The Team

Chief Executive Officer

Matthew Moy Johnson

Matt has over 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, with a focus on Resource Development, Organizational Management, Strategic Planning, Board Development and Collaboration.  Prior to joining the Cancer Research Foundation, Matt held positions with Chicagoland Habitat for Humanity, the McGaw YMCA, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Alford Group, and Lake Forest College.

Matt graduated from Augustana College and has an MBA in Organizational Behavior and Nonprofit Management from Case Western Reserve University.

He regularly volunteers at a community soup kitchen, and has served on the boards of the Warren Cherry Scholarship Fund, the Root2fruit Advisory Board of the Evanston Community Foundation, and the Association of Fund Raising Professionals – Chicago Chapter.  Matt is married, has two children, enjoys any racquet sport, particularly tennis, and loves to travel and experience new cultures.

Chief Development Officer

Nicole Seidlitz

Nicole has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 15 years, with a focus on fundraising, events and relationship building. Most notably, Nicole has worked for Chicagoland Habitat for Humanity, Acts Of Kindness Cabaret, Our Place and the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation (which was also founded by Maurice Goldblatt).

Nicole has been involved with nonprofits throughout Chicagoland: she was a founding board member at Impact 100 Chicago (now Impact Grants Chicago), a women’s collective giving organization that has awarded $100,000 grants to local nonprofits. She also consults with several area nonprofits and has been involved with both fundraising and advocacy campaigns, serving a variety of causes.

Nicole holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Writing, a Master of Arts in Communication.  She has run three marathons and resides in Chicago with her husband, two children and standard poodle.

Director of Development

Margaret Hermanek

Margaret has spent the last 15 years working in nonprofits with a special focus on volunteer and board relations and special events. Prior to joining the Cancer Research Foundation, Margaret spent more than a decade in private schools, first at the Catherine Cook School in Old Town and most recently as the Director of Development at St. Laurence High School. Previously, she worked for the 500 Festival in Indianapolis and for Lincoln Park Zoo’s Women’s Board.

Margaret is a Planning Committee member for Tickled Pink, an annual fundraiser that partners with nonprofits dedicated to cancer prevention and care. She has also been actively involved as a member of the Butler University Alumni Steering Committee.

Margaret holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Sociology from Butler University in Indianapolis. She resides in Lakeview.

Development Coordinator

Bailey Medley

Bailey has worked in the nonprofit sector, with a focus on fundraising, special events, and marketing/communications for over two years. Prior to joining the Cancer Research Foundation, Bailey worked as the Development Manager for Remy Bumppo Theatre Company.

Bailey holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications, with a specialization in Cinema and Photography, from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. She resides in Evanston with her partner and two cats, Poe and Ernest.

SCIENTIFIC ADVISOR

Everett E. Vokes, MD

Cancer Research Foundation

Everett E. Vokes, MD, is an internationally renowned expert in the treatment of head and neck cancer. He serves as the John E. Ultmann Professor of Medicine and Radiation Oncology and as the Physician-in-Chief, University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences.  Dr. Vokes is also the Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago.

Legal Counsel

Clifford Harstad

Cancer Research Foundation

The Board

Board Chair

Alexandra Nikitas

Cancer Research Foundation

Alexandra (Zanna) Nikitas currently serves as the Board Chair of the Cancer Research Foundation, an organization that raises funds to support early and cutting edge cancer research. Prior to taking the Board Chair role, Zanna spent 13 years as Executive Director of the Cancer Research Foundation, growing the organization and its role in the scientific community.  Before joining CRF, Zanna spent seven years developing and investing in commercial real estate as a part of The John Buck Company (JBC), based in Chicago.  As a Vice President of JBC, Ms. Nikitas was integrally involved in the development, valuation, acquisition and disposition of office, residential, retail and hospitality properties, including having direct involvement in the sourcing of over $800 million dollars of real estate financing.

Ms. Nikitas has an early background in politics and government and maintains a role in a number of Chicago institutions. Zanna has an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with a concentration in strategy and finance, and a BA from Williams College in Philosophy and English.

Chairman Emeritus

Stanford J. Goldblatt

Cancer Research Foundation

Stanford Goldblatt serves as a partner in Winston and Strawn's corporate department. He has served as head of its private equity practice and his practice concentrates in leveraged equity investments, particularly in the health care industry, and venture capital fund transactions.

Mr. Goldblatt is active in numerous professional and civic activities. He is a trustee emeritus of The University of Chicago (former vice chairman) and a life trustee of The University of Chicago Medical Center (founding chairman.) He serves as a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago and the Economic Club of Chicago. In addition, Mr. Goldblatt is a member of the boards of a number of private companies. He has published a number of articles about Medicare, tax exempt hospitals, and the governance of academic medical centers.

Treasurer

Troy Noard

Cancer Research Foundation

Troy Noard is the Managing Director of PSP Capital Partners, a private investment firm founded by Penny Pritzker dedicated to building businesses and creating long-term value in close partnership with business owners, entrepreneurs and management teams. Previously Mr. Noard was a partner at Frontenac Company, where he executed acquisitions of and investments in private companies in a range of industries. Prior to Frontenac, Mr. Noard worked in investment banking at Goldman, Sachs and Co.

Mr. Noard holds a BA degree from DePaul University and an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He currently serves on the Board of the Cancer Research Foundation and is a national Trustee for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Troy lives in Glenview, IL with his wife and two children.

Secretary

Lisa Cohen Schenkman

Cancer Research Foundation

Lisa is the owner of Lisa Schenkman Interiors, a residential interior design firm. Prior to her interior design career Lisa worked in the retail and apparel manufacturing industry, specializing in importing and product development. Lisa has a BS from the University of Missouri.

Lisa has served on the Latin School of Chicago Alumni Board, and currently is on The Board of Directors of Metropolitan Family Services. Lisa is also a board member, and past president of The Comer Development Board. She has additionally served as the Co-Chair of their inaugural capital campaign for the Comer Development Board.

President Emeritus

Merle Goldblatt Cohen

Cancer Research Foundation

From an early age, Merle Goldblatt Cohen has served as an important part of Chicago's philanthropic community, getting her start more than 50 years ago as a member of the Young Leadership Division of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and as a recipient of the National Young Leadership Award. She has served on the Women's Division of the Jewish United Fund of the Jewish Federation, chairing numerous fundraising events for that organization.

Merle Goldblatt Cohen also served as President of Child Abuse Prevention Services, a former Chicago nonprofit organization. Ms. Goldblatt Cohen served on the board of directors for over ten years, founding its Women's Board, chairing the Illinois Child Abuse Prevention Advocacy Coalition, and serving as a member of the finance and resource development committees. When Child Abuse Prevention Services merged with Metropolitan Family Services, a similar not-for-profit, Ms. Goldblatt Cohen became a very active member of the Metropolitan Family Services Board and continues to raise money and seek major gifts for Chicago area children and families.

Ms. Goldblatt Cohen's greatest concerns involve health care. In addition to her long-time leadership at the Cancer Research Foundation, Merle Goldblatt Cohen inaugurated and chaired the first annual University of Chicago Hospitals benefit and chaired the two subsequent annual balls, each of which raised over $200,000 for specially-designated Hospital projects. She is a past chairman of the Women's Board of the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation.

Board Member

Jeff Dobosh

Cancer Research Foundation

Jeff is a partner with the Chicago based law firm Winston & Strawn LLP.  Prior to joining the firm, Jeff served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of MacLean-Fogg Company, and he also worked for Deloitte & Touche LLP.  "I have a personal family experience with cancer, so I know how critical funding for research is in our fight against cancer.  I'm excited to be part of the CRF board as the organization plans to expand," said Jeff.  Jeff graduated with a BBA and MS in Accountancy, and a JD, all from the University of Notre Dame.  Jeff lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago area.

Board Member

Michael Freed

Cancer Research Foundation

Michael Freed attended the University of Pennsylvania where he received a BS. In Economics and the University of Chicago School of Law where he received a JD.

Michael commenced his legal career with the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and has engaged in private legal practice since leaving government service. He is a founding partner of Freed Kanner London & Millen, LLC, where he practices in the area of complex litigation in federal and state courts throughout the United States specializing in private antitrust litigation.

Michael has served as a lead counsel on behalf of plaintiffs in some of the country’s largest antitrust cases. He is a frequent speaker and published writer on legal topics. Michael is a member of numerous state and national bar associations and has been recognized for his legal abilities in many national and international publications including Best Lawyers, Chambers International, Chicago’s Best Lawyers, Global Competition Review, Illinois Super Lawyers, and Leading Lawyers. Michael is admitted to practice before several federal district courts and courts of appeal, as well as before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Michael has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Cancer Research Foundation for more than 20 years. In addition Michael presently serves on the Advisory Board of The Consumer Law Institute of the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law and as a member of the International Board of Governors of The Hebrew University. Previously, Michael served on the Board of Directors of the Appleseed Foundation, was a member of the Advisory Board of The American Antitrust Institute, and was a trustee of Equal Justice Works (then known as NAPIL), all of which are located in Washington, D.C. Michael has also served several terms as a member of the Visiting Alumni Committee of The University of Chicago Law School, from which he received his J.D.

Michael and his wife Jean are residents of Highland Park, Illinois, and have three children and four grandchildren.

Board Member

Jeremy Goldblatt

Cancer Research Foundation

Jeremy Goldblatt serves as executive vice president of managed and leased services at KemperSports. In this role, Goldblatt leads KemperSports’ highly regarded portfolio of best-in-class managed and leased properties. Jeremy most recently served as COO of Professional Sports Catering, a division of Levy – a leading hospitality company providing food and beverage to major sports and entertainment venues. In that role, Goldblatt led the team in managing the outsourced food and beverage service at 32 spring training and minor league baseball stadiums around the country, which included oversight of more than 4,000 staffers. During his tenure with Levy, he was instrumental in the company’s growth and helped to launch a best-in-class management development program. He is a graduate of Brown University and received his master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago.

Board Member

David Kinnear

Cancer Research Foundation

David Kinnear, Managing Director-Investment Officer, leads the Kinnear Private Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors.  He is a nationally recognized financial advisor who works with select high net worth families to help build, manage, preserve and transfer wealth.  David and his team provide flexible family office, investment, risk, and middle market business services in a cost efficient and highly customized manner.

David has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Bucknell University and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with concentrations in Finance and Organizational Behavior.  He currently serves on the boards of the Cancer Research Foundation and Erie Elementary Charter School.

David has been married to his wife, Andrea since 1994 and resides in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago.  They have two children.

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. Member SIPC.

Board Member

Kory J. Kozlowski

Cancer Research Foundation

Kory Kozlowski has over thirteen years of experience in the marketing and advertising industry.  Starting her career on the creative side as a producer & moving on to art direction, Mrs. Kozlowski spent the majority of her career at Ambrosi & Assoc. She shifted to account services while employed at Publicis, where her clients included Del Webb & Pulte Homes.

Returning to Ambrosi in 2003 as an Account Director, she managed several accounts, including Sears, OfficeMax & Fannie May. Prior to launching her career in advertising, Mrs. Kozlowski graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from Indiana University & spent a summer abroad completing her French minor at L'Institute Catholique in Paris.

Board Member

J. Michael Locke

Cancer Research Foundation

Michael Locke is a private investor and advisor in the education technology market. His current portfolio includes Bennett Day School, Certica Solutions, Collegis Education, Rasmussen College, StudyBlue and IN2L. Michael co-founded and served as Chief Executive Officer of Rasmussen, Inc., the parent company of Rasmussen College and Deltak edu, from its inception in 2003 to 2014. Prior to Rasmussen, Michael was Senior Vice President of Collegis, Inc., a provider of administrative technology services to colleges and universities.

Michael has also worked as an education investment banker at Montgomery Securities and attorney at Sullivan & Cromwell. Michael has earned a BA in economics from DePauw University, a JD with a focus on corporate law from Harvard University, and an MBA with majors in finance and entrepreneurship from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Michael serves on the boards of the University of Chicago Graham School of Professional Studies, National Louis University and the Cancer Research Foundation.  He was selected for the American Academy of Arts & Sciences Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education and was appointed the U.S. Senate Task Force on the Regulation of Higher Education.

Board Member

Mark P. Mantovani

Cancer Research Foundation

Mark Peter Mantovani was formerly Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ansira, a data and analytics-based diversified marketing services business. Under his leadership, the Company expanded from a small, family-owned, local, 50-person company with annual revenues of $5.5M to a highly regarded industry leader with approximately $130MM in revenue and 800 employees in locations all across the country.

In addition to his business activities, Mr. Mantovani has been actively engaged in civic and charitable activities. He formerly served two terms as Chairman of the Board of the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, and he served for many years as Secretary of Downtown Now! as well as on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the St. Louis Zoo and the St Louis Repertory Theater and as a Director of the St. Louis Sports Commission, St. Louis University High School, Quincy University, and the International Office of Boys Hope/Girls Hope. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the USO of Missouri and as a Director for various smaller private companies based in communities across the country.

In addition to being a Harvard Fellow, Mr. Mantovani formerly received a bachelor's degree with Highest Honors from Quincy University, a law degree from the University of Missouri Columbia, and a Master's in Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh-Katz Graduate School of Business.

He has been married to his wife, Patricia (Patty) Hofmeister Mantovani for more than 43 years. They are the parents of three grown children and grandparents of 10, all residents of the St. Louis Metropolitan area.

 

Board Member

Harmony Merwitz

Cancer Research Foundation

Harmony Merwitz serves as Vice President of National Accounts and Initiatives for 48forty Solutions. She joined the organization in December 2019 as Chief Commercial Officer for 48forty Solutions, parent company of Relogistics and has also held the role of Vice President of Projects and Integration.

Previously, Harmony worked as the Vice President of Customer Experience and Utility Solutions Marketing for Anixter. She has also held additional marketing roles with Optimas Solutions and d'Escoto, Inc.

She earned, from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, a Master of Business Administration degree as well as graduate certification in organizational behavior, management analytics, strategy and execution, as well as change management. Harmony holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Board Member

Derek Rapp

Cancer Research Foundation

Derek Rapp joined RiverVest as a managing director in 2019, bringing broad healthcare experience, along with strong entrepreneurial, deal-making, and strategic skills.

From 2014-2019, Derek served as president & chief executive officer of JDRF, the world’s largest non-government funder of diabetes research and a major advocacy group for the type 1 diabetes community. Derek became involved in JDRF as a volunteer a decade prior after his son’s diagnosis with type 1 diabetes.

Immediately prior to his time at JDRF, Derek led mergers and acquisitions for Monsanto Company. He came into this role after Monsanto’s acquisition of Divergence, Inc., a company for which Derek was CEO for 10 years. Divergence was a life sciences research company developing products for the control and prevention of parasitic infections. Derek began his career in mergers and acquisitions with Lazard Freres & Co. in New York.

Derek is a current member of the board of directors of Research!America and a member of the Global Mission Board of JDRF. He has served on numerous other boards, including chairing each of the Greater Saint Louis Community Foundation Board of Directors, the Plant and Life Sciences Working Group in St. Louis, and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center Friends Board.

Derek earned an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an A.B. from Brown University. Derek grew up in St. Louis, MO, where he lives with his wife, Emily.  Together, they have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a granddaughter.  When not working, Derek is an enthusiastic golfer, fly fisherman, cyclist, and cook.

Board Member

Carl Rutstein

Cancer Research Foundation

Carl is the Global Head of Visa's consulting and analytics group. A native of Chicago, he has spent his career in financial services, previously serving as the President of The Kessler Group and a Senior Partner at BCG. He did, however, flirt briefly with the dot.com world when, as part of a BCG assignment in 2000, he served as the first CEO of Orbitz, an online travel company funded by the five major U.S. airlines.

Carl serves on the board of trustees of the Kohl Children's Museum (chair Development Committee, member of Executive and Nominating Committees) and is a member of both the Economic Club of Chicago and The Chicago Club.

He holds an MBA, with highest honors, in analytical finance from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and a BS in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Board Member

Barbara Sessions

Cancer Research Foundation

Barbara served as Marketing Partner and Chief Marketing Officer for the law firm of Winston & Strawn, prior to her retirement in 2020.  She was also a member of Winston’s Diversity Committee and its Foundation Committee. She began her career as a commercial litigator, and after leaving the practice of law, spent five years in New York working first for Edelman Public Relations Worldwide and later in marketing for the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Barbara is a past president of the Legal Marketing Association.

Barbara Sessions serves as the Annual Appeal Chair for the Breakthrough Board, and has been a member of the board for close to 20 years, also having served as its President and Co-Chair of its 50th Grand Auction.

She received a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from DePaul University.

Board Member

Thomas C. Shields

Cancer Research Foundation

Thomas C. Shields, of K&L Gates, LLP, has practiced law in Chicago for over 40 years.  He is nationally recognized for his expertise in health care and hospital law.  He concentrates his practice in representing members of the health care industry, especially providers of health care.  He advises health care clients on a wide variety of corporate and regulatory matters.

Mr. Shields has served as president and board member of the American Health Lawyers Association and the Illinois Association of Healthcare Attorneys, as an Advisory Board member of the Health Law Institute of DePaul University School of Law and of the Health Law Institute of Loyola University, as counsel to the Catholic Health Association, as a trustee of the Brother Louis and Fannie Roncoli Foundation, and as a member of numerous legal task forces of the American Hospital Association, including a task force on alternative dispute resolution techniques.  Mr. Shields has been an active member of the Health Law Committees of the Chicago and Illinois Bar Associations.

Mr. Shields has authored numerous articles on health and hospital law subjects, and he is a frequent speaker on health care issues.  He serves as a trustee of the Cancer Research Foundation and as a governing member of Catholic Charities of Chicago and The Chicago Zoological Society.

Following his graduation from Georgetown University in 1963, Mr. Shields received his J. D. cum laude from Northwestern University School of Law where he served as Managing Editor of the Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif.

Board Member

Laura Werner

Laura Werner serves as a Director and as Head of Corporate Operations at HomeX, a family business, where she has implemented a number of finance and human resource platforms, created a real estate portfolio, and manages the cap table at the company. She is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in Economics.

Laura is a long-time member of the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation Women’s Board (now the CRF Breakthrough Board), where she has demonstrated her dedication to cancer research by serving as President of the board, chairing the benefit gala, spearheading a capital campaign and actively fundraising for more than two decades. Additionally, she has served as the President of the Art Institute of Chicago Woman’s Board and a chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women.

A mother of three and grandmother of two, Laura is an avid bridge player.