Penny Pennington , Chair

Tracie Jacquemin
Patty Picco
Carol Schumacher           
Larry Montani
Katherine C. Sacca, EdD
Marc Stecker


Ms. Pennington is the current Chair of the BNAC Advisory Council. Penny began her study of multiple sclerosis in 1977 after her first attack. She was fortunate to have a relatively benign form of MS that allowed her to work at Merck & Co, Inc. for the next 31 years. During her career, Penny worked in several areas of the company, including one that brought her to WNY as a Business Manager in 1983. She held a number of positions that involved interactions with top-level researchers both within the company and academic centers, giving her great insights into what constitutes a well-designed, elegant study. Her work later extended into the Managed Care division and she spent the second half of her career in health policy as Director, Federal Health Care Affairs in Washington, DC.

Penny is very interested in encouraging the BNAC fellows in their MS research. She is impressed by the direction and momentum of the research in recent years and is optimistic that breakthroughs are on the horizon. She is proud to be investing in BNAC, a recognized world leader in the field of MS research.

Since her retirement Penny, has been active in the MS patient community in the Buffalo area. She serves on the Board of Directors of Advancing Research in MS and is active in the National MS Society of Upstate New York. She has also convened a group of patient advocacy groups in the community for the purpose of coordinating efforts to better advance research and improve quality of life for people with MS. Penny and her husband, David Bartlett, live in Elma, New York where they share their home with her 2 Vizsla show dogs.


Tracie Jacquemin is the former Chair and current member of the BNAC Advisory Council. She lives in McLean, Virginia with her husband and their three daughters. In addition to her work with BNAC, Tracie is a volunteer with the Kenya Education Fund and the Greater Washington Suzuki Association of the Greater Washington Area. An alumna of Duke University where she received her BA, she also earned an MBA from Vanderbilt University and worked in banking and commercial real estate for ten years. After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis twenty years ago, Tracie became a certified Montessori teacher and worked as an educator for many years.


Larry Montani is Managing Director of Niacet Corporation, a specialty chemical manufacturer based in Niagara Falls, NY. Born in Milton, MA, Larry earned a Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering from Merrimack College and a Masters in Business Administration from the University at Buffalo. He and his wife and children have lived in Western New York for 27 years where Larry is active in the community, serving on the boards of trustees of Niagara University, the Nichols School, and the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. Larry served as chair of the National MS Society Upstate NY Chapter 2004 Dinner of Champions and was recognized as a 2009 Community Champion. His work to advance the understanding of MS is inspired by three siblings with MS, one of whom is now deceased.


Patty Picco was born and raised in New York City. She and her husband, John, relocated to Wilton, Connecticut in 1992 to raise their two children Jonathan and Emily in a less hectic environment. Patty currently manages residential and commercial real estate projects in Norwalk, Connecticut. Separate from her work in the banking industry, Patti orchestrated several small multi-family residential renovation projects that helped reinvigorate several older neighborhoods in the Riverdale section of The Bronx. In 1988, Patty was diagnosed with melanoma which was successfully treated through surgery during pregnancy with her first child. This experience led her to a new, informed perspective on healthcare and a desire to explore wellness through nutrition and functional medicine. Then, in 2001 Patty experienced a second life-changing event when she was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. She has used both traditional and alternative therapies to maintain disease stability. She is currently engaged in a research protocol that uses essential fatty acid IV therapy, diet and vitamin supplementation under the guidance of a functional medicine doctor who collaborates with her neurologist. Recently, Patty has been studying gerontology and end-of-life care. She volunteers in the Fairfield Nursing and Hospice Agency and enjoys sailing with her family on Long Island Sound.


Dr. Sacca joined the Advisory Council in 2016. She has been reviewing multiple sclerosis scientific, peer-reviewed literature since her diagnosis with MS in 1988. At the time, the prognosis for MS patients was very bleak, with life expectancy estimated to end at 60. Despite progressive symptoms, KC was able to work an additional 23 years in the field of education where she worked as a SUNY full professor, a recipient of the distinguished Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching for the State University of New York. She also worked as a school district administrator, a special education teacher, and wrote and worked on several federal and state research grants, including the position of Principal Investigator/Director on a nationally competitive federal grant.

KC is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Advancing Research in MS. ARMS endorses specific MS studies and raises funds for the research. She and her husband Gerald raised their family in Lockport, NY and now shuttle back and forth from the Los Angeles area. KC was inspired to join the Advisory Council to expand her knowledge about more about current MS imaging research and to help encourage studies that incorporate patient participation and perspective. “Patient-oriented outcomes studies in medicine have had some notable results as patients collaborate with the medical professionals to select research topics, help fine-tune the study designs and participate in dissemination of results. I am enthusiastically impressed that BNAC is seeking input from the Advisory Council about future endeavors.”


Carol Schumacher works in veterinary medicine in Menlo Park CA. She served in public office regulating veterinary medicine with the California Veterinary Medical Board until 2011. She is a board member of the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases at the California Community Foundation and the Hubbard Foundation. Carol earned a BSc from UC Berkeley in Entomology, is a Registered Veterinary Technician. She is married to Scott Schumacher. Carol and Scott have recently taken up making art glass in their home studio.


Marc Stecker is the writer of the award-winning medical blog, “Wheelchair Kamikaze”, one of the first sites on the Internet to feature information on Dr. Zamboni and the extracranial venous abnormalities hypothesis. Diagnosed with PPMS in 2003, Marc had a 20-year career in the television production industry before being forced to retire due to disability in 2007. He lives in New York City with his wife and spends much of his time writing about life with chronic illness, as well as working on photographs and videos that he takes with his wheelchair-mounted camera.




Michelle Brown, a magazine publisher, was diagnosed with MS in 1998. After 8 years of a benign course, she developed secondary progressive MS, and her mobility deteriorated within 2 years to leave her wheelchair-bound. She is an alumna of SUNY Albany with a degree in psychology and did postgraduate work in marketing at the University of Connecticut. Michelle read about extracranial venous abnormalities in early 2009 and became the first patient treated on the East Coast in December 2009. Shortly afterwards, she founded and incorporated the CCSVI Alliance. Michelle commutes by train to her New York City office several days each week where she works full-time. She resides in Greenwich, CT, with her husband, two daughters.


Ms. Macreanu is President of Home Textiles, Inc., a Toronto-based business she started 21 years ago. As an importer and distributor of linens and textiles, she travels the world. Liliana was initially diagnosed in 2008 with Radiologically Isolated Syndrome (RIS). Even though she had no classical MS symptoms, the diagnosis came as a shock and changed her perspective on life in many ways. Her diagnosis ushered her into a difficult time of adjustment. It was a time she refers to as the “What if I wake up and can’t move” period of her life. Determined to do whatever she could to stop the progression of lesions in her brain, she traveled to China for stem cell implant treatments. The treatment succeeded in improving her vision but she was not content to stop there. Liliana had begun following the work of Dr. Robert Zivadinov. She traveled to Buffalo in late 2009 to meet Dr. Zivadinov and to offer support for his MS research which she continues to support. Liliana lives in Toronto with her family and two lively German shepherd dogs. She enjoys summers in her garden, planting vegetables. “Since the day I was diagnosed, I have spent a lot of time learning about this disease. It also makes me appreciate every day and enjoy it the best that I can. I have a lot of fun doing what I do in my work and hope to be able to continue traveling the world for many years. I am honored to join the BNAC Advisory Council.”


Larry Nolan and his wife, live in University City, Missouri. After 37 years as a software developer and product manager in the mechanical CAD/CAM/CAE industry, he is now a volunteer for The Nature Conservancy in Missouri. He has a B.Sc. in Applied Mathematics from Missouri University of Science & Technology, M.Sc. in Computer Science from Washington University in St. Louis. Larry’s wife was diagnosed with RRMS in 2008 after her neurologist suspected this diagnosis in 2007.


Trevor Tucker has a PhD in Electronics Engineering from the University of British Columbia He is founder and President of Tactical Technologies Inc, a software simulation company in Ottawa, Canada. He is married, has a son, a daughter, and four grandsons. Trevor’s son was diagnosed with MS in 1998. He is an advocate of a multi-disciplinary approach to the solution to Multiple Sclerosis and has recently applied the physics of fluid dynamics to addressing the association of obstructed veins to MS.


Craig Walters is from Connecticut, and has been an avid sailboat racer for fifty years, Craig began designing and building sailboats at age 12. He earned a BSBA degree from Bucknell University, served as an Officer in the Army Corps of Engineers and was a yacht designer with Morgan Yachts, Sparkman & Stephens and firms of his own in Florida and Connecticut. From his interests in protecting the marine environment, Craig developed a series of electric and hybrid powered pleasure boats in the 1990’s and has written and lectured about yacht design. Craig was diagnosed with RRMS in 1970, now classified as Benign MS. He and his wife now live in Southwest Florida where they recently retired.



linda2016.jpgLINDA J. SAFRAN

Linda J. Safran, CFRE has over 30 years of senior level fundraising experience in staff and consulting positions. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Goucher College Management Institute, Linda began her career in resource development at Johns Hopkins. She directed the hospital’s grateful patients program and was responsible for fundraising for five medical specialties and for the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She also served as director of development for the university’s library system. After seven years at Hopkins, Linda went on to serve as Vice President for Development and Public Relations for a specialty hospital in Baltimore before beginning her fundraising consulting firm. She has held the designation of Certified Fundraising Executive and has served her profession as a board member for several terms for the Chesapeake Planned Giving Council and as a peer reviewer for Maryland Nonprofits’ Standards of Excellence award.

A year after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Linda returned to her hometown of Buffalo, New York in 2010 to assume the responsibilities for resource development for BNAC from 2010-2012 before joining the staff of the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences as the Director of Constituent Relations. Linda has raised over $1million for BNAC’s multiple sclerosis research. Now living in Portland, Oregon, she continues to help BNAC’s research endeavors as a consultant.

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