Our voluntary Board of Trustees governs the PKD Foundation. Trustees represent a variety of professional backgrounds. Each board member serves a three-year volunteer term. The Board of Trustees meets in a central location three times a year. Members of the Board of Trustees are assigned to committees that meet by teleconference at various times throughout the year.
Klee Kleber – Board Chair; Chair, Executive Committee
Klee Kleber is a co-founder of BuildGroup, a software holding company that is investing $330 million to create an alternative to traditional venture capital. BuildGroup combines a permanent capital structure, hands-on engagement from experienced operators, and investment decisions based on modern data science. Prior to BuildGroup, Klee spent more than 20 years as a marketing executive at Rackspace, Dell, Segway and WP Engine. Klee earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Rice University in Economics and German, and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in Austin, TX with his wife, Brigid, and their two daughters, Cate and Claire.
Beverly Benson, Ph.D. – Vice Chair
Dr. Beverly Benson lives in San Francisco where she works as a Clinical Scientist in immuno oncology drug development. She received a Ph.D. in Pharmacology & Toxicology from the University of Kansas and did her post-doctoral work at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. She has more than 30 years of academic and biotech research experience. For the past 20 years Dr. Benson has designed and led Phase 1 through Phase 3 clinical trials for more than 15 drugs, including five drugs that have received FDA approval at companies including Amgen, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, BeiGene and CytomX Therapeutics. She also served on the Research & Development committee for A Foundation Building Strength for Nemaline Myopathy and as a Consumer Reviewer for PKD on the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. Dr. Benson is the only member of her family who did not inherit PKD. In 2007, she donated a kidney to her mother, who was able to live another 8 years without dialysis .
Due to her personal experience caring for her family members with PKD and her strong scientific background, she is dedicated to finding a cure for PKD.
Brock Nelson – Treasurer; Chair, Finance Committee
Brock Nelson was raised in Grand Island, Neb. but has lived in Wichita, Kan. since 1993. He is currently the Vice President – INVISTA, a Koch Industries subsidiary. Brock began his career with Koch Industries at the company’s refinery outside St. Paul, Minn. where he was a senior process engineer. Prior to that, he held summer internships with Dow Chemical and Exxon. Prior to his current role in INVISTA, Brock worked in a variety of business development roles since 1993. While at Koch Industries he has lead numerous acquisitions with a total value in excess of $500mm and sat on the board of directors of six different joint ventures including being the Chairman of the Board for two of these companies. The many charitable organizations Brock has been an active member of include: Kansas Humane Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters, American Cancer Society, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, Sedgwick County Zoo, YMCA, Texas A&M Foundation, CASA of Sedgwick County, Boys and Girl Scouts, and the American Red Cross. He is also involved in the advisory council of the Texas A&M Chemical Engineering Advisory Board. Brock holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering where he graduated in 1990. Brock was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in June 2010. He is the first member of his family with the disease. Brock is married to Dorothy and has two children, Jace and Brynnalese.
Paula Krumboltz Hutchinson – Secretary
Paula Krumboltz Hutchinson is an adjunct lecturer at Rice University, co-teaching a seminar course “Critical Thinking in a Democracy.” She and her husband John, who is a chemistry professor, lived on the campus at Rice as College Masters at two of Rice’s residential colleges for a total of twelve years, mentoring and guiding undergraduate students through their college careers.
A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Journalism, Paula worked as a reporter and news anchor in Austin Texas and Denver Colorado for 6 years before starting law school. Paula joined the firm of Fulbright & Jaworski (now Norton Rose Fulbright) as a commercial litigator for 21 years there and at McDade+Fogler in Houston.
The Hutchinsons’ younger daughter Emma Grace was born with ARPKD in 1988 and was under the care of the renal team at Texas Children’s Hospital until she passed away at the age of 20. Emma was the first infant successfully dialyzed from birth at TCH, and received a kidney from Paula’s mother just before her second birthday.
Paula and John, their daughter Ashlyn, her husband Ryan and dozens of friends and family have been participants in the Walk for PKD in Denver, Seattle, Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Every year since Emma passed away in 2008, Emma’s sorority at Trinity University participates in the San Antonio Walk for PKD supporting “Team Emma.”
Bill Brazell – Governance Chair
Bill inherited PKD from his late father, and has lost several close family members to the disease. As a partner at WIT Strategy, Bill handles public relations and strategy for clients primarily in advertising technology. Before joining WIT Bill was director of author recruiting at Federated Media; a senior book editor at Penguin Portfolio, the business-book imprint; and a senior news editor at the Industry Standard Magazine. Bill wrote about PKD’s effect on him and his family for TheAtlantic.com and The Huffington Post, and co-wrote an op-ed with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich calling for increased federal funding for medical research on PKD and other conditions that was featured on FoxNews.com. Co-author of the humor book “He Meant, She Meant: The Definitive Male-Female Dictionary,” Bill got a bachelors at Harvard and a masters in journalism at U.C. Berkeley. Bill and his wife Victoria, who together co-chaired the 2014 Gratitude Gala in New York City, live in Brooklyn with their three daughters. They Walk for PKD each year as five of “Mike & Poppy’s All-Stars.”
Ashley Brown joined the Board of Trustees in 2016. She currently resides in the Boston area and works in Massachusetts higher education where she assists in government relations and public affairs management. Within the local community, Ashley wears many hats. She is proud member Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Boston Branch of the NAACP. Ashley completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Most recently, she completed a Master of Public Administration degree at Northeastern University. At the age of nine, Ashley was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. This diagnosis has inspired her to get involved in the mission set forth by the PKD Foundation and to promote awareness, especially in communities of color.
Katherine Dell, M.D.
Dr. Katherine Dell is Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University and Vice Chair of Research at Cleveland Clinic Children’s. She graduated from Harvard Medical School and completed her Pediatrics and Pediatric Nephrology training at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She has been a PKD researcher and practicing pediatric nephrologist, treating children with ARPKD and ADPKD, for over 20 years. She is a past member of the PKD Foundation Scientific Advisory (SAC) and was the 2016 recipient of the Dr. Vincent Gattone Research Award. Her major research focus is defining factors that contribute to ARPKD kidney and liver disease progression and identifying and evaluating magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) markers of disease progression, for which she has received both NIH and PKD Foundation funding. She is an experienced clinical researcher, having participated in numerous clinical trials and studies of pediatric chronic kidney disease and hypertension. Her ultimate goal is to be able to bring novel treatments to clinical trials in children with PKD. She and her husband live in Shaker Heights, OH and have two children.
Georgina Habermann lives in Aventura, Florida. Georgina is a Broward County School teacher with 20 years of teaching experience. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education and her Masters Degree in Educational Administration from St. Thomas University. Georgina is the South Florida Chapter Volunteer Walk Coordinator. The death of her father from PKD-related complications inspired her to get more involved with the PKD Foundation in order to honor her father’s memory and help bring hope and awareness to her local community. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
Michele Karl lives in New York with her husband, Matt, and her three peas, Max, Nate, and Gabe. Michele became involved with the PKD Foundation thirteen years ago when Gabe was born and diagnosed with ARPKD/CHF, which led to a subsequent diagnosis of ARPKD in Max. Nate does not have ARPKD. Over the past thirteen years Michele has become involved with her local PKD chapter, participated in thirteen Walk for PKD events, attended many chapter meetings and education meetings, attended numerous National Conventions, and helped plan three conferences for parents of children with PKD. Michele is the co-coordinator of the National PKD in Children Parents’ Chapter and is now on the Board of Trustees and the PKD in Children Parents’ Council for the PKD Foundation. When Michele is not with her boys or doing something for the Foundation she works part time as a special education teacher for young children who are blind and visually impaired and children with developmental delays.
Andrea Kringstein lives in New York City with her husband, Richard. She has two grown children, a son, Jason, and a daughter, Jamie.
Andrea started her career as a financial analyst at a large investment firm. Years ago she left her position to start a family and then became an attorney when her children were in middle school. She practiced real estate law and also volunteered to represent indigent New Yorkers with family issues.
Andrea and her family have proudly supported the PKD Foundation for more than 30 years as PKD significantly affects Andrea and her family. She had a successful transplant in 2014, as did her brother, Jeff, just two months after her. Andrea has advocated in Washington, D.C., several times on behalf of those who suffer from PKD, because it is a cause that is very personal to her.
Michal Mrug, M.D.
Dr. Mrug is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) where he trains the next generation of physicians and scientists. He is recognized as one of “Top Doctors” by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. He co-founded and co-directs the UAB PKD Clinic and oversees clinical PKD research activities at UAB since 2009. This includes the CRISP study, an NIH-funded collaborative effort between Emory University, University of Kansas, Mayo Clinic, UAB and University of Pittsburgh that has led to many seminal discoveries. He also coordinated the REPRISE clinical trial for UAB; outcomes of this study played a crucial role in the recent FDA approval of tolvaptan as the first treatment for ADPKD. Dr. Mrug’s clinical research is centered on the development of statistical models for identification of ADPKD patients that may benefit most from therapeutic interventions. His basic research is focused on the discovery of molecular pathways that modulate PKD progression. He also directs the Therapeutics Development and Screening Core, one of four cores within the UAB Hepatorenal Fibrocystic Disease Core Center. This Center is one of four NIH-funded P30 centers focused on PKD; the other three are located at University of Kansas, Mayo Clinic and University of Maryland. The mission of these centers is the development of innovative technologies to advance PKD research and to provide access to these resources to other scientists to promote PKD research in institutions where such resources are not available. The activities of the UAB Center are focused on ARPKD. Dr. Mrug serves as the Scientific Advisory Committee Chair for the PKD Foundation.
Dwight Odland – Chair, Planning Committee
Dwight Odland lives in Simi Valley, Calif. with Jean, his wife of 20 years. He recently retired after a 30 year career in the Space Industry. He brings extensive experience to the Board in Business Development, Management, Marketing, Finance, Operations and Information Technology. He led new business capture strategy, taught classes on winning government proposals, and managed a staff of proposal managers across the country. He also served as a Board Member of the Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley in Canoga Park from 2003-2013, a period in which the Club grew by a factor of 10.
Dwight has PKD. Growing up, he learned the difference that one person can make by observing his mother create and lead the longest running Alzheimer’s Disease support group in the country. Looking for a way to help other patients handle their disease progression, he became involved with the PKD Foundation in 2005 as Chapter Coordinator for Los Angeles. He later helped establish new chapters in Orange County and the Inland Empire, and served as Coordinator for the Los Angeles Walk for PKD. He joined the Board of the PKD Foundation in 2013. Among many patient advocacy activities over the years, Dwight co-led the patient cohort, and was a final paper co-author, for the 2014 KDIGO International Conference on PKD.
Dwight earned his B.S. in Business Administration & Finance, Cum Laude from California State University, Northridge. Dwight and Jean’s favorite activity is travel – foreign and domestic.
Dwight is an avid skier, declaring “There is ski season and there’s the rest of the year.” Other interests include hiking, golf, and baseball.
Craig A. Ramseyer – Chair, HR Committee
Craig is the leader of Procopio’s Construction Practice Group and a member of the firm’s Management Committee. He is a former leader of the firm’s Litigation team. Craig’s practice emphasizes general business litigation, as well as construction law and litigation. In the business litigation area, Craig has handled matters including partnership disputes, alter ego liability and contractual disputes. In the construction arena, he is experienced in handling disputes arising on both public and private works of improvement, inclusive of contractual disputes, bid protests, mechanic liens, stop notice and payment bond claims, work out agreements, design professional errors and omissions and delay, disruption and inefficiency claims. Craig has represented general contractors, subcontractors, public and private owners and sureties in various matters over the course of his career. Craig was admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court, as well as the Central and Southern Districts of California in 1981. He was later admitted to practice in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. Supreme Court. In June of 1993, Craig was the principal founder of the law firm of Ramseyer & Kuhlman, APLC, where he worked until Ramseyer & Kuhlman merged with Procopio in May of 2001.
Robert Roth is the retired Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Home Box Office Inc. (HBO), a wholly owned subsidiary of WarnerMedia. He had been at the company for 33 years, the last 15 as CFO, responsible for the financial planning, reporting, and control activities for all divisions of the network.
Rob comes from a family of PKD patients including his grandmother, mother, and brother and as such, has been a strong advocate for PKD research and organ donation awareness. Rob received a kidney transplant in 2014 from his longtime college friend for which he will forever be grateful. He and his wife Linda reside in Weston, CT, and have two adult children, Jaclyn and Benjamin.
Rob has an Economics degree from Stony Brook University and an MBA degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of New York. He also serves on the boards of Donate Life Connecticut, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of organ donation, and the Stony Brook University Alumni Association.
R. Francis Towey Jr.
Fran Towey is CEO and Chairman of the Board of Natural Partners, Inc., a healthcare technology and service company who provides a convenient way for health care practitioners to better serve their patients. Since 1995 they have operated as a one-stop-shop, supplying the integrative health care community with professional-grade nutritional supplements, nutrition education, and patient direct services. The leading service provider in the U.S. for medical professionals, Natural Partners carries over 13,000 items from 275+ reputable supplier partners. Mr. Towey most recently was President of Allergy Research Group, and prior to that he spent 16 years with a private equity group located in Hampton, N.H., working in a variety of operating roles in the health care and life sciences industries, serving as President and CEO of their natural products distribution company. He has also served as an at-large member of the board of trustees for Berwick Academy, an independent school in South Berwick, Maine, and has had the pleasure of supporting the Boston PKD Chapter for the several years.
Fran earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Northeastern University in Boston, and an MBA from the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis.
Fran is a PKD patient as is his sister and brother, and he is a successful, thriving transplant recipient. Fran lives a very active life in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his wife Mary. They have two daughters; Molly, a graduate of American University now living in Washington, D.C., and Katie a graduate of Emerson College in Boston and living in Arizona.
Terry Watnick, M.D.
Dr. Terry Watnick is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. She received her medical degree from The Yale School of Medicine and completed her Internal Medicine training at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She then moved to the Johns Hopkins Hospital where she received Clinical Training in Nephrology. She also completed a research fellowship at Johns Hopkins that was focused on the genetics of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. Dr. Watnick directs an inherited renal disease clinic at the University of Maryland. She has been an investigator in several multicenter Clinical Trials recruiting patients with ADPKD, including TEMPO, REPRISE and TAME. She is the Principal Investigator for NIH funded Baltimore Polycystic Kidney Disease Research and Clinical Core Center. She is the immediate past chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) Chair for the PKD Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., Jerry has resided in Germantown, Tenn. for the past 35 years. He attended Lehman and Brooklyn Colleges, earning a degree in Education in 1976. He and Karyn Harcup Waxman have been married 42 years. They have two married daughters, Erica and Kimberlyand three granddaughters Eva, Jordan and Juniper. Jerry enjoys playing golf and spending quality time with his family.
Jerry’s sales and marketing career began in 1979 at Kalex Chemical Co. He then served for 19 years as National Sales Manager for Intex Plastics. He and his business partner, Jim Jones, purchased Intex in June 2003, changing the name to Mississippi Polymers, Inc. in October 2003. Mississippi Polymers grew into a $70+ million company, with expected revenues to exceed $90 million over the next five years. After selling the company in October 2012, Jerry retained his position as Director of Sales and Marketing, with retirement scheduled for April 2019.
Upon Karyn’s diagnosis of PKD nearly 20 years ago, both have dedicated themselves to the PKD cause. Karyn has served as the Memphis Chapter Coordinator for the PKD Foundation for the past 18 years. Jerry founded and organizes the “Driving Home A Cure for PKD” Golf Tournament. This event has raised more than $1.7 million since its inception, becoming a model for other PKD Foundation Chapter golf tournaments nationwide. In 2011 the tournament became a member of the Liberty Mutual Invitational Family of Charity Events, making it into one of the Memphis area’s top charity golf experiences.
Orme Lewis, Jr. Phoenix, Ariz. Managing Director, Select Investments Vice Chair, Arizona Biomedical Research Commission