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A Bittersweet Farewell and a Heartfelt Welcome – Board of Director Changes for 2024

The new year can be a time for reflection and anticipation. At NAF, it is especially true for a change to our Board of Directors this year. We bid a heartfelt farewell to two esteemed Board Members, Cindy De Mint and John Dwyer, who have generously dedicated their time and expertise to our mission. We also extend a warm welcome to three dynamic new members: Sandi Brettler, Bryce Suchomel, and Jason Gale.

We’d like to take a moment to reflect on the unwavering commitment from Cindy and John, which was a cornerstone to NAF’s progress in recent years, and look forward to the fresh perspectives, diverse experiences, and a shared passion for advancing NAF’s vision brought by our new Board Members. Join us in celebrating this transition, as we continue our journey towards making a meaningful impact in the community we serve.
Thank you, Cindy and John, for many years of supporting the Ataxia community!

An End to Their Term Does Not Mean an End to Their Service

While Cindy and John may have reached the end of their term on NAF’s Board of Directors, neither plans to stop serving the Ataxia community. They will continue to volunteer for NAF in other capacities and raise money to support our mission. We thank them for their commitment to helping people live better with Ataxia and the many memories over the years!

Cindy De Mint

Cindy brought the perspective of a mother and caregiver to her role on the board. She is a sales/marketing executive who brought her skills to NAF after her three sons were diagnosed with AOA2, a recessive type of Ataxia. Cindy has been an avid supporter of NAF for more than 12 years, serving as the Orange County Support Group Leader and hosting Walk N’ Rolls in her area before joining the Board in 2018. She also champions awareness and advocacy efforts for the Ataxia community. Over the years, she has presented to local government leaders, told her story to local media, and often jokes that she’ll talk about Ataxia to anyone who will listen. Her passion for awareness is an inspiration. Cindy brought her insight from the perspective of a parent and support group leader to the forefront of strategic discussions on the Board. Her positive spirit and willingness to help out whenever asked have been a true asset to the organization.

John Dwyer

John is a retired commercial insurance broker who enjoys sharing his wisdom with the next generation. John’s longtime friends have three brothers living with Ataxia, which inspired him to support NAF’s mission of accelerating development of treatments and a cure. Aside from offering his professional insights as a member of NAF’s Board, he has also been an enthusiastic fundraiser on our behalf. His commitment to the Ataxia community made him a perfect fit to provide his unique view of the challenges faced by those with Ataxia.

Welcome to Our New Board Members

We are beyond excited to announce three new additions to our Board of Directors! Their professional backgrounds will be helpful to NAF as treatment pipelines for Ataxias continue to become more robust. We’d like to introduce you to the new members to our team:

Sandi Brettler

Sandi has been a neuroscience nurse for almost 40 years. She graduated with a BSN and MSN with a specialty in critical care and neuroscience. She is currently a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Department of Neurosurgery at Penn State Health – Hersey Medical Center. She works with a regional support group as a nurse-facilitator as well. But her experience is not only professional, it’s personal. 15 years ago, her father was diagnosed with Idiopathic Ataxia. Sandi joined the Board to work with like-minded people who are invested in the future of people with Ataxia and committed to finding a cure. She wants to ensure that people like her dad have access to the latest information on Ataxia and how to meet their personal needs. Sandi thinks it is important that people with Ataxia have the ability to network with other people affected by the disease. She said, “As a nurse and a caregiver, it is important to me that families are in the forefront, and should have resources available to them to provide the best possible care for their family members.”

Jason Gale

Jason has worked as a biotech professional since 1997, developing and manufacturing protein therapeutics and vaccines. His cousin was diagnosed with SCA8 in 2019, the first in their family. They had not heard of Ataxia before her diagnosis. Jason is inspired by what NAF has accomplished to date, and sees a lot of potential as well. He wants to contribute to both the vision and the strategy of NAF, and he believes we can achieve the ultimate goal of curing Ataxia.

Bryce Suchomel

Bryce has worked for more than a decade in the biopharmaceutical industry. He pairs his scientific background with business objectives to work toward the ultimate priority of bringing new medicines to patients in need. Several of his family members are diagnosed with SCA3. Supporting the Ataxia community is deeply personal to him. Bryce has made it his mission to do everything he can to help find treatments. He joined the Board of Directors to leverage his professional background to drive progress in the pursuit of these much-needed medicines.

We look forward to a productive 2024 and appreciate the strategic guidance from our current and former Board of Directors. To learn more about NAF’s leadership, visit our About NAF page.

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