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The mission and vision of the PFF can only be achieved through the dedication and commitment of the people who have been chosen to lead the PFF team. Below is a list of our Leadership Officers & Senior Staff.
William T. Schmidt is responsible for the overall management and direction of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, which is the nation’s leading pulmonary fibrosis patient research, education and advocacy organization. The PFF mobilizes people and resources to provide access to high-quality care and leads research for a cure so people with pulmonary fibrosis will live longer, healthier lives.
Bill has extensive experience as a senior executive for a number of high-profile and respected health research advocacy organizations. Prior to joining the PFF, William was CEO of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, the largest non-governmental source of funding for retinal degenerative disease research in the world. Earlier, he was Vice President of Public Affairs at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.
Bill earned his BA from Amherst College and received a JD from the DePaul University College of Law. He completed the Kellogg Graduate School of Management’s Executive Development Program.
Scott Staszak has worked in leadership roles for the PFF since 2011. He oversees the effective execution of the business plan for the organization and manages the day-to-day functioning of the operating units – PFF Registry; Care Center Network; Corporate Business Development; Finance; Human Resources; and Information Technology. He also supports strategic planning for the Foundation.
Prior to joining the PFF, Scott worked at The Field Museum of Natural History for nearly ten years as the director of financial operations. Additionally, he taught a course in financial management within the master’s degree program for Arts Administration and Policy at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.
Laura Sadler manages the planning, development and execution of the PFF’s marketing, communications, and advertising initiatives. This includes directing the Foundation’s social media strategy, website presence, awareness campaigns, and public relations efforts.
A not-for-profit executive with more than 30 years of experience, Laura also has expertise in revenue generation, program planning and management, new business development and annual and long-term fiscal management.
Prior to joining the PFF, Laura had a consultancy in which she assisted cultural organizations with developing new programs and activities, while maximizing their brand presence. She was Senior Vice President at The Field Museum where she developed innovative programming to drive engagement and revenue. Before that, Laura was Director, Retail Operations at the Lincoln Park Zoological Society, the most-visited zoo in the United States.
Laura has a BA from Bowling Green State University.
Joe Lasky is a professor and Pulmonary/Critical Care Section Chief at Tulane University Medical School. He serves as the Site Principal Investigator for numerous ongoing clinical trials in pulmonary fibrosis. Dr. Lasky has authored over 100 PF publications spanning basic molecular science to clinical trials. He is a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians and a member of the American Thoracic Society. Dr. Lasky earned his medical degree at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic. He attended Duke University for his fellowship in pulmonary and clinical care.
Dr. Amy Case established the ILD program at Georgia Lung Associates, which became part of the Piedmont Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Division in 2013. She leads the Advanced Lung Disease at Piedmont directs the ILD program, which became part of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation’s Care Center Network in 2014. Dr. Case also serves as principal investigator for numerous clinical trials for pulmonary fibrosis.
Dr. Sonye Danoff is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Co-Director of the Interstitial Lung Disease Clinic at Johns Hopkins Medicine. Dr. Danoff is a specialist in diseases causing fibrosis in the lung, particularly those associated with autoimmune diseases including myositis. She actively participates in local, regional, and international collaborative groups in the study of ILD.
Dr. Kevin Flaherty is the Director of the Interstitial Lung Disease Program and Associate Professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Michigan Health System. His clinical and research interests include lung transplant, COPD, and interstitial lung diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis. Dr. Flaherty is an active participant on grants and clinical trials related to the study and treatment of patients with idiopathic interstitial pneumonias, particularly idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Dr. Joyce Lee is an Associate Professor of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care and Director of the Interstitial Lung Disease Program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She established the University’s ILD program which is now part of the PFF Care Center Network. Dr. Lee has developed clinical-translational research programs with both NIH and non-NIH funded investigator-initiated studies and clinical trials.
Zoe joined the PFF ten years ago and is responsible for Board of Directors and committee-related projects, governance, management reporting, and logistics. She also manages the PFF’s research program and the peer-review process throughout the entire lifecycle of a research award, and she is responsible for the biennial PFF Summit program development process and faculty management. She works on many cross-departmental initiatives, including the Foundation’s strategic plan and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force.
She has almost 25 years of experience working across multiple federal and state regulated organizations and in the private sector in quality control, finance and accounting, audit preparation and management, budgeting, grant writing, staff management, change management, project management, board management, and analytics.
Zoe received a BS in Business Management and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.
Kate Gates leads the PFF’s education and volunteer Programs – including the PFF Ambassador Program; Support Group Leader Network; Disease Education Webinar Series; and Patient Education Materials. She also works with the PFF’s government affairs program and PFF Advocates. Kate is responsible for the strategy and development of the Programs to meet the needs of the pulmonary fibrosis community.
Before joining the PFF, Kate oversaw a team that managed healthcare services for children in foster care in New York City. She also has worked as a case manager for adults with chronic diseases. Kate has experience in program development, community outreach, and patient advocacy.
Kate has a Master’s in Development Management (MSc) from the London School of Economics and a BA from Taylor University.
Seth is responsible for overseeing the Fundraising operation at the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. He provides leadership in guiding staff members in fundraising events, annual fund, and major and planned giving fundraising initiatives. He personally engages with donors and volunteers in fundraising to further the mission of the organization.
Previously, Seth spent 15 years at Children’s Memorial Hospital, later Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, in leadership roles in Human Resources as well as Lurie Children’s Foundation, where he was the Vice-President of Operations.
Seth graduated from Ohio University with a BS in Health Care Administration and a Minor in Business.
Jennifer Mefford leads corporate partnerships at the PFF in support of mission-driven activities that serve the PF community. This includes developing and managing program and event sponsorship and grants. In addition, she directs corporate engagement for the biennial PFF Summit.
Prior to joining the PFF, Jennifer managed events for the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, a mid-size multi-disciplinary arts center, including theater, dance, film, and music.
She coordinated a multi-day theater symposium as part of RADAR L.A., an international festival of contemporary theater produced by REDCAT (Los Angeles) Center Theatre Group (Los Angeles) and The Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival (New York).
Jennifer holds a MA in Arts Administration and Policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicagoand a BA from California State University, Northridge.
Jessica Shore manages the PFF Care Center Network (CCN), supporting centers across the country that specialize in interstitial lung disease to improve the care delivered to patients living with pulmonary fibrosis.
Prior to joining the PFF, Jessica directed a clinical research office and taught nursing students at Loyola University Chicago. Her research focused on adherence to medication and community engagement with research.
Jessica started her bedside nursing career in the medical intensive care unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. She then transitioned into research nursing and administration at academic medical centers.
Jessica graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Loyola University Chicago and received a PhD at the University of Illinois Chicago.
Junelle Speller oversees all aspects of the PFF Registry, an unparalleled research program that collects, analyzes, and reports clinical and participant-report data to advance research on pulmonary fibrosis. Junelle manages various relationships with participants, investigators, funders, and other stakeholders. She also serves on PFF taskforces on Strategic Planning and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Junelle brings a unique mix of for- and non-profit health care experience, including early work in outcomes improvement policy and more recent leadership positions in health care management consulting, digital solutions, and clinical data registries. She has worked with multiple organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Cerner Corporation, and Navigant Consulting.
Junelle holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management and a BA in biology from Yale University, serving as an active alumnus to recruit and interview prospective students. She also is Vice Chair for Snow City Arts, a Chicagoland organization providing arts education to hospitalized children.
Jeri works across the Foundation overseeing all logistical details of PFF conferences and meetings, including the biennial PFF Summit, annual Volunteer meeting, in-person Board of Directors meetings, and select annual conferences for healthcare professionals. She also manages Shop PFF, and coordinated the PFF Safety Kit program in 2020-21.
Jeri has worked in the non-profit sector since 1994, when she became the retail director for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She later moved to the Field Museum as their retail director, overseeing all aspects of their nine stores, including developing stores and merchandise selections for special museum exhibitions. She spent her last year at the museum as their business development director before joining the PFF.
Jeri graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and holds a BS in political science and history.
Amy Wardzala lends her expertise to all things development and oversees PFF’s fundraising events. She enjoys working with donors and finding ways that she can support them in their journeys.
Since joining the PFF five years ago, Amy has held multiple roles within the organization. Amy launched the PFF Walk program in 2017 and has supported the continued expansion of the program since its inception.
Amy has spent the majority of her career in the non-profit sector with an emphasis on peer-to-peer fundraising and events.
Amy graduated from Illinois State University with a BS in Public Relations.