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 at CureSearch for Children’s Cancer. In this role she is responsible for raising $7 million each year for children’s cancer research, managing all fundraising initiatives including direct marketing, cause alliances, major gifts, and more. She oversees CureSearch events in forty communities across the country and all communications activities. 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 has devoted twenty-five years to the social good, through fundraising, marketing and management experience at the YWCA, American Red Cross, Easter Seals, and other health-related nonprofits in Chicago and across the country.
A graduate of the University of Chicago and Benedictine University, Christine is a member of The Chicago Network, an organization of Chicago’s most distinguished professional women. In 2011 she was named one of Today’s Chicago Woman’s “100 Women Making a Difference.” In her free time, Christine loves watching movies with her family, golfing, and gardening.
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.
Vice President, Individual Giving
As the Vice President for Individual Giving at CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, Susan Brumley is responsible for fundraising initiatives through leadership gifts, the annual fund, foundations and planned giving. Most recently the Senior National Director for the Foundation Fighting Blindness, Brumley’s major gift fundraising experience includes senior positions with Easter Seals and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Brumley has also worked as a nonprofit fundraising and management consultant providing expertise to the American Lung Association, American Red Cross, Earth Share and Hospice for the Carolinas.
A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Susan currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina where she is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She and her husband enjoy spending weekends at the beach relaxing, reading and playing with their baby granddaughter.
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.
National Director of Communications
Laurie Kelly is the National Director of Communications of CureSearch for Children’s Cancer where she is charged with increasing brand visibility for the organization through campaigns/initiatives, media relations and social media. She also manages the web development team, communication consultants and vendor partners ensuring optimized and unified communications across the organization.
As the former Director of Brand Management and Marketing Communications for Sodexo – the global leader in Quality of Life Services – Laurie successfully implemented a rebrand including internal training, message development, onsite signage, uniforms and vehicle branding across the U.S. and Canada. She also directed the company’s $3M Brand Management budget and developed innovative communication tools creating efficiencies and savings for the entire organization. Laurie has received accolades on her public speaking and presentation skills, and brings nearly two decades of communications, branding and marketing experience to CureSearch.
Growing up in Montgomery County, MD, Laurie always had an interest in giving back to her community and spent much of her youth leading or participating in 4-H events and activities. As an adult, she continued her engagement with the worldwide youth organization and earned an All-star status for her dedication to developing the leaders of tomorrow.
Sarita K. Sastry, PhD
National Director, Research and Programs
Sarita K. Sastry, PhD, National Director, Research and Programs, oversees CureSearch’s pediatric cancer research grant portfolio, the $10M Acceleration Initiative and the Young Investigator’s Program. Dr. Sastry also administers the CureSearch Scientific Advisory Council and Scientific Review Committee and serves as a liaison between academic pediatric cancer researchers and key stakeholders: donors, advocates, strategic partners etc. She further oversees educational content, grants to support community hospitals, childhood cancer survivorship awareness and patient advocacy.
Before joining CureSearch in 2015, Dr. Sastry received a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois and completed post-doctoral research training in Cell Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Sastry spent several years as a faculty member at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX, where she was engaged in NCI-funded cancer research, teaching, publishing research and review articles and reviewing research grants. She brings her subject matter expertise to CureSearch to help find new cures for pediatric cancers.
National Director, Strategic Partnerships
Kelli Wright, National Director of Strategic Partnerships, leads a team focused on corporate partners, CureSearch’s cause alliance/marketing program, Workplace Giving, and the CureSearch Challenge. Kelli started with CureSearch as a manager planning CureSearch Walks in the Northeast and recently celebrated five years with CureSearch in September 2015.
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.