Nicole Giroux, Founder and Executive Director
Nicole is the founder and executive director of the Lilabean Foundation. Most importantly, she is mother to Lila – the namesake of the organization. Lila was diagnosed at 15 months old with a multifocal, inoperable brain tumor and has undergone many chemotherapy regimens over the past 12 years. Before founding LBF, Nicole worked in event planning, public relations and development. Starting the Lilabean Foundation gave Nicole the opportunity to put her skills to use with her most meaningful job to date. Nicole is a 1996 graduate of Dickinson College where she majored in Psychology. When she is not working, Nicole enjoys reading, riding her Peloton and family adventures.
Sarah Lilly, Director of Development and Communications
Sarah is a native of Takoma Park, MD but moved to Austin, TX eight years ago. Sarah has been in the non-profit space for the last 10 years and professionally her most recent roles were the fundraising and events director at LIVESTRONG, a cancer non-profit that helps those affected by cancer. Most recently, she was the national event manager at Notley, a social impact nonprofit which aims to accelerate innovative ideas to change the world. Growing up, Sarah’s sister, Becca, battled an aggressive glioblastoma brain tumor and thus Sarah’s passion for helping others was embedded in her from a very young age. She volunteered for various organizations and events, like Becca’s Run which was created in honor of her sister’s courageous fight. Many years later she is still extremely passionate about volunteering and creating events that inspire communities to come together and rally around a cause or focus in meaningful ways. Sarah became involved with the Lilabean Foundation through the Ambassador Council and is excited to continue to be a part of the LBF community in her new role as the Director of Development and Communications where she will help grow the funding and focus on the storytelling of LBF as we begin this next chapter! In her free time, Sarah spends her time cooking, traveling, or getting outside with her husband, Jonathan, and their three dogs, Cooper, Remington, and Wade.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
John-Paul Purssord, President
John-Paul has been part of the Lilabean Foundation since 2013. John-Paul has a very personal tie to this disease. His son Jack was diagnosed in 2009 with an inoperable brain tumor. After three years of treatment, unfortunately, in 2013, Jack passed away. In honor of Jack, the Lilabean Foundation instituted the Jack Preston Courage Award, which is presented every year at the LBF Fall Ball. John-Paul is an Associate Vice President of Sales Training at Nationwide Insurance where he is accountable for design, development, and delivery of sales training solutions. From a business perspective, he has a broad background in finance, strategic development, sales, and marketing. He attended Greensboro College where he earned dual Bachelor degrees in Business Administration & Economic and Sports Exercise Science. John-Paul also earned a Master’s degree in Business from Charleston Southern University. John-Paul and his wife Beverly reside in Columbus, Ohio, with their daughter Kaitlyn and son Sam. As board President, John-Paul is accountable for the overall strategic direction of the foundation with a laser focus on raising funds to support research to find a cure for pediatric brain tumors.
Meg Cortezi, Vice President
Meg is the Vice President of Employee Experience, overseeing the TEKsystems employee strategy across performance, development and culture. Encompassing Inclusion & Diversity, Human Resources and Professional Development, her team shapes the employee journey from candidate to individual contributor to leader. TEKsystems is a full stack IT services provider with over 6,500 global employees. Fueled by her own passion and track record for fostering an inclusive environment that inspires innovation and business results, Meg leads the strategic design and implementation of programs and initiatives that support the holistic employee experience. Over her 25 years with the company, Meg has held a variety of leadership positions and has focused on creating positive outcomes for TEKsystems customers, consultants and employees while leading high-energy, high-impact teams.
Meg holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from James Madison University and currently lives in Northern Virginia with her wife and two sons. Meg has a connection to the mission of LBF as her oldest son, Ben was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma in 2015. Watching her son go through intense treatment with protocols using adult drugs and seeing the life long lasting side effects of those drugs affirmed for Meg the need to invest more time in the research and development of better treatment for kids like Ben.
Dr. Jessica Colburn
Jessica is Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where she specializes in geriatrics and internal medicine. She cares for patients in a variety of clinical settings, including an outpatient clinic, house calls, and hospital-based care. She also teaches medical students, residents, and fellows in training. She is the Director of the Johns Hopkins Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program, a federally funded grant to improve the care that older adults receive in primary care through education and research. To honor her work as an educator and a leader, Jessica was named the 2016 American Geriatrics Society Junior Clinician Educator of the Year. In her professional career, she has experience with developing educational initiatives and securing funding to make an impact on important and needed areas of research in the medical field.
Jessica also has a personal tie to the mission of LBF, as her daughter, Maddie, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in October 2017. Maddie underwent brain surgery at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, and has continued to receive her care and monitoring at Children’s Hospital. Jessica and her family feel deeply connected to the Lilabean Foundation and to making an impact on finding better treatments for kids with brain tumors and brain cancer. Jessica lives in Silver Spring, MD with her husband, Jeff Highfill, and their twins, Maddie & Liam.
Stewi is the Director of Strategic Initiatives for Microsoft Federal focused on cloud and digital strategy, partnerships and growing a multi-billion dollar pipeline across the federal government. Working in both the IT and aerospace industries, Stewi has 15 years of experience holding various leadership roles in operations, business development, strategic analysis, and program management - supporting the Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, and Federal Civilian agencies. Stewi was selected to participate in the Northrop Grumman Women in Leadership Program, served in multiple leadership roles on the AFCEA Bethesda Board, and was in the ACT-IAC Voyagers leadership development program.
A DMV native, Stewi went to Oakton High School in Vienna, VA. Stewi holds a master’s in Systems Engineering Management from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she played varsity field hockey. Stewi lives in Potomac, MD with her husband, Andy, and their two daughters - Cameron and Kaitlin.
Stewi is a passionate brain cancer advocate and has close ties to this cause, as her daughter, Cameron, was diagnosed with an anaplastic ependymoma in 2020 (treated at Children’s National). She was first introduced to the organization when Cameron received the Jack Preston Courage Award at the 2021 LBF Fall Ball. Most recently, Stewi was the 2022 LBF Fall Ball Chair - making it the first ever sold out event, raising a record-setting amount of over $500,000. Stewi hopes to confine to support Fall Ball, as well as bring her background in advocacy and technology to the LBF mission.
Nick is co-president and owner of Rock Spring Contracting. He is involved in all aspects of running the company with a direct focus on business development, financials and operations. Nick is a strong and decisive leader, who is willing to invest and add resources that improve service, reliability and convenience for Rock Spring’s customers.
A native Washingtonian, Nick grew up in Silver Spring and attended St. John’s College High School. He received a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech. Nick currently lives in Kensington with his wife, Lauren, and their four children. He spends his free time with family, playing golf and coaching youth sports.
Nick and his family have beens supporters of the Lilabean Foundation since its inception. Most recently Nick has been co-chair of the Birdies for Childhood Brain Cancer LBF golf tournament growing that event year over year. He is excited to further his involvement as a member of the board and advance the mission of LBF.
Melissa A. Garcia
Melissa is the Associate Executive Director for the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), the world’s largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. In her 22 years at SfN, Melissa has had the opportunity to support the organization in initiatives that include conferences, education, information technology, governance, journals, science policy and advocacy, membership, communications and marketing, and grants and development. Her passion is taking ideas and translating them into a vision and strategy all the way through to timely and meaningful execution, and she prides herself on leading through others and developing the next generation of leaders to achieve their own successes. She is active in the association community, currently serving on the board of the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives and is a Fellow of the American Society of Association Executives.
Originally from New Jersey, Melissa moved to the Washington DC area after graduating from the University of Maryland with a bachelor's degree in English and French. She lives in Clarksburg, MD with her wife, two daughters, and son. She was first connected to LBF through close friends, Meg & Leslie and their son’s cancer journey. Melissa is honored to be a part of such an amazing organization and looks forward to serving on the board to further its important mission.
Eric is President and Creative Director of McAndrew Company in Bethesda, MD. The agency specializes in data-driven marketing communications solutions for both the public and private sector. Eric supervises marketing and media strategy, reviews research and develops messaging options. Additionally, Eric is routinely invited to speak at local, regional and national conferences on topics such as social media, new media, innovative marketing, public awareness campaigns, and marketing strategy.
Eric has helped The Lilabean Foundation hone its message and has assisted with social media campaigns. He is honored to sit on The Lilabean Foundation board and looks forward to helping the foundation raise greater awareness and funds to help fight pediatric brain cancer.
Mary has been a leader in DC philanthropy for over 20 years. With a passion for promoting collaboration and partnerships among nonprofits, she has stewarded more than $45 million in grants to the community, focused primarily on youth-serving organizations and initiatives. Mary currently serves as Associate Director of The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the largest private foundation in the DC area.
Mary has a B.A. in Politics from The Catholic University of America. Additionally, she earned a Nonprofit Executive Management Certificate from Georgetown University. Mary is a graduate of both Leadership Montgomery and Leadership Greater Washington, and she has served as a co-leader for Youth Leadership Greater Washington.
A native of Pennsylvania, she now lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her husband, Jack, and sons, Declan and Conall. Mary and her family have been friends and donors to LBF since the early years of the foundation. She is grateful to serve on the LBF Board and to advance its mission through raising awareness and funds to help in the fight against pediatric brain cancer.
Dr. Brian Rood, Medical Advisor
Brian is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s National Health System whose primary clinical focus is pediatric neuro-oncology. He has also been Lila’s Oncologist since 2010. Dr. Rood joined the faculty of Children’s National in 2002 after completing a fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology as well as a research fellowship in the molecular biology of brain tumors, both at Children’s National and Children’s Research Institute.
Dr. Rood is the Medical Director of the Neuro-Oncology program at Children’s and cares for brain tumor patients on the inpatient oncology ward and in the outpatient clinic. He is a co-principal investigator with Eugene Hwang, MD, of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium clinical trial program at Children’s National and runs an active molecular biology lab in the Center for Cancer and Immunology Research. He is also the institutional PI for the Childhood Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium, a multi-institutional tissue and data repository aimed at providing essential resources for the pediatric brain tumor research community. His own lab investigates the proteogenomics of multiple pediatric brain tumors in order to identify proteins that are unique or highly expressed in tumor cells. He aims to further this work by developing immunotherapies to target these tumor-specific proteins as well as the means to use these proteins as biomarkers capable of detecting disease. Dr. Rood also is working to identify microsatellite markers in a person’s DNA that predict the risk of developing different kinds of brain tumors.
Chris Pratt, CFP®
Chris is the Managing Director of Cardinal Wealth Management. He is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and has 12 years of industry experience working as an advisor at an RIA and an additional 6 years as a successful entrepreneur both in the US and Latin America. Cardinal Wealth is affiliated with Spire Investment Partners, a cutting-edge, independent registered investment advisory firm and broker-dealer with open access to custodians such as Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, Pershing, and Charles Schwab.
Chris specializes in the creation of personalized comprehensive financial planning for high-net-worth individuals, business owners, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits. The financial planning service is met by developing and executing a customized set of goals for each client through risk management, employee benefits planning, investment management, income tax planning, and estate planning.
Chris began his career as a financial planner for the Financial Consulate in Baltimore County, where he worked with business owners and high-net-worth clients. He has extensive business development and managerial experience both in the U.S. and across Latin America. Previous projects range from directing two major public programs in Colombia (+450 employees) and raising capital for ventures in the Baltimore area.
Tracie is a Registered Nurse at Shady Grove Adventist Medical Center in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where she has cared for the most critically ill newborns and their families since 1997. She is also the team leader and services administrator for the Vermont Oxford Network, a voluntary collaborative group of health care professionals who are committed to improving the effectiveness of medical care for newborn infants and their families through data-driven research. Prior to her current position, she worked in the NICUs at Children’s National Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the University of Virginia. Tracie was named as a Washingtonian Nurse Excellence Finalist in 2016.
Tracie grew up in the Washington DC area, attending Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School. She graduated with a BSN in nursing from The Catholic University of America. Tracie lives in Bethesda where she loves to spend time with her husband Chris and her four sons, Chris Jr., Nick, Jack and Liam, and daughter-in-law Alex. She enjoys the outdoors, hiking and tennis.
Tracie became involved with the Lilabean Foundation after her son Jack was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 10 years old. Two years later, Jack shared his story of childhood cancer at the LBF Fall Ball. Going through a childhood cancer journey with her son, and watching other families endure even more difficult journeys, inspired her to become involved with the Lilabean Foundation. She is passionate about advancing research to improve treatment options for affected children and raising awareness of the severity of this fatal disease.
Brendan is co-founder and executive director of PeacePlayers. Along with his brother Sean, Brendan founded PeacePlayers International in 2001. PeacePlayers International uses basketball to unite and educate young people in divided communities. Driven by their idea that children who play together can learn to live together, PeacePlayers International has worked with thousands of young people across the globe, with offices in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Cyprus, and the United States. In 2015, Brendan was named One of 50 Most Inspirational People in Sport by Beyond Sport.
In 2008, Brendan received the Laureus Sport for Good Award, which recognizes individuals who make transformational contributions to society through sport, at the Laureus World Sports Awards in St. Petersburg, Russia. At the 2007 ESPYS, two leaders from PeacePlayers’ program in Northern Ireland were awarded the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Brendan is a 1996 graduate of Colgate University where he majored in Philosophy and Religion and played basketball. He received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Georgetown University in 2018. Brendan was an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar and a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Lilabean Foundation for Pediatric Brain Cancer Research.
LBF AMBASSADORS COUNCIL
Ann French, Ambassador Council Chairperson
As Lila’s cousin, Ann is thrilled and honored to be a part of the Ambassador Council to celebrate and spread the LBF mission. Based in Paris, Ann works as Managing Director of Client Operations for the global advertising agency VMLY&R. In her role, she is responsible for leading teams and campaigns across Europe, Middle East and Africa. Ann has a Masters in Journalism from University of Missouri and has worked across television, magazines, newspapers and public relations.
VMLY&R believes that creativity, technology and culture can create connected brands that impact the world. To that end, the Lilabean Foundation is the perfect cause to champion.
Ann is an avid runner and has completed 4 marathons on 4 continents. Like Lila, Ann loves all animals but especially dogs and horses.
Brynn is a stay-at-home mom living in Ellicott City, MD. She studied Elementary Education at Towson University, is a devout Christian, and an avid runner. Brynn discovered Lilabean through another Council Member’s work and has since fallen in love with the cause. She hopes to bring new ideas and perspective to the foundation and help in every way that she can! She is passionate about philanthropy and hopes to dedicate more time to it as her children get older.
Jordyn is a Public Affairs Specialist for the Department of Defense. In the fall of 2017, a little girl that she babysat was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Maddie’s life-changing diagnosis brought the Lilabean Foundation to her attention and she has been a dedicated supporter since. She is an active member of Passion City Church in Washington, DC, where she assists with the children’s ministry and volunteers in her community. She lives in Washington DC and in her spare time, she enjoys hiking, snowboarding, camping, running and coaching field hockey and lacrosse.
Colleen Carroccio Gormley
Colleen is a Financial Advisor and Certified Financial Planner ™ with the Williams Group of Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management in Washington, DC. The Williams Group is an experienced team of investment professionals serving many of the world’s most prominent entrepreneurs, executives, families, and foundations. Colleen grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, attending Little Flower School and Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences from the University of Georgia. Having lost her childhood friend to pediatric brain cancer, Colleen is passionate about using her skills and resources to support the Lilabean Foundation in helping to find a cure. She lives in Silver Spring, MD with her husband Matt and daughter Clara.
Natalie is a fourth grade teacher in Montgomery County, Maryland. She is a native Marylander and recently moved back to the area after living in Austin, Texas for 13 years. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Learning and Development from The University of Texas at Austin. She is passionate about raising awareness of childhood cancer and the importance of fundraising for furthering research.
Julie Shuss Allegri
A native of Kansas City, Julie (Shuss) Allegri has supported the Lilabean Foundation for Pediatric Brain Cancer Research (LBF) since its inception and is honored to be a part of the Ambassador Council. Julie has a breadth of experience in marketing, business strategy, event planning and relationship management within the healthcare industry. With an appetite for learning and a passion for pediatric philanthropy, Julie will focus on raising awareness and engagement with the LBF mission in the Kansas City metro community.
Isabel is a first-grade teacher at Broadneck Elementary School in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. She has been babysitting for Lila’s family for ten years. She thinks it has been incredible to witness Lila’s family’s love, strength, and faith throughout Lila’s battle. She is honored to be a part of the LBF team and eager to help spread the LBF mission.
Jenny has been a long time babysitter for the Giroux family and has loved watching Braden and Lila grow up! She is from Silver Spring, MD and is currently living in Philadelphia, PA where she is pursuing a PsyD in Clinical Psychology. She is honored to be a member of the junior board and is excited to help out in the effort to spread awareness about pediatric brain cancer.
Derek has a passion for non-profit work and is a leader in the volunteerism efforts of a young professional group at Nationwide Insurance. Since 2017 Derek has organized volunteer events at non-profits around Columbus, Ohio supporting the local children’s hospital, meals-on-wheels and the Furniture Bank. His connection to the LBF mission is through the Purssord family, as he formerly reported to John-Paul and collaborated with him on an internal podcast series. When Derek is not volunteering or spending time with his niece and nephew, he works as a Learning & Performance Specialist for Nationwide, where he designs and develops training assets for associates. Through this work, he has honed his skills in multimedia production and hopes to bring these abilities and his creativity to benefit LBF. Derek is a graduate of The Ohio State University (BS, M.Ed., MLT) and resides in Columbus, Ohio.
Meghan is a student at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in civil litigation. Meghan grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, where she is best known as the founder of the popular backyard summer camp, Camp Clover. She is an avid runner, despite early setbacks, including finishing last place in Becca's Run 2004. LBF hero Becca was Meghan's babysitter and Meghan was involved with Becca's Run from the time of its inception. Since then, she has cared deeply about fighting pediatric brain cancer. She is excited to now have the opportunity to contribute to the LBF mission.
“Children are theworld’s most valuable resource and it's best hope for the future.”
John F. Kennedy