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About NAF

Serving the Ataxia community since 1957.

Our Vision

A world without Ataxia.

Our Mission

To accelerate the development of treatments and a cure while working to improve the lives of those living with Ataxia.

Ensuring that no one experiences Ataxia alone, until no one experiences Ataxia, period.

Core Values

NAF’s values are grounded in our passion and empathy for the Ataxia community.

  • CARING – We respect one another and those living with Ataxia.
  • MOTIVATED – We use our passion to inspire our community to act NOW!
  • COLLABORATIVE – We evolve together and support each other to achieve
    our mission.
  • IMPACTFUL – We listen to our members to build creative, meaningful
  • ACCOUNTABLE – We are transparent in our words, actions, and results.

About NAF

Ataxia is a rare neurological disease affecting tens of thousands of people in the US and many thousands more around the world. It is progressive, affecting a person’s ability to walk, talk, and use fine motor skills.

The National Ataxia Foundation (NAF) was established in 1957 to help persons with Ataxia and their families. Our mission is to accelerate the development of treatments and a cure while working to improve the lives of those living with Ataxia. NAF’s vision of a world without Ataxia will be accomplished through our primary programs of funding Ataxia research, providing vital programs and services for Ataxia families, and partnering with pharmaceutical companies in the search for treatments and a cure. We work closely with the world’s leading Ataxia researchers and clinicians, promoting exchanges of ideas and innovation in Ataxia discovery.

NAF Origins

NAF began with a single doctor’s quest to find the cause and cure for Ataxia. John W. Schut, MD founded the National Ataxia Foundation to relentlessly pursue answers after he lost family members to the disease. Eventually inheriting the disease and succumbing himself, his dream lived on as NAF’s efforts to fund research increased – leading to some of the most important Ataxia discoveries. Today, NAF is guided by the world’s most renowned Ataxia scientists.

Connecting the Ataxia Community

NAF offers many educational resources for Ataxia, including a comprehensive library of brochures, fact sheets, and books. NAF also publishes Generations, a quarterly magazine centered around Ataxia and families affected. We provide a number of ways for the Ataxia community to connect, such as: NAF Support Groupsa Facebook Ataxia Support Group, various Ataxia events, medical expos, and most importantly, the Annual Ataxia Conference – a two-day conference designed for Ataxia experts and Ataxia families to come together.

A Membership Organization

Join a community of individuals and families who are united in the fight against Ataxia. Our members are the first to know when there are new opportunities to participate in research or clinical trials, receive early access to free webinars, and receive a monthly member newsletter and annual Generations publications.

As pharmaceutical industry interest in Ataxia continues to grow, our members will play an integral role in moving research forward to get treatments to the market. 

As an organization dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by Ataxia, we believe that each story has the power to inspire, connect, and empower others. Check out the personal Ataxia stories from some of our members.

NAF Members
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Our Work in Action

Annual Reports

Media Information

If you are a member of the press or preparing for an interview with the press, view our media page for more information.


For general questions, contact us at or 763-553-0020. We will connect you with the right person for your needs.

Management & Operations

Chief Executive Officer

Andrew Rosen

Andrew has an MBA in Marketing and a Master’s in International Studies and has more than 15 years of nonprofit leadership experience after a 20-year business career.  He leads NAF’s strategy, oversees staff, and works closely with the Board of Directors.  Having joined NAF in 2019, Andrew is continually motivated by the resiliency and caring of the ataxia community.  He is honored to work with such a talented team as we get ever closer to treatments and an eventual cure for Ataxia. 

VP, Operations & Community Services

Kyle Billadeau

Kyle has a BA in Mathematics and has more than 20 years of nonprofit accounting experience after starting her career as an actuary for over 15 years. She leads NAF’s financial, budgetary and operations functions, and works closely with the Board of Directors Finance Committee. Her passion is to translate financial information in an engaging way that helps tell NAF’s story to its members and Board.


Patricia Morel

Pat has a BBA and MBA, and brings over a decade of nonprofit management experience, specializing in finance with controller responsibilities. As a key member of the NAF’s finance team, she oversees month and year-end close, annual audits, compliance, and internal controls. Driven by a passion for making a positive impact on people’s lives, Pat joined NAF to align her values with the organization’s mission. Her goal is to contribute to NAF’s success, raising awareness for Ataxia, facilitating community access to treatments, and ultimately supporting the quest for a cure.

Senior Accountant

Sue Baker

Sue comes to NAF having earned her accounting degree. She is a certified nonprofit accounting professional (CNAP) and held accounting positions at for-profit and nonprofit organizations as well as city and county governments. Sue is responsible for all core accounting functions including A/P and A/R, payroll, maintaining the general ledger, journal entries, reconciliations, and assisting with the month-end close. Sue is looking forward to connecting with those who are affected by Ataxia and hopeful for that day when this disease is eradicated by a cure. Until the cure is found she is passionate about Ataxia patients living their best life. 

Research Services

For questions related to research, contact We will connect you with the right person for your needs.

VP, Research & Chief Scientific Officer

Lauren Moore, PhD

Dr. Lauren Moore received her BS in Biomedical Physics from Northeastern University and her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan, where her research focused on preclinical assessment of antisense oligonucleotides for the treatment of Spinocerebellar Ataxia type 3. After completing her PhD, Dr. Moore transitioned into a Scientist position in industry for several years, working towards the development of gene silencing therapies for Hereditary Ataxias and other neurodegenerative diseases. In 2022, she became the first Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of NAF. In her role as CSO, Dr. Moore is responsible for leading NAF’s scientific strategy, engaging with key stakeholders in academia and industry, and expanding patient accessibility and engagement in clinical research. Dr. Moore was inspired to enter the field of Ataxia research following the diagnosis of Ataxia in her own family. She is passionate about advancing Ataxia research and the development of treatments and technologies to impact patients.

Clinical Services Director

Kelsey Trace

Kelsey has a BS in Neuroscience and a doctorate in Occupational Therapy. She has over 4 years of clinical experience plus nearly 5 years of non-profit experience. She oversees the Clinical Services Branch of the Research Department and is responsible for supervising NAF’s Clinical Services Programs in relation to patients, medical and social services specialists, and clinical research with the overall goal of improving clinical care for individuals with ataxia. With experience providing occupational therapy services to those with neurodegenerative diseases, she is passionate about helping others live life to the fullest.  

Patient Engagement Manager

Celeste Suart, PhD

Celeste earned her PhD in biochemistry at McMaster University, where her research focused on Ataxia, science communication, and adult education. She is the co-founder of SCAsource, a knowledge translation website that makes plain language summaries of ataxia research articles. As Patient Engagement Manager, Celeste leads the development of various patient-facing research communications, educational materials, and informational webinars. She also acts as a liaison between NAF, researchers, clinicians, industry professionals, and the ataxia community. Celeste strongly believes in the empowering nature of education. She is committed to supporting the agency of Ataxians and their families through access to research information and opportunities.   

Clinical Research Coordinator

Laura Crespo

Laura has a BS in Integrative Neuroscience from Binghamton University and 7+ years in a leadership position within intensive clinical research laboratories. In her role, Laura coordinates the Clinical Research Consortium for the Study of Cerebellar Ataxias (CRC-SCA), which manages an NAF-sponsored Natural History Study. She maintains protocols, contracts, IRB documentation, and best data practices – overseeing study timelines, recruitment goals, and invoicing. Laura is committed to supporting the needs of the site clinics because she knows that successful management of the CRC-SCA natural history study is crucial to accelerating treatment development for families affected by Ataxia.

Research Services Associate

Aimee Alcott

Aimee has an MA in English Studies and brings a background in professional writing, editing and adult education to her role as Research Services Assistant. As a member of the Research team, she manages NAF’s grants program and provides administrative and logistical support across all our research areas. You can find her planning in-person events, coordinating webinars, handling departmental communications, and answering questions. Aimee is inspired by the collaborative nature of the staff at NAF, Ataxia clinicians and researchers, and the Ataxia community. She is passionate about utilizing these partnerships to support patients and families while working towards treatments and a cure. 

Research Services Associate

Mary Ann Peterson

Mary Ann graduated from Minneapolis Business College and retired after many years in various roles in the for-profit sector. She joined NAF as a temporary part-time employee and loved it so much that she never left. In her current role, Mary Ann provides administrative support for various programs in the research department. She knows that there is a need to help those with Ataxia and is passionate about the work that she does.  She enjoys the personal connections she forms with the individuals who participate in the research programs that she supports.

Community Services

VP, Operations & Community Services

Kyle Billadeau

Kyle has a BA in Mathematics and has more than 20 years of nonprofit accounting experience after starting her career as an actuary for over 15 years. She leads NAF’s financial, budgetary and operations functions, and works closely with the Board of Directors Finance Committee. Her passion is to translate financial information in an engaging way that helps tell NAF’s story to its members and Board.

Community Services Director

Lori Shogren

Lori has a BA in Travel and Tourism and has been on staff at NAF for over 17 years. She provides advanced professional leadership and direction for NAF’s Programs and Services Department, including the organization’s support groups, advocacy activities, and Annual Ataxia Conference. She enjoys the work that she does because she sees the extraordinary impact that bringing community members together has on improving the lives of those impacted by ataxia and in accelerating the development of treatments and cures.  

Community Services Coordinator 


Sarah Pilato
Call or text message

Sarah has an educational background in life sciences. Prior to her role at NAF, she spent 5 years teaching high school level sustainability and environmental science.  In her current position, Sarah helps to manage and strengthen NAF’s network of national support groups and community event programs, in addition to supporting NAF’s Annual Ataxia Conference and various educational and advocacy events throughout the year.  Her own experience of living with a rare disorder is what drew Sarah to NAF.  Her favorite part of her job is having the opportunity to directly connect with and provide support to members of the Ataxia community all around the world.


VP, Development

Joel Sutherland

Joel has a a BA in Public Relations and Marketing. He spent 28 in sports marketing working for organizations such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, and the National Hockey League. His entrepreneurial spirit resulted in owning several amateur baseball teams in Minnesota as well as his own sports marketing firm. In 2011, Joel entered the non-profit sector becoming the Executive Director for the Minnesota/Dakotas Chapter for the Cystic Fibrosis.  This is where he learned first-hand that money buys research and research finds answers, a philosophy he brought to NAF in 2016.   He loves bringing a compassioned tenacity to his daily work of raising funds and supporting NAF’s volunteer community which, in turn, supports the mission of NAF of accelerating the development of treatments and a cure while working to improve the lives of those working with Ataxia. 

Regional Development Manager

Jon Wegman

Jon received his BA from the University of Iowa and a masters from the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse. Jon is responsible for a variety of Development areas including national fundraising events, major giving, and legacy giving. He has a passion for serving the Ataxia community because of the genuineness, positivity, and strength of those impacted by Ataxia. 

Regional Development Manager

Rich McCutchen

Rich received his BA in Marketing from Oklahoma State University. He spent 15 years working in college and professional sports and 3 years in the nonprofit field with the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma and the American Heart Association. Rich is responsible for a variety of Development areas including national fundraising events, major giving, legacy giving, and third-party fundraising events. He strives to help NAF lead the charge in finding effective treatments and cure for this community. He enjoys working for those that are living with Ataxia to help in any way he can.

Development Coordinator

Meg Hanna

Meg has a BA in Music Education, and six years of experience in the nonprofit sector working in development, programming, and administrative roles. She supports NAF’s development team by maintaining and analyzing donor records and by ensuring that fundraising volunteers have the tools they need to be successful. Meg finds inspiration in seeing how much the ataxia community can accomplish when working together.  


Communications Director

Stephanie Lucas

Stephanie has a BA in Organizational Communication and more than 10 years of experience in marketing/communications management. She provides advanced professional leadership and direction for NAF’s internal and external communications, including the organization’s digital presence, marketing efforts, advertising, and public relations. As the caregiver of a parent who has a movement disorder, Stephanie understands how a neurological disease affects every aspect of a person’s life. She enjoys the work that she does because she believes that the Ataxia community deserves access to treatments and resources that will empower them to live better.  

Senior Communications Coordinator

Mollie Utting

Mollie holds a BA in History from the University of St. Thomas and a certificate in Graphic Design. She has more than a decade of experience in the non-profit sector and prior work in the for-profit industry. Mollie assists in developing and implementing NAF’s communication strategy, handling emails, print projects, and overseeing the organization’s internal and external branding. She takes pride in contributing to NAF by amplifying the voices of the Ataxia community to raise awareness and accelerate treatment development.

Social Media Coordinator

Tanoa Thomé

Tanoa studied Public Health at the University of Minnesota. Before joining NAF, he was a leasing manager, using his social media experience as a marketing tool. Tanoa oversees all of NAF’s social media efforts. As part of his role, he creates content to share the work that NAF is doing, works to create Ataxia awareness online, and connects with members of the Ataxia community. Tanoa knows that social media is a powerful tool and is dedicated to using NAF’s online presence in order to help those living with Ataxia. 

Communications Intern

Ellie Martin

Ellie has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and a minor in Rehabilitation Services. In her role, she works closely with the Communications team to implement strategies to promote the mission, vision, and activities of the organization through various communication channels. Ellie has a rare form of Cerebellar Ataxia and wants to spread awareness. She is passionate about helping others in the Ataxia community.

Communications Intern

Maria Hajjar

Maria has a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies with a minor in Human Relations from Concordia University, Montreal, QC. As part of her duties, she works in close collaboration with the communications department to promote the mission, vision, and activities of the organization through social media coordination and engaging project management. Maria had been diagnosed with AOA2, a rare form of Ataxia and her mission is to spread its awareness. She knows that through her contributions to the Ataxia community, she can help accelerate and improve people’s knowledge of rare diseases by putting the word out there. 


NAF Contact Information

Mailing Address

PO Box 27986
Golden Valley, MN 55427

Physical Address

600 Highway 169 South
Suite 1725
Minneapolis, MN 55426


Board of Directors

Executive Committee


Sam Kirton 
Fairfax, VA

Sam is a retired career Special Agent with experience leading security and investigation services. He has 3 step-siblings who had SCA3, all of whom have now passed away. With Sam’s passion for advocacy and personal connection, he joined the board to serve the Ataxia community in honor of his siblings.

Vice President

Linda Snider-Sidwell, MD
Omaha, NE

Linda is a practicing physician. She chose her career because Ataxia runs in her family. Linda has Ataxia herself and fights everyday to make life better, for herself and for others in the same situation. She joined NAF’s board to help the organization grow and stay sustainable so that people with Ataxia always have somewhere to go for help.


Greg Rooks 
Atlanta, GA

Greg is a retired Accountant and CPA who worked as an auditor with various agencies. He has SCA2. Greg has served his local Ataxia community for many years as co-leader of the Atlanta Support Group. He joined the board to help the community at the national level.


John Mauro
Auburn, MA

John is a master chef who runs his own catering company. He brings the personal persepective of having Ataxia and enjoys serving as an advocate, speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves. John has been involved with NAF for many years, volunteering as a support group leader and Walk N’ Roll organizer. He has also participated in other projects. John is passionate about education for the Ataxia community and awareness for the general public.

Executive Committee

David Brunnert 
Houston, TX

David is a professional engineer. SCA3 runs in his family. He is an avid advocate for research participation, even volunteering as a healthy “control” for a research study that his brother participates in. David believes in NAF’s mission and said, “I am passionate about changing the outcomes for Ataxians and their families.”


Sandi Brettler
Palmyra, PA

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.”

Michael Cammer
Downington, PA

Mike is a retired accountant. He was diagnosed with Sporadic Ataxia in 2005, but has lived with symptoms since the early 90’s. He is the Central PA Ataxia Support Group Leader. Mike joined NAF’s board to be a voice to promote advocacy, awareness, and research. He said that he wants to “help others open the door to acceptance and show them there is life with Ataxia.”

Jason Gale
Billerica, MA

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 the 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.

Mark Hazlin
Washington, DC

Mark is a PR executive in Washington, DC. His mother and 7 other relatives are diagnosed with hereditary Ataxia, although the specific type is unknown. Mark wants to help accelerate treatment development and improve clinical care. He is passionate about helping with NAF’s mission because it took 4 years for his own mother to receive a diagnosis. Mark said, “If we hope to find a cure, rare diseases like this need attention, funding, and support.”

Serena Hung, MD
Watertown, MA

Serena is the Chief Medical Officer at a therapeutics company. She has experience working in drug development for Ataxia. Prior to that, Serena was a practicing neurologist who saw Ataxia patients. The Ataxia community’s resilience inspired her to join NAF’s board. Serena wants to help engage the community in advancing drug development in Ataxia.

Jim Keene
Atherton, CA

Jim is a business strategist who owns his own consulting firm. His twin sister, Katie, passed away in 2017 after her battle with Ataxia. Jim’s family established the Katie Campbell Clinical Trial Readiness Conference funding to honor Katie and support NAF’s efforts to accelerate treatment development. He joined the board because he is passionate about fighting for a day when nobody has to go through the experiences that his sister did.

Denise Kolpack
Fargo, ND

Denise is currently a City Commissioner in North Dakota. Previously, she served as the vice president of brand and marketing communications for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. She is passionate about helping the Ataxia community.

Hayley McLoughlin, PhD
Ann Arbor, MI

Dr. Hayley McLoughlin is an Assistant Professor in the University of Michigan Neurology Department, with a joint appointment in the Department of Human Genetics. Her lab primarily focuses on SCA3 research and is passionate about science communication and advocacy. She is a co-founder of SCAsource, an Ataxia research news website for patients and their families that offers scientific information written in plain language. She joined the board to bring her scientific knowledge and offer strategic guidance, with particular emphasis toward how NAF can enhance research and therapeutic development for Ataxias.

Ann Riley
Washington, DC

Ann is an attorney with the Federal Judiciary working in the Office of Legislative Affairs in Washington D.C. She is passionate about advancing disability rights. Multiple members of Ann’s family have been diagnosed with SCA2. She joined the Board for an opportunity to connect with and contribute to the Ataxia community. Ann said, “I am hopeful that with NAF’s steadfast devotion to its mission, to accelerate the development of treatments and a cure while working to improve the lives of those living with Ataxia, we will find treatments and a cure for Ataxia in my lifetime.”

David Spotts
Boston, MA

David is a biotech executive with experience working on Ataxia drug development. He saw the impact of the disease on families affected by Ataxia. In his career, David has worked closely with patient advocacy groups from an industry perspective. He is excited about the opportunity to bring his experience to NAF to support an organization with such an important mission. David said, “I welcome the chance to help NAF think through the impact of hopefully many more Ataxia treatments and to how best to navigate the years ahead.”

Bryce Suchomel
Encinitas, CA

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.

Bryan Tabery
Minneapolis, MN

Bryan is a Certified Public Accountant who specializes in financial statement audits/assurance for private companies. He believes that everyone deserves to have an amazing life and wants to help ensure that people with Ataxia can live life to the fullest. Bryan says, “I take pride in my community and giving back. I think NAF is doing so many amazing things right now and I am looking forward to having the opportunity to continue building on the current successes and finding cure(s) for all forms of Ataxia.” One of Bryan’s personal life motto’s is P.M.A. – positive mental attitude. He believes that having a positive mindset is critical to helping us navigate this challenging world.

Ex-Officio Board Members

Harry T. Orr, PhD
Minneapolis, MN

Vikram Shakkottai, MD, PhD
Dallas, TX

Susan Perlman, MD
Los Angeles, CA

Laura Ranum, PhD
Gainesville, FL

Liana S. Rosenthal, MD, PhD
Baltimore, MD

Larry Schut, MD
Maple Lake, MN

Medical & Research Advisory Board

Chair of MRAB

Vikram Shakkottai, MD, PhD
University of Texas Southwestern
Dallas, TX

Research Director

Laura Ranum, PhD
University of Florida, College of Medicine
Gainesville, FL

Medical Director

Liana S. Rosenthal, MD, PhD
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

MRAB Members

Matthew Burns, MD, PhD
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL

Khalaf Bushara, MD, MRCP
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN

Beverly Davidson, PhD
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA

Brent L. Fogel, MD, PhD
David Geffen School of Medicine
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA

Christopher M. Gomez, MD, PhD
University of Chicago
Chicago, IL

Sheng Han Kuo, MD
Columbia University
New York City, NY

Pravin Khemani, MD
Swedish Neuroscience Institute
Seattle, WA

Albert La Spada, MD, PhD, FACMG
University of California Irvine School of Medicine
Irvine, CA

David Lynch, MD, PhD
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA

Puneet Opal, MD, PhD
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Chicago, IL

Harry T. Orr, PhD
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN

Gülin Öz, PhD
Center for Magnetic Resonance Research,
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN

Henry Paulson, MD, PhD
University of Michigan Medical Center
Ann Arbor, MI

Susan Perlman, MD
UCLA Neurological Services
Los Angeles, CA

Stefan Pulst, MD
University of Utah Health Sciences Center
Salt Lake City, Utah

Jeremy D. Schmahmann, MD, FAAN, FANA, FANPA
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA

Larry Schut, MD
Maple Lake, MN

George “Chip” Wilmot, MD, PhD
Emory University
Atlanta, GA

Robert B. Wilson, MD, PhD
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA

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