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Established in December 2020, the Emerging Leadership Council’s (ECC) purpose is to ensure the voice of patients within the 25-35 age range is well represented in Alport Syndrome Foundation’s decision making and to develop the next set of leaders to sustain ASF into the future. Membership is by invitation.

As co-chairs, Adam Jardine and Cassie Smith serve in an official liaison capacity to the ASF Board of Directors.

Adam Jardine, Co-Chair

Adam Jardine was diagnosed with Alport syndrome at a young age and began experiencing side effects in his early teens. He majored in Political Science, Public Administration, and Environmental Policy and Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and subsequently obtained his law license in 2015 from the University of Michigan. Adam currently works on healthcare and environmental policy for the U.S. House of Representatives. Adam represented ASF at the 2019 International Alport Workshop in Siena, Italy, and served on the patient panel for the August 2020 Alport Family Meeting.

Connect with Adam

Cassie Smith, Co-Chair

Cassie Smith, a Kentucky native, is a registered nurse and mom to three young children. She was first diagnosed with Alport syndrome in late childhood. Two of her three children were diagnosed in early 2019. Both her professional and personal experiences make her passionate about patient advocacy. ASF is confident these experiences will serve the Council well. Cassie recently shed light on Alport syndrome and eloquently shared her experiences as a patient as part of the Female Diagnosis Stories video.

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Jess Davis, Council Member

Jess Walters (she/they) is a 31-year old independent scholar, disability justice advocate, and emerging multi-media artist and documentary producer from Charlottesville, Va. She earned a degree in Psychology from the University of Virginia in 2014 and continues the work of her late mentor Dr. John Bonvillian on the development and testing of the Simplified Sign System, a novel gestural communication system that can be used as a form of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Jess continues to be fascinated by the interconnecting mechanisms between neurology, nephrology, and non-verbal communication, and explores these themes throughout her research, advocacy, and art.

Joseph Lagas, Council Member

Joseph Lagas is a doctoral candidate at Washington University in St. Louis studying molecular biology. He received a Bachelor’s degree in the same field from the University of Arizona and is motivated to pursue science because of his personal experiences with Alport syndrome. He was diagnosed at seven following the passing of his Uncle, after which his mother founded ASF with the help of other Alport syndrome patients. The foundation allowed him to experience scientific research first-hand, giving him both a unique perspective on the disease and a passion for understanding and communicating the science surrounding Alport syndrome.

Maxwell Lagas, Council Member

Maxwell Lagas was diagnosed with Alport syndrome at the age of six after the passing of his Uncle. His mother Sharon Lagas seeing a need to bring Alport syndrome patients together founded the Alport Syndrome Foundation. Max is a medical student at Trinity School of Medicine currently in his second year about to take his STEP 1 exam, he graduated from the University of Arizona with a double major in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Human Physiology. He has been to multiple Alport Connect conferences and is very passionate about ASF. His personal and professional experience gives him a unique perspective on Alport Syndrome.

Kelly Lamanna, Council Member

Kelly is a theater artist and producer living in Brooklyn, NY. She has made a career as a multi-hyphenate artist, creating and directing original work, producing and curating the work of other artists, and managing arts non-profits. She was diagnosed with Alport syndrome at the age of 21 right before her senior year of college. She has spent much of her 20s grappling with the often very heavy questions our condition presents. Her goal in joining the Emerging Leadership Council is to make sure that no other Alport patient ever feels that they are alone. She aims to focus on mental health awareness and community building to bring us all closer and stronger together.

Alport Syndrome Foundation extends gratitude to the following organizations for sponsoring efforts of the Emerging Leadership Council:

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