Co-Founder / Executive Director
Public Health Official, Consultant, Philanthropist
Pam has more than 25 years of experience developing and implementing creative strategies to solve complex problems and achieve goals for clients in the public and private sector. Throughout her career, she’s focused on business development, strategic initiatives, public policy development and implementation and coalition building with the aim of creating targeted and strategic solutions designed to inform, guide, and assist clients achieve their objectives. Her experience spans across industries with primary focus on healthcare.
After a short stint in Washington DC working in the White House and the Texas Office for State-Federal Relations, she returned home to Austin and spent nearly a decade focused on developing and implementing health care policy and programs for the State of Texas. Pam served as the Committee Clerk for the Texas Senate Committee of Health and Human Services and later as the Chief Clerk for the Texas House Committee on Public Health. In these roles, Pam convened and managed many different multi-disciplinary healthcare stakeholder groups, always with the goal building consensus and support for Texas’ large and complex healthcare policy programs. During this time, Pam authored and contributed to at least a dozen published reports that examined ways to improve public health infrastructure for the state of Texas. And notably, Pam was responsible for managing a multi-year statewide analysis of ways to improve access to healthcare for children, which culminated in the creation of Texas’ Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Pam joined the private sector in 2004 as a Director for an international consulting firm where she focused on developing and implementing creative and strategic solutions for a broad range of public and private sector clients. Ms. Andrews brought a laser-focus on the Texas market, strategically developing and expanding new market initiatives, which resulted in an increase of new business and brand awareness.
On March 10th 2016, Ms. Andrews became a Niemann Pick Type C parent and advocate when both of her daughters were diagnosed with this ultra-rare disease. Inspired by their daughters Belle and Abby Andrews, Pam and her husband Chris Andrews founded the Firefly Fund (501C3) in 2017 with a mission to fund and support the research and education necessary to accelerate a cure for rare neurodegenerative genetic diseases that affect children and currently have no cure.
Pam serves as Executive Director of Firefly Fund where she focuses on initiatives designed to integrate NPC into the US public health system, including adding the disease to newborn screening lists nationwide, ensuring that any baby born with NPC never has to endure the long diagnostic odyssey experienced by her older daughter Belle.
Today Pam continues her service as a Texas public health official, serving at the request of the State’s Health Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, as a member of the Newborn Screening Advisory Committee. Additionally, Pam is an independent consultant for various healthcare clients.
Co-Founder / Board of Directors
Chris Andrews is an attorney at Amherst Holdings and philanthropist by day and an avid medical researcher and citizen scientist by night. Chris is a graduate of Texas A&M School of Law. He applied for and received the opportunity to take his third year at the University of Texas School of Law. Prior to Law School, Chris worked primarily in the financial/investment industry. He has extensive experience as a broker, market analyst, and trader. Most importantly, Chris is the proud father of Belle and Abby Andrews.
President / Board of Directors
MariBen Ramsey has served on more than 25 boards of nonprofit organizations at the local, state, national, and international levels. MariBen advises nonprofit organizations in governance, board development, fund development, endowments, legal issues, planning, and organizational strategies as well as philanthropic planning for individuals and families. She is the former Chief Philanthropy Officer and General Counsel for the Austin Community Foundation and a former shareholder of the Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody law firm in Austin, Texas. MariBen is also the Founder and Principal of Ramsey Philanthropy and MariBen Ramsey Law, PLLC. She serves as President of the Board for Firefly Fund.
Beryl “Berry” Crowley
Board of Directors / Chair, Development Board
Berry Crowley has been a public leader in the law profession since 1974, with experience as a Partner, Shareholder, Chairman, President, Trustee, Director, Executive Director, and Mentor. She broke ground as the first female President of the Texas Young Lawyers Association, and was known as the only female President for another 14 years. As the Executive Director for the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism, Berry became a standout Speaker and Author of several publications, including A Guide to the Basics of Law Practice (Editions 2-10) and The Ethics Course (Editions 1-6). She has served on dozens of Boards and Lawyers Associations, while maintaining her own legal practice, Beryl P. Crowley, Attorney & Counselor at Law. She is an outspoken cancer survivor three times over and a mentor to cancer patients. Her newest passion is helping find a cure for NPC, which afflicts her two granddaughters Belle & Abby Andrews. Berry serves as Chair of the Development Committee for Firefly Fund.
Board of Directors
Marianne Scott Dwight, raised in south Texas, is a Strategic Business Advisor and former Institutional Investor with experience in guiding investment managers and businesses utilizing good financial practices and good governance in a more efficient manner to maximize their return.
Ms. Dwight is currently a Strategic Business Advisor working with investment managers and other entities to maximize their return and optimize their business. As a former institutional investor, Ms. Dwight is working with managers on ways to make their business more efficient and resilient including focusing on good governance principles and developing ESG programs. As a lawyer with a masters in global issues, Ms. Dwight works part-time of counsel to Michael Best & Friedrich LLP to provide strategic legal advice to fund managers and other entities in the investment industry. She also partners with other entities like Prosek Partners and the Kirchner Group providing particular subject matter expertise relating to ESG, housing, healthcare, and water. Her experience includes:
- Serving as a management and investment committee team member approving the allocation of fund investments and actions for a governmental entity with $65B+ AUM;
- Closing over 300 investment transactions in funds located in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia
- Serving as a board member of a 501(c)(3) that is the sponsor and investment manager of a private real estate fund to provide affordable workforce housing in the Central Texas Area;
- Creating a private real estate fund to provide affordable housing;
- Creating a real estate credit investment management platform with a real estate manager focusing on housing across the U.S. and a large investment bank;
- Establishing a unique-statewide financing mechanism, the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas, to support water infrastructure projects;
- Establishing Medicaid HMOs including one at Parkland Health and Hospital System and one at Driscoll Children’s Hospital; and,
- Analysis and negotiation for more than 90 venture capital, biotech and life-science companies; and,
- Conducting due diligence for each investment covering all asset classes including private equity, real estate, hedged equity and fixed income.
Ms. Dwight believes in the Kirchner Group philosophy of earning and returning and participates in the following volunteer activities:
- A requested speaker in conferences regarding various issues related to the inves=ng industry including fees, fiduciary obligations, governance, ESG principles, real estate strategies including housing, private equity/portfolio company
concerns and transparency;
- Board member of Affordable Central Texas (“ACT”), a 501(c)(3) organization that is the sponsor and investment manager for a private real estate fund formed to provide affordable workforce housing, a core real estate strategy;
- Founding board member of the Firefly Fund, created to fund and support educa=on and research to accelerate a cure for rare, genetic neurodegenerative diseases that affect children;
- Member of PEWIN (Private Equity Women Investor Network);
- Member of Texas Wall Street Women;
- Member of the Santa Fe Conservation Trust;
- Member of the Advisory Council for the Institute of Latin American Studies and Benson Library at the University of Texas at Austin; and,
- Member from 2015-2019 of the Integrated Water Resource Planning Community Task Force appointed by Austin City Council.
Jack Gullahorn is an Austin attorney specializing in governmental relations and the laws governing ethics compliance at the state and local levels. From 2002 to 2015, he founded and then served as General Counsel and President of the Professional Advocacy Association of Texas, the only professional trade association for the Texas lobby community. Jack is a founding member of the Legislative and Campaign Law Section of the State Bar of Texas; served on the Board of Trustees and as Vice Chair of the Seton Family of Hospitals; was a board member and served two terms as chair of Saint Louise House, a nonprofit providing housing and support services to empower homeless mothers with children; and has been a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Austin Parish since 1991. He is recognized in the 2007 – 2010 Editions of The Best Lawyers in America in the specialty of Government Relations Law.
Collin Hovinga, Pharm.D., MS, FCCP
Co-Chair, Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Collin Hovinga has over 20 years experience in the leadership and oversight of pediatric clinical trials. He is recognized as an expert in trial design, early phase pediatric drug research, regulatory affairs and outcomes research. He completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. After which, he pursued a Residency and Fellowship in Pediatric Pharmacotherapy with emphasis in Pediatric Neuroscience at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center. He completed a second a Fellowship at the Food and Drug Administration Office of Clinical Pharmacology and a Masters of Epidemiology/Genetic Epidemiology from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Dr. Hovinga is an expert in pediatric pharmacology and has held appointments with the FDA’s Peripheral and Central Nervous System Advisory Committee. He has been active with leadership roles in pediatric interventional clinical trials (including the first NIH-funded pediatric stroke interventional study) and neuroprotection-disease modification drug pharmacology NIH projects. He was most recently Chair of ACCPs Practice Based Research Advisory Committee. He has been successful in creating the research trial infrastructure for multiple top-tier pediatric hospitals. He currently is the Senior Vice President of Clinical and Scientific Development at the Institute for Advanced Clinical Trials in Children and Co-Principal investigator on an FDA grant focused on improving clinical medication and advancing research in children.
Board of Directors
Ben Machielse served as Founder and CEO of Vtesse, a company focused on the development of treatments of Niemann-Pick Type C, from its inception until April 2017. Prior to this, Ben served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Omthera Pharmaceuticals. During his professional career, Ben has been involved with the development and approval of seven biologic drugs. Prior to joining Omthera, he spent 11 years with MedImmune — the last five years as Executive Vice President of Operations. In that role, he led the worldwide development and operations of MedImmune’s therapeutic antibodies, small molecules and vaccine products, including the development and launch of the first H1N1 vaccine product available in the U.S. Prior to his tenure with MedImmune, Ben held the position of Vice President of Quality Assurance and Quality Control for Xoma Corporation. Before that, he served in various positions in manufacturing, process, and analytical development for Centocor BV.Ben holds a Master of Science in biochemistry and a Bachelor of Science in Medical Biology from the University of Utrecht, in Utrecht, The Netherlands. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of Xencor, Inc. and Tetragenetics, Inc. He currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation.
Forbes D. Porter, M.D., Ph.D.
Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Forbes D. Porter is a senior Investigator with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intramural Research Program at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Dr. Porter received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Washington University in St. Louis and subsequently trained in Pediatrics and Genetics at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He is board certified in Pediatrics and Clinical Genetics. Dr. Porter came to the NIH in 1993 as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Heiner Westphal’s laboratory and subsequently formed his own research laboratory in the Heritable Disorders Branch of NICHD. Dr. Porter’s research at the NIH has been focused on understanding pathophysiological processes underlying human genetic disorders in order to develop and test therapeutic interventions.
Amy White, M.D.
Board of Directors
After attending medical school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Amy White completed her residency in Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill and became Board Certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. She went on to become the attending physician in the Pediatric Emergency Department at UNC before moving to Austin in 2004. She has practiced Primary Care Pediatrics and Urgent Care Medicine in Austin since then and has served on the Executive Board of The Volunteer Healthcare Clinic. While she hasn’t been Belle & Abby Andrews’ pediatrician their entire lives, it has been publicly noted that Amy played a critical role in their diagnosis as well as in their lives ever since she found Belle in her exam room with what she noticed was an abnormally large spleen in 2015. Amy was the first doctor to lead the Andrews family down the path to answers they had been seeking for years.