Angioma Alliance Staff

Connie Lee, Psy.D. - President and CEO

Connie Lee is the founding President of Angioma Alliance. Connie is a licensed clinical psychologist and the mother of a daughter with multiple cavernous angiomas. Connie’s personal story with cavernous angioma began in January 2000. At that time, Connie’s 4-month-old daughter Julia received brain surgery for a major hemorrhage and hydrocephalus caused by a cavernous angioma. It was not known that she had the condition, and by the time Julia was taken to the operating room she was near death. Her neurosurgeon performed a craniectomy, stopped the bleeding and removed the angioma. Since then, Julia has had three additional cavernous angioma surgeries and a T2-L3 spinal fusion to correct scoliosis which is believed to be associated with the CCM3 mutation that is causing her illness. Today, Julia is a bright, outgoing, active adolescent who loves to swim and ride horses. Dr. Lee founded Angioma Alliance in 2002. She has guided the organization from its beginnings as a support group to its current role as the driving force for research, legislation, and patient care. 

Amy Akers, Ph.D. - Chief Scientific Officer

Prior to joining Angioma Alliance as Chief Scientific Officer in 2009, Amy began her cavernous angioma research career at Duke University. At Duke, she worked in the lab of distinguished geneticist and long-time Scientific Advisory Board member, Doug Marchuk, Ph.D. While in Dr. Marchuk’s lab, Amy focused on developing mouse models for cavernous angioma and on investigating the molecular nature of human brain lesion development. Her genetic studies succeeded in providing evidence that two genetic ‘hits’ are necessary for the genesis of familial cavernous angioma lesions. Prior to receiving her Ph.D. from Duke’s University Program in Genetics & Genomics, Amy completed her undergraduate studies at Cornell University where she graduated Cum Laude with a degree in biological sciences. Learn about Dr. Akers' current projects.


Stephanie Alband - Director of Development

Stephanie Alband Stephanie has dedicated her career to fundraising for various nonprofits, including the Huntington's Disease Society of America, American Cancer Society, United Way, and the Breast Cancer 3-Day. Stephanie has over 17 years of fundraising experience, and she is excited to help Angioma Alliance grow.

For the six years before joining Angioma Alliance, Stephanie had been the Assistant Development Director for the Pacific Southwest Region of the Huntington's Disease Society of America, where her work involved organizing galas, golf tournaments, grassroots walks, and annual giving drives as well as developing relationships with individual major donors, corporations, and foundations.

If you are considering organizing an event or have connections who you think might be interested in supporting our work, please reach out to Stephanie at salband@angioma.org for her support.

Nora Chavez - Community Outreach Specialist

Nora Chavez joined Angioma Alliance as the Community Engagement Specialist for the New Mexico area. Her focus will be in developing and implementing the Baca Family Historical Project with the goal of identifying descendants of Cristobal Baca, one of New Mexico’s first settlers during the 1600s.

She will be working closely with Joyce Gonzales, New Mexico Genealogist to identify at-risk families and develop rural/regional family support groups.

Nora’s background in community engagement comes from her work with Save The Children Federation, New Mexico Community Foundation and more recently with UNM’s New Mexico Cares Health Disparities Center.

Nora received her BBA from American Intercontinental University with a major in business administration and global marketing. She is also costumer and artist having received her training at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising.

Joyce Gonzales - Genealogist

Joyce has been involved with Angioma Alliance for many years as a volunteer, spearheading our efforts in New Mexico, where a founder mutation among the original Hispanic population has resulted in the largest population of families affected by cavernous angioma in the world. In 2017, Joyce joined us as a part-time genealogist, working to complete the family tree that she discovered started with Cristobal Baca and Anna Maria Pacheco Ortiz in the late 1500's.

Together with our Community Engagement Specialist, Joyce is part of a team improving visibility and support for our families in New Mexico. Our hope is that every family in New Mexico will receive informed care and will work together for a cure.