Our Team

Board of Directors

Brandi Dean

In 2015, Brandi Dean founded the Dean Center for Tick-Borne Illness at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Her personal experience as a young mother with Lyme disease led her to identify a need for a multidisciplinary center to treat individuals suffering from persistent tick-borne illness. Acting as an advisor and advocate, she joined hands with both physicians and leadership at Spaulding Rehab to help open the first center embedded in a major academic medical institution focused on treating patients with chronic tick-borne illnesses. Brandi continues to serve as an active Advisory Board member for the Dean Center for Tick-Borne Illness. Her story has been featured in the Boston Globe, DoctorOz.com, Good Housekeeping, and WCVB.

Brandi has been a passionate advocate for patients with Lyme disease since 2011 and most recently for children and adolescents with PANS and PANDAS. Her 10-year-old son, Finn, was diagnosed with PANS in 2020, and she credits her physicians for his remarkable recovery. His story is featured on Lymedisease.org and Fox News Boston.

Brandi’s determination to make a positive difference in the lives of patients with Lyme disease is additionally demonstrated in her leadership of Ride Out Lyme, a charity event she designed and that raises financial grants for adults with the tick-borne illness. The event is held annually at SoulCycle in Boston, NYC, and Los Angeles with expansion into other cities.

Prior to her work in the field of Lyme disease, Brandi's professional life included a four-year tour of duty in the United States Coast Guard. Brandi also has a decade of experience in leadership in the hospitality industry and has a degree in Business from Boston University

Nancy Dougherty

In a consulting capacity as Principal of NVantage Consulting LLC, Nancy spearheaded communications and fundraising efforts for the Lyme Disease Research Foundation and helped achieve their goal of establishing a research center at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the spring of 2015. She continues to consult for the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center, leading their education outreach and communications efforts. In addition, Nancy provides strategic communications consulting to innovative healthcare companies through her role as Senior Counsel for MacDougall Advisors, a Boston-based life sciences communications agency.

Previously, Nancy was Vice President-Investments for MFS, a Boston-based investment management firm. Nancy was MFS’ biotechnology and pharmaceutical equity analyst for over a decade. She also served as an officer of the Health Care Analysts of Boston and ran their speaker series for several years.

Nancy has served on the Advisory Board of the Dean Center at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston since 2015. She received the Massachusetts Outstanding Parent Arts Education Advocate Award presented at the State House in Boston in 2011 for her leadership in arts advocacy in the Commonwealth.

Nancy Dougherty holds a B.A. in economics from Williams College where she graduated Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. After raising 3 boys in the Boston area, Nancy and her husband, Don, now live in Portsmouth NH.

Sheilah Gauch

Sheilah Gauch is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW).  She also holds a Masters in Educational Organizational Management and is licensed as a Principal and Special Education Administrator. Sheilah has been working with children with significant mental health needs for over 20 years. She is currently the Principal of Dearborn Academy, a Chapter 766 Private Therapeutic Day School.

Sheilah serves as the Chair of her local Special Education Advisory Council (SEPAC). She has two children of her own who have required special education services. Both of her children were ultimately diagnosed with Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep (PANDAS).  Sheilah is an active advocate for PANS/PANDAS awareness. She co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition for PANS/PANDAS legislation. This group led the grassroots advocacy effort in Massachusetts that supported the passage of S2984, a health care bill that included both the creation of a PANS/PANDAS Advisory Council and a mandate that insurance companies must provide coverage for the disease.  Sheilah received the 2021 Commonwealth Heroine Award for her work with SEPAC and PANS/PANDAS.

Sheilah attended the University of Texas where she was an All-American swimmer as well as Olympic Trial participant. Her experience as a collegiate athlete reinforced for her the value and importance of teamwork, perseverance and resiliency – all values she feels are essential to her work in supporting children, and their families and systems, with complex mental health needs.

Joanne Knight
President

Joanne was born and raised in Chicago in a family of 6 girls.  After receiving her BS in finance from the University of Illinois and her MBA in finance and economics from the University of Chicago, Joanne embarked on an international banking career working in Chicago, London and Milan. Joanne met her husband, Rick, while living overseas and in 1999 they moved back to U.S. living in Chappaqua NY before relocating to the Seacoast in 2012 with their then 13 year old son.  Joanne joined Merrill Lynch as a Financial Advisor in May 2013 as part of the Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based Drew Wealth Management Group.  In between her two financial careers Joanne became a Certified Holistic Health Coach and built a successful practice counseling individuals and families on how to live healthier lives.

Community involvement has always been important to Joanne.  Locally she has served on the boards of New Heights Adventure for Teens, Womenaid, The Seacoast Women’s Giving Circle and Arts in Reach. She brings this experience to the Alex Manfull Fund  board along with her passion for the mission.

She currently resides in Portsmouth, NH. In addition to her son, Joanne has a stepdaughter and two grandkids. Interests include travel, hiking, biking, skiing, being a mom, and making an impact on the world.

Christine Metzner
Secretary

Christine received a BBA from New York University and a JD from Brooklyn Law School.  After working for the New York State Court of Appeals and a trial judge in Manhattan, Christine devoted her practice to appellate law and complex litigation.  Multiple moves with her family, including five years in Ireland, taught her the importance of community based upon common grounds and new discoveries.  When her younger son developed PANS, she put her research and advocacy skills to work to find answers for her son, find a new community, and help other families dealing with this diagnosis.  Christine and her family have settled in Rye, New Hampshire.  She is thrilled to be part of The Alex Manfull Fund to advance research and awareness.

Paul Murphy
Treasurer

Paul Murphy currently serves as the Budget and Policy Director to Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.  After a ten-year career in Behavioral Health including experience in the inpatient setting and in the scientific and service evaluation areas of research, and after earning his Master’s in Public Health in 1999, Paul moved his family to San Jose from San Diego where he has worked either for the County or County-related entities ever since. Paul was raised in Washington D.C. and Jamestown, Rhode Island, is married to Jodi Lindenthal, and has two adult sons.

In addition to his professional experience in the Behavioral Health field, Paul is a family member of individuals with behavioral health issues and is an advocate for consumers and families. 

Bill Stadler

Bill Stadler began his career in mental health services in the Boston area, developing highly individualized program models of residential support for people with mental health as well as cognitive and physical issues. Bill and his wife Christine lived in the Portsmouth area when they were first married. During that time, Bill co-founded a "Theatre in Education" company using theatre and group discussion to address multiple social challenges in students' lives including: Living with a Learning Disability, Child Abuse, Teen Suicide, Peer Pressure, and Substance Abuse. Performances took place in schools and public settings in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Along with family growth, Bill’s career focus changed as he spent several years working for Fidelity Investments, eventually as a Financial Planning Consultant in the Portland, ME and Greenwich, CT offices. Bill is a Certified Financial Planner®, and a Registered Life Planner® through the Kinder Institute of Life Planning. He’s currently developing a niche financial planning practice focused on the transitions of “Senior Life” and the aging process, while working for Post University in Waterbury, CT.

In his roles at Post, Bill guides international students through the maze of the student visa process and teaches personal financial planning. Bill and Chris traveled to China in the early 2000s to adopt their daughter, who is now a Junior at The George Washington University. Bill, Chris, Annika, their dog Coco and cat Libby, currently make their home in Trumbull, CT.

Having known Alex since her birth, I consider it a privilege to honor her life in this way.

Barbara Erban Weinstein

Barbara Erban Weinstein has been a health care executive in the private and public sectors for over thirty years.  Most recently, Ms. Weinstein has served as a consultant to UMass Memorial Health where she previously held senior management positions.

She served as the Commissioner of the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a position appointed by the Governor.  Barbara held executive vice president and senior vice president positions in Southern California for two financial institutions; prior to that she worked as a consultant for Bain & Company in Boston.

Ms. Weinstein earned an MBA from Harvard University and a BA in Economics and a certificate in Russian Studies from Princeton University. She served on the boards and as treasurer of several organizations including the Massachusetts Health Data Consortium and the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston.

Her connection to The Alex Manfull Fund is deeply personal – Alex and Barbara’s son were high school and college classmates, competitive rowers together, and devoted friends.  Alex’s parents and Barbara and her husband spent many happy times manning the parent food tent at their children’s crew races. 

Executive Director and Co-Founder

Susan Manfull
Executive Director, Co-Founder

Susan Newman Manfull earned her PhD in social psychology from the University of New Hampshire. Her work focused on factors that influence one’s perception of control over tasks in a laboratory setting and on occupational stress in factory workers.  She went on to work with air traffic controllers and other Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees in reducing occupational stress and, later, as a consultant in other workplaces. She taught at the university level for 18+ years, primarily abnormal, personality, and counseling courses. She also worked in two psychiatric hospitals and two residential homes for adjudicated youth.

Susan traveled widely while growing up with her family in California; lived and worked in Kingston, Jamaica upon graduating from college; and continued traveling abroad with her husband and daughter.  After a six-month family sojourn in Provence, she left teaching to pursue writing about travel and wine in the South of France, and to spend more time with her only daughter, Alexandra ‘Alex’ Manfull. When Alex was successfully launched, Susan was poised to begin work on a book about winemakers in Provence when, on August 7th, 2018, her life came to a screeching halt with the devastating death of her 26-year-old daughter, due to PANDAS.

From that time on, Susan has worked tirelessly to learn more about post-infectious neuroimmune disorders such as PANDAS and PANS, especially in adolescents and young adults, with the ultimate goal that no life ever again be cut short by PANDAS/PANS.  She and her husband, William, established a fund in Alex’s name which has evolved into The Alex Manfull Fund, which includes The Alex Manfull Memorial Fund and The Alex Manfull Fund for Brain Research at Georgetown University Brain Bank, both of which are 501(c)(3) funds.

Susan and William live in their 18th century home in charming Portsmouth, New Hampshire with their Glen of Imaal Terrier and Alex’s Chihuahua.