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.
Jeff Mayer – Chairman of the Board
Jeff Mayer is proud to be on the JNF board. He has a long history of serving his community and joined the JNF board at the request of clients active in the organization. He is a Chicago based partner in the Litigation Practice Group at Akerman LLP where he concentrates on complex commercial and business litigation. Jeff also has significant experience resolving matters through mediation and arbitration with an emphasis in designing arbitration programs and clauses. Through Akerman, he has a commitment to providing pro bono legal services to children and families in distress. In addition to his practice, Jeff teaches real estate litigation at The University of Illinois at Chicago Law School. He also served as Chair for Duke University Chicago area Alumni Association and remains on the Duke board. Outside of work, he is the father of four (adult) children with a fabulous daughter in law. Jeff and his wife Yvonne are looking forward to meeting their first grandchild in January. Jeff is a graduate of Duke University and has law degrees from Washington University and the University of Michigan. If anyone has an interest in learning more about JNF, please feel free to email Jeff directly.
Brian Bagley – Board Member
Brian Bagley is a trial lawyer and partner at Akerman – a top 100 U.S. law firm –practicing out of the firm’s Houston office. Brian brings more than 15 years of experience representing companies and individuals in complex commercial litigation matters. He has successfully tried cases in state and federal courts in addition to advocating for clients in arbitration. Brian focuses his practice on commercial litigation, oil and gas, employment matters, products liability, and intellectual property litigation. His work encompasses numerous sectors, including automotive, energy, banking, real estate, hospitality, construction, and manufacturing. He also mentors younger lawyers within the firm and is deeply involved in Akerman’s philanthropic efforts.
The father of one of Brian’s closest friends passed away from a brain aneurysm, and Brian witnessed the devastation that a sudden loss causes a family and loved ones of those afflicted. Brian welcomes the opportunity to bring his advocacy skills to help raise awareness for the valuable work undertaken by the Joe Niekro Foundation.
A sixth generation Texan who grew up in Austin, Brian has called Houston home since graduating law school in 2005. Brian earned his undergraduate degree at Baylor University and his law degree, cum laude, from St. Mary’s University School of Law. Brian and his wife, Christen, have four children and are active volunteers at their church, St. Luke’s United Methodist. Brian also volunteers with the Houston Young Lawyers’ Legal Lines Program, has been an avid supporter of the United Way, the International Justice Mission, and the Texas Bar Foundation, and has served on various committees of the Houston Bar Association.
John-Welfare – Board Member
- John Welfare is a retired Partner from the firm of Deloitte Consulting, LLP where he specialized in implementing complex IT solutions for large, global companies. Based in Charlotte, his career in IT-consulting spanned 34 years serving clients across a variety of industries including manufacturing, retail and life sciences. He is privileged to bring his diverse business background to the JNF board. John is the proud parent of two girls, Emily and Jamie, who he shares with his wife of 39 years, Sandy. He lives nearby to his two beautiful granddaughters, Mila and Haven, whom he visits frequently. John is active with his church and enjoys a variety of outdoor activities including fishing, backpacking, snorkeling and horticulture. He is the current world record holder of a golden trout he caught in 2009. He also has served on the Board of Directors of the Twin Rivers Homeowners Association for over 20 years serving as President for 3 of those years.. John holds degrees in Management Science and Environmental Management from Duke University having utilized his environmental degree in leading several complex stream restoration projects in North Carolina on a volunteer basis.
Christa Reed – Board Member
Christa Reed is a Registered Nurse who traded in her scrubs to become a Healthcare Information Technology professional. She works as a Senior Clinical Analyst with Epic in the Harris Health System. Christa grew up in Houston, Texas and now resides with family in Rosharon, Texas. Christa knew early in life that whatever she did would involve helping people. She worked as an Adult Probation Officer after obtaining a Criminal Justice Degree from the University of Houston – Downtown. After working in that industry, she decided to change careers and returned to school to acquire her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Houston – Victoria. Christa is very active in her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. serving on various committees dedicated to helping the community in the areas of Mental Health, Women’s Healthcare and Childhood Hunger. Her hobbies include travel, reading, music, crafting, Pilates and spending time with family.
On September 1, 2020, in an unrelated trip to the emergency room, Christa learned that she had a 6 mm aneurysm in the anterior communicating artery. After consulting with her Neurosurgeon and a team of professionals, the best course of action was surgery. The aneurysm was oddly shaped, therefore ruling out endovascular coiling as an option. On November 30, 2020, she underwent a craniotomy to have her aneurysm clipped.
After recovering and returning back to work, Christa immediately got involved in the JNF support group via Facebook. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the support group could no longer meet in person. It was essential for her to connect with other aneurysm survivors who could help her navigate through what she was experiencing post-surgery. Sharing her story with others in the group was tremendously therapeutic for her. Christa serves as an Admin in the Facebook Group and posts positive affirmations daily hoping to uplift others. Through her involvement in the support group, Christa learned that JNF was seeking providers for their patient award, so she nominated her neurosurgeon for the 2022 Knuckle Ball Award and he was chosen. She had the privilege of presenting the award to him at the Gala. Her participation in the gala birthed the desire to work more closely with the foundation.
Christa embraces her second chance at life and cherishes each day. Seeing firsthand how different the outcome could have been, she takes advantage of every opportunity to be of service.
Lindsay Bowerman – Board Member
David Sokolowski – Board Member
David Sokolowski is extremely honored to be asked to join the board of JNF. Dave is a 36 year member of the Missouri Bar, currently practicing as The Sokolowski Law Firm in the St. Louis/St. Charles, Missouri, area, with a general practice with an emphasis in estate planning and probate. A lifelong resident of the area, he is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia and Washington University School of Law.
Dave is the father of three children and one grandchild. Now that his days of coaching his children in youth soccer and basketball are over, he looks forward to giving back to the community once again, this time through his work on the board of JNF. Please feel free to email Dave regarding JNF.
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
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