Get to Know the NEC Society’s Directors!

The NEC Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis, was founded in 2014. Over the last few years, the organization has engaged talented and dedicated clinicians, investigators, impacted families and a strong board of directors.

As the NEC Society continues to grow, we’d like to introduce our directors to our wider community. The individuals within this organization care deeply about our shared mission and are driven to improve outcomes for our most fragile of infants.

We are grateful for the time each of our directors dedicate to the NEC Society!

Angelique Abed, Esq. 

angelique-abedAngelique is a technology transaction attorney at a technology company in the California Bay Area. She completed both her undergraduate degree in Legal Studies and law degree at UC Berkeley. She has a personal relationship to childhood illness, as she has witnessed family and dear friends cope with chronic and fatal childhood disease, including necrotizing enterocolitis.

Jennifer Canvasser, MSW

Canvasser_NECsocietyJennifer Canvasser founded the NEC Society after losing her son Micah to the disease in 2012. Jennifer’s expertise includes children’s environmental health, nonprofit leadership, community organizing and advocacy. She completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA and earned her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California with a focus on community organizing.

Gary Hunt, Esq.


Gary Hunt is an attorney practicing in Fresno, California where he lives with his wife Melissa and their three sons. Driven by his love for his children, Gary sees the NEC Society as a method to bring awareness to a disease that has had an incredible impact upon those who he holds dearly.

Chelsea Matter

Chelsea MatterChelsea Matter is an independent documentary producer. She has worked on films that have premiered at Sundance, Tribeca and IDFA and have covered social issues ranging from income inequality to responses to terrorism to the effects of chemicals in consumer products on our health. Chelsea has also produced and written documentary television series for networks including The History Channel, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel and Travel Channel. A graduate of Stanford University, Chelsea began her career as a television news journalist, working for affiliate stations in Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Rebecca Meuninck, Ph.D.

Rebecca Meuninck_Deputy Director

Rebecca is the Deputy Director for the Ecology Center, a Michigan-based non-profit working to protect human health and the environment. She has worked on environmental health and environmental justice issues for more than 17 years. Rebecca coordinates the environmental health work for the Ecology Center and the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health and serves on the steering committees of several state and national environmental health coalitions. In the wake of the Flint Water Crisis, Rebecca was appointed by Governor Snyder to the state’s Child Lead Exposure Elimination Commission. Rebecca’s work centers around her passion for protecting children’s health. Rebecca holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology, with a graduate specialization in Gender, Justice, and Environmental Change from Michigan State University, and a BS from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.

Erin Umberger, M.

Erin Umberger is an Architect with undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and Biology. In May 2014, Erin and her husband Ryan lost their baby daughter Sarah to NEC at two months of age. Erin’s loss has motivated her to be an advocate for preemies and their families. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

NEC Society International Advisors

We are also grateful to the NEC Society’s international advisors, Joanne Ferguson who is based in the UK, and Simone Rosito who is based in Brazil. By collaborating with the Special Interest Group in Necrotizing Enterocolitis (SIGNEC), which was established in the UK, and the Instituto Pequenos Grandes Guerreiros, we have created a groundbreaking global effort aimed at improving the care and outcomes for all fragile infants at risk of necrotizing enterocolitis. Learn more about these impactful organizations: 

Joanne Ferguson, Special Interest Group in Necrotizing Enterocolitis, United Kingdom
Joanne lost her son, Guy, to NEC when he was eight days old. Joanne was the first parent representative to serve on the clinical reference group that advises NHS England on neonatal care. By asking questions of the lack of NEC data and research in the UK, she met Dr. Minesh Khashu and became the first parent of a baby who had the disease to contribute to the Special Interest Group in Necrotizing Enterocolitis (SIGNEC). In the past eight years, Joanne has worked with professionals on a variety of neonatal projects; she has supported parents, helped charities, and lobbied politicians. 

Joanne was born in Zambia and recently moved to Northern Ireland. She has a degree in Business Administration and has worked in the UK, the USA and Middle East. She knows that greater international collaboration and support is needed to reduce the suffering and strains that necrotizing enterocolitis causes to babies, families and professionals around the world.

Simone Rosito, Instituto Pequenos Grandes Guerreiros (Little Big Warriors Institute) of Brazil 

13233028_10153541452510796_2158084449695031070_n-1Tom and Dani’s auntie, Simone holds a degree in Management and International Relations by the University of Aberdeen, a Masters in Middle East Politics, from the University of Durham and is currently specializing in Social Projects. With a long international career in Latin American Equities desks, Simone has lived in the UK and Australia and is a keen traveller with a taste for exotic locations. Her trips to places such as Syria, Bhutan and Algeria resulted in the book “Oh My Buddha” soon to be available in English and proceeds to be donated to Instituto PGG.

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