Established in January 2011, our Kovler Leadership Board of volunteers and philanthropists share a passion for Kovler and supporting those facing the challenges of diabetes.

Board members help Kovler and the University of Chicago Medicine identify unique opportunities to make an impact on diabetes care and innovation in Chicago and around the world. At its core, the Kovler Leadership Board serves as a fundraising and advocacy group committed to furthering the Center’s mission of advancing research and providing superior care for individuals with Type 1, Type 2 and genetic forms of diabetes across their lifespan.

Key objects of board service are to:

  • Broaden the major-gift donor base through their own gifts and access to their networks for fundraising purposes.
  • Help create a sense of excitement around fundraising to ensure that aspirations of the Kovler and the Section of Adult and Pediatric Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism can be achieved.
  • Engage volunteers to help advance the mission of Kovler and the Section.
  • Increase local, regional and national awareness of Kovler to enhance its public profile as a leader in diabetes research, patient care, and education and community outreach.

Kovler Diabetes Center Leadership Team

Sally Meyers Kovler has been active in the Chicago nonprofit community since 1986. She is a life member and former chair of the board of trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The Kovlers are a founding family of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and as a longtime supporter, Sally is engaged in a variety of capacities with the organization. She previously served on the boards of the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation and the Chicago Foundation for Women. Sally earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in speech pathology from Temple University in Philadelphia, and previously worked as an art consultant on the East Coast before moving to Chicago. 

Since 1992 Sally has been married to Jonathan Kovler, a University of Chicago Laboratory Schools graduate. Jon, a private investor who also runs a family foundation, is a life member of the Visiting Committee to the Division of the Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine. In addition to their generous support of the Kovler Diabetes Center, the Kovler family has also funded:

  • The Kovler Gymnasium at the Laboratory Schools 
  • The Marjorie B. Kovler Viral Oncology Laboratories, named for Jonathan’s mother in 1973 
  • The Marjorie Kovler Visiting Fellow program, named for Jonathan’s mother 
  • The Everett Kovler Café in the Charles M. Harper Center, named in honor of Jonathan’s father in 2005 

Originally from Alabama, Robin Berman moved to Chicago and raised her family in Glencoe, Illinois. Robin has been a volunteer philanthropist and board member with many prestigious charitable organizations. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in recent years, Robin has developed a passion for supporting research and care for others who face the challenges of diabetes. Robin joined the board in May of 2017 and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren both in California and Chicago. Robin is married to Bob Berman, an entrepreneur and businessmen.

Nancy Pollak holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana University and a master’s degree in education from DePaul University with high honors. Nancy has held positions in marketing and advertising with many global companies, including Burger King Corporation and Draft WorldWide. Nancy has been actively involved with the Hinsdale, IL schools since 2003, assuming a variety of leadership positions, and was elected to serve on the Hinsdale Township High School D86 Board of Education in 2017. She was the founder of two major events in her local community, the Community Speaker Series, and the Nite at the Net charity tennis event. Nancy is a national trustee of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, chair of the Indiana University Kelley Family Leadership Council, and has chaired many events for various charities raising millions of dollars. Nancy resides in Hinsdale with her husband Dale and has three children, Samson, Alex, and Austin.

Megan Hoffmann and her husband, Geoffrey, live in Winnetka, IL. They have four young boys and were the 2018 Fund-A-Cure-Family at the JDRF One Dream Gala. Their son, Henry, receives T1D care at Kovler. Megan is involved in many charitable organizations, with Kovler being one of them. She is also philanthropically involved with the board of the Chicago Field Museum. Before becoming a stay-at-home-mother, Megan worked in public relations at DHR.

Al Taylor has type 1 diabetes and works for Dover Corporation, focusing on business development within its Energy segment. Prior to his role at Dover, Al worked in financial services, spending five years in London and five years in New York. He was a vice president at Goldman Sachs and executive director at Nomura. Al received his B.B.A. in marketing at Loyola University in Maryland and his M.B.A. at the University of Notre Dame. Al and his wife Nora live in Western Springs, IL with their three sons. Their oldest son, Aidan, also has type 1 diabetes and receives care at Kovler.

Patricia resides in Hinsdale, IL and is the mother of two young women. She is actively involved in the Boyle Family Foundation, which generously supports Kovler and other organizations with her mother, siblings and extended family. Patricia also supports a variety of charitable causes throughout Chicagoland, including The Boys and Girls Club and the Food Allergy Research and Education organization (FARE). 

Berle Blitstein is a philanthropist and businessman from Chicago. Berle is the president of Polycon Industries, Inc. and president of DBA Crown Packaging International. In addition to being on the board of Kovler’s Leadership, Berle also sits on the board of directors at Navy Pier and is a director at Hubbard Street Dance.


Lisa Walker Rudnick is the managing partner of the Global Industrial Practice at DHR International, one of the largest retained executive search firms in the world. Lisa earned her Master of Business Administration in finance and economics from the University of Chicago, and her Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Cornell University. Lisa has been honored by The White House as “a champion of change for her outstanding leadership in entrepreneurial mentoring, counseling, and training.” She serves on the boards of the University of Chicago Laboratory School and the University of Chicago Medicine Kovler Diabetes Center, the Cornell University Engineering College Council and the University of Chicago Women’s Board. Lisa and her husband live in Chicago and have five darling and very independent children.


Kara Habib Boyle is active in many philanthropic entities, as well as her own family’s bakery and packaged goods company, which was sold in 2005. Her husband is Kevin Boyle, former YPO member and currently president and CEO of Schulze & Burch Biscuit Co. Prior to having children, Kara was the vice president of sales for her family’s large distribution bakery. From Buffalo New York, her large family has remained philanthropic.

Kovler Family Distinguished Service Professor in Medicine and Human Genetics

Director, The University of Chicago Diabetes Research and Training Center

Dr. Bell is a leading authority on the genetics of diabetes mellitus. He cloned the human insulin cDNA and gene and showed that common variation in the human insulin gene contributes to the development of type 1 diabetes. He and his longtime collaborator, Dr. Nancy Cox, showed that mutations in the genes for the glycolytic enzyme, glucokinase, and the transcription factors, HNF-1a, HNF-1b and HNF-4a, caused an early-onset form of diabetes called Maturity-onset diabetes of the young or MODY. Dr. Bell’s search for the genetic causes of diabetes continues. Together with Dr. Cox, Dr. Donald Steiner and Dr. Louis Philipson, Dr. Bell recently showed that mutations in the insulin gene were a common cause of diabetes with onset in the first few months of life.

Dr. Bell is a professor in the University of Chicago’s Department of Medicine and Department of Medicine and a member of the Committee on Genetics, Genomics, & Systems Biology, Committee on Molecular Pathogenesis & Molecular Medicine, Committee on Molecular Metabolism & Nutrition and Committee on Clinical & Translational Science. He has published more than 400 peer-reviewed articles.


  • B.S., University of Calgary (Canada)
  • M.S., University of Calgary (Canada)
  • PhD, University of California San Francisco
  • Postdoctoral, University of California San Francisco

Awards and Honors:

  • Elliot P. Joslin Research and Development Award – American Diabetes Association
  • Mary Jane Kugel Award – Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International
  • Rolf Luft Award – Swedish Medical Society
  • William C. Stadie Award of the Greater Philadelphia Affiliate of the American Diabetes Association
  • Kroc Lectureship – Diabetes Research Center, University of Washington
  • Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award by an Investigator (Lilly Award) – American Diabetes Association
  • Max Miller Memorial Lecture – Midwest Metabolism Club
  • Distinguished Alumni Award – University of Calgary
  • Roerig Pfizer Visiting Professor – The Diabetes Institutes, Eastern Virginia Medical School
  • Ray A. and Robert L. Kroc Lectureship – University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • 2nd Clifford Wilson Eli Lilly Diabetes Care Lecture – The Royal London Hospital, London, United Kingdom
  • 17th Archibald Byron Macallum Lecture – University of Toronto
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Grant Award (Cardiovascular Research)
  • Gerold and Kayla Grodsky Basic Research Scientist Award – Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International
  • Rolf Luft Lecturer for Outstanding Contribution to Diabetology – European Association for the Study of Diabetes, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Banting Memorial Lecture – British Diabetic Association
  • AZA Lecture – Australian Diabetes Society, Sydney
  • Elected to The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Honorary Member, La Sociedad Argentina de Diabetes
  • Naomi Berrie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diabetes Research – Columbia University
  • Benjamin F. Stapleton, Jr. Lecture – University of Colorado Health Science Center
  • J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine (shared with C. Ronald Kahn and Åke Lernmark)
  • Distinguished Open Lecture – The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
  • International Visiting Professorship, Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, Kobe, Japan
  • Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics Visiting Professorship – University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
  • Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Grodsky Award and Lecture, Western Regional Islet Study Group Meeting
  • Inaugural Stefan S. Fajans Lecture in Diabetes – University of Michigan

Eve M. Tyree serves as chairman of the board of the James Tyree Foundation. The foundation was created to honor the memory and continue the legacy of her husband of 15 years, Jim Tyree.

Eve is the former chief financial officer of Mesirow Financial, a diversified financial services firm founded in 1937. In addition to her work with the Tyree Foundation and the Kovler Diabetes Center, Eve also serves on the boards of the Erikson Institute and the Wolcott School. Eve received her Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from DePaul University. Recently, as chairman of the board of the James Tyree Foundation, Eve was named by Today’s Chicago Woman magazine as a Top 100 Women of Inspiration. A long-time Chicago resident, Eve lives with her daughter, Jessica, and twin sons, Matthew and Joseph.

Laurie Anne Jaffe has worked with national and local nonprofit organizations for more than 30 years in strategic planning, communications and public affairs. She is a busy mother of three children. Laurie and her husband Michael support diabetes research through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and ongoing monogenic diabetes research at the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center.

Jaffe became passionate about contributing to the Kovler Diabetes Center when, in 2006, her daughter Lilly was re-diagnosed with monogenic diabetes – a discovery that allowed her to transition from insulin to oral medication. She started an email discussion group connecting and supporting families affected by monogenic diabetes, and helped organize Kovler’s monogenic diabetes conferences for families dealing with monogenic diabetes. She continues to work with Kovler to raise awareness about monogenic diabetes. She is executive producer of the award-winning documentary Journey to a Miracle: Freedom from Insulin, which premiered in early 2015 on public television.

Bruce Young serves as the vice chairman of Mesirow Financial, chief executive officer of the firm’s Institutional Sales and Trading group and a member of the firm’s board of directors. Previously, Bruce served as a board member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, dinner chairman for the Financial Services Division of the Jewish United Fund, board member for the Lookingglass Theatre and director of Roosevelt University Board of Trustees. He currently serves on the board of the 800 N. Michigan Condominium Association. Bruce is an avid tennis player and Chicago Bears fan.

Diabetes Care at UChicago Medicine

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