Executive Leadership

Danielle Vizcaino President and CEO

Danielle's Story ›

Danielle Vizcaino

As President and CEO, Danielle Vizcaino is a methodical, innovative, and hands-on leader with more than 15 years of healthcare experience and seven years of executive leadership experience in the charitable patient assistance space.

Danielle leads a diverse organization of more than 80 employees in Orlando, Florida, and Washington, DC, which has consistently been named by Forbes as a top 100 charity and The NonProfit Times as one of the 50 best nonprofits to work for. She oversees TAF’s nearly 90 disease programs, which since 2009 have helped nearly 180,000 people access the critical treatment they need to manage a life-threatening, chronic, or rare disease.

Since joining The Assistance Fund’s (TAF’s) Executive Leadership Team in 2016, Danielle has served as Chief Operating Officer, Senior Vice President of Operations, Philanthropy, and Communications, Vice President of Operations, and the executive liaison to TAF’s Medical Advisory Board, where she played a critical role in recruiting new members. During Danielle’s first seven years at TAF, the organization launched 55 new disease programs, achieved a 400% increase in corporate donations, obtained 4,847 new individual donors, and secured $1.5M in individual donor contributions. In addition, Danielle championed several internal and external initiatives that supported TAF’s high standards of operational excellence and customer service, while embracing innovation and transforming the patient experience.

Prior to joining TAF, Danielle served as Director of Operations at One Call Care Management and as a Medical Laboratory Scientist at the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories in Jacksonville, Fla. She is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). She is also a board member of Harbor House of Central Florida. Danielle earned an MBA and MPH from the University of North Florida and a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology and Microbiology from the University of Central Florida.

Steve Alsene Chief Financial Officer

Steve's Story ›

Steve Alsene

Steve is a certified public accountant with over 20 years of financial, operational, and audit leadership experience. As Chief Financial Officer, Steve is responsible for providing financial control and oversight to ensure TAF is an excellent steward of donors’ philanthropic support.

Steve began his career in 1992 at Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers), one of the world’s largest professional services firms, as part of its audit and consulting practice. During his seven years with Price Waterhouse, Steve worked extensively in the healthcare industry with nonprofit healthcare systems. From 1999 to 2003, Steve led the internal audit team at Harcourt, an educational publishing company later acquired by Reed Elsevier. In 2003, Steve joined the management team at Rotech Healthcare, the third largest provider of durable medical equipment in the U.S. At Rotech, Steve served in numerous leadership roles including Vice President of Internal Audit, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Executive Officer. In 2014, Steve left Rotech to start Simply Mobility, a provider of mobility and accessibility equipment. Steve sold Simply Mobility in 2016 and joined the leadership team at TAF. Steve has a CPA and a Master’s in Accounting from Florida State University.

Gerald Lauria Chief Development Officer

Gerald's Story ›

Gerald Lauria

As Chief Development Officer, Gerald is responsible for increasing long-term corporate funding and large donations to help cover out-of-pocket costs of treatment for underinsured individuals living with life-threatening, chronic, and rare diseases.

Gerald joined TAF in 2013 with 16 years of pharmaceutical sales experience and 10 years of experience in nonprofit business development. A native of New Jersey, Gerald graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts. He began his pharmaceutical career with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 1997. After GSK, Gerald spent over 10 years at Sepracor, which later became Sunovion Pharmaceuticals. During his tenure at Sunovion, Gerald held several leadership positions in the sales and corporate departments, including Specialty Representative, Hospital Representative, Managed Care Account Manager, District Business Manager, and Leadership Development Manager.

John D'Angelo Senior Vice President of Business Intelligence

John's Story ›

John D'Angelo

As Senior Vice President of Business Intelligence , John focuses on enhancing TAF’s information technology resources for better security, data visibility, and process improvements. John has over 13 years of experience in the healthcare industry, with a focus on reporting, business analytics, and information technology. In his previous position at Rotech Healthcare, John developed and oversaw reporting projects that provided increased visibility into operations, allowed for better monitoring of assets, and identified areas for process improvement.

Since joining TAF in 2017, John has improved TAF’s data reporting capability and developed enrollment capacity models that increased the number of patients TAF is able to serve. John plays an integral role in championing system enhancements that allow TAF to provide the highest quality service to patients. John has a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Rollins College, a Master of Arts in Social Science Education, and a Graduate Certificate in Cognitive Science from the University of Central Florida, and a Global Information Assurance Certification in Information Security Fundamentals.

Missy Jenkins Vice President of External Affairs

Missy's Story ›

Missy Jenkins

Missy Jenkins is a health policy expert and veteran of Capitol Hill, the private sector, and patient advocacy. In her current role, Missy leads TAF’s efforts in Washington, DC, advocating for public policies that ensure access to clinical care, diagnostic testing, therapy, and treatment at a cost within reach. Missy previously served as the top health advisor to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and acted in lead lobbying positions at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, PhRMA, and PCMA. She helped implement the Medicare Modernization Act and played leadership roles in the passage of legislation to promote biosimilar medication therapies and a uniform national standard for electronic prescribing. Missy has worked extensively on health disparity issues, large-scale health payer issues, prescription drugs, chronic disease management, and issues impacting access to innovation. Missy holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Clemson University.

Jacqueline Pernier Senior Director of Compliance

Jacqueline's Story ›

Jacqueline Pernier

Jacqueline Pernier is a knowledgeable and experienced healthcare compliance professional with a track record of ensuring organizations adhere to all applicable laws, regulations, and industry standards. As the Senior Director of Compliance, Jacqueline is responsible for the day-to-day management and administration of TAF’s Business Ethics and Compliance Program. She oversees compliance within the organization and ensures adherence to applicable laws, regulatory requirements, and policies and procedures.

Jacqueline has over 20 years’ experience as a compliance professional and a deep understanding of the complex regulatory landscape and the challenges faced by organizations in the healthcare industry. She has successfully developed and implemented comprehensive compliance programs, policies, and procedures tailored to specific organizational needs. Jacqueline’s expertise extends across various domains of healthcare compliance, including HIPAA, Medicare/Medicaid, Stark Law, Anti-Kickback Statute, and fraud, waste, and abuse. She has a proven ability to conduct thorough compliance audits, risk assessments, and internal investigations to identify potential vulnerabilities and develop effective mitigation strategies.

Prior to joining TAF, Jacqueline held positions at Knipper Health, Aetna Specialty Pharmacy, Aon Hewitt, Physicians United Plan, and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Jacqueline has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern New Hampshire University and is certified by the Compliance Certification Board in healthcare compliance.

Board of Directors

Jeff Milford Board Chairman

Jeff's Story ›

Jeff Milford

Jeff currently serves as the Board Chairman and is the Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer for Courtney Leasing, Inc., a supplier of vehicles to independent and discount daily rental operators. In his role, Milford is responsible for the company’s financial reporting, financial analysis, and risk management. He is also responsible for the company’s dealer financing and vendor relationships. Prior to his position at Courtney Leasing, Jeff was the Senior Tax Director for Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., where he was responsible for the overall tax compliance and planning for the timeshare division. Prior to Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., Milford was a Senior Tax Manager for KPMG LLP, one of the largest professional services networks in the world. Milford holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting from the University of Florida and a Master’s in Taxation from Florida Atlantic University.

Justin Aronson, J.D. Vice Chairman

Justin's Story ›

Justin Aronson, J.D.

Justin is a seasoned trial attorney and Partner resident with Coon & Cole, LLC. He specializes in complex commercial litigation, including construction litigation, medical device/pharmaceutical products liability defense, municipal litigation, and land use and zoning matters. Justin also maintains a small, boutique family law practice where he concentrates on divorce and child custody matters. He began his career as a Summer Associate with Coon & Cole before joining the firm full time as an Associate in 2008. He then worked for six years as an Associate with the global law firm Greenberg Traurig in Orlando, Florida, where he handled complex commercial litigation matters. Upon returning to Maryland in 2017, Justin joined Funk & Bolton, P.A., working predominantly with the firm’s family law practice. In 2019, he returned to Coon & Cole as Partner. Justin has a law degree from the Syracuse University College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Emory University.

Ellen Feinstein

Ellen's Story ›

Ellen Feinstein

For more than 30 years, Ellen has been dedicated to improving healthcare delivery for both patients and providers through her experiences at both community-based health systems and academic medical centers. In her most recent role as Chief Administrative Officer, Bone and Joint Service Line at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Ellen led one of the nation’s top ranked orthopedics programs, with a focus on business development, service excellence, clinical quality, research and training the next generation of orthopedic and joint disease experts. Previously, she was the Vice President for Cancer Services at the University of Chicago Medical Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. At the University of Chicago Medical Center, Ellen led the creation of new programs in CAR T-cell (cellular) therapy, neuroendocrine tumors, nurse navigation, cancer survivorship and supportive oncology, value-based contracting, and cancer urgent care. She also created and led the organization’s first Cancer Patient and Family Advisory Committee. Prior to her role at the University of Chicago, Ellen was the Senior Director for Pediatric Cancer, Organ Transplant, and Orthopedics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the nation’s first children’s hospital. She also served as Assistant Vice President for the Oncology Program of Excellence at Virtua Health, a community health system in Southern New Jersey. She has a Master of Science in Health Administration from Saint Joseph’s University and a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from The Pennsylvania State University. In addition to serving on TAF's Board of Directors, Ellen is a member of the board for ACHE’s local chapter, Chicago Health Executive Forum. She previously served on the boards of the American Cancer Society, Settlement Music School, and United Way.

Lawrence Hatch

Lawrence's Story ›

Lawrence Hatch

Lawrence is the EVP, Central Florida Market President for IberiaBank Private Client Group. He assists individuals, business owners, and corporate executives in defining their financial goals and risk measures, along with analyzing current and future financial objectives. Lawrence utilizes and introduces a comprehensive suite of private wealth management solutions that meet the unique needs and objectives of his clients. Prior to his employment with IberiaBank Private Client Group, Lawrence was Vice President Wealth Advisor for SunTrust Private Wealth Management. Lawrence also served as Portfolio Manager for Evergreen Investments, a fully owned subsidiary of Wachovia Bank, a Wells Fargo Company.

Lawrence holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida, where he was cornerback for the Gator football team. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in 1993 and played until 1998. Lawrence’s current community affiliations include: member of the Florida Gators Alumni Association, associate member of Florida Citrus Sports, and youth football coach and mentor. Lawrence lives in Winter Garden, Florida, with his wife and children.

Linda Howard

Linda's Story ›

Linda Howard

Linda has over 35 years of law; compliance; and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) experience. She is a distinguished expert who has honed her skills in some of the most challenging environments as an attorney, consultant, and entrepreneur, and is the entrepreneurial force behind WithLindaHoward and Alturnative, specialized consultancies driving DEI, ethics, and compliance transformations within organizations. Linda’s work has established her as an influential voice and leader in fostering inclusive and ethical organizational cultures.

Prior to joining The Assistance Fund’s Board of Directors, Linda served as TAF’s Interim Chief Compliance Officer. She has also held positions as Interim Chief Compliance Officer for UI Health (University of Illinois Hospital System) and Interim CEO and President of the National Wellness Institute (NWI) Board of Directors. Linda has provided DEI advisory services to several organizations, including Yale University's Belonging at Yale initiative. Linda's influence in DEI extends to her position on the DEI Advisory Board of HR.com, where she supports 1.75 million human resources professionals. Linda has also spoken at countless conferences, domestically and abroad, and was a founding member of the NWI's Multicultural Competency Committee.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, Linda has wielded her expertise as an Associate Vice President of Business Ethics at Amerigroup Corporation, provided legal counsel at top New York City law firms, and held the role of Senior In-House Counsel at Ernst and Young.

Julie Judge

Julie is the Vice President of Human Resources for Foundation Partners Group. She has led human resources teams in the retail, financial services, hospital, senior living, and home health industries. Most notable, she served Citi Group as a Senior HR leader, the Cleveland Clinic as their VP of Human Resources and Erickson Living as their SVP of Human Resources. In 2015 Julie Judge was named the first Chief Experience Officer (CXO) in the home health industry, while she served as CXO for Maxim Healthcare. Julie graduated from Hood College with a degree in Management and Human Resources.

Brett Kopelan

Brett's Story ›

Brett Kopelan

Brett Kopelan was initiated into the world of rare diseases 16 years ago when his daughter was born with a severe form of recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB). Shortly after her birth, Brett was elected to the board of directors of the Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association of America (debra of America), the only national nonprofit providing all-inclusive support to the epidermolysis bullosa (EB) community. Upon returning home to New York City in December 2010, after his daughter was the eighth child in the world to undergo a stem cell transplant in hopes of treating her RDEB at the University of Minnesota, he became the Executive Director of debra of America. Prior to his rare disease work, Brett was an accomplished entrepreneur, starting three companies that raised more than $30 million in venture financing, where he led business development and marketing. He has a graduate degree from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree from New York University.

Brett currently serves as: Chairman of the board of directors of the Foundation for Cell & Gene Medicine, member of the board of directors of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, and as a member of the board of directors of the Wound Care Collaborative Community. Brett formerly served as President of the board of directors of DEBRA International (a consortium of 55 nongovernmental organizations dedicated to curing EB), Vice President and Secretary of a 52-year-old financial services firm’s board of directors, as well as both the Chairman of the board of directors, and the treasurer of the National Organization for Rare Disorders and as president of the board of directors of the Coalition of Skin Diseases.

Kristen D.W. Morris

Kristen's Story ›

Kristen D.W. Morris

Kristen Morris serves as the Senior Vice President, Chief Government Relations Officer for Atrium Health, one of the nation's most comprehensive and highly integrated healthcare systems, providing a full spectrum of healthcare and wellness programs throughout the Southeast. Kristen was most recently the Chief Government and Community Relations Officer for the Cleveland Clinic. In this position, she directed corporate social responsibility and advocacy strategies. Prior to joining the Cleveland Clinic, Kristen was the Divisional Vice President of Federal Government Relations for Abbott Laboratories, a Fortune 100 company. In that role, she led the company’s Washington, DC, office. She also led Government Relations and Public Policy for Boehringer Ingelheim, and the lobbying team for the American Hospital Association. She began her career on Capitol Hill where she managed a portfolio of domestic policy for members of Congress. Kristen has a history of community leadership, having served on multiple nonprofit boards. Currently, she is a member of the Purdue University Lamb School of Communication Board of Advisors, the Cleveland Leadership Center Board, she chairs The Assistance Fund Advocacy Committee, and is an active member of the selective In Counsel With Women.

Medical Advisory Board

Robert Bermel, M.D.

Dr. Bermel's Story ›

Robert Bermel, M.D.

Dr. Bermel is a Neurologist in the Neurological Institute’s Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis at Cleveland Clinic. He received a medical degree with thesis honors from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Dr. Bermel is leading the implementation and application of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) for the clinical program at the Mellen Center. He is currently principal investigator on a research grant funded by the National MS Society, and a co-investigator on multiple clinical trials.

He regularly serves as a volunteer speaker to patient groups on behalf of the National MS Society, and occasionally as a consultant to industry in the field of MS therapeutics.

Thomas Fountaine, M.D.

Dr. Fountaine's Story ›

Thomas Fountaine, M.D.

Dr. Fountaine is a Hematologist/Oncologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center Wilmot Cancer Institute. He received his medical degree from the Pennsylvania State University. He completed residency training with a Distinction in Medical Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He also served as Chief Resident of Pediatrics. Dr. Fountaine completed his Fellowship training in hematology/oncology at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the National Institutes of Health/National cancer Institute where he also served as Chief Fellow of hematology/oncology.

Clinically, Dr. Fountaine is an Assistant Professor in Medical Oncology within the Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. He also serves as co-clinical direct of Stem Cell Processing. His practice focuses on patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and other cellular immunotherapies.

Dr. Fountaine main areas of research is in the translational study of resistant and refractory hematologic diseases and bone marrow failure syndromes. He has a particular interest in the field of leukemia, genomics, and immunotherapy including Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell immunotherapy. The primary goal of Dr. Fountaine’s research is to utilize innovative technology and genomic tools to accelerate the discovery of novel therapeutic strategies in an effort to improve the outcome of patients suffering from these difficult to treat malignancies. Dr. Fountaine has authored or co-authored a number of papers and/or book chapters. He serves as a peer reviewer for a number of medical journals. He also holds professional memberships with the American Society of Hematology, The American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation and The American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Brian Rini, M.D., FASCO

Dr. Rini's Story ›

Brian Rini, M.D., FASCO

Dr. Rini is a Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and the Chief of Clinical Trials for the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center (VICC). He received his medical degree from the Ohio State University College of Medicine. After completing a residency program in internal medicine at University of Chicago Hospitals in Illinois, Dr. Rini was awarded a fellowship in hematology and oncology at the University of Chicago. He was an Assistant Professor at the University of California San Francisco before moving to Cleveland Clinic in 2005. Dr. Rini led the Genitourinary Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic and was integrally involved in drug development in renal cell carcinoma, leading several pivotal trials that led to FDA approval. Dr. Rini moved to Vanderbilt in 2020 to continue his renal cell carcinoma research and oversee clinical trials at the VICC.

Dr. Rini’s primary research has been in renal cell carcinoma, with special focus on antiangiogenic therapy and immunotherapy. His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals that include the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Lancet, and the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Certified in medical oncology by the American Board of Internal Medicine, Dr. Rini is active in numerous professional organizations including the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, the Kidney Cancer Association, and is past Chair of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee.