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, we are run by a dedicated staff proud to be the voice for the millions of people impacted by polycystic kidney disease.

Chris Rusconi, Ph.D

Chief executive officer (Interim)
Chief Research Officer

Chris is an executive leader with over 20 years of experience in the biotechnology world. Chris has a proven ability to actualize platform technologies across key segments and has a strong technical background with extensive global pharmaceutical development and regulatory experience. Before joining the PKD Foundation, Chris served as the Chief Scientific Officer of Vitrisa Therapeutics. Prior to joining Vitrisa, he co-founded and served as the SVP for Discovery / Preclinical Development and Chief Scientific Officer of Regado Biosciences. Before that, he was Director of Research for the Program in Combinatorial Therapeutics and Assistant Research Professor of Surgery at Duke University Medical Center. He received his B.S. with honors from the University of Kansas and earned his Ph.D. in molecular cell biology from the University of Colorado as an NSF Graduate Fellow in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Dr. Thomas Cech. He completed his training as a Jane Coffin Childs post-doctoral fellow in the Surgery Department at Duke University Medical Center. In addition, Chris sat on the University of Kansas Biological Sciences Advisory Board and the RNA Society of North Carolina.

Carmen Gleason

Chief operating officer

Carmen is an executive leader with over 15 years’ experience driving operational success. As a pioneering and practical self-starter recognized for delivering excellence, she has an extensive history in building and sustaining effective internal and external relationships. Prior to PKD Foundation, Carmen served as the COO for Girl Scouts where she was recognized for her strong business judgment and customer centric focus. She is passionate about developing high performing teams through coaching and mentorship in an environment that fosters diverse thought and robust problem solving. Carmen holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Missouri State University and a master’s degree in Human Resources Management from Keller Graduate School.

Jon Rich

Chief Philanthropy Officer

Jon has been an executive leader for over 30 years with extensive experience leading relational sales and philanthropy organizations. Jon comes to the Foundation from ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where he led the Major and Principal Gifts program. During his nearly six year tenure he helped grow the division’s revenue from $26M to over $140M a year. Prior to St. Jude, Jon spent 17 years as the National Director of Gift Planning at Ducks Unlimited, Inc. Jon honed his sales and relational skills first as an intern than a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual/Baird, and was both a manager and financial advisor with NML/Baird for 18 years. Jon holds advanced degrees and certifications, including CAP Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy from the American College and FCEP Fellow in Charitable Estate Planning designation from the Charitable Estate Planning Institute.

Page last reviewed August 2022

English Spanish