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Board of Directors

Founder / Executive Director

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Boston, MA

Languages spoken: Bangla and Hindi

Prior to her illustrious career in healthcare and hospital administration in Boston, Sumaira worked as an actor/model in Hindi-/Bengali-language media, primarily in southeast Asia. Sumaira is a classically-trained Kathak dancer and has performed in prestigious venues including Madison Square Garden, the Kodak Theatre, Santiniketan, and the Rudolf Steiner Theatre. 

In the summer of 2014, Sumaira was diagnosed with sero-negative neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD)/chronic relapsing inflammatory optic neuritis (CRION) after experiencing sudden and severe vision loss and weakness/numbness. Less than two months after her diagnosis, she founded The Sumaira Foundation (TSF) dedicated to generating global awareness of NMOSD and MOG-AD, supporting research to find a cure, patient advocacy, and creating communities of support for NMOSD and MOG-AD. 

In 2015, Sumaira was crowned the 1st Miss Bangladesh-USA advocating for equal opportunity education for Bangladeshi children in efforts to increase tolerance and strengthen the country’s international presence, economy, and infrastructure. 

In September 2021, Sumaira was honored with WEGO Health’s “Best Kept Secret” Award recognizing her advocacy work in rare disease. 

In October 2021, Sumaira was featured in a Wall Street Journal article about Medicare’s drug-pricing debate. In February 2022, she will be prominently featured in an Emmy Award winning show on a major television network.  

Executive Director, TSF Canada

Toronto, Ontario

Languages spoken: French

Jennifer has over 16 years experience in the HR and recruitment industry with a heavy focus on marketing services. An entrepreneur who runs her own consulting firm, and is also the VP, Revenue Operations for a partner organization, Jennifer is no stranger to building from the ground up. She works with top tier clients in various industries across North America, and is excited to bring her network forward for all TSF’s endeavors. Throughout her career she has volunteered with various charities, not-for-profits, and hospital foundations. Jennifer has always been “passionate about people”, which is the energy she brings forward in her leadership style. In addition to operating her consulting firm, Jennifer is also a part-time Professor with George Brown College, teaching the next generation of professionals how to coach for performance management. Jennifer believes staying busy helps distract her from her NMOSD diagnosis – she’s been a patient for 12 years. She was also the first Canadian NMO patient to have a successful pregnancy; Her daughter is now 9 years old. Jennifer resides in Toronto, Ontario with her husband, Mike, their daughter, Sophie, and their pandemic pug puppy, Magnus, who keeps everyone entertained.

As of August 2021, Jennifer is TSF’s first country manager, leading the TSF mission Canada. She initially joined the organization in fall 2020 as the TSF Ambassador of Ontario.

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New York, NY

Melissa is passionate about the role communities play in catalyzing equitable opportunity. As chief of staff, she is a thought partner enhancing Mission Driven Finance teams and clients with the context and connectivity they need to thrive. 

A LinkedIn alum and former partner of Left Tackle Capital, she has spent the last ten years building bridges between finance and social impact in NYC. She was selected by Cause Artist as one of 37 social entrepreneurs to watch in 2020. 

Melissa serves on the board of directors for The Sumaira Foundation, is an advisor for Asmbl, a founding member of the Fast Company Executive Board, and a champion for Thank You Small Business. She is a member of purposeful communities like the Bleeker Collective and The Fourth Floor. She was formerly a venture partner for Republic and has also played the role of mentor for early-stage founders at organizations like Launch X and Village Capital. 

She is a Prof G Certified Brand Strategist and graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a BA in communication studies.

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Boston, MA

Languages spoken: Portuguese

Michael has spent most of his career focused on the health care sector. He worked over 15 years at McKinsey & Company, where as a senior partner based in Tokyo he led their health care practice across the Asia-Pacific region. He has also worked extensively in the US and European markets. Michael was also a Senior Vice President for 4 years at Johnson & Johnson with responsibilities for global strategy, insights, analytics and digital. He has worked across multiple industries including pharma/biotech, medical devices/diagnostics, providers, key health care government agencies, industry associations, and global foundations. 

He has lived and worked in Tokyo, London, Paris, Zurich and Brazil for a total of over 20 years and is a US/UK dual citizen. Michael holds an undergraduate degree in biochemistry and molecular biology with highest honors from Harvard University, and he received his MBA from Stanford University with a focus on technology strategy. He is currently based in Boston.

Toronto, Ontario

Languages spoken: French

With a true passion for patients, and dedication to connecting patients/caregivers in need of resources and support, Stephanie Hamzo has built her career in rare and ultra-rare disease communities. Throughout many roles she held at AmerisourceBergen Canada, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Alexion and now at Janssen, patient centricity and incorporating the patient voice & insights throughout the drug development and commercialization processes have been the center of her responsibilities. Stephanie’s early career in pharmacy assistance and direct patient care as a nurse led her to bring her passion for the patient forward to the pharmaceutical sector.

She brings a multi-disciplined experience to our strategic stakeholder planning, as well as gained experience in newborn screening, global and international public policy/health technology assessment.

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Boston, MA

As a founding member of The Sumaira Foundation’s Board of Directors, 2022 annual Gala co-chair and host committee leader, Lauren focuses on executing the vision and securing attendees and donors for our annual gala, one of our largest and consecutively sold-out fundraising events. She also provides integral consult on our communications efforts and ongoing growth. Outside of the Foundation, Lauren is Vice President at a leading, integrated communications firm in Boston, where she primarily oversees PR strategy for real estate and professional services companies. Her expertise in communications and passion for connecting people is vital to our organization spreading awareness for NMO. Lauren graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a concentration in PR. She is a member of the Urban Land Institute’s Women’s Leadership Initiative, a group that’s purpose is to elevate women in real estate.

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