngest son, Taylor. They also have an older son who is an artist in New York City. Brownie and Tom own Front Desk USA, which publishes maps for hotels. Additionally, she has a freelance bookkeeping business. Brownie is proud to serve as the Treasurer of the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation. She joined the board in 1997 at her first conference and has been on the Executive Committee since then, moving between Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Brownie has also served as Conference Chair for conferences in Houston and the first conference in Chicago and participated on the conference committee for the past 10 conferences. Brownie and Tom's CHARGE journey began in 1993 when Taylor was born with a hole in his heart. Over the next couple of months additional pieces of CHARGE syndrome became evident, resulting in a diagnosis at 2.5 months. They didn’t know the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation existed until Taylor was 2 and they made it to their first conference in Boston in 1997. The Foundation quickly became a lifeline for them and a passion for Brownie, who says it has made her feel hopeful and helpful at times when she has felt helpless. Brownie has watched the organization grow by leaps and bounds in numbers and ability to serve through conferences, newsletters, outreach, research, etc. She is proud to have been a part of that growth and honored to have been chosen to continue working alongside our great team! Contact Brownie.
Read More About Neal
Neal has been on the Board of Directors of the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation since 1997. He ended his sixth year as President in July of 2011 and is now serving as Secretary of the Foundation. Neal's daughter Megan (pictured with Neal at her Bat Mitzvah in 2007) was born in August of 1993, she was diagnosed with CHARGE syndrome in 1994 and he and his family attended their first International conference in 1995. At that point, Neal felt there was a need for more information about CHARGE and he made a decision to get involved in the Foundation. He was elected to the Board of Directors in 1997 and has held such positions as Communication Committee Chair, Public Relation Committee Chair, Collaboration Committee Chair, Program Committee Chair, Conference Committee Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and President. He was also instrumental in starting relationships with HKNC, Perkins School for the Blind, NCDB, NFADB and many other organizations that have the same beliefs that we do. For those of you who know Neal, you will not be surprised that one of main goals for this organization is for it to be financially independent and be able to help as many families as possible and never have to think about the money involved. Neal urges all of you to become annual members or lifetime members of the Foundation if possible. Please feel free to contact Neal with any questions you may have, whether personal or about the Foundation. Neal is thankful for the opportunity to serve on this wonderful board and looks forward to meeting all of you at some point in the future.
Board of Directors
Read More About Joanne
Eddie joined his sister Sarah near the end of 1999. Joanne and her family entered the new year and the new millennium with new challenges and more questions than answers. The challenges remain, but thanks to the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation, they know where to look for the answers they need. Joanne joined the board in 2013 in Arizona, her 6th conference, expecting that once Eddie attended Perkins School for the Blind (he started in July 2014) and Sarah went to college, she would have the time and energy to give back to the Foundation and is honored to be able to do so. Although you won't find Joanne center stage or posting frequently on social media, she wants folks to know that she is there in New Jersey, working as hard as she can, doing her part to make the world a better place for people with CHARGE syndrome. Please contact Joanne at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to share anything in CHARGE Accounts: achievements, fundraising ideas, upcoming events, etc.
Read More About Amrit
In 2001, Amrit and his wife Poonam immigrated to Canada. Shortly after arriving in their new home, their first child, Aman, was born with CHARGE syndrome. Having found themselves in a new country, with their families thousands of miles away, they were in desperate need of information and support. The CHARGE Syndrome Foundation and its support network quickly filled that void. Today, Aman is almost 15-years old, and despite numerous hospitalizations and surgeries over the years, he has come a long way. This would not have been possible without the resources, guidance, and support from the Foundation, and the many committed parents and professionals who devote their time to it. In 2011, Amrit decided to give back in a small way, and volunteered to serve on the board of The CHARGE Syndrome Foundation. It is an absolute privilege serving on this Board, with several talented people who are so passionate about making a difference. Amrit and Poonam currently live in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan with their three children, Aman (15), Anmol (9), and Rynah (5). Amrit works full-time at General Motors Company, as a senior executive in Product Development. Over the last 20-years, he has lived and worked in India, UAE, UK, Canada, and USA, holding various positions in Marketing, Sales, Strategy, and General Management at General Motors, Emirates Airline, and Smith & Nephew. Amrit earned a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering in India, and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in the UK. He also holds a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), and a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation from Canada. He teaches the CPA’s Professional Education Program and is an alumnus of the 2008 Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference. Contact Amrit.
Read More About Pamela
Pam became aware of the CHARGE Foundation in the '90s and has been "hooked" ever since. She relates that, during her 36 years at Perkins School for the Blind, they have had several students with CHARGE syndrome—before and after the advent of the name! As the School Psychologist in the Deafblind Program at Perkins (as well as in her other jobs at Perkins) she has had the pleasure and privilege of working with and learning from countless students with CHARGE and their families. This helps her in her work evaluating children and young adults in an effort to provide appropriate recommendations for school/educational program development and understanding the overall development of children. Through the CHARGE Foundation and the wonderful families, professionals, children, and young adults that Pam has had the good fortune to meet, work and play with, she now has this great opportunity to work with the Foundation as a Board member. Contact Pam.
Read More About Karin
When their first child, Grace, was born in 2005 with a multitude of birth defects, Karin and her husband Bob had never heard of CHARGE syndrome. It took months before the geneticist discovered the truth and their lives were irrevocably transformed. With little but the official designation of CHARGE syndrome in hand, they muddled on unaware that a greater community of families—all facing the same trials, joys, and questions—was out there waiting for them. They discovered the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation when they went looking for answers and their first conference was so enlightening, challenging and full of new friendships, love and support that it changed their lives once again. Like every other CHARGE parent, Karin's life has been devoted to learning, researching, and tracking down every possible way to improve her child’s quality of life. The Foundation has been a trusted source of information and an important circle of friends and allies in this lifelong quest. For Karin, it is an honor and a privilege to serve on the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation Board of Directors. Through her association over the years with the Foundation and with Perkins School for the Blind, which her daughter attends, she has taken on roles to help advance both knowledge of CHARGE syndrome and offer assistance to other parents, including speaking on behalf of CHARGE Syndrome at the Massachusetts State House, serving as the Massachusetts State Parent Liaison for CHARGE syndrome, and assisting with event planning at Perkins. A graduate of Siena College, she has spent most of her career as a special event planner. Her desire is to bring her experience crusading for CHARGE families and organizing events together to make conferences memorable, informative, and truly special for each person who attends. Contact Karin.
Read More About Christian
Christian and his wife Ingrid had no idea how much their lives were about to change when their daughter Anna was born in 2003. 7 surgeries, 5 months, and 3 states later, they received a clinical diagnosis of CHARGE syndrome. While they still felt alone on the midwest plains, they had this incredible 200-page medical management manual and a network of dedicated professionals and parents through the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation to guide them. Today they live in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Christian has been the manager of a computer programming department for HireRight for over fifteen years. Ingrid is a performing orchestral musician who teaches oboe from home and is currently suffering from carpal tunnel from her Facebook addiction. Rachel, their older daughter, is a reputedly safe 17-year-old driver and an undoubtedly terrific big sister. Anna is 14, attends the Deaf Education program at the local middle school part-time and homebound part-time, and entertains them all with the antics of her dolls. Christian and Ingrid have attended every conference since 2003 and enjoy the relationships that have developed over the years with professionals and families. Christian is honored to serve on your Board of Directors and encourages everyone to become a member, come to the conference, lead a fundraiser, or get involved somewhere as we strive to make a better world for people who have CHARGE syndrome. Contact Christian.
Read More About Minnie
Minnie lives in South Carolina with partner Douglas Delaney and their son Andrew. She is employed with Family Connection of SC, a statewide nonprofit organization that supports families of children with special health care needs or disabilities, as a Family Partner. She also holds a position with her local school district’s Preschool Readiness Office as a Home Visitor to children that are at risk of not entering into school with the skills that they need. Most of the families that she serves have children with special needs. Minnie's journey into this world of CHARGE began when Andrew was born in 2003. For many years, she never knew of the connection to the CHARGE world that she needed, the very connection that changed her life. In 2011 the family attended their very first conference in Orlando, FL and since that time she has never looked back. She has committed her life to helping meet the needs of Andrew, children like him and other parents like herself. She feels that with all things in life it is imperative to give to others just as you receive. She has the privilege of joining this board as its youngest member and knows she has a long way to go and hopefully MANY years of service to give. She feels it is a honor to sit alongside the other individuals who make up this Board and to carry on the mission of this Foundation - making a better world for those living with CHARGE. Please feel free to contact Minnie if she can help you in any way. CHARGEing On…
Read More About Julie
Julie is a Kentucky native and moved to Birmingham, Alabama to attend Samford University in 1990. After graduation, she stayed in Birmingham working in Corporate Communications for Altec Industries and later Protective Life. She and husband, Jay Brandrup, welcomed their daughter in 2004 and quickly became introduced to CHARGE syndrome when baby Adele was diagnosed. In her new role with a medically fragile child, Julie embraced becoming a stay-at-home mom and focused on Adele’s health, early intervention therapies, and communication options for a profoundly deaf child. The Brandrup family uses Cued Speech as their primary mode of communication with Adele and stays active in the Cued Speech organizations. Additionally, Julie is learning American Sign Language along with Adele so they can become more involved with the broader deaf community. The Brandrups are also very involved with low vision and disability groups in their community. Julie has been a guest speaker for United Way of Alabama, the Bell Center for Early Intervention, Hands and Voices, the Charity League and also at Birmingham Southern College’s special education department. Julie is quick to credit the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation for helping guide their family in all aspects and stages of Adele’s complex needs and development, from newborn hospitalizations and surgeries to the healthy, mainstreamed middle school student Adele is today. Their family, including younger daughter, Margo, has attended all the conferences since 2005 and have been active members and fundraisers for the Foundation. By joining the Board of Directors, Julie is hoping to help other families through the complexities of having a child with CHARGE. She feels the Board’s work at the International Conference is the lifeblood of the Foundation and looks forward to working behind the scenes as well as meeting many new families at the event. Julie also hopes to use her communications background to increase awareness and understanding of CHARGE syndrome for greater outreach and fundraising opportunities.
Meg Hefner, MS, CGC
Special Advisor to the Board
Read More About Meg
Meg Hefner is a genetic counselor with longstanding interest and expertise in CHARGE syndrome. She completed her genetic counseling training at the University of Michigan. Her experience with CHARGE syndrome began in the mid-1980s, when the newly recognized “CHARGE association” became the focus of a deafblind research team at the University of Missouri, Columbia. This team published extensively on the features of CHARGE and came up with the first algorithm for clinical diagnosis of CHARGE syndrome. Meg’s involvement with CHARGE has included writing and editing educational materials for families, starting the CHARGE Accounts newsletter and, in 1993, co-founding the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation. She has been an integral part of every CHARGE Syndrome Foundation International Conference since the first one in St. Louis in 1993. Meg is the recipient of both the Star in CHARGE award from the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation and the Diane Baker Alumni Award from the University of Michigan. She was an editor of the 2005 issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics devoted entirely to CHARGE and the 2010 Plural Publishing book on CHARGE syndrome. Currently, Meg devotes her efforts to the CHARGE Syndrome Clinical Database Project (CSCDP), a registry and database at Saint Louis University created to facilitate CHARGE research projects around the world. This continuing close affiliation with CHARGE syndrome has allowed Meg to learn about deafblindness and to understand the unique struggles of individuals with CHARGE and their families.
Director of Administration
Read More About Jody
In 2002, when Jody’s son Ethan was born, she immediately looked to the Foundation for information and support. The Foundation has been an important part of her life since then and she has created many lifelong friendships. Jody feels it is a privilege to give back to such a great organization. Jody has a B.A. in accounting from the University of Missouri. Early in her career, she practiced as a CPA, and later worked at McDonald's Corporation and Nextel Communication in finance and human resources. She completed the Illinois Family Leadership training for families of children who are deaf-blind, served on the Illinois Advisory Board for the deaf-blind, and is a parent mentor for the Lurie Children's Hospital ParentWISE program. She served as committee chair for registration and the camp program for the CHARGE Foundation’s International conferences in 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015. Most recently, Jody has worked with the National Center on Deaf-Blindness in the creation of online intervener modules and field testing modules to be released. She is looking forward to continuing her involvement with the Foundation.