Board of Directors
AFTD’s Board of Directors is comprised of dedicated individuals who are committed to carrying out the mission and vision of the organization as well as taking responsibility for its fiscal well-being. The majority of board members are or have been caregivers for a loved one with FTD, and each makes a minimum donation to AFTD every year. Each member pays his or her own expenses to attend the annual meeting in person, as well as expenses associated with other meetings he or she may attend throughout the year on behalf of AFTD. Members must also serve on at least one Board committee, and renew their commitment to the Board each year by signing an agreement delineating their responsibilities as a director of AFTD.
Jary Larsen, Ph.D., Chair, San Francisco, CA, is a research psychologist at the East Bay Institute for Research and Education. In addition to his professional interest in FTD research, Dr. Larsen is committed to research on a personal level. He has a brother who has been diagnosed with FTD.
Debbie Fenoglio, Vice Chair, Denver, CO, is a retired nurse whose husband, Dr. Michael Fenoglio, was a prominent surgeon in Denver. He was diagnosed with FTD a few years ago and had a sister who died of FTD at age 56. Ms. Fenoglio is particularly interested in research and program development.
Bryan Dalesandro, Treasurer, Philadelphia, PA , is a client relationship manager at CMS Companies, a financial services firm just outside of Philadelphia. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and Chartered Financial Consultant®, Mr. Dalesandro is especially interested in AFTD fund development and finance. His mother passed away from CBD.
Susan Eissler, M.B.A., Secretary, Georgetown, TX, is a pension actuary with audit experience. It took 10 years to get a diagnosis for her husband, who died of FTD/corticobasal degeneration at the age of 60. Three of his siblings, his mother, a cousin, two uncles and a grandfather also developed the disease. In her husband’s spirit of turning problems into opportunities, Ms. Eissler focuses on educating healthcare professionals for better diagnosis and care. She chairs AFTD’s Caregiver Respite committee.
Beth Walter, Past Chair, Sacramento, CA, partner in a real estate development company and a civic leader, lost her husband and four of his family members to FTD/ALS. Ms. Walter has established the Walter Charitable Fund to raise resources to further FTD research and share knowledge about the diseases.
Deanna Angello, M.B.A., New York, NY, has served various marketing, analytics and strategy roles since joining Pfizer in 2004 as part of the Finance Leadership Development Program. She is currently the Director, New Product Planning & Business Development for the US Brands portfolio for Established Products. Ms. Angello holds an MBA in Strategic Management and Finance from Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, and a BS in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She is an avid triathlete and marathon runner, and loves pushing her limits. She trekked to Everest Base Camp in Nepal as part of her fundraising for AFTD in April 2012 in honor of her father who has FTD.
Earl Comstock, Esq., Washington, DC, has a law degree from George Mason University and worked as a legislative director before joining a law firm in Washington. He continues to work in Washington where he started his own consulting business. Mr. Comstock, whose father had FTD, is the son of Helen-Ann Comstock, the founder of AFTD and past chair of the board of directors. Mr. Comstock is particularly interested in advocacy and public policy.
Helen-Ann Comstock, Perkasie, PA, is the founder of AFTD. Her husband, Craig, was diagnosed with FTD at age 44 in 1978 and died seven years later. In order to increase research funding for frontotemporal degeneration and to provide information and support to those coping with FTD, Ms. Comstock formed the AFTD in 2002 and served as its board chair until 2010. Ms. Comstock continues to spearhead the organization’s international efforts and serves on the research and advocacy committees. The Comstock Caregiver Respite Program is named in honor her and the foundation she has laid for the organization.
Francine Laden, Sc.D., Boston, MA, is associate professor of environmental epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Laden lost her father to FTD in January 2009, and her family has donated generously to AFTD to fund research and a fellowship. She is particularly interested in furthering the research and education portions of AFTD’s mission.
Emily Levy, M.B.A., Brookline, MA, is a principal at Synergy Partners, a biotech consulting company. Ms. Levy co-founded the first support group for caregivers in the Boston area, and organized the first FTD Caregivers Education Day in New England. She is part of Team Alice, a group that organized to help a friend diagnosed in 2007 with FTD. Ms. Levy is particularly interested in caregiver issues, research, and fund development.
Sylvia Mackey, Baltimore, MD, is a nationally known speaker on behalf of the dementia community. Founder of the Mackey Fund nonprofit organization, Ms. Mackey was the wife of former National Football League player and Hall of Fame member John Mackey, who passed away from FTD in 2011. She is a recognized advocacy leader and was particularly effective in advocating with the NFL for the “88 Plan,” which provides coverage for the care needs of former players with dementia.
Linda E. Nee, LCSW-C, North Bethesda, MD, is a research social worker. Full time at NIH from 1968 until 2004, her research included genetic family studies of dementia. Since 2004, she has continued family studies with ADHD now works part time with NHGRI, NIH. She was a founding member of the AFTD Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) and served on AFTD’s Task Forces for Respite Care for Families and Families with Children. Ms. Nee brings a breadth of experience including published research, grant review and collaboration with other FTD researchers.
Lisa Radin, Las Vegas, NV, a special events consultant for the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter, was a caregiver to her husband, Neil, who died from corticobasal degeneration. She has facilitated FTD support groups in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and currently facilitates one in Las Vegas. Ms. Radin, with her son, Gary, conceived and edited the first book ever dedicated to providing information to FTD caregivers: What If It’s Not Alzheimer’s?: A Caregiver’s Guide to Dementia. She was a founding member of AFTD and has devoted her time and expertise in the areas of caregiving and the organizing of FTD Conferences.
Popkin Shenian, Philadelphia, PA, is the principal and owner of The Shenian Company, a commercial real estate firm. His father had corticobasal degeneration and his mother was a founding board member of AFTD. Mr. Shenian has advocated for AFTD and our community’s interest with Senator Arlen Specter and twice has been key in getting verbiage about FTD research funding into the Budget Appropriations Committee document. He also serves on AFTD’s advocacy committee.
Bonnie Shepherd, Salt Lake City, UT, retired from Hewlett Packard in 2002 after a 30-year-plus career in the computer industry. Her husband Ned was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Degeneration in 2007 and passed away in 2011. She was appointed to the Utah State Task force for Alzheimer’s and was successful in adding related dementias verbiage to the final plan that was approved by the state legislature. Ms. Shepherd facilitates an FTD Caregiver Support group and works to educate the community on FTD and the many faces of brain degeneration.
John Whitmarsh, Ph.D., Los Angeles, CA, has a Ph.D. in Physics and worked as a professor of biophysics at the University of Illinois from 1981-2002. He worked at NIH from 2003-2010 in the Institute of General Medical Sciences, where his passion was to foster an innovative approach to scientific research and education. Mr. Whitmarsh’s wife, who is diagnosed with FTD, was a scientist at NIH as well.