Staff & Interns

The Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation is currently looking for a: 

MDF Staff

Kate Beck
Director of Development

Kate joined MDF as Special Projects Manager in April 2021. After serving as a MDF Gala Coordinator in a contract position during 2019 and 2020, she was struck by MDF’s strong community and opportunity for impact, and was moved to join the MDF team with the hopes of advancing our mission of Community, Care and a Cure. Kate will continue to coordinate the Annual Fundraising Gala, and will manage other special satellite projects such as the DM Research Map currently in development. Prior to joining the foundation, Kate lived and worked in Tokyo, Japan, as a JET English teacher and cultural ambassador and then in the music and entertainment industry. She is an LA native and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies and Music at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

Kevin Brennan
Advocacy Consultant

Kevin Brennan, Principal of BlueBird Strategies, has served as the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation’s advocacy consultant since 2015. Working with the community, he has helped MDF increase federal funding for myotonic dystrophy research by $8.1 million over the past 5 years through congressional designation of myotonic dystrophy as an eligible condition under the Department of Defense Peer Review Medical Research Program (PRMRP). In 2017, MDF successfully advocated for Congenital DM to be included in the Social Security Compassionate Allowance program which helps individuals more quickly qualify for disability benefits including health insurance coverage. Kevin has also organized MDF U.S. Senate research briefings and testimony before the U.S. House Appropriations committee on NIH funding.

In 2022, in response to MDF advocacy, Congress included a provision in the fiscal year 2023 appropriations bill establishing the Repeat Expansion Disease Initiative (REDI) at the NIH which will increase DM research opportunities and we helped pass the first ever U.S. Senate resolution recognizing September 15th as International Myotonic Dystrophy Awareness Day. Prior to his work with MDF, Kevin held senior positions in Congress for members of the US House Appropriations and Energy & Commerce committees, led the Arthritis Foundation’s public policy and advocacy office, and worked in the global government affairs office at Amgen. His lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and three children.

 

Mindy Buchanan
Director of Programs

Mindy joined MDF in January 2023. As the Director of Programs, she leads MDF’s Community & Care initiatives. She is passionate about ensuring everyone affected by chronic and rare diseases have access to education, resources, and most importantly, community. Mindy brings 17 years of experience providing strategic program development, management, and leadership across uniquely challenging settings. Her background includes working in both academic medical center and non-profit settings, she brings an in-depth understanding of how research and data informs and elevates supportive and advocacy programming.

Mindy spent nearly a decade working in the rare cancer space with adolescents and young adults (AYA). Most recently, as the Director of Patient Programs, she led peer-to-peer support, educational, and psychosocial programming for people affected by sarcoidosis at the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research. Mindy completed her BA from Portland State University in Community Health Education, and a post-graduate-certificate in biomedical ethics. Mindy is also a certified storytelling coach through Living Proof Advocacy. She lives between Portland, Oregon and Edinburgh, Scotland, where she can always be found with her nose in a book.

 

Kleed Cumming
Director of Communications & Technology

Kleed joined MDF in 2018 as Program Associate to assist the Program and Development Directors with Patient Support and Education as well as various aspects of program research and content development, communications and fundraising. MDF's holistic approach to the issue of an uncured disease attracted Kleed to MDF, due to his desire to find meaningful work at an ethical and fast moving organization. In 2020 he became MDF's Communications & Technology Manager. Prior to joining MDF, Kleed interned at the Investment Center of the United Nations Federal Credit Union in New York City. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business and Technology Management from New York University.

 

Mounica Lakshmi Dugginapeddi, MPH
Community Programs Coordinator

Mounica Lakshmi Dugginapeddi joined MDF in June 2022 as Community Programs Coordinator shortly after receiving her Master of Public Health degree from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. The impact made by MDF in advocating for patients and families navigating through myotonic dystrophy throughout the world motivated her to join MDF. Previously, she graduated from medical school in Hyderabad, India where she worked as a medical intern for a year in various medical departments while also volunteering at a local community clinic as a health educator. After moving to the US, she volunteered as a community health mentor for the “Check, Change, Control” Program of the American Heart Association in the Bay Area and as a Donor Ambassador at San Jose American Red Cross Blood Donation Center. Her passion for community health education and patient advocacy have been the key driving forces for her journey in public health, and she looks forward to contributing her skills for the great work being done by MDF in this new role.

 

Sofia Olmos, PhD
Myotonic Dystrophy Family Registry Coordinator

Dr. Sofia Olmos joined MDF in January 2023 as the Myotonic Dystrophy Family Registry Coordinator. Sofia is passionate about patient advocacy, research and education and brings with her over fifteen years of experience in academia and the nonprofit sector. After completing her Ph.D. in Immunology back in Argentina, she moved to the U.S. to further her scientific training as a postdoctoral fellow working at Albany Medical College, Albany, NY, and New York University, New York, NY respectively. Always interested in having a more direct involvement in patient care communities and translating medical knowledge and research findings into population health improvement, Sofia switched out the laboratory for the nonprofit world. Her experience as a patient advocate at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) reinforced her interest in pursuing a career in a community-based organization and being part of a team with the common goal of helping people.

 

Andrew Olsen
Operations & Data Specialist

Andrew joined MDF in 2019 as an Operations and Data Specialist to assist with donation processing, manage day-to-day administrative tasks, and assist with mailing campaigns. Andrew’s love for helping people, awe of our community’s strong bonds, and excitement to join a small team working to make a difference made him an excellent fit for MDF. As a critical part of our development team, Andrew has processed thousands of donations and particularly enjoys the attention to detail required for his work. Andrew earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing from California State University, Chico.

 

Ruth Sheldon, MPH, MSW
Health Resource Consultant

In fall of 2022, Ruth Sheldon joined our team as our Health Resource Consultant! Ruth lives with myotonic dystrophy and is eager to apply her academic and professional knowledge to a cause she is passionate about. Ruth has a background in community health programming, public health policy, and clinical social work; she obtained her MPH and MSW from the University of Minnesota in 2021. Currently, Ruth lives in Saint Paul where she spends weekends visiting apple orchards and writing poetry.

 

Nadine Skinner, PhD, MPA
Research Coordinator

Dr. Skinner has over a decade of experience in grants management, fundraising, and evaluation at a range of community-based organizations, government agencies, and international organizations. She recently completed her PhD in International Comparative Education at Stanford and teaches courses on globalization, international development, human rights, and education at San José State and Stanford. She earned an MPA from Cornell University in Social Policy and a BA from UC Santa Cruz in Politics & History.

 

Tanya Stevenson, EdD, MPH
Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Tanya Stevenson joined MDF in January 2020, bringing with her nearly 20 years of hands-on experience leading mission-driven nonprofit organizations and driving large-scale strategic initiatives. Her expertise in organizational development, program design and evaluation, advocacy, and community engagement are complemented by her long history of successful collaborative work with diverse stakeholders.

Dr. Stevenson joins MDF after serving as President and CEO of Breathe California Golden Gate Public Health Partnership, a century-old nonprofit working to eliminate lung disease through advocacy, education, and direct services. Prior to Breathe California she worked with Girls Incorporated of Alameda County, the New York City Department of Health, American Cancer Society, National Evaluation AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC), as well as the New York/New Jersey AETC at Columbia University. After earning her Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Women’s Studies at UCLA, she went on to receive her Doctorate of Education and Master of Public Health degree in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University.

Tanya is thrilled to join the MDF family and ready to advance our mission. She invites you to reach out to her directly to share how you believe we may continue to expand our reach and maximize our impact!

 

2023 Interns

Jennifer Kang
Public Health Intern

Jennifer Kang joined MDF in December 2022 as a nonprofit public health program intern. She will graduate UC Davis with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Medical Microbiology. Previously, she worked as an assistant in an ophthalmology lab at UC Davis, where she helped with various in vitro studies. Jennifer has a passion for community outreach, science, and medicine. She hopes to pursue a career as a physician. She is excited to join MDF to bring greater awareness to myotonic dystrophy and provide more resources and information for the DM community.

 

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