Mary Hesdorffer, NP, to Present at UPenn Conference

Mary Speaking at 2013 SymposiumMary Hesdorffer, Nurse Practitioner and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s executive director, will be presenting at a conference at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) on November 15. Penn Mesothelioma and Pleural Program and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center will be hosting the conference titled “Pleural Mesothelioma 2013: Multidisciplinary Diagnosis, Treatment and Investigation.” Mary has been selected to present alongside national and international mesothelioma experts “to provide the full spectrum of perspectives on the many challenging and controversial topics surrounding this cancer.”

Mary Hesdorffer received her undergraduate degree at the College of New Rochelle in New York and went on to receive her Masters of Science at the same institution. She is a fully credentialed Nurse Practitioner and has spent 16 years actively treating patients with mesothelioma. Mary has an expertise in the development and implementation of clinical trials. She is published in peer reviewed journals and has lectured nationally on topics pertaining to mesothelioma with particular emphasis on clinical trials, as well as symptom and disease management.

At the University of Pennsylvania conference, Mary will present “The mesothelioma patient – what are the unmet needs?” This lecture will review what is currently being done for mesothelioma patients and examine what aspects can be improved and what additional measures should be taken to better fulfill patient needs. In the “Pleural Mesothelioma 2013” brochure, Mary Hesdorffer is described as “the person with likely the greatest number of contacts with mesothelioma patients in the world.”

Lee Krug, MD, a member of the Meso Foundation’s Board of Directors, will also be presenting at “Pleural Mesothelioma 2013”. Dr. Krug is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Division of Medical Oncology at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Described as “an acknowledged world leader,” Dr. Krug will present “Mesothelioma – Is there a standard of care, is there a staging system?” This lecture “will discuss the current staging of malignant pleural mesothelioma, including the limitations of this system, and will review what is currently considered ‘standard’ treatment.”

View the full brochure for “Pleural Mesothelioma 2013: Multidisciplinary Diagnosis, Treatment and Investigation” for further conference details.

Why Two Talking Heads are Better than One

By Mary, Hesdorffer, NP, Executive Director
Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

By now, many of you have seen the announcement that Melinda Kotzian has been promoted to CEO. Last week, following our very first announcement of this excellent news, I received a few quizzical emails expressing concern at the change in leadership of the Foundation.

I would like to set your minds at ease that this is not a change in leadership but recognition of a strong partnership that has been in place and continued to develop when I assumed the role of Executive Director.

I believe that to be a strong leader one must recognize their own strengths and weaknesses. I accepted this position with the caveat that Melinda would be my equal partner, utilizing her years of experience in the world of nonprofits, thus freeing me up to continue my work with the medical and mesothelioma communities.

Mary and Melinda working side by side during a recent meeting.

Mary and Melinda working side by side during a recent meeting.

Thanks to Melinda’s solid grasp of the business side of the Foundation, my role is now stronger than ever as I continue to focus on the medical and scientific areas of the organization, while simultaneously expanding our network of relationships. Melinda and I have been able to problem solve easily, both recognizing each other’s expertise, and have managed to reach consensus amicably and with both good humor and shared vision. We are more alike than different and I have felt very fortunate to have Melinda at my side. Her promotion was a recognition well deserved for her often behind-the-scenes expertise that is crucial to the future of the organization. I expect that you will continue to see changes at the Foundation in our staff and program levels but this is to keep the momentum going in addressing the growing needs of the organization. Please join me in congratulating Melinda on her promotion and sharing in our joint vision for the future of the Foundation.

PRESS RELEASE: Same Leaders, New Leadership Structure

August 2, 2013
Maja Belamaric
Phone: (703) 879-3822 

Same Leaders, New Leadership Structure

The Meso Foundation has a new leadership structure. Mary Hesdorffer, NP and Melinda Kotzian have been sharing leadership responsibilities since August of 2012, with Ms. Hesdorffer focusing on research and science activities and Ms. Kotzian focusing on the business side of the organization.

Effective immediately, Melinda Kotzian, who has thus far been the Chief Operating Officer, will now serve as the Foundation’s first Chief Executive Officer. This change in title provides Ms. Kotzian with full authority to act as an officer of the Foundation. Despite this change in title, the actual leadership structure will not change. Ms. Hesdorffer and Ms. Kotzian will continue sharing executive duties as they have been for the past year.

“I’m thrilled that Melinda’s title is finally in sync with her responsibilities,” said Mary Hesdorffer, NP, Meso Foundation’s executive director. “She has been working hard on behalf of the Foundation and this change will help her do even more,” she added.

Melinda Kotzian has been with the Meso Foundation since 2010. Prior to working at the Meso Foundation, she was at the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation , a small family foundation in the Washington, DC area which works on issues of social justice and helping those in need. Ms. Kotzian is a member of the Grants Management Network, Center for Nonprofit Advancement and the Nonprofit Professionals Network DC.

The Meso Foundation is the only 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating mesothelioma and easing the suffering caused by it. The Meso Foundation actively seeks philanthropic support to fund peer-reviewed mesothelioma research; provide patient support services and education; and advocate Congress for increased federal funding for mesothelioma research. The Meso Foundation is the only non-government funder of peer reviewed scientific research to establish more effective treatments for mesothelioma and, ultimately, a cure for this rare, but extremely aggressive, cancer. To date, the Foundation has awarded over $8.2 million to research.

More information is available at


Mesothelioma Expert Mary Hesdorffer Advocates Before British Parliament

Mary at Parliament

Mary Hesdorffer, NP with Laurie Kazan-Allen, Dan Sterman, MD, and Jim Sheridan in front of the UK Parliament.

Meso Foundation’s executive director, Mary Hesdorffer, Nurse Practitioner, is in London and wanted to share with you that she just spoke at the annual asbestos seminar of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health in the House of Commons.  Her talk entitled, Mobilizing for a Mesothelioma Cure, stresses how funding research is the key to eliminating mesothelioma.

“I am thrilled to be able to represent the Meso Foundation and the role that it has in funding the most promising peer-reviewed research from around the globe,” said Mary. The Meso Foundation has funded researchers in the United Kingdom and six other countries because we believe that it is necessary to collaborate in order to find a cure for mesothelioma.

Join our cause in the fight against mesothelioma. Learn more about how you can get involved.

Notes from Mary Hesdorffer, Executive Director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

mary1The past four months have rapidly flown by and I had hoped to correspond with you more often and in greater detail since assuming my new role. I am enjoying this position and I must confess it has its challenges, but each day, with the assistance of the Foundation’s talented staff, we make progress and work toward fulfilling our mission. Our mission statement is posted online and was crafted with the input of board and staff. We feel that we have clearly stated the objectives of the organization and are anxious to hear what your thoughts about the direction of the Foundation. I have scheduled a town hall meeting for next week as I have not had an opportunity to thank many of our supporters and to hear their viewpoints on the mission of the Foundation and how it is meeting their current needs.

Right now my focus is on the peer-reviewed grants program. I meet with the Board of Directors (BOD) on Thursday night for a decision on the number of grants to fund. As you may recall, the Foundation administers a robust peer-reviewed research grants program which is one of the major focuses of our Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Please view the bios of this talented group of scientists who review the grants in great detail in a process based upon the system used by our National Institute of Health. Why such a laborious process? Simple – without a strong scientific review, and oversight following funding, your research dollars would have little value. We ensure that each dollar donated to our research program is treated with respect and good faith that it will be used as intended, with oversight and transparency. The SAB recommends the grants that are worthy of funding and the BOD has the fiscal responsibility to allocate budgeted funds for this purpose. I want to personally thank Dr. Lee Krug, Chair of our SAB for leading the process and keeping us informed of progress of the grant review. His strong leadership and scientific knowledge guided this rigorous process.

It is with great excitement that I await Thursday’s meeting and we will share this news with the community quickly and with great enthusiasm.

WHAT: Town hall meeting (conducted via conference call)
WHEN: 8:00 p.m. EST Wed. Jan. 23rd
WHO: Everyone is invited
WHY: To discuss Foundation updates and its programs and to allow for question/answer with executive director
WHERE/HOW: Conference call in number: (605) 475-4000
Participant Access Code: 216145