Meet our team

Our Board of Directors 2024

Arjun Natesan
PhD in Neuroscience
Senior Vice President
@ Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical
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Arjun Natesan, Ph.D. is the Board Vice President at Biotech Partners, as well as the Vice President of Translational Research at Ultragenyx Pharmaceuticals, a company developing therapeutics for rare genetic diseases.

Prior to Ultragenyx, he was the Director of Research & Early Development at Medivation conducting research on novel cancer medicines.

Dr. Natesan started his career in biotechnology in 2005 moving to the SFBay area to join Geron Therapeutics, where he worked on developing stem cell therapeutics to treat neurological diseases.

Dr. Natesan conducted post-doctoral research at the National Institutes of Health, received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Texas A&M University, and a B.A. in chemistry from the University of Chicago.

Throughout his career, socioeconomic and racial inequities in higher education, especially in STEM, have been readily apparent.

Dr. Natesan has a passion for the Biotech Partners mission to provide opportunities and experiences to underrepresented groups in order to overcome and repair these systemic societal obstacles.

Carla Carriveau
Vice President
JD, MBA, BS in Chemistry
Chief Legal Officer and Strategic Advisor @ Coinlist
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Carla Carriveau is the Board President of Biotech Partners and a former scientist.  She is a seasoned attorney focusing on leading legal strategy in emerging technology industries.

She currently serves as the Chief Legal Officer of CoinList, a digital asset platform offering a full suite of services to support projects and communities working to grow use cases for blockchain technology.

Carla was previously Senior Counsel at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission serving in a number of capacities including as a top government affairs aide to former SEC Chair Mary Jo White.

In addition to her full-time role, Carla serves as advisor to a number of innovation-driven companies and organizations including the Blockchain Law for Social Good Center.

Carla originally became interested in Biotech Partners as a way to reconnect herself to the sciences, but quickly became inspired to join the Board by Lynda Gayden and her team and the incredible students the organization helps.

Martie Kutscher Clark
Senior Litigation Associate @ Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
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Martie Kutscher Clark, J.D., is a senior litigation associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

She has extensive experience navigating and developing the law on behalf of Silicon Valley technology companies in state and federal trial and appellate courts.

She specializes in strategizing novel approaches and arguments in uncharted areas. Ms. Kutscher Clark has played a critical role in numerous technology-driven cases regarding data privacy, state and federal securities laws, federal wiretap laws, trade secrets, free speech, and state and federal employment laws.

Outside of work, Ms. Kutscher Clark has partnered with various organizations dedicated to mentoring and bringing education parity to underserved youth.

She has been a member of Biotech Partners’ Board of Directors since 2020 and serves as Secretary of the Board.

Ahmed Akbar
BS in Business Administration
@ Ernst and Young, LLP
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Ahmed Akbar is a Director within Ernst & Young’s Strategy and Transactions practice, where he focuses on advising Life Science companies on their mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures.

He also leads the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for EY’s San Francisco office. He is an alumnus of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

He is also an alumnus of Biotech Partners, where he acted as the student representative to Biotech Partner’s Board of Directors and worked at Bayer and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Ahmed is passionate about supporting pipeline programs that help underserved communities through education and job training.

Charles Belle
Executive Director
@ Blockchain Advocacy Coalition
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Charles Belle is the Filecoin Foundation for Decentralized Web’s Teaching Fellow at the Blockchain Law for Social Good Center at the University of San Francisco School of Law. Professor Belle teaches Corporations and DeFi: Decentralized Finance Law.

Professor Belle is a non-residential Fellow at Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society. Past fellowships include UC Berkeley's Center for Technology, Society & Policy. He holds dual AB degrees in Economics and Political Science from the University of Chicago and an AM in International Relations. Charles earned his Juris Doctorate from UC Law San Francisco and served as a law clerk extern for Judge Carlos Bea of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He was the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the UC Law Science and Technology Journal (formerly Hastings Science & Technology Law Journal).

Keisha Mitchell
Associate Director
@ Gilead Sciences
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Keisha Mitchell earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering & Spanish Literature at Syracuse University, her M.S.E at Southern Polytechnic State University, and her MBA at the University of Michigan.  She is an experienced operations and supply chain professional who has spent the better part of her career working within the healthcare space.

Keisha has worked in a number of capacities within quality engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, and now Procurement at Gilead Sciences supporting Research & Development and Pharmaceutical Development & Manufacturing.  She is passionate about doing work that contributes to the improvement of health outcomes for patients around the globe.

Keisha has always loved math and science and welcomes any opportunity to inspire young learners to embrace STEM and to encourage adolescents to seriously consider careers in related fields.

She is both grateful and humbled to be a part of Biotech Partners and is ecstatic about lending her skills and talents to helping the organization expand its reach and influence, enabling diversity and inclusion in biotech by creating a pipeline of talent from underrepresented groups.

Elaine Ng
PhD in Bioengineering
Chief Scientific Officer
@ MagIC Lifescience
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Elaine Ng received her Ph.D. in Bioengineering at Stanford University in 2019. Her career interests lie in creating value for the everyday patient and generating translational impact in the medical diagnostic space.

She is the founder and CSO of a diagnostic start-up and is enjoying (most) every moment of it. After many years of running her own high school program at Stanford with an emphasis on empowering underserved and underrepresented students in STEM, she has found a new home for her STEM education passion with Biotech Partners.

It has helped her take her vision for impacting the future generations of youth in STEM to a larger scale. She is excited to be a part of Biotech Partners and is looking forward to helping BP grow, prosper and positively influence students across the Bay Area to cultivate new leaders of STEM.

Kenneth Saffier
Clinical Professor of Family and Community Medicine @ University of California
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Dr. Saffier is a retired family physician specializing in addiction medicine and chronic pain management who continues to work part time in the Contra Costa Public Department in their Choosing Change Program.

He is also is faculty in The Contra Costa Regional Family Medicine Residency in their affiliated University of California, San Francisco Department of Community and Family Medicine program.

He is Clinical Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Roman Urfer
PhD in Biochemistry
Chief Executive Officer
@ Selonterra
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Dr. Roman Urfer has held scientific, operational and executive leadership positions during his career in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. He holds a Master’s degree from ETH Zurich and a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Basel, Switzerland.

He has led drug discovery and development efforts in CNS disorders from target discovery to Phase 2 clinical development. He is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Selonterra, Inc., a San Francisco Bay Area-based biotechnology company focused on the discovery of novel therapies for complex neurodegenerative disorders with strong genetic links, notably Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

He is committed to scientific excellence and innovation as a named inventor on >20 issued patents and author of publications in peer-reviewed journals. He is excited as a member of the Board of Directors to help Biotech Partners to achieve its mission.

Staff Members 2023

Executive Director
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As Biotech Partners Executive Director, since 2014, Lynda has brought over 30 years of experience in executive leadership, financial management, organization development, strategic planning, program development and evaluation and development. Ms. Gayden has launched non-profits, developed and secured funding to pilot programs and directed services for children, youth and families that became best-practice and/or evidence-based model programs. Ms. Gayden taught elementary education for several years.

Jennifer Hugenberger
Program Manager
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Having joined the Biotech Partners team in 2020, Dr. Hugenberger brings a wealth of knowledge and experience within both science and education fields. She received her B.S. in biology from California State University, East Bay before obtaining her Ph.D. from the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California Berkeley in Comparative Physiology and Endocrinology. 

Dr. Hugenberger participated in a variety of research opportunities involving vertebrate physiological and endocrine systems throughout her graduate and post graduate work at UC Berkeley. She also taught a variety of biology courses mainly revolving around her background in Physiology and cell biology at both public and private schools and Universities in the Bay Area. 

Her experience teaching science to students ranging from 5 to 65 years of age continues to drive her work as she enjoys the challenge of developing needs-based curriculum, especially for underrepresented student populations. This role offers her the opportunity to utilize her skills as both a scientist and educator to prepare the students for the challenges they will encounter while obtaining a STEM degree at the post-secondary level and helping them on their journey to a successful scientific career.

Program Coordinator
@ Berkeley High School
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After high school, Alejandra attended UC Berkeley and received a B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biologywith an emphasis in Cell and Developmental Biology. While at Cal, she participated in SAGEMentorship, where she volunteered as a tutor and mentor to middle school students in Oakland. Alejandra has also been an AVID tutor for Berkeley Unified School District at various middle schools. Sheserved as a Public Health Coordinator for Global Medical Training in which she developed and led sessions discussing medical terminology and public health issues within healthcare. She was a recipient of the ASUC Academic Affairs Office Public Service Fund for medical volunteers scholarship that allowed her to participate in a mobile clinic medical training overseas in theDominican Republic. Alejandra has also interned with neurologist Dr. Teske in the Imperial Valley. Shehas also been a social research assistant for authors and educators Miriam Pawel and Gretchen Laue regarding the farmworker’s union and activism. There is a piece written in the New YorkTime’s by Miriam Pawel in which she was mentioned, called “Can Californian’s Still Find a Path toMobility at the State’s Universities” published in May of 2019.

“I am a first generation Mexican-American student who grew up in a low-income single parent household. I come from a family of field workers and la cosecha, or the harvest has impacted my life in more ways than one. As a migrant student, I have lived in multiple cities throughoutCalifornia. Due to financial hardship, housing insecurity and witnessing disparities & medical complications due to inequality in health care, I continued my education to ultimately mold a career in which I am able to bring the three worlds together: education, science, and medicine. Education is a never ending window of opportunities when students are guided, supported, and understood by educators and those who work in the education sector. Science is an amazing field that continues to evolve and support education and it is also an integral part of medicine.However, inequity and injustices affect all three systems and in order to impact these systems, individuals must work from within to drive change. Biotech Partners dedicates time, resources, and passion to students who come from underrepresented and underserved communities. This makes a long-lasting impact that can affect students for the rest of their lives and I am grateful and honored to be a part of such an organization.”

Program Coordinator
@ Berkeley High School
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Ms. Cruz obtained her A.A. in Liberal Arts: Math and Science and her A.S. in Biology from College of the Desert, all while participating in Genomics and Bioinformatics research, and helping her peers as a Math and Science tutor. Ms. Cruz transferred to UC Berkeley and obtained her B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biology and minored in CalTeach: Math and Science Education. While pursuing her degree at Cal, she served as a lab assistant and curriculum editor for Amgen Biotech Experience at the Lawrence Hall of Science. She was also a research assistant in the Mofrad Lab which specialized in Molecular Cell Biomechanics and as a peer advocate at the UC Berkeley Transfer Student Center.

“Being interested in both science and education, the program coordinator position for Biotech Partners was the perfect role that encompassed both of my passions, I was amazed by the amount of opportunity and exposure to Biotech careers that Biotech Partners gave to underrepresented students. Knowing first hand the hardships they experience, I am grateful to be a part of making a difference in these student's educational and career goals through encouragement and support.”

Program Coordinator
@ San Marin High School
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Having just started in January 2023, Ms. Boynton is the newest member of the Biotech Partners team.She graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2005. Since then, she has worked in a multitude of different scientific industries and laboratories. She has experience working in a winery laboratory, a pathology lab, an environmental lab, a wastewater treatment lab, and a water quality lab. All these jobs have given her a broad knowledge, as well as experience in many laboratory techniques and procedures. She has always been interested in the sciences and was inspired by wonderful teachers during her middle and high school years to pursue a path in science.

She is extremely excited about this new career opportunity, to work with students who possess an interest in the sciences, just like she has had from a young age. She cannot wait to work with and hopefully inspire the future scientists of the world.

She grew up in Napa, CA, moved to San Luis Obispo for nine years, and currently lives in Sonoma, CA. In her spare time, she can be found spending time with her family; her husband, four-year-old son and two dogs. She enjoys doing anything active; hiking, kayaking, camping, working out, exploring new places.She also enjoys cooking and trying new recipes. She is always down for a good game night or jigsaw puzzle. Lastly, she enjoys practicing mindfulness and meditation.

Program Coordinator
@ Antioch High School
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Born in Kathmandu, Nepal, Meghana earned her degree at UC Merced, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and a minor in Business Management & Economics. Her interest in healthcare began when she was young, after witnessing the birth of her younger brother—she wants to give back to others the same happiness she felt then, by pursuing a career as a nurse. Working as a Program Coordinator at Biotech Partners is an excellent blend of her expertise and her passions, allowing her to apply her pre-med education to make a meaningful impact on the students she works with. Through education and support, she can give them the momentum they need to pursue their own careers and bring happiness to themselves and their communities.

“I really enjoy my position right now because I can contribute to making changes in the life of the students I am working with.”

Katrina Krommenhock
Admin & Program Associate
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Since Joining the Biotech Partners team in 2013, Katrina has become an integral part of the program’s day-to-day operations. Having worked with multiple cohorts of Biotech Academy students, she understands the complex needs of our students as they go through our program and helps facilitate the logistical aspects of their internship programming. Coming from another non-profit focused on changing the lives of Bay Area youth through art based jobs and job training, Katrina brings a wealth of experience within the non-profit sector.

“When I first came on board, I was inspired by the dedication of the staff towards the success of the students. Nobody was willing to stand by to just let students fall through the cracks; everyone is focused on providing whatever support was needed to help them stand on their own two feet. This is what these students need and what this kind of work needs in order to be done well.”

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