Epilepsy Foundation Appoints Industry Veteran Laura Thrall as New President & Chief Executive Officer

Epilepsy Foundation today announced the appointment of Laura Thrall as the Epilepsy Foundation\’s new president and chief executive officer (CEO), effective April 13, 2020. Thrall brings more than 30 years of leadership experience in the nonprofit sector, including serving as CEO for DC-based CureSearch for Children\’s Cancer, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, and YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago.
\”With the nonprofit sector bracing for the economic and programmatic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is an especially challenging time to ensure that the people served by the Epilepsy Foundation continue to receive the information and support they have come to count on,\” said Thrall. \”I\’m humbled by the challenge, honored and excited to join with the skilled staff and volunteers at the Foundation and its vast network, as we work together to improve the quality of life for all people impacted by epilepsy.\”
In each of her leadership roles, Thrall led transformations of established legacy operations to more efficiently deliver measurable impact for their constituencies. In her most recent role at CureSearch, she transformed the organization from the largest federal grantee in childhood cancer to a privately funded entity focused on driving promising therapeutics into the clinic. While at CureSearch, Thrall developed the Catapult model, an evergreen fund supporting clinic-ready projects led by academic investigators and small biopharma companies. She created and seated a community of 40 expert stakeholders including scientific, industry, and venture capital councils, and established the annual CureSearch Catapult Summit, an outcomes-based forum to advance childhood cancer therapeutics.
\”Laura is the right person to lead the Epilepsy Foundation into the future, as we aim to achieve our goals on behalf of the 3.4 million people impacted by epilepsy in the U.S.,\” said Bradley P. Boyer, Esq., chair of the Epilepsy Foundation\’s Board of Directors. \”Laura\’s extensive nonprofit background and CEO experience will help the Epilepsy Foundation strengthen partnerships, develop further strategic alliances, improve efficiencies and increase fundraising. In addition, Laura\’s strong leadership will allow us to advance and improve the programs and services provided to our community and our research efforts. We are excited about the new ideas she will bring to the Foundation as we continue to lead the fight to END EPILEPSY®.\”
In addition to her staff leadership positions, Thrall has served in a variety of civic and board leadership roles. She served as an appointed member on two Illinois Governor\’s Commissions, chaired the Chicago Alliance for Collaborative Effort, and was founding member of Illinois Partners for Human Services. Dedicated to the healthcare community, she served on the Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division, the Cerebrovascular Institute of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois. She currently serves as vice chair of the Board at Melwood, HTC, a large Mid-Atlantic agency dedicated to ensuring that adults with differing abilities are included in the workplace.
\”Laura is an accomplished leader with a passion for healthcare and a proven track record of transforming organizations and driving therapies to market,\” said Robert Smith, interim CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. \”She joins at a time when we are getting ready to move our 2025 strategic plan forward anchored on pillars that will help us create positive impact for people with epilepsy over the next five years. Laura truly exemplifies the values of the Epilepsy Foundation and we are excited that she will be leveraging her decades of experience to help advance our mission.\”
Thrall holds a master\’s degree in public service management from DePaul University in Chicago. She and her partner, Kevin Booth, live in Annapolis, Md. and have five adult children between them.
About Epilepsy
According to the World Health Organization, epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide with no age, racial, social class, national or geographic boundaries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.4 million people in the United States are affected by epilepsy. It is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce seizures which are sudden abnormal bursts of electrical energy that disrupt brain functions.
About the Epilepsy Foundation
With a network of nearly 50 partners throughout the United States, the Foundation connects people to treatment, support and resources; leads advocacy efforts; funds innovative research and the training of specialists; and educates the public about epilepsy and seizure first aid. For more than five decades, the Epilepsy Foundation has shone a light on epilepsy to promote awareness and understanding, and to advocate for laws that matter to people with epilepsy, while also funding $65 million for epilepsy research and supporting 3,076 epilepsy investigators and specialists in their early careers. Over the past 17 years, in partnership with the CDC, the Epilepsy Foundation has helped to improve access to care for people with epilepsy, expanded its digital reach and online resources in homes across the country, and trained more than 500,000 school and community personnel in how to recognize seizures and administer Seizure First Aid. The Foundation has also assisted more than 108,000 people through its 24/7 Helpline in the past five years, and continues to focus on innovation, new therapies, community services, advocacy and education as key priorities.