Researchers and Clinicians
We work for—and with—a passionate community of advocates, individuals and families determined to change the outcome of a devastating diagnosis.
Meet Our Community
The Klassen Family
Board Of Directors
Richard Horgan is the Founder and President of Cure Rare Disease. He has a deep passion for reimagining how rare and ultra-rare diseases are treated. With a younger sibling impacted by a rare disease, Rich has a strong interest in accelerating promising treatments for rare diseases. He formed an interdisciplinary collaboration of world-class researchers and clinicians to pioneer the rapid development of customized therapies for rare, genetic diseases. Prior to making his foray into biotech, Rich had extensive experience working in new business development at Corning Incorporated where he led the successful launch of a new product line. He also launched a successful car washing business in New York. He holds a BS from Cornell University where he graduated summa cum laude and an MBA from Harvard Business School where he was awarded the Blavatnik Fellowship for Life Science Entrepreneurship. Rich was recognized by Business Insider as one of ‘30 leaders under 40 transforming healthcare in 2020’ and, most recently, was named on the 2021 Forbes 30 under 30 list.
Dr. Melissa Hunter-Ensor
Dr. Melissa Hunter-Ensor is a board member of Cure Rare Disease. She is also Greenberg Traurig’s Global Patent Prosecution Group. Melissa focuses her practice on the intellectual property and commercial needs of clients in the life science industry, encompassing pharmaceutical, biotechnology, chemical agricultural, diagnostics and medical device companies. Melissa has experience representing clients throughout the business cycle, from start-ups and universities to global pharmaceutical companies, with patent portfolio management and strategic alliances, as well as litigation and pre-litigation strategy. She also assists venture capital firms and other investors in assessing the IP risks of target investments and conducts IP patent and licensing due diligence in connection with life science technology transactions.
Before becoming a lawyer, Melissa earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania and her thesis research resulted in a first author paper in Cell. She followed this accomplishment with a four-year post-doctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology laboratory of Nobel laureate H. Robert Horvitz where she was a Jane Coffin Childs fellow.
Mark is a highly accomplished senior executive with demonstrated performance in all aspects of the energy industry, including operations, capital allocation, strategic planning, business development, corporate finance, capital markets, M&A, IPOs, turnarounds and restructuring. Mark has served on multiple executive committees and boards, and he is a Governance Fellow, National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). Mark is recognized for his leadership in corporate strategy and development and has a strong operational track record combined with business development and corporate finance expertise. He has extensive experience in transformation and optimization of organizational design and processes. Mark is known for leading and developing high performing teams focused on creatively and collaboratively solving complex business issues.
Currently, Mark is Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary of Guidon Energy, Blackstone’s largest energy - focused investment. His duties include CFO and Corporate Secretary for Blackstone affiliates, Swallowtail Royalties and Waterfield Midstream. He directs corporate finance, accounting, financial reporting, treasury, tax, internal audit, and risk management functions. Mark is a strategic partner with the CEO, executive team and Blackstone on growth and operational strategy, capital allocation, M&A, and portfolio optimization. He is an integral point of contact for Blackstone on financial matters for Guidon and Blackstone affiliates.
Prior to Guidon he served as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at California Resources Corporation and served on the Executive Committee, Compliance Committee and Reserves Committee. He performed an essential role advising the CEO, executive team and Board through a challenging bankruptcy proceeding in response to dramatic drop in commodity prices and significantly lower demand.
Previously, Mark was Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, California Resources at Occidental Petroleum Corporation, where he was selected by this $75B enterprise value NYSE listed, international corporation to serve as “second in command” for spin-off/IPO of its California businessin a tax-free distribution to shareholders.
As Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Ultra Petroleum Corporation and chairman of its international finance subsidiary, Mark served as strategic partner with the CEO and COO for the $6B enterprise value NYSE listed company. He partnered directly with the COO on identification, evaluation, and execution of strategic M&A opportunities, and was responsible for negotiating, closing, and funding strategic acquisitions and divestitures.
Prior to that, Mark was Vice President, Business Development at J.M. Huber Energy. He was retained by this $500M asset base company to develop and lead a transactional M&A effort. Before that, Mark was Chief Financial Officer at Gulf Liquids, Inc., where he was retained as a key member of the executive management team and managed the finance function in face of the critical financial and contractual issues. Earlier in his career, Mark served as Managing Director, Investment Banking at Nesbitt Burns Securities Inc. (now BMO Capital Markets), and was appointed to the board of Nesbitt Burns Securities. He managed business development and advisory assignments in M&A, capital markets transactions and corporate finance for Texaco, Union Pacific Resources, Oryx, Pennzoil, and Anadarko among others. Prior to that, he held various positions, including Director, Energy Group at Bank of Montreal.
Mark holds an MBA, Finance (summa cum laude) from Oklahoma City University and a BS in Petroleum Engineering (Distinguished Scholar) from University of Oklahoma. He has completed leadership coursework at Harvard Business School and attended the Director’s College at Stanford Law. Mark has been recognized as CFO of the Year for a Large Public Company, San Fernando Valley Business Journal, and CFO of the Year for a Medium Public Company, Houston Business Journal. He is member and past chairman, Advisory Board, University of Oklahoma Mewbourne School of Petroleum Engineering and a member of numerous boards, including the Muscular Dystrophy Association, where he serves on the Executive Committee and is chairman of the Audit Committee.
Kwesi Acquay is an associate at J.P. Morgan in the Technology Investment Banking Group. He is the founder of the J.P. Morgan Digital Initiative: the first initiative dedicated to digital ecosystems and startup engagement across NY & Boston Investment Banking practices.
In addition to Cure Rare Disease, Kwesi serves on the Board of StEP, an education technology startup in Worcester, MA.
Kwesi graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell University in 2014. He is the recipient of the Richard A. Church ’64 Senior Service Award, awarded by the CALS Alumni Association in recognition of leadership and service to Cornell University. He serves on the Advisory Council for Entrepreneurship at Cornell.
Kwesi remains passionate about innovation and how it can make a difference in the community.
Stephanie Herzog currently serves as a board member for Cure Rare Disease. Stephanie is the CEO/Founder/Owner of a boutique Home & Commercial Interior Design Firm in Connecticut with proven specialties ranging from interior furnishings to complete custom space builds.
Stephanie has over 15 years experience in designing, team leading, project execution, and completion in the robust space she serves.
Stephanie’s passion for Cure Rare Disease and the research strategies for curing Genetic Disorders was born from the recent DMD diagnosis of her four year old son, Max. Throughout Stephanie’s journey she was fortunate enough to meet Rich Horgan and be introduced to the amazing ground-breaking research and work his team is doing for Muscular Dystrophy and similar rare genetic diseases.
Stephanie also serves on the Branford Arts and Culture Alliance Board in Branford, CT as well as the Board of Governors for the Pine Orchard Yacht & Country Club, chairing the Entertainment Committee.
Karen Morales spent over 20 years in nationally recognized agencies solving Fortune 500 marketing and advertising challenges before she founded her own company, Marketing Magnet, in 2017. Marketing Magnet provides in-depth agency services focused on efficiency, fun, and fast results for businesses of all sizes.
Karen was also diagnosed with LGMD2b when she was a junior in college. Two decades later, she is a mom, survivor and advocate for those with health challenges. She is eager to bring hope and change to the disease community after spending so much of her time and personal resources on navigating the unpaved medical road of a rare disease.
Sara Cole currently serves as a board member for Cure Rare Disease. She is currently working at IQVIA as a Life Sciences Strategy Consultant. Prior to that, she completed her MBA in the Health Sector Management Program at Boston University. While there, she spent time working in an operations and finance role within the research and development team at Tesaro. Before coming to Boston, she worked as a Process Technician in research and development for Corning Incorporated. There, she focused on process improvement and new process development for the Chemical Analysis Department. Sara is originally from Corning, NY and attended University at Buffalo, earning a BS in Medicinal Chemistry.
Renata Hoyle Maybruck
Renata Hoyle Maybruck has worked in high-level fundraising for non-profit organizations for the past 20 years and has raised over $30 million to date in leadership roles. She has a strong background in major gifts and capital/comprehensive campaigns, board management and strategic planning.
Renata has a Master of Science degree from the London School of Economics in Anthropology and Development. She currently serves as the Vice-President of her local Women In Business chapter and a Board Member of a local non-profit serving at-risk youth in her community.
Renata has joined the Cure Rare Disease board to elevate awareness and raise funds for the crucial work CRD is doing in honor of her beloved nephew who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and for children across the world who will benefit from the technology advancement. She lives in Washington State with her husband, two children and two bunnies.
Liz Duffy is the Director of Alumni Relations at Greenwich Country Day School (GCDS), her alma mater. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and her Master of Public Administration from NYU. As a Director in the GCDS Development office, Liz manages fundraising efforts across more than 4,000 constituents and implements programming and events for the alumni community. Prior to GCDS, Liz worked at Tiger Foundation in New York City. As Program Officer, she conducted comprehensive research for grant renewals and new grant requests for funding areas including education, employment, youth and families, and criminal justice. She serves on the Associate Board of Waterside School, a PK-5th Grade independent school serving children and families regardless of limitations in income or circumstance. Liz lives in Greenwich, CT with her husband and two children, Quinn (6) and Ned (2). Ned was diagnosed with DMD in July 2019, three weeks before his second birthday. Liz, together with Tim, hope to bring development knowledge to Cure Rare Disease.
Jessica Curran is a first-grade teacher at Matthew Paterson Elementary School in Patterson, NY. In her twenty years of experience as an elementary school teacher Jessica has held positions on multiple elementary committees.
Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education (K-6) and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Keene State College in Keene, NH. She also received her master’s degree in Literacy from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY.
Jessica’s son Conner was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in 2015. From that point on she was committed to raising money and awareness for all the patients with DMD. Jessica and her husband, Christopher, founded their organization, Kindness Over Muscular Dystrophy or KOMD. They host charitable events that have raised over 1 million dollars to date. KOMD funds research, awareness and benevolence assistance to Duchenne families in need.
Jessica has been active in advocacy in her home state of Connecticut, Capitol Hill and the FDA. Working directly with Governor Ned Lamont, Jessica spearheaded a campaign to have the Governor sign a proclamation proclaiming that the state of Connecticut recognizes September 7th as World Duchenne Awareness Day. With that proclamation, Connecticut, became the second state in the nation to recognize World Duchenne Day.
On Capitol Hill, Jessica has advocated for Duchenne appropriations with her respective congressional leaders and Senators. Additionally, Jessica has testified before the FDA in a patient-focused compass meeting as part of the FDA’s Patient-focused Drug Development initiative with members of the CDC, SSA and CMS in attendance.
Jessica has been asked to speak at events led by Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, Springboard Enterprises, Ask Bio and Pfizer. She participated in a 2020 ACA press conference with Senator Richard Blumenthal where she gave an impact statement on how the protections under the Affordable Care Act are vital for people with complex medical issues. Jessica has also been interviewed by NPR, Pix 11NY, Fox CT, News 12 CT, NBC CT, The Hartford Courant, The Ridgefield Press and The Lewisboro Ledger about her experiences raising a son with Duchenne, participating in a Duchenne gene therapy clinical trial and how the ACA impacts her family.
Jennifer Handt has dedicated her career to promoting ideas and missions with words. As Principal of JHA Communications, Jennifer provides editorial direction and copy/content execution for market-leading, cross-sector organizations of all sizes and subjects, collaborating with clients to most effectively communicate messages and spark action. Published in Cognoscenti/WBUR, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Hill, Good Morning America/ABCNews, Connecticut Cottages and Gardens, and institutional publications and blogs, she takes a storytelling approach to distill messages to their essence and connect authentically with audiences, from consumers and patients to physicians and business leaders.
Jennifer previously held nonprofit, advocacy and corporate roles that cultivated her point of view. As Director of Communications for the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI), Jennifer helped to elevate a regional group of like-minded leaders to a national organization transforming possibilities for health care and medicine. In Washington, as Deputy Director of Communications for the Business Roundtable, the lobbying association of FORTUNE 200 CEOs, Jennifer developed key communications in support of business priorities pending in Congress including health IT legislation co-sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy. Her issue briefs, policy papers, and public comments played a pivotal role in furthering issue awareness, advocacy, and legislative progress. Jennifer also held prior roles at Fidelity Investments, where she developed speeches for company leaders, and at The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where she supported cause marketing program development. She began her career in public relations with Brodeur Worldwide and Solomon McCown & Company.
Jennifer holds a B.A. in English and communications cum laude from Simmons College, where she was a member of the honor society. She lives in Darien, Connecticut with her husband, Rick, and sons Henry (10) and Charlie (3), who was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in 2020.
Rose Klassen spent the first decade of her career as an intelligence analyst in the Department of Defense, using her background in data analytics to lead a team to solve the agency’s toughest national security problems. In 2019, she left the federal government to found a data science company, Sose Intelworks Inc., that partners with industry experts in the medical and financial sectors to leverage statistical modeling, machine learning, and computational linguistics among other techniques to further business growth and impact.
Rose is also passionate about teaching leadership skills through the outdoors. She is one of a handful of women leading rock-climbing expeditions for the premier outdoor education school NOLS, as well as an aspirant climbing guide through the American Mountain Guide Association.
Rose joined the CRD board to advance its mission to bring cutting-edge treatments to patients with rare diseases today. We have reached the point where the technology is there or nearly there to create life saving treatments for previously intractable diseases. But it will take organizations like CRD to push the needle forward through collaboration with researchers and industry partners, strategic management during the treatment lifecycle, and relentlessly pursuing the goal to save lives. Rose was introduced to CRD after learning that her husband, Jeff, was diagnosed with SCA3, a rare neurodegenerative disease. Rose lives in Boulder, Colorado with Jeff and their cat.
Keven Lin is the founder of Lin Capital Management, a technology-focused partnership. Prior to that, he has launched and worked for various internet startups, and as a computational biologist at BC Genome Science Centre. He attended University of Waterloo with a BMath in Computer Science.
Keven lives in Vancouver, BC with his wife Patricia and three children. His son Damian was diagnosed with DMD in 2017 after the family spent six months travelling across Asia. Keven believes in equality through education and technology, and volunteers to teach coding to a local homeschooling community.
Alan H. Beggs, PhD
Alan H. Beggs PhD. joins Cure Rare Disease as our Scientific Director and is excited about the mission of developing customized therapeutics. Alan is also the Director of the Manton Center for Orphan Disease Research at Boston Children’s Hospital and Sir Edwin & Lady Manton Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Following undergraduate studies at Cornell University, Dr. Beggs obtained his PhD in Human Genetics at Johns Hopkins, with subsequent postdoctoral fellowship training in medical and molecular genetics at Johns Hopkins and Boston Children’s hospitals. Throughout his career, he has used the toolset of human molecular genetics to study normal biology and disease processes in a variety of diseases with a particular focus on congenital myopathies, muscular dystrophies, and related neuromuscular diseases. In this role, and as founding director of The Manton Center, he has led the discovery of numerous new disease genes and has pioneered the development of gene therapy for one such condition, myotubular myopathy. The Manton Center provides resources and a training environment to support research on understudied “orphan diseases” through support of junior faculty with multiyear career development awards, pilot project grants, and access to the Center’s Gene Discovery Core (GDC), which provides genetic and genomic analysis services, and a rich collaborative environment for interactions between clinicians, researchers and bioinformaticians. Dr. Beggs has been a standing and ad hoc member of numerous National Institutes of Health grant committees and reviewer for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, March of Dimes and other national and international medical research foundations. He is a member of multiple scientific advisory boards, and boards of directors for both nonprofit and commercial entities.
Rachel Duncan is the director of social media and digital marketing for Cure Rare Disease. In addition to handling all of Cure Rare Disease’s social media, marketing materials, and graphic design, Rachel also works on general development in furthering the organization’s efforts. Rachel graduated magna cum laude from the College of Communication at Boston University. She joined the CRD team in May of 2019 and says she has been consistently inspired by the incredible work it does every day. She’s both honored and proud to be part of something so special to her. Say hi to Rachel by DMing Cure Rare Disease on any of our social media accounts!
We are the Krieger Family from Phoenix AZ. My name is Sarah, my husband is Bryant, and we have 4 kiddos; Hans (7), Otto (6), Fritz (4), Ingrid (18mo). I am a former elementary teacher, who now homeschools our kiddos. Bryant works as a Data Analyst at Truckstop.com.
Our family loves traveling and exploring new places, even if that means our own backyard. In our spare time you can find us outdoors! We love hiking, bike riding, playing all sports, swimming, skateboarding, planting and gardening, and ultimately anything we can do together as a family.
In 2016 our son Fritz was diagnosed with Duchenne at just 10 months old. In the midst of wrestling with such news, and taking time to grieve the harsh reality that our life was going to look different from anything we could have ever imagined, our family started to realize that despite a muscle wasting disease; we can be strong, and Fritz can be strong, because STRENGTH IS MORE THAN MUSCLE. That phrase has become our battle cry, and we desire to share that message with the world.
One way we share our perspective of strength is through our small non-profit, Fritz&Friends. Over the past 2 years we have partnered with a variety of people and businesses to help raise funds for Duchenne Research, and we are honored to now do the same with Cure Rare Disease. We also own a Barbershop, called Fritz’s Barbershop that partners with our nonprofit to help give strength to Duchenne!
Before Duchenne entered our life, we had always preached to our kiddos; ‘teamwork makes the dream work.’ Years later, we are still finding truth in that idea. We could not be more excited to be an ambassador for Cure Rare Disease and join a team with our same dream. A dream that does not involve making a name for our self but collaborating with others. A dream that does not settle for the current process, but instead pushes to try new things. We dream of nothing short of a cure, and we are excited to a join a team that desires simply that! Strength is more than muscle, Strength is teamwork, strength is Cure Rare Disease.
Walker Penfield is a senior at Nipmuc Regional High School in Upton, Massachusetts. He serves as the Cure Rare Disease-DECA Liaison and through this position, coordinates the activities of both organizations to help advance the fight against rare diseases. Walker first learned of Cure Rare Disease and its mission through a summer internship, where he helped to establish the partnership between Massachusetts DECA and CRD. As an international organization with over 220,000 student members, DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for the business world through leadership conferences and competitions. Walker is a Massachusetts DECA State Officer and has competed on an international level for the past three years. As part of a project to promote financial literacy within the youth of his community, Walker developed and published an app called “Split the Difference,” which teaches students basic financial principles through a fun, visual game. This experience taught him that you can use any of your skills and passions, like programming, to have a positive impact on your community. Walker carries this mindset into his work at Cure Rare Disease and is excited to be a part of this great team.
Esports Advisory Board
Chief Revenue Officer, METHOD
As the previous World Showdown of Esports (WSOE) Commissioner, Christian Bishop was an integral part of the multi-genre, multi-game tournament series development since joining the team in Fall 2018.
Today, Bishop is now responsible for the sales and partnership team as Chief Revenue Officer, while managing current and new developer partnerships. He also oversees new, large-scale business opportunities and transactions to accelerate Method’s global growth strategy.
Christian Bishop also served as the Director of Gaming at Thunder Gaming, the largest esports gaming and production center in the West Coast with a total property size of 150,000 square feet. Over the course of his career, Bishop has served as an Enterprise Media Director with Level 3 Communications, AT&T and Time Warner Inc. In addition, he served as a Director of Content for BidChat, a cutting edge two-way live broadcasting platform for social influencers.
In 2017, Bishop also launched “4Cast,” the first of its kind esports and gaming show to deliver unique esports and gaming news and information in an entertaining and engaging format that appeals to all gamers and fans. He is also an Executive Producer for the film “Huntsville” and is most recognized from his recent work on ABC’s “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise.”
Bishop also serves on several boards and participates in community organizations such as the Western Regional Diversity Council, where he works to advance and sustain an inclusive environment for gaming enthusiasts. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business from California State University, Northridge.
Head of Esports, Twitch
Justin Dellario is the Head of Twitch Esports, where he oversees competitive gaming operations for the world’s largest video game live streaming platform. Justin works with game developers, tournament organizers, professional teams, and broadcasters to direct the business, strategy, and operation of esports leagues, tournaments, and circuits globally. Prior to Twitch, Justin served as Head of Global Esports for gaming hardware developer, Razer, where he developed the company’s sponsorship and marketing campaigns.
Co-Founder and CEO, Major League Gaming
Sundance DiGiovanni is a seasoned executive, recognized thought leader in video game culture, and veteran creative director with more than 18 years of experience in the media, technology and video game space.
Sundance currently serves as CEO of Major League Gaming (MLG), now the world’s largest competitive video game league and provider of cross platform online videogame competition. Sundance co-founded MLG in 2002 with longtime friend Mike Sepso to combine his lifelong passion for gaming with his deeply competitive nature. As CEO, Sundance focuses on the long-term, global growth of competitive video gaming and the various distribution channels that are helping to bring this burgeoning sport to an ever-growing community worldwide.
MLG reaches millions of consumers each month at www.majorleaguegaming.com and holds more than 750,000 matches online at www.gamebattles.com. MLG also operates the annual Pro Circuit of video game competitions – in person events where the world’s best gamers compete. All Pro Circuit play is broadcast via LIVE streaming online to hundreds of thousands of fans from more than 170 countries. MLG enables a large and growing community and a roster of top sponsors to connect with and celebrate the tens of millions of consumers worldwide who have a passion for playing video games as a competitive social activity.
Sundance has become one of the world’s leading experts on gaming culture making regular appearances as an on-air video game lifestyle commentator on an array of networks. He previously served as ESPN’s first and only gaming correspondent for ESPN 2’s Cold Pizza.
Prior to co-founding MLG, Sundance was the Worldwide Creative Director of Gotham Broadband, a New York based digital consultancy. Gotham Broadband’s primary business was developing broadband strategies, consumer services and business models for some of the largest traditional media and cable and telco companies in the world.
As a creative director, he has worked with a wide range of brands including AOL Time Warner, DirecTV, Sony, Pfizer, Nortel Networks, and Sprint.
Sundance attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for Film. He currently lives in New York.
EVP of Business Development, ReKTGlobal
John Benyamine is the EVP of Business Development at ReKTGlobal, a global esports business authority and parent company of professional esports organizations Rogue and the London Royal Ravens. He helped in ReKTGlobal’s 2020 acquisition of New York City-based media agency Fearless Media, and continues to identify new business opportunities for the conglomerate.
John is also a proud co-owner of Shacknews.com, one of gaming’s biggest independent publications reaching millions of readers every month, and Retronauts.com, a popular and prestigious retro gaming podcast. He previously served as co-founder and CEO of Greenlit Content, a content marketing agency focused on the video game and esports industries, which was acquired by ReKTGlobal in 2019. Greenlit efforts have been responsible for number one streams on Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Facebook Gaming in 2020, featuring musicians, athletes, and celebrities in a variety of fun gaming-related shows.
Prior to that, John led the US business for Gamer Network, creator of publications including Eurogamer, USgamer, and Digital Foundry. He also created and sold IndustryGamers, a prestigious video game business publication, and GameDaily, a popular consumer gaming site that eventually merged into Joystiq and Engadget following its acquisition by AOL.
John holds an M.A. in Corporate Communication from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a B.A. in Communication and New Media from Rutgers College, Rutgers University. Born in Brooklyn and based in northern New Jersey, John is a proud first generation American, an avid gamer, a devoted husband, and father of two amazing daughters.
Partner, ESG Law
Throughout his career Harris has continuously sought to elevate legal academia, improve industry standard, and create a more sustainable economic foundation for esports teams and ancillary businesses. Harris is an attorney at ESG Law, the world’s first esports specific law firm, where he represents roughly 70% of all tier 1 North American and European esports teams, as well as their non-endemic professional sports partners. At the esports league level, Harris has played a crucial role in redefining team governance and revenue sharing rights, having played a leading role in LCS, LEC, OWL and CDL league-team negotiations since 2016. Harris has drafted and negotiated several of the most notable team sponsorship deals with endemic and non-endemic partners such as PUMA, BMW, AT&T, Logitech, and Dr. Pepper, among others. In 2017 Harris revolutionized LCS team-legal strategies when he became the first attorney to file an EB-1A (US Green Card) application on behalf of an esports player and in turn helped that player acquire US residency so as to avoid being counted as a foreign import against Riot’s team foreign import cap.
Since the start of 2018 Harris has led the esports academic community serving as Executive Director and Chairman of the Publications, Public Policy, and Membership Committees of the Esports Bar Association. Today the EBA has: over 200 attorney and student members, organized three esports legal conferences, distributed the first ever esports legal academic journal, and advised state legislatures on policies that will affect the esports business landscape. The EBA is primed to become a leading esports policy and academic organization in the United States. Harris is an adjunct professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law where he lectures on esports gambling legal issues.
In 2016 Harris brokered the acquisition of H2K Gaming on behalf of US based investors. At the time, the acquisition was one of the largest in European esports history. After brokering the acquisition, Harris served as Chief of Operations and Associate General Counsel for H2K Gaming where he helped to assemble the famed H2K squad that finished third in the world at the 2016 League of Legends World Championships.
Chief Operating Officer, Subnation
COO of Subnation, Chris has been a gamer, technophile and early adopter since his formative years. For the past 15 years, Chris has served major corporations and start-ups in roles focusing on global branding, sales, marketing, business development and strategy. Chris is a regular speaker and participant at gaming and esports industry events, including initiatives that focus on commercialization, convergence and interoperability of products, technology and marketing.
Brandon is a partner at C4+, a holdings company and investment firm focused on start-ups across esports and gaming. Prior to C4+, Brandon served as COO of VY Esports, a global esports media company based out of Los Angeles and backed by Warner Music Group and The Raine Group.
Brandon was also formerly VP of Operations for the Texas Rangers-backed Infinite Esports & Entertainment (which was acquired by Immortals Gaming Club), which included Call of Duty giant OpTic Gaming as well as franchise spots in the Overwatch League (OWL) and League of Legends Championship Series (LCS).
Brandon graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In his free time he is an avid soccer player, skier, traveler, and proud Bernese Mountain Dog dad.
Director of Global Esports Sponsorships, Twitch
Nathan is the Director of Global Esports Sponsorships at Twitch. As an esports veteran, Nathan is dedicated to educating brands about the competitive gaming phenomenon and ways to leverage Twitch to reach marketing goals. Nathan’s esports experience began in 2010 while working at Curse Media as VP of Global Sales. Nathan created and sold team and league sponsorship packages for the company’s newly created esports division. Before joining Curse, Inc. , Nathan worked at GamePro Media, IDG Entertainment, and Universal McCann where he worked front and center with live streaming, mobile, and other emerging media. Nathan holds a BS in Sports Media from Ithaca College.
Senior Manager, New Growth & Development at Cox Communications
Avo Simonian is an avid gamer and a passionate innovator. Having served in both corporate and start-up roles over the years, Avo has aligned his skills with his passions by focusing on innovation, product development, and business strategy in gaming.
Last year, just after the COVID-19 lockdowns, he successfully launched Elite Gamer, a PC application that reduces lag and improves connection stability for online multiplayer games, to over 2 million customers.
While working on Elite Gamer at Cox Communications, Avo has led strategy and innovation for Cox Gaming. He not only develops the strategic vision, but also leads incubation efforts on revolutionary concepts, such as cloud gaming, ultra-low latency, and the metaverse. To authentically bolster the Elite Gamer brand, he oversaw partnerships with over 25 influencers which generated 29M+ impressions and 500+ hours of original content which drove 700K+ hours of watched content. Meanwhile, he and his team executed 9 major esports tournaments to help Cox build gaming partnerships with Activision Blizzard, Epic Games, Asus, Florida Mutineers, etc. as well as raise over $40K to benefit 15 charities.
In addition to his corporate role, Avo serves as a mentor in the Techstars Social Impact Accelerator where he advises company founders on how to achieve product-market-fit, develop a business case, and prepare a pitch deck. Given his experience in both gaming and low latency technologies, he also participates in speaking engagements in the cable industry.
Avo earned degrees in Mathematics and Quantitative Economics from the University of California, Irvine. When he is not gaming, Avo enjoys playing the violin in local symphonies, learning new songs on the piano, going rock climbing, and traveling (pre-Covid).