Our Leadership Board

Back Row: Dirk Degenaars, Eve Tyree, Dave Miniat, Donald Steiner, MD, Peggy Hasenauer, Christopher Rhodes, PhD, Laila Rashid, Sean Campbell

Front Row: Sally Kovler, Amy Franze, Regina Taylor

Inset: Lou Philipson, MD, PhD, Jay Franke, Graeme Ian Bell, PhD, Laurie Jaffe, Lisa Allegra

The Kovler Diabetes Center Leadership Board promotes the vision and mission of the Kovler Diabetes Center, and to support the needs of the physicians who provide clinical care, research, education and outreach. We invite you to learn more about this incredible team of people!

Khalid Alagel

Khalid Alagel is the Founder and CEO of The Gulf Care Group (GCG), an innovative healthcare consulting company which develops international patient programs for client hospitals. For over a decade, he has worked with foreign heads of state in the promotion of advanced medical treatments and facilitation of international physician exchange programs. He is also a founding partner in Healthcare Language Services, a medical interpretation and translation services company in Chicago, IL. Previously, Mr. Alagel was a Senior Advisor to the Saudi Industrial Export Company (SIEC), Chemtex USA.

Lisa Allegra

Lisa Allegra was born and raised in the Chicago area. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1976 at the age of twelve. Even after her diagnosis, Lisa remained a competitive athlete as a swimmer and volleyball player. She attended Northern Illinois University where she studied business, later switching to pre-med. An afternoon trip to visit a brother-in-law at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange led to a career as a commodity trader for over 25 years. Lisa was one of few women traders at the Mercantile Exchange to experience success and longevity. With her trading career in high gear, her creative side led her to begin an interior design business mostly specializing in residential homes. Her biggest challenge and greatest achievement however has been learning the balance between controlling her type 1 diabetes and living a full and abundant life without hesitation. Lisa gave birth to her first child at the age of 44 after having type 1 for almost 34 years and now after having type 1 for over 38 years she is still free of complications. She has worked with youth and teen groups along with their parents on how to incorporate astute care effortlessly within their lifestyle instead of changing their lifestyle to suit their care. Throughout her life and within her career and type 1 maintenance she has always tried to exhibit the “Why not” instead of the “why”. She currently resides in Hinsdale with her husband Bob, and her son.

Graeme Ian Bell

Graeme Bell, PhD, is the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago. He is Director of the University of Chicago Diabetes Research and Training Center and a leading authority on the genetics of diabetes mellitus.

Dirk Degenaars

Dirk Degenaars is a partner in a private equity real estate investment management firm based in Chicago and is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and Urban Land Institute. He is on the board of the Kenilworth United Fund and has previously served on the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (Illinois Chapter) board.

Jay Franke

Jay Franke began his formal dance training at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, Texas. He continued his studies at The Juilliard School, where he worked with choreographers such as Benjamin Harkarvy, Glen Tetley, Igal Perry, and Lila York.

In 1993 he was selected as a finalist for Presidential Scholars in the Arts. Upon receiving his bachelor of fine arts degree in dance from The Juilliard School, Franke went to work with the Twyla Tharp Dance Company (THARP!) Franke moved to Chicago in 1999 to join Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. He has danced with Chicago companies including The 58 Group, The Lyric Opera Ballet Chicago, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and was founder of the non-profit Chicago Arts Project.

Most recently, Franke served as the co-chair for the Joffrey Ballet’s 2009 Spring Gala in Chicago. He co-founded and is a performer in the Chicago Dancing Festival.

Franke and his partner, David Hero, have been supporters of diabetes research through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Amy Franze

After several years working in corporate America in various sales and marketing roles, Amy Franze joined the nonprofit sector at the recommendation of a mentor. Amy most recently served as Chief Philanthropy Officer of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization. Amy also served as Executive Vice President of Development for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRFI), and as Executive Director for the Illinois chapter of the JDRF. With deep connections in the Chicago-area diabetes community, Amy has been a tutor for literacy societies and continues to raise money for breast cancer outreach and research. She and her husband are active philanthropists, supporting the JDRF and other important causes.

Laurie Jaffe

Laurie Anne Jaffe has worked with national and local nonprofit organizations for nearly 30 years as a manager, consultant, and trainer in strategic planning and public affairs, including all aspects of media operations and public education. Married to Michael Jaffe, she is a busy mother to three children: Nathan, 12, Charlotte, 8, and Lilly, 10. Laurie and Michael support diabetes research through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and ongoing monogenic diabetes research at the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center.

Jaffe became passionate about contributing to the Kovler Diabetes Center when, in 2006, Lilly was re-diagnosed with monogenic diabetes, a discovery that allowed her to transition from insulin to oral medication. Jaffe started an email discussion group connecting and supporting families affected by monogenic diabetes, and helped organize Kovler’s first Monogenic Diabetes Center Family Forum in July 2010, which brought together most of those families for the first time. She continues to work with Kovler to spread the message about monogenic diabetes through grassroots and national media efforts. Jaffe and her husband are working with a documentary maker to produce a film on monogenic diabetes for television.

Sally Kovler

Sally Meyers Kovler has been active in the Chicago nonprofit community since 1986. She is a life member and former chair of the board of trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and board member of the Chicago High School for the Arts. The Kovlers are a founding family of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and as a longtime supporter, Sally is engaged in a variety of capacities with the organization. She previously has served on the boards of the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation and the Chicago Foundation for Women. Kovler earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in speech pathology from Temple University in Philadelphia, and previously worked as an art consultant on the East Coast before moving to Chicago.

Since 1992 Kovler has been married to Jonathan Kovler, a University of Chicago Laboratory Schools graduate. Jon, a private investor who also runs a family foundation, is a life member of the Visiting Committee to the Division of the Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine. In addition to their generous support of the Kovler Diabetes Center, the Kovler family has also funded:

• The Kovler Gymnasium at the Laboratory Schools
• The Marjorie B. Kovler Viral Oncology Laboratories, named for Jonathan’s mother in 1973
• The Marjorie Kovler Visiting Fellow program, named for Jonathan’s mother
• The Everett Kovler Café in the Charles M. Harper Center, named in honor of Jonathan’s father in 2005

David Miniat

An established business leader in the food manufacturing industry, David Miniat has served as president of Ed Miniat, Inc., since 1995. Run by the same family for over 100 years, the company delivers cooked meats to meal manufacturers and restaurants. He currently focuses on executing policies developed by the board of directors while developing strategic initiatives for the company’s day-to-day operations. He also oversees the department heads who coordinate each of the company’s separate divisions. Beyond his leadership role with Ed Miniat, Inc., he holds a seat on the board of directors of the American Meat Institute.

Educated at Colorado State University, Mr. Miniat completed his bachelor of science in animal sciences in 1982. He went on to earn a master of business administration from the Keller Graduate School of Business. In his personal life, Mr. Miniat maintains an active involvement with organizations that support research into juvenile diabetes. In addition to his work with Kovler, he participates in the Southwest Suburbs Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes, acting as that event’s corporate chair in 2009.

Donald F. Steiner, MD

The University’s A.N. Pritzker Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a founding member of the Kovler Diabetes Center Board, Donald F. Steiner, MD is an international leader in insulin biology and diabetes whose work revolutionized how scientists understand the
production of hormones such as insulin. A 1956 graduate of the University of Chicago Medical School, Steiner, in 1965, discovered proinsulin in the pancreas and the related process by which the body produces insulin. This landmark discovery of the first “pro-hormone” enabled the pharmaceutical industry to increase the purity of insulin preparations extracted from animals, which has improved the management of diabetes and created a better life for millions of diabetic patients worldwide.

Working with colleagues at the University, Dr. Steiner discovered the first case of diabetes caused by abnormal insulin (which they labeled “insulin Chicago”), and collaborated with a Japanese team to describe the first disorder caused by an abnormal insulin receptor. He and his colleagues isolated the human C-peptide; the radioimmunoassay for C-peptide they produced has enhanced the diagnosis of insulin-secreting tumors of the pancreas and greatly aided in evaluating the success of islet transplants.

Dr. Steiner’s many honors include the 2009 Manpei Suzuki Diabetes Award, the largest such recognition for diabetes research; the Lily, Koch and Gairdner awards; the Wolf Prize in Medicine, and several honorary degrees. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the University of Chicago’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 2006, the University established The Donald F. Steiner Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diabetes Research in his honor.

Regina Taylor

With an impressive body of work that encompasses film, television, theater and writing, Regina Taylor’s career continues to evolve with exciting and challenging projects. Taylor is best known to television audiences for her role as Lilly Harper in the series “I’ll Fly Away.” She received many accolades for her performance in the show including winning a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series, an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. In addition to her film and television work, Taylor holds the honor as being the first Black woman to play William Shakespeare’s Juliet in Broadway’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Taylor not only feels comfortable on the stage, she is also an accomplished playwright and director. Taylor was named one of six 2012 Chicagoans of the Year by Chicago Magazine and was awarded the 2013 Oscar Micheaux Award from the Chicago Film Critics Association.

Taylor is also the National Spokesperson for the Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness Organization (OCSA), launched in 2010 to educate both women and men about this deadly disease, which is the number one gynecologic cancer killer of women. She was raised in Dallas, Texas and lives in Chicago.

Eve M. Tyree

Eve M. Tyree serves as Chairman of the Board of the James Tyree Foundation.  The foundation was created to honor the memory and continue the legacy of her husband of 15 years, Jim Tyree.

Eve is the former Chief Financial Officer of Mesirow Financial, a diversified financial services firm founded in 1937.  Eve currently serves on the boards of the Erikson Institute, Rush NeuroBehavioral Center, and the Wolcott School.

Eve received her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from DePaul University. Recently, as Chairman of the Board of the James Tyree Foundation, Eve was named in Today’s Chicago Woman among their Top 100 Women of Inspiration. A long-time Chicago resident, Eve lives with her daughter, Jessica, and twin sons, Matthew and Joseph.

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