Behind every breakthrough is a team of dedicated experts, united in purpose and driven by passion. Our staff at the Celiac Disease Foundation embodies this ethos of collaboration and commitment, pooling together a wealth of experience and expertise from diverse backgrounds. From research to advocacy, education to support, each member brings invaluable insights and skills to the table. Together, we work to advance the mission of finding a cure for celiac disease.

Marilyn Grunzweig Geller

Chief Executive Officer

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Marilyn G. Geller is Chief Executive Officer for Celiac Disease Foundation. For 14 years, Marilyn’s son suffered with debilitating symptoms despite seeking help from innumerable health professionals. A chance blood draw revealed celiac disease was the cause of his suffering.

Seeking to change this all too common narrative, Marilyn, a longtime healthcare executive, became active in celiac disease advocacy, joining the CDF National Board of Directors. In 2012, Marilyn succeeded Founder Elaine Monarch as Chief Executive Officer.

Founded in 1990, the Celiac Disease Foundation seeks to accelerate diagnosis, treatments, and a cure for celiac disease through strategic investments in biomedical research, patient and healthcare provider education, and public policy advocacy.

Under Marilyn’s guidance, CDF has developed:

  • The nation’s first and largest celiac disease patient registry, iCureCeliac®️.
  • The nation’s first patient-driven clinical trial and study tool, iQualifyCeliac.
  • In partnership with the Keck School of Medicine of USC and Children’s National, groundbreaking healthcare provider celiac disease education programs.
  • In partnership with Children’s National and NASPGHAN, the first national standards for 504 programs in schools to support students with celiac disease.
  • In partnership with NASPGHAN, the first online clinical decision support tool for celiac disease diagnosis.

An appointee to the PCORI Patient Engagement Advisory Panel and an inaugural winner of the Alpha Chi Omega Real. Strong. Women. Of Distinction Award, Marilyn has co-authored and presented numerous medical research papers and posters on celiac disease and its impact on patients. She has also emerged as a primary spokesperson for the patient and caregiver perspective on celiac disease, speaking at numerous domestic and international conferences and, most importantly, testifying before the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies earlier this year.

Marilyn brings more than 20 years of management experience in healthcare and IT operations. A former Los Angeles County and UCLA hospital administrator and RAND Corporation researcher, she is the lead inventor of Medversant’s patented technologies. Selected as a Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Fellow, Marilyn received her MSPH degree from the UCLA School of Public Health and her undergraduate degree from UCLA.

Email Marilyn at [email protected]

Robert Anderson, MB ChB PhD


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Dr. Anderson is a leading figure in celiac disease research. His groundbreaking work has solidified the crucial role of gluten-reactive T cells in driving celiac disease. He was the first to demonstrate the presence of T cells specific to gluten in the blood of celiac disease patients, highlighting that celiac disease extends beyond the gut to become a systemic condition.

Using these findings, Dr. Anderson’s team created the initial comprehensive T cell epitope map of gluten. This map serves as a valuable guide for the development of highly specific food tests, diagnostics, therapies, and the cultivation of “non-toxic” cereals.

Additionally, Dr. Anderson spearheaded the research and clinical development of the first T cell-directed immunotherapy for celiac disease. This work not only uncovered the immunological basis for clinical reactions to gluten but also opened up new possibilities for biopsy-free diagnosis, monitoring, and expediting drug development for coeliac disease.

Dr. Anderson’s journey began with undergraduate medicine and a PhD in New Zealand, followed by gastroenterology training in Melbourne, Australia. He initiated his celiac disease research at Oxford University before returning to Melbourne, establishing the celiac disease research program at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in collaboration with Coeliac Australia.

Transitioning from academia to commercial roles in Australia and the United States, Dr. Anderson continued his work on experimental immunotherapy for celiac disease. He remains dedicated to T cell diagnostics and novel therapies as a co-founder and director of Novoviah Pharmaceuticals in Queensland, Australia. Currently, he serves as the President of the International Society for the Study of Celiac Disease.

Lisa Shaevitz

Chief of Finance and HR

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Lisa Shaevitz is the Chief of Finance and HR for the Celiac Disease Foundation. She is responsible for the company’s long-term financial health and growth, overseeing all accounting operations and financial reporting. Her goal is to provide accurate reporting to improve current practices and increase efficiency.

Lisa is a strategic thinker and effective leader with an entrepreneurial spirit cultivated through nearly 30 years of running her own businesses. Additionally, she brings non-profit expertise through her service on the Board of Directors for Home Ownership Made Easy (Westside Regional Center) and the establishment of HOPE Housing (Harbor Regional Center). Lisa’s experience in all roles of that board, including president, has cultivated a unique understanding of the non-profit world. She hopes her contribution will foster the financial longevity needed for the Foundation to continue its important work for many years to come.

Lisa earned her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA in Political Science with an emphasis in Business, and a Master of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship from USC.

Email Lisa at [email protected]

Brett Spitale

Chief of Staff

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Brett is an innovative nonprofit executive with more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare nonprofit field. Most recently Brett served as the Vice President of Advancement and led the National Bleeding Disorders Foundation (NBDF) development, communications, marketing, and stakeholder relations programs. Brett possesses significant experience in leadership and fundraising, including annual fund programs, major gifts, corporate and foundation development, special event fundraising, capital campaigns, and planned giving efforts. He has created and managed successful communications initiatives, including marketing/public relations, media relations and social media development, along with board governance and structure. Brett previously held leadership positions at The National Bleeding Disorders Foundation, Autism Speaks, The Alzheimer’s Association, The ARC, and The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. He is also actively involved with the American Society of Association Executives, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, The Center for Nonprofit Excellence, and Board Source.

Brett attended George Mason University, where he completed his undergraduate and graduate work in communications and non-profit management. Brett is married to his wonderful wife JoAnne with whom they have three children – Emmelyn (15), Amelia (13), and Maxwell (8).

Email Brett at [email protected]

Vanessa Weisbrod

Chief Education and Community Engagement Officer

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Vanessa Weisbrod is the Chief Education and Community Engagement Officer at the Celiac Disease Foundation. She believes in the power of education to inspire change in the health care community, and it is from this perspective that she develops innovative programs, initiatives, and partnerships for both patient families and the medical providers who treat them.

For nearly two decades, Vanessa has been at the forefront of transforming lives through education, community building, and advocacy. Her journey in healthcare began with a passion for making a difference in the lives of children and families. After being diagnosed with celiac disease in 2004 as a college student and seeing first-hand the gap in knowledge and resources, she knew she wanted to dedicate her career to making sure that no other young person was left alone to manage celiac disease. She spent nearly 17 years working in pediatric hospitals— Boston Children’s Hospital and Children’s National Hospital— and developed a deep understanding of the intricate challenges faced by pediatric patients and their families. Her understanding grew even more when her son was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2016 at the age of three.

Vanessa’s impact on health care education emphasizes collaboration and community engagement. Her leadership roles in hospital settings allowed her to spearhead initiatives that fostered interdisciplinary communication, ensuring that healthcare professionals were equipped with the latest knowledge and skills to deliver exceptional celiac patient care. Some examples include leading the effort to create national recommendations for managing children with celiac disease at school and research looking at cross contact with gluten in shared kitchens and classrooms. Recently, Vanessa has served on the executive committee of the Harvard Medical School Celiac Research & Education Program and the Executive Council for the Society for the Study of Celiac Disease. Additionally, Vanessa hosts the monthly Raising Celiac podcast and has authored four gluten-free cookbooks.

Email Vanessa at [email protected].

Amanda Halligan

Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs

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Amanda Halligan is the Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs at the Celiac Disease Foundation. She believes in the transformative power of story to inspire change, and it is from this perspective that she develops and implements the organization’s public policy agenda, advocacy initiatives, and strategic engagement with federal and international agencies, domestic coalitions, and global partners.

Amanda brings to the Foundation decades of experience working at the intersection of policy, communications, and advocacy on behalf of individuals and organizations in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. She has worked as a reporter, editor, speechwriter, spokesperson, and has served as an advisor to several elected officials. She is recognized for her ability to build relationships, synthesize information, develop campaigns, and successfully navigate complex relational, institutional, and regulatory challenges.

Amanda’s personal experience with issues of access to resources and healthcare, a protracted celiac disease diagnosis, and 20 years of gluten-free living all inform her daily work. From the newsroom to Capitol Hill, and many points between, she has witnessed the profound ways that narrative and policy affect our health and well-being. She is committed to strengthening and advancing the effort to diagnose, treat, and cure celiac disease—and to improve the quality of life for everyone affected.

As the second person in her family to attend college, Amanda earned her journalism degree from the University of Arizona and her honorary doctorate from the School of Hard Knocks.

Email Amanda at [email protected].

Justin Tsui

Chief Information Officer

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Justin provides the Celiac Disease Foundation with in-depth experience and insight in IT strategy development and management.

Passionate about non-profits, Justin and his team bring clarity, simplicity and coherent IT strategy and solutions to CDF, lowering overall operational costs and optimizing operational efficiency.

Justin holds a Masters Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of California, Irvine, specializing in distributed and fault tolerant computing.

Julia McBeth

Director of Scientific Affairs

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Julia McBeth is the Director of Scientific Affairs for the Celiac Disease Foundation. She believes the celiac disease community deserves better treatment options. In service of this mission, she uses patient-centered strategies to improve awareness of clinical trials and remove barriers to participation. She manages the iQualifyCeliac study screening platform, iCureCeliac® patient registry, and partnerships with corporate and academic researchers.

Julia brings to her role at the Foundation her experience conducting research that examines the intersection of health, emotions, and addiction at the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Her own journey with chronic illness motivated her to get involved in public health research and patient advocacy. She hopes to leverage her personal and professional experience to help improve the quality of life for all those affected by celiac disease.

Julia earned her degree in psychology at the University of Southern California.

Email Julia at [email protected]

Janie Magill

Director of Development

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Janie Magill is the Director of Development for the Celiac Disease Foundation. She handles a wide range of responsibilites, including the execution of annual fundraising initiatives, planning Foundation events, securing sponsorships, and producing content for multiple platforms including social media, digital, and print publications. She enjoys interacting with donors and corporate partners to align their philanthropic interests with programs and services that improve the quality of life for those with celiac disease.

Prior to joining the Celiac Disease Foundation, Janie served as Development Coordinator at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, Georgia, and more recently as the Director of Development at CARE, one of the leading global humanitarian organizations. During her tenure as Director of Development, she led individual giving efforts and managed a multi-channel fundraising campaign strategy to renew and upgrade existing donors.

Shortly after being diagnosed with celiac disease in 2015, she became committed to empowering others living a gluten-free lifestyle and served as the Gluten Intolerance Group Branch Manager. Her own celiac disease journey also led her to the Eat! Gluten-Free app, created by the Celiac Disease Foundation as a resource for new products and recipes. In her role at the Celiac Disease Foundation, she will continue to create meaningful relationships with individuals suffering with celiac disease and provide resources for them to live the best life possible.

Janie earned her Bachelor’s Degree in communications at the University of Kentucky.

Email Janie at [email protected]

Jennifer Roop

Assistant Director of Community Engagement

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Jennifer is the Assistant Director of Community Engagement for the Celiac Disease Foundation. In this role she develops and implements communications to promote the Foundation’s policy agenda and address donor interests. She handles all types of content, from the website to social media, fundraising e-newsletters to presentations and brochures.

Jennifer is a wordsmith and brand storyteller with a broad background in non-profits, higher education, and agency settings. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked in journalism, textbooks, health agencies, alumni communications, executive communications, and copywriting. She has a knack for researching and editing and loves ensuring message consistency.

The Foundation’s mission is personal for Jennifer, who was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2017 and has embraced gluten-free living (and baking) ever since.

Jennifer earned a bachelor’s in Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill school, and a master’s in Public Relations and Advertising from DePaul University. She also had the pleasure of working at each alma mater after earning her degrees.

Email Jennifer at [email protected]

Shalei L’Heureux

Assistant Director of Individual Giving

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Shalei L’Heureux is the Development Manager for the Celiac Disease Foundation. Her primary responsibilities include managing the Foundation’s Individual and Major Giving, allowing her the unique opportunity to personally connect with those who give philanthropically to the Celiac Disease Foundation, and to organize cause-marketing events.

Prior to joining the Celiac Disease Foundation, Shalei served as the Development Officer for Hoag Hospital’s Digestive Health Institute. While at Hoag, she was able to grow relationships between Digestive Health clinical partners and that Foundation, as well as secure funding for a variety of philanthropic needs for the Digestive Health Institute, build foundational relationships with donors, and plan cultivation and stewardship events.

Shalei was diagnosed with celiac disease in August of 2015 and has been passionate about patient education, advocacy, and the overall celiac disease community ever since. She is dedicated to educating others about celiac disease, while uplifting the experiences of those who are impacted by the disease themselves. In her role at the Celiac Disease Foundation, she is excited to build and foster relationships with those impacted by celiac disease, like herself, to increase funding for research, patient advocacy, and education.

Shalei’s educational background is a direct reflection of her personal and professional passions, having a Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management, alongside a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Southern California (fight on!).

Email Shalei L’Heureux at [email protected].

Jackson Rau

Advocacy Project Manager

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Jackson Rau is the Advocacy Project Manager for the Celiac Disease Foundation. He is tasked with expanding federal advocacy efforts for the Foundation, managing the patient advocacy program, and providing timely policy updates to the community.

Jackson has an extensive background working in Washington D.C. on behalf of more than thirty patient advocacy groups. His work has included assisting advocates in developing public policy agendas, drafting and promoting legislative initiatives, coordinating Hill Days, and working closely with Hill staff in submitting appropriations requests.

A number of Jackson’s loved ones have suffered from chronic illness throughout his life, and he was greatly impacted by the personal stories many patients shared at his last position that were simply searching for help from decisionmakers in Congress. These experiences provided Jackson with a strong passion for advocacy, and he looks forward to making a difference alongside advocates across the country to benefit the celiac disease patient community.

Jackson received his bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Maryland. Go Terps!

Email Jackson at [email protected].

Marcia Gailes

Research Communications Manager

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Marcia Gailes is the Research Communications Manager for the Celiac Disease Foundation. She believes that policy and research are integral facets in the battle against celiac disease. Her responsibilities include developing and implementing the Foundation’s research advocacy engagement strategy, managing the ICureCeliacâ patient registry, and maintaining patient relations.

Marcia brings to the Foundation her background in public health, clinical and translational research, and analytical aptitude. In addition to coordinating and conducting research, she has experience in program evaluation, database and biorepository management, and patient engagement.

Marcia has a passion towards health equity and hopes her work at the Foundation makes a positive impact in the advancement of clinical trial inclusion for those affected by celiac disease.

Marcia earned her Master of Public Health from Tufts University School of Medicine, specializing in Epidemiology and Biostatics.

Email Marcia at [email protected]

Matthew Clark

Project Manager

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Matthew Clark is the Project Manager for the Celiac Disease Foundation. He believes working with all aspects of the Foundation helps to better serve the needs of the celiac disease community.

Matthew brings to his role at the Foundation his experience in technical support, customer service, creative editing & design, social media, administrative & office skills, and database management.

He is motivated by helping others and connecting people to the resources they are looking for. Matthew’s experiences with friends and family members affected by celiac disease have motivated him from an early age.

Matthew is passionate about community engagement, and is active in local community organizations.

Email Matthew at [email protected]

Marissa Mahoney

Scientific Affairs Manager and Information Security Officer

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Marissa Mahoney is the Scientific Affairs Manager for the Celiac Disease Foundation. Marissa believes in the importance of scientific research and its ability to change lives, and it is from this perspective that she helps manage the Foundation’s Patient Recruitment Services for clinical trials and studies, including the iQualifyCeliac study screening platform, as well as the Foundation’s Research Awards and Prizes.

Marissa brings to the Foundation her experience advocating for patients with diverse abilities and their caregivers and healthcare providers to make critical early intervention services financially accessible. She also has experience conducting research and managing research assistants in the University of California Santa Barbara’s Social Evaluations and Emotions Lab.

Marissa is passionate about helping the community and hopes her work at the Foundation will help advance celiac disease research toward treatments and a cure.

Marissa earned her degree in psychology at the University of California Santa Barbara.

Email Marissa at [email protected].

Emma Kowzun

Scientific Affairs Coordinator

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Emma is the Scientific Affairs Coordinator for the Celiac Disease Foundation. She works in coordination with the Scientific Affairs team to manage the Foundation’s partnerships with biopharma, technical, and academic researchers, as well as providing patient recruitment services for clinical trials and studies.

Emma brings to the Foundation her background in education, which translates into her passion for making research and resources more accessible for patients and caregivers affected by celiac disease.

After being diagnosed with celiac disease in 2016, Emma became committed to advocating for the needs of the celiac disease patient community. She is so grateful that she gets to spend every day connecting with others suffering with celiac disease, and working with leading industry professionals to find treatments and a cure.

Email Emma at [email protected].

William Backus

IT Project Manager

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William is a software developer who has been collaborating with the Celiac Disease Foundation since 2018. He helps create software solutions, such as CDF’s iCureCeliac patient registry and iQualifyCeliac study screening platform, that bridge the gap between the celiac disease community and researchers, aiming to speed up diagnosis, treatments, and a cure.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in computational mathematics at the University of California Riverside.

Rodney English

Development and Government Relations Officer

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Rodney English is a communications, marketing and fundraising specialist for the Foundation. He has brought to his work at the Foundation over four decades of experience in non-profits, many focused on health/patient advocacy and social justice. His expertise is using a data-driven approach to deploy multimedia campaigns to increase constituent value.

He has a degree in economics from Georgetown University.

Ian Chainey

Healthcare Practitioner Directory Coordinator

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Ian Chainey works on the Celiac Disease Foundation Healthcare Provider Directory (HPD), a database of over 1,000 providers from multiple disciplines offering care to the celiac disease patient community. In addition to data entry and database management tasks, Ian verifies and monitors licenses. No licensing body is too obscure: the HPD contains verified providers found on four continents.

Before joining the Foundation, Ian worked at credentials verification organizations, helping insurance companies, universities, and state governments to credential their healthcare providers. Ian also has experience implementing IT solutions.


“My best friend’s partner has celiac disease, and I saw what it was like trying to navigate a world that doesn’t consider your well-being,” Ian writes. “But, since I joined the Celiac Disease Foundation nearly a decade ago, the world has changed. Much of that is a credit to CDF’s immense efforts at educating the public and helping those with celiac disease find knowledgeable healthcare providers. It makes me proud knowing that my work may make the lives of future generations easier.”

Ian is a University of La Verne graduate with a degree in organizational management. In addition, Ian holds numerous CompTIA certificates.

Email Ian at [email protected].

Nicole Bragg

Senior Graphic Designer

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Nicole Bragg has been a creative end since she was a little girl taking endless drawing and painting classes, which she thrived in. Nicole found her career path in Graphic Design from 1996 – 2000 at SUNY New Paltz in New Paltz, NY. She graduated magna cum laude with B.A. in Fine and Performing Arts and a concentration in Graphic Design. Nicole worked in the corporate world doing various design jobs, such as, designer for a private handbag label, she also taught Adobe Design programs like Illustrator and Photoshop for a couple years and then was a Marketing Manager for 8 years at the number one ranked Dutchess County real estate company, Prudential Serls Prime Properties. Nicole then moved on to become a freelance Senior Graphic Designer to multiple companies from New York to California in 2013. With over 20 years of design experience and 8 years working with The Celiac Disease Foundation, Nicole Bragg enjoys her creative role and being part of such an influential team that drives diagnosis and a cure for celiac disease… as she too is gluten-free, not by choice.

Steve Rabins-Lam

Data Integration Manager

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Steve Rabins-Lam is the System Integration Manager for the Celiac Disease Foundation. Steve has over a decade of experience in web application development and has been instrumental in creating innovative and user-friendly software solutions such as the iCureCeliac® Patient Registry, iQualifyCeliac Study Recruitment Platform, and Eat! Gluten-Free app. Steve is always eager to learn new skills and take on new challenges to help advance celiac disease research and bring us closer to finding effective treatments and a cure.