Connie Kazanjian has spent her entire career raising funds to support incredible organizations with just one mission: to help improve the lives of the population they serve. Over the past 25 years she has been proud to work in development supporting institutions such as Miami Country Day School, University of Miami School of Business, and Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Currently she is a consultant to inventors, helping them monetizing their patents and working to bring their technology to improve the lives of others. She is a wife and mother of two beautiful young women and the grandmother of five incredible grandchildren under the age of six.
Connie’s passion for NTMir began over 20 years ago with her friendship with Philip and Fern Leitman. In her own words, she explained, “It was awe-inspiring to see their commitment to each other and their strong desire to educate physicians to diagnose the disease as early as possible. Their never-ending energy to change the lives for the better of each and every patient they met as Fern herself battled the disease daily. Their incredible success bringing this orphan and rare disease into the public conscience of government agencies and pharmaceutical companies has been extraordinary.”
Kazanjian received her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Advertising from the University of Minnesota. An active member of her community, she is on the Council for Advancement and Support of Education conference faculty; World Economic Club; Board Member and Past President of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals; Past President of Alumni Programs Council.
Debbie Breslawsky was diagnosed with NTM in 2000. Being faced with a lack of knowledge of this “mysterious condition,” her quest for information led her to find patients with this same condition. She established her first NTM support group in New York in 2003, which has grown exponentially since then. In 2012, she founded a support group in the Palm Springs area of California, and in 2013, another in Connecticut. It is her mission to support NTM patients by providing information and encouragement.
Debbie is a National Trustee of National Jewish Health and serves on the board of NTM Info & Research, the national organization advocating for patients by providing information and supporting research, among other endeavors. She was one of the originators of the NTM patient conference series at National Jewish Health, and has written an NTM manual for use by patients and physicians. It is her hope that her participation on the board of NTMir will help her mission of advocacy for the challenges facing NTM patients.
Her interests include golf, hiking, and travel, and she values time with her family, husband Marc, her two children and their spouses, and her four grandchildren. She is grateful to have overcome many of the difficulties of NTM, enabling her to enjoy an excellent quality of life.
Brandon Mitchell is the Director of Miami at Venture For America (VFA), a non-profit organization that creates economic opportunity in American cities by mobilizing the next generation of entrepreneurs and equipping them with the skills and resources they need to create jobs. At VFA, he leads all individual, corporate and foundation fundraising, community partnerships and Fellow support initiatives for the VFA Miami program.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, he moved to Miami, Florida in 2008 to study at the University of Miami where he served as the Student Body President, received the Key to the City of Coral Gables, and was selected into the University’s Iron Arrow Honor Society, the highest honor at the university.
Prior to Venture For America, he worked as a consultant to some of the world’s biggest eCommerce brands including Procter & Gamble, Brooks Brothers, Kate Spade and more developing their e-commerce and digital marketing strategies and directed the University of Miami Alumni Association’s young alumni and student engagement program, leading the department to some of its highest engagement metrics in its history.
Passionate about the Miami community, he was a participant and team lead for the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Miami program in 2018 where his team was awarded “Most Outstanding Project.” He currently serves on the Executive Planning Committee for Leadership Miami and is an Executive Committee member of United Way’s LINC Giving Community. He has also served on the University of Miami’s Young Alumni Leadership Council and the Board of Directors for his high school’s Alumni Association.
Brandon graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Miami in 2012 his Master’s Degree in Management from the Miami Business School in 2018.
Betsy Glaeser, an NTM patient for more than 18 years, is a charter member and co-leader of the New York NTM patient support group, and a member of NTMir’s Board of Directors.
With a resistant strain of NTM requiring daily constant daily treatment, Betsy was fortunate to be accepted into the National Institutes of Health NTM protocol which has directed her care, supplemented by NYU-Langone. She chose to pursue her love of art history after her diagnosis, earning an M.A., passing doctoral orals, and obtaining a second M. Phil degree. She also holds an M.A. in history. After her first job as grants officer at a Rockefeller Fund, she did an MBA in finance. She managed capital markets for Mobil Corporation for over 20 years, and then directed the consulting practice for corporations’ risk management for Deloitte. In 1999 her NTM-related health issues prompted her to leave the workforce. She still audits art courses.
Despite the challenges of having NTM lung disease, Betsy maintains an active and enriching life. In addition to her work with the support group and NTMir, which she finds very fulfilling, she audits art courses and spends many weekends away in Connecticut with her psychiatrist husband. She also has a large family which she enjoys greatly, including her son as well as three grandchildren and three step-grandchildren.
Philip Leitman likes to tell people that the most important job he ever had was caring for his late wife, Fern, who was ill for nearly two decades with a complex resistant Mycobacterium Abscessus pulmonary infection. His passion is helping NTM patients individually and through NTM Info & Research (NTMir), an organization he and his late wife co-founded in 2002.
Philip moved to Miami, Florida from Canada in 1990, where had been the CEO of his own company. In addition, Philip has served as a Vice Chair of the Council of National Trustees of National Jewish Medical and Research Center, as a Board Member of the American Lung Association of Southeast Florida, and a Board Member of SeniorCare Meals on Wheels.
Philip and his wife Nancy, their children and grandchildren live in Miami, Florida.
Candace Lerman, Esq., is an attorney, consultant, and author of the rare disease blog, RareCandace.com. She earned her Juris Doctorate with a concentration in Health Law at the Shepard Broad School of Law at Nova Southeastern University and a certificate in Healthcare Compliance from Seton Hall University School of Law. In addition, she holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in International Affairs from Florida State University. Candace researched and repurposed a drug to put her rare blood disorder into remission twice! Inspired by her struggle of living with Immune Thrombocytopenia, she launched the ITP Patient Driven Research Initiative, which works with multiple stakeholders to improve treatments for the ITP community. She works closely with members of Congress on federal healthcare policy and can often be found on Capitol Hill.
Besides practicing law, Candace consults on projects for pharmaceutical companies and non-profit organizations on topics ranging from patient registries, natural history studies, clinical trial design, patient engagement, Real World Evidence, and patient assistance programs. Coming from a diverse background as both an attorney and patient, she provides unique insights while breaking down the silos that plague drug development.
Jim is the Controller for Suchman Retail Group, Inc., a South Florida commercial real estate company. He has nearly 25 years of accounting experience, including 15 in the banking industry and the last nine years with Suchman Group. Jim has been a volunteer for NTM Info & Research for the past seven years, assisting with the accounting functions of the organization, and currently serves as its Treasurer. He has also volunteered with other nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity and March of Dimes.
Jim attended Florida International University and holds a Real Estate license in the state of Florida. He lives in Miami with his wife, daughter and son.
Dr. Iseman recently retired as Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado with appointments in both the Divisions of Pulmonary Medicine and Infectious Diseases. He served for many years as Chief of the Clinical Mycobacterial Disease Service of the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver. His primary areas of clinical and research interest have been tuberculosis (with particular emphasis on multidrug-resistant disease) and mycobacterial diseases other than tuberculosis. Professor Iseman was Editor-in-Chief of the medical journal The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease published in Paris by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease from 1994-2002. He has authored a textbook “A Clinicians Guide to Tuberculosis”, which was published in 2000, and recently completed a second edition. Dr. Iseman has received numerous honors throughout his career.