Who We Are

Who We Are

The Board of Directors is composed of members of the Medical, Donor, Caregiver, and Survivor Communities.  

Board Officers
President Wade S. Smith, MD, PhD
Secretary & Board Attorney Bobbi Lynn Jones
Special Projects Monica Tilly, MD
Treasurer Daniel Cooke, MD
Board of Directors
Special Events Co-Chairs Maria O’Reilly
Fred Nelson     
Patient Support Services Chair Stephanie Schaffer
Pediatric Chair Heather Fullerton, MD
Research Grants Chair Nerissa Ko, MD
Strategic Planning Chair Helen Kim, MPH, PhD
Website Chair Alex T. Nguyen, MPA
Board Members-at-Large

Spencer Kaitz
Michael Lawton, MD

Helen Kim, MPH, PhD
Scott Andrew Josephson, MD

Adib Abla, MD

Advisory Board

Roberta Kaitz
Shelley Craig
Melody Anderson
Bridget Falcone

Community Engagement Manager Dina Chon


Spencer R. Kaitz, Co-President

Mr. Kaitz is an attorney and for 32 years, President of the California Cable and Telecommunications Association. He has long experience and expertise in administrative and communications law, legislative representation, operation of non-profit organizations, fundraising and interfacing between the private sector and government, financial management. He has founded a successful non-profit foundation dedicated to the advancement of diversity in the management ranks of the cable and telecommunications industry. His dedication to The Aneurysm and AVM Foundation derives from the personal experience of family members who have suffered aneurysms.

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Wade S. Smith, MD, PhD, Co-President

Dr. Smith received his MD from the University of Washington and his PhD in neurophysiology at the same institution in 1989. He came to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989 for residency training in the UCSF Department of Neurology and later completed a critical care medicine fellowship in 1994. He helped establish the UCSF Neurovascular Service assumed its Directorship in 2002.

Dr. Smith is a neurointensivist, a neurologist who is trained in critical care neurology. He directs the UCSF Neurological Intensive Care unit, a 16 bed ICU dedicated to the care and resuscitation of patients with neurological injury. The majority of patients treated at UCSF have diseases of the brain's arteries or veins, including stroke, cerebral aneurysm, and other conditions. Dr. Smith and his colleagues believe that a patient with a neurological problem significant enough to require intensive care deserves treatment by a neurointensivist. Dr. Smith is also expert in stroke and transient ischemic attack and sees patients as well in the outpatient clinic. Dr. Smith has been voted as one of the Best Doctors in the San Francisco Bay Area for the last 5 years by San Francisco Focus Magazine, and UCSF Medical Center now ranks #5 in the nation for Neurology and Neurosurgery by US News and World Report. He helped found the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators, an ambitious organization founded to foster and promote excellent teachers of medical students. Nationally, he helped found the Neurocritical Care Society, to establish training standards across America to help train the next generation of neurointensivists.

Dr. Smith's research interests include cerebral aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage, including the treatment of cerebral aneurysm and establishing centers of excellence for aneurysm treatment. He is intimately involved in research on brain imaging of a patient while they are having a stroke using CT angiography and CT perfusion. He received a major AHQR grant ($2.1M- 10% effort) for the study of the utility of CT imaging in acute stroke, and recently a $365,000 grant for a study to prevent intracranial stent stenosis. Additionally, he has focused on researching the causes of stroke in young people, and published a major paper implicating chiropractic neck manipulation as a cause of stroke in young people. Currently, he has published over 30 scientific papers in the field of stroke and neurological intensive care.

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Bobbi Lynn Jones, Secretary and Board Attorney

Ms. Jones is an in-house attorney at Moody's Analytics, Inc. She specializes in licensing, contract negotiation and intellectual property protection. She obtained a bachelor of laws degree from the University of British Columbia in 1998 and was admitted to the California bar in 2002. 

Ms. Jones lost her brother Allan to a brain aneurysm in 1996.

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Monica Tilly, MD, Special Projects

Dr. Tilly is a magna cum laude graduate of Amherst College with concentrations in Geology and French. After her mother suffered an aneurysm, in 2002 she co-founded The Aneurysm Foundation, the precursor to TAAF, along with Dr. Charles Wilson, Dr. Wade Smith and Dr. Clay Johnston. She acted as its Executive Director from 2002 to 2005, created the non-profit corporation, wrote a comprehensive evidence-based educational website on aneurysms and AVMs for the public, and spearheaded the production of a documentary film on aneurysms and AVMs for PBS. She completed the post-baccalaureate pre-medical program at Johns Hopkins University, medical school at Brown University and attended a combined Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine Residency program at UCSF and Kaiser San Francisco. Dr. Tilly has enjoyed diverse professional activities from working on the meningitis vaccine for Novartis in Italy to interning with the Chief Medical Officer at the Discovery Channel to surveying vaccine refusal patterns at the Department of Health in New York City. She enjoys scuba diving, dancing, and opera, having studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan.  Dr. Tilly is currently an internist at Concentra.

Dr. Tilly's dedication to The Aneurysm and AVM Foundation derives from the personal experience of family members who have suffered aneurysms.

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Daniel Cooke, MD, Treasurer

Dr. Daniel Cooke is an Associate Professor in Residence of Neuro Interventional Radiology in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California, San Francisco. His expertise is in ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, vascular malignancies of the central nervous system, arteriovenous malformations (AVM), arteriovenous fistula (AVF), and aneurysms of the brain and spine. Dr. Cooke earned his medical degree from Emory University, Atlanta in 2004, and completed his residency in Diagnostic Radiology at the University of Washington, Seattle. He completed a fellowship in Neuroradiology at the University of Washington, Seattle in 2010, followed by another fellowship in Neuro Interventional Radiology from the University of California, San Francisco in 2012.

Dr. Cooke’s primary research is in the use of contemporary endovascular surgical methods to assess endothelial cells in the setting of neurovascular pathology. In his work with MR generated computational fluid dynamic data and microsurgical specimens he aims to characterize the local and regional molecular events underlying the evolution of aneurysms, AVMs, and AVFs. 

Dr. Cooke’s research interests include: endovascular biopsy, pre-natal brain AVM detection, endovascular brachytherapy, flat panel CT-fluoroscopically guided intervention, and chemoinfusion. Dr. Cooke is also involved in research on catheter-based interventions for hemorrhagic stroke as well as regenerative cell therapies for ischemic stroke. 

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Maria O'Reilly, Special Events Co-Chair

Ms. O'Reilly is a professional make up-artist for the TV and Commercial industry. Born and raised in Ireland, she moved to San Francisco in 1997 to pursue her career here in the U.S. In 2005, Ms. O'Reilly discovered five unruptured aneurysms in her brain. She underwent two surgeries to have the five aneurysms clipped and went on to a full recovery. Being an aneurysm survivor herself, Ms. O'Reilly feels strongly about helping other patients and their loved ones.

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Heather Fullerton, MD, Pediatric Chair

After graduating summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Heather Fullerton earned a medical degree at Baylor College of Medicine. She completed residency in pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco, followed by a residency and fellowship in child neurology. While a child neurology fellow, she developed an interest in neurovascular diseases in children, performing studies on the epidemiology of childhood stroke. In July 2002, Fullerton joined the child neurology staff at UCSF Children's Hospital, where she completed a vascular neurology fellowship. In 2006 she established the UCSF Pediatric Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease Center and serves as its director. Fullerton's current projects include identifying risk factors for recurrent childhood stroke, studying blood vessel abnormalities or arteriopathies in children with stroke and determining if infection plays a role in childhood stroke. 

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Nerissa Ko, MD, Research Grants Chair

Dr. Nerissa Ko is a neurointensivist, or a neurologist with critical care training, who specializes in the care of hospital patients undergoing neurovascular treatment. She earned her medical degree at John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii. She completed residency in neurology and fellowships in critical care medicine and neurocritical care at UCSF Medical Center. She is a member of several medical associations, including the American Heart Association, Neurocritical Care Society and Bay Area Stroke Society. Ko's research interests include the study of clinical outcomes of patients who suffer from subarachnoid hemorrhages. 

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Alex T. Nguyen, MPA, Website Chair

Mr. Nguyen is a cum laude graduate of the University of California Los Angeles in Political Science with concentrations in International Relations, Global Studies, and Classical Civilization. He also holds a Master of Public Administration with a focus on public-private partnerships and philanthropic policy from the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. He was a founding member of the Pediatric AIDS Coalition at UCLA and served as the Assistant Director for Dance Marathon at UCLA. His other experience in the non-profit sector includes educational outreach at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, volunteer coordination at AIDS Walk San Francisco, and chairing the Auxiliary Board at Young Audiences of Northern California. He is currently the Development Coordinator at the UCLA Office of Scholarships and Student Support Initiatives.

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Michael Lawton, MD, Board Member-at-Large

Michael Lawton, MD is the President and CEO of Barrow Neurological Institute and the Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. He is board certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery.  Dr. Lawton’s neurosurgical expertise includes cerebrovascular disorders (aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, cavernous malformations, and stroke) and skull base tumors. He is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, Society of Neurological Surgeons, American Academy of Neurological Surgery, and World Academy of Neurological Surgery.  He is also trained in the endovascular treatment of aneurysms.

Dr. Lawton spent 20 years at the University of California, San Francisco where he was the Tong-Po Kan Endowed Chair, Professor of Neurological Surgery, and Vice-Chairman of the department. As chief of vascular neurosurgery at one of the busiest cerebrovascular service centers on the west coast, he has experience in treating more than 4,000 brain aneurysms, 800 AVMs, and 1,000 cavernous malformations.

Dr. Lawton’s research studies the formation, underlying genetics, and rupture of brain AVMs, as well as the hemodynamics, rupture, and computational modeling of brain aneurysms. His clinical research studies the anatomy of microsurgical approaches and clinical outcomes of microsurgery for aneurysms, AVMs, and bypass surgery. He is the principle investigator for the Brain Vascular Malformation Consortium, an NIH-funded multicenter group studying the genetics and clinical course of rare vascular diseases of the brain. He has published over 450 peer-reviewed articles, three single-author textbooks, and over 70 book chapters. He co-founded Mission:BRAIN, a teaching mission to raise the level of neurosurgery practiced in developing countries that conducts annual missions in Mexico and Asia.

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Helen Kim, MPH, PhD, Strategic Planning Chair

As an Associate Professor in residence in the Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care at UCSF, Dr. Kim’s research focuses on identifying risk factors that predispose younger individuals to stroke and cardiovascular disease. Currently, her group is studying the genetic epidemiology of hemorrhagic stroke and modifiers of outcome after hemorrhage or treatment in patients with brain vascular malformations. She collaborates closely with a multidisciplinary group of investigators at the UCSF Center for Cerebrovascular Research, Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Duke University, and the University of New Mexico. Several large case-cohort studies of brain arteriovenous malformations, subarachnoid hemorrhage, cerebral cavernous malformations, and hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) are underway. Her additional research interests include investigating approaches for population stratification, multivariate phenotypes, admixture mapping, and gene-gene and gene-environment interactions. 

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Scott Andrew Josephson, MD, Board Member-at-Large

Dr. S. Andrew Josephson is a neurologist who specializes in neurovascular and other neurologic disorders. As the the Chair of the Department of Neurology at UCSF, he cares for general neurology and stroke patients in the hospital as well as in clinic. He is the Director of the UCSF Neurohospitalist Program and Fellowship, and Medical Director of Inpatient Neurology. He holds the Carmen Castro Franceschi and Gladyne K. Mitchell Neurohospitalist Distinguished Professorship.

After graduating from Stanford University, Dr. Josephson earned his medical degree at Washington University in Saint Louis. He completed an internship in internal medicine and a residency in neurology at UCSF, where he was chief resident. He also completed fellowships in neurovascular neurology (stroke) and behavioral neurology at UCSF. He is an associate professor of neurology and Vice-Chairman of the Department of Neurology.

Dr. Josephson's research interests include improving models of inpatient neurologic care, quality and safety in hospitalized patients, neurologic education, delirium, and the contribution of stroke to dementia.

Dr. Josephson has won numerous teaching awards from medical students and residents at UCSF including being selected to present the keynote speech for the School of Medicine Commencement; the Henry J. Kaiser Award for Excellence in Teaching; the Academic Senate Distinction in Teaching Award, and the Robert Layzer Golden Toe Award for resident teaching.

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Adib Abla, MD, Board Member-at-Large

Dr. Abla is Chief of Vascular Neurosurgery at UCSF. A vascular and endovascular neurosurgeon, he specializes in the treatment of brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations and fistulae (AVM and AVF), cavernous malformations, stroke, and carotid artery disease. He treats both adult and pediatric patients. 

He performs both surgical and endovascular treatment of aneurysms (clipping, coil embolization, flow diversion stent, bypass), AVMs (embolization and surgical resection), and carotid disease (endarterectomy and stenting) allowing for an unbiased approach to complex cerebrovascular disease entities. This also allows him to offer patients a comprehensive set of treatment modalities (both open and endo) for their cerebrovascular disease, including the ability to perform the patients pre-treatment and followup angiography regardless of the treatment chosen.

He was most recently the director of cerebrovascular surgery at the University of Arkansas where he practiced vascular and endovascular neurosurgery for the past 3 years and created a centralized Hemorrhagic Stroke Telenetwork for statewide and regional referrals of vascular pathologies, resulting in expedited specialty care.

He has over 100 publications in peer reviewed journals mainly on vascular and endovascular neurosurgery topics including publications on cerebrovascular surgical techniques and given over 50 international, national, or regional invited presentations, mainly on vascular and endovascular neurosurgery topics.

Dr. Abla's research interests include collaborative translational research in computational fluid dynamic modeling of brain aneurysms and use of either surgical bypass or endovascular flow diversion. Other research interests include clinical outcomes research in cerebrovascular surgery, vascular neurosurgery surgical anatomy and approaches, and the applications of combined open surgical and endovascular treatments. He is also involved in clinical research studies of novel bypasses and endovascular treatments for presently uncurable fusiform aneurysms of the basilar artery and clinical research involving potential minimally invasive treatments for hypertensive hemorrhages.

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