Executive leadership

From just a couple staff members and a doctor with a vision, we have grown to be the largest PKD patient advocacy organization in the world. Located in Kansas City, Mo., we are run by a dedicated staff, all of whom have had their lives impacted by PKD. We are proud to be the voice for the millions of people affected by polycystic kidney disease.

Andy Betts, Incoming CEO

andy_betts_tie_200_300Andy Betts has been a senior leader and fundraising professional for over 15 years, with extensive experience leading non-profit executive management teams, and managing development, marketing and volunteer functions for large, non-profit organizations in the United States and Europe.

Betts comes to the Foundation from The Salvation Army of Kansas and Missouri, where he was the Executive Director of Development. He has also held leadership roles for Outreach International in Kansas City, Mo., and The Message Trust and UCB broadcasting in England. As a volunteer, Andy served as Board Chair and fundraiser for Camp Quality UK, a British national cancer charity, and volunteers for Autism Speaks.

Betts has a bachelor of arts in marketing and management from Coventry University, England.  He has a general national vocations qualification in business studies from Worksop College, England, and post-graduate training in managing capital campaigns from the University of Indiana, Purdue University.

David Baron, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer

David Baron, Ph.D.David Baron’s background in biomedical sciences and drug development will keep us moving forward with progress in research.

Baron is particularly interested in the Foundation’s work as he has PKD, along with several family members. Baron received a kidney transplant in 2009. Also, his main research focus has been the movement of electrolytes and water across normal and abnormal epithelia.

Baron joins us out of retirement from Takeda Global Research and Development (Deerfield, Ill.) in 2013. During his retirement, he traveled and served as a legal and regulatory expert witness in toxicology and pharmacology, which he has done since 1989. Baron was with Takeda since 2001, where he began as their first U.S. Director of Toxicology and most recently was Vice President, Nonclinical Safety and Risk Evaluation for the U.S. and European Union.

Other roles he had prior to Takeda include Senior Science Fellow for Global Toxicology with Pharmacia (Skokie, Ill.), and increasing positions of responsibility with Searle/Monsanto (Skokie), becoming a Monsanto Science Fellow in Metabolism and Safety Evaluation. At Searle, he was head of quantitative light and electron microscopy. He also represented Safety Assessment on drug development teams. Earlier in his career, he was on the faculty of the Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston, S.C.).

With an NIH grant, he founded the Core Structure-Function Laboratory in the Department of Pharmacology. Baron received his B.A. in Biology and Ph.D. in Anatomy from The University of Chicago. His did his postdoctoral fellowship in pathology and pharmacology at the Medical University of South Carolina. He has been a grant reviewer for the National Cancer Institute, given invited seminars and has served on several national scientific boards.

Angela Connelly, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

Angela Connelly

Angela Connelly joined the PKD Foundation in 2012, leading the marketing and awareness efforts for the organization. She has been a marketing communications leader for more than 20 years, helping organizations reach business goals, engage audiences, and strengthen brand. Before joining the Foundation, she was the Director of Communications for Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System (SCLHS) where she was responsible for managing corporate communications, branding, marketing and digital strategy.

Prior to that, Connelly worked for HCA Midwest, where she was responsible for marketing and communications for several hospitals, with corporate communications and marketing roles. She began her communications career in public relations for the American Red Cross  (Greater Kansas City Chapter).

Connelly received her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU), where she studied English and journalism. She received her MBA through the Bloch executive program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). The MBA program focused on leadership, entrepreneurship, and international work. One project took her to Beijing and Shanghai where she met with non-profit groups to understand the state of health care in China.

Connelly volunteers for the International Association of Business Communicators, Kansas City Chapter (KC/IABC), which included serving as chapter president. She is also on the marketing advisory council for the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management.

Ray Smith, CPA, MBA, Chief Financial Officer

Ray SmithRay Smith began his tenure with the Foundation in 2005 and leads the general finance/accounting, human resource, information technology and general administrative operations of the Foundation. He also assists the CEO to manage the work of the Board of Trustees and its committees.

Smith began his 20 year nonprofit career at the national headquarters of Camp Fire Boys and Girls in Kansas City, Mo. and worked for health-related nonprofits in Kansas City, Kan., Charleston, W.Va., Daytona Beach, Fla. and Orlando, Fla. He also worked as an auditor at KPMG LLP, the country’s largest audit, tax and advisory services firm. He serves on the board of directors and program committee of Nonprofit Connect, a membership association that links the nonprofit community to education, resources and networking so organizations can more effectively achieve their missions.

Smith obtained his Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from the University of Missouri – Columbia and is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Missouri. He received his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Missouri – Kansas City, graduating with honors and an emphasis in human resources management. His master’s coursework included nonprofit management electives at the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership. In 2014, Smith was selected as CFO of the Year in the small nonprofit category by the Kansas City Business Journal.