Foundation announces 3 new Board members

The Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation is excited to announce the appointment of three new members to its Board of Directors. Geraldine Bliss, Abby Lievense Lagunoff and Joe Sammartino replace Directors Stephanie LeClerc and Brian Stack, whose terms expired.

Geraldine Bliss has served as PMSF’s Research Support Committee chairperson for seven years. She chaired the first scientific strategic planning initiative, successfully applied for grants to further research support initiatives, organized three scientific symposia, a Banbury research meeting, multiple workshops and think-tanks on PMS, the Phelan-McPosium, and family conference research sessions, among other accomplishments.

Geraldine said her personal mission is to eventually have cures for PMS. “I joined PMSF’s Board to help grow our organizational capacity to more effectively support drug development,” she said. Geraldine and her husband, Brad, of Houston, have two boys, Charles, 18, who is diagnosed with PMS, and Nathan, 16.

Abby Lievense Lagunoff works as a commercial real estate consultant in the Los Angeles, California, area since 2003.

She, and her husband, Jonas, are the proud parents of Darus James, their only living child. Darus was diagnosed with Phelan McDermid Syndrome in September of 2014, shortly after his fourth birthday.

Abby said she is eager to give what it takes to help nurture and further grow the spirit of our Foundation.

She said she is a fierce advocate for her son and all people who have special needs.

Joseph A. Sammartino is an attorney in San Diego, California. The Sammartino Law Group represents individuals and businesses in litigation as well as serving as outside-general counsel to local businesses.

Joe and his wife, Christine, have three sons: Joseph, 7, Christopher, 5, who has Phelan-McDermid Syndrome, and James, 2.

While very involved in the legal community, Joe also is president of the board of the nonprofit Youth Tennis San Diego, a member of the San Diego Rotary Club 33 and is involved with his church and children’s elementary school.

“We would like to welcome Geraldine, Abby and Joe to our Board and are excited about the skills they’ll bring as we continue to grow geographically and professionally,” said Susan Lomas, Acting Executive Director and President of the Board of Directors.

Lomas, Vice President Nick Assendelft and the rest of the Board’s members want to thank Stephanie and Brian for their commitment and hard work.

“Both are parents to children with Phelan-McDermid Syndrome and it’s awfully difficult to do all that they did while also raising a special needs child. We also want to thank their families for allowing them the time to help others,” Lomas said.

Brian was instrumental in communications issues and a driving force behind development of our new Web site, which we expect to launch soon. Stephanie brought an international perspective to the Board and she will stay involved with the Foundation by heading up the drive to establish a Canadian PMSF association.

The Board also includes Secretary Veronica Frunzi, Treasurer Patty O’Boyle and Directors Mary Cobb and Van Daughtry.

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