WEST Staff & Board of Directors

Staff


Jaime Luna joined WEST in 2012 and serves as Senior Director of Operations. She comes to WEST with extensive experience in nonprofit organizations, specifically in program operations and project management. Jaime served as Director of Program Operations for Illumination Foundation working with homeless families and individuals. As a key member, she helped the grassroots nonprofit grow from its infancy to a $2,000,000 organization in three short years. Previous to Illumination Foundation, Jaime worked at the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles, Camping Services. She filled in the roles of Senior Director and Operations Executive Director. She oversaw the operation of many YMCA camps and developed, monitored, and managed related annual operating budgets of over $2,000,000, including human resources, office administration, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, and procurement. Jaime completed her Master's degree in Education. 




Anastasie Duffaut joined WEST in June 2019. She is the Onsite Event Coordinator. She is also Trade Partner Diversity Manager at Suffolk Construction. Prior to that, she was the EEO/Diversity/Community & Citizenship Coordinator at Turner Construction Company. Before that, she spent several years as a Branch Manager at Citizens Bank. She earned an MBA from Suffolk University.  


  

Courtney Cyron joined WEST in August of 2022 as the Business Operations Specialist. Courtney is a QuickBooks Pro Advisor and spent one year as a Bookkeeper and another year as an Accounting Manager. She has 5 years experience in real estate transaction management in the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as experience with HUD Project Management. During her time with Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority, Courtney was part
of the team that worked with the state to receive a $9M grant to completely renovate a subsidized housing unit that provides affordable housing to people in her neighborhood. Courtney brings great experience in graphic design, content creation, and social media management to help grow WEST’s digital influence. Courtney completed her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 2016.

   

Board of Directors




President: Dr. Patrice Prusko is the Director, Learning Design, Technology, and Media in the Teaching and Learning Lab (TLL) at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She oversees design, development and project management of online and digitally enhanced courses. Prior to joining the TLL she worked as an Instructional Designer at Cornell University in the Center for Teaching Innovation, and as a faculty member at State University of New York, Empire State College, Center for Distance Learning and International Programs. Dr. Prusko's research focuses on developing course and systems level structures that support inclusive, transformational learning experiences for all students, especially first generation and underrepresented student populations in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. She is passionate about increasing global access to STEM education for all women. Dr. Prusko believes by increasing access to education for women we can enable more communities across the globe to thrive and flourish. She holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering (B.S.), and Business Management (MBA) from Union College, and Curriculum and Instruction (Ph.D.) from University at Albany.



Vice President: Elena Spencer is Director of Technology Platforms & Outreach, Pfizer Kendall Square. Prior to that, she was Chief of Staff to the Chief Scientific Officer for the Inflammation & Immunology Research Unit at Pfizer in Cambridge, MA. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Cellular & Molecular Biology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and is currently pursuing an M.B.A. at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. After 15 years as a bench scientist she made the pivot to R&D Strategy & Operations in 2016 where she has pursued roles of increasing responsibility culminating in her present role as Chief of Staff. Elena is also co-founder, President and CEO of Kendall Square Orchestra, a community organization that seeks to connect science and technology professionals through music to spark innovation and support causes related to healthcare, education & inclusivity. In 2020, Elena was awarded the WEST (Women in Enterprise of Science at Technology) “Making a Difference in the Community” award.



Clerk: Jennifer Reilly is the President & COO at Safety Partners, Inc. As President and Chief Operating Officer, Jennifer manages the daily business operations of the company and sets the future strategy. Leveraging over 20 years of experience in health and safety and lab operations, Jennifer has developed, managed, and implemented client programs while taking on increasing operational responsibilities at Safety Partners. Under Jennifer’s leadership, Safety Partners employs 50+ employees and works with approximately 300 clients each year.Prior to joining Safety Partners in 2007, Jennifer spent five years at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, where she served as Senior Laboratory and Safety Manager for the laboratory facility. Prior to Alnylam, Jennifer held research positions at Biogen, Inc., Curis, Inc. (formerly Ontogeny, Inc.), and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. Jennifer received a Master of Liberal Arts degree in Biology from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Saint Anselm College.



Treasurer: Eleanor Howe the Founder and CEO of Diamond Age Data Science, a boutique bioinformatics consultancy based in Boston, MA. She sets the vision for Diamond Age and ensures that its clients are working closely with consultants to tackle their most important challenges. Prior to founding Diamond Age, Howe served as the go-to bioinformatician in the Center for the Development of Therapeutics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she helped drive drug discovery projects in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease, among others. She also worked at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where she led mid- and late-stage development of the Multiexperiment Viewer – a powerful software tool for mining large genomic datasets – and at the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Maryland. Trained as a computational biologist, Howe founded Diamond Age based on her expertise in transcriptional profiling — a field in which she has worked since it was dominated by small-scale microarray analysis — and her deep knowledge of drug discovery and development. Howe earned a Ph.D. bioinformatics from Oxford University under Christopher Holmes and John Quackenbush, and holds a master’s degree in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a bachelor’s degree in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Michigan.



Past-President: Etta Jacobs is the Founder and Principal of Power in the Middle, an executive coaching and training organization that specifically focuses on empowering mid-level managers and their teams. Prior to becoming an executive coach, Etta gained her corporate expertise as an award-winning design executive at two Fortune 500 companies, where she coached cohorts of managers and directed teams of creative professionals on innovative, multi-media projects. She shepherded her teams through continuous technological transitions and multiple corporate reorganizations—helping them thrive through increasingly aggressive deadlines, uncertainty, and industry-wide disruption. Etta draws upon this 20+ years of corporate experience when coaching. Her passion is helping her clients reach their highest potential—by guiding them to look at events through different lenses, question their assumptions, find creative and unexpected solutions to their career challenges, and to build a career that is aligned with their strengths, talents, and values. Etta holds a Master of Organizational Psychology and is a Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation (ICF). Etta earned her MA and her Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from William James College. She has a BFA from Syracuse University.


Board Members:


Cristina Almansa is Senior Director, Head of Translational Medicine Clinical Science, Immunology Research & Development at The Janssen Pharmaceuticals Companies of Johnson & Johnson. Prior to that, she was the head of Medical and Scientific Affairs at Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, that aligned with Cristina’s goals of advancing the treatment and improving the quality of life of people suffering with gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. After completing her MD/PHD and Gastroenterology fellowship at the University Complutense in Madrid Cristina moved to the Mayo Clinic in Florida to continue her postdoc work as the recipient of the Jon Isenberg MD Scholar International Medical Award sponsored by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA). Cristina has worked for more than 15 years in clinical research, as a clinician scientist or a drug developer, and authored more than 40 publications (peer review manuscripts and book chapters) in the field of Gastroenterology. Cristina has held clinical and academic appointments in the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Division at the University Hospital Clínico San Carlos (Madrid) and the Mayo Clinic Florida (Jacksonville, FL). During her tenure in the Pharmaceutical Industry, Cristina has led multiple clinical development programs in GI with assets ranging from phase 1 to phase 3. In her most recent role Cristina led the global clinical development of the GI Motility portfolio at Takeda. Cristina is a native Spaniard who lives in Wellesley with her husband and 2 daughters. Cristina loves running, cooking, and enjoying a good homemade meal with family and friends. She believes that “women can have it all” but they need to believe in themselves and find the right partners and sponsors to get (and stay) there.



Nicole Barna has over 20 years of experience in human resources leadership and strategy in Biotechnology. She is currently a Senior Vice President at Codiak BioSciences, a private, pre-clinical stage company, where she is responsible for leading the Human Resources Function along with Talent and Organizational strategies for the company. Prior to her current leadership role, Ms. Barna was Executive Director for Human Resources at Bioverativ where she led Bioverativ’s efforts in talent management, performance management, leadership development and global expansion. Ms. Barna was also instrumental in the creation of Bioverativ, a spin-off from Biogen, where she was responsible for organizational design and talent identification. Prior to Bioverativ, Ms. Barna held a number of positions of increasing responsibility and scope at Biogen, including Sr Director, Human Resources for Emerging Markets and Latin America, Director of HR for the Japan Affiliate, Director of HR for UK/Ireland Affiliates and various positions in the US supporting the R&D organization. Prior to Biogen, she spent seven years at The Whitehead Institute/ Center for Genome Research where she held HR positions of increasing responsibility including leading HR for the team responsible for the Human Genome Project. Ms. Barna holds an MS in HR Management from Lesley University and a BS in Psychology from Kenyon College.



Lesley Chan is a senior scientist in the Cellular Process Development group for Sickle Cell Disease at bluebird bio. She received degrees focusing on bioengineering from the University of Toronto and National University of Singapore, and most recently, a degree focusing on Engineering Management from Tufts University. In her career, she’s been focused on developing commercially viable and efficient manufacturing processes in the field of regenerative medicine and gene therapy. Beginning with hands-on lab work, and more recently, in team and project leadership positions to deliver next-generation processes and to bring potentially transformative therapies to patients in the clinic.



Leah Cole is a Director of Immunology at Sanofi Pasteur. She leads a group of research scientists working in the preclinical space. As her work is located within the first step of the product development pipeline, Leah’s goal is to identify prophylactic vaccine candidates for infectious disease pathogens. Leah has had a variety of roles with WEST and has been a member of the grant writing as well as the programming/events committee. She is a previous WEST Making a Difference Awardee.



Nicole Daley is Counsel in Goodwin Procter LLP’s Life Sciences group. Nicole’s practice spans the entire corporate life cycle, including startup and formation matters, general corporate counseling and governance, venture capital financings, mergers and acquisitions, public offerings, SEC reporting and disclosures, and corporate reorganizations. Prior to joining Goodwin, Nicole was Of Counsel in the Corporate group at DLA Piper in Boston. Earlier in her career, she was an associate in the Corporate practices at DLA Piper and Squire Patton Boggs in Phoenix, and Gunderson Dettmer in Boston. She has also served as Associate General Counsel of a global technology company. Nicole is a member of the Boston Bar Association and Navajo Bar Association. She holds a J.D. from Boston College Law School and a B.A. in Psychology and Native American Studies, summa cum laude, from Dartmouth College.



Alicja Januszewicz has 15+ years of experience in Talent Management/Human Resources. She is currently Senior Vice President, People & Culture at Theseus Pharmaceuticals. Before that, she was Allena Pharmaceutical's Head of People and Culture and prior to that she consulted with small biotechs in Cambridge within the areas of talent management like employee development, organizational development, succession management, high potentials, and workforce planning. Before starting her own consulting services, Alicja served as the Head of Talent Management at Baxalta (former Baxter BioScience), Cambridge office where she supported R&D until the Shire acquisition. Before joining Baxalta in 2015, Alicja was the Head of Talent Management at Epizyme, an R&D organization that specializes in personalized therapeutics for patients with genetically defined cancers. Alicja also led Talent Management at Haemonetics, a leading provider of premium blood management solutions in the medical devices area. Additionally, from 2007 to 2013, Alicja served as a Talent Development lead at Boston Scientific HQ, rolling out global development initiatives. Prior to Boston Scientific, she was responsible for organizational development of the Genzyme global manufacturing group. Alicja holds a PhD in Sociology from the Polish Academy of Science and the Copenhagen Business School. She is also a member of the faculty at Boston University School Of Management, where she teaches Organizational Behavior.


 

Kristen Lorentz is a biotech founder, company thought leader, and scientific and business professional, who is passionate about leveraging science and technology to develop solutions to intractable healthcare challenges. Kristen has a diverse background in life science R&D and leadership, including in the domains of immunology, regenerative medicine, and platform technology development, as well as in company creation, operations, and strategy. Kristen is currently the Search and Evaluation Lead for Gastroenterology within Takeda’s Center for External Innovation. Prior to joining Takeda, Kristen co-founded two biotech companies, Anokion and Kanyos Bio, with the aim of developing advanced therapies for autoimmune diseases and mitigating drug immunogenicity. As part of their founding Executive Leadership teams, she played a leading role in company creation and in the successful translation of innovative platform technologies from concept to clinic. Kristen earned her B.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University and her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). 


 

Kristine McKinney is a research leader who draws inspiration from discovering and developing transformative medicines for patients. She recently returned to Moderna as Senior Director of the newly launched Moderna Genomics (mGx) to build a team that contributes to the next generation portfolio. Prior to mGx, she worked at Arrakis Therapeutics, which was founded with the disruptive aim of developing RNA-directed small molecules to inhibit otherwise difficult-to-drug target proteins. There, she built and led the Target Biology and Translational Medicine team, co-developed the portfolio strategy, contributed to novel target validation and screening approaches for RNA targets, and led programs to drug notorious oncogenes. Before joining Arrakis, Kristine was an early member of the New Venture Labs at Moderna. In that role, she led research to develop novel applications of mRNA as a therapeutic in oncology and immuno-oncology. During her tenure, she contributed to numerous patent filings, developed mRNA cargoes for oncology programs and led a KRAS vaccine (mRNA-5671) through IND. In her academic career, Kristine trained in tumor intrinsic pathways including the p53 tumor suppressor and BRCA1/DNA damage response pathways; she completed her PhD in Dr. Carol Prives' lab at Columbia University and postdoctoral training with Dr. David Livingston at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School.


 

Catherine Mesner is an accomplished biotech and pharmaceutical executive with expertise in drug development from candidate selection through registration to commercialization. She can translate business strategy into a focused operational plan. As an experienced leader, Catherine has the proven ability to build and develop high-performing teams, design and implement appropriately sized processes for growing organizations and effectively collaborate with multiple internal stakeholders, partners, and consultants. In March 2020 Catherine joined Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, Inc., an immune-oncology company based in Cambridge, MA as VP, Development Operations. Prior to Checkmate she held positions at Pfizer, Alkermes, Quintiles and Eli Lilly. Catherine has been a WEST volunteer for many years and participated as a mentor in their mentorship program. Additionally she is on the Board of Directors for Casa Myrna, Boston’s largest provider of domestic violence awareness efforts and of shelter and supportive services to survivors.


 

Caroline Ngaara-Woodward is currently an Associate Director at Zentails Pharmaceuticals Clinical Pharmacology Group. She works with clinical development program teams and leverages clinical pharmacology principles and years of experience in clinical development, regulatory and drug discovery to bring life changing therapies to patients. She has worked on several approved products including Iclusig® (ARIAD/Takeda), Tecfidera (China), Vumerity, Fampridine (Biogen). She holds a BSc.Chemistry, MSc. Regulatory and MSc. Pharmacometrics from University of Maryland. She was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya and speaks three languages fluently: Kikuyu, Kiswahili and English. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling with her family, running, getting together with friends, reading, and listening to various podcasts for fun or personal growth. She has been actively volunteering at WEST since May 2020 a role she greatly enjoys.



Rekha K. Paleyanda is Director, Oncology Business Development at Takeda. Prior to that, she was Director of Servier BioInnovation, the external innovation engine for the privately-held pharmaceutical company, Servier Group. Rekha led business development in the U.S., with a focus on in-licensing innovative therapies from early-stage through clinical proof of concept. Her goal was to develop strong partnerships for Servier with key stakeholders in the US healthcare, biotech and research communities. Launched to expand Servier’s global presence in early 2018, BioInnovation was located in Kendall Square in Cambridge, MA. Previously, Dr. Paleyanda directed the Office of Technology Commercialization at the University of Massachusetts and was a Senior Business Strategy & Licensing Manager in the Innovation Office of Partners HealthCare. Before that, she co-founded a biologics startup and worked on developing therapeutics for rare genetic diseases at Transkaryotic Therapies (now part of Takeda). She holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the George Washington University in Washington DC and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Holland Lab for Biomedical Sciences in Rockville, MD.



Dr. Clive Patience is currently Executive Vice President at Agios Pharmaceuticals where he is responsible for Technical Operations. He joined Agios in 2017, where he has led Technical Operations through late stage clinical development and ultimately launch of Agios’ first solely owned commercial product TIBSOVO. Prior to joining Agios, Clive held several positions of increasing responsibility at Biogen, where he spent 13 years, His scope included Quality, CMC, as well as asset development and program management. While at Biogen, Clive had the opportunity to work on many and varied programs including those in the early phase, late phase and commercial spaces, which also spanned the small molecule, biologics, gene therapy modalities as well as combination products. Prior to joining Biogen, Clive worked in the field of xenotransplantation in both an industry and academic capacity and has an extensive publication history with the field of Virology.

Past Presidents of the Board

2021-2022 - Etta Jacobs
2020-2021 - Meena Subramanyam

2019-2020 - Meredith Fisher and Chesley Chen
2018-2019 - Mariana Nacht
2017-2018 - Jo Viney
2005-2017 - Sandra Glucksmann

Chair Emeritus


Sandra Glucksmann is presently President and CEO of Cedilla Therapeutics. She is a veteran biopharma executive and experienced scientist who most recently served as founder and chief operating officer of the gene editing company Editas Medicine, Inc. She previously served as senior vice president of research and development at Cerulean Pharma, which she also joined at its founding. Sandra was a founding scientist at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, where she spent 13 years, taking on a series of senior roles on the science team before moving into an executive position with responsibility for strategic program management and operations. Sandra serves on the boards of directors of REGENXBIO and  Scenic Biotech. Sandra holds a Ph.D. with honors in molecular genetics and cell biology from the University of Chicago. She was a post-doctoral fellow at MIT.


Janice Bourque is former Senior Vice President and Group Head-Life Sciences for Comerica Bank where she was responsible for leading Comerica’s national strategy for the life sciences. Prior to that, Ms. Bourque was President/CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MBC) where she led the organization for 12 years. In 2004, she was awarded the Woman of Valor Award by the American Diabetes Association and the 2004 Distinguished Leadership Award by the Huntington Disease Society for her work in public policy and public health. In 2003, Boston Magazine named her one of Boston’s 100 most influential women and the Cambridge Chamber Commerce awarded her Business Person of the Year. Ms. Bourque received her MBA degree in finance and accounting and her BS degree in veterinary science from the University of New Hampshire. 

Board Emeritus

Abigail Barrow is the Managing Partner of Cambridge Innovation Partners – a consulting firm that helps start-ups find global and local resources for success. Previously, she was the Interim Executive Director, Office of Technology Commercialization and Ventures (OTCV) at the University of Massachusetts from 2015 to 2018.  She joined the UMass President’s Office in 2004 as the Founding Director of the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC) which was hosted in OTCV.  At MTTC she was responsible for the overall management of the MTTC and the development of its programs. Prior to joining UMass, Dr. Barrow served as managing director of William J. von Liebig Center at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). Dr. Barrow worked in a variety of roles at UCSD CONNECT from 1990 to 2001. Dr. Barrow is on the board and is Chair of VentureWell. Dr. Barrow received her Ph.D. from the Science Studies Unit and a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Edinburgh.


Joel MacAuslan, Ph.D., is Chief Executive and Chief Science Officer of STAR Analytical Services, which provides mathematical and analytical capability for clients' innovation projects that require expertise in system modeling, signal processing, and nonlinear dynamics - from brain surgery to rocket science. He founded STAR on an NIH grant to apply techniques of chaos theory to the dynamics of the larynx. Joel has participated actively in WEST since early 2000. Joel holds a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Cornell and has spent over twenty-five years in mathematical speech, signal, and image-processing analysis.