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, Chief Executive Officer

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.

Ken McLaughlin, Chief Administrative Officer (Interim)

Ken McLaughlin brings to the PKD Foundation over four decades of leadership and experience in the not-for-profit world. He began his career as a professional educator, then was appointed Assistant Attorney General of Ohio for about a decade. Ken’s primary career was as an international executive officer of a religious organization, which he previously served as its director of estate and financial planning. After taking early retirement, he was named a development officer and director for two Kansas City-based charities. Most recently he served as the Kansas City Director of Philanthropy for one of the world’s largest charitable organizations. Ken holds three college degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Social Studies Education Summa Cum Laude from The Ohio State University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Park University, Cum Laude, and a Juris Doctorate from the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. He and his wife, Dr. Suzanne McLaughlin, recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.