Celiac Disease Foundation’s Board of Directors bring talent, expert knowledge, and passion to move forward the mission of the Foundation. We are grateful to have their support and dedication to drive diagnosis, treatment, and a cure for celiac disease.

Jim Watson


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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 since 2013. Prior to his current role, he was the CFO of Park West for over eight 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 then 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 Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife Rebecca and their two young children.

Chad Hines

Vice Chairman

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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.

Bradley Herrema


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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.

Christopher J. Holland


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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.

Elaine Monarch


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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.

Adrienne Bender

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Adrienne has been a volunteer for Celiac Disease Foundation since 2012 when her son, Alex, was diagnosed at age three. Alex was born premature at a little over four pounds, and spent his first three years on the lowest point of the growth curve.

After one year with no weight gain, Alex’s pediatrician recommended that he be tested for celiac disease. Alex’s diagnosis drove Adrienne to seek help and guidance and also inspired her to help others. Adrienne has served as a support contact person, handling many calls and emails from those newly diagnosed.

However, she primarily focused her efforts on fundraising for Celiac Disease Foundation by coordinating Team Gluten-Free events throughout the year. Since 2012, Adrienne has raised tens of thousands of dollars and was named CDF’s 2016 Volunteer of Year.

Professionally, Adrienne is a Vice President in the Alternatives Investment Solution division of State Street Corporation. Adrienne manages a team that services several hedge fund clients with assets in excess of $20 billion.

She is a 2001 graduate of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting and Finance. Adrienne resides in Montgomery, New Jersey with her husband, Aaron, and two children, Alex and Ava.

Deidre Berman

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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.

Courtney de Balmann

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Courtney specializes in helping medical organizations stimulate research, raise money and awareness.

Currently an independent consultant, Courtney previously served as the Executive Director of the Lung Cancer Research Foundation in New York. She was also the Director of Development of the Psychiatry Department at UCSF and Vice President of the HHV-6 Foundation where she is now a board member.

Prior to running medical research foundations, Courtney worked in fixed income at Goldman Sachs and Drake Management. She received her undergraduate degree in Economics from Boston College and her MBA from the Wharton School of Business at The University of Pennsylvania.

Courtney became passionate about finding a cure for celiac after a close family member was diagnosed with the disease. She resides in Marin County, California with her husband and two young children.

Michael Karp, MD, FACP

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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, MS, RD

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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, APRN-BC

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Jody Morris was first introduced to the 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 celiac.org and supports the mission of the Foundation. 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 the Foundation 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.

Jordan Ramer

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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.

Rhonda Resnick

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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!

Linda Solomon

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Linda Solomon was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2015, after having no idea it was a GI problem. Shortly thereafter, 2 of her children were diagnosed. After attending the Celiac Disease Foundation annual conference, she knew that she had to be a part of this organization and its mission.

Linda has recently joined the board of directors for the Celiac Disease Foundation to help in the future research and development in supporting the community at large with Celiac Disease.

Linda is a Systems Engineer with a major Aerospace company in Southern California. Linda holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from California State University, Northridge as well as a Masters of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California. Linda brings a nurturing mind and a passion for advocating for oneself.

Linda is an avid golfer, runner (especially mud runs and obstacle courses), potter and loves Tae Kwon Do. Linda resides in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.

John Wagner

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In December 2012, John A. Wagner was named the first Chief Operating Officer, of First 5 LA, building on his nearly two decades of experience in running a number of state departments in the health and human services arena. In August 2016, John was promoted to the position of Executive Vice President.

Prior to joining First 5 LA, John served as Director of the California Department of Community Services and Development from 2011-2012, and Director of the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) from 2007-2011. At CDSS, he oversaw a budget of over $20 billion and programs affecting California’s most vulnerable residents including foster children and youth; children and families receiving aid through the California Work Opportunities and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs); and children and adults in state-licensed community care facilities.

John has served as senior policymaker and advisor to both Republican and Democratic administrations in Wisconsin, Massachusetts and California. Prior to coming to California, he served as the Assistant Secretary for Children, Youth and Families for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, where he coordinated policies and programs across many state agencies. Additionally, John served as the state’s Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance from 2002 to 2007.

John earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University.

Yasith Weerasuriya

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Yasith Weerasuriya is President of Stanbridge University, located in Irvine and Los Angeles, California. Stanbridge is an award-winning institution with a focus on healthcare training that leads to licensure, offering programs in Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Nursing, and Veterinary Science. Mr. Weerasuriya has over 20 years of executive leadership experience in the education sector. He attended Wichita State University and Irvine Valley College and was founding President of the College Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, President of the Alpha Gamma Sigma chapter, and President of the Honor Society.

After working with the Special Projects Department at Irvine Valley College in 1996 to facilitate a partnership between Microsoft and over a hundred California community colleges, Mr. Weerasuriya founded Executive 2000 Inc. Executive 2000 quickly grew to become an industry leader in Information Technology, Information Security and Optical Fiber Training in California. In 2003, Mr. Weerasuriya led the organization to national accreditation and broadened the focus to include medical and business training, establishing what would become Stanbridge University. Mr. Weerasuriya founded Stanbridge on the core values of innovation, technology, academic rigor, and community engagement, and it has received national recognition for its focus on service. Recipient of the IMPACT 2018 Award for Innovation in Education, CAPPS 2017 School of the Year Award, ACCSC School of Excellence Award and 6 consecutive years of placement in the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, Stanbridge is home to the first Synthetic Cadaver Lab on the West Coast, robotic telemedicine as well as one of the largest virtual reality labs for medical training in the United States.

Mr. Weerasuriya is an active member of the World Affairs Council of Orange County where he is a Trustee and recently served as Chairman. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Discovery Science Center and has previously served on the Orange County Workforce Investment Board, the Second Harvest Food Bank, and California Association of Private Post-Secondary Schools of which he was a past President. Mr. Weerasuriya is a nationwide speaker on the integration of service in higher education pedagogy and recently founded the Root for Change initiative to plant 10,000 trees in Southern California by the end of 2020.  His daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease at age five, inspiring him to pursue a partnership with the Celiac Disease Foundation, as they seek a cure.

Kristin Yarema, PhD

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Kristin Yarema has a passion for bringing new medicines to patients. She has over 20 years experience working across the many different functional areas needed to make the promise of new medicines a reality.  Kristin started her career in biopharmaceutical research and manufacturing, earning her PhD at UC Berkeley, and spending time as a researcher at the Max Planck Institute in Gottingen, Germany.  She then moved into industry, working as a junior partner in McKinsey & Company’s global pharmaceuticals and medical products consulting practice, and later in a series of clinical development and commercial roles including Global Head, Strategic Marketing, at Novartis Pharma AG in Basel, Switzerland.  Now back in the US at Amgen in Southern California, Kristin has overseen the US dermatology business, and served as Global Marketing Therapeutic Area head for inflammation, bone, and nephrology.  In this capacity, she has overseen pipeline development in multiple areas, including autoimmune disease. She was a driver of Amgen’s partnership with Celimmune to develop a new treatment for refractory celiac disease.  Currently, Kristin serves as Amgen’s Vice President for Global Product Strategy and Commercial Innovation. Kristin’s passion for improving diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease is also personal, with her elder daughter diagnosed at age 2 and other celiacs later discovered throughout her family.