Board of Directors

Full of heart, meet these beautiful, brave, strong, and resilient humans who form a circle of love around kids with rare diseases and their families so nobody ever feels alone. We always remember to roar!

Julia Fisher | Founder & Chair | Public Impact | julia@lukathelionfoundation.org

Julia is Maks, Maia, and Luka's mom who was present at every clinic visit, every procedure, and every day of every hospitalization. As a parent of two kids who have passed away from undiagnosed rare conditions, she lives and breathes being a rare disease advocate for others. Julia is honored to be surrounded by the Luka The Lion Foundation's Pride and circle of love which helps her move forward and carry on Luka's spirit. As a former special educator teacher, program and management analyst, and education grant program administrator with a MS in Public Policy and Management, she's uniquely prepared as Founder & Chair of the Luka The Lion Foundation to develop a program to raise awareness for pediatric rare diseases and support patients and their families so nobody ever feels alone. Julia likes to use her #LukaTheLion scarf as a babuska to help her stay out of the rain. 

Zach Fisher | Co-Founder | Durham YMCA

Zach is Maks, Maia, and Luka's dad who serves his Durham, NC community as the Membership Experience Director for a local non-profit organization, the Lakewood YMCA, where it's always a great day. The YMCA serves as Zach's example of The Pride of support with a #LukaTheLion scarf displayed proudly above the front desk. Zach additionally serves as the leader for the city-wide YMCA volunteerism effort and brings over a decade of experience in team building and youth programming expertise. Zach has a BS in Health Care Management. 

Kristen Southworth | Secretary | Duke University

Kristen is an event guru who has passionately and creatively served students at nearly each stage in development. She's a tireless advocate for people who have unique challenges navigating the education, health care, and political systems. Kristen knows how to keep any meeting and event on track, and how to show her support through action. 

Emily Gelblum | Jhana & The Green Door Group 

When Emily isn't wearing her #LukaTheLion scarf while riding merry-go-rounds, she's an amazing advocate for all people in this world. Emily is an accomplished human capital and leadership development coach who makes everyone and everything she interacts with better while helping them get from A to Z. 

Kristen Lakis | UNC Health Care

Kristen is a dedicated social worker/case manager for the adult and pediatric bone marrow transplant (BMT) unit. She believes it is her honor to walk beside patients and their families. Her advocacy, both for patients and families, as well as, at the institutional level is an example to us all. As Luka's social worker during and post BMT, she reassured his family all along the path. We're honored that Kristen continues to walk the journey in her service to all kids with rare diseases and their families. 

Erin Murnighan | WebMD

Erin is an expert in advertising, focusing on the medical publishing and online content field. She's a wiz at getting brilliant ideas to pen and paper, using tangible ways to solve complex problems for good. Erin's also a life-long loyal friend who you can call on at all times, always with a what I can do to help attitude.

Francesca Paris-Albertson | U.S. Department of Education (Retired)

Francesca has a wide range of experience managing and ensuring compliance for multi-million dollar education grant programs. She's a social advocate at heart who remains a steadfast supporter for Maks, Luka, and all kids, including those who need extra support. Francesca is the definition of how support -- even from afar -- from The Pride can make kids with rare diseases and their families never feel alone.

Taylor Rippy | UNC Children's Hospital 

Taylor is a Registered Nurse (RN) with a focus on pediatric immunodeficiency diseases, hematology-oncology, and bone marrow transplant. When she's not letting patients play with her frog light on her stethoscope and listening to families who share their stories, she's studying to be a Nurse Practitioner and participating in the #ScarfChallenge by running half marathons. 

 

Allison Bashor | Durham YMCA 

Allison is an incredibly reliable, committed, and compassionate advocate for rare diseases, not only through her commitment to the Luka The Lion Foundation, but also from her very own patient experience. She has a proved track record of not only running hundreds of miles for good causes, but also fundraising for non-profits, implementing youth programming, developing partnerships, and shipping #LukaTheLion scarves all over the world.