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.
Over the span of 21 years Elaine Monarch took Celiac Disease Foundation from a small group of celiac patients seeking to find out about their disease and support each other, to the leading national celiac organization with over 144 Chapters and Support Groups across the country. Founded in 1990 by Elaine, this amazing CDF network was supported by members and volunteers and continues today to raise awareness, advocate for patient concerns and build a supportive community for patients, families and healthcare professionals.
Elaine created a renowned international Medical Advisory Board and established relationships with the NIH, NIDDK, NDDIC and the FDA. In 2004, the NIH held the first ever Celiac Disease Consensus Conference and Elaine had the honor of serving on the Planning Committee. It was this landmark event that put celiac disease “on the map” with the research confirming that celiac disease affects 1 in 133
In 1996 and 1998 Elaine was an honored nominee receiving the Outstanding Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) on National Philanthropy Day. She also received a Certificate of Recognition for Distinguished Philanthropic Leadership of Celiac Disease Foundation by the National Society of Fundraising Executives in 2000.
Elaine was a founding member of the American Celiac Disease Alliance and worked with this cadre of nonprofit organizations, food manufacturers and health professionals who united to form one voice for the celiac community with regard to food labeling legislation. The passage of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA ) in 2006 which defined gluten-free, was due in large part to the efforts of this organization.
In May 2011, Elaine retired as Executive Director of CDF and accepted a lifetime appointment to the CDF Board of Directors in Spring 2012. She continues to be actively involved with CDF, sharing her vision for a greater awareness of celiac disease and an improved quality of life for those with 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.
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.
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.
Christopher J. Holland is an Assistant Vice President at AXIS RE. In this role, he is focused on the development and growth of the WC and Alternative Risk platforms. Prior to joining AXIS RE, he was a Casualty Underwriting Officer at Platinum Underwriters Reinsurance, Inc. Before joining Platinum Re, Mr. Holland served as a Senior Underwriter at Zurich Financial Services, where he was responsible for a portfolio of Domestic Casualty Insurance Products. Prior to 2010, he was an Underwriter in AIG’s Risk Management division, where he developed customized risk management programs. Christopher got his start in the insurance industry working as a Claims Adjuster and has continued to take on roles of increasing responsibility.
Christopher holds an M.B.A. in Finance from the Hagan School of Business at Iona College, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. He also holds a B.S. from the University of Scranton.
Mr. Holland holds the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation and an Associate in Reinsurance (ARe). He is also a member of the John Street Insurance Association, National Association of Corporate Directors, CPCU Society, & RE Under 40s.
He serves as a member of the Board of Directors & Chairman of the Journal of Reinsurance for the Intermediaries and Reinsurance Underwriters Association & was named by Intelligent Insurer as “Rising Stars: Top 40 Under 35” in 2015.
Deidre was introduced to celiac, and the Celiac Disease Foundation, when her father, Marvin Berman, was misdiagnosed for years, and then ultimately learned of the disease and became involved with the organization. She saw first-hand the impact the disease can have on an individual and their family, the need to further educate the public and providers and work more creatively within the complex health care system to achieve further advances.
Originally from Los Angeles, California, Deidre moved to the mid-west to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and earn a Masters of Public Health (M.P.H.) and a Masters Health Care Administration (M.H.S.A).
Deidre’s experience in the evolving health care delivery system has been multi-faceted including a fellowship at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and Strategic Planning at Kaiser Permanente and the Permanente Medical Group. For the last 15 years, Deidre has held various positions at Anthem Blue Cross (formerly Blue Cross of CA) in their Legislative/Public Policy department, Operations Management and now as a Director of Change Management over the Large Group Accounts segment working with both internal and external stakeholders. This business segment represents all employer customers within California that provide health care benefits to 50 or more employees. It includes nearly 4,000 employer groups covering over three million people, representing approximately $15 billion in annual insured and self-insured health care benefit payments.
Personally, Deidre resides in Sherman Oaks and enjoys time with family, friends and her adopted shelter dog. She is passionate about the outreach and rescue of animals in need, expanding her knowledge and ownership of investment properties and interesting and fun travel adventures – most recently touring Croatia and Slovenia.
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.
Tina is a partner in the legal and business consulting firm Kaleo Legal in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Her practice focuses on corporate and securities law, public and private capital raising, corporate governance and compliance. Tina has broad experience advising public and private company clients on a wide range of regulatory and transactional matters and advises boards of directors, executive management teams and entrepreneurs on business strategy, transactional planning, financing options and investor relations. Tina additionally serves as the Chief Operating Officer of Escape the Wolf, which provides crisis education, planning and management services to organizations particularly in the areas of physical security, travel security, cyber security and pandemic preparedness.
After graduating from law school at the University of Virginia, Tina practiced as an in-house corporate and securities attorney at Norfolk Southern Corporation, a Fortune 400 NYSE company, until 2006. Tina then served as an adjunct professor of law at Regent University School of Law, until joining the predecessor of Kaleo Legal.
Tina joined the Board of Celiac Disease Foundation after her young nephew’s diagnosis with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.
Brad is a Shareholder in Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck’s Los Angeles office and a member of the Water & Public Lands and Public Agency Groups. His practice includes a broad range of water issues in the Southwest, including strategic water supply planning, water rights permitting and regulatory compliance, adjudications of groundwater rights, water utility concerns, Indian water rights and environmental matters affecting water use, including CEQA compliance and water quality issues, including those arising under the federal Clean Water Act and California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act. Brad works closely with numerous public water agencies, special districts, private landowners and water utilities, assisting them with transactional negotiations, litigation and administrative agency proceedings. He serves as counsel to the Chino Basin Watermaster and the South Tahoe Public Utility District, and represents private landowners in the Antelope Valley Groundwater Adjudication and golf courses throughout the Southwest. He speaks and writes frequently on topics related to water rights and management.
Brad is a Trustee for the William Sansum Diabetes Center and a Director for the Groundwater Resources Association of California, and serves as a member of the Executive Committee for each.
Brad was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of 35 and in the past two years a number of his immediate family members have also been diagnosed. He is passionate about reducing the population of those yet undiagnosed and providing the recently diagnosed with resources for their gluten-free lifestyles.
Originally from New York, Dr. Karp moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1990s to attend Medical School at USC. He graduated from the University of Southern California School of Medicine (since renamed the Keck School of Medicine). He completed training in Internal Medicine at USC, was Chief Resident of the training program then joined the faculty of USC in July 2013. As teaching faculty his role over the years has included supervision of medical students and residents during their training. This supervision occurs as an Attending on the General Medicine inpatient wards at the LAC+USC Medical Center, Keck Hospital of USC and in the outpatient clinics.
Soon after joining the clinical faculty, Dr. Karp was able to take on the role of Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency. This allowed him to increase his teaching responsibilities and mentor residents more closely. One of his roles during this time was curriculum development, allowing him to steer the education of resident trainees in new directions. As one of the largest Internal Medicine training programs in the country, being in this position has allowed him to have significant educational influence over a great number of current physicians throughout the region, California, and the country.
His current role is that of Chief of the division of Geriatrics, Hospital, Palliative Care, and General Internal Medicine within the Department of Medicine at USC. The division is comprised of more than 50 full time faculty that provide over 20,000 outpatient visits per year, education and supervision to more than 300 inpatients per day, and participate in significant research and other scholarly activities.
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.
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.
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, help 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!
Elliott Taft came to Celiac Disease Foundation through his friend, Marvin Berman. As a retired businessman from the land of construction and development and a philanthropist in his personal life, Elliott offers his unique point of view. Although not a celiac himself, Elliott sees this board position as an opportunity to raise awareness of a disease that more people need to know about. In his business career, Elliott was President of three companies – Castaic Land Company, Clara Corporation and Embassy Construction. Since joining the CDF Board of Directors, Elliott has given his full support to helping CDF carry out our mission.
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.
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.
Robbin Wilson was first introduced to celiac disease after allergy testing revealed a list of food allergies and sensitivities including wheat and gluten. It was a journey that spanned years and a series of doctors, allergists, nutritionists and specialists. Today, Robbin lives a gluten-free diet to manage symptoms.
With the diagnosis of a growing number of friends and family impacted by celiac disease and gluten allergies, Robbin talks about celiac and gluten with anyone who will listen. While public awareness and acceptance is increasing, people still dismiss it especially with such a gap in knowledge and education available. There are still so many undiagnosed and living in pain.
Robbin has over 30 years of experience in leading a diverse portfolio of fundraising programs in nonprofit, political and charitable arenas. She brings experience from both sides of the aisle – nonprofit and agency. Robbin is a proven leader with an entrepreneurial spirit best known for creating platforms that are unique to each organization and break out programs that generate incremental net revenue.
Robbin serves as a fundraising subject matter expert and provides strategic oversight for omni-channel program development and integration across all verticals – advocacy, public policy, publications, and regionally based charitable programs. Some of her clients include AARP, American Cancer Society, PetSmart Charities, Feeding America, Washington National Cathedral, WorldWar II Memorial Fund and Children’s Wish Foundation.
Robbin moved from Washington, D.C. just a few years ago to enjoy a little more sunshine, golf, gardening and time at the beach. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida and has one daughter and three grandchildren who live in Washington, D.C.