AAMDSIF Staff | Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation


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Chief Executive Officer

Neil Horikoshi

Neil Horikoshi, CEO & Executive Director.  Prior to being named CEO & Executive Director of the Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation, Neil Horikoshi led a distinguished 30-year career at International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), where he served in a variety of legal and executive management positions in the US and Asia Pacific.  After his IBM career, he led the Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) as their President & Executive Director.

Neil previously served as Chairman of the Board of AAMDS International Foundation, and currently serves as Advisory Council member of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, and  the “Go For Broke” National Education Center.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Hawai’i and a Juris Doctorate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California.  He is a member of the New York State Bar.

Neil is forever grateful  to the AAMDS International Foundation and staff who helped him through his diagnosis, treatment and living with aplastic anemia and is committed to supporting the family of bone marrow failure patients around the world. Connect

Elise Harper

Elise Harper, Database Manager/Administrative Support. Elise joined the Foundation in 2010 and serves in a variety of functions. She provides admin support for the CEO, manages our database of patients and health care professionals and handles financial processes. With extensive experience in customer service, she also is our donors’ first point of contact, insuring that receipts for contributions and information requests are handled in a timely manner. What’s more, Elise keeps track of our event and education materials inventory and is in charge of shipping. Connect

Patient Advocacy

Julie Powers

Julie Powers, Senior Director of Patient Advocacy. Julie joined AAMDSIF in August 2018 and oversees all of the Foundation’s patient advocacy and education programs. Prior to her appointment, she spent more than two decades in senior nonprofit leadership roles with Michigan Community Action, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Michigan Equality, Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council and the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition. Most recently, she headed up a development consulting firm serving nonprofit clients across the country. An active community volunteer, Julie is a board member for Voices for Health Care and has been a board member for Capital Area Community Services, the Ingham County Drain Board and the Saginaw Oakland Commercial Association. She is a Regional Collegiate Coordinator for Alpha Gamma Delta Fraternity and holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Alma College (Michigan). She and her rescue dog, Maggie, live in Silver Spring, Maryland.  Connect

Leigh Clark

Leigh Clark, Patient Educator. Leigh communicates with patients and their families around the world through telephone and email contact. She provides information on treatment options, financial support, and education, and connects them to resources. Her previous experience includes working as a patient advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities. She is currently pursuing a nursing degree. Connect

Health Professional Programs

Alice Houk

Alice Houk, Senior Director of Health Professional Programs. Alice manages the research grant program, monitors newly published research and drug company announcements, coordinates the Scientific Symposium, serves as liaison to the Medical Advisory Board, and is the primary contact with other professional and patient organizations. She also leads efforts in educating health professionals about bone marrow failure diseases.  Her nonprofit experience includes having served as a national organizer for the SAFE KIDS campaign and as a regional program coordinator for the March of Dimes. In addition, Alice has extensive experience working with volunteers in educational, fundraising, and program areas. She holds a Master's degree in Health Policy from the University of Maryland. Connect

Matt Lesser

Matt Lesser, Program Support Specialist for Research and Health Professional Programs. Matthew assists in ongoing program support for patient focused research projects, inclusive of patient recruitment and communication. He also provides support in the annual grant application process including filing, reporting, record maintenance and follow-up. Matthew began his work in the nonprofit sector while obtaining his bachelor’s degree from DeSales University, where he worked for the Moravian Historical Society in Nazareth, PA. He continued his nonprofit work at New Kensington Community Development Corporation in northeast Philadelphia in the spring and summer of 2015. Matthew also holds a Master’s Degree in Science, Technology, and Society from Drexel University. Outside of work, Matthew enjoys physical fitness training, reading and taking in the history of Washington, D.C.  Connect


Desiree Ruiters

Desiree Ruiters, Industry and Corporate Relations Officer. Desiree is responsible for corporate development and grants management. Establishing and maintaining relationships with the Foundation’s partners in the pharmaceutical and health care services area is a key aspect of her work. She studied at the University of Capetown, South Africa, and her previous experience includes accounting and asset management at Mobil Oil in South Africa before moving to the Washington, DC area.  Connect

Margaret Fitzgerald

Margaret Fitzgerald, Community Development Officer.  Margaret works with volunteers around the country to organize and execute grassroots fundraising events. As a development professional, she has a broad range of expertise in the nonprofit world, including work with various educational organizations, advocacy groups and, most recently, with a grant making foundation. Margaret holds a Bachelor's of Art from Mount Holyoke College and volunteers with the Junior League of Washington in her free time. Connect


Robert Burleson

Robert Burleson, Publications Manager. Robert  manages the development and content of our publications, including the Foundation Update, MDS Update,  Health Professionals Update and new Towards a Cure newsletters. He is also responsible for patient and health professional interviews that are featured in our newsletters and on www.aamds.org, and he oversees our patient guides and other educational materials. His prior professional experience included commercial medical publishing, nonprofit scientific publishing and scientific society membership. Connect

Tricia Maddrey Baker

Tricia Maddrey Baker, Social Media and Communication Manager. Tricia is responsible for expanding the Foundation’s online connection between our patient and health professional communities and the education, support and research programs that we offer. Her diverse background ranges from small nonprofits and associations to corporate philanthropy. She’s also achieved excellent results in stakeholder engagement and credits her parents with her passion for service, as well as her artistic vision. Connect