The Les Turner ALS Foundation announced today that Laura Freveletti has been appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective April 10, 2023. Freveletti succeeds Andrea Pauls Backman, who will step down after eight years of service as CEO.
“We are thrilled to welcome Laura as our next CEO,” said Erin Reardon Cohn, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. “She is a collaborative, mission-driven leader with a history of developing talented, diverse and innovative teams that create meaningful and measurable social impact. She will be a passionate and dedicated champion of our efforts to advance research, care and support for people living with ALS.”
Freveletti brings 30 years of experience in executive leadership, most recently as senior program officer at The Allstate Foundation, where she led strategic development and implementation of a $28 million national grantmaking portfolio. She has deep connections to the Chicago non-profit community, with experience as a senior fundraising executive at the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago and Lyric Opera of Chicago, as well as service as board president of the Sudden Infant Death Services (SIDS) of Illinois.
“I am deeply inspired by the courage and resilience of those living with ALS,” said Freveletti. “And I am committed to working tirelessly to advance research and improve care for this community. We have made tremendous progress in understanding the disease, and I believe that with continued collaboration and innovation, we will find a cure for ALS.”
Freveletti also has led corporate marketing and community involvement at companies including Kraft Heinz, LaSalle Investment Management, and Chicago Title & Trust Company, and earned a degree in business administration from the University of Louisville. She brings a personal understanding of the impact of ALS to the position.
“My family and I are still mourning and adjusting to the recent passing of my brother-in-law from ALS,” said Freveletti. “That experience has inspired me to intensify efforts to advance research, advocacy, and support for people affected by ALS, and I am so proud to join the Les Turner ALS Foundation’s board, staff, partners and volunteers in creating a world free of ALS.”
Pauls Backman will provide support through the transition, which comes at a moment of new hope in ALS care and research. Over the last year, the FDA approved two new drugs to slow the progression of ALS – the first drugs approved since 2017, and only the third and fourth since the disease was identified more than 150 years ago. The Lois Insolia ALS Clinic at the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine conducted clinical trials for both newly approved drugs, and continues to offer comprehensive, multidisciplinary care and access to clinical trials for people living with ALS.
Under Pauls Backman’s leadership, the Foundation has grown significantly as a national ALS organization – expanding the reach of its direct care coordination team, support groups, grants and educational resources. She also was instrumental in increasing the accessibility of clinical trials at the Lois Insolia ALS Clinic and expanded funding for scientific research at the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine.
“Leading the Les Turner ALS Foundation has been the highlight of my career,” said Pauls Backman. “I’m greatly honored to have led the same organization that supported my family during my late mother’s journey with ALS. I’ve had the opportunity to bring people and groups together to solve some of the myriad problems of this devastating disease, which will continue to be a passion of mine. The Foundation is in a very strong position and I know it will continue to grow under Laura’s guidance.”