Celiac Disease Foundation drives early diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease through advocacy, education and advancing research to improve the quality of life for all people affected by gluten-related disorders.
Board of Directors
Marc Riches was introduced to the celiac community back in 2003 when his daughter was diagnosed at 15 months old. In 2010, he was diagnosed as a celiac as well. Looking for a way to contribute towards future undiagnosed celiacs, Marc joined the Board of Directors in 2007 and became the Board President in 2010.
Marc attended the University of Southern California and graduated in 1991 with a degree in Communications. Currently, Marc is a Director of Leasing for a private equity firm that invests in commercial real estate throughout the western United States. He has been a commercial real estate broker since 1997. He lives in Westlake Village, CA with his wife Melissa and daughter Megan.
In his free time, Marc enjoys taking trips with his family, playing poker, watching movies and sporting events and playing golf.
Carol Blymire is a public affairs professional in Washington, D.C. with expertise in strategic communications, media and public relations, and partnership development. Ms. Blymire has held communications management and spokesperson positions at MCI, Fannie Mae, Discovery Channel, e-centives, and Cone. Ms. Blymire began her career in the White House speechwriting office for President George H. W. Bush. A graduate of The George Washington University, as well as the Harvard-MIT Public Disputes Program, she is also an adjunct writing professor at Georgetown University and the Johns Hopkins University. An accomplished food and culture writer for The Washington Post, Saveur, Washingtonian magazine, and others, Ms. Blymire wrote the cookbook Crazy Good Italian with Chef Mike Isabella, as well as two award-winning, popular blogs: Alinea at Home and French Laundry at Home. Diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008, Ms. Blymire works with chefs and others in the hospitality industry to educate about issues related to food allergies and sensitivities.
Christopher J. Holland is an Underwriting Officer at Platinum Underwriters Reinsurance, Inc. In this position he is responsible for the management, marketing, auditing, and underwriting of Treaty Reinsurance for worldwide customers. Before joining Platinum Re, Mr. Holland served as a Senior Underwriter at Zurich Financial Services, where he was responsible for a multi-million dollar portfolio of Domestic Casualty Insurance Products for Fortune 1000 customers, Private equity companies, and portfolio companies engaged in mergers, acquisitions or divestitures.
Prior to 2010, he was an Underwriter in AIG’s Risk Management division, where he developed customized risk management programs for Fortune 500 customers. Christopher got his start in the insurance industry working as a Claims Adjuster and took on roles of increasing responsibility.
Chris currently advises the Board of Directors of Hotbox Sports as an independent consultant. Christopher holds an M.B.A. in Finance from the Hagan School of Business at Iona College, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and represented Iona College in the NYSSA Investment Research Challenge. He holds a B.S. from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. Mr. Holland currently is pursuing both Associate in Reinsurance and Associate in Risk Management designations. He is also a member of the John Street Insurance Association and The Society of Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in NYC.
As Executive Director of the California State University online program initiative, Cal State Online, Ruth Claire Black leads efforts focused on creating, developing, marketing and administering fully online programs from the 23 campuses of the California State University System. The Cal State Online project is working to provide increased access to CSU programs, to ensure that the CSU is a leader in innovation and technology enhanced education and to provide marketing and outreach for the best possible online education to the broadest possible spectrum of society. Ms. Black works tirelessly to systematically create and improve access to formal and informal education options for students of all ages. “I am deeply committed to developing online course and program options designed to open up educational opportunities to new communities of learners that will benefit from a pathway to health, achievement and success as lifelong learners.” Prior to joining the California State University System in December of 2011, Ms. Black spent ten years with Chapman and Brandman Universities where she served as Dean of Distance Learning and later as Associate Vice-Chancellor. Ms. Black has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine and a Juris Doctorate Degree from Vanderbilt University.
Over the span of 21 years, Elaine Monarch took Celiac Disease Foundation from a small group of celiacs seeking to support each other, to the leading national organization with over 144 chapters and support groups across the country. Founded in 1990 by Elaine, this amazing CDF network is supported by members and volunteers and continues to raise awareness, advocate for patient concerns and build a supportive community for patients, families and healthcare professionals.
Elaine was an honored nominee for Outstanding Award National Philanthropy Day for 1996 and 1998. She also received the Certificate of Recognition for distinguished philanthropic leadership of the Celiac Disease Foundation by the National Society of Fundraising Executives – National Philanthropy Day 2000.
Over the years, Elaine created the CDF Medical Advisory Board, with established relationships with NIH, NIDDC and the FDA. In 2004, the NIH held the first ever Celiac Disease Consensus Conference. Elaine served on the Planning Committee and was selected to speak at the Conference. It was this landmark event that put celiac disease “on the map” with the statement that celiac disease affects 1 in 133 people.
Elaine was a founding member of the American Celiac Task Force, which eventually became the American Celiac Disease Alliance. This group of nonprofit organizations, food manufacturers and health professionals united to form one voice for the celiac community. The passage of the FALCPA law in 2006 was due in large part to the efforts of the ACDA.
In May 2011, Elaine retired as Executive Director. In Spring 2012, Elaine accepted a lifetime appointment to the CDF Board of Directors. She continues to be actively involved with CDF, chairing the Celiac Children’s Camp Task Force, and sharing her vision for a better life for those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Marvin Berman is a retired architect and a member of the San Fernando Valley Chapter of The American Institute of Architects. Marv has celiac disease and was drawn to the Celiac Disease Foundation – first for support and then as a board member to give back and support the mission of CDF. He served on the CDF Board as President for many years and continues to serve as a Board member contributing his personal time and energy to promote awareness of celiac disease.
Van Durrer leads Skadden, Arps’ corporate restructuring practice in the Western United States and advises clients in restructuring matters around the Pacific Rim. He regularly represents public and private companies, major secured creditors, official and unofficial committees of unsecured creditors, investors and asset-purchasers in troubled company M&A, financings and restructuring transactions, including out-of-court workouts and formal insolvency proceedings. Mr. Durrer’s representative restructuring and insolvency engagements include: Blue Bird Body Company; Catalyst Paper Corporation; Friedman’s, Inc.; Indymac Bancorp, Inc. (Chapter 7 trustee); JELD-Wen, Inc.; Kmart Corporation; Spansion Inc.; and US Airways Group, Inc. He also has advised participants in the financial restructurings of AmericanWest Bank; ASAT Holdings Ltd., Co.; Benpres Holding Corporation; Calpine Corporation; Clift Holdings LLC; LBREP/L-Suncal Master I, LLC; New Century Financial Corporation; Pierre Foods, Inc.; Rock & Republic Enterprises, Inc.; SONICBlue Incorporated; Station Casinos, Inc.; and THCR/LP Corporation (involving the Trump Atlantic City casinos). Selected industries in which Mr. Durrer has provided restructuring advice include financial services, gaming, health care, hospitality, information technology, logistics, manufacturing, real estate, retail and telecommunications. Mr. Durrer consistently has been named as a “leading lawyer” by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. He is included in Legal Media Group’s Guide to the World’s Leading Insolvency and Restructuring Lawyers; The Best Lawyers in America; PLC’s Restructuring and Insolvency multijurisdictional guide; and appeared twice on Turnarounds & Workouts’ list of “Outstanding Young Bankruptcy Lawyers.”
Chad was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1989, when he was 7 years old. After being misdiagnosed on several occasions, he has been living a healthy, gluten-free lifestyle for over 21 years. He attended the University of Southern California, where he majored in Policy, Planning and Development and received a minor in Business.
Currently, Chad owns an insurance brokerage in Mission Viejo, CA and also consults with small businesses on their marketing strategies in an effort to help them realize their full potential.
In May 2009, he founded a gluten-free social network – Gluten-Free Faces (www.glutenfreefaces.com) – where individuals can come together and provide support, information and guidance for one another.
Chad is also the Co-Founder of Gluten-Free Saver (www.glutenfreesaver.com), which provides consumers with customized deals on a variety of gluten-free foods and other products.
Aside from his professional life, Chad is an avid sports fan and golfer. Although his dreams of becoming a professional golfer might not be realized, he still enjoys playing a few rounds each month with his family and friends.
Sharri Lear graduated from Emerson College with a B.S. in Communication and a minor in Communication Law. She currently serves as a Vice President of International Marketing for Sony Pictures. Her day-to-day responsibilities include marketing movies in over eighty markets and twenty languages around the world. Prior to her current position, she worked at DreamWorks SKG for ten years overseeing the domestic marketplace. Ms. Lear has served as Vice-President of the MATES Foundation for the past three years. The non-profit organization enhances the educational vision of the Meadows Arts and Technology Elementary School, located in Thousand Oaks. Ms. Lear has focused on building a strong direct donation program to help fund big ticket items like the music technology lab, grants, beautification projects and Art at Lunch.
Raised in Kennebunkport, Maine, Ms. Lear now lives in Thousand Oaks, California with her husband and two children. Excited to be a part of the Celiac Disease Foundation, Ms. Lear is looking forward to a successful two year term!
Since my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2006 – after almost 10 years of misdiagnosis – I have become immersed in educating myself about the disease. In this process, I have become a fierce and passionate advocate about raising celiac awareness in the community. This includes helping families with recently diagnosed celiac disease members learn how to not only lead a gluten free lifestyle, but to
also address the emotional and social challenges that come with living with an autoimmune disorder.
It is my strong belief that there was a missing support mechanism to address the emotional and social challenges of celiac disease that led my husband, Peter, and I to approach the Celiac Disease Foundation about developing a program late last year. Our interest in developing a program ultimately led us to become the founding financial sponsors of the Gluten-Related Conditions Youth Support Group Initiative,
a national continuing education program that will someday train psychologists, medical professionals and lay people to effectively deliver education and support services that will provide patients and families with the skills to cope with this disease.
I am a make-up artist and live in Tarzana with my husband and two children. I trained at the Lancôme Institute in Paris and credits include album covers, magazines, television, and social events. I have had the pleasure of working with amazing artists such as Johnny Depp, Cher, Elle Macpherson, Annie Lennox and countless others. I love traveling and skiing and have lived in Paris, Tel Aviv, Guadalajara, Acapulco, and Hawaii.
It is my sincere hope, that through my involvement with the board of CDF, and our support of the Gluten-Related Conditions Youth Support Group Initiative, that we can raise the awareness of celiac disease throughout the community, helps diagnose more previously undiagnosed Celiacs, and to help those already diagnosed.
I am so excited and honored to become part of this amazing and important organization!
Dr. Weiss first contacted the Celiac Disease Foundation a few days after being diagnosed a celiac in November 2003. Although he was trained as a physician he had little knowledge of the condition, and was overwhelmed by his gastroenterologist’s comments that this condition would be life changing and would require adherence to a rigid diet. His first contact with Elaine Monarch reassured him that others had successfully managed the problem and he would be able to as well.
He was a physician by training and specialized in forensic psychiatry. He practiced in Van Nuys, California until he retired in 1986. He intermittently attended CDF board meetings as a guest but seriously considered joining the board after serving on a committee formed to select a new executive director. Inspired by the talents and dedication of the board members on the committee he thought that as a retired psychiatrist he would have special insight into how to engage physicians as the organization went about its educational outreach. After being an observer and committee member, he was pleased to finally become an official board member in 2011!
Los Angeles native Deb Wheaton grew up on movie sets, and spent most of her career working on-camera before moving behind the camera to write/produce promotional and on-line training tools for non-profits. As president of the non-profit Actresses at Work, she also co-wrote and produced the original version of the documentary short film: “Invisible Women,” which addressed the issue of ageism in the media.
In 2005, the diagnosis of celiac disease changed Ms. Wheaton’s life and she left her forty year career in entertainment, public relations and marketing to pursue a new mission: to raise awareness about celiac disease. Since that time her efforts have taken many forms. In addition to being the author of the popular blog site Not Even A Crumb (www.notevenacrumb.com), in 2011, Deb worked closely with the Celiac Disease Foundation and California Senator Robert Huff’s office to spearhead legislation which resulted in the passage of SR7, designating May as Celiac Disease Awareness Month in California. Ms. Wheaton also wrote and co-produced CDF’s first Public Service Announcement for National Broadcast (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Li-H360Gs). The PSA has been accepted by all of the networks, and has been shown on the GIANT Scoreboard at the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park.
Most recently, Ms. Wheaton was commissioned by Quintet Publishing in the UK to write a 4,000 word introduction for their new cookbook: 500 Gluten-Free Recipes.
Ms. Wheaton continues to seize every opportunity to help raise awareness and increase diagnosis of the “#1 Disease You’ve Never Heard Of.”
Through the commitment, innovation, and guidance of its Board of Directors, the Celiac Disease Foundation carries out programs of awareness, education, advocacy and research for celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and dermatitis herpetiformis.
Jim Watson is the Chief Operating Officer of Park West Asset Management LLC, a hedge fund located in Larkspur, California, and is responsible for all operational aspects of running Park West. His responsibilities include overseeing marketing, investor relations, accounting, human resources, audit, legal, tax, information technology, and office management. Jim has been the COO for two years. Prior to his current role, he was the CFO of Park West for over seven years. Prior to joining Park West, Jim was the CFO of Pantera Capital Management LP, a hedge fund in San Francisco, for two years. Prior to that, Jim was the CFO of Orchid Asia Management, a private equity firm in San Francisco focused on making investments operating in Asia, for six years. Prior to that, Jim was a CPA and manager in the tax department of the San Francisco office of Arthur Andersen LLP for four years. While at Arthur Andersen Jim’s focus was on compliance and consulting to large hedge funds and large private equity firms. Jim received his Masters in Accounting from Rice University in 1991 and graduated first in his class. Jim also received an undergraduate degree in Mathematical Economic Analysis from Rice University in 1989 and graduated magna cum laude.
Jim was diagnosed with celiac disease in April 2012 and with microscopic colitis in August 2013. Jim attended his first Celiac Disease Foundation Annual Meeting in the spring of 2014. At the Annual Meeting, Jim instantly connected with a brief speech given by the current CDF Board Chair, Marc Riches, and eagerly wanted to be a part of the CDF team. Jim is passionate about CDF’s role as an advocate for all of those afflicted with celiac disease or other gluten related disorders and is extremely excited to be a part of the board.
Jim resides in Kentfield, California with his wife Rebecca and their two young children.
An accomplished technology leader and entrepreneur, Mr. Ramer has helped raise tens of millions of dollars in financing for growth companies in the Cleantech, sustainability, and energy sectors. Over the past fourteen years, he has helped rapidly grow three companies into successful enterprises resulting in very significant increases in shareholder value.
Since 2010, Mr. Ramer has been Chief Executive Officer and Founder of EV Connect, a market-leading company which deploys and manages electric vehicle charge stations for government and enterprise customers across North America. EV Connect has grown into the leading provider of electric vehicle charge station management services in North America and supports thousands of drivers daily with its technology.
Prior to EV Connect, Mr. Ramer led corporate development for NanoH2O, a venture-backed developer of energy efficient water purification technology. As one of the first employees, he was instrumental in defining the company’s business model, helping to raise venture financing, and managing governmental affairs for the company, which was recently sold to LG Chem in 2014.
He also held executive positions for over 7 years in business development, product management and marketing at AeroVironment, a leader in clean transportation and energy systems, where he spent seven years elevating the company into the industry leader, spearheading the company’s international expansion and launching its fleet management software solution.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Ramer held roles in business development, finance and strategy for several venture-backed technology start-ups and received his CPA while working at his first professional job at Arthur Andersen.
Mr. Ramer has served as a Loaned Executive with the United Way, and the boards of the Wildwoods Foundation and UC Santa Barbara Bren School Eco-Entrepreneurship Council. His non-profit board service started after completing the Riordan Volunteer Leadership Development Program in 2002. In recognition of his board service with the Wildwoods Foundation, he was awarded the US President’s Volunteer Service Award, which was established in 2003 to recognize the valuable contributions volunteers are making in our communities and encourage more people to serve.
He holds a Masters of Business Administration from UCLA Anderson and graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Skidmore College. He is married and lives in Los Angeles, CA with his wife and two children.
Emily Luxford is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutritional science. She has experience as a credentialed elementary school teacher and has also taught nutrition at California State University, Long Beach. Beyond the classroom, she has developed and published research regarding dietary modification. Presently, Emily provides individualized medical nutrition therapy at Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara, California. Her practice includes evidence based nutrition intervention for gastrointestinal disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, renal disease, bariatric surgery nutrition support and disease prevention. Having been diagnosed with celiac disease as a teenager, Emily has a unique perspective as both patient and health care provider. She looks forward to sharing this dual perspective with the CDF Board of Directors and the celiac and gluten intolerant community.
Jody Morris was first introduced to Celiac Disease Foundation shortly after her 11 year old daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease. Like many of the stories she has since heard, her daughter’s road to diagnosis was long and bumpy. Although no other family members were affected, the entire family now follows a gluten-free diet when at home. Adjusting to the gluten-free lifestyle can be challenging with multiple family members; however, her medical training facilitated the education process and helped ease the transition.
Because she is a healthcare provider, Ms. Morris appreciates the evidence based information she finds on the CDF website. She supports the mission of CDF. Jody feels as the mom of a child with celiac disease and a healthcare provider she can contribute to the goals of Celiac Disease Foundation. She has, in the last few years, helped train and educate local teachers, counselors and coaches about celiac disease. Jody has already played a significant role in fundraising for CDF by assisting her daughter in the establishment of Alex’s 5K RAGE (Race for Answers To Gluten Enteropathy).
Jody lives in a suburb outside Chicago with her husband and 4 children. She has a Master’s degree in nursing from Loyola University of Chicago and is a board certified Adult Nurse Practitioner. She is a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing. In her free time she can be found watching her daughters’ cross country teams compete, hosting a team pasta party (gluten-free, of course) or hiking through the woods with her Havanese, Hermosa.