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Meet AAMDSIF Board of Directors

Board Members

Debby's Photo

Deborah “Debby” Ziff Cook joined the Board in November of 2011. As an aplastic anemia patient (diagnosed in 2003), Debby brings her patient experience to the Board. She also supports the Bone Marrow Failure Research Panel of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program as a member of its Programmatic Panel.  Debby received her Master’s degree in Elementary Education in 1996 after which began teaching in the District of Columbia Public Schools prior to her diagnosis and treatment. She now works as the Science & Research Project Manager at Nontoxic Certified, a nonprofit that advocates for safer ingredients in everyday products and guides companies towards safer ingredient use and ecosystem-sound products. 

Rebecca's Photo

Rebecca Doane is an attorney, business owner and mother of three from Palm Beach County, Florida.  She was an equity partner at Jones Foster for 15 years before co-founding her trusts and estates law practice, Doane & Doane, PA in 2003.  She is an AV rated attorney, Board Certified in Wills, Trusts and Estates by the Florida Bar, and is also a Certified Public Accountant.  Her professional involvements include current Chairperson and founder of the Guardianship Education Committee of the Palm Beach County Bar, member of the South Florida Tax Institute, the East Coast Estate Planning Council, and the Probate Rules Committee for the Florida Bar.  She was appointed by the Governor of Florida to serve on the Judicial Nominating Committee for the 15th Judicial Circuit, and she is the past President of the Catholic Lawyers Guild for Palm Beach County.  She is a frequent lecturer on trust estate, probate and guardianship topics at professional and civic association.

Rebecca is highly involved in the community, serving currently as Nominating Committee Chairperson on the Mounts Botanical Gardens Board of Directors; and as Treasurer of the Palm Beach Order of St. John’s Knights Hospitaler.  She is a past President of the Center for Children in Crisis; the Girl Scout Council of Southeast Florida; the Downtown Kiwanis Club; and the Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park Board of Trustees. Her civic and philanthropic awards are numerous and include the International Athena Leadership Award, the National Children’s Advocacy Award; the Florida Commission on the Status of Women Spirit of Community Award; and the Executive Women Leadership Award.

Rebecca is passionate about the mission of the Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation because her youngest son is a survivor of aplastic anemia.

Bart's Photo

Bart S. Fisher is the Founder of the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation.  Following the death of his eight-year old son Ivan due to aplastic anemia, Bart, his wife Margaret, and other concerned parents started the Foundation in 1983.  At that time there was a need for a national organization dedicated to aplastic anemia research, patient and family outreach, and the establishment of a national bone marrow registry to match patients in need of a bone marrow transplant with potential matching donors.

In addition to serving as President of AAMDSIF, Bart has served on the Board of Directors of the National Marrow Donor Program, the Marrow Foundation, and America’s Blood Centers.  He currently serves as Chairman of the Give Life Foundation, which promotes the donation of blood, organs, and tissues.

Bart is a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and is Managing Partner of JJ&B, LLC, a boutique investment bank in Washington, D.C

James' Photo

Dr. James Gajewski earned an A.B. from Notre Dame in government and international studies and an M.D. from  Temple University. He completed residency in internal medicine University Cincinnati and fellowship in Hematology-Medical Oncology at UCLA. 

Dr. James Gajewski was involved in starting the stem cell transplant accreditation agency, FACT. He helped establish the National Cancer Center Network and served on leukemia and lymphoma care guidelines committees.  Dr. Gajewski served as BMT liaison to FDA on cellular therapy regulation.

Dr. Gajewski coauthored over 165 peer reviewed publications wrote 15 book chapters. Dr Gajewski has been a frequent speaker at national and international meetings in hematology and stem cell transplantation. 
For his research, teaching and health policy work in 2016, the American College of Physician recognized him to the prestigious Mastership status for lifetime achievement in internal medicine and specialty internal medicine.  In 2021 Dr. Gajewski was elected to be a Fellow in the Great Britain’s Royal College of Physicians. 

Dr. Gajewski served on the Aplastic Anemia Foundation board of directors from 1992 to 2000. In 2016 he returned to serve on the board of the AAMDSIF Foundation. 

Stephanie and Bill Hamm's adopted son, Garrett, was diagnosed with aplastic anemia in at age 16. Although his initial treatments provided him with several good years, later his condition returned. Unfortunately, complications from the half-match transplant took his life in 1997.

The experience of supporting Garrett and his young family and the lack of resources for families in rural Texas caused Stephanie, together with Board member Kevin Lyons-Tarr and the Foundation Development Director in 2009, to develop a series of patient and family walks called Hope, Steps & A Cure, now March for Marrow. The goals of these events are to raise awareness about rare bone marrow failure diseases, funds for the patient and family services provided by the Foundation, and research for treatments and ultimately cures for these diseases. March for Marrow now takes place in six different cities. She also continues to represent fundraising efforts for the Foundation as a grateful member of the Board of Directors since 2010.

Kevin's Photo

Chair, Board of Directors

Kevin Lyons-Tarr joined the AAMDSIF Board of Directors in November of 2009, later serving as Vice Chair, and since 2012 has been Board Chair.

Kevin’s passion for the mission of the Foundation was driven by his wife’s CMML/MDS diagnosis in 2003 and subsequent 17 year medical journey.

Kevin is the CEO of 4imprint, a leading promotional products company with over 1000 employees. Kevin has been a part of the 4imprint team for more than 30 years.
 

Melanie's Photo

Melanie Marquez joined the Board in 2013 when the PNH Research & Support Foundation, where she served for several years, merged with AAMDSIF. As a Board member, Melanie brings a patient perspective to the Foundation offering her views on needed support and advocacy assistance. Melanie works full time as a Legal Assistant. She and her husband, Tony, of 33 years, have two adult children, Jonathan and Sophia. They live in West Chicago, Illinois with their two dogs, Duchess and Athena. 

Harsha's Photo

Vice-Chair and Secretary

Mr. Harsha Murthy is a senior pharmaceuticals and finance executive who has served in numerous leadership positions with major public corporations, private start-up firms, in government and on nonprofit and for-profit boards.  He is an experienced investor, entrepreneur and advisor to young and mature companies in the biotech, pharma, medical device and technology spaces. He has extensive experience in both US and international business transactions.  

Mr. Murthy is currently the Managing Member of Peak Pharma Commercial Partners LLC, a New York City-based fund that invests in branded pharmaceutical therapeutic products.

Mr. Murthy has served on numerous boards of directors, including those of Electrolux Corporation, Validus Pharmaceuticals, Fontus Pharmaceuticals, MedDEV, Inc. and TenduTV, the New York City Digital Health Breakthrough Network, HITLAB Advisory Board, as well as in senior leadership positions in a variety of non-profits boards in healthcare, education, civil rights and the arts. 

Judith's Photo

Judith Paulette lives in Kansas City, Missouri and works full time in community development for a large suburban city.  The knowledge she brings to the board comes from lengthy experience in community building, civic and volunteer engagement and non-profit organizational management.  She finds joy in sharing adventures with her daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren as well as making music, gardening, traveling and spending time in her art studio.
Judith joined the AAMDSIF Board of Directors in January, 2013, when a strategic alliance was formed between AAMDSIF and the PNH Research and Support Foundation. Prior to that, she volunteered in support of fellow PNH patients and as an officer of the PNH Research and Support Foundation for six years, ending as that board’s President.  The strategic alliance transitioned a year later into a full merger of the two organizations.

Tony's Photo

Treasurer

Anthony “Tony” Sanfilippo is Treasurer of AAMDSIF and has served as a board member since 1997. Tony has over 40 years’ experience as a senior executive in the financial services industry. Most of his career has focused on managing large wholesale trading operations, both domestically and globally. Tony currently holds the position of CEO of FinEngine, Inc., a financial technology company that provides action-oriented data and analytics to broker-dealers and investment managers. 
Tony’s initial introduction to AAMDSIF came in 1996 as he sought information as a caregiver to his daughter Rachel, who was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia at the age of 5. After a successful response to ATG treatment, Rachel went on to become a nationally competitive gymnast.

Tony has served on numerous industry, non-profit, and public company boards and currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. 

Saira's Photo

Saira Sufi is child loss experiencer, a bone marrow failure awareness/medical research advocate, a Muslim, a Kansan, a mother of twins, the mother of an aplastic anemia warrior, an event manager, and an honest and unintentional writer. 

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