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PRF's Ambassador Family
|Tina, Brandon, Brittany and Zach Pickard were named PRF’s Ambassador Family in February 2010. The Pickards live in Lexington, Kentucky, and are an integral part of PRF’s efforts to raise public awareness, involve other families in our programs, and raise funds for research. We appreciate the time and effort they put into these important activities. Here’s how Tina describes their family:|
Brandon, Zach's dad, works for Brownstown Electric Supply Company as a Warehouse employee. Brownstown has been extremely supportive of our family since Zach's diagnosis. They host the Zach Pickard Pelican Run, an annual 5K Run/Walk that began in 2008. They also come up with other creative ways to raise funds and awareness for Progeria. Brandon enjoys hunting and fishing and he looks forward to sharing his interests with Zach. He loves to spend time with the family and he especially enjoys the time that he and Zach spend wrestling and playing outside.
Tina, Zach's mom, works for Kentucky Utilities Company as a Material Specialist. She also has a huge support system through her employer with many friends who are always willing to lend a helping hand. Tina enjoys spending time with family most of all, but always loves to scrapbook when she can. She also loves to visit the beach each year. "I need to feel the sand between my toes" says Tina.
Brittany is Zach's 17-year old sister. She is a junior in high school and has recently obtained her driver’s license and is enjoying the freedom that driving brings a teen-ager. Brittany has been a cheerleader in high school and middle school and has started making plans for college. Brittany also has a great group of friends that are very supportive for her.
Zach is a feisty and lively three year old boy. He goes to day care school each day and fits in perfectly with the other three year olds. He enjoys playing with his trucks and cars, and he loves to paint and draw. His favorite thing to do is to ride in an airplane and he loves to ride the bus. We have come to realize that he loves transportation! Zach has an infectious smile and it doesn't take long for him to steal your heart. He tends to bring attention to himself no matter where he is.
The Pickard's formed the KY Chapter of The Progeria Research Foundation in August of 2008. They have a large group of family and friends who share their dream of finding a cure for Progeria. They feel very blessed to have the support of others around them.
President and Executive Director
Working closely with the Board of Directors, officers, staff and volunteers, Ms. Gordon is responsible for ensuring The Progeria Research Foundation's financial growth, program development, and day-to-day management.
Ms. Gordon is a graduate of Tufts University and Northeastern University School of Law, and is an attorney licensed to practice in Massachusetts since 1988 and Florida since 1990. She has extensive civil litigation experience in both states. Locally, she is a past Trustee of Temple Beth Shalom in Peabody, Massachusetts, a member of the Peabody Chamber of Commerce, and has served on the Peabody Board of Registrars since 2006. Nationally, Ms. Gordon serves on the Board of Advisors of Global Genes|RARE Project and the Rare Disease Report. She is the 2004 winner of the North of Boston Business and Professional Women of the Year award for non-profit organizations, and the 2005 recipient of the Mary Upton Ferrin Award for leadership in her community. She was honored as a Community Hero by Jewish Family Services in April 2009.
Dr. Gordon is a co-founder of The Progeria Research Foundation and serves as the organization's volunteer Medical Director. Dr. Gordon is the Principal Investigator for ongoing PRF programs for Progeria, including the PRF International Progeria Registry, Medical and Research Database, Cell and Tissue Bank, and the Genetic Diagnostics Program. She has organized 7 National Institutes of Health-funded, international scientific meetings on Progeria. She is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics Research at Hasbro Children’s Hospital and the Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, RI, and a staff scientist at Harvard University Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. She was co-author on the 2003 gene discovery for Progeria, lead author of the 2012 Progeria treatment discovery study, and is co-chair of three Progeria clinical drug trials at Boston Children’s Hospital.
She has received the March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Award, the American Heart Association Scientist Development Award, The Gerontological Society of America Award for contributions to Progeria, a National Institutes of Health Bench to Bedside Grant, and the Mother of the Year award from Working Mother Magazine.
Dr. Gordon earned her bachelor's degree in Zoology from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire. She went on to receive a master's degree and medical and doctorate degrees from Brown University and the Brown University School of Medicine respectively, where she achieved top honors in the medical program.
Chair, Board of Directors
Dr. Berns is Co-founder of the Progeria Research Foundation and he is currently Chairman of its Board of Directors. Dr. Berns is Senior Vice President of Chapter Programs for the March of Dimes. He provides direction in education and community services to all March of Dimes state-based chapters, including DC and Puerto Rico. He directs NICU Initiatives, Mobile Health Care as well as the Planning & Community Services Division at the March of Dimes national office. Additionally, he serves on the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Perinatal Pediatrics.
Dr. Berns is a board certified pediatrician and pediatric emergency physician and he was Medical Director of Pediatric Trauma at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island for seven years. In addition, he earned an MPH with a concentration in Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Brown University School of Medicine.
In 2001, Dr. Berns completed a one-year White House Fellowship where he served as a Special Assistant to the US Secretary of Transportation. He received the Willis Wingert Award for excellence in research in pediatric emergency medicine. He has also received a national award from the National Perinatal Association and a public health service award from the US Department of Transportation
PRF's Ambassador Family 2005 – January 2010
Thank you to the family of Megan Nighbor, who served as PRF’s first ambassador family. The Nighbors were true trailblazers in raising awareness and fundraising, and continue to support PRF in these important activities.
Megan and Michaela enjoy a favorite food - french fries!Photo courtesy of the Markesan Regional Reporter
16-year-old John Tacket, PRF's first Youth Ambassador, passed away Wednesday, March 3rd, 2004. John was an incredible person who never let his condition slow him down. In between his school activities, work and passion for the drums, he welcomed talking to others, especially kids, about Progeria because he felt it was important that people be educated about it. John was a key member of the panel that announced the Progeria gene finding in April 2003 in Washington, DC. He answered reporters' questions and commented that it was an exciting time for him and his friends. We are proud to have known John and PRF is forever grateful for his contributions in raising awareness about Progeria and the work of PRF. He was an inspiration to us all. John will be missed greatly.