Meet the diverse group of world-class experts in their fields that we've gathered to make the Meg Foundation happen.
Jody Thomas, PhD
Dr. Jody Thomas is a licensed clinical psychologist, and specialist in pediatric medical illness and trauma. A well-known expert in pediatric pain, she is also a founder and the former Clinical Director of the Packard Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Center at Stanford, and a former Assistant Professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She now lives in Denver, CO, but she still serves as Adjunct Faculty for Stanford, providing supervision and teaching while maintaining a private practice. As an active consultant for the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, she directs projects for the institution on the integration and innovation of pain management. It's her role as a mom of two that solidified her path in creating the Meg Foundation.
Leora Kuttner, PhD
Leora Kuttner, Ph.D. has followed her passion to understand and relieve pain for 39 years. She is a Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at University of British Columbia at BC Children’s Hospital, Vancouver, Canada, and a documentary filmmaker, creating five award winning films on children’s pain. She pioneered work in pediatric pain-relief, using methods such as hypnosis for children, has written two books, published journal articles and teaches world-wide. Leora won The Woman of Distinction in Vancouver, the Outstanding Alumni for Professional Achievement from Simon Fraser University, The American Pain Society’s Jeffrey Lawson Award on Advocacy for Children’s Pain Relief and in 2014 the ASCH William C. Wester Award for Excellence in Child Hypnosis. Above all, Leora loves children!
Zack Wasserman, JD
Zack Wasserman is an attorney with the Wendel Rosen firm in Oakland, CA. Zack combines his legal mind and passion for activism and service in many ways. In 2012, he was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown as Chair of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. As General Counsel to the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, he played an integral role negotiating the Bay Plan Amendment to address rising sea levels. Zack serves as general counsel to the Alameda County Transportation Commission. He also serves as vice-chair of the San Francisco Regional Center, and general counsel to the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, and several non-profit corporations and foundations.
Carl von Baeyer, PhD
Dr. Carl von Baeyer is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. He has been a leader internationally in multidisciplinary, collaborative efforts to understand, prevent, and relieve pain in children. In 2017 he won the American Pain Society’s Jeffrey Lawson Award for Advocacy in Children's Pain Relief. His research on assessment of children’s pain is widely cited. For fun, he bakes bread and goes on volunteer gigs singing with preschoolers.
Ines Vaniman LMFT
Ines is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working in private practice in Lafayette CA with individuals suffering with anxiety, trauma and depression. Ines is passionate about connecting with the people she works with and taking steps to help advance their journey towards recovery. Originally from Argentina, Ines is continually seeking training in new modalities to bring her patients wellbeing forward.
After her daughter’s Leukemia diagnosis, Ines and her family personally benefited from the pain management tools that the Meg Foundation endorse and has seen first hand the positive impact that they have. With this new found passion in pain management, Ines wants to make sure that these important tools are widely and readily available to the public, particularly parents of young children.
In her spare time, Ines can be found traveling with her family and enjoying nature.
As a co-founder of Sliced Bread Design, Julie Stanford helps companies use design thinking to create and execute the vision for their services. Over the last 18 years, she has been particularly interested in techniques for validating ideas and gathering user feedback in more effective ways. Her clients include small Silicon Valley startups and large organizations such as Google, Gap, Adobe, and the US government. Julie is also a recognized educator at Stanford, where she is on the faculty of the d.School and the Computer Science department as a Science & Engineering Education Fellow. Her courses include Rapid Experimentation, Cross Cultural Design for China, and Interaction Design Studio.
Dr. Jeffrey Fisher
A Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Connecticut and the founding Director of its Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP). He is groundbreaking leader in the field of health behavior change.Dr. Fisher has been involved with over $30.6 million in grants as Principal Investigator, Co-Director, or Co-Investigator. He has lectured and consulted internationally in the areas of HIV preventive behavior and adherence to medications. In addition, he has served on the National Institute of Mental Health Psychobiological, Biological, and Neuroscience Subcommittee, the Mental Health Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Research Review Committee, and the editorial boards of several journals.
Born and raised in New York City, Neil eventually made his way to California, where he graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a master’s degree in International Policy Studies. A lover of sport and a devoted alumnus, Neil is a season ticket holder for the San Jose Sharks and Stanford Football. He also supports his university through volunteer service: Neil served as a Board Member of Stanford’s New York City alumni group from 2003-2005; sat on the Stanford Alumni Association’s Board of Directors from 2004 – 2009; and earned an “Outstanding Achievement Award” for Volunteer Service from Stanford Associates in 2004.
Neil lives in San Ramon, CA with his son Owen. When not seeing to his wealth management practice at Morgan Stanley, he can often be found attending concerts, travelling, on the golf course, or playing and watching sports with Owen, in whom he is instilling the same competitive spirit that Neil brings to every facet of his life.
Our Advisory Board
For 20 years, Michelle Baum has developed and successfully executed communications programs for privately-held and publicly-traded companies spanning technology and consumer sectors. She has launched new companies, participated in acquisition and IPO activities, and generated renewed interest for fading businesses. She is the founder and CEO of Moxie & Mettle Communications and Marketing Firm, and also an Assistant Professor in the Journalism and Technical Communication Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver, where she leads the public relations degree program.
Christine Chambers, PhD
Dr. Christine Chambers is an international leader in the study of children’s pain. She holds the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Children's Pain and is a Killam Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychology & Neuroscience at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. She and her research team are based in the Centre for Pediatric Pain Research at the IWK Health Centre. Her award-winning work spans research, training, knowledge translation, and advocacy.
Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD
Dr. Stefan Friedrichsdorf is the Medical Director of the Department of Pain Medicine, Palliative Care & Integrative Medicine at Children’s Hospitals of Minnesota and an Assoc. Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. He has presented more than 600 lectures about pediatric pain medicine around the world, and has done extensive research and publications in the field, including contributions to more than 20 books. He is associate editor of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, was the principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute on the creation, implementation and evaluation of a Pediatric Palliative Care Curriculum.
Bryan Vaniman has been involved in the Silicon Valley start-up ecosystem for over 20 years. Passionate about disruptive technologies, innovation and entrepreneurship, he currently heads Corporate Development for Adobe where he leads their M&A and Investment initiatives. Prior to Adobe, Bryan was head of Corporate Development and Strategy at Zynga, where helped close over a dozen deals, ranging from small tech/talent tuck-ins to large-scale strategic acquisitions. As a retired college wrestler, Bryan continues to maintain a keen interest in most sports and when he’s not at work, he’s likely banking hours on the most important goal of all... trying to be an awesome dad and husband.
Jessica Bernacki, PhD
Dr. Jessica Bernacki is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Medicine at the UCLA Medicine-Pediatrics Comprehensive Care Center and on the Pediatric Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison Service at the UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. Her clinical, teaching, and research interests focus on the delivery of evidence-based behavioral health services in the primary care setting and coping with pediatric medical illness. It is from her experiences working in pediatric inpatient and outpatient care at UCLA and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, as well as having her own two children, that have motivated her to help improve the experience of youth receiving medical interventions.
Throughout the last months of her life, Meg was a trusted voice of inspiration and wisdom as the idea of a nonprofit for children and pain evolved over dinner conversations and long talks as she recovered from her cancer treatments. A long time friend and beloved colleague, she was always an invaluable resource. Meg was one of the first Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, with degrees from UCSF and a Master's in Public Health from UC Berkeley. She was a featured columnist for Parents' Press, and author of four books about parenting published in 8 languages. An Associate Clinical Professor of Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, she also developed a private practice helping families with young children solve problems by empowering kids and parents alike. She used her expertise in hypnosis to help children use their own talents to deal with pain and anxiety. There are countless families who have benefited from Meg's counsel, her wit, and her wisdom.