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UC Davis MIND Institute

UC Davis MIND Institute

National Council of Visitors

The UC Davis MIND Institute has established a new National Council of Visitors, a group of nationally and internationally respected leaders who are enthusiastically committed to support of the MIND Institute’s mission of advancing research into the causes of and treatments for neurodevelopmental disabilities, and to ensuring superior patient care to individuals diagnosed with these conditions. The council held its first meeting in fall of 2013.

The council’s goals are to:

Promote the MIND Institute nationally and internationally

Initiate and contribute ideas, expertise and influence

Strengthen relationships with diverse communities served by the UC Davis MIND Institute

Secure support for the MIND Institute by making personal commitments and identifying others who can and will make a significant philanthropic gift to the Institute


Lynda Canel

Lynda Canel
Highland Park, Illinois

Lynda Canel is a resident of Highland Park, Ill. She and her husband Scott have two children, one who has fragile X syndrome. Lynda discovered the UC Davis MIND Institute Fragile X Research and Treatment Center during her ongoing search for the most leading-edge treatments for her daughter. Lynda also served for 10 years on the board of directors of the National Fragile X Foundation with MIND Institute Medical Director Randi Hagerman, through whom she became familiar with the MIND Institute and Randi and Paul Hagerman’s fragile X investigations. Lynda is committed to her daughter’s care and has made a personal philanthropic commitment to the MIND Institute to support fragile X research.


Chrysa Demos Chrysa Demos
Stony Brook, New York
Chrysa Demos is a resident of Stony Brook, N.Y., and a Sacramento native. Her parents, Angelo and Sofia Tsakopoulos, established the Tsakopoulos-Vismara Endowed Chair, held by the Executive Director of the MIND Institute and are one of the MIND Insitute’s Founding Families. Chrysa’s personal connection to the MIND Institute stems from her deep respect and admiration for Dr. Louis Vismara. Chrysa has been a dedicated member of the local MIND Advisory Council for several years and she remains committed to supporting the philanthropic efforts of the MIND Institute throughout the East Coast region. Chrysa served as vice president of AKT Development Corporation, the largest land development company in Sacramento.

Sarah Gardner Sarah Gardner
Sacramento, California

Sarah Gardner is a resident of Sacramento, Calif. She and her husband Chuck are among the MIND Institute’s founding families. Sarah and Chuck are the parents of two children, one of whom, their son, has autism. A former news anchor for KCRA Channel 3, Sarah has been a member of the MIND Institute Advisory Council since 2007. During more than a decade of involvement and as a Founding Family member, Sarah has been an enthusiastic advocate for and leader of philanthropic efforts on behalf of the institute. Sarah remains committed to the institute’s mission of finding treatments, causes and preventions for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.


Gail Goldstein Heyman

Gail Goldstein Heyman
Marietta, Georgia

Gail Goldstein Heyman is a resident of Marietta, Ga., and is the president and co-founder of the Fragile X Association of Georgia. Her longtime career as a dental hygienist inspired her passion for service and community activism. Gail serves on several local and national boards and has been recognized by many organizations for her service. She and her husband, Lyons Heyman, Jr., became involved with efforts to support fragile X research when their adult son, Scott, was diagnosed with fragile X syndrome as a young boy. Through an interesting fusion of dentistry and medical research, Gail and her family made a unique personal contribution to fragile X research by donating her son’s extracted wisdom teeth for the purpose of stem cell research for fragile X syndrome. Gail enthusiastically shares the MIND Institute’s vision to uncover the causes of, and find new and more effective treatments for, neurodevelopmental disorders such as fragile X syndrome.


Holle McRae Holle McRae
Caldwell, Idaho

Holle McRae is a resident of Caldwell, Idaho. She and her husband Lon have four children, including a son with chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Holle is a former member of the UC Davis MIND Institute Parent Advisory Council for chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome research. Motivated by the critical need for a safe and flexible educational environment for her son, she and her husband were the driving force behind the establishment of Heritage Community Charter School in Caldwell, where Holle is the current vice chairman of the board of directors. Holle is a dedicated parent who is committed to supporting the MIND Institute’s efforts to find new and more effective treatments to improve the lives of individuals and families with chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.


DLuis Nava

Luis Navas
Miami, Florida

Luis Navas is a resident of Miami, Fla. He holds the position of vice chair at Global Governance Advisors, an internationally known independent compensation advisory firm. Luis and his wife Mary have two children. Their son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. His personal experience with autism and deep understanding of the challenges families face inspire Luis’ philanthropic passion. In partnership with his colleagues, Luis raised $2 million to purchase a luxury vacation home on Florida’s beautiful Emerald Coast. The home serves as a special getaway for families in need whohave children on the spectrum. Luis is committed to raising awareness and providing critical support and services to individuals and families affected by autism.


Pedro Reyes

Pedro Reyes
Davis, California

Pedro Reyes is a resident of Davis, Calif., and is the director of the California State Assembly’s Speaker’s Office of Research and Floor Analysis. Previously he was chief deputy director of the California Department of Finance. Pedro is an alumnus of the UC Davis College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences. He has a grandson on the autism spectrum. Pedro joined the MIND Institute Advisory Council in 2012. He is a proactive and dedicated advocate, sharing the work of the MIND Institute with his social and business contacts. Pedro and his wife Esther also have provided philanthropic support to the institute to support autism research.


Neal Robb

Neal Robb
Manhattan Beach, California

Neal Robb is a resident of Manhattan Beach, Calif. He is a litigator specializing in defending financial services firms, handling large and complex litigation. Neal and his wife Carolyn have a son who has been diagnosed with fragile X syndrome and autism. Neal is a former director and two-term president of the Fragile X Association of Southern California. Neal and Carolyn are very active in charitable organizations in their community and with the Manhattan Beach School District. Neal is a committed parent who is dedicated to the mission of the MIND Institute to find the causes of and new and more effective treatments for neurodevelopmental disorders.


Michelle Montna Vogt Michelle Montna Vogt
Woodland, California

Michelle Montna Vogt is a resident of Woodland, Calif. She and her sister Nicole help manage their family’s rice farm, Montna Farms, located in Yuba City, Calif. The farm sits on land that has been in Michelle’s family since the 1800s. Michelle and her husband Casey have four children. At age 3 their son was diagnosed with autism and was evaluated at the MIND Institute. Today her son is an active 7 year old, participates in the MIND Institute social skills program, and is making great progress. Michelle’s mother, Gail Montna, is an active member of the MIND Institute Advisory Council. Michelle and her family are committed to finding the best treatments and therapies for individuals with autism. To help support the advancement of autism research, the Montna family has made a personal philanthropic commitment to the MIND Institute.