At Beyond Celiac, we work day in and day out to ensure that people with celiac disease can live life to the fullest and eat without fear. We envision a world without celiac disease and work to inspire hope, accelerate research and forge the pathways to a cure.
Meet our team!
Alice Bast’s personal experience with celiac disease ignited her passion to help the estimated three million Americans suffering from the disease receive a prompt and accurate diagnosis.
Alice reflects that much has changed in the past 15 years. “We began with a simple goal: to raise awareness of celiac disease so people would stop suffering needlessly. Since then, we have evolved to meet new challenges and unmet needs, and expanded our mission not only to help people get diagnosed but also make it possible to live a full and healthy life after that diagnosis.” This means living life to the fullest—to eat without fear, travel without fear, live without fear.
Alice is widely regarded as a celiac disease expert and has been a keynote speaker at major medical and allied health industry events, plus culinary and foodservice industry conferences. She has presented at the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Annual Meeting, (2010) Healthy Foods Conference (2008), International Pizza Expo (2011), Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Wellness Conference (2011, 2013), the School Nutrition Association (2013) and the Natural Products Expo East (2008, 2009) and Expo West (2011) shows. She was a featured presenter at medical conferences hosted by St. Barnabas Health Care System (2009), The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013), and Paoli Hospital (2011), along with speaking regularly to healthcare professionals at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Jefferson University Hospital.
Alice chaired a panel presentation at the 14th International Coeliac Disease Symposium held in Oslo, Norway. An abstract from the Beyond Celiac study, “The Use of Disease Symptoms Checklist in Self-Initiated Diagnoses of Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity,” was accepted to the 2012 International Meeting on Coeliac Disease, Mastering the Coeliac Condition: From Medicine to Social Sciences and Food Technology, where Alice presented the abstract in a poster session. In 2013, Beyond Celiac presented two research posters at the International Celiac Disease Symposium held at the University of Chicago.
Alice also led the autoimmune roundtable at Partnering for Cures of FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute that is bringing together the best and brightest to find a cure. Alice was invited by the American Gastroenterological Association to participate in a meeting aimed at providing recommendations to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), an entity authorized by Congress via the Affordable Care Act.
Alice and Beyond Celiac have supported research throughout the organization’s 10-year history. In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) awarded Beyond Celiac the first-ever grant to conduct research in the field of gluten in medications, an area that Beyond Celiac has long championed.
Alice’s story has been featured in Good Housekeeping Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, US News & World Report, and on nationally televised programs such as ABC’s “The View” and CNN. Among her accomplishments, Alice co-authored an article titled “Celiac Disease and Reproductive Health Issues,” which was published in the Journal of Practical Gastroenterology. She was the Principal Investigator on an NIH funded grant titled, “Novel Educational Aids for Celiac Disease.” Alice was also awarded the 90th Annual Philadelphia Award in May 2011, one of the city’s most prestigious honors given each year to a citizen who has acted and served on behalf of the best interests of the community. And, she has been awarded the SmartCEO Brava Award recognizing exceptional women leaders in the Greater Philadelphia community.
In May 2011, Alice was awarded the 90th annual Philadelphia Award, one of the city’s most prestigious honors given each year to a citizen who has acted and served on behalf of the best interests of the community. Alice works out of the Ambler, PA office. Email Alice Bast
Director of National Programs and Volunteer Engagement
Suzanne manages our Step Beyond Celiac 5K events and developed and leads our Summer Intern Council and Reach Beyond Celiac Ambassador programs. An avid runner, dedicated volunteer, and former events marketing manager for Runner’s World magazine, Suzanne is uniquely qualified to help Beyond Celiac expand our successful 5K program and create a network of passionate volunteers and interns across the nation. As the Director of National Programs and Volunteer Engagement, she is committed to building strong community ties to support families and individuals at every stage of their celiac journey. When not working Suzanne can be found running with homeless dogs at the local city shelter or spending time at home in Philadelphia with her family and two resident dogs. Email Suzanne Allaire.
Salvatore Alesci, MD, PhD
Beyond Celiac Chief Scientist and Strategy Officer
Dr. Alesci, formerly Vice President and Head of R&D Global Patient and Scientific Affairs at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, is a highly regarded physician-scientist and science policy and advocacy influencer. A dynamic and visionary enterprise leader, he has distinguished himself by transforming organizations through designing innovative functions and initiatives, championing and managing complex projects, building high-performing cross-functional teams, and nurturing long-lasting relationships with leaders from various sectors across the healthcare ecosystem. At Beyond Celiac, Alesci will lead the organization’s science team and oversee the design and implementation of the scientific strategy and plan, with a particular focus on deepening partnerships with scientists, key opinion leaders, policymakers and influencers across pharmaceutical companies and academic and government institutions.
Digital Content Coordinator
As a part of the Communications team, Bailey gets to share the work of Beyond Celiac with the world! She was diagnosed with celiac disease as a teenager and knows all too well how difficult adjusting to the gluten-free lifestyle can be. Before coming to Beyond Celiac, Bailey worked as a technical writer and editor, taking long-winded, complicated information and making it easy for the average person to understand. Now, she uses her editing, writing, and social media skills to expand the celiac community and encourage thoughtful conversation around the disease. When she’s not responding to questions on Facebook or drafting Instagram posts, you can find her drawing in a patch of sunshine and taking walks through the woods. Email Bailey Arman.
Kate Avery, MPH
Director of Research and Patient Engagement
Kate supports patients and caregivers who share their experiences with us in pursuit of increased diagnosis rates, improved disease management and future treatments. She has worked on multiple qualitative and quantitative research projects focused on understanding the diagnostic and disease management experience and has long been interested in health communications and the patient journey. She oversees our Go Beyond Celiac patient research database, assists in clinical trial recruitment proposal creation and planning, and manages our Patient & Family Advisory Council. Kate holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Notre Dame and an MPH in Health Behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kate works in the Ambler, PA office. Email Kate Avery.
Senior Director of Communications
Claire joined the Beyond Celiac staff in July 2014 with 20 years of non-profit management experience. Diagnosed with celiac disease, she sought to improve the lives of others who need to live gluten-free through her blog, social media and publications. Prior to joining Beyond Celiac, Claire served as Director of Gardening Programs for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS). She managed the PHS City Harvest program and led community engagement and greening teams focused on gardening education, parks revitalization, youth environmental stewardship, Pop Up Gardens and more. Claire formerly served as Director of Operations and Interim Executive Director of the Metropolitan AIDS Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA), Executive Director of the William Way LGBT Community Center, and Manager of Off-Air Civic Engagement Activities and Events for WHYY. Email Claire Baker.
Isabel joined the Beyond Celiac staff in August of 2020, and provides administrative and strategic support to the development team. Previously, she has held development roles at nonprofits large and small, gaining ample experience as an on-the-ground fundraiser. She moved to Philadelphia to complete a year-long fellowship with Quaker Voluntary Service and is excited to now be diving deeper into the Philly nonprofit community. Isabel holds a BA in Geography from Macalester College. Email Isabel Beck-Roe.
Director of Administration
Nancy joined Beyond Celiac in June of 2004 after working extensively for AT&T leading a global sales team focused on the needs of multi-national corporations. At Beyond Celiac, Nancy works across departmental lines to assist in operational matters along with programming, Philadelphia area events, contracts, sponsorship and supporting volunteers. She also is responsible for coordinating efforts with the Beyond Celiac Board of Directors, contributing to Beyond Celiac publications and working on Beyond Celiac programs for raising awareness. In addition to her work with Beyond Celiac, Nancy serves as the Chairperson for the Board of Directors of the Digestive Disease National Coalition (DDNC), an advocacy organization comprised of the major national voluntary and professional societies concerned with digestive diseases working to improve public policy and increase public awareness to promote the best possible medical outcome and quality of life for current and future patients. Nancy works out of the Ambler, PA office. Email Nancy Ginter.
Director of Finance
George J. Gorge is responsible for all finance operations at Beyond Celiac. Prior to joining Beyond Celiac, George held a variety of financial management positions; most recently he led the accounting department at Amplifier Research Corporation. George also was the Chief Financial Officer at the Girl Scout of Eastern Pennsylvania and held various financial management positions with Olympus Corporation of the Americas. Before joining Olympus George held several positions of increasing responsibility for a 21-year career with Subaru of America. George is a graduate of Drexel University with a Master’s in Business Administration in Finance and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business majoring in Accounting. He is a Certified Public Accountant and member of both the American Institute of CPAs and the Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs. George is also an active volunteer in both the community and church. George works out of the Ambler, PA office. Email George Gorge.
Ken Kilgore, PhD, MBA
Beyond Celiac Chief Scientific Investment Officer
Dr. Kilgore, formerly the Director, ImmunoPharmacology at Johnson & Johnson, has more than 20 years’ experience in pharmaceutical research and external drug discovery. He has worked on developing models in many different disease areas and has deep experience in translational research – moving research from bench to bedside – and getting new molecules from early study to clinical trials. Recent efforts have focused on establishing highly-productive joint internal/external research alliances with academic and industry partners. In addition, Kilgore is currently serving on the Investment Committee of BioAdvance Venture Capital in Radnor, PA and is active in new venture development at the University of Michigan and Princeton University. At Beyond Celiac, he will identify and develop innovative funding models and administer the Beyond Celiac scientific grants program.
Assistant Director of Digital Media
Maria works to provide our community with the latest news and research concerning celiac disease. Through varied digital content, Maria raises awareness and builds an informed audience. She also executes recruitment and branding assistance for clinical trials. Having been through her own celiac testing journey, Maria understands the challenges and frustration involved in obtaining an accurate diagnosis. Prior to joining Beyond Celiac, she became passionate about helping others take charge of their health as an editor at Rodale. Maria holds a BS in Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University, where one of her proudest achievements included being a leader in CreateAThon @VCU, a program where students deliver pro-bono marketing materials to area nonprofits. She is currently earning an MPH from The George Washington University. Maria works out of the Ambler, PA office. Email Maria Luci.
Director of Scientific Affairs
Amy Ratner joined Beyond Celiac in 2016 as the medical and science news analyst to provide coverage of celiac disease research news. She has extensive experience reporting on and writing about celiac disease. She was editor-in-chief, associate editor and contributing editor for 23 years at Gluten-Free Living magazine, where her work touched on all topics related to celiac disease, including lifestyle, diet, nutrition, and medical and research developments. When Amy’s daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease as a toddler 24 years ago, she was set on a path that combined her commitment to improving life for those with celiac disease with her journalism training. She holds of Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the Pennsylvania State University and was an award-winning newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania before working in alumni relations for Goucher College in Baltimore and in communications for the Service Employees International Union in Washington, D.C. Her writing about celiac disease has also appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Baby Talk magazine, Allergic Living and other publications. Her current role has expanded to include managing Beyond Celiac research grant awards and scientific partnerships. Her family has now grown to include two grandsons. Email Amy Ratner.
National Director of Corporate Relations
Chris has been a member of the celiac disease community since 2013, both professionally and as the proud father of a son with celiac. His passion for advocating for the gluten-free community brought him to the Beyond Celiac team in March 2020. As the National Director of Corporate Relations, he will continue his work in building long-term relationships with corporations and organizations to produce opportunities beneficial to individuals such as his son. A graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in Food Microbiology, his experience also includes 15+ years in the medical supply industry and the development of his own start-up business. When not working on behalf of the community, you can find he and his wife of 20+ years on a volleyball court near you, cheering on their two very tall children. Email Chris Rich.
Senior Director of Donor Relations
As Senior Director of Donor Relations, Mary handles a wide range of development functions, including communications and special events. She joined Beyond Celiac in April 2016 shortly after the organization’s rebranding and shift in focus to accelerate research. Previously, Mary worked as a clinical medical librarian after completing a post-graduate fellowship with the National Library Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. She was introduced to development work through community outreach work in Chester County while raising her now college-aged children. She holds a BA in English from Cornell University and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Maryland. Mary works out of the Ambler, PA office. Email Mary Tackett.
Valerie joined the Beyond Celiac team in 2020, first as a member of our inaugural Summer Intern Council, and now as our Volunteer Engagement Intern. Valerie will be graduating with a triple major in Medicine, Health, and Society; Psychology; and Women’s and Gender Studies from Vanderbilt University in the spring of 2021. After being diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2015, Valerie started a career of advocacy that included creating an international network for newly diagnosed Celiac teens, revolutionizing Vanderbilt’s special diet program, designing the Nima College Ambassador Program, and working individually to help students navigate collegiate life with Celiac Disease. She is extremely passionate about being an advocate for one’s self and excited to be working with Beyond Celiac to engage the community through the Reach Beyond Celiac ambassador program and work to advance a cure.
After joining the Beyond Celiac team in the summer of 2020 as a member of the Summer Intern Council, Ben is now a member of the communications team as their lead intern. He works closely with members of the team to increase search engine optimization for the Beyond Celiac website. Ben will be graduating with a degree in Digital Media Productions and Marketing from Kent State University in spring of 2021. Diagnosed with celiac disease as a college student, Ben began his gluten-free journey with the mission of increasing advocacy and making sure people know the warning signs and can get properly diagnosed at a younger age. “Working with my fellow interns to help establish the Beyond Celiac ambassador program was a tremendous honor, and I could not be more thrilled to be with an organization that truly cares about this community!”