Press release

Former U.S. Congresswoman Dr. Donna Christensen Among Five New Members Named to American Kidney Fund National Board of Trustees

Jerry Klepner begins two-year term as board chair; Maureen Franco is chair-elect

ROCKVILLE, Md. (March 8, 2019)  — The American Kidney Fund (AKF), the nation's leading nonprofit working on behalf of the 30 million Americans living with kidney disease, today added five new members to its all-volunteer national board of trustees, including former U.S. Congresswoman Donna Christensen, M.D., a longtime champion of minority health issues and protecting the rights of people with disabilities, who represented the U.S. Virgin Islands in Congress for 18 years.

Joining Dr. Christensen as new members of AKF's board are:

  • Pamela McNamara, CEO and co-founder of Health Helm, Inc., a Boston-based mobile software company supporting Patient Reported Outcomes and engagement to improve outcomes and reduce costs through better care coordination and communications with physicians and clinicians.
  • Tony Messana, former executive director of the Dialysis and Transplant Program at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California and currently a health care consultant, rejoins AKF's board of trustees.
  • Andrew M. Shore, founding partner of Jochum Shore & Trossevin in Washington, D.C. and former Chief of Staff for the House Republican Conference. Shore worked extensively with the American Society of Nephrology and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create KidneyX, the public-private partnership to accelerate innovation in kidney disease treatment.
  • Heidi L. Wagner, J.D., senior vice president of government affairs and policy at Global Blood Therapeutics, a South San Francisco-based biopharmaceutical company focused on developing therapies for sickle cell disease and other unmet needs.

AKF's incoming board chair, Jerry Klepner, has been a member of AKF's board since 2013. He is CEO of JK Consulting and a specialist in health care, human services and labor relations, and succeeds Robert Tarola as board chair. Maureen Nugent Franco, CEO of Cambridge BioMarketing and an AKF board member since 2014, is the board chair-elect, and Julie Anne Wright Nunes, M.D., M.P.H., is the incoming chair of medical affairs. Dr. Wright Nunes is a physician scientist and assistant professor at the University of Michigan's Health System. A past AKF Clinical Scientist in Nephrology fellow, she joined AKF's board in 2017.

"We are honored to welcome the newest members of our national board of trustees who bring diverse experience, education and expertise to a dynamic group that provides strong leadership and oversight as we work every day to fight kidney disease and help people live healthier lives," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and CEO. "We are grateful to Bob Tarola and the other outgoing officers for their dedicated service and look forward to their continuing contributions to our vital mission."

AKF maintains high standards of independence for its non-compensated board of trustees, aligning with the organization's deep commitment to transparency and accountability. Because the organization receives substantial funding for its federally-approved charitable premium assistance program from dialysis providers, AKF board members may not work for or hold equity in a dialysis provider. The AKF board is a group of volunteers with a broad range of professional backgrounds, personal experience with kidney disease, skills and talents. The complete list of trustees and officers, along with their biographies, can be found on AKF's website.

About the American Kidney Fund

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nation’s leading kidney nonprofit. AKF works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. With programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy, no kidney organization impacts more lives than AKF. One of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, AKF invests 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, earning the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 20 years in a row as well as the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly GuideStar.

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