Who We Are

Our People

CO-TRUSTEES

Upon Craig H. Neilsen’s passing in 2006, Ray H. Neilsen and Gordon R. Kanofsky were appointed as Co-Trustees of the charitable trust under which the Foundation was formed. Together, they oversee the administration of the trust estate, its investments and management of the Foundation.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Board of Directors is comprised of respected leaders in business, academia, science and medicine. Their expertise and commitment help govern the Foundation in its work to significantly and positively impact the spinal cord injury field. This group of dedicated individuals guides the organization by honoring the values of Craig H. Neilsen, setting strategic priorities and overseeing fiscal decisions.

Ray H. Neilsen
RAY H. NEILSEN

Co-Trustee and Chairman of the Board

RAY H. NEILSEN

Ray Neilsen was appointed as Co-Trustee and Chairman of the Board of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation upon the passing of his father, Craig H. Neilsen in 2006. In these roles, Ray is actively involved in overseeing the investment of the Foundation’s assets; determining the strategic direction, budget and allocation of the Foundation’s grantmaking activities; establishing procedures for the objective review and assessment of grant applications; approving staffing plans; and, overseeing the Foundation staff in the implementation of its grant programs.

In addition to his work with the Foundation, Ray is the President of Neilsen and Company, a real estate development company responsible for a number of major commercial, residential, educational and municipal buildings. Originally founded and operated by his grandfather in the 1960s and led by his dad for the next three decades, Ray continues the Neilsen family legacy of creating exceptional real estate projects. Neilsen and Company is developing projects ranging from hotels and restaurants to mixed use projects in various roles from investor-partner to co-owner. Their projects are located from Mississippi to Texas to Idaho.

Ray’s professional career began as a busboy at Ameristar Casinos, Inc., the company founded by Craig H. Neilsen. His father insisted Ray immerse himself in and learn about all levels of the organization, so he worked through the ranks and was with the company for 20 years. Ultimately, Ray served as Chairman of the Board of Directors, as well as Senior Vice President and Board Co- Chairman and Vice President of Operations and Special Projects.

As an advocate of education, he helped create “Education Pays,” a program that piloted on the Warren County campus of Hinds Community College in Vicksburg, Mississippi and eventually expanded to the capital city of Jackson. Education Pays provides the classes and support needed to prepare adult students to obtain a GED, as well as the tools necessary to navigate the college process. In 2014, Ray’s work was recognized with an Alumni Service Award by Hinds Community College.

Ray is also a financial supporter and advocate of Oxford, Mississippi’s Burns-Belfry Museum and Multicultural Center, a restoration project to preserve and protect northern Mississippi’s first African American church. In addition, he supported the creation of the Chair in Judaic Studies at the College of Idaho, his undergraduate alma mater. The Chair was the first of its kind at the College of Idaho, as well as the Intermountain West.

Ray earned a Bachelor of Science degree in history from the College of Idaho and a Masters in Business Administration from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Gordon R. Kanofsky
GORDON R. KANOFSKY

Co-Trustee and Board Member

GORDON R. KANOFSKY

Gordy Kanofsky has been actively involved as an advisory board member of the Foundation since its inception in 2002 and was appointed as a member of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation’s Board of Directors in 2006.

Gordy was the Chief Executive Officer (June 2008-August 2013) and a member of the Board of Directors (November 2006-August 2013) of Ameristar Casinos, Inc., the company founded by Craig H. Neilsen. He previously served, as Vice-Chairman of the Board, Co-Chairman of the Board, Executive Vice President and Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs since he joined the company in 1999. Prior to this, he served as Ameristar’s outside general counsel since 1998 and its securities counsel since 1993, when he was retained to represent Ameristar in connection with its initial public offering.

Gordy was in private practice as a corporate and securities lawyer in Washington, DC and Los Angeles for 20 years before joining Ameristar. He became a partner in Hughes Hubbard & Reed in 1989 and later became a shareholder in Sanders, Barnet, Goldman, Simons & Mosk.

Gordy has served on the Board of Directors of the American Gaming Association, in various volunteer leadership positions for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and as the Chairman of the Los Angeles chapter of the Washington University Alumni Association.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in history. Gordy earned his law degree, with honors, from Duke University.

Robert D. Brown, Jr., MD, MPH
ROBERT D. BROWN, JR., MD, MPH

Board Member

ROBERT D. BROWN, JR., MD, MPH

Dr. Robert Brown joined the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation as a Board Member in April 2007.

At the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, Bob is a professor of neurology in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and is the John T. and Lillian Mathews Professor of Neuroscience. In addition to his clinical work, his research interests include cerebrovascular diseases of all types, including primary and secondary stroke prevention, acute ischemic stroke, carotid angioplasty/stenting, intracranial aneurysms, intracranial vascular malformations, primary central nervous system vasculitis and the epidemiology of stroke and other cerebrovascular disorders.

Bob has received a number of awards and distinctions. He is a previous recipient of the Mayo Distinguished Clinicians Award, the Mayo School of Continuing Medical Education Outstanding Faculty Award, the Mayo Individual Award for Excellence and the American Heart Association’s Stroke Leadership Award. He has been elected to membership as a fellow in the American Neurological Association, and is a fellow in the Stroke Council of the American Stroke Association, and in the American Academy of Neurology.

Bob completed his medical training at Mayo Medical School, neurology residency at Mayo Clinic and stroke and cerebrovascular disease fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He also has a Masters of Public Health in epidemiology and clinical trial design.

Daniel P. Lammertse, MD
DANIEL P. LAMMERTSE, MD

Board Member

DANIEL P. LAMMERTSE, MD

Dr. Daniel Lammertse was elected to the Board of Directors in 2011. Prior to this, Dan served as a member of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation’s Scientific Review Boards from 2005-2011.

For 35 years, Dan practiced Spinal Cord Injury Medicine at Craig Hospital in Englewood, CO until retiring in 2016. During his tenure at Craig, he served as the hospital’s Medical Director (1984-2008) and Medical Director of Research (2008-2016). Dan was also the co-project director of the Rocky Mountain Regional Spinal Cord Injury System and served as Chair of the NIDRR SCI Model Systems Project Directors Committee from 2000-2006. He served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine and is a member of the Spinal Cord Outcomes Partnership Endeavor (SCOPE) steering committee. Dan also has an appointment as Clinical Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.

Dan has authored numerous chapters and scientific articles on topics in spinal cord injury and is internationally recognized as an expert in spinal cord injury medicine and rehabilitation. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Spinal Injury Association from 1991-2003 and was President of the Association from 2001-2003. He also served on the American Paraplegia Society Board of Directors from 2003-2005.

Dan received his medical degree and specialty training in rehabilitation medicine at The Ohio State University. He is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and has a sub-specialty certification in Spinal Cord Injury Medicine.

Lorne M. Mendell, PhD
LORNE M. MENDELL, PhD

Board Member

LORNE M. MENDELL, PhD

Dr. Lorne Mendell has been member of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation’s Board of Directors since 2007.

Lorne is Distinguished Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He joined the department in 1980, serving as Chair from 1986 to 2006. In 2006, he stepped down as Chair to concentrate more fully on his research.

Lorne’s long career in neuroscience has focused on the electrophysiological study of pain mechanisms and spinal pathways. Most recently, he has studied the role of neurotrophic factors and exercise paradigms in modulating spinal circuitry after injury. Presently, Lorne and his team are engaged in evaluating the possibility of developing novel neural relays in incomplete spinal cord injuries of rodents and in understanding the sensory changes after spinal injury.

Lorne has sat on numerous national and international scientific review boards throughout his career. He is presently the Chair of the New York State Spinal Cord Injury Research Board and a member of the CNNT Study Section at NIH. In 1997-98, Lorne was elected President of the Society for Neuroscience, the leading international organization for neuroscientists. He has served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neurophysiology (1983-89) and has been on the editorial board of several other journals. He is also a Principal Investigator in the International Research Consortium on Spinal Cord Injury, sponsored by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and is a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. His research achievements have been recognized by receipt of a Research Career Development Award and two Jacob Javits Neuroscience Awards from NIH.

Lorne obtained his PhD from MIT and did his postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School. His first academic position was at Duke University Medical Center. During this period, his main research effort was in the area of spinal cord plasticity in mammals and in amphibians.

David W. Pershing, PhD
DAVID W. PERSHING, PhD

Board Member

DAVID W. PERSHING, PhD

Dr. David Pershing joined the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation’s Board of Directors in 2012.

With more than 30 years of service at the University of Utah (the “U”), Dave was named its 15th President in 2012, serving as the chief executive leading a diverse team of faculty and staff at one of the country’s top research universities. Prior to this, Dave was the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs responsible for approximately 1,000 faculty and 25,000 students in the colleges of the main campus. Starting in 1977 as an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, he was named a Presidential Young Investigator by the National Science Foundation in 1984, before becoming the Dean of the College of Engineering in 1987. In 1995, he was named a Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering. Now, as President of the U, he continues his commitment to the undergraduate experience with programs aimed at enriching academic excellence.

As a teacher and researcher, Dave was the recipient of the University of Utah’s Distinguished Teaching and Distinguished Research Awards and the U’s Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence. He has authored more than 80 peer-reviewed publications, won more than 20 research grants totaling approximately $60 million, and earned five patents. He was named Engineering Educator of the Year in 2002 by the Utah Engineering Council and is a winner of the Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology.

Dave holds a PhD from the University of Arizona and a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University, both in chemical engineering.

STAFF

To support the mission of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, the staff oversees and implements the organization’s daily activities and ensures the Foundation successfully meets its strategic goals. This team of experienced professionals, in collaboration with leading spinal cord injury experts and other community partners, works together to carry out a wide variety of key operational, financial and grantmaking responsibilities.

Ray H. Neilsen
RAY H. NEILSEN

Co-Trustee and Chairman of the Board

RAY H. NEILSEN

Ray Neilsen was appointed as Co-Trustee and Chairman of the Board of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation upon the passing of his father, Craig H. Neilsen in 2006. In these roles, Ray is actively involved in overseeing the investment of the Foundation’s assets; determining the strategic direction, budget and allocation of the Foundation’s grantmaking activities; establishing procedures for the objective review and assessment of grant applications; approving staffing plans; and, overseeing the Foundation staff in the implementation of its grant programs.

In addition to his work with the Foundation, Ray is the President of Neilsen and Company, a real estate development company responsible for a number of major commercial, residential, educational and municipal buildings. Originally founded and operated by his grandfather in the 1960s and led by his dad for the next three decades, Ray continues the Neilsen family legacy of creating exceptional real estate projects. Neilsen and Company is developing projects ranging from hotels and restaurants to mixed use projects in various roles from investor-partner to co-owner. Their projects are located from Mississippi to Texas to Idaho.

Ray’s professional career began as a busboy at Ameristar Casinos, Inc., the company founded by Craig H. Neilsen. His father insisted Ray immerse himself in and learn about all levels of the organization, so he worked through the ranks and was with the company for 20 years. Ultimately, Ray served as Chairman of the Board of Directors, as well as Senior Vice President and Board Co- Chairman and Vice President of Operations and Special Projects.

As an advocate of education, he helped create “Education Pays,” a program that piloted on the Warren County campus of Hinds Community College in Vicksburg, Mississippi and eventually expanded to the capital city of Jackson. Education Pays provides the classes and support needed to prepare adult students to obtain a GED, as well as the tools necessary to navigate the college process. In 2014, Ray’s work was recognized with an Alumni Service Award by Hinds Community College.

Ray is also a financial supporter and advocate of Oxford, Mississippi’s Burns-Belfry Museum and Multicultural Center, a restoration project to preserve and protect northern Mississippi’s first African American church. In addition, he supported the creation of the Chair in Judaic Studies at the College of Idaho, his undergraduate alma mater. The Chair was the first of its kind at the College of Idaho, as well as the Intermountain West.

Ray earned a Bachelor of Science degree in history from the College of Idaho and a Masters in Business Administration from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Gordon R. Kanofsky
GORDON R. KANOFSKY

Co-Trustee and Board Member

GORDON R. KANOFSKY

Gordy Kanofsky has been actively involved as an advisory board member of the Foundation since its inception in 2002 and was appointed as a member of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation’s Board of Directors in 2006.

Gordy was the Chief Executive Officer (June 2008-August 2013) and a member of the Board of Directors (November 2006-August 2013) of Ameristar Casinos, Inc., the company founded by Craig H. Neilsen. He previously served, as Vice-Chairman of the Board, Co-Chairman of the Board, Executive Vice President and Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs since he joined the company in 1999. Prior to this, he served as Ameristar’s outside general counsel since 1998 and its securities counsel since 1993, when he was retained to represent Ameristar in connection with its initial public offering.

Gordy was in private practice as a corporate and securities lawyer in Washington, DC and Los Angeles for 20 years before joining Ameristar. He became a partner in Hughes Hubbard & Reed in 1989 and later became a shareholder in Sanders, Barnet, Goldman, Simons & Mosk.

Gordy has served on the Board of Directors of the American Gaming Association, in various volunteer leadership positions for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and as the Chairman of the Los Angeles chapter of the Washington University Alumni Association.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in history. Gordy earned his law degree, with honors, from Duke University.

Robert D. Brown, Jr., MD, MPH
ROBERT D. BROWN, JR., MD, MPH

Board Member

ROBERT D. BROWN, JR., MD, MPH

Dr. Robert Brown joined the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation as a Board Member in April 2007.

At the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, Bob is a professor of neurology in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and is the John T. and Lillian Mathews Professor of Neuroscience. In addition to his clinical work, his research interests include cerebrovascular diseases of all types, including primary and secondary stroke prevention, acute ischemic stroke, carotid angioplasty/stenting, intracranial aneurysms, intracranial vascular malformations, primary central nervous system vasculitis and the epidemiology of stroke and other cerebrovascular disorders.

Bob has received a number of awards and distinctions. He is a previous recipient of the Mayo Distinguished Clinicians Award, the Mayo School of Continuing Medical Education Outstanding Faculty Award, the Mayo Individual Award for Excellence and the American Heart Association’s Stroke Leadership Award. He has been elected to membership as a fellow in the American Neurological Association, and is a fellow in the Stroke Council of the American Stroke Association, and in the American Academy of Neurology.

Bob completed his medical training at Mayo Medical School, neurology residency at Mayo Clinic and stroke and cerebrovascular disease fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He also has a Masters of Public Health in epidemiology and clinical trial design.

Daniel P. Lammertse, MD
DANIEL P. LAMMERTSE, MD

Board Member

DANIEL P. LAMMERTSE, MD

Dr. Daniel Lammertse was elected to the Board of Directors in 2011. Prior to this, Dan served as a member of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation’s Scientific Review Boards from 2005-2011.

For 35 years, Dan practiced Spinal Cord Injury Medicine at Craig Hospital in Englewood, CO until retiring in 2016. During his tenure at Craig, he served as the hospital’s Medical Director (1984-2008) and Medical Director of Research (2008-2016). Dan was also the co-project director of the Rocky Mountain Regional Spinal Cord Injury System and served as Chair of the NIDRR SCI Model Systems Project Directors Committee from 2000-2006. He served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine and is a member of the Spinal Cord Outcomes Partnership Endeavor (SCOPE) steering committee. Dan also has an appointment as Clinical Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.

Dan has authored numerous chapters and scientific articles on topics in spinal cord injury and is internationally recognized as an expert in spinal cord injury medicine and rehabilitation. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Spinal Injury Association from 1991-2003 and was President of the Association from 2001-2003. He also served on the American Paraplegia Society Board of Directors from 2003-2005.

Dan received his medical degree and specialty training in rehabilitation medicine at The Ohio State University. He is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and has a sub-specialty certification in Spinal Cord Injury Medicine.

Lorne M. Mendell, PhD
LORNE M. MENDELL, PhD

Board Member

LORNE M. MENDELL, PhD

Dr. Lorne Mendell has been member of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation’s Board of Directors since 2007.

Lorne is Distinguished Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He joined the department in 1980, serving as Chair from 1986 to 2006. In 2006, he stepped down as Chair to concentrate more fully on his research.

Lorne’s long career in neuroscience has focused on the electrophysiological study of pain mechanisms and spinal pathways. Most recently, he has studied the role of neurotrophic factors and exercise paradigms in modulating spinal circuitry after injury. Presently, Lorne and his team are engaged in evaluating the possibility of developing novel neural relays in incomplete spinal cord injuries of rodents and in understanding the sensory changes after spinal injury.

Lorne has sat on numerous national and international scientific review boards throughout his career. He is presently the Chair of the New York State Spinal Cord Injury Research Board and a member of the CNNT Study Section at NIH. In 1997-98, Lorne was elected President of the Society for Neuroscience, the leading international organization for neuroscientists. He has served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neurophysiology (1983-89) and has been on the editorial board of several other journals. He is also a Principal Investigator in the International Research Consortium on Spinal Cord Injury, sponsored by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and is a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. His research achievements have been recognized by receipt of a Research Career Development Award and two Jacob Javits Neuroscience Awards from NIH.

Lorne obtained his PhD from MIT and did his postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School. His first academic position was at Duke University Medical Center. During this period, his main research effort was in the area of spinal cord plasticity in mammals and in amphibians.

David W. Pershing, PhD
DAVID W. PERSHING, PhD

Board Member

DAVID W. PERSHING, PhD

Dr. David Pershing joined the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation’s Board of Directors in 2012.

With more than 30 years of service at the University of Utah (the “U”), Dave was named its 15th President in 2012, serving as the chief executive leading a diverse team of faculty and staff at one of the country’s top research universities. Prior to this, Dave was the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs responsible for approximately 1,000 faculty and 25,000 students in the colleges of the main campus. Starting in 1977 as an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, he was named a Presidential Young Investigator by the National Science Foundation in 1984, before becoming the Dean of the College of Engineering in 1987. In 1995, he was named a Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering. Now, as President of the U, he continues his commitment to the undergraduate experience with programs aimed at enriching academic excellence.

As a teacher and researcher, Dave was the recipient of the University of Utah’s Distinguished Teaching and Distinguished Research Awards and the U’s Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence. He has authored more than 80 peer-reviewed publications, won more than 20 research grants totaling approximately $60 million, and earned five patents. He was named Engineering Educator of the Year in 2002 by the Utah Engineering Council and is a winner of the Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology.

Dave holds a PhD from the University of Arizona and a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University, both in chemical engineering.

Kym Eisner
KYM EISNER

Executive Director

KYM EISNER

As the Executive Director of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, Kym is responsible for the organization’s day-to-day management, consistent with the mission, values and long-range strategic plan of the Foundation. Kym works with the Co-Trustees and Board of Directors on the vision of the organization as set forth by Craig H. Neilsen. She provides leadership in strategic planning and all operational areas, ensuring the development of innovative and effective programming.

Kym has more than 20 years of hands-on non-profit leadership experience, with specific emphases on strategic planning, budgeting, managing board relationships, team-building, communications, marketing/branding and fundraising. Kym holds an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Riverside and a Masters in Fine Arts and Non-Profit Management from UCLA.

kym@chnfoundation.org
Naomi Kleitman, PhD
NAOMI KLEITMAN, PhD

Senior Vice President of Grants and Research

NAOMI KLEITMAN, PhD

Dr. Naomi Kleitman serves as the Senior Vice President of Grants and Research, overseeing the Foundation’s research portfolios, as well as providing strategic guidance on all grant programs for the organization. She is based in Maryland, near Washington, DC.

From 2001-2012, Naomi served as a Program Director at the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, administering a portfolio of grants and contracts in spinal cord injury (SCI) research aimed at developing successful strategies for nervous system repair and restoration of function. She also focused on translation of fundamental research on spinal cord and peripheral neural repair into clinical studies that apply these basic principles, and the development of rigorous standards for preclinical and translational SCI research. Naomi has participated on numerous NIH and interagency groups, as a Federal Liaison to SCI research programs at the Departments of Defense, Veterans Administration and several non-federal agencies, and was co-lead for the NIH/NINDS-FDA/CBER working group.

Naomi was a faculty member of the University of Miami School of Medicine in The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis from 1989-2001, studying mechanisms of axonal regeneration in tissue culture and the development of populations of adult rodent and human Schwann cells for transplantation in peripheral and central nervous system injury sites. She also served as the Scientific Liaison for The Miami Project, encouraging interaction between clinicians, rehabilitation and basic researchers, as well as informing the public, patient groups, and the media about progress in SCI research.

Naomi received a PhD in neural and behavioral biology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and did postdoctoral work at Washington University, St. Louis.

naomi@chnfoundation.org
Jason Troy
JASON TROY

Vice President of Finance

JASON TROY

As Vice President of Finance, Jason is responsible for managing all of the Foundation’s financial activities and safeguarding all of its assets. He oversees the Foundation’s investment portfolio, annual operating budget, grants disbursement, reporting and audit process.

Jason comes to the Foundation with an extensive background in finance and accounting, including experience managing cash flow, developing budgets and creating and maintaining internal controls. He began his career in the audit practice of KPMG and rose to become a senior manager. Since then, he has worked with companies in a multitude of industries, and his experience includes work with a non-profit organization. Jason received his Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from California State University, Northridge, and is also a California CPA (Inactive).

jason@chnfoundation.org
THERESE BIEDERMAN

Office Manager

THERESE BIEDERMAN

As Office Manager, Therese Biederman is responsible for providing high-level professional management and support for the Neilsen Foundation’s staff and overall grant-making activities. This includes oversight of the operation and maintenance of office services and coordination of the administrative, logistical and clerical functions of the Neilsen Foundation’s Encino office.

Therese has been working in senior administrative positions for 20 years, starting in Australia, including service as Executive Assistant at the Research and Development Division of Solution 6 Software and as Senior Administrative Assistant to the CEO at ACHS Healthcare. She came to the United States in 2001 and has been working in the Los Angeles area since, most recently as an Executive Assistant for the Audit Department of World Vision, International, which is a relief organization providing humanitarian aid to the poor and oppressed focusing especially on the needs of children.

therese@chnfoundation.org
Kim Cerise
KIM CERISE

Director of Grants Management

KIM CERISE

Kim Cerise is the Director of Grants Management, where she is responsible for managing the Foundation’s grants processes. Kim works at the Foundation’s satellite office in Twin Falls, ID.

Kim has worked for the Neilsen Foundation since its inception. Initially, she worked part-time on the Foundation’s accounting and bookkeeping, as well as assisting with the scientific research grants process. Her responsibilities expanded to overseeing the online grants administration. She joined the Foundation full-time in 2011 when she became the organization’s Grants and Finance Assistant before transitioning into her current position.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Kim worked for 20 years for Craig Neilsen’s first business, Neilsen and Company, in Twin Falls, ID, and was responsible for a wide variety of duties. During that time, she also worked for Ameristar Casinos, also founded by Craig Neilsen. Earlier in her career, Kim worked at the Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology in Butte, MT, where she was responsible for managing the Admissions Office’s student information system.

kim@chnfoundation.org
Joy Guihama, MPH
JOY GUIHAMA, MPH

Program Officer

JOY GUIHAMA, MPH

Joy Guihama is a Program Officer and her grant portfolios include the SCI Medicine Fellowships and Psychosocial Research. 

Joy has more than 20 years of managerial experience at health and wellness organizations, in the areas of program planning, administrative operations, grants management and communications. Prior to joining the Foundation, Joy spent over 10 years as the Division Manager at a city-based public health department, where she oversaw the department’s Health Promotion and Policy Division, a 20-person unit responsible for city-wide public policy initiatives and community health services. Before that, she worked for two years with UCLA and another eight years with several national non-profit organizations, directing a variety of regional and national health programs.

Joy volunteers with several non-profit health organizations in Southern California. As the founding past president of the MPH alumni chapter and current member of the MPH Community Advisory Council, her work was recognized with a Volunteer Service Award from California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Joy holds a Master’s of Public Health from CSUN and Bachelor’s degree in economics from UCLA. She is an adjunct professor with the CSUN MPH Graduate Program.

joy@chnfoundation.org
Ehrica Hernandez
EHRICA HERNANDEZ

Grants Management Associate

EHRICA HERNANDEZ

Ehrica Hernandez is the Grants Management Associate. In this role, her responsibilities include administrative support of the Foundation’s grantmaking processes. She also supports grant-related program activities, liaising with staff based out of the Foundation’s National Office in Los Angeles, CA and its four satellite offices.

Ehrica has over 12 years of experience working in administrative support roles. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked for the City of Pasadena Public Health Department as a Staff Assistant III. During her time there, she performed high-level support to multiple health programs, including substance abuse prevention, tobacco control, nutrition and physical activity, and bioterrorism/emergency preparedness program. In addition, she provided department-wide operational support that included inventory control, payroll, and grants and contracts preparation.

ehrica@chnfoundation.org
Linda Jones, PT, MS
LINDA JONES, PT, MS

Program Officer

LINDA JONES, PT, MS

Linda Jones is a Program Officer for the Spinal Cord Injury Research on the Translational Spectrum (SCIRTS) portfolio. She co-manages the funding portfolio that spans mechanistic, translational and early clinical research aimed at improving recovery from spinal cord injury. Linda works out of the Foundation’s satellite office in Boulder, CO.

With over 20 years of experience, Linda has applied her clinical expertise, serving as a consultant and staff member in a number of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, exoskeleton and healthcare settings. She worked at Geron Corporation from 2006-2011, preparing and managing the first clinical trial in the United States utilizing cells derived from human embryonic stem cells, in a Phase I study in patients with neurologically complete, sub-acute spinal cord injury. Prior to this, she worked with Proneuron Biotechnologies, the sponsor of the first Phase 1 cell-based study (autologous macrophage injection) in spinal cord injury, and subsequently managed the Phase II trial. Linda also worked at Denver Health Medical Center for 12 years, with a focus on physical therapy interventions in the intensive care unit. As a result of this background, Linda has experience reviewing preclinical data and integrating necessary components of these findings into the clinical trial/protocol, assessing the feasibility of trial implementation, developing the operational infrastructure to execute trials and addressing regulatory challenges. Her focus has been on applying lessons from an operational perspective that are learned in clinical trials and addressing gaps in outcome measures used in such trials.

Linda has been a guest lecturer at the University of Colorado, as well as a guest lecturer, affiliate faculty and instructor at Regis University, with a focus on complex systems, critical care, and neuroscience. She currently sits on several committees of professional organizations addressing SCI. Linda completed her Advanced Master’s Degree in neurological physical therapy from Samuel Merritt College and her undergraduate degrees in kinesiology and physical therapy from the University of Colorado.

linda@chnfoundation.org
Julea Juarez
JULEA JUAREZ

Communications and Programs Coordinator

JULEA JUAREZ

As the Communications and Programs Coordinator (CPC), Julea is responsible for ensuring all internal and external communications from the Foundation are deployed in a consistent and professional manner. In addition, the CPC works with the Program Officers for the Spinal Cord Injury Research on the Translational Spectrum (SCIRTS), Psychosocial Research/Spinal Cord Injury Medicine Fellowships (PSR/SCIMF) and Creating Opportunity & Independence/Neilsen Scholarship Program (CO&I/NSP) portfolios and Grants Management office to facilitate program announcements and grant opportunities.

Julea joins the Foundation with a background in the non-profit independent school setting overseeing events and alumni relations as well as maintaining an integral role in social media, communications and fundraising. Julea received her Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA.

julea@chnfoundation.org
Gina Knight
GINA KNIGHT, CPA

Controller

GINA KNIGHT, CPA

As Controller, Gina is responsible for helping to manage all of the Foundation’s financial activities. She helps oversee the Foundation’s investment portfolio as well as manage the reporting and audit process.

Gina joins the Foundation with over 10 years of experience in general accounting and financial reporting. With several years of experience in financial services, Gina brings her experience at Wells Fargo Capital Finance where she managed all general accounting functions as well as several years in the mortgage industry. She received her Bachelor of Science in accounting from California State University, Northridge, and is also a California CPA.

gina@chnfoundation.org
Jane Otto
JANE OTTO

Program Officer

JANE OTTO

Jane Otto is Program Officer for the Creating Opportunity & Independence portfolio and the Neilsen Scholarship Program for students with spinal cord injury. Jane works closely with the Creating Opportunity & Independence Review Board to help support and develop and/or augment innovative programs that will impact the lives of individuals living with spinal cord injury.

Jane brings more than 30 years of experience in the non-profit sector with expertise in fundraising, strategic planning, board development, communications, marketing and branding. Her diverse skill set includes leadership positions with notable organizations such as The Rockefeller University where she served under four Nobel Laureates, and non-profit management in the performing arts, independent schools, colleges and universities.

Jane holds a B.A. from the University of Utah and has served as an adjunct faculty member at New York University.

jane@chnfoundation.org
Tracey Wheeler, PhD
TRACEY WHEELER, PhD

Program Officer

TRACEY WHEELER, PhD

Dr. Tracey Wheeler is a Program Officer for the Spinal Cord Injury Research on the Translational Spectrum (SCIRTS) portfolio. She co-manages the funding portfolio that spans mechanistic, translational and early clinical research aimed at improving recovery from spinal cord injury. Tracey works out of the Foundation’s satellite office in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

Tracey has over 15 years of experience in scientific program development, research evaluation, and program management of pre-clinical, translational, and clinical research. Prior to joining the Foundation in November 2014, she worked as a scientific consultant and staff advisor at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the areas of biomedical and biotechnology research. There, she supported a wide range of programs in DARPA’s Biological Technologies, Defense Sciences, and Microsystems Technology Offices, with a strong emphasis on neural interface technologies. This work included DARPA-funded projects designed to determine neural interface failure mechanisms, create technological improvements to overcome these failures, and transition ready technologies to clinical use. She has numerous publications on topics ranging from emerging brain-computer-interface technologies to the long-term effects of stimulant exposure on adolescent central nervous system development.

Tracey received her PhD in psychology with a concentration in biopsychology from George Mason University.

tracey@chnfoundation.org
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