George Vradenburg, Chairman
Founding Board Member
George Vradenburg is Chairman of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, which he co-founded in October 2010. George was named by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to serve on the Advisory Council on Research, Care, and Services established by the National Alzheimer's Project Act and has testified before Congress about the global Alzheimer’s pandemic. He is a member of the World Dementia Council. George and USAgainstAlzheimer's co-convene both the Leaders Engaged on Alzheimer's Disease (LEAD) Coalition and the Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer's Disease. He and his wife, Trish, have long been dedicated members of Washington's civic and philanthropic community. George served as Chairman of The Phillips Collection for 13 years, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and The Economic Club of Washington. He has served in senior executive and legal positions at CBS, FOX and AOL/Time Warner. George and Trish published Tikkun Magazine for 10 years (Editor-in-Chief Rabbi Michael Lerner is Trish's brother).
Trish Vradenburg, In Memoriam (1946-2017)
Founding Board Member
Trish Vradenburg served as Vice-Chair of UsAgainstAlzheimer's, which she co-founded in October 2010. Her unflinching spirit, imagination, quick-witted humor, empathy, generosity and exceptional tenacity to stop the suffering of others – were all captured in her every action. UsAgainstAlzheimer’s was born of her passion to fight back against Alzheimer’s disease in tribute to her mother. Trish began her career in Washington, D.C. as a speechwriter in the U.S. Senate. She wrote for various television shows, including Designing Women, Family Ties, and Kate and Allie. Trish's novel, Liberated Lady, was chosen as Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections and has been translated into three foreign languages. As a journalist, she wrote extensively for the New York Daily News, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Ladies’ Home Journal and Women’s Day. Surviving Grace, Trish’s quasi-autobiographical play, was produced at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Off Broadway at the Union Square Theater. It is now being performed at various community theaters throughout the country, as well as in Portuguese in Brazil. She served on the Council of Theater J, and on the boards of DC Vote and the Vradenburg Foundation. Trish always listed her marital status as "happy."
Jill Lesser, Founding Board Member
President, WomenAgainstAlzheimer's Network
Principal, JAL Consulting LLC
Jill Lesser is President of the WomenAgainstAlzheimer's Network and has been caregiver for the past seven years to her mother, Barbara Lesser, who has Alzheimer's disease. Jill also is a strategic policy consultant advising non-profit and corporate clients on media and communications policy issues, with a particular focus on consumer protection, child-safety, intellectual property rights and free expression.
Until 2002, Jill served as Senior Vice President, Domestic Public Policy for AOL Time Warner, Inc., where she led the company’s domestic public policy, regulatory and industry relations activities. From 2002 to 2005, Ms. Lesser was Senior Policy Advisor for Time Warner, Inc, advising the policy and political teams at Time Warner on issues ranging from technology and intellectual property to taxation and telecommunications, as well as other issues affecting the media industry. She joined America Online in September 1996 and managed domestic policy for AOL until its merger with Time Warner.
Prior to joining AOL, Jill was Deputy Director of Public Policy and Director of the Civic Media Project at People for the American Way, where she directed the organization’s public policy initiatives relating to new technologies and the First Amendment. She was the organization’s chief spokesperson on telecommunications policy issues, appearing regularly on national television and radio programs.
Jill also serves on the Boards of Trustees of The Georgetown Day School and the Center for Democracy & Technology.
Meryl Comer, Senior Advisor
President, Geoffrey Beene Foundation
Meryl Comer, an Emmy-award winning and 30 year veteran reporter, producer, and talk show host, was named President of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer's Initiative in November 2007. Winner of the 2005 Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award and the 2007 Proxmire Award, Ms. Comer has provided testimony before Congress, served two terms on the National Board of the Alzheimer’s Association National Board and on the 2008 Alzheimer’s Study Group, charged with presenting a National Strategic Plan to Congress.
Comer was among the first women TV anchors (1981-1997) to specialize in business news as it relates to public policy with her nationally syndicated debate show “It’s Your Business.” She also co-anchored Nation’s Business Today for six years on ESPN, the Ten O’Clock News for Metromedia, Two’s Company for WMAR/CBS Affiliate and the Good Day Show on WCVB-TV in Boston.
Previously, Ms. Comer served as Senior Vice President for the National Chamber Foundation (1997-1999) and for 11 years prior (1987-1997) as Vice President for Communications Development at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Her Alma Mater is the University of Pennsylvania.
Ms. Comer has been the at-home caregiver for the past 18 years for her husband with early onset Alzheimer's disease. She is currently writing a book, “ Slow Dancing With A Stranger,” with 100% of the proceeds directed to support Alzheimer’s research.
Nancy Zirkin, Advisor
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Nancy Zirkin is a senior advisor to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, consisting of nearly 200 national organizations. During the mid-1970s, Zirkin worked at several public interest organizations, including Common Cause and the Women's Equity Action League, but gained significant experience at the American Association of University Women (AAUW) where she became director of public policy and government relations. She distinguished herself there by rising to chief lobbyist and managing the coordination of the Equal Rights Amendment, Women's Vote Project and Civil Rights Act of 1991. Under Zirkin's leadership, along with Wade Henderson, president of LCCR, and Karen McGill Lawson, president of LCCREF, LCCR has grown to nearly four times its originally ten-person size, creating the infrastructure necessary to support the organization's growing institutional needs.
Prior Board Members
Jeff Eller, Board Member
Founder, The Jeff Eller Group
Jeff Eller is the founder of The Jeff Eller Group based in Austin, Texas, specializing in the areas of litigation, crisis management and crisis preparedness.
Before founding his own firm, Eller was the global crisis practice group co-lead at Hill + Knowlton Strategies, a leading public relations firm owned by WPP. Prior to that, he served as the Chairman of Public Strategies Inc., which he joined in 1994. During his time at Public Strategies, he led the company's campaigns group, became President and CEO in 2006, and Vice Chairman in 2009.
Eller coordinated the Public Strategies team that handled the communications and public affairs counseling for a private equity buyout of a major energy company. Other notable accomplishments have included orchestrating the media, lobbying and communications strategies for several leading corporations in high-profile crisis situations, including the Firestone tire recall. He also has led multiple successful referendum campaigns for U.S. professional sports teams.
Featured in The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes ASAP, Eller has used emerging technologies to successfully open new public-policy communications frontiers througout his career. In fact, according to Forbes ASAP, "Eller may, in fact, be the most linked, multiplexed, plugged-in human being on the planet — or at least in politics."
Before joining Public Strategies, Eller served in the Clinton White House as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Media Affairs. At the White House, Eller oversaw all regional and specialty media relations, as well as radio and television services. Daily, he and his staff staged presidential news conferences, administration interviews and other major media events, while constantly transmitting media briefings and documents via emerging digital networks.
Eller began working for then-Governor Clinton in December 1991, first as Florida State Campaign Director, then as Political Communications Director for the national campaign. He has been involved in numerous congressional and Senate campaigns, and worked for two members of Congress. He is a former award-winning television and radio reporter. Eller also serves on the boards of latakoo, Zignal Labs and The Texas Tribune.
J. Patrick Berry, Treasurer
Founding Board Member
Senior Counsel, Baker Botts L.L.P.
Patrick Berry has practiced energy and environmental law in the Washington, D.C. office of a major international law firm for the past 35 years. Born and raised in rural Mississippi, sixth in a family of 12 children, he was awarded a full scholarship to attend Harvard College, from which he received his B.A. degree magna cum laude in 1971. Mr. Berry was awarded a Michael C. Rockefeller Travel Fellowship upon graduation and traveled in India from 1971-1972. He then attended Harvard Law School and received his J.D. degree in 1975. Before beginning private law practice, Berry worked for two years as Counsel to the U.S. Senate Energy Committee.
On January 1, 2012, he retired two years early from his law firm partnership to devote more time to educating and mobilizing members of the American public, especially African Americans, to support efforts to find a cure for Alzheimer’s by 2020.