Senior Leadership Team

Read brief biographies of NPF's Senior Leadership Team:

Paul Blom, Interim Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Blom can be reached at pblom@parkinson.org

Paul R. Blom was elected to the NPF board in November 2014, as an ex officio member. Mr. Blom recently served as the president of the NPF Minnesota Board of Directors for the past ten years and is the current Chair of NPF’s Chapter Advisory Council, working to strengthen the NPF Chapter network. A strong advocate for the Parkinson’s community, he has served as a member of the Community Advisory Board for Struthers Parkinson’s Center, an NPF Center of Excellence.

Mr. Blom and his husband, Bob White, are the owners of the Right at Home franchise in Bloomington, MN, and were instrumental in helping to secure the Right at Home franchise’s national sponsorship of Moving Day®, NPF’s signature fundraising walk. Additionally, Mr. Blom serves as Vice-Chair of Training to Serve, a Minnesota non-profit that provides training for senior service providers regarding the unique needs and barriers of the aging LGBT community. He also serves on the boards of Avenues for Homeless Youth and the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, and he is Treasurer of the Minneapolis Area Senior Workers Association.

Peter N. Schmidt, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Chief Mission Officer

Dr. Schmidt can be reached at pschmidt@parkinson.org.

Dr. Schmidt joined NPF as Chief Information Officer and Vice President, Research and Professional Programs in June 2009 where he is responsible for the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, a longitudinal study of Parkinson’s disease to identify best practices in care to achieve optimal patient-reported and clinically measured outcomes.  With over 17,500 clinical evaluations of over 7,500 patients, the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project is the largest clinical study of Parkinson’s disease ever conducted and includes the largest set of patient-reported outcome measures ever collected in a prospective study.  

Prior to NPF, Schmidt was an investment banker in Norwalk, CT., president of a software company supporting chronic disease management, and COO of an on-line education joint venture of Oxford, Stanford, and Yale universities. He is an active member of several trade groups and is widely published in both scientific and trade journals on issues around medicine, health information technology and finance.

Dr. Schmidt earned his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University and was awarded an M.S. and Ph.D. from Cornell University, Sibley School of Mechanical Engineering where he studied gait and balance and total joint replacement. He completed a fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Amy Gray, Senior Vice President of Community and Constituent Relations

Ms. Gray can be reached at agray@parkinson.org.

Ms. Gray joined NPF as Vice President, Chapter Relations and Community Partnerships in February 2013. 

Ms. Gray has 15 years experience in fundraising, volunteer, and community partnership development, as well as chapter management.  She comes to NPF with a solid grounding in chapter relations and strategic issues. She most recently worked with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) as the executive director of the Florida chapter for over five years, and brings an understanding of and interest in chronic disease management programs.  During her time with CCFA, Ms. Gray launched a national walk campaign and a national endurance training program, as well as expanded services for those living with Crohn’s and colitis state-wide through new education and support programs, and developed a major gift campaign and leadership boards across the state of Florida.

Prior to joining CCFA, Ms. Gray was with the Muscular Dystrophy Association for over seven years in several positions, including more recently as the divisional field representative for the Southeastern US, where she was responsible for the development of fundraising programs and sponsor and donor development across four states.

A native of Minnesota and educated at St. Cloud State University, Ms. Gray relocated to Florida 10 years ago, where she now lives with her husband and two children.

Oksana Cardini, Vice President of Finance & Administration

Ms. Cardini can be reached at ocardini@parkinson.org.

Oksana Cardini joined NPF as Vice President, Finance & Administration in January 2015.

Ms. Cardini brings solid experience in accounting, finance, and treasury functions. Prior to joining NPF, Ms. Cardini was the CFO at Legal Services of Greater Miami Inc., a non-profit public interest law firm. She was instrumental in the development of a $15 million quasi-endowment fund for LSGMI.

Over the past few years Ms. Cardini has served on the Florida Institute of CPAs Not-For-Profit Conference Committee, where she is currently the vice-chair. She also served on the board of Management Information Exchange, a non-profit organization that supports the national legal aid industry. Ms. Cardini is a frequent speaker at the state and national level where she presents on technology efficiencies, Excel for non-profits, dashboards, metrics, and financial planning.

Ms. Cardini is a CPA licensed in the state of Florida, member of the Florida Institute of CPAs and American Institute of CPAs. Educated in Russia and the United States, she earned her Bachelor's degree in accounting and finance, magma cum laude and her Master's degree in accounting from Florida International University.

Leilani Pearl, Vice President, Marketing & Communications

Ms. Pearl can be reached at lpearl@parkinson.org.

Leilani Pearl joined the National Parkinson Foundation in 2008. As Vice President of Marketing & Communications, she guides the communications strategy to articulate the mission of the foundation and to increase awareness of Parkinson's disease. Ms. Pearl is passionate about helping people with Parkinson's advocate for quality care. As the editor of NPF's newsletter, Parkinson Report, she is continually inspired by stories of people living well with Parkinson's.

Ms. Pearl began her work in non-profit healthcare communications as the Communications Manager for Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, focusing on women's health issues. Prior to that, Ms. Pearl worked in the field of education for nearly a decade teaching literature at Boston College and the University of Puerto Rico; she also served as a high school administrator and as an English teacher in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ms. Pearl is a graduate of the University of Vermont and holds an MA in English Literature from Boston College.

Robert Shaw, Vice President, Constituent and Corporate Relations

Rob Shaw joined NPF in January of 2012 as National Director of Signature Events and assumed responsibility for the Moving Day® program.

Prior to joining NPF, Rob served as Senior Vice President for the Arthritis Foundation (AF) Southeast Region. 

His critical success factors in this role included developing staff and strong volunteer leadership in addition to corporate relations and major gifts.  Additionally, Rob was charged with the Strategic Development Plan for the SE Region and responsible for corporate relations and establishing state-wide Corporate Partnerships — overseeing an annual budget of $3.6 million. 

It was Walk Programs that launched his career, and after managing the 1997 AIDS Walk Atlanta, Rob served as Senior Product Manager for the Heart Walk program and was responsible for 190 Heart Walk events for a five-state affiliate. During this time with AHA, he implemented a new staffing program, training and directing over 45 employees. 

Over the past 18 years, Rob has served as CEO or Executive Director for chapter based operations for the Arthritis Foundation, JDRF and the American Heart Association with budgets of $1.5M to $5.5M.  In his tenure with these organizations, he has demonstrated a successful track record with volunteer/board development, establishing corporate partnerships, implementing major gifts programs and growing special event/walk programs. 

A native Floridian, Rob moved to the coast of Georgia in 1992 after graduating from the University of Florida and then relocated to Atlanta in 1994 and calls the North Georgia mountains home.

John Kozyak, Chairman

Mr. Kozyak can be reached at jkozyak@parkinson.org.

Both of Mr. Kozyak’s parents are living with Parkinson’s disease.  Kozyak is a founding partner of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton a commercial litigation and bankruptcy law firm in Miami, Florida. Mr. Kozyak is a passionate advocate for better care and support services for families affected by a Parkinson’s diagnosis. He believes strongly in NPF’s historic commitment that all people with Parkinson’s deserve access to expert care and information. He established the Kozyak Minority Mentoring Foundation to fulfill his lifelong commitment to minorities and the underserved. In 2014, Mr. Kozyak received the Justice Thurgood Marshall Award for Civil Rights from The Dade County Bar Association and Dade Legal Aid.

Dr. Michael S. Okun, National Medical Director

Dr. Michael OkunDr. Michael Okun is dedicated to the concept of interdisciplinary care, and since his appointment as the National Medical Director for the National Parkinson Foundation in 2006, he has worked with the NPF Centers to help foster the best possible environments for care, research and outreach in Parkinson's disease. He is a leading national spokesperson for Parkinson's disease, and has been extensively quoted in The New York Times, Wall St. Journal, USA Today, CNN and other media.

Dr. Okun runs the popular "Ask the Doctor" forum on Parkinson.org, the NPF website, and writes a monthly blog on hot issues in research and care. He has dedicated much of his career to helping in the development of care centers for people suffering with movement disorders, but has also has enjoyed a prolific research career exploring non-motor basal ganglia brain features and he has participated in some of the pioneering studies exploring the cognitive, behavioral, and mood effects of brain stimulation.

He is currently interim head of Neurology and Co-director of the Movement Disorders Center located within the McKnight Brain Institute and the University of Florida College of Medicine. The center is unique in that it is comprised of over 25 interdisciplinary faculty members from diverse areas of campus, all of whom are dedicated to care, outreach, education and research.

Michael S. Okun, MD, received his B.A. in History from Florida State University, and his M.D. from the University of Florida where he graduated with Honors. Dr. Okun completed an internship and Neurology residency at the University of Florida. Following residency he was trained at Emory University, one of the world's leading centers for movement disorders research, in both general movement disorders and in microelectrode recording/surgical treatments.

Dr. Okun has been supported by grants from the National Parkinson Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Parkinson Alliance, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Disease Research.

Dr. Okun holds the Adelaide Lackner Associate Professorship in Neurology, has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, is a published poet (Lessons From the Bedside, 1995), and has served as a reviewer for more than 25 major medical journals. He has been invited to speak about Parkinson's disease and movement disorders in various regions throughout the world. He is currently a faculty and founding member for SUPPORT-PD, which aims to bring functional Parkinson and Movement Disorders Surgery to "countries in need" around the globe.

Dr. Ariel Y. Deutch, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Advisor and Chair of NPF’s Clinical and Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Ariel Y. Deutch, PhDDr. Deutch is a Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology and Director of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center—a designated NPF Center of Excellence. Dr. Ariel Deutch joined the Vanderbilt Faculty in 1996. His studies focus on central dopamine systems and their involvement in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease, and in the mechanisms of action of antipsychotic drugs. He is a member of the Scientific Council of NARSAD and is Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Parkinson Foundation.

NPF’s Clinical and Scientific Advisory Board performs peer review accreditation processes, sets research agendas, directs clinical research programs, issues request-for-application (RFAs), and forms grant review committees.

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