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Leadership & Staff

Staff Leadership

David F. Arons, JD
President & Chief Executive Officer

David Arons is the President & Chief Executive Officer of the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS). In his current role, David provides leadership and management for NBTS and its venture philanthropy affiliate, the Brain Tumor Investment Fund. Fighting cancer is personal to David as he lost his father to cancer as a teenager. Prior to joining NBTS, he served in leadership and external positions at the American Cancer Society in Minnesota, co-founded the Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest, and worked at Independent Sector in Washington, D.C. As a litigation attorney, he previously represented patients facing disabilities and serious health conditions. He is the author of several books, including “Power in Policy: A Funder’s Guide to Advocacy and Civic Participation,” “Strengthening Nonprofit Advocacy,” and “A Voice for Nonprofits.” David has served on the National Cancer Institute’s Council of Research Advocates and Clinical Trials Advisory Committee. In 2016, David was named to the Blue Ribbon Panel of experts selected to help advise the National Cancer Moonshot, led by former Vice President, now President Biden.

Ashley Brennan
Vice President of Development

Ashley Brennan, Vice President of Development oversees a diverse fundraising portfolio including NBTS’ nationwide peer-to-peer fundraising program of team based events, fundraise your way and the Gray Nation Endurance marathon program as well as annual fund, major gifts and planned giving. Under Ashley’s leadership and team management, NBTS events have expanded into multiple new regions as well as optimized virtual donor experience resulting in revenue growth and the improvement of community connections. Prior to joining NBTS Ashley served as a director for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society overseeing both internal and third-party special events, signature fundraising campaigns and the stewardship and management of key individual and corporate donors and board member relations.

Katie Germain
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

Katie Germain is the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at the National Brain Tumor Society. Prior to leading marketing and communications efforts for NBTS, Katie oversaw the digital marketing strategy and systems for Rutgers University Foundation for ten years, serving as lead strategist on major fundraising and engagement campaigns, including Rutgers Giving Day, Giving Tuesday, and the Hall of Distinguished Alumni Awards Gala. She previously held communications roles at Peddie School, Saint Peter’s University, and the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Gary Heimberg
Vice President & Counsel, Government Relations

Gary Heimberg is Vice President & Counsel, Government Relations at the National Brain Tumor Society. In this role, Gary leads and manages relationships with elected and appointed officials, advances NBTS’s public policy agenda, and oversees a robust and inclusive volunteer advocacy program. Before joining NBTS, Gary was Of Counsel in the Public Policy and Government Affairs group at Covington & Burling, LLP in Washington, DC. Prior to Covington, Gary served as Director of Federal Government Relations for GlaxoSmithKline. Earlier in his career, he was a professional staff member for the U.S. Senate Health Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee and a floor assistant for the Senate Majority Secretary. Gary also served as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School.  As a volunteer, Gary is deeply committed to the mission of finding a cure to brain tumors and is active in the Race for Hope DC.

John Higgins
Managing Director, Brain Tumor Investment Fund

John Higgins is Managing Director at the Brain Tumor Investment Fund, the venture philanthropy arm of NBTS. John’s career spans 30 years in biopharma commercialization and business development within both large and emerging companies, most recently as VP Commercial and Corporate Development at Istari Oncology, a startup focused on glioblastoma and other solid tumors. John’s role in BTIF leverages NBTS internal expertise and external networks to identify, evaluate, and invest in promising biopharma, diagnostic, and medical device companies developing advances for brain tumors.

Kevin Jeans
Vice President of Development

Kevin Jeans is Vice President of Development with experience in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining NBTS he served at Joslin Diabetes Center as a member of the Philanthropy Leadership Team and as Director of their corporate partnerships, signature and community events, and affinity group initiatives. Prior to that he spent over a decade as a senior development professional at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Northeastern University. During this time he played a critical role in two multi-billion dollar capital campaigns. Leveraging his two decades of experience, first in business development and later in non-profit management, Kevin has overseen large scale, strategic donor relationships with individuals, corporations and foundations.  

Rachael A. Kittleson, MS Ed
Senior Director, Community

Rachael Kittleson is the Senior Director of Community at the National Brain Tumor Society. Rachael brings more than two decades of experience in education and administration, strategic and long-range institutional planning and evaluation, program development, nonprofit leadership, and community volunteer leadership and engagement. Rachael has been a passionate champion and advocate for patients with brain tumors and their care partners, as well as pediatric cancer initiatives, since 2015. Her dedication to serving the brain tumor community is driven by the loss of her daughter Kelsey to glioblastoma in 2017.

Marisa Petrillo
Chief Operating Officer

Marisa Petrillo is the Chief Operating Officer at the National Brain Tumor Society. Marisa brings more than two decades of experience to her role as a strategic business partner providing guidance on HR policies and procedures, performance management, payroll and benefits administration, employee onboarding and integration, recognition and employee relations, talent acquisition, cybersecurity, IT & systems management. Marisa is committed to working with leadership and staff to build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. She has extensive experience in the nonprofit, financial, and creative services sector. Marisa is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Human Capital Institute.

Kirk Tanner, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Senior Vice President, Brain Tumor Investment Fund

Kirk Tanner is the Chief Scientific Officer at the National Brain Tumor Society. Kirk is an oncology research leader with two decades of experience in discovery and development projects and programs resulting in multiple clinical candidate therapies and investigational new drugs. Formerly, he was the Research Oncology Disease Area Expert and Senior Director at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. As CSO, Kirk leads the National Brain Tumor Society’s research program that aims to catalyze treatment development through philanthropic investment in medical research, engaging scientists, clinicians, patients, and care partners in research programs. Kirk serves as the Chair of the Glioblastoma Drug Development Summit, the only devoted meeting for large pharma, biotech, and pioneering academics working to unite all stakeholders under a mutual and ambitious objective of accelerating the practical discovery, translation, and clinical development of safe, effective and deliverable therapies to treat glioblastoma. Kirk received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, San Diego, and did post-doctoral training at Oregon Health Sciences University.

Kimberly M. Wallgren
Executive Director of the CERN Foundation, a program of the National Brain Tumor Society

Kimberly M. Wallgren is the Executive Director of the CERN Foundation, a program of the National Brain Tumor Society. Under Kim’s leadership, the CERN Foundation has built the leading ependymoma tumor-focused community in the United States and globally, raising public awareness, advancing medical research, and providing support and advocacy for this often underserved disease affecting children and adults.

Bringing nearly fifteen years of experience interacting with patients and families, Kim is passionate about the individual experience of a CNS tumor diagnosis and seeks to influence outcomes by providing direction and education at critical points of the journey. Kim is committed to collaboration between all stakeholders, and she bridges gaps between industry leaders and the patient community.

Board of Directors


Edjah Nduom, MD

Edjah Nduom is the Chair of National Brain Tumor Society Board of Directors. Edjah holds the Daniel Louis Barrow Endowed Chair in Neurosurgery and is an associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine. A fellowship-trained and board certified neurosurgical oncologist, Dr. Nduom’s clinical specialty is the surgical management of brain and spinal cord tumors. He holds numerous positions in national and international medical societies. Dr. Nduom received his MD from University of Pennsylvania and his residency in Neurosurgery at Emory University. He completed a Research Fellowship in Neurosurgical Oncology in the Surgical Neurology Branch of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and an additional Neurosurgical Oncology Fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Erica Birke
Vice Chair

Erica Birke is the Vice Chair of the National Brain Tumor Society Board of Directors. She is also the Head of Institutional and Asset Management Marketing at Fidelity Investments. Prior to her current role, Erica was the Head of Communications for Fidelity Institutional, a division of Fidelity Investments and has served other communications roles within the company since 2009. She has a Bachelor of Arts in political science and English from James Madison University. Erica joined the Board in honor of her father who lost his life to glioblastoma, as well as others in her family who have been affected by the disease.

Mil Parekh

Mil Parekh is the Treasurer of the National Brain Tumor Society Board of Directors. He is a Senior Vice President, Portfolio Management Director, and Family Wealth Advisor at Morgan Stanley. Mil has more than 17 years of wealth management experience, and has dedicated his career to providing customized advice and investment solutions to highly successful individuals, families, and business leaders. Mil earned a degree in Finance from George Washington University and has been recognized as a Forbes Best in State Advisor, recognizing the top financial advisors in the state of Virginia, for 2019, 2022, and 2023.

Leah Recht, JD

Leah Recht is the Clerk of the National Brain Tumor Society Board of Directors. Leah Recht is a partner at Orrick and a member of Orrick’s M&A and Private Equity Group. Her practice focuses on advising private equity funds and their portfolio companies in all aspects of their business. Leah advises clients across a wide range of industries, including tech, food and drug, consulting services, retail, education, manufacturing, insurance, printing and transportation. Leah earned her JD from Georgetown University and was recognized in 2018 and 2019 as a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for business and corporate law.

Board Members

Allison Bishof
Chris Brown
Ryan Lang


Frank Macchiarola
Jigar Raythatha
Kabir Sethi
Joohee Sul, MD


Karen Roberts Turner
Jonathan D. Weinberg
Rabbi Corie Yutkin


Co-Founder: G. Bonnie Feldman
The Brain Tumor Society

Co-Founder: Walter & Ellen Newman and David & Nora Plant
National Brain Tumor Foundatio

Emeritus Board Members

  • Dave Brown
  • Rob Burger
  • Michael Corkin
  • Rob Corrao
  • Dave Donabedian
  • Sarah Durham
  • John Frishkopf
  • Eva Galanis, MD
  • Richard Genderson
  • Ken Grey
  • Steve Karol
  • Sheila Killeen
  • Jeffrey Kolodin (deceased)
  • Michael Nathanson, JD, LLM
  • Chandri Navarro
  • Eric Olson, PhD
  • Susan Pannullo, MD
  • Thomas Roloff
  • Dennis Roth
  • Steve Sadler
  • Liz Salmi
  • Cord Schlobohm, DMD
  • Rabbi Eric B. Wisnia
  • Charles B. Wilson, MD (deceased)
  • Salo Zelermyer, JD


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