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LOOKING FORWARD

We are fortunate to have such a wealth of encephalitis knowledge as part of our board of directors. We are committed to a long-term vision of research, advocacy and awareness. Well-documented studies that help clinicians, patients, caregivers, insurers and researchers are lacking in this medical field of study. We are ready to make a difference in the U.S., where there are so many unmet needs. While our steps may be incremental, we urge you to sign up so we can alert you when there are newsworthy announcements.

Dr. Karen Bloch

Dr. Karen Bloch is Associate Professor of Health Policy and Medicine (Infectious Diseases) at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Her research interests include encephalitis, infections of the central nervous system and arthropod-borne infections. She has been an investigator on several Emerging Infections Program (EIP) studies sponsored by the CDC. She has been awarded the William Schaffner Teaching award in infectious diseases in 2003, 2008, and 2011. She has contributed to the Infectious Diseases Society of America guidelines on the management of encephalitis (2008) and co-authored the International Encephalitis Consortium recommendations on the case definition for encephalitis (2013). Dr. Bloch graduated from medical school at the University of Virginia (MD, 1990). She completed internship and residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital (New Haven, CT) in 1993, and infectious disease fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in 1997. She received her Master’s in Public Health (MPH) from the University of California, Berkeley in 1996. She is board certified in Infectious Diseases.

Becky Dennis, President

Becky Dennis is the president of Encephalitis411.org and serves as a patient advocate through speaking engagements and informative patient/caregiver sessions. She consults with patients in their diagnosis or recovery journey to provide guidance. She is also the author of the book, “Brain Wreck.” In the past two years, Becky has played an instrumental role in developing guidelines for an encephalitis rehabilitation toolkit with infectious disease, neurology and academia across the globe. Becky has served on multiple nonprofit boards throughout her tenure, including Encephalitis Global, The Turning Point and LifePoint. She is also a guest lecturer on entrepreneurism and journalism with the University of North Texas.  In her business career, Becky is a business development and marketing consultant. She’s most known for building, launching and executing programs that fuel growth in global companies. Becky’s strong business acumen was developed in professional services B2B companies where her leadership roles included chief marketing officer, senior vice president of influencer relations, and vice president of business development and marketing. Even in a volatile economy, Becky’s visionary approach has produced exceptional results for her employers, including closing more than $9 billion in total contract value during her career. 

Dr. Carol Glaser

Dr. Carol Glaser, DVM, MPVM, MD is currently a pediatric infectious disease physician at the Kaiser Oakland Medical Center in California and serves as a voluntary faculty member at the University of California San Francisco  as well. Dr. Glaser first trained in veterinary medicine at the UC Davis Veterinary School and then attended Medical School at Tulane Medical School followed by a pediatric residency and pediatric infectious disease fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Prior to joining Kaiser Permanente, she worked at the California State Public Health Department (CDPH) for 20 years. The first part of her tenure at CDPH was as Medical Officer and then Chief of the Viral Rickettsia Disease Laboratory (VRDL). Working with the VRDL, she set up several different syndromic surveillance projects. She initiated the California Encephalitis Project (CEP) and served as the Principal Investigator for 15 years. While at CDPH VRDL, she was also involved in syndromic surveillance for severe unexplained respiratory illnesses and severe febrile rash illnesses in pediatrics (for CAV-6 enterovirus) as well as unexplained deaths. She also served as Interim Chief of the CDPH Immunization Branch and worked with many issues related to vaccine-preventable diseases including measles and pertussis outbreaks. Most recently she was involved in the state-wide investigation of the acute flaccid paralysis syndrome in California.

She has over 50 peer-reviewed publications; most of which are related to neurologic infectious diseases, zoonotic infections or vaccine preventable diseases. She has authored several chapters on neurologic infections and zoonotic infections. At Kaiser Permanente, she leads the newly formed Pediatric Antimicrobial Stewardship program.

David Hughes, Secretary

David Hughes is the Dean of Business, Technical & Early College Programs at National Park College in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He is a 30+ year veteran of public education, serving as an instructor, counselor and administrator at high school and college levels. Holding Bachelor’s Degrees in Physical Education and Mathematics and a Master’s Degree in Counseling, Hughes has had a diverse career in education.

During his tenure at National Park College, Hughes led the area high school technology center to several national recognitions. Several innovative programs were put in motion under Hughes’ leadership, including concurrent credit offerings for technical programs, expansion of the academic concurrent credit offerings, a nationally recognized Work Ethics program, and authoring the college’s Faculty Evaluation Process. He has served on and chaired numerous committees at the local, state and national level for the State of Arkansas, SkillsUSA and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Hughes has twice been named Administrator of the Year at the state and regional levels of ACTE and was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award in both Arkansas ACTE and Arkansas SkillsUSA.

Outside education Hughes has led the Spa City Blues Society for 15+ years as treasurer and president, which has received numerous recognitions through the Arkansas Festival and Events Association including Best Festival. Along with his late wife, Sherree, Hughes co-founded the Unknown Legends Musicians Relief, a non-profit for Arkansas based musicians without health insurance. He currently produces a monthly concert series that raises money for the fund. In his spare time, Hughes hosts a radio show, officiates weddings, is a personal chef and writes a monthly column for a state-wide music magazine. 

Dustin Keller, Ph.D., LPC-MHSP

Dustin Keller received his Ph.D. in Psychology from Northcentral University and is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health Service Provider and a National Certified Counselor. He received his undergraduate degree from Austin Peay State University and his Masters in Educational Psychology and Counselor Education from Tennessee Technological University.  He is also certified as an expert from the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress.  

Dustin serves as the Chief Strategic Officer for Camelot in Tennessee providing leadership and strategic development. He has also served as the Council on Children’s Mental Health Director with the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, the Project Director for the Tennessee Lives Count Project and has been a Lead Specialized Crisis Counselor with Youth Villages.  

Working in a part-time private practice, he has worked with a variety of clients from children and families, couples, and older adults.  Dustin has served on various non-profit boards including Nashville Public Radio, March of Dimes and Mediation Services.  He currently serves as the Conference Chair and President for the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare.  Dustin regularly conducts trainings and workshops on a variety of issues including mental health, children and youth, and suicide prevention. After witnessing the devastation of encephalitis, Dustin decided to use his background in psychology, mental health and non-profits to help promote advocacy and awareness to improve lives impacted by encephalitis.

Sunny Stephens, Treasurer

Sunny Stephens has worked in office management for decades, and is an author and a songwriter. A song she co-wrote with EG Kight aired on ABC Family, and another song they co-wrote landed on a Grammy-nominated album. And a story Stephens wrote appears in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable.” 

A 30-year career in the music business, as manager, booking agent, and publicist for Kight led Stephens to the role of patient advocate, when Kight was diagnosed in 2011 with meningitis and encephalitis. Feeling isolated and frustrated with the lack of information out there, through internet research, Stephens connected with Johns Hopkins, and ultimately with other compassionate leaders in the field. With experience in the mental health field, caregiving, and hospice work, Stephens has a deep passion for helping others, and her mission is to help Encephalitis411.org raise awareness about this life-altering disorder. 

Dr. Allan Tunkel

Dr. Allan Tunkel is the Associate Dean for Medical Education at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Dr. Tunkel comes to Brown with an extensive background in medical education, administration, clinical expertise, and scholarship. He had held significant academic leadership positions at Drexel College of Medicine and Monmouth Medical Center. Prior to Brown, he was Chair of Medicine at Monmouth Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine. During his tenure in the Department of Medicine he also served as Vice Chair, Vice-Chair for Education, and Residency Program Director. 

He has received numerous teaching awards and honors and is passionate about physician training and mentorship.   An undergraduate of Seton Hall University, Dr. Tunkel later pursued a PhD in experimental pathology followed by a medical degree at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School. He completed his residency and chief residency in Medicine at the Hospital of the Medical College of Pennsylvania followed by a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at the University of Virginia. He is widely acknowledged as an international expert in bacterial meningitis and other central nervous system infections.

Dr. Arun Venkatesan

Dr. Arun Venkatesan is the Director of the Johns Hopkins Encephalitis Center and an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in the Department of Neurology, Division of Neuroimmunology and Neuroinfectious Diseases. Dr. Venkatesan specializes in immunological/inflammatory and infectious diseases that affect the nervous system. As Director of the Johns Hopkins Encephalitis Center, he oversees clinical activities and research, and has developed a multidisciplinary program devoted to delineating pathogenesis and optimizing diagnosis and management of autoimmune and infectious conditions that affect the central nervous system. 

Dr. Arun Venkatesan received his Ph.D. in microbiology/immunology and his M.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, followed by an internship in internal medicine at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. He completed his residency in neurology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. He has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund.