- Who We Are
- Why We Exist
- Mission Statement
- Board of Directors
- Patient / Survivor Support Facilitators
- Medical Advisory Board
- Contact Us
Board of Directors
The Joe Niekro Foundation™ is honored to have a Board of Directors that is highly talented, diversely skilled, active in fundraising, engaged in governing and committed to serving the needs of the Joe Niekro Foundation™. Each member takes great pride in representing the JNF and has a principal responsibility for fulfilling the organization’s mission and goals.
Natalie Niekro – Founder
Natalie Niekro, the daughter of Joe, is the founder of The Joe Niekro Foundation™. Her passion for the cause began when she unexpectedly lost her father to a ruptured brain aneurysm in 2006. It was then that she knew she had to do something to bring awareness to this devastating condition and help the patients and families who are struggling just as she was. This was the beginning to the greatest venture of her life. Whether you are a patient, family member, friend or caregiver, WE ARE ALL SURVIVORS and that is the attitude Natalie lives by each and every day!
Natalie double majored in advertising and psychology and graduated from Florida Southern College in 1994. In addition to serving as Founder of The Joe Niekro Foundation, she is former 12 year reigning president of the AZ chapter of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, actively involved in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program through her church and recently nominated as one of America’s Top 10 Professionals in Who’s Who. Natalie is fully dedicated to helping raise the awareness of aneurysms, AVMs and hemorrhagic strokes, while supporting research and treatment funding. Natalie, her husband Luke and three year old son, Canyon reside in Scottsdale, AZ.
Gary Simms – Chairman of the Board
Gary is a Sr. Director in the U.S Channel Sales Organization for the Hewlett-Packard Company, where he is responsible for providing sales leadership to HP’s largest channel partners for the Personal Systems and Printing business unit. The Channel business offers partners the ability to sell HP’s industry leading Personal Systems and Printing solutions across a broad range of global customers. Gary has been with Hewlett-Packard for 26 years, serving in key sales leadership roles ranging from commercial clients to channel partners.
Gary grew up in Michigan and graduated from Ferris State University in 1985. Gary and his wife Lisa reside in Colorado Springs, CO. The Joe Niekro Foundation™ has become a personal passion to Gary as the Foundation is committed to supporting patients and aiding in the research, treatment and awareness of Brain Aneurysms, AVMs and Hemorrhagic Strokes. Our goal is to raise awareness about the risk factors, causes and treatments of these conditions, while helping support the advancement of neurological research. We provide public education and advocacy, support for patients and families, and develop awareness programs and educational materials for hospitals, clinics and other institutions nationwide.
Ed McCarron – Board Member
Ed McCarron is a regional sales manager with HP and has over 25 years of leadership experience in sales, business development and marketing. He has an extensive understanding of global markets having launched products and businesses across North America, Latin American and Europe. Before relocating to Colorado, Ed and his family spent several years on an expat assignment in Brussels Belgium.
Ed has a special connection to the Joe Niekro Foundation™ as his father survived a ruptured brain aneurysm in 2013. After a long and difficult healing period, Ed and his family were very fortunate that his father made a full recovery. Ed is involved with the Joe Niekro Foundation™ to help raise awareness to this potentially devastating condition.
Ed graduated from Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I. with a B.S. in business administration. He has been married to his wife Michele for 23 years and they live in Monument Colorado with their two children.
Jeff Mayer – Board Member
Jeff Mayer is a partner in the Litigation Practice Group where he concentrates on complex commercial and business litigation. He routinely speaks on supply chain and purchasing matters, and regularly represents companies in real estate litigation, and complex scientific and technical contract disputes. Jeff has significant experience in the restaurant industry, and has handled hundreds of employment disputes, including complex collective and class actions throughout the country. He has been lead attorney in federal courts, state courts, arbitration tribunals and before administrative agencies throughout the U.S. Jeff also has significant experience resolving matters through mediation and arbitration with an emphasis in designing arbitration programs and clauses. In addition to his practice, Jeff teaches real estate litigation at The John Marshall Law School and writes on arbitration, trial techniques, and
supply chain issues.
Linda Michels, CPSM, CPSD, C.P.M., MCIPS – Board Member
The mother of a SIDS victim, Linda understands the impact of a sudden, catastrophic medical event on surviving family and friends. When her friend lost his best friend suddenly to a ruptured brain aneurysm, she quickly developed a deep passion for supporting research and education to prevent the pain and loss of loved ones to conditions like brain aneurysm. This resolve, combined with her love of baseball, led her to support the Joe Niekro Foundation™.
Linda brings 30+ years of business research and consulting expertise, plus service in many roles for non-profit corporations and is thrilled to apply these skills in service on the Joe Niekro Foundation board of directors. She has authored a book for Macmillan Publishers and has served on review boards for published works. Linda holds a CPSM® (Certified Professional in Supply Management®), CPSD® (Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity®), a C.P.M. (Certified Purchasing Manager) from the Institute for Supply Management™ and an MCIPS from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply.
William L. Michels, CPSM, C.P.M., MCIPS – Board Member
Since the late 1970’s when he served as Treasurer of the Tompkins County SPCA in Ithaca, NY, Bill Michels has been committed to applying his business acumen to serve non profit corporations. He has held office or has been an active board member for non profits since then. Before being a board member for the Joe Niekro Foundation™, he served on the board of the Purple Rose Theatre and the ARC Canine Health Foundation.
Bill’s business background includes board, CEO and President positions, plus as an entrepreneur he grew successful businesses globally until the businesses were acquired. He knows the impact of losing a loved one suddenly and is happy that he can use his leadership and entrepreneurial flair to support the JNF’s mission.
Bill earned a BS in Business Administration with honors from Rochester Institute of Technology and an MBA from Baldwin Wallace College. He holds a CPSM® (Certified Professional in Supply Management®) and a lifetime C.P.M. (Certified Purchasing Manager) from the Institute for Supply Management™ and an MCIPS from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply. Well known in the supply management and operations management community, Bill is a sought-after speaker and writer with many publications, including co-authorship of the book, Transform Your Supply Chain. He has been honored 9 times in the Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s “Pros to Know” group.
Paul Novak – Board Member
Paul Novak has a total of over 30 years experience as the CEO of three different not for profit organizations. These include the Institute for Supply Management, a local United Way and a youth services agency. Paul is a graduate of Michigan State University where he earned his bachelors and masters degrees in social work. Paul also holds a certificate in not for profit management from the Harvard Business School faculty. Paul and his wife, Connie live in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Terry Oprea – Board Member
Terry Oprea is an award-winning media veteran with 37 years in the communications business. He’s President & CEO of the integrated marketing firm MCCI – Mort Crim Communications, Inc.
Terry’s career has included major positions with Post-Newsweek Television (Executive Producer, WDIV (NBC)); Time-Life Broadcasting (News Editor, WOTV (NBC)); Public Television (V.P. for National Programming, WTVS); and NBC Elections (NBC state supervisor, Indiana).
He’s written, developed, and produced dozens of cover stories and business articles for publications, broadcast entities and other public-facing organizations. During his tenure with public television, Terry served on the Board of Directors of Frontline, the international award-winning PBS documentary series. He has also trained numerous corporate executives, media professionals and broadcast personalities in the art of conducting effective presentations and live messages.
Over the past 20 years at MCCI, Terry has taken a front seat in the amazing transition from a print and broadcast-based media and marketing culture to one that heavily depends on digital, web and mobile communications. The firm has been recognized nationally for its expertise regarding integrated marketing communications, content development, and media messaging. MCCI’s range of clients includes Fortune 500 firms, major supply chain organizations, and manufacturing entities, as well as numerous clients in the not for profit, financial services, economic development, government, and health care segments.
Terry is winner of numerous national awards for excellence, including the American Bar Association’s prestigious Silver Gavel award; the National Headliners award; UPI’s top national award; two first place national Angel awards; the Crystal National Communicators award of excellence; six regional Emmy awards; and other accolades.
Terry is active not only in serving his national and international clientele, but he is an active board member, serving a number of business and community organizations.
David B. Bergman – In Memory of
Dave Bergman, former Chairman of the Board, lost his life to bile duct cancer on Feb. 2, 2015. Dave was an investment counselor for Sigma Investments which he joined in 1990 after gaining considerable experience as a licensed securities broker with Merrill Lynch, E.F. Hutton and Roney & Co., as well as participating on the Professional Baseball Players Pension Committee for several years. Prior to joining Sigma on a full time basis, Dave played professional baseball for 20 years and is perhaps best known for his contribution to the Detroit Tigers during the latter part of his career.
Having lost his best friend, Joe Niekro, to a brain aneurysm in 2006, Dave committed himself to spreading awareness and raising funds to support research of this dreaded disease. Dave, you will forever be missed and we thank you for your love, support and friendship.
June 6, 1953 – February 2, 2015
Connect with Us
- Subscribe to our Knuckle-Up Newsletter
- Become a Fan on Facebook
- Follow us on Twitter
- Follow us on Instagram
- Join our Online Aneurysm/AVM Support Group
- Join our Online Parents Support Group
- Join our Online Young Adult Survivor’s Support Group
- Join our Online Aneurysm/AVM Caregivers Support Group
- Join our Online Honoring the Taken Support Group
- Support Group Locations