Leading the way to a cure

Board of Directors

Robert Wood Johnson IV (Chairman)

Message from the Chairman

Robert Wood Johnson IV is a member of the founding family of Johnson & Johnson, the worldwide healthcare corporation. He serves on the board of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and numerous business and philanthropic organizations. His family has been affected by both lupus and juvenile diabetes, which has motivated Mr. Johnson to take a leading role in raising funds to prevent, treat, and cure autoimmune diseases. Mr. Johnson is tireless in his efforts on Capitol Hill and at the National Institutes of Health to increase research funding for lupus, diabetes, and other autoimmune diseases. He lives in New York City, where he is chairman and CEO of The Johnson Company, Inc., and the New York Jets, LLC.

Richard K. DeScherer (Vice-Chair)

Dick has been the Chief Legal Officer of Bloomberg L.P. since January 1, 2012. Previously, he had served as a Partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, LLP for over 25 years. He specializes in general corporate law, information technology, media, and intellectual property. He has served as the President of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation for many years.

Ira Akselrad

Ira Akselrad joined The Johnson Company, Inc. (the private investment company of the Johnson family), in 2006 as Executive Vice President and General Counsel. In 2008 he became President of the company.

Prior to joining the Company, Ira was an attorney for 22 years at the New York law firm, Proskauer Rose LLP. He became Partner in 1990, and in 1999, was elected to serve on the firm’s Management Committee. As Partner, his practice was principally devoted to federal income tax law, and he was involved with the firm’s sports and real estate practices. In this role, Ira advised many major real estate companies and sports leagues on structuring acquisitions and dispositions. His sports clients included the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, as well as a number of other National Football League and Major League Baseball clubs.

In 1999 Robert Wood Johnson IV retained Ira to represent him in acquiring the New York Jets. Following this successful acquisition, Ira was instrumental in securing a new stadium as well as advising on the family’s other investment holdings.

Ira and his wife Susan reside in New Jersey, and have two grown children; his daughter Cara lives in New York, and his son Mitchell resides in California.

Neil Burmeister

Neil J. Burmeister retired in 2011 but continues to be a presence at The Johnson Company, Inc., which provides administrative, financial, and advisory services for Robert Wood Johnson IV and members of his family. He was the president of The Johnson Company until 2008 when he semi-retired to become a special advisor. He is a trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson 1962 Charitable Trust and the Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. 1962 Charitable Trust. In addition, he has served as a director of the University of Wisconsin Foundation, a member of the International Advisory Board of The Children’s Diabetes Center and has positions in various privately held companies.

Jerome Chazen

Jerry is Founder and Chairman of Chazen Capital Partners, a private investment firm. He is also Chairman Emeritus of Liz Claiborne, Inc., and one of the four founding partners who established the Company in 1976. Jerry has served on the SLE and LRI Board of Directors for many years.

Jennie DeScherer

Jennie is one of the founding Board members of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and the Lupus Research Institute. In addition to her lupus related activities, Jennie is a leader in many other causes such as the Mt. Sinai Medical School in New York and a principal supporter of the National Dance Institute’s program for hearing impaired children.

Sir Marc Feldman

Emeritus Professor and former Head, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology-University of Oxford Known for the discovery of Anti-TNF therapy as an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

Daniel M. LaVecchia

Daniel LaVecchia is the Executive Managing Director, North America, Global Head of FX Products, BGC Partners, Inc. Mr. LaVecchia runs BGC's operations in North America and global foreign exchange products. He is responsible for leading the expansion of BGC as a global wholesale fixed-income, interest rate, foreign exchange, and derivative brokerage firm.

Prior to his appointment as Executive Managing Director, North America for BGC, Mr. LaVecchia was Executive Managing Director, Director U.S. Operations for eSpeed, the leading provider of electronic trading technology for the global capital markets. This role entailed responsibility for all of the North American front-office, revenue generating operations.

Mr. LaVecchia has worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and its related businesses for over 19 years, including as Executive Managing Director for Cantor's international operations. Prior to this he was responsible for Cantor Fitzgerald's derivative and foreign exchange businesses in Europe and Asia and served as the liaison between Cantor Fitzgerald and eSpeed.

Mr. LaVecchia is a supporter of numerous local charities in New York, including the Alliance for Lupus Research where he is presently co-chairing the NYC Walk with Us to Cure Lupus. Mr. LaVecchia supports the Boomer Esiason Foundation, a charity devoted to finding a cure for cystic fibrosis and is also associated with the Joe Torre’s Safe at Home Foundation.

Joseph Mauriello (Treasurer)

Joseph Mauriello retired in 2006 as Deputy Chairman & COO of KPMG, after 40 years of serving in various leadership positions.

He serves on the boards of several institutions, including XL Capital Ltd, Fidelity Funds, Arcadia Resources, the School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Sciences (former College of Insurance) of Peter J. Tobin College of Business at St. John's University, New York, and the Board of Trustees of the St. Barnabas Medical Center, Livingston, NJ.

A graduate of St. John's University (BA, MBA), Joe is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and a Certified Public Accountant in New York. Joe lives in Naples, Florida, and Mendham, New Jersey, with his wife Mary.

William J. Mulvihill

William J. Mulvihill has spent more than 20 years advocating for the more than 43 million people affected by/with arthritis and related diseases. As a past chair of the Arthritis Foundation, Mr. Mulvihill was responsible for leading nearly 600,000 volunteers and staff nationwide.

In his professional career, he is the Executive Vice President at the University of Cincinnati Foundation. Previously he was the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Development at the University of Cincinnati. Mr. Mulvihill received a bachelor's degree in business from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in education from Ohio University.

Bill is currently Trustee Emeritus at the Arthritis Foundation. He is also a past member of the Board of Directors of the American Juvenile Arthritis Organization.

Robert W. Pittman

Robert W. Pittman is Chief Executive Officer of Clear Channel. He is also a founding member of Pilot Group, LLC, a New York private investment firm.

Pittman is the co-founder and programmer who led the team that created MTV and has been CEO of MTV Networks, AOL Networks, Six Flags Theme Parks, Quantum Media, Century 21 Real Estate, and Time Warner Enterprises. He was also COO of America Online, Inc. and later of AOL Time Warner. He is the former chairman of the Robin Hood Foundation and the Public Theater of New York, and still serves on those boards in addition to New York City Ballet, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Alliance for Lupus Research.

Among many honors, Pittman has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame and received the International Radio and Television Society's Gold Medal and a Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Award. He was recognized in Life's “Five Original Thinkers of the ’80s", Advertising Age's "50 Pioneers and Visionaries of TV" and "10 Marketers Who Changed American Culture."

Robert Ravitz (Board Secretary)

A Harvard Law School graduate, Robert practiced law for six years in New York before joining the investment firm of David J. Greene & Co., where he served as a principal for many years. He is now retired from Neuberger Berman, LLC. Mr. Ravitz is a founding Board member and had served as chairman of the Lupus Research Institute and board vice president of the SLE Lupus Foundation.

Fern Kaye Tessler

Fern has served in senior positions at Barry Kaye Associates, specializing in the area of estate planning and wealth creation. Fern has served as an SLE Board member and is currently a vice president of the Whitney Museum of Art’s Board of Trustees and a member of the New York Weill Cornell Council at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Carol Weisman

Carol is a principal at Enterprise Asset Management, which has major real estate holdings in New York and California. She was instrumental in galvanizing support for Lupus LA and helping to build, what was at the time, the West Coast Division of the SLE Lupus Foundation. Carol was an SLE Board member for many years.

Keith Wold

Keith Wold has served on the Board of Directors/Trustees of several non-profit organizations including Helpline Telephone Services (NYC). From 1984 - 1985 he served as the project coordinator for Habitat for Humanities first building in New York City. Also, from 1985 to 1989 he served on the Board of Contact USA (now National Helpline).  From 1992 to 1998 he held offices with the Police Liaison Group and the 89th Street Block Association in NYC, community organizations for the Upper West Side where he now lives with his daughter. He served on the Board of Trustees of the Calhoun School and was the Chairman of the Building Committee during a major renovation project.

William J. Wolfe

William J. Wolfe is the co-founder, President and CEO of First Washington Realty, Inc., a privately held real estate investment advisory and management firm which specializes in the acquisition, ownership and management of neighborhood and community shopping centers located in densely populated areas throughout the United States. Mr. Wolfe was the co-founder and former President and CEO of First Washington Realty Trust, Inc., a public REIT that traded on the New York Stock Exchange from 1994 through 2001. Over 30 years the companies have owned, operated, provided investment advisory services and managed retail properties with a value in excess of $6.5 billion.

Prior to entering the real estate business, Mr. Wolfe served in the Executive Office of the President of the United States. He is on the Board of Trustees of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Alternatives for Youth Foundation. Mr. Wolfe is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, Chief Executives’ Organization, and the World Presidents’ Organization. He has served as a Board member of Washington Heart, the University of Maryland School of Public Affairs, the Corporate Advisory Board of the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School, and the National Bank of Commerce. He has chaired major capital campaigns for Fight for Children, Jewish Foundation for Group Homes and Super Leaders.

In 1971, Mr. Wolfe founded The Key Program, Inc., a New England based youth service agency that provides a variety of residential and non-residential programming to at-risk youth and their families. Mr. Wolfe served as Key’s Chairman for 25 years. Since inception, Key has provided services to over 80,000 young people and their families. Since 1998, William J. Wolfe Scholarships have been awarded by the Alternatives for Youth Foundation to over 100 students for college or vocational training.

Mr. Wolfe received his Bachelor’s Degree from Clark University and his Master’s Degree from Harvard University.


James P. Andrew

Jim Andrew is Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer of Royal Philips Electronics and Chairman of the Company’s Sustainability Board. He is based in Amsterdam. He joined the Company in July 2011.

Prior to this, he was Senior Partner and Managing Director of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Chicago.

Jim is the author of many articles and a highly-acclaimed book on innovation (Payback: Reaping the Rewards of Innovation), and is a sought-after public speaker on the topic. Jim has an MBA with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Business and a BS from The University of Illinois, with highest honors.

1.5 million

people in the U.S. have Lupus.

172 million

dollars committed to lupus research by the Lupus Research Alliance.

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