Laura Thrall is Vice Chair of the Melwood Board of Directors and serves on Melwood’s Governance Committee. Laura is President and Chief Executive Officer at the Epilepsy Foundation, where she brings over 30 years of leadership experience.
Ms. Thrall was previously CEO of CureSearch for Children’s Cancer. Taking the helm at CureSearch in 2012 at a pivotal moment in the organization’s 30 year history, she transformed the foundation from its role as the largest Federal grantee in childhood cancer, to a privately funded entity focused on driving promising therapeutics into the clinic.
Ms. Thrall developed the CureSearch Catapult model; an evergreen fund supporting clinic–‐ready projects led by academic investigators and small biopharma companies. She created and seated a community of 40 expert stakeholders including scientific, industry, and venture capital councils, and established the annual CureSearch Catapult Summit, an invitation only, outcomes-based forum to advance childhood cancer therapeutics. Ms. Thrall is a frequent speaker and panelist on issues related to financial innovation and the role of philanthropy in orphan disease drug development.
Prior to coming to CureSearch, Ms. Thrall held the President and Chief Executive Officer position at both the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago and the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago. During that time, she served as an appointed member on two Illinois Governor’s Commissions, chaired the Chicago Alliance for Collaborative Effort (“CACE”), and was a founding member of Illinois Partners for Human Services.
Passionate about healthcare, Ms. 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. She served as an appointed member of the Advisory Council for Northwestern University Medical Center’s Cerebrovascular Institute and has led and served on several nonprofit boards for almost three decades.
Ms. Thrall holds a master’s degree in Public Service Management from DePaul University in Chicago. She and her partner Kevin Booth relocated to Annapolis, MD in 2012 and have five adult children between them residing in New York, Chicago, LA, and Atlanta.