Will McDow, Chairman
Will McDow brings 15 years of nonprofit expertise to the founding of the Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance. He has spent the past 10 years at Environmental Defense Fund developing policy and market solutions to solve national environmental issues. Will grew up in South Carolina, attended college in Wisconsin and now lives in Durham, NC with wife Leslie and daughter Laura Mishler. Will is an avid runner and occasional backpacker.
Bill Gavigan, Treasurer
Bill Gavigan has over 25 years experience as a small business owner and is currently working as a consultant in the printing industry.
Bill’s family was affected by Autoimmune Encephalitis when his daughter Emily became ill in 2010. Bill, Emily and Bill’s wife Grace, have dedicated much of their time to spreading the word about AE by participating in several national/international media appearances including CNN, BBC, NBC Today Show, and The New York Post, as well as other national and local platforms.
Bill believes strongly that awareness is key as Emily was misdiagnosed for over a year before finally getting her diagnosis of Anti-NMDA Autoimmune Encephalitis. At the time there were no resources available for patients and caregivers, so Bill and Grace navigated the complicated healthcare system to advocate for Emily’s diagnosis and treatment.
Bill is humbled to be serving on the Board of AEA and hopes to help expand the reach of the Alliance and to continue the mission of physician education, research, and support for families and patients who are suffering.
Bill graduated from the University of Scranton, and he and Grace live in Pennsylvania.
Carrie Painter, Secretary
Carrie is currently a Finance Director at Duke Corporate Education. Her 20+ year career has included consulting and operations roles in the professional services & academic fields. She brings both for-profit as well as not-for-profit experience to the AEA board. Carrie has coordinated the Family Luncheon for families following the Florence Forth race since its inception and is passionate about the work the AEA is doing to connect families battling this disease. Carrie earned her BS for UMass Lowell in Exercise Physiology, an MA from Framingham State College and her MBA from Duke University. She lives in Durham, NC with her husband Rusty and her lively son Ben.
Dr. Anusha Yeshokumar
Dr. Anusha K. Yeshokumar is an autoimmune neurologist who takes care of children and adults with autoimmune encephalitis and related disorders at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Her research focuses on understanding outcomes after autoimmune encephalitis and identifying clinical and biologic factors associated with these outcomes.
Dr. Heather Van Mater
Dr. Heather Van Mater is a pediatric rheumatologist at Duke Children’s Hospital. She take care of children who have autoimmune diseases, from infancy to early adulthood. Classically, it’s things like arthritis and lupus that are well-known, but there are also more rare conditions that are caused by the immune system misfiring. She has a particular interest in autoimmune brain diseases.
Susannah Cahalan – Ex Officio Member
Susannah Cahalan is an award-winning journalist and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller “Brain on Fire” about her struggle with autoimmune encephalitis in 2009. Her work has appeared in the New York Post, New York Times, Scientific American magazine, and other publications. She frequently speaks at universities and hospitals about her experience with autoimmune encephalitis. Susannah lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and dog. For more information, visit her website.
Daniel Egger – Ex Officio Member
Daniel Egger is currently Executive in Residence at Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University. After a twenty-year career in venture backed technology companies, Daniel began teaching data science courses in the Duke Master of Engineering Management Program, in 2009. Daniel has helped to organize Duke’s new Master of Interdisciplinary Data Science Degree Program, which has its first class in Fall 2018. He is also committed to online education: his data science courses on Coursera have been taken by over 400,000 students around the world. Along with his family, Daniel has written extensively about his experience with his son Sasha’s autoimmune encephalitis.