Our Leadership & Staff
Meet Our Staff
Chief Operating Officer
In December of 2015 Gordy agreed to take on the responsibilities of the COO position as the foundation looked to bolster its Research and Family Empowerment investments. Gordy’s near 20 year involvement with Rett syndrome, from the formation of RSRF to merging RSRF and IRSA in 2007, gives him a unique understanding of the issues the foundation faces.
Gordy, with the support of his wife Anne, created the Kelly Rich Rett Research Foundation in 1997 for their daughter Kelly, who had just been diagnosed with Rett syndrome as well as funding the formation of the Kelly O’Leary Center for Pervasive Developmental Disorders at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Kelly was diagnosed with Rett syndrome at Johns Hopkins Kennedy Krieger in 1997 at the age of 20 months.
In November of 1999, The Rett Syndrome Research Foundation (RSRF) was formed by a passionate group of parents, led by Gordy, who wanted to more aggressively pursue biomedical research to accelerate the discovery of treatments and a cure. In its first year the foundation funded over $1M in research grants. Their achievements in funding new research and expanding the scope of knowledge was unsurpassed (including the discovery that most symptoms of Rett syndrome may one day be reversed).
In 2007 RSRF joined forces with The International Rett Syndrome Association (IRSA) to form the International Rett Syndrome Foundation, which today is known as Rettsyndrome.org.
Gordy served on the initial Board of IRSF and even after his term ended, Gordy continued to play a key role in the foundation’s fundraising efforts. Gordy returned to the Board in 2013 and feels that not only must he continue in his fundraising efforts, but must help communicate the overwhelming benefits Rettsyndrome.org brings to the Rett community in both Research and Family Empowerment.
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Steven Kaminsky, Ph.D.
Chief Science Officer
Dr. Kaminsky joined Rettsyndrome.org in January of 2012. He came to the Foundation after serving 11 years as the Vice President of Research for the Uniformed Services of the Health Sciences. While at USU, Dr. Kaminsky’s interest was in faculty development. During his presence, the research programs grew to the highest levels in the school’s history. USU, as published in August 2011 by the Chronicle of Higher Education, was number one in the category of largest gain in federal funds for research and development in science and engineering between 1999 and 2009. This growth in research funding was tied to the hard work of many researchers and staff under Dr. Kaminsky’s leadership during his tenure as VP.
Originally from Binghamton, NY, he holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Hobart College, Geneva, NY. While at Hobart Dr. Kaminsky was an All American Lacrosse player and an All East Coast Football player. He received a Masters of Science Degree in biology from Northern Michigan University and his Doctor of Philosophy in Pathology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. During his doctoral work at Buffalo, Dr. Kaminsky received two national awards; the Mead Johnson Award for Excellence in Research and the James A. McLaughlin Award for research in infectious disease.
Dr. Kaminsky did his postdoctoral fellowship at the Cancer Center of the Strong Memorial Hospital at the University of Rochester. At Strong Memorial Hospital he investigated the role of oncogenes in normal development. He was promoted to Instructor at the end of the second year of his fellowship. In 1985 Dr. Kaminsky was appointed to the rank of Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Buffalo where he studied the genetics of bone marrow transplantation.
In 1991 Dr. Kaminsky joined the National Institutes of Health as the Program Officer of the Developmental Genetics Program at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. At NICHD he worked on many trans-NIH projects and received an NIH Merit Award for his efforts. In 1995 Dr. Kaminsky was invited to the Baylor College of Medicine as the Vice Chairman of the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics at the Baylor College of Medicine. At Baylor he was part of the team that built the Department into one of the largest Genetics Program in the United States.
Dr. Kaminsky and his wife, Diana, have two children and they live in Urbana, MD. He enjoys bike riding, running, hunting, wood working, dancing and golfing in his free time.
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Chief Development Officer
Christie joined Rettsyndrome.org in July 2016 as the Chief Development Officer. After graduating from The Masters School she received a Bachelor of Science from Hobart and Williams Smith Colleges, and holds a Certificate in Fundraising Management from Columbia University.
Prior to joining Rettsyndrome.org, Christie was the Associate Director of Institutional Advancement at The Windward School in White Plains, New York for nine years. She worked for two years at Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts on the annual fund, reunion giving and the capital campaign. She then worked at Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts focusing on major gifts in the annual fund and senior year gift drive.
Christie implemented many new programs at The Windward School, including their annual Golf and Tennis Classic, now in its seventh year, a biennial benefit netting over $900,000 in her final year and an annual Homecoming for all Alumni. Christie is focused on the cultivation of constituents, the stewardship of donors and finding those transformation gifts for organizations.
Christie and her husband live in Westchester County and have a son and daughter. When not working she enjoys teaching figure skating, cooking and spending time with her family in the Adirondack Mountains. Christie looks forward to supporting the Rett Syndrome community.
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Janice Ascano, Ph.D.
Manager of Grants and Research
Janice Ascano joined Rettsyndrome.org in July 2011 as the Manager of Grants and Research. Prior to joining Rettsyndrome.org, Janice was teaching Chemistry at Hunter College and finished a postdoctoral fellowship at Rockefeller University. She received her doctorate degree from the University of Cincinnati and trained in the areas of cell-cell communication, signal transduction, and gene regulation. Janice is from the Chicago area; she studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and then worked at Abbott Laboratories before entering graduate school. As the Manager of Grants and Research, she facilitates the grant-making process that includes soliciting applications, organizing the peer-review process, and managing post-award activities. Janice also works closely with the CSO to ensure that there is a coordinated flow of medical and scientific information from the investigators to the general public. Janice is married to her husband, Manny, who is a research scientist that works in the area of RNA molecular biology/post-transcriptional gene regulation in the nervous system that pertains to Fragile X Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders. They have two lovely children, Ben and Claire.
“I absolutely find working for Rettsyndrome.org to be very gratifying! As a scientist, I thought I would find my motivation to help others at the lab bench; but I soon realized that I didn’t feel personally connected to those I could potentially help. At Rettsyndrome.org, I have had the pleasure of meeting extraordinary clinicians and scientists and the amazing families who are so dedicated to the well-being of these precious angels. As the Manager of Grants & Research, I am highly enthusiastic to use my scientific training to facilitate the grants program of Rettsyndrome.org and will strive towards achieving Rettsyndrome.org's mission, and I now feel extremely delighted to help make a difference.”
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Mary Joyce Griffin
Director of Administration
Mary Joyce Griffin joined in August of 2000 and has been a champion of the Foundation's mission ever since. MJ, as she is known in the office, is responsible for the daily administrative activities of the organization. MJ’s responsibilities are numerous including maintaining our database, processing donations, and accounts payable, as well as providing administrative and accounting support for our special events, annual scientific symposium and grant process. Mary Joyce has been married to her husband Garry for 35 years and has two adult children. She came to the Foundation from the Cincinnati Public School system. MJ has had an opportunity to meet many children affected with Rett syndrome and is personally committed to helping Rettsyndrome.org eradicate Rett syndrome.
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Director of Marketing & Communications
As the new Director of Marketing and Communications, Mary feels blessed to be part of the Rettsyndrome.org team. In her role, she will be responsible for all marketing and communication for Rettsyndrome.org and is dedicated to passionately spreading awareness and encouraging action to those who are unaware of Rett syndrome. Mary brings more than 17 years of brand and health care marketing and communications experience to this role. Mary received her bachelor’s degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.
When not working, Mary is spending time with her daughter and her son. Mary’s son was diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of two and a half and she has a personal and professional commitment to helping find treatments for all neurological conditions. Mary also enjoys growing vegetables in her garden, is an avid sports fan, and can occasionally be seen running a charity race or two.
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Director of Family Empowerment
Connection to RTT: Daughter, Katie (13)
Paige Nues dedicates her time to providing a safety net of accurate information, emotional support, and connections to empower the families, caregivers, and support teams of children with Rett syndrome at all stages of life. Paige has served on the Board of Directors, as a Regional Representative, and is parent founder of Katie’s Clinic for Rett Syndrome at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. She enjoyed a successful career in sales, marketing, and business development with Fortune 100 companies prior to her daughter Katie’s diagnosis of Rett syndrome in 2003. She and her husband Jesse live in California and are proud parents of three extraordinary girls.
“Where you put your effort is where you get results. It takes a team of caring family and friends, educated physicians, trained therapists, willing educators, and an open-minded supportive community to raise a child with Rett syndrome towards her greatest potential. We will discover real treatments that will lead to a reversal of symptoms, but finding these treatments will take funding, time, and brilliant scientific minds. It is through dedication and careful stewardship of donations that we approach the funding and people-power to achieve the results we all want. While research progresses, and funds are raised to fuel it, I pledge as Rettsyndrome.org’s Director of Training and Development to commit all of my efforts into strengthening that safety net of support and information that gives families the direction, strength and connections they need to care and advocate for their child with Rett syndrome today. Our girls deserve this, and so do our families that support them."
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Family Development Manager
Jackie Piscatelli joined Rettsyndrome.org as the Family Development Manager in February of 2016. Jackie is no stranger to Rettsyndrome.org as she has been very active within the organization for the past several years; assisting at the Boston Party, and several Strollathons including – Cape Cod, Chicago and Florida. She also volunteered at the 2013 Family Conference in Utah. During her time volunteering at these various events Jackie met many families and formed great relationships that help her in her position as Family Development Manager. Jackie works remotely from Boston where she lives with her fiancé Mike and dog, Stanley.
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Brittney joined Rettsyndrome.org in March of 2012. With time studying Interior Design at Antonelli College and accounting from University of Pheonix, Brittney has a wide array of skills that allow her to wear many hats while supporting Rettsyndrome.org’s day-to-day needs. Brittney has six years of experience in Accounts Receivable at Reading Rock and has since taken an interest in Database Administration. Brittney honed her data entry skills while working for a few different organizations before finally settling down with Rettsyndrome.org. This job combines her love of database administration with the unique opportunity to support families impacted by Rett syndrome. Brittney has long been a volunteer at the Cincinnati Strollathon where she has gotten to know so many of the wonderful girls she works to support each day. Brittney has been married since 2008 to her wonderful husband Deric with whom she raises their beautiful daughter, Ava and son, Cayden. Brittney is full of life and compassion and is excited for the opportunity to support the Rett syndrome community.
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Amanda joins Rettsyndrome.org as the Administrative Coordinator training to take Brittney’s position as Brittney trains for Mary Joyce’s position. Amanda is enthusiastic about joining the team and looks forward to answering phone calls, sending donor recognition letters and supporting the team as she gains command of our data base.
After hours you will find Amanda playing outside with her dog, Lola, baking cupcakes, or enjoying a mystery book.
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Special Projects Manager
Andrea joins the Rettsyndrome.org team as the Special Projects Manager. Andrea has been serving as a volunteer with the organization since September and has agreed to move to a more formal position as a Special Projects Manager. Andrea's background includes a degree in Nuclear Medicine Technology which led to a career as head of a Nuclear Cardiology Department. She has worked in a clinical setting and has also served as a volunteer in Cincinnati at Healthy Moms and Babes and the Healing Center. After volunteering with Rettsyndrome.org, Andrea developed a passion for the organization and is excited to join the team in furthering our mission. One of the projects she will be managing is the continued roll-out of our State Resources Project. She is currently working with Paige, Jen & Suzy to make this a resource that will be a valuable tool for all of our Rett families. Andrea will be working in Cincinnati on Tuesdays and Thursdays and remotely on other days.
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