Chief Executive Officer
Molly is Chief Executive Officer in charge of leadership, strategic direction and administrative oversight for the comprehensive programmatic and fundraising efforts of the Foundation and its staff. Molly has over 25 years of leadership-level experience building, implementing and running award-winning domestic and international community programs for organizations in both the private and nonprofit sectors. She has created partnerships with a range of governmental, nonprofit and private sector stakeholders that have included Gap, Inc., Nike, Inc., Visa, Inc., Sony, Williams Sonoma/Pottery Barn, AAA, The Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, Canyon Ranch Institute, the Ford Foundation and The Wilderness Society, to launch initiatives targeting key national issues such as childhood obesity prevention and components of healthcare reform.
Molly earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Montana, and her Master of Arts from the University of Iowa. She has received certification from the Center for Corporate Community Relations, Boston University; the Fund Raising School, Center on Philanthropy, Indiana University; and has served as a board member for numerous community organizations.
John D. Porter, PhD
Senior Science Consultant
Dr. Porter is the editor for MDF monthly Research News. His academic research career spans more than thirty years, including ten years at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he led research grant programs focused on diseases affecting the motoneuron, neuromuscular junction, nerve, and skeletal muscle.
John also served as Chief Executive Officer for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, a Duchenne patient advocacy organization. He has also served a 10-year term as Executive Secretary for the interagency Muscular Dystrophy Coordinating Committee and on advisory boards for a wide variety of companies, publishers, foundations, and academic organizations. He continues to consult for several neuromuscular disease research and development organizations including MDF.
Allison Formal, MBA
Senior Science Consultant
Allison joined MDF in 2019 as a Senior Science Consultant focused on working with non-profits and industry to impact patients' lives with better treatments and advocacy. Formerly, Allison served as VP, Research Business Development at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) where she played a key role building the successful venture philanthropy arm, the Therapy Acceleration Program (TAP). At LLS alone, Allison created more than 60 research and development partnerships investing in biopharmaceutical companies and academic researchers developing therapies and diagnostics aimed at changing the standard of care for blood cancer patients. Allison also served for 7 years on the Translational Medicine and Commercialization Oversight Committee of the University of Michigan Medical School, as member of the Bio-therapeutic Grant Review Committee between Oregon Health & Sciences University and the Oregon Clinical & Translational Research Institute funding proof-of-concept studies, and on Washington State University’s Commercialization Committee to review and fund grants for WSU’s Commercialization Gap Fund (CGF). Allison's career includes roles in biopharmaceutical companies such as; VP of Business Development, MediQuest; VP Business Development, Neuralstem; Director, International Division, Watson Pharmaceuticals (now Allergan); and, Director, International Division and Humanitarian Aid for a joint venture between Schein and Bayer Pharmaceuticals. Allison started her career at Pfizer and earned her MBA in finance and marketing from Marymount University.
Leah Hellerstein joined the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation in 2018 as the Program Director. Leah is tasked with overseeing and expanding the current slate of MDF Care and program initiatives while also creating and developing new strategic projects to provide support and resources to the DM community. She is part of the leadership planning team for the MDF Annual Conference and represents MDF at meetings and conferences around the nation. Prior to joining MDF, Leah worked at the University of California, San Francisco as an Oncology social worker. Leah is an Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and holds a Masters in Social Work (MSW) and Masters in Public Health (MPH) from UC Berkeley.
Kleed joined MDF in 2018 as Program Associate to assist the Program and Development Directors with Patient Support and Education as well as various aspects of program research and content development, communications and fundraising. MDF’s holistic approach to the issue of an uncured disease attracted Kleed to MDF, due to his desire to find meaningful work at an ethical and fast moving organization. Prior to joining MDF, Kleed interned at the Investment Center of the United Nations Federal Credit Union in New York City. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business and Technology Management from New York University.
Elizabeth joined the Foundation in 2015 as its Research Coordinator to oversee the administration of incoming grant applications and awarded research projects. She has 9 years of experience managing grants for patient advocacy groups such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy and the Lymphoma Research Foundation, including venture philanthropy and milestone-driven projects. She has several years of experience planning and organizing informal advisory committee meetings as well as large scientific conferences for hundreds of attendees. Elizabeth received her Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of Arizona and her Bachelor's Degree in Education from Ball State University.
Sara joined MDF in 2019 as a Development Associate. At MDF, she oversees fundraising cultivation and management, she also is charged with the organization and planning of the Annual MDF Gala. Sara graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington with a degree in communication studies and French language. Prior to MDF, Sara worked as an events marketing manager for the Americas Marketing team at Google. She started her career in business development at Yelp and at a small events agency in San Francisco.