Board of Directors


Tom Jacob, Board Chair

Owner, Jacob Consulting Commercial Real Estate

Tom has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and Master’s In Health Administration from Tulane University. He spent over 20 years in healthcare management including almost fifteen years as the Assistant Administrator of Dedham Medical Associates. Currently he invests in commercial real estate properties. In his hometown of Needham, MA, Tom sits on the Finance Committee and is a town meeting member. He also served for six years on the town’s Park & Recreation Commission. He is involved with several charitable organizations including The Men’s Collaborative to Cure Women’s Cancers where he is Co-Chair of their annual charity golf event.

Bob Ernst, Board Vise Chair

Owner and President, FBN Construction Co.

In addition to his service with Communities United, Inc., and Needham Childrens’ Museum, Bob’s board experience is exemplified by his tenure at Builders and Remodelers Association of Greater Boston. He was called back into service as the Association was moving through a difficult and contentious reorganization in a successful effort to reestablish its solid financial and governance structure. In 1995, Bob joined FBN Construction and set it on a path to be recognized as a premier residential building and remodeling company in Greater Boston. 

Thanda Fields Brassard

Vice President & Trust Counsel; General Counsel, Fiduciary Trust of New England
Thanda, a graduate of Boston College and Boston College Law School, has 12 years of experience at Fiduciary Trust Company where she focuses on advising individuals and families on their estate and tax planning matters. Thanda also has significant experience in estate settlement and trust administration. Thanda’s support of the Ellie Fund began in 2015 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and received assistance from the Ellie Fund during her treatment. Her personal experience with the Ellie Fund’s support services brings a unique and valuable perspective to the Board

Cynthia Levine Kropp

Executive Vice President, Marketing & Business Development, ABC Global Services (Retired)

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, working, and raising 4-year old twins, Cynthia knew from the moment she was diagnosed, that one day, she would give back. She wanted to do whatever she could to help the next patient facing a breast cancer diagnosis, especially those with young children. As a mother who also worked full-time as a travel industry executive, Cynthia admits she was overwhelmed, challenged, and in uncharted waters. As she went through treatment, she set her sights on recovery milestones. For years, Cynthia looked for the right way to give back and help breast cancer patients. After more than 30 years in the workforce and launching two wonderful adult children, she decided to put her effort and resources into the Ellie Fund. She is passionate about patient care and knows how important it is to support patients through their recovery so they can focus on living their best life and taking care of their families.

Jeff Popkin, Founder

Founder, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Partner, Boston Event Guide

Jeff, along with his brother Eliot, founded the Ellie Fund in 1995 to honor their mother Eleanor Popkin’s courageous battle against breast cancer and the giving spirit for which she was known. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts Boston, Jeff is the Founder and CEO of Boston Event Guide, a full-service marketing and promotions company in Boston. As former Board Chair and now special counsel, ambassador and key stakeholder, Jeff is responsible for ensuring that the history and legacy of the Ellie Fund remain at the forefront of its mission.

Amy Comander, MD

Breast Oncologist, Mass General Cancer Center at Waltham and Newton Wellesley

Dr. Amy Comander is Director of Breast Oncology and Cancer Survivorship at the Mass General Center in Waltham and at Newton-Wellesley. She is also co-director of the Mass General Cancer Center in Waltham. Dr. Comander is well-known for her compassionate care and devotion to her patients. She is dedicated to improving the quality of life and outcome of her patients through lifestyle interventions. In addition to her expertise in hematology/oncology, Dr. Comander has also pursued board certification in Lifestyle Medicine, and she has launched “PAVING the Path to Wellness Program,” a 12 week lifestyle medicine based survivorship program for women with breast cancer. She is an avid runner, and she is thrilled to run her eighth consecutive Boston Marathon this year to honor the Ellie Fund!

Nicole Thomas

Vice President, Wellington Management

As a Business Analyst at Wellington, Nicole helps lead the growth, expansion, integration, and oversight of the firm’s private investment business. She also co-chairs “Shades,” Wellington’s Black Employee Resource Group, and serves as Secretary to the firm’s Global Governance Committee. Nicole has also been an active participant of Wellington’s philanthropic Grant Recommendation Committee, having acted as a grant reviewer for the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology and College for Social Innovation, and Lead for the After School & Summer Program Review Team that provided oversight grant recommendation for seven non-profits. 

Joanna Chanis

Author and Inspirational Speaker

Joanna is a self-employed inspirational speaker, professional mentor, author, entrepreneur, inventor, and successful business owner. She wrote her book, The Waiting Room: Your Friend to Help You and Your Loved Ones Through the Diagnosis, because, “it was exactly what I would have needed after my breast cancer diagnosis but couldn’t find.” Joanna’s extensive philanthropic experience extends to the Park Street School, Newton Country Day School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Annunciation Cathedral of New England, and the Greek Ladies Philoptochos Society. 

Scott clifford

Managing Partner, Law Offices of Lipsey & Clifford, P.C.

Attorney Scott J. Clifford is a Holbrook native, currently living in Norwood. He is a graduate of Bridgewater State University where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a concentration in Legal Studies. Scott later received his Juris Doctorate from New England School of Law.  He is the managing partner of the Law Offices of Lipsey & Clifford, P.C., where he concentrates in the areas of real estate (representing commercial and residential lenders, buyers and sellers), corporate law and litigation involving both real estate and corporate matters.  Scott and his office work with several non-profits throughout Massachusetts including Ellie Fund, South Shore Habitat for Humanity and New England Villages.

Mark Irving Board Member

Mark Irving

Vice President and Corporate Secretary, Hologic, Inc.

As Vice President and Corporate Secretary at Hologic, Inc., a Massachusetts based innovative medical technology company primarily focused on improving women’s health and well-being through early detection and treatment, Mark supports and advises on matters relating to corporate governance and public reporting.  Mark brings more than 15 years of legal experience as an advisor and business partner. Mark has a B.A. in English from Georgetown University and received his J.D., from the Georgetown University Law Center. Mark is passionate about spreading the message on the importance of early detection and ensuring that all women and their families have access to care before, during and at the conclusion of a breast cancer diagnosis. Further, as a Needham resident, he has become actively involved in the Ellie Fund.

Nancy wright, MBA

Nancy has been an active Ellie Fund volunteer since 2019, following her own treatment for breast cancer. After a successful career as a business owner and senior leader at academic and arts institutions, Nancy is now dedicated to philanthropic activities that support women and families living with breast cancer.  In addition to the Ellie Fund, Nancy serves as a Peer Mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital, supporting caregivers and cancer patients throughout their treatment. For over 20 years, Nancy owned Perennial Designs, a premier floral design studio and retailer in Needham.  She previously held senior positions at Babson College, the Hanahauoli School in Hawaii and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Nancy earned her MBA from Babson College and her BSBA in Economics from Boston College.

Lucy petrossian amello

Senior Associate Director – Graduate Career Development, Bentley University (Retired)

Lucy started her career in the corporate world in Resource Management, Human Resources, and Recruitment. After 18 years with Deloitte and John Hancock Financial Services, Lucy moved on to Bentley University where she used her corporate experience to advise graduate students in the Pulsifer Career Development Center. Lucy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, she had her surgery in 2020, with most of her recovery taking place during the isolation period of Covid-19. Based on her own experience with her treatment and recovery, Lucy learned how having access to the essential support services through the Ellie Fund could have alleviated some of the day-to-day stress of the journey for herself and her husband. In February 2021, Lucy therefore made the decision to leave her beloved position at Bentley and dedicate her time to supporting the mission of the Ellie Fund. Lucy is Armenian, born and raised in the Middle East, she lived and studied in Brussels, Belgium; her husband is Italian and her family lives in London and Amsterdam. She has travelled extensively in Europe and the Far East and says: “I speak 4 languages, none of them perfect!”

Joseph Middleton

Partner – KPMG

Joe is a Certified Public Accountant who holds a bachelor’s in accounting and a master’s in taxation from Northeastern University in Boston. Joe has been in the accounting profession since 1993 and has served a wide variety of domestic and international corporate clients in the consumer industrial products, manufacturing, and high-technology industries. Joe, his wife, Noreen, and three daughters, Shannon, Erin, and Rori along with their dog Charlie live in Milton, MA.  Joe likes spending time with his family.  Joe is an avid golfer but unfortunately not very good!!!

Denise hayes


Denise is a native of Pittsburgh, PA, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a dual major in Elementary Education and Psychology from Pittsburgh’s Carlow University. She is certified to teach all subjects in kindergarten through sixth grade but chose to teach fourth and fifth grade Math and Science for the last 10 years of her career. She is trained by NASA in cooperation with the University of Pittsburgh to teach Space Camp and worked her way to become a Lead Teacher of the NASA Space Camp Program.


A corporate relocation led Denise, husband Cain and their two children, Matthew and Nena to Boston. They live in Waban neighbor of Needham. Denise is co-chair for the 2024 Ellie Fund Red Carpet Gala.


William boyle

Executive Director, Investment Banking Division at Morgan Stanley

William is an Executive Director in the investment banking division at Morgan Stanley, specializing in advising sponsors on structuring and executing a variety of secondary liquidity solutions. 
Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, William was a Director at PJT Partners and started his career at GSO Capital Partners, the credit division of the Blackstone Group.
William graduated from Wake Forest University with a BA in English (Honors Program). While originally a Boston native, he currently resides in Rye, New York with his wife and two young sons.

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