Bowie, Md., December 16, 2022 — The Epilepsy Foundation announced today that Laura Thrall, president, and chief executive officer, is stepping down to focus on her roles as an independent board director in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors.
After Thrall joined the Epilepsy Foundation in April 2020, she right-sized the organization, reduced year-over-year expenses by $7M, increased revenue, and produced two years of surplus budgets in fiscal year 2021 and fiscal year 2022. Concurrently, she and an outstanding C-suite team transformed the Foundation from a place-based, paper-driven organization to a digital-first, data-driven organization operating with greater efficiency while concurrently scaling the Foundation's reach and program offerings to a far larger percentage of people with epilepsy in the United States.
Under Thrall's leadership, Epilepsy.com underwent a complete overhaul focused on an improved user journey connecting people with the resources and information needed, while deeply engaging them in the epilepsy community. The Epilepsy Learning Portal was launched with now more than 300,000 registered users who can access education and training modules On-Demand. Thrall initiated the development of a comprehensive data strategy to expand and optimize the Epilepsy Foundation’s capacity to utilize patient and physician reported data to inform and improve care.
Thrall also established several new initiatives during her tenure. She started the Epilepsy Ventures Fund, a separate Limited Liability Corporation focused on driving innovative epilepsy devices and therapeutics to market, while creating a new revenue stream for the Foundation by participating in any return on investments from these projects. She created the concept for EpiCon, a biannual epilepsy convention for people with epilepsy, the first of which was held in Nashville, Tenn. last May, attracting dozens of sponsors, exhibitors, and 450 enthusiastic attendees. Recognizing the importance of staff in territories served by providers, she launched a Regional Teams model, which now serves 26 states in the U.S., complementing the 24 states served by Epilepsy Foundation affiliates.
"As a four-time nonprofit CEO, Laura was the right person at the right time to guide the Foundation through a difficult period and a return to financial and organizational stability,” said Jeff Parent, board chair, Epilepsy Foundation. “The Board or Directors, including the 16 members she helped recruit and onboard, is grateful to Laura for her passion to improve the lives of people with epilepsy, and the business acumen, decisiveness, and visionary leadership she brought to her role so that the Foundation is now serving more people with epilepsy than ever before."
"I am proud of the tremendous work that the enormously talented leadership team and I have accomplished the last two and a half years,” said Thrall. “I hope that the strides we've made in stabilizing the Foundation — increasing its reach in the community and modernizing its structure — will serve the epilepsy community today and into the future.
According to the World Health Organization, epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide, with no age, racial, social class, national or geographic boundaries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.4 million people in the United States are affected by epilepsy, or approximately 1 in 26 people. Epilepsy is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce seizures, which are sudden abnormal bursts of electrical energy that disrupt brain functions. In addition to those diagnosed with epilepsy, one in ten people will have a single seizure in their lifetime.
About the Epilepsy Foundation
With a network of partners throughout the United States, the Epilepsy Foundation is leading the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy. The Foundation connects people to treatment, support, and resources; leads advocacy efforts; funds innovative research and the training of specialists; and educates the public about epilepsy and seizure first aid. For more than five decades, the Epilepsy Foundation has shone a light on epilepsy to promote awareness and understanding, and to advocate for laws that matter to people with epilepsy, while also funding epilepsy research and supporting epilepsy investigators and specialists in their early careers. In partnership with the CDC, the Epilepsy Foundation has helped to improve access to care for people with epilepsy, expanded its digital reach and online resources in homes across the country, and trained more than 600,000 people in seizure recognition and first aid. The Epilepsy Foundation has also assisted more than 140,000 people through its 24/7 Helpline, and continues to focus on innovation, new therapies, community services, advocacy and education as key priorities. To learn more visit epilepsy.com or call 1.800.332.1000. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube.
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