Team

SENIOR STAFF

President & CEO

Karen Basha Egozi is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Epilepsy Florida and has been working on behalf of patients with epilepsy and their families since 2005. As the organization’s chief executive, Karen manages the efforts of a team of over 35 employees in seven offices throughout the state who provide direct services to citizens in 36 of Florida’s 67 counties, with statewide responsibility for all 426,000 Floridians with epilepsy.

From 2013-2015 Karen served as a director on the board of Josh Provides, an organization dedicated to helping patients with epilepsy, and served on the Board of Governors for the Miami Chamber of Commerce.

Before joining Epilepsy Florida, Karen managed a $129 million budget as the Vice President of Administration for the Early Learning Coalition Miami-Dade/Monroe. As Chief Executive Officer of the Voices for Children Foundation, a fundraising organization dedicated to championing the Guardian Ad Litem Program of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. Karen has served as Board Chair of Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center and as the federally appointed Housing Committee Chair for the Federal Home Bank of Atlanta from 2003-2006. Other leadership positions have included board members of Guardian Ad Litem Florida State Association and Trustee of the Endowment Committee Chair for Voices for Children. She is a graduate of Florida State University.

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Senior Director of Development for Epilepsy Florida

Edson Pires, is the Senior Director of Development for Epilepsy Florida.  In his current role he is responsible for implementing the development strategy and annual plan. Developing and cultivating sustainable relationships with current donors, potential donors and community stakeholders to maximize contributed revenues in support of Epilepsy Florida’s mission and strategic objectives.

Throughout his career he has maintained the highest standards within a diverse range of Development functions. Created, implemented and launched successful fundraising campaigns. Further, experience includes 20 years of Development and Board administration in 3 major nonprofit organizations.

Previous leadership roles and community involvement have included Co-Chair of the Board, South Florida Digital Alliance, NextGen Council for Chapman Partnership, and Leadership Miami -Class 33.

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CFO & COO

Monica Rodriguez is the CFO & COO and joined Epilepsy Florida in 2017 after over 15 years of experience in the public and for-profit sectors. As Chief Financial Officer, she oversees all financial and accounting aspects of the organization, including internal and external financial reporting, tax returns, the annual financial statement audit, and financial grant compliance. In 2019 Rodriguez also assumed the role of Chief Operations Officer. Since that time, Monica has earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Florida International University in 2001. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the American Institute of CPAs.

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Vice President of Programs

Judy Clauser is the Vice President of Programs for Epilepsy Florida. She has been on staff with the agency for 27 years, leaving the private business sector when her now-adult son developed refractory epilepsy as a youngster. Epilepsy Florida provided Judy and her family with much-needed information, support, and advocacy within the school system. As a way of giving back, she volunteered for the organization four years before her role as an employee. Judy oversees the general management of all program areas within the agency.

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Vice President of Business Development

Mary Gomez has been working on behalf of patients with epilepsy and their families since 2003. From 2005-2010 Mary was the program contract monitor for the State of Florida through the Florida Department of Health epilepsy program. She then served as Executive Director from 2010-2016 and most recently was promoted to Vice President of Business Development. In her current role, she manages a development team throughout the state of Florida. Before joining Epilepsy Florida, Mary managed over 100 employees as the General Manager for Rahn Hotels International on Fort Lauderdale beach. As the Manager on duty for the Best Western Hotels in Ft. Lauderdale, a 300 room resort. Mary served as a Board committee member on the Air and Sea Show committee, who was instrumental in hosting the first Air and Sea show in 1999 on Ft Lauderdale beach and is still in existence. Mary’s passion shifted to the non-profit sector after her nephew was re-diagnosed with epilepsy in 2002. She continues to advocate for the rights of those living with epilepsy and their families.

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Psychologist

Dr. Judith Siskind has been a staff psychologist of Epilepsy Florida for nearly 35 years. In that role, she provides psychological evaluations to help the agency’s clients know more about their own strengths and challenges and get needed benefits or accommodations (whether in school, in their citizenship application interviews, or the disability benefits appeal process).  She also provides individual, parent, and family counseling to our clients. She serves (informally) as a consultant to their neurologists, teachers, and other professionals concerned with the client’s quality of life.

Since Dr. Siskind is reasonably bilingual in English and Spanish, she does evaluation and counseling in Spanish for those clients who speak only Spanish or are more comfortable speaking personal matters in their native language.

Before moving from part-time to full-time status at our organization twenty years ago, Dr. Siskind also worked as a clinical psychologist with Sunset Mental Health Associates in South Miami. Before moving to Miami, she was educated and worked in Boston and Baltimore.  In Boston, Dr. Siskind was for five years an instructor in Psychology at Boston University and a child psychologist in that school’s Child Psychiatry Department. After receiving her doctorate in clinical psychology in Baltimore, Dr. Siskind was a post-doctoral fellow at Shepard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Towson, Maryland, and subsequently a staff member at that psychiatric hospital for two years.

Dr. Siskind received her bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College in Massachusetts, a Master of Education degree from Harvard University, and her Ph.D. degree from the University of Maryland in College Park.

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Senior Director of Programs Services

Roxana Galera is the Senior Director of Program Services at Epilepsy Florida, where she oversees its social services department.  Roxana holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University and has over 20 years of experience in the social services/case management field. Roxana joined Epilepsy Florida in 1997 as an entry-level social services/case manager. What started as a transitional job to gain experience in the field turned into a rewarding professional journey helping individuals and their families touched by epilepsy.

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Senior Director of Programs Administration

Monica Gonzalez is the Senior Director of Programs Administration for Epilepsy Florida. She left a career in international logistics management to join Epilepsy Florida as a volunteer when her youngest daughter was diagnosed with the condition in 2011. She was offered a permanent position with the agency shortly afterward as prevention & education coordinator and quality assurance specialist.  Her community engagement skills, partnership building, project management, and passion for the cause allowed her to take various roles at the agency. Prior roles include epilepsy advocate, supervision of the agency’s community resource specialists providing statewide epilepsy awareness and education, and navigation program project director.

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Senior Director of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) Navigation Program

Islara Souto is the Director of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Navigation Program at Epilepsy Florida, where she oversees a team of over 30 Navigators serving South Florida and the Treasure Coast. Islara joined the agency in 2013 when she was hired as a bilingual Navigator for Miami-Dade. Her dedication and commitment to helping people obtain affordable healthcare turned into a rewarding career in one of the country’s most successful Navigation Programs. The Program has won national accolades from the Centers of Medicaid and Medicare as well as the Florida Blue Foundation and has made historical strides in bridging coverage gaps among Florida’s most vulnerable residents. Islara studied Exercise Science at Florida State University and has a background in HR, Health Benefits, and Project Management.

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