Stanley C. Erck was named president and chief executive officer of Novavax in April 2011. He became a Novavax director in June 2009 and served as its executive chairman of the board beginning in February 2010. From 2000 to 2008, Mr. Erck was president and chief executive officer of IOMAI Corporation, leading the company through an initial public offering and a merger with Intercell, an Austrian vaccine company, and through the development of a late-stage infectious disease product candidate. Mr. Erck previously served as president and chief executive officer at Procept, a publicly traded immunology company, as vice president of corporate development at Integrated Genetics (now Genzyme), and in management positions within Baxter International. Mr. Erck currently sits on the board of directors of MaxCyte, Inc. He received an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Lisa Helfman ’93
Director of Public Affairs, H-E-B
Lisa Helfman is the Director of Public Affairs Houston for H-E-B Grocery Company and served previously as the Director of Real Estate for them. Prior to joining H-E-B in 2014, Lisa served as Director of Real Estate Services at Texas Children’s Hospital where she created the Real Estate Services Department in order to centralize the hospital’s real estate operations. Lisa worked at Texas Children’s for seven years after leaving Vinson & Elkins law firm where she represented many urban redevelopment clients, non-profits, and government entities in financings, real estate, and other legal matters. Lisa received her JD Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston Law Center and her BA Cum Laude from Tulane University.
When she isn’t representing H-E-B in the community, she is pushing kale smoothies to children all over underserved communities as the Founder and Board Chair of Brighter Bites. In the fall of 2011, Lisa and her family took part in a weekly fruit and vegetable co-op, and she watched her children’s eating habits transform—for the better. So much so that her little boy rejected a piece of cake at a birthday party, asking instead for the blueberries he’d grown fond of eating at home. Like most moms, Lisa realized this was a fairly significant decision for a six-year-old, and she wondered what kind of influence regular access to fresh produce might have on all children.
She was inspired to replicate this type of positive change in underserved communities identified as “food deserts,” or areas with limited access to grocery stores. Because nutrition education in these communities is often equally lacking, Lisa’s vision was to bring a produce co-op to schools in these neighborhoods that included an educational component while also making it fun. She created a collaborative partnership with Dr. Shreela Sharma at the University of Texas School of Public Health, and launched the program now known as Brighter Bites in 2012. Eight years later, Brighter Bites has delivered over 38,000,000 pounds of fresh produce and 100,000s of education materials to more than 400,000 individuals (including teachers!) across 125+ participating schools in Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York City, Washington D.C., and Southwest Florida. In 2019, the Houston-Galveston chapter of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship named Lisa its Humanitarian of the Year, Newcomb College at Tulane University also named Lisa its Community Service Alumni of the Year and Business Insider named her and Shreela to their list of top 100 Coolest People in Food and Drink.
Jatin "Jay" Vyas ’85, MD, PhD (moderator)
Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
Jatin "Jay" M. Vyas is an Associate Professor in Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute. After graduating from The Kinkaid School in 1985, he attended the University of Texas at Austin in Plan II, a liberal arts honors program. He graduated with Special Honors from the University. From UT, he attended Baylor College of Medicine in their Medical Scientist Training Program where Jay received his PhD in 1994 and MD in 1996. Upon completion of his MD, Jay moved to Boston to complete his medical internship and residency in internal medicine in the Department of Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He completed his fellowship in Infectious Diseases in the Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital program. He then served as the chief resident in medicine for 18 months. Following a period of extended post-doctoral research training in the Harvard Department of Pathology and Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Dr. Vyas joined the faculty of the Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital in 2007. Dr. Vyas is internationally recognized for his work in fungal immunology, investigating the how our body responds to fungal pathogens. In 2014, Jatin was named the tenth Program Director of the MGH Department of Medicine Residency Program, supervising 207 interns and residents. As an NIH-funded investigator with interests in basic scientific discovery, Dr. Vyas provides a unique perspective to the medical housestaff. He is married and has two children, aged 22 and 19 and resides in Milton, MA.
Covid-19 Impact Stories
We salute our Kinkaid alumni working on the front lines or behind the scenes to combat Covid-19 and positively impact the world around them. We are proud to share their stories.
If you or a fellow alum has made a unique effort to help through this crisis, please share their story with us at email@example.com so we can share it too.
Arin Drtil '14, Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) student, acquired thousands of PPE donations for Ben Taub General Hospital at the beginning of the pandemic.
In the early months of COVID-19 in the United States, BCM was forced to suspend students from their clinical duties. "While this was incredibly disappointing at the time," Arin shared, "it allowed many of us an opportunity to serve our hospitals and community in a way that the front-liners could not."
Arin, along with a group of peers, reached out to schools, businesses and civilians to acquire PPE including respirators, face shields, masks, surgical gowns and caps, coveralls, gloves and goggles. In the end, they donated over 11,000 items to Ben Taub General Hospital. "It was breathtaking to see the generosity of the local community, including a sizable PPE donation from Kinkaid."
After a few months, Arin and his fellow BCM students were allowed to resume their clinical curriculum and serve on the front-lines as trainees.
"Being able to train as a 3rd-year medical student during a global pandemic has been an opportunity of a lifetime. Being a medical professional is far more than a job; it is a privilege in which we can comfort and care for individuals in their most vulnerable moments."
Amy Ragan ’81, in her nearly 17 years as Chief Development Officer at the Houston Food Bank, has never been busier than these last 11 months, as the organization fights to meet the exponential needs of Houstonians during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
In March 2020, food assistance needs in the community began to increase dramatically. Houston Food Bank’s typical 450,000 pounds of food delivered per day doubled to 900,000 pounds of food each day, with no sign of slowing down to date. (After Winter Storm Uri, roughly one million pounds of food were delivered per day.)
According to Amy, community needs and support typically rise for a couple of months after a hurricane, but the pandemic is a whole new ballgame. Never have so many Houstonians needed food assistance than they have this past year.
Not only has the Houston Food Bank had to adapt to this increased demand, but they have also had to learn how to safely distribute supplies. They have held contactless drive-thru distribution events, increased doorstep delivery, and largely expanded their network of community partners.
To accommodate this tremendous need, Amy and her team have been responsible for raising the funds to make it all possible. In fiscal year 2020, they raised 50 million dollars, including gifts Amy secured from Houston Astro Alex Bregman’s special campaign and former Houston Texan J.J. Watt. Their tireless efforts have enabled the Houston Food Bank to serve more Houstonians and deliver more pounds of food than ever before.
We commend you, Amy, for your critical work in serving the hundreds of thousands of people who count on the Houston Food Bank.
Daniel Warren '14 recently launched a free online tool to help people automatically sign up for open Covid-19 vaccines nearby.
He was inspired to create "autoCOVax" after listening to my many people, including his mother, struggle to find an available appointment. "These appointments are scarce and when they do appear, they’re often gone within minutes," Daniel explained. "This means you have to continually monitor vaccine availability webpages and hope you can sign up quick enough in the unlikely event you do find an opening nearby. This issue is likely to continue for many months to come as vaccines roll out and people may have to get revaccinated."
The tool works by scraping the web for available vaccines at large pharmacies - including Kroger, CVS, Walmart, and H‑E‑B - and then deploying a bot to sign you up as soon as one becomes available. Minimal personal information is required to sign up, and no credit card info is needed.
Constantine Zotos '13 and Mitchell Webber '13 (fs), co-founders of Cloud Nine Coffee, pivoted to manufacturing hand sanitizer at the beginning of the pandemic.
Cloud Nine Coffee saw slumping office sales back in February and early March 2020. On March 13, the day a national state of emergency was declared, Constantine and Mitchell picked up the phone and called Purell distributors. Modern Chemical was born and immediately had orders flowing. The original Modern Chemical staff of six grew tenfold by April to 60. The core team, Constantine (CEO), Mitchell (COO), Jake McDermott '13 (Brand Manager) and John Zotos (Corporate Director), spent early months of production working 24/7, sleeping in the office, often taking turns to oversee the night shift and then drive sales again in the morning.
In addition to the two million gallons of hand sanitizer Modern Chemical has produced to date, they now produce disinfecting wipes, disinfectant spray and hand soap for distribution nationally. The 100-person team has moved into a new facility with 30,000 square feet in Houston.
Jeff is a four-time Emmy Award winner for The Simpsons and Late Night with David Letterman. He has written for several other TV shows including Listen Up!, Baby Blues, and Homeboys in Outer Space. Jeff was the recipient of Kinkaid's first-ever Distinguished Young Alumni Award in 1991.
Ross Dinerstein '97 Ross is the founder and CEO of Campfire, a premium production company known for its broad bench of content across scripted and unscripted, for both feature film and TV/streaming platforms. Over the past 15 years, he has produced or executive produced 40+ series and feature films, premiering projects at the most prestigious festivals in the world, including Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca and Toronto. His most recent projects include HBO Max’s upcoming Heaven's Gate docuseries; FX’s The Most Dangerous Animal of All, Netflix's true-crime documentary series John Grisham’s The Innocent Man, and Netflix’s Emmy-nominated, scripted series Special.
Eileen Jones '01 Eileen is a producer on Fox's Prodigal Son and is writing the action western Highwayman for LuckyChap Entertainment and New Line Cinema. She previously wrote on Lethal Weapon and was a member of the inaugural Lucky Exports Pitch Program and the 2016-17 Warner Brothers Writers Workshop. Before writing professionally, she assisted Joe Biden in the final leg of his Senate career. She then completed her master’s in creative writing at Oxford and moved to LA, where she assisted Kathryn Bigelow. Eileen has been a ghostwriter for many A-list directors, crafting some 250 treatments for branded short content, documentary, feature, and television projects.
Erika Green Swafford '90 Erika is a writer, performer, and producer currently in development with Universal Television. Erika’s writing credits include NBC’s drama New Amsterdam, Reverie, How to Get Away With Murder, and The Mentalist. Erika began her career not in entertainment, but in the hospitality industry and after graduate school, joined Oxygen Network where she became an executive. Erika is a storyteller who dances and teaches cooking classes in her spare time.