Dr. Gary Mathern, MD
Dr. Gary Mathern is Director of the Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery Program and Neurobiology Epilepsy Research Laboratory at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA Medical Center. Apart from being a meticulous epilepsy surgeon, he has a deep interest in research. He has over 197 papers to his credit.
His key interests include cortical dysplasias, the neurobiology of epilepsy, and hemispherectomies. Dr. Mathern is board certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery. He is one of few surgeons certified by the American Board of Clinical Neurophysiology. He received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, interned at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and was a resident in surgery and then neurosurgery at the UCLA School of Medicine.
He is a member of several organizations including the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the American Epilepsy Society, The Brain Research Institute, and the Society for Neuroscience, and is on the medical board of the Hemispherectomy Foundation. His presentation at TedX Conejo gives a compelling example of why parents choose this drastic surgery for their children.
Luke Shepard is the Chief Technology Officer of eSpark Learning, an educational software company based in Chicago, Illinois, that provides differentiated instruction in K-8 classrooms using iPads. Previously, he built software for Facebook and Amazon.
His wife, Nicole Abreu Shepard, is an elementary teacher. They both graduated from the University of Chicago in 2004.
Jeffrey Catania, Ph.D
Dr. Jeffrey Catania is Executive Vice President for Fund Development and Marketing Communications for Hathaway-Sycamores, where he is responsible for resource development including private funding, government grants, and agency marketing and communications, including print and multimedia materials, event production and public relations. Over the past 30 years, Jeff has served in senior development positions at Children’s Institute, Vista del Mar Child and Family Services, Venice Family Clinic and several other leading nonprofit agencies in Los Angeles.
Jeff’s son, Dylan Catania, had a functional hemispherectomy as an infant due to hemimegalencephaly. Dylan’s journey was captured by the Los Angeles Times in a fascinating article titled A Journey Of Risk, Hope. Jeffrey Catania is founding board member of the organization and serves as its secretary.
Brad’s career has focused on finance, new ventures and international economic development. Brad holds a B.A. in Economics from Duke University, an MBA from Northwestern University, and has done post-graduate work at Harvard University. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Bella Baby Photography, which takes newborn photographs in over 400 hospitals nationwide.
Brad is co-founder of the The Brain Recovery Project and serves as its treasurer. He and his wife Monika have two children. Henry, their first child, was born with total hemimegalencephaly and has had a modified functional hemispherotomy, a revision, and then an anatomical hemispherectomy to stop drug-resistant seizures.
Monika Jones, JD
Monika Jones serves as President and Board Chair of The Brain Recovery Project and is a co-founder of the organization. In 2014 she was the principal investigator under the R13 grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health to The Brain Recovery Project for the world’s first scientific meeting on neurorehabilitation on cerebral hemispherectomy.
For most of her professional career she was a litigator representing corporations in lawsuits brought by employees. She has served as assistant general counsel of Luminent, Inc., an optical component manufacturer, general counsel of Brown and Riding Insurance Services, a national wholesale insurance broker, and then as a vice president of Brown and Riding’s casualty division.
She is a graduate University of California at Los Angeles and received her juris doctorate from the University of Southern California.
Monika is an active member of the Council of Parent and Attorney Advocates and is a founding board member of Watkins VITAL Care Program, an innovative new program that offers an educational environment for adults with moderate-to-severe autism who have aged out of the school system. She has served on the board of Portals, one of the oldest and largest mental health organizations in Los Angeles which offers mental health services in Central and South Los Angeles.
Matt Flesch is Executive Director of Horizon Pharma, where he leads communications strategy and tactics for 11 medicines addressing the needs of people living with rare disorders and rheumatic diseases. Prior to joining Horizon Pharm, Matt was a Director at Lundbeck, where he led the public relations team driving strategic communications initiatives for seven central nervous system brands. At Lundbeck, Matt led the “Your Partner in Epilepsy” campaign, and collaborated with the Epilepsy Foundation on Studio E: The Epilepsy Art Therapy Program. Matt Led the growth of the program from a pilot in Chicago to more than 50 U.S. cities.
Matt is a founding member of the Chicago chapter of NephCure Kidney International, a nonprofit organization focused on a rare kidney disease called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis. Matt graduated from Northpark University in 1997 where he was sports editor for school newspaper and earned three varsity letters as member of baseball team. He is an avid fan of the Chicago Cubs, White Sox, and Bulls.