DNA graphic

Board of Directors

Richard DeScherer (Dick) is the chief legal and compliance 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.

Having graduated from University Virginia, Mr. DeScherer received his law degree from Georgetown University. He went on to earn a Master of Laws in Taxation at New York University.

Mr. DeScherer led the former S.L.E. Lupus Foundation as President for many years, working closely with his wife Jennie who also continues her commitment as a Board member of the Lupus Research Alliance. The couple have two grown children Christopher (Amanda Honeycutt) and Katie DeSantis and reside in Manhattan.

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, Mr. Akselrad 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, Mr. Akselrad 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, Mr. Akselrad was instrumental in securing a new stadium as well as advising on the family’s other investment holdings.

Mr. Akselrad 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 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 A. Chazen is Founder and Chairman of Chazen Capital Partners, a private investment firm. Chazen is also Chairman Emeritus of Liz Claiborne, Inc., and is one of the four founding partners who established the Company in 1976. He was largely responsible for the innovative sales, marketing, distribution and licensing programs that are an integral part of Liz Claiborne, Inc.’s success. Prior to joining the venture that would become Liz Claiborne, Inc., Mr. Chazen worked as an analyst on Wall Street.

Mr. Chazen attended the University of Wisconsin and received his MBA from Columbia University. He is a Trustee Emeritus of Columbia University and Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Overseers of the Columbia Business School. Additionally, Jerry serves on the Boards of the 92nd Street Y, the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurial Initiative Fund. He also serves on the Lupus Research Alliance, Newport Jazz Foundation, Louis Armstrong House Museum, Taubman Company and The Partnership Fund for New York City.  He is also Chairman Emeritus of the Museum of Arts and Design.

Mr. Chazen is the founder of the Jerome A. Chazen Institute for Global Business at Columbia and serves on the board.  Previously, he served on the Board at the Metropolitan Opera and the Fashion Institute of Technology.  He and his wife, Simona, a fellow MAD Trustee, are also founders of the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin.

Jerry and Simona have three children and seven grandchildren. They are both avid art collectors, and split their time between Manhattan and their home in Upper Nyack.

Dr. Thomas O. Daniel is Chairman & President of Vividion Therapeutics, a venture partner at ARCH Venture Partners, and Director at Zafgen, Inc., JUNO Therapeutics, Magenta Therapeutics, and VIR Bio. Formerly Dr. Daniel served asPresident/Chairman, Research and Early Development of Celgene Corp. Prior to over a decade with Celgene, he was the Chief Scientific Officer at Ambrx Inc., as Vice President, Research at Amgen Inc., and as Senior Vice President of Discovery Research at Immunex.

Dr. Daniel currently serves as a member of the Biomedical Science Advisory Board of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. A nephrologist and former academic investigator, Dr. Daniel was previously the K.M. Hakim Professor of Medicine and Cell Biology at Vanderbilt University, and Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Vascular Biology. He formerly conducted research in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UC San Francisco, earned an M.D. from the University of Texas, Southwestern, and completed medical residency at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Jennie DeScherer is an active Board member of the Lupus Research Alliance having helped lead the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation (S.L.E.) and the Lupus Research Institute (LRI) since the early years of both organizations. Ms. DeScherer remains very involved in developing virtually all fundraising events and program initiatives at the Lupus Research Alliance.

In addition to her work on behalf of the lupus community, Ms. DeScherer serves on the Board of the Spoleto Festival USA. She is also an active participant in and patron of the arts and other cultural institutions.

Ms. DeScherer and her husband Richard have two children, Christopher (Amanda Honeycutt) and Katie DeSantis and five grandchildren.

Sir Marc Feldmann, AC, FRS is Emeritus Professor and former Head, of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology-‘ Nuffield department of Orthopedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal science, University of Oxford.

For his discovery of Anti-TNF therapy as an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, Sir Marc received the highly prestigious Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences , the Albert Lasker Clinical Research Award, the Canada Gairdner International Award.  Sir Feldmann was the “European Inventor of the year” in 2006, in the Lifetime achievement category. Other major scientific awards include the Ernst Schering Prize and Paul Janssen award. He has also received much recognition for his scientific excellence from Academies of Science; he is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a foreign Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

Sir Marc received his medical degree at Melbourne University and a doctorate in Immunology at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute in Australia.

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.

Mr. Lucido is a founding member of DoubleLine, and a member of the firm’s Executive Management. He was previously at TCW as a Group Managing Director. Prior to joining TCW in 2001, Mr. Lucido was the Chief Investment Officer for Delphi Financial Group (DFG) and on a number of subsidiary Boards. Before DFG, he was the Chief Operating Officer, MD & Secretary for Hyperion Capital Management & was also a member of the Resolution Trust Advisory Committee.

Since February 2013, he has served as a member of the Board of Directors of CASA of Los Angeles and is currently Chairman. In June 2013, he was elected to the Board of Junior Achievement, Southern California and 826LA. In January 2015, he joined the Strategic Advisory Council of the CFA Society Los Angeles.

Mr. Lucido received his MBA in Management and Finance from New York University, and is a former member of the Dean’s Executive Board of the N.Y.U. Stern School of Business.

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), Mr. Mauriello 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.

Joe Germanotta is a business person, philanthropist and restauranteur. The father of Natali, a noted fashion designer based in New York and Los Angeles, and Stefani Germanotta, the Golden Globe and six-time Grammy Award-winning global superstar Lady Gaga, Mr. Germanotta is actively involved in several entertainment companies and hospitality ventures.

Previously an Internet and telecommunications entrepreneur, Mr. Germanotta has consulted for several Internet startups and founded companies in emerging markets that provided such services as prepaid telephone calling and hotel WiFi systems.

Mr. Germanotta is currently an investor in restaurants, real estate, entertainment and technology companies. He is the managing member of Joanne Trattoria, the Germanotta family-owned restaurant located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

He is Board Member and Treasurer of Born This Way Foundation, a not-for-profit organization founded in 2011 by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia to promote kindness, tolerance and bravery among young people. A director of New York City’s Columbus Day Parade, Mr. Germanotta is a graduate of the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. He is a passionate Spartan basketball fan.

Joe and Cynthia Germanotta reside in New York City.

Nadeem Meghji is a Senior Managing Director in the Real Estate Group and Head of Real Estate Americas, based in New York. Mr. Meghji has played a leadership role in Blackstone’s investment activity in the US, including the acquisition of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, Biomed Realty Trust, and Brixmor Property Group.

Before joining Blackstone in 2008, Mr. Meghji worked as an associate at the Lionstone Group.

Mr. Meghji received a BS in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University, where he graduated summa cum laude. He received a JD from Harvard Law School and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

William J. Mulvihill has spent more than 40 years advocating for the more than 53 million and 300,000 children affected by  arthritis and related diseases. As a past National Chair of the Arthritis Foundation, Mr. Mulvihill was responsible for leading nearly 600,000 volunteers and staff nationwide.

He retired from the University of Cincinnati in 2016 after over 44 years of service holding a number of leadership positions in Alumni Relations; Student Affairs; Intercollegiate Athletics and ultimately serving as   the Executive Vice President at the University of Cincinnati Foundation, where managed Proudly Cincinnati, the University’s $1 billion dollar campaign. Upon retirement he started the Mulvihill Advisory Group to provide counsel and guidance to non-profit organizations.

Mr. Mulvihill received a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Cincinnati and a master’s degree in education from Ohio University.

Mr. Mulvihill is currently a member of the National Institute of Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease (NIAMS) Council and a Trustee Emeritus at the Arthritis Foundation. He is also a past member of the Board of Directors of the American Juvenile Arthritis Organization and St. Xavier High School.

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.

Mr. 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 Lupus Research Alliance.

Among many honors, Mr. 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 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 investment management company Neuberger Berman, LLC.

Mr. Ravitz was a founding member and had served as Chairman of the former Lupus Research Institute and as Board Vice President of the former SLE Lupus Foundation.

Mr. Ravitz graduated from Colgate University before earning his law degree from Harvard University. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He lives in Manhattan and has a son John Ravitz. Robert’s daughter Annie battled lupus until she passed away in 2015.

Fern Kaye Tessler has served in senior positions at Barry Kaye Associates, specializing in the areas of estate planning and wealth creation. Having served as a Board member of the former SLE Lupus Foundation for many years, Ms. Tessler is strongly committed to the Lupus Research Alliance mission.

Passionate about her community, philanthropy and art, Ms. Tessler is currently a vice chairman 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. In addition, she has served on the Board of Carl Schurz Park Conservancy, Temple Shaaray Tefila, and the Contemporary Acquisition Committee of the Israel Museum. She and her husband Lenard have co-chaired the NY Region of The American Associates of Ben Gurion University.

Manhattan residents, Mr. and Mrs. Tessler have two grown children.

Carol Weisman is a principal at the real estate developer Enterprise Asset Management, which has major holdings in New York and California.

Ms. Weisman was instrumental in galvanizing support for Lupus LA and helping to build, what was at the time, the West Coast Division of the former SLE Lupus Foundation. Ms. Weisman had been an active Board member of the SLE Lupus Foundation for many years before continuing her leadership role with the Lupus Research Alliance.

Carol and her husband Michael Weisman live in Manhattan. They have two children: Jed Weisman, and Brett Heyman and three grandchildren.

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 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.

Spencer Zwick is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Solamere Capital LLC. A resident of Wellesley, MA, he co-founded the firm in 2008. He has been involved with building the firms network in both the public and private sectors for over a decade.

Previously, Mr. Zwick served as the Finance Chairman of both the 2008 and 2012 “Romney for President” campaigns. He was the Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer to the Office of Governor Romney. In that position, he oversaw all operational and financial activity of the Office of the Massachusetts Governor. Zwick also served as the executive liaison to five of the twelve cabinet agencies. Previously, he worked in the Executive Office of the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee for the Winter Games of 2002, where Spencer helped to erase a $379 million deficit. He currently serves as the Finance Chairman of Speaker Paul Ryan’s political organization, as well as a board member of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases.

Read about our progress on research, trials and grants