AE Alliance Appoints Interim Executive Director

The Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance is delighted to announce the hiring of Elisabeth Wharton as Interim Executive Director where she will focus on the creation and implementation of policies and procedures essential to the next steps we hope to take as an organization.

“The Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance already has a foundation of relationships with key entities in the autoimmune encephalitis community, as well as strong support for those dealing with autoimmune encephalitis. This is a tremendous organization, with unlimited potential,” Wharton says. “One of the things I have been most impressed with is the dedication and commitment of the AE Alliance board members, to educate physicians about this disease and ensure no family goes through this experience alone.”

Looking to the future, creating collaborative partnerships with medical centers and physician organizations will be a key component of what the AE Alliance strives to accomplish. “This will allow the organization to educate more doctors, which will result in earlier diagnoses for patients,” Wharton says.

Wharton will also launch the AE Alliance’s Medical Advisory Committee, which is composed of leaders in the AE medical community. “They’ll help move us forward in our understanding of the most recent clinical research, so we can get it out to those who need it the most.”

Another area where Wharton intends to focus is enhancing patient and family support by developing a volunteer corps of people who have been through this disease and are willing to help others. “Creating a community willing to share their experiences and knowledge, or just be there to listen, will be a great step forward for those who are newly diagnosed and looking for support and clinical information,” she says.

Elisabeth brings more than 30 years of nonprofit experience to the position of Executive Director. She has served as a senior executive consultant for nonprofit organizations, working with executives and boards on governance, strategic-planning initiatives, financial best practices, staffing, board recruitment, expanding networks, communications, feasibility studies, special events and other areas. She has co-authored multiple strategic plans, including working-staff plans.

Prior to consulting, Elisabeth served as Managing Director of the DWM Foundation for seven years, and was responsible for all philanthropic activity, public outreach and education. She worked for the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia as Director of Annual Giving & Alumni Relations, followed by a position as Director of Major Gifts for the California Nature Conservancy. In addition, she worked for the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco during a landmark public/private capital campaign. Elisabeth earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Virginia. She holds a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco.

Wharton, a native of Chapel Hill, N.C. raised her family in Asheville, N.C., before returning to the Chapel Hill area. An avid reader, gardener and Tar Heel fan, she is also the proud mother of two grown daughters, and shares her life with her better half, Battle Haslam, and their Shi Poo, Mae Belle.

Wharton looks forward to working with the AE community, and the AE Alliance board welcomes her to the organization. “It’s an exciting time to be involved with the Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance,” she says.