Who We Are

Meet Our Team

We are a team of change agents, relentless advocates, creative problem solvers, trusted community connectors, skilled relationship developers, and accomplished bridge-builders.

Michael Manganiello

President & CEO

Publications

Title: COVID-19 may discriminate. Its cure should not. 

Publication: LinkedIn Pulse

Date: May 1, 2020

Title: The fight for LGBTQ equality never ends.

Publication: The Gay & Lesbian Review

Date: February 6, 2020

A born advocate, Michael Manganiello believes in the power of the patient to impact major changes in health policy – a power that is amplified when groups unite around a common agenda. Michael founded Pyxis Partners as a firm that not only can access major stakeholders in the health care community but can bring them together and find common ground to advance positive change.

 

Michael has lived with HIV for 30+ years which has deeply impacted his lens for medical research and patient advocacy over the years. Through his work at Pyxis, he is on the frontlines of public health and research working with clients on advancing precision medicine solutions to cancer, reducing stigma in the opioid crisis by advancing medication-assisted treatment, and securing reproductive rights. He works to create nontraditional, trusted partnerships with key stakeholders to ensure that those who most need care have a voice and can access services when they need them.

 

Michael brings to Pyxis Partners an impressive track record of building effective coalitions within the health care community. Tapped as the first Senior Vice President of Government Relations for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, he played an integral role in establishing the foundation as a leading force for advancing medical research and improving quality of life for the mobility impaired. Among his successes, Michael secured introduction and passage of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act – which became law in 2009 – and raised $50 million for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center.

 

As chair of the Paralysis Task Force, Michael collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Hope Network to connect more than 50,000 advocates across the country. Michael was also a founding member, President Emeritus and board member of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR). In this role, he and CAMR were instrumental in joining more than 100 diverse organizations in support of groundbreaking medical research. Their efforts resulted in Congress’ passage of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which laid the foundation for President Barack Obama’s 2009 executive order allowing embryonic stem cell research to federal funding. Michael was honored to be invited to The White House to witness this pivotal moment in stem cell research.

 

Michael currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, the only dedicated art museum in the world to exhibit and preserve artwork that speaks about the LGBTQ experience. He also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Village at Rockville – a National Lutheran Community. Previously, he has proudly served on many advisory panels and boards, including the board of Whitman Walker Health, an exemplar of innovative healthcare access and the largest provider of HIV/AIDS health services in Washington, the National Institutes of Health Director’s Council of Public Representatives where he served directly under Dr. Elias Zerhouni, the National Association for Biomedical Research and the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

 

Michael lives in Washington, D.C. in the vibrant Logan Circle neighborhood.

 
 
Cameron Alvarado

Associate Project Manager

As an Associate Project Manager, Cameron supports the firm’s work with the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) All of Us Research Program.

 

Previously, Cameron worked at the National Association of Community Health Centers where she helped manage their portfolio of federal and non-federal funding. In this role, Cameron helped create innovative processes and procedures aimed at improving operational efficiency. Her experience with NACHC helped underscore her commitment to healthcare advocacy and the importance of reaching underserved populations.

 

Cameron holds both a Master’s and Bachelor’s in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University. She is also a certified Associate in Project Management and a certified Salesforce Administrator.

 

Cameron lives in Alexandria with her husband, Anthony, and their miniature Dachshund, Bachi. Outside of work, she enjoys being with her family, traveling, and cooking.

Jessica Bonilla

Associate

As a Pyxis Partners Associate, Jessica supports the firm’s work with the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) All of Us Research Program; working with community and healthcare provider organizations to expand and enhance diversity in biomedical research. 

 

Previously, Jessica served as a fellow at Pyxis Partners. In this capacity she conducted research on health policy and regulatory issues on behalf of clients. Jessica regularly contributed to the firm’s thought leadership efforts, including Pyxis’ health policy briefs which analyzes issues of national importance, including opioid use disorders, reproductive health matters, and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Jessica comes to Pyxis Partners with a background in women’s reproductive rights and health care reform. She earned her Masters Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and her Bachelors Degree from William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ. She enjoys hiking and spending time with her four-legged friends Sparky and Sparky Jr.

 
Jeff Callis

Health Policy Advisor

Jeff Callis is a consultant with an extensive knowledge of policy issues impacting a broad range of health care organizations and stakeholder groups. He brings more than ten years of experience working with clients across the healthcare industry to develop and implement comprehensive advocacy, communications and government relations strategies. Jeff has successfully used his experience in advocacy and community engagement to help clients develop the knowledge, skills and tools needed to effectively engage in legislative advocacy at federal, state and local levels.

 

Prior to his work with Pyxis Partners, Jeff served as a Principal at HCM Strategists.  In this role he managed the firm’s health reform portfolio, working with hospitals and patient advocacy organizations to advance Medicaid, Medicare and Marketplace policies to improve patient access to affordable health care and coverage. In addition, Jeff worked with some of the nation’s largest health systems to evaluate and strengthen their capacity to influence policy decisions that impact patients and providers.

 

Jeff holds a Master of Health Administration from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Science in Natural Sciences from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He lives in New Jersey with his husband, Chris, and their two dogs, Jackson and Casper.

 
 
Kim Cantor

Senior Director

Publications

Title: Envisioning Future Research and Clinical Practice with a Bioethics Lens: A Word for the Next Generation of Researchers.

Publication: Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved

Date: November 4, 2019

Title: Connecting Fact, Statistics, Stories and Policy: An Integrated Approach Can Spur Action

Date: September 8, 2020

Kim Cantor brings her extensive experience in patient advocacy and community engagement to her work at Pyxis Partners. Prior to joining Pyxis, Kim served as Vice President, Advocacy and Government Relations for the Lupus Foundation of America. During her tenure, she successfully secured funding increases for key federal lupus programs through congressional appropriations and created the Congressional Lupus Caucus. Working in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kim led the efforts to create and disseminate the first-ever National Public Health Agenda for Lupus. Kim also co-led a Food and Drug Administration Regulatory Initiative aimed at improving lupus clinical trials and ensuring the patient voice was an integral part of the process.  

 

At Pyxis Partners, Kim helps lead the firm’s community and provider engagement efforts for the National Institutes of Health, All of Us Research Program. This engagement work is focused on building relationships with trusted voices to raise awareness of the value of participation in research within communities that have been historically underrepresented in medical research.

 

Kim has worked collaboratively across the disease communities on numerous coalitions. She served as a co-chair for the Coalition for Accessible Treatments and the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) Coalition. She also provided strategic direction for the Medicare Access for Patients Rx (MAPRx) coalition, which is focused on access to beneficiaries under Medicare Part D. Kim also brings patient advocacy experience through her earlier work with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and PKD Foundation. 

 

Kim holds a bachelor’s degree from Bates College and received her Master’s degree in public administration from New York University.

Bobby Clark

Principal

Publications

Title: A Cure at Any Cost? Time to Shine a Light on Drug Pricing

Publication: The Health Care Blog

Date: November 2, 2020

 

Title: COVID-19 may discriminate. Its cure should not. 

Publication: LinkedIn Pulse

Date: May 1, 2020

Title: We must win the war on drug pricing if we want to win the war on cancer. 

Publication: Morning Consult

Date: March 5, 2020

Title: The peril of Medicare for All.

Publication: Health Affairs

Date: October 22, 2019

Title: Community engagement is key to clinical trial recruitment.

Publication: STAT News

Date: August 23, 2019

Bobby Clark is a recognized leader on U.S. health policy. He has dedicated his career to creating a more equitable, accessible, and affordable healthcare system for all Americans.

 

Bobby previously served as a Counselor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) during the Obama Administration and was a member of the Department’s senior leadership team. In this capacity, he advised Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell on policy and regulatory matters related to public health and science.

 

Bobby worked closely with the Department’s key public health and scientific agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. Bobby also served as a policy leader for the Department’s efforts on President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative and the Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

Prior to joining HHS, Bobby worked at PwC’s Health Research Institute, where he led the Institute’s analysis of regulatory and policy initiatives impacting the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. While at PwC, Bobby also advised leading health care companies on broader and systemic changes in health care.

 

Bobby served as a health policy advisor in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2003-2010, specifically as a senior staff member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health and for Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. of New Jersey.

Bobby advised members of Congress on a diverse portfolio of health policy issues, including: the regulation of food, drugs and medical devices; biomedical research and development; health insurance reform; health care financing; and delivery system reform. During his tenure, he contributed to a number of legislative achievements, most notably the Affordable Care Act.

Bobby graduated in 2002 with high honors from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey at New Brunswick with a dual degree in political science and sociology. He earned a master’s of public policy degree from Georgetown University in 2006, where he specialized in health care policy and studied international management at Oxford University’s Trinity College.

Bobby lives in Washington, DC with his husband, Kris, and their dog, Bernie. They are active members of the Washington National Cathedral Congregation. Bobby is also a member of the DC Medical Reserve Corps, as well as the National Parks Foundation's Champions Society.

 
 
Julia Daverne

Senior Associate

Julia Daverne brings a wealth of stakeholder engagement experience from her successful career in the pharmaceutical industry to Pyxis Partners. Julia has been a passionate champion for engaging stakeholders on DE&I, diversity, equity, and inclusion. She has been instrumental in broadening conversations and fostering a more inclusive work environment.

 

In her Senior Associate Engagement role, she will continue to be committed to advocating for stakeholders in making a difference in communities, being a champion for change and an influencer for positive outcomes.

 

As a specialty sales consultant, Julia has been recognized and received awards at the regional, area, and national levels throughout her career. Advocating and improving access for patients has been her greatest reward. Her career includes working in Brooklyn, NY, Baltimore, MD, and the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. Her therapeutic areas of experience include asthma & allergy, sleep medicine, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, gastrointestinal, and BPH (prostatic). Her extensive career spans companies such as Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Astellas Pharma, EMD Serono, Johnson & Johnson, Alza Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, and RPR (Rhone-Poulenc Rorer).

 

Julia is a graduate of Howard University, in Washington, DC where she earned a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Marketing. She is originally from Savannah, GA, and is a resident of Bowie, MD. She is also the proud mother of one son in college. When she takes time to unwind, she enjoys being creative by writing poetry, attending performing arts events, and traveling.

 

In the spirit of poetry and the power of words, she shares this quote from the writer James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” We all have an opportunity to impact change, making a difference for man.

Valarie Clark

Director

Valarie Clark brings her extensive experience in public and academic health and a strong passion for community engagement to her work with the National Institutes of Health's All of Us Research Program. In this role, she strives to engage community leaders and advocates to establish relationships, build trust and garner commitment. She is skilled at bringing people together, facilitating connections and building and nurturing a robust engagement ecosystem.

Prior to joining Pyxis, Valarie worked as the Director of Constituent Engagement for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in Washington, D.C. In this position, she planned and implemented professional development activities for staff and senior medical school leaders. Valarie has also worked with the National Medical Association, National Association of County and City Officials and the Mayor’s Boston’s Women’s Commission in Massachusetts. 

Valarie is a proud alumnus of two HBCUs. She received her bachelors of science from Norfolk State University before going on to earn her masters of public administration from Clark Atlanta University. Highlighting her support for HBCUs, she created an HBCU College tour and a leadership academy for Washington DC high school students. Recently, she received a certificate in Organizational Consulting and Change Management from Georgetown University. She also serves on the boards for Generation Hope and Leadership Greater Washington. 

 

Valarie is originally from Boston and currently lives in Washington, D.C., where she enjoys the rich culture, museums and theaters. Outside of work, she is passionate about civic engagement and enjoys traveling and rooting for Boston’s winning sports teams.

 
 
Krista Forbes

Senior Associate

Publications

Title: A Collision Course in the Race to Develop a Vaccine for COVID-19

Publication: Morning Consult

Date: September 18, 2020

Krista Forbes is a Senior Associate at Pyxis Partners. Specifically, Krista focuses on outreach and engagement for community stakeholders in the All of Us Research Program, where she works to develop and nurture community relationships that are built on key elements of transparency and trust. Krista has extensive experience working closely with community members and leaders making her an invaluable asset for the Pyxis team.

Krista has a rich and diverse work history that leads to her work on the team.  Notably, she spent many years as a health care chaplain in Atlanta, Georgia where she provided spiritual support to patients, their families and clinical staff.  She also advocated for patients needing assistance in understanding their treatment plan options. It was in this capacity where she witnessed the impact the widening gap in health care had on underserved populations, and Krista set her path towards public health.

Krista has a background in church leadership as an ordained minister and passionate preacher. She is a proud HBCU graduate of Hampton University, and also has earned her master’s of public health from Emory University, as well as her master’s of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. She is also a Life Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

Outside of work Krista loves watching professional football, practicing yoga and appreciating music and the arts. Krista is originally from Chesapeake, Virginia and currently lives in the Washington, D.C area.

Jill Kadish

Senior Project Manager

Jill brings her extensive experience leading cross-functional project teams in delivering health education and engagement programs for both non-profit and for-profit organizations to her work at Pyxis Partners. 

 

In her role as the Senior Project Manager on the Pyxis Partners All of Us Research Program engagement awardee team, Jill works closely with other team leaders to ensure strategy alignment and effective project delivery. She leverages creative project-solving skills and a passion for exploring innovative solutions to drive ever more effective communications and teamwork. 

Prior to joining Pyxis, Jill was the Innovation Director at the American Diabetes Association where she managed top-level client portfolios in the health IT ecosystem and initiated scalable education and engagement strategies for health care professionals.

 

Jill earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Ithaca College, a Master of Architecture from the University at Buffalo and is a certified Project Management Professional. She lives in Virginia with her husband, son and their larger-than-life dog. Whenever time allows, she enjoys traveling with her family, seeing the world through her son’s eyes and savoring strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Karen Levin

Senior Advisor

Karen Levin serves as a senior finance consultant for Pyxis Partners, enhancing and supporting the firm with business and operations management and financial planning. She has served in lead finance positions at top DC professional services firms for over 25 years, including VP of Finance and Finance Director, and has deep and significant experience in firm budgeting, P&L management and forecasting, client and vendor management, contract negotiations, new business and client budgeting, cash flow oversight and developing financial processes. 

 

Born and raised in Texas, Karen graduated from The American University in Washington, DC, where she remained to begin her career in DC and develop it over three decades.  Karen currently resides with her husband and three dogs in the Green Mountains of Vermont.  Karen is a passionate animal welfare activist, board member of Congregation Beth-El in Bennington, Vermont, and is an ally and lifelong activist for the BLM and the LGBTQI communities.

 
 
 
Abena McAllister

Director

Abena is a leader, visionary, engaged citizen, and a life-long community advocate with an authentic passion for serving the public in a meaningful way. She has used her communication skills to engage, inform and empower residents, mobilize leaders to act and push for social change and collective political action throughout the State of Maryland. She has a proven record of bringing people, organizations and resources together and achieving substantial results. She brings her extensive experience in community engagement and advocacy to her work on the Pyxis Partners All of Us research program team. In this role, Abena focuses on engaging community stakeholders from underserved and historically underrepresented communities in biomedical research through the development and nurturing of relationships built on transparency and trust.

 

Prior to joining Pyxis, Abena was apart of many initiatives to improve the health and welfare for underrepresented communities. One major initiative was drafting and lobbying to pass the Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Automated External Defibrillator Requirements Act of 2013, which initiated a CPR and AED program across public schools in the District of Columbia, and established procedures for responding to medical emergencies. More recently, she worked collaboratively with the Health Equity Resource Communities Coalition, which is a Maryland Citizens’ Health initiative advocating for the state of Maryland to create and fund health equity resources to help reduce health inequities. Abena has been elected and appointed to several local and statewide boards, committees, and advocacy groups committed to civic engagement, Women’s empowerment, and public service including Women of Action Maryland, which she founded, and Emerge Maryland.

 

Abena is a true servant leader. She attributes her values to her Christian upbringing, and the lessons she learned in her undergraduate studies at Nyack College a Christian missionary school in Nyack, NY where she studied communications. These attributes were further refined at the UDC David A Clarke School of Law, which is renown for its focus on public service, and their extensive Law Clinic programs which provide pro bono law services to the underrepresented citizens of the District of Columbia.

 

When Abena isn’t building and cultivating new relationships, she is connecting at home with her husband, their two young daughters, and rooting for her hometown basketball team the New York Knicks.

 
Amanda McMahon

Associate

Amanda McMahon works with clients primarily focused on addressing the opioid epidemic and advancing women's reproductive health. In this role, she leads policy and regulatory analyses and monitors and assesses developments impacting access to healthcare services at the federal and state levels. Amanda represents clients at Congressional and stakeholder briefings, authors policy and regulatory summaries, manages engagements and relationships between clients and Congressional offices. She also manages media relations on behalf of clients, including issuing advisories and connecting with journalists.

Additionally, Amanda leads Pyxis Partners health policy series, where she oversees research on pressing healthcare policy issues. Amanda previously worked as a Health Policy Advocacy Intern for the firm and currently manages the firm's internship program. She has prior experience working as a research assistant at the University of South Florida where her research focused on maternal and child health, specifically safe infant sleep. 

Amanda joined Pyxis Partners because of the firm’s important advocacy work on issues like reproductive rights and the opioid epidemic. She values having a positive impact on the health and well-being of the public and believes in the importance of keeping patients at the center of her advocacy work.

Amanda received her Master of Public Health degree from the University of South Florida. She grew up in a small town in Central Florida and loves spending time at the beach. Outside of work she also enjoys biking, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.

Bill Murat

Senior Advisor

With more than thirty years of public service at the federal, state, and local levels, Bill Murat has the knowledge, experience, and relationships to successfully navigate the halls of government. 

He served as Senator Tammy Baldwin’s Chief of Staff for nearly twenty years, in both her Senate and House offices.  Baldwin, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee; and Commerce Committee, is Secretary of the Democratic Caucus and serves on its leadership team.  As Chief of Staff, Murat was involved in all aspects of her legislative and political work and was her trusted confidential advisor. 

 

In her tribute to him, Senator Baldwin, speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate, said “Bill’s steady hand of leadership has helped me weather the storms Washington brings and stay focused on what matters most—the people of Wisconsin.”

Prior to his work in Congress, Bill Murat served as a State Representative in the Wisconsin State Assembly.  He served on the Criminal Justice Committee, the Committee on Children & Families, and the Committee on State-Federal Relations.  He played a leading role in the development of revisions to the Wisconsin Criminal Code and the Wisconsin Juvenile Code. In its annual survey of legislators, Murat was recognized as a “Rising Star” by Madison Magazine.  

During his service in the legislature, he was elected Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and a Member of the Democratic National Committee.   On his election, national columnist John Nichols wrote “Keep an eye on Murat…he has the energy, the tactical skills and the principles of a young [U.S. Senator] Gaylord Nelson.” Madison’s most widely read publication The Isthmus said, “Murat is someone Wisconsin’s Democrats are glad to have on their side.”  On his departure from the legislature, the leading newspaper in his district praised his service and said “Murat’s special interest was his constituents.”

 

Prior to his legislative service, Murat was a state prosecutor and County Attorney for eight years, including two terms as District Attorney for Portage County Wisconsin.  Upon his departure, the Stevens Point Journal editorialized “Murat has been an excellent District Attorney.  His successor would do well to listen to his counsel.”

 

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, he earned a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School and an M.B.A. in Finance and International Business from the Columbia Business School.  He is admitted to the Bar in Wisconsin and New York. He holds a top-secret security clearance.   

 

Bill lives in the DuPont/Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington DC.

 
 
Ronnie Tepp

Principal

Publications

Title: Community engagement is key to clinical trial recruitment.

Publication: STAT News

Date: August 23, 2019

Title: A Collision Course in the Race to Develop a Vaccine for COVID-19

Publication: Morning Consult

Date: September 18, 2020

Ronnie Tepp has spent the past three decades working to craft and advance policy and programs to improve outcomes for patients. At Pyxis Partners, she serves as the Principal Investigator (PI) for the engagement awardee team to the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program. In this role, she leads and manages a team tasked with reaching, educating and engaging underrepresented communities in medical research to build an All of Us participant community truly reflective of our country. Ronnie and the Pyxis team have built out a national network of trusted messengers and have developed an infrastructure to educate and support them in bringing the program to their communities.

In addition to this work, Ronnie specializes in strategy and policy development, coalition-building, strategic planning and advocacy. She has a talent for bringing stakeholders and nontraditional groups together to develop and advance collective agendas. She has an impressive track record and has proactively identified opportunities to promote good policy, helped organizations and communities coalesce around a common strategy and built trust internally to maximize their impact. The result has been the development of formidable coalitions that have succeeded in uniting and amplifying the voice of their communities and affecting change for the benefit of patients and families.

Ronnie’s career has included service as a senior-level congressional staffer during the health reform debates of the 1990s, vice president of a lobbying firm representing academic medical centers and health advocacy organizations, and chief lobbyist for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

A native of Massachusetts and a graduate of Skidmore College and Georgetown University, Ronnie lives with her husband and three children in Vienna, Virginia. She serves as a Board member of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation DC/Northern Virginia Chapter and as a mentor with New Hope Housing in Alexandria, VA, providing support to clients in their residential homes and shelters.

Yuri Velasquez

Senior Associate

Yuri Velasquez brings over ten years of experience in public health to his work in support of the engagement work of the NIH All of Us Research program. In this role, he supports community and provider organizations and their activities to bring program awareness and education to their communities. Yuri believes success and growth happen through teamwork and collaboration with the community and is passionate about working to engage and educate underserved communities.

Prior to joining Pyxis Partners, Yuri worked as a Health Educator and Prevention and Training Consultant for the Florida Department of Health where he provided STI, HIV and Hepatitis prevention education to Community-Based Organizations such as schools, drug treatment centers and county jails. Yuri has also previously served as an ambassador for several national campaigns, including the Greater Than AIDS – “I Got Tested” campaign, the CDC campaign- “HIV Treatment Works” and the HIV Healthcare - “My HIV Hang-up” campaign. Other previous positions include Health Services Analyst and Disease Intervention Specialist for the Florida Department of Health where he provided education and care coordination for HIV treatment, and as a Patient Advocacy Representative for the University of Miami, orienting new families and patients to the Miami Family Care Program as well as educating patients on medication adherence.

In his spare time, Yuri enjoys traveling to different states and visiting local landmarks, historical sites and attractions. Yuri loves the outdoors and staying physically active by hiking, rock climbing and snowboarding. He is also an avid runner who has participated in 5K races, half-marathons, full marathons, mud runs and obstacle races.

 

©2020 by Pyxis Partners.