Who we are

BLFA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Seattle, Washington, that funds programs in East Africa focusing on the medical, logistical, and social support families need to have their children complete curative cancer treatment and return home.

Our mission
Cure children in Africa diagnosed with cancer.

To accomplish our mission BLFA provides grants to nonprofit and healthcare partners who work directly with families and cancer patients. With our partners, we advocate for what these children and their families need, which can be different in each country. We know it takes a village to reach a village, and a cure.

How we began

In September 2009, our founder Miriam Sevy visited a pediatric cancer ward in Kenya. She was saddened to see children with cancer being provided only with pain medication. At the time, pain management was the only treatment option available. Miriam was so moved by what she saw that in 2010 she started Burkitt’s Lymphoma Fund for Africa (BLFA) to solicit donations for organizations supporting these children and their families. Sadly, Miriam passed away in early 2015, but her legacy lives on through BLFA.

Our Board

Raj Uthamantil

Interim President

Raj Uthamanthil DVM, PhD is currently the Chief Medical Office at Seattle Children’s Research Institute leading preclinical and translational research. Prior to this, Raj served as an Associate Vice President at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Raj’s expertise is in providing collaborative administrative leadership to biomedical research programs, especially in preclinical/translational research with a focus on cancer and related diseases. Raj also served as a faculty member at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Raj lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.

Ned Palmer

Vice President

Over the last 30 years, Ned has served in various leadership positions as a director of nonprofit organizations, including the Woodland Park Zoological Society, Helpline House of Bainbridge Island and Housing Resources Board. Ned retired in 2007 as a Senior Vice President of Bank of America where he specialized in municipal finance. Ned holds a Master Degree in Business Administration from Harvard University. Ned and his wife spend time between Bainbridge Island, Washington and Maui and he is enjoying life being a grandfather to two grandchildren.

Jackson Mwatibo


Jackson is currently a Finance Manager at Cisco Systems. He previously worked at Microsoft Corporation, Deloitte Consulting, and served in the United States Army for more than 5 years. Jackson is a Kenyan native and passionate about technology, business, education, and global health. Jackson holds a Master in Business Administration from Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Certified Public Accountant license. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Karen Osofsky Michelson


Karen is currently a Senior Recruiter for Seattle Genetics, a biotechnology company dedicated to developing novel therapies to treat and cure cancer. Previously Karen led Global Staffing at PATH, a global health nonprofit; and headed up the hiring at ICOS Corporation; a biopharmaceutical company. Karen also spent six years as a founder and Principal at Tiburon Group, a recruitment consulting firm launched in the late 1990’s to help companies transition to using the internet for recruiting. Prior to her career in recruiting, Karen spent eight years in consumer products marketing, managing product lines for both Ralston Purina and Keebler. Karen has an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a Master in Business Administration from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management. Karen lives in Seattle with her husband and son.

Steven Kussick

Pathology Improvement Chair

Dr. Kussick, who has been the BLFA Board President since the spring of 2015, is a full-time hematopathologist and Medical Director at PhenoPath Laboratories in Seattle, Washington. He oversees the BLFA Pathology Improvement Project, which is dedicated to improving the accuracy and speed of BL diagnosis in east Africa, to enable early treatment. Dr. Kussick completed his MD/PhD degree, Anatomic Pathology residency, and Hematopathology fellowship at the University of Washington, where he is currently an affiliate faculty member in Laboratory Medicine. Dr. Kussick is an active member of several professional organizations, including the American Society of Hematology, the College of American Pathologists, and the International Clinical Cytometry Society.

Adam Morrow

Grants Committee Chair

Adam is currently a Family Medicine resident, after getting his medical degree from Rowan University SOM in New Jersey. He is the son of founder, Miriam Sevy, helped establish BLFA and was involved in its first grantmaking efforts. Prior to medical school, Adam served as Coordinator of the Big Cities Health Coalition, a national non-profit group that supported public health research and advocacy by America’s largest cities, and as a cancer researcher with City of Hope and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Adam holds a Master of Public Health degree in Health Policy from Columbia University, and a Bachelor’s in Biology from Pomona College.

Suzanne McGoldrick

Board Member

Suzanne is currently a Medical Director at Seattle Genetics, a biotechnology company dedicated to developing novel therapies to treat and cure cancer. After completing Medical School in Germany, Suzanne came to the USA for her pediatric residency training which she completed at Duke, followed by her Pediatric Hematology and Oncology fellowship at the University of Washington (UW) and Seattle Children’s Hospital. Through her fellowship, she realized the enormous gap in survival between children with cancers living in resource-rich countries compared to low-resource settings and decided to pursue training in Global Oncology. She completed a Master in Public Health in the Department of Global Health at UW and managed the Burkitt’s Lymphoma Project for Fred Hutch’s Global Oncology Program. She lives in Seattle with her husband and three children.

Kerry Sturgill

Board Member

Kerry’s interest in global health and passion for getting vital services to vulnerable children and families started in college and was re-ignited with a trip to rural Guatemala in 2018. She has been involved for more than 20 years in health-related technology programs with technology companies and U.S.-based healthcare systems with a focus on extending technology into clinics and community hospitals. Her early career was in national public affairs in Washington D.C. working with a variety of enterprises, from large financial services companies to internet startups.

Nixon Niyonzima

Board Member

Nixon is a Medical Officer and Head of Research and Training at the Uganda Cancer Institute. Nixon completed a postdoctoral Fellowship at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute. Prior to this, Nixon received his MD from Makerere University Medical School, a Master in Public Health in Global Health from Duke University and a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Washington. Nixon is currently undertaking research describing the genetic and mutational profile of cancer in Uganda. He resides in Kampala, Uganda with his wife and family.


Tony Boova

Pathology Improvement Program Advisor

Tony Boova is Director for Alliance Development at Beckman Coulter, a Danaher company. Tony launched and leads the Beckman Coulter CARES Initiative established for partnerships and alliances around common interests such as health system strengthening, capacity building for diagnostics access, advocacy and community involvement. Through the CARES Initiative Tony looks to make an impact in LMIC helping those marginalized and most in need of basic Health Care for HIV/AIDS and co-infection. Tony represents Beckman Coulter within the global community such as health policy organizations, public funding agencies, implementing partners, Ministry of Health and other international NGO organizations. Tony has over 20 years commercial leadership experience in life sciences and diagnostics. He is pursuing an MPH at University of Liverpool, earned a Certificate in Global Health from the Dornsife School of Public Health and has a Bachelor of Science in Management from Sigmund Weiss School of Business at Susquehanna University.

Henry Burkitt

Global Programs Advisor

Henry is the founder of Oxygen, a London-based strategic healthcare public affairs company. His clients have included a number of pharmaceutical companies, health charities and UK National Health Service bodies. He previously managed the primary care and oncology government affairs portfolios for Pfizer UK and was Head of Government Affairs and Policy for Novartis Pharmaceuticals in the UK. Henry holds a Bachelor of Arts from Kings College, London. He is the great nephew of Denis Burkitt, the physician who identified and first documented the incidence of Burkitt Lymphoma.

Isabella Burckhardt

Communications Coordinator

Isabella is currently a student at Hofstra University set to graduate in the Spring of 2022 with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. She has 7 years of experience working with nonprofits across Washington State, primarily in the fields of marketing and outreach. Previously Isabella had the opportunity to intern for the Breast Health Foundation, a breast health nonprofit in Johannesburg, working to secure funding for the development of breast cancer treatment facilities in rural communities of South Africa. She has worked with BLFA since October of 2020 and is thrilled to be sharing her experience in nonprofit online communications and passion for health access and equity with the organization.

James Frederick

Digital Media Consultant

James helps keep our website presence up and current.

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