CureSearch is based in Bethesda, Maryland and has virtual staff located across the United States. Learn more about the leadership team below, or go to curesearch.org/Employment to learn how you can join our team.
Laura S. Thrall
President and CEO
Laura S. Thrall began her role as President and CEO of CureSearch for Children’s Cancer in September, 2012. Since that time, CureSearch has been transformed from its prior role as the largest Federal grantee in childhood cancer, to a privately funded foundation advancing the most innovative cancer research, supporting clinical trials across the country, and providing resources and education to all those impacted by childhood cancer.
Prior to coming to CureSearch, Thrall was President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. There, she lead the region’s largest non-governmental funder of health and human services and focused on improving the organization’s fundraising strategies, increasing year-over-year earned revenue for the first time in two decades. She spearheaded the development and launch of Live United 20/20, United Way’s decade long strategy to serve people in Metro Chicago’s neediest communities.
Dedicated to advancing the broad interests of the health and human services sector, Thrall served as an appointed member on Governor Quinn’s Human Services Commission, chaired the Chicago Alliance for Collaborative Effort (“CACE”), and led the Donor’s Forum Public/Nonprofit Partnership Initiative Policy Forum. Thrall was a founding member of Illinois Partners for Human Services and served as an appointed member of the City of Chicago’s Volunteerism Advisory Board.
Ms. Thrall joined United Way in 2009 after serving as CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, a human service agency with 160 employees serving over 130,000 people annually through economic empowerment programs, early childhood and rape crisis services. As CEO of the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, she led its transformation, developing the concept for the “Model YWCA,” opening the first of three new centers, launching its first capital campaign in 40 years and creating an infrastructure for sustained legislative advocacy.
Prior to joining the YWCA, Thrall was a division director of Campbell & Company, a leading national consulting firm specializing in providing counsel to large nonprofits. There she worked with clients such as the University of Notre Dame, National PTA in Chicago, National Children’s Museum, and Children’s National Medical Center, both in Washington, D.C., among others. Before that she served as senior director at Los Angeles-based Starlight Children’s Foundation International.
Passionate about advancing healthcare through the provision of innovative medical care, Thrall was a three-term appointed member of the Visiting Committee for the Biological Sciences Division and Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago. Most recently she was selected to serve on the Advisory Council for Northwestern University Medical Center’s Cerebrovascular Institute.
Laura holds a Master’s degree with distinction in Public Service Management from DePaul University in Chicago. A 29-year resident of Chicago, she relocated to the Annapolis, Maryland region in 2012. She and her partner Kevin Booth have five adult children between them, residing in New York, Chicago and Atlanta.
Chief Development and Communications Officer
Christine Bork is the Chief Development and Communications Officer of CureSearch for Children’s Cancer. Bork is responsible for all fundraising initiatives including donor stewardship, special gifts, grants and sponsorship. She oversees CureSearch Walks in sixty communities across the country. While most dread asking for donations, Christine believes, as phrased by fundraising pioneer Hank Rosso, that “fundraising is the gentle art of teaching people the joy of giving.”
Christine Bork is the former CEO of the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, the oldest and largest women’s organization in Chicago. She led the YWCA’s completion of a $5.4 million campaign in the worst recession in fifty years. Christine is a sought-after speaker on leadership, bringing her twenty years of nonprofit fundraising and management experience with the YWCA, American Red Cross, Easter Seals, and Provena Mercy Hospital Foundation to leaders in Chicago and across the country.
A graduate of the University of Chicago and Benedictine University, Christine is a member of the Economics Club of Chicago and The Chicago Network. Christine was recently named one of Today’s Chicago Woman’s “100 Women Making a Difference.” Christine loves watching movies with her children, and, in her limited free time, enjoys riding her motorcycle.
Katharine A. Burke, MBA
Vice President of Operations
Katharine A. Burke is Vice President of Operations at CureSearch for Children’s Cancer where she is responsible for internal operations, Human Resources, Finance, Information Technology and facilities. Before joining CureSearch, Burke was Vice President of Operations at Learning Tree International, a technical and management training company. At Learning Tree, she directed production, instructor relations, facilities and operational activities associated with delivering training classes. Prior to Learning Tree, Burke held progressive positions in operations and technical support at Sprint.
Burke holds a bachelor’s degree from Drexel University and an MBA from University of Maryland. She has completed additional studies at University of Virginia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Northwestern University.
Burke is a member of Women in Technology. She currently serves as Treasurer for the Alpha Sigma Alpha Foundation and Board Secretary for the Washington Women’s Leadership Initiative.
National Director, Individual Giving
Over the past sixteen years, Kelley has served public and non-profit organizations in politics, education, international development and social services. After graduating from the University of Washington in Seattle, she started a career in political fundraising which took her to San Francisco to work for a small consulting firm. She continued her descent South back to Orange County, CA to work for a political action committee. When an opportunity to join the University of California, Irvine presented itself she made the move and enjoyed a five-year career at the School of Social Ecology.
In 2004, Kelley took a leap of faith to join a small start-up international organization where she established a development program from the ground up and discovered a passion for taking an organization to the next level. As the economy changed, Kelley chose to focus on organizations with a local impact and worked with Second Harvest Food Bank and, more recently, Orange County United Way.
Kelley lives in Southern California with her two kids, Zach and Sydney.
National Director of Signature Events
Sean Gross joined CureSearch in May of 2013 as a Deputy Director of Community Development. In October 2014 Sean took on the role of National Director of Signature Events. In that role, he leads a team of Signature Event Managers across the country to develop and execute our CureSearch Walks, Ultimate Hikes, CureSearch Kids, and third-party fundraising opportunities.
Prior to joining the CureSearch team, Sean worked as an Operations Director for HealthFair, the country’s largest mobile cardiovascular health screening company. In this role, Sean focused on hospital engagement, corporate partnerships and overall event logistics for 15 local communities around the country. Earlier in his career, Sean also spent two years working as a Community Representative for the American Cancer Society, engaging volunteers in fundraising efforts through Relay For Life. Sean holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Business from Rollins College and an MBA from the University of Florida. Sean is currently based in Orlando, FL.
Kelli V. Wright
National Director of Grants and Strategic Partnerships
Kelli V. Wright, National Director of Grants and Strategic Partnerships, manages CureSearch’s grant program to support CureSearch’s innovative research programs and portfolios, the national CureSearch Walk and Ultimate Hike sponsorship program, as well as the national cause marketing program. Kelli started with CureSearch as a manager planning CureSearch Walks in the Northeast. She has organized and/or attended over 30 CureSearch Walks.
Prior to CureSearch, Kelli worked as the Development Director for her local New Jersey Boys & Girls Club. In this role, she planned and oversaw all aspects of development and special events fundraising, spearheading new fundraising events as well as the opening of a new branch of the Club.
As the sibling of a childhood cancer survivor, Kelli is extremely tied to the mission and knows the importance of raising dollars to fund life-saving children’s cancer research. Kelli holds a Bachelor’s degree from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.