Board of Directors
All members of the Solve ME/CFS Initiative Board of Directors have a personal relationship with the disease. They are either patients themselves or have a family member who suffers from it. This intimate connection furthers their commitment to making ME/CFS understood, diagnosable, and treatable.
Vicki Boies, PsyD, Chicago - Chair Vicki Boies and her husband, Bill, have been active supporters of the Solve ME/CFS Initiative since 1995, out of concern for their daughter, who has been ill for more than 20 years. Vicki received her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Brown University, her Master of Arts from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and her doctorate in clinical psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, where she was on the faculty for several years. Vicki spent most of her career as a clinical psychologist in private practice in Chicago before retiring in 2010. Prior to joining the board, she served on numerous local boards and commissions, including most recently as president of a community mental health board with taxing and grant-giving authority.
John Nicols, President/CEO, Codexis Inc. – Vice Chair John currently serves as President and CEO of Codexis Inc. (www.codexis.com; Nasdaq:CDXS), a leading San Francisco Bay Area biotechnology company that engineers and markets proprietary proteins for the world’s pharmaceutical industry. John started as CEO of Codexis in June of 2012 and also serves on the publicly listed company’s board of directors.
Prior to Codexis, John held roles of increasing responsibility over a 22-year career at Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB), a globally leading specialty chemical company headquartered in Baton Rouge, La. Before leaving Albemarle, John was responsible for the corporation’s strategic development department as well as the company’s flagship $1+ billion global catalyst business. During his tenure at Albemarle, John and his family resided for three years in Tokyo.
A native of New York City, John earned an MBA from the Sloan School of Management, and a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the NYU Polytechnic University. John has served on numerous trade association Boards during his extensive career, including currently serving on the board of directors of BayBio, the premier biotechnology industry association in the San Francisco Bay Area.
John is married with two children and four grandchildren. His wife, Marcie, has suffered for over 20 years with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) and Fibromyalgia.
Christine Williams, M.Ed., Chevy Chase, Md. Chris Williams recently retired from the federal government after a 30-year career in health policy and health services research. She was diagnosed with CFS in February 2009. With support from colleagues, friends and family, she was able to work full time until June 2011. Williams currently provides support to the Mitchell Scholarship in Maine. She is a special adviser on CFS to the Office on Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). She served as the Agency’s director for strategic partnerships (2007 -2011) and director of the Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer (1995-2006). During her tenure at AHRQ, Williams also represented the Agency on a number of HHS committees including the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee (CFSAC) and the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health – Cessation Subcommittee (co-chair). She served as HHS campaign manager for the 2001 and 2010 Combined Federal Campaigns. From 1982-1994, Chris served as the senior health policy adviser to former Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-ME.). She represented Mitchell during the development of and negotiations for comprehensive health care reform legislation in 1993 and 1994, and initiated legislation in Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care, public health and outcomes research. Williams has extensive experience working with a broad range of health care stakeholders including clinicians, health systems, purchasers, consumer and patient advocacy organizations and public policymakers to translate research into practice and to inform public policy. Chris holds her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education from Boston University. Learn more about Chris through her Catalyst profile.
Beth Garfield, Los Angeles, Calif. – Treasurer Beth Garfield was a mother with a 1-year-old child and a full-time job when CFS hit in 1985. She took time off to try to recover and eventually went back to work part-time. In 1987, Garfield started her own law firm, specializing in the representation of unions and employment law, which gave her the flexibility to take the time she needed to manage her illness and eventually return to full-time work. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with distinction from Stanford University, where she served as student body president. Garfield earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. She is a past member of the Los Angeles District Community College Board of Directors. At Stanford, Garfield co-chairs the Special Gifts Committee for the Class of 1974 and serves on the Advisory Panel of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research. In 1989, she went to see a doctor who was treating CFS with a medicine normally used to treat depression. She says it was a miracle drug for her. Garfield was symptom-free for 22 years before relapsing in February 2011. She joined the board later that year, spurred, in part, by the focus on research. Learn more about Beth through her Catalyst profile.
Aaron Paas, New York, N.Y. – Secretary Aaron is a group product marketing manager at Etsy and has extensive marketing and brand management experience. He recently served as a board member at the Canadian Liver Foundation. Aaron speaks eloquently of his commitment to our mission: “My sister has suffered from ME/CFS and has had her life completely turned on its head because of it for the last five years. It’s been difficult as a family to see her 20s disappear and so many of her life goals go un-achieved because of this syndrome that I understand so little about. Her positivity and determination through these years has been an absolute inspiration to me and I’ve decided that it’s time I give my time to help her and everyone else who is suffering get what they deserve, a victory over ME/CFS.”
Michael Atherton, Arlington, VA. Mike is the founder and principal of the management consulting firm Latitude Associates. His background is in application software and eBusiness technologies combined with operations management experience and strategic planning skills. He was one of four initial team members of xTuple LLC, an Enterprise Resources Planning software firm, graduating the firm from incubation stage to the world’s leading open source ERP software company. Mike lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife Christine. They met at William and Mary where both were athletes – Mike played football and Christine was on the softball team. After graduating, they both received their MBAs. Soon after Christine started working, however, she became ill with CFS. Mike schooled himself in the research and issues surrounding ME/CFS and eventually found our organization. For the last several years, both Mike and his parents have been stalwart supporters of our work.
Brett Balzer, Chicago. Brett has a background in information technology and web content management. He has earned a B.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois, an M.S. of Business Information Technology from DePaul University, and is pursuing an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Brett is currently a consultant for Mavens Consulting, which specializes in delivering cloud software solutions to the pharmaceutical industry. He leads Mavens’ Medical Information practice. Brett’s wife, Tess, has been suffering from ME/CFS for seven years, along with POTS and Hypermobile Ehler’s-Danlos. When they met, Tess was studying to become a teacher, but soon faced an onset of symptoms that forced her away from teaching. After two years of tests and frustration, she was finally diagnosed with ME/CFS, just months before their wedding. They currently live in Chicago with their three dogs. Both Brett and Tess believe that the path to her recovery is through scientific research and believe SMCI is positioned to facilitate a breakthrough.
Diane Bean, Bethesda, MD. Diane Reimer Bean is a retired career Foreign Service officer and attorney who is serving on the board for a second time. She is married to fellow retired Foreign Service officer James W. (Jim) Bean; they have two adult children, daughter Lauren and son Galen. Lauren became seriously ill with CFS as a teenager following a bout of mono and Lyme disease and continues to live at home. Galen is healthy and independent. During her 23 years as a diplomat, Diane developed significant expertise in the areas of U.S. citizen services overseas, visa/immigration policy, counter-terrorism, international economic policy and congressional affairs. She and Jim were posted overseas to Mexico City; Bonn, Germany; and Tel Aviv, Israel, during their careers. She also had numerous domestic assignments, especially after 1998, when Lauren’s illness prevented the family from serving overseas. Diane received several U.S. Department of State awards during her career, and she and Jim continue to work part-time in retired status for the State Department. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, she worked as an attorney for the (former) U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the State Department’s Passport Services, an assistant attorney general and a clerk for the Colorado Supreme Court in her native state of Colorado. She is a graduate of Stanford University (B.A.) and the University of Denver College of Law (J.D.). In addition to her service on the board and part-time work, she, Jim and Lauren split their time between Washington, D.C., and Denver.
Carol Head, Los Angeles, CA. Carol Head joined the Solve ME/CFS Initiative (SMCI) as President in October 2013. Carol experienced ME/CFS for many years and is largely recovered. Carol is an executive with more than 25 years of success in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. She’s an experienced business owner, corporate executive, communicator and problem-solver. In the private sector, she most recently served as CEO of two companies. Previously, she served as vice president of marketing for two Internet-based companies. Carol also spent eight years as an executive at the Los Angeles Times in a variety of marketing and strategy roles. She served as associate vice president of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. Carol has been active in community affairs, serving on three national nonprofit boards, including service as a board chair. Carol is a founder of Project Redwood, a venture philanthropy fund that supports creative approaches to alleviating extreme global poverty. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Wellesley College, and earned an MBA from Stanford University.
Sue Perpich has built a career of successfully bringing people together around a common goal at the top levels of business, industry and government. She has represented diverse industries in the areas of business development and high-level sales, where she has been successful in negotiating within various sectors such as government and multinational business. She currently serves as a Senior Advisor for Eastbridge Strategies in London. Sue previously held senior positions at a range of national and multinational firms, including: Al Khaymah Establishment U.S.A., an international company that forges joint ventures between U.S. and Saudi Arabian companies; The Livingston Group, a Washington, D.C., based lobbying and government relations firm; and Drexel Burnham Lambert, a Wall Street investment banking firm.
As testimony to the value of her business and political connections, Harvey MacKay, internationally recognized motivational speaker, frequent contributor to the New York Times and best-selling author of books that promote the virtues of developing and utilizing business connections, once stated, “I wish I had Sue Perpich’s contact database!”
Sue earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration & Management from the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minn., and an MBA from Fordham University in New York.
Sue’s father, the influential and beloved late Gov. Rudy Perpich (D-MN) began public awareness and fundraising efforts on behalf of his son and Sue’s brother, Rudy, who has been debilitated by ME/CFS since graduating from Stanford Law School over 30 years ago. In recognition of Gov. Perpich’s distinguished service to the IACFS/ME, the Board of Directors established a Senior Lectureship Award in his memory. The award is presented to a distinguished CFS/FM scientist, physician or healthcare worker every two years at the IACFS/ME conferences.
Sue continues her father’s good work on behalf of her brother and all of those who suffer from this disease.
Susan Vitka brings over 30 years of experience advising clients ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies on complex financial and competitive matters. Susan was a principal at Charles River Associates; prior to that, she held senior positions at Putnam, Hayes & Bartlett and The Brattle Group. She maintains an independent advisory practice and is an active early stage investor. She has served on numerous boards in the U.S. and abroad, including Women for Women International, Women for Women International UK (as chair), Physicians for Human Rights, and Nest (as founding chair). She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the President’s Board of The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and is Vice Chair of the board of The Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C. A lifelong student, Susan received her undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College, did her graduate work in Economics at The London School of Economics and Harvard University, and has done additional graduate work in public health, immunology and nutrition.
Susan’s daughter has had CFS since she was 11. She became ill after a severe case of mononucleosis and a concomitant strep infection. She was sick for roughly three years and subsequently recovered almost completely through a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs. In 2010, she received a flu shot, experienced an immediate and severe reaction, and became progressively sicker for the next several years. She is now a sophomore at Harvard University, but is still quite ill, and every day is a struggle for her.
Fred Friedberg, PhD, is an associate professor at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine. His research interests are chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Dr. Friedberg is studying short-term cognitive-behavioral interventions for fatigue and pain and has received $2.5 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop self-management programs for patients with ME/CFS and fibromyalgia.
Dr. Friedberg has authored seven books and over 40 scientific papers on CFS and fibromyalgia and is founder and editor of the peer review journal Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health and Behavior. He is also president of the International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (IACFS/ME) and the lead author of the IACFS/ME Primer for Clinical Practitioners.
Rick Sprout is currently a Director of Federal Sales at IBM. He has been with IBM for over 14 years. Prior to joining IBM, he worked for six years with Lockheed Martin as the Security Lead on the Defense Messaging System. Rick retired from the Marine Corps as a Major in September 1996. He started his Marine Corps career as an Infantry Officer stationed at Twenty Nine Palms California. He later transitioned to become a Communications Officer, upon his retirement from the Pentagon Navy staff in 1996. He holds a bachelors degree from Western Michigan University.
Rick and his wife Barbara have been active supporters of the Solve ME/CFS Initiative since his brother Greg was diagnosed in 2004. The Solve ME/CFS gave us significant information and insight when Greg was first diagnosed and has provided a network of medical insights assisting Greg in his ongoing medical challenges. In addition to support of his brother, Barbara and Rick are supporters of the Helping Children Worldwide organization making a difference in the lives of children and women in Sierra Leone. In addition to other philanthropic support for children in Nakuru, Kenya and Rwanda. Rick and Barbara are active in their local Northern Virginia community as well.
As residents of the Washington DC area, Rick and Barbara look forward to enhancing the advocacy through our government to truly solve ME/CFS, providing a better future for others at an early onset of the disease. We support research initiatives that will find the answers to return Greg and others to fully active and productive lives.