PEN Board Archives

Darla Brown

Board Chair

After a cancer diagnosis in 2010, Darla Brown shifted her career focus from entertainment and media startups to digital health entrepreneurship. In 2014, Darla co-founded, a SaaS platform that allowed patients to manage all their health history across providers.’s outreach programs included the Empowered Patient Chat series, which was acquired by Patient Empowerment Network,, an online health academy focused on health literacy and patient empowerment, and Conseils Patients, which is a French version of created in partnership with the Patient Empowerment Foundation in Lausanne, Switzerland.  As co-founder of the Healthcare Rights Coalition in November 2016, she is an advocate for affordable, equitable access to healthcare. Darla has over two decades experience in product and engineering leadership roles at web startups and software development companies such as Glossi,,, The Jim Henson Company, The Discovery Channel, E*TRADE, ABC/Disney, and the Digital Entertainment Network. Today she is a product and technology consultant for digital healthcare and wellness companies.

Sajjad Iqbal

Board Secretary

Sajjad is a physician, pediatrician and cancer survivor.

Almost 17 years ago, Sajjad diagnosed himself with parotid cancer. After extensive surgery to remove the cancerous cells from his parotid gland, Sajjad learned that he had an extremely rare and most malignant type of parotid cancer called Salivary Duct Carcinoma.  He was given a 30% chance of surviving for 2 years.

Because of Sajjad’s medical training and his unwavering sense of hope & determination, he was no ordinary patient.  He decided to take charge of his own treatments, to learn everything he could about his diagnosis and visit multiple experts across the country. Sajjad pushed for more aggressive chemo-radiation in addition to the radiation he was already receiving in hopes of reducing his chances of recurrence. When the cancer returned four years later, he knew the correct drug to keep the cancer cells from growing while he determined the best next steps. Almost two years later, Sajjad proposed Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery after several new cancerous spots appeared in both lungs.

The cancer never returned to Sajjad’s lungs, but instead attacked his bones three years after his final lung surgery. Never one to give up, Sajjad researched his condition and proposed a treatment method for himself that stopped the progression of cancer cells. Although Sajjad is still living with, and still fighting, the cancer, he continues to defy the odds with no end in sight.  He is the longest known survivor with Salivary Duct Carcinoma.

Sajjad’s background includes a medical degree from Pakistan and residencies at New York Infirmary, St. Luke’s Hospital and New York University Medical Center.  Sajjad is now retired from active medical practice and devotes all his time to cancer patients advocacy and support.

To inspire other cancer patients, Sajjad Iqbal has chronicled his amazing cancer journey in the form of a book titled, “Swimming Upstream, My Struggle and Triumph over Cancer and Medical Establishment.”

Jack Aiello

Board Treasurer

Jack Aiello is a former Silicon Valley high technology executive living in San Jose, CA. Jack was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1995 and has had three transplants for his condition. While the treatments have given him extended survival, he has had disabling side effects. After retiring, Jack has become a leading myeloma support group leader and traveled the US and overseas to attend medical conference, patient forums and inspire advocacy among patients.

LaWanda Byrd

Board Member

LaWanda is the Director of Volunteer Services at the Moffitt Cancer Center where she manages the daily operations of her department, including volunteer recruitment, retention, training, engagement and productivity. She is also responsible for the Pet Therapy program and Cancer Center retail operations. Prior to her work in Volunteer Services, LaWanda spent seven years in Environmental Services, dedicated to keeping patients safe through the management of 2 million square feet over multiple sites.

LaWanda’s work at the Moffitt Cancer Center is supplemented by her volunteer contributions and expert presentations. She has presented on topics ranging from Best Practices in Healthcare Environmental Services to Diversity in Healthcare Delivery at multiple summits and conferences. LaWanda has volunteered with the Association of Florida Healthcare Auxiliaries and the American College of Healthcare Executives.

LaWanda’s background includes a certification as a Diversity Professional from Cornell University. She also holds a Masters of Public Administration and a B.A. in Political Science from Michigan State as well as a Masters of Business Administration from St. Leo University.

Nancy Gatschet

Board Member

Nancy has over 35 years of leadership experience in consumer and commercial banking. Nancy holds her BA from the College of William and Mary in German, and was lucky enough to study one year at the University of Salzburg in Austria. In addition to some post-graduate work at Drexel University, she has held the Series 7, 66 and 21 financial licenses as well as life and health insurance licenses. Nancy is a lifelong volunteer, serving as cubmaster, cookie mom, Sunday School teacher, feeding the homeless, walking Town Watch, serving on the boards of several community organizations as well as the national board of the National Lung Cancer Partnership. She founded the Pennsylvania Lung Cancer Partnership raising $1.5 million in 6 years statewide. Nancy has a son serving in the Army and a daughter working on her MS in nutrition, and 1 grandchild from each. Nancy relocated to San Diego in late 2013 from Philadelphia to join her daughter here on the west coast. She lives in Point Loma with her bichon and chihuahua boys, and operates Happy Paws of San Diego, a dog walking/pet sitting business. She volunteers with Advocates for Classical Music introducing elementary school children to classical music prior to their attending a symphonic performance designed for kids, serves as Board Secretary and Vocational Chair with the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary, and serves on the Development Committee with LungForce (ALA).

Asalia Goldberg

Board Member

Asalia Goldberg is a Health Care Management Consultant in the New York office of Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Her passions are at the intersection of biopharma, business strategy, patient advocacy, and health equity.

Asalia has worked closely with leading Fortune 500 biopharmaceutical companies, helping C-suite executives and Commercial and R&D leaders bring innovative therapies to market. Her work focuses on product launch, growth strategy, market access, and operating model design across oncology, rare disease, and heart disease therapeutic areas.

Asalia is also tremendously passionate about improving health equity and eliminating disparities to achieve enhanced outcomes. She advocates for patient education and empowerment, and has served as Associate Director at the Lymphoma Research Foundation, the nation’s largest non-profit devoted to funding lymphoma research and raising $63 million to date. She has also advocated and fundraised for Red Cross and Save the Children.

In her free time, Asalia is an avid musician, enjoys listening to jazz and classical music, and has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.


Alyssa Gutjahr

Board Member

Alyssa Gutjahr is a Senior Product Manager at NYU Langone Health, where she manages digital products to continuously improve the inpatient experience. Prior to her role at NYU Langone Health, Alyssa spent 4 years at NBCUniversal in a variety of positions, including as a Program Director in Cyber Security and as a Digital Product Manager for CNBC. Before working at NBCUniversal she was a consultant at IBM, supporting clients across healthcare and banking on Agile software development projects.

Alyssa served on the leadership committee of the NJ chapter for Comcast NBCUniversal TECHWomen during her time at NBCU, where she planned events to empower and connect women at NBCU, and inspire young women in the community to work in STEM. In college Alyssa served as the Colleges Against Cancer Publicity chair at Lehigh University, and was a founding member and the Service Chair for Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity.

Alyssa holds her BS in Business Management, with minors in Journalism and Writing from Lehigh University. Alyssa lives in NJ, and enjoys creative writing, traveling, and playing tennis in her free time.

Ray Parisi

Board Member

Ray is President of RJP Communications LLC, developing and implementing public affairs strategies and plans to achieve clients’ communications, stakeholder engagement and business objectives. Ray has more than 25 years’ experience in public affairs, including responsibility for advising seven presidents/CEOs at AstraZeneca and Freddie Mac, with proven capabilities in executive communications, speechwriting, media strategies and training, marketing communications, employee communications, change management, advocacy relations and crisis communications.

While at AstraZeneca, Ray led communications for an unprecedented nine cancer medicine launches within 12 months and developed the communications strategy and plan for the largest restructuring in the company’s history. He served five years as Vice President, Corporate Communications, for the company’s US business. While at Freddie Mac, he led executive and employee communications, including overseeing crisis communication strategies and plans following the 9/11 attacks and during federal investigations.

Before leading corporate and marketing communications teams at AstraZeneca and Freddie Mac, he worked for several newspapers, including The Washington Times and The Virginian Pilot, as an editor and reporter. He began his career as a financial analyst for General Electric and Lotus Development.


Ray holds a bachelor’s in Economics and History from the College of William and Mary and a master’s in Journalism from Northwestern University. He has served on the boards of the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware and the AstraZeneca Healthcare Foundation.


Scott Riccio

Board Member

Scott is currently Head of Patient and Professional Engagement at Alder Biopharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company based in Bothell, WA, dedicated to transforming the migraine treatment paradigm through the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel therapeutic antibodies.  Scott’s focus at Alder is on leading the development and execution of Alder’s overarching advocacy strategy including developing, implementing and leading both patient and professional advocacy engagement across the commercial portfolio, clinical development and drug discovery.

Before taking the position at Alder, Scott was Head of Advocacy at Juno Therapeutics where he led Juno’s efforts to build and develop the company’s partnerships with external stakeholders including; patient advocacy groups, medical and nursing professional organizations, health policy groups, and community partners.  He was also a member of Juno’s commercial senior leadership team and helped build and leverage strong internal cross-functional partnerships to ensure patient and caregiver voices were heard and included throughout company decision-making processes.

Prior to Juno, Scott held leadership positions in areas of Advocacy, Education, and Patient Access at Food Allergy Research & Education (“FARE”), Synageva Biopharma, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (“LLS”), and Dendreon Corporation.  At Synageva, his role as Vice-President of Global Patient Advocacy also included overseeing the development of the company’s government affairs and public policy functions with a focus on ensuring patient access and the inclusion of rare disease patients’ perspectives as part of policy in healthcare.

Before taking the position at Synageva, Scott was Senior Vice-President for Patient Access, Education, & Advocacy at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, working out of the Office of Public Policy in Washington, D.C.  Scott’s responsibilities for the Society included building a stronger Mission presence for the Society across the country, building and overseeing a team of regional strategic leaders to focus on assessing patient needs and deploying resources to meet those needs, and serving as external Mission spokesperson for LLS in supporting campaign and development initiatives. Strategic resources under Scott’s oversight include patient outreach and engagement, HCP/provider relations, patient and professional education, and advocacy.

Prior to LLS, Scott was Associate Director for Advocacy and Health Policy for Dendreon Corporation, focusing on ensuring patient access to innovative anti-cancer therapies while helping strengthen the organizations he worked with in the cancer advocacy community. His work also included outreach and engagement with payers/insurers and healthcare providers and a special focus on underserved groups disproportionately impacted by prostate cancer, specifically African American and Veteran populations.

Scott’s background includes time as the founder and president of a 501(c)3 advocacy organization focused on health policy, particularly FDA/drug development timelines and processes, as well as a decade of experience consulting with global financial institutions during his time at Morningstar Associates, LLC.  He holds a B.A. in political science from Middlebury College and an M.B.A. with a dual concentration in entrepreneurship and strategy from the University of Chicago.