Board Roles: Directors
As head of employee and community engagement at MilliporeSigma, Melissa Hackmeier leads the development and implementation of employee and community engagement strategy, programs and nonprofit partnerships, as well as communications to raise awareness about the company’s initiatives. She launched the company’s first-ever SPARK™ global volunteer program focused on science education, with employees volunteering more than 112,000 hours to engage 310,000 students in 41 countries to date. She is also responsible for leading MilliporeSigma’s flagship science education programming, including the Curiosity Labs™ program, which educates and inspires students around the globe through hands-on, interactive science lessons led by employees, and the Curiosity Cube, a retrofitted shipping container turned mobile science lab that travels across North America and Europe to spark curiosity in visitors of all ages through hands-on learning.
Hackmeier has extensive experience working on sustainability and social business innovation consulting projects with a variety of companies and organizations, including State Street, Dunkin’ Brands, Praxair, Western Union and Eli Lilly. Prior to her work in sustainability and social business innovation, Hackmeier was an account supervisor at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and Text 100 Public Relations.
Hackmeier holds a B.A. in English from Tufts University and an M.B.A. from Boston University (BU) Questrom School of Business. She has appeared as guest lecturer in the MBA Social Enterprise and Environmental Sustainability class at BU and at a Marketing Social Change Class at Harvard University Extension School.
She has been involved with Net Impact in some capacity since 2009, and she currently serves on the advisory council of the Net Impact Boston professional chapter. Hackmeier served as president of the Boston chapter in 2013 and 2014, during which time it was named Professional Chapter of the Year.
As Global Head of Biogen’s Corporate Reputation and Responsibility, Johanna oversees corporate branding, issues management and corporate responsibility strategy, programs and stakeholder engagement worldwide. Leading Biogen’s strategy and extensive reporting on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, she has been a driving force behind Biogen’s 20-year, $250 million Healthy Climate, Healthy Lives initiative, enhancing Biogen’s leadership as the first Fortune 500 corporation to commit to go fossil fuel free as part of Science Based Targets initiative Business Ambition for 1.5C. From supporting the company’s pandemic response to innovative employee engagement programs to the company’s first diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) report, she works at the forefront of complex challenges that define our time.
As the Executive Director of the Biogen Foundation, Johanna heads Biogen’s global community engagement strategy with a strong focus on providing equitable access to inclusive science education through Biogen’s Community Lab, the longest-running hands-on science program in the U.S. Under her leadership, Biogen won the prestigious U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation award for the Best Sustainability Program, was recognized by Fast Company World Changing Ideas, and set an industry record for leadership on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for nine consecutive years. Previously, the lead Corporate Affairs business partner and Director of Global Impact & Sustainability for Biogen Pharmaceutical Operations & Technology, she also spent seven years at MilliporeSigma, the life science business of Merck KGaA, as Head of Corporate Responsibility & Community Affairs. She is active on the board of directors for the Kendall Square Association, ESG & CSR Board, Project Green Schools, e Inc., and Duke University’s Business and Environment Advisory Council.
Heather Connor is a global communications leader with deep experience and expertise across the spectrum of the healthcare and biopharma industries. As Global Head of Healthcare Communications for Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Heather provides strategic leadership in strengthening the global reputation of the company’s Healthcare business; in engaging employees; and in contributing to the vision and values of the organization. She serves as a member of the Healthcare Executive Committee and Business Partner to the Healthcare CEO. She is also a member of the Global Communications Leadership Team.
Through Heather’s tenure with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, she’s led a diverse, global team of more than 70 people, taking pride in working with those around her towards the shared vision of having a positive impact on the lives and well-being of people facing serious disease. Heather is a values-based leader whose passion and purpose-driven approach translate into high performance within her team and results for the overall business. She holds the art of listening and receiving and sharing feedback to the highest regard, with the goal of always assuming good intent to solve problems and deliver meaningful value. Heather is a champion of growth and development within the company, and takes great energy from the accomplishments and successes of those whose career path she has the privilege to impact.
From therapy approvals, to crisis communications, to employee engagement, Heather has led and executed strategic communications across the full portfolio of the global Healthcare business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Heather previously served as Head of Global R&D and Business Development Communications, leading the visibility and recognition of the company’s early and late stage portfolio and improving the reputation of R&D efforts across internal and external stakeholders. Heather has been with the company for 18 years in positions of increasing responsibilities. Heather is a working mother, who strives every day to master the art of multi-tasking across many dimensions to a high degree of quality and success—while often the balancing act doesn’t quite work out as planned, her tenacity is ever-present. In order to keep her wits about her even under the toughest of pressures, Heather is an avid runner who finds peace while pounding the pavement. And, she is very happy to be a “hockey mom” to her son and daughter, both of whom love life on the ice.
Laurie Halloran founded Halloran Consulting Group in 1998. Her time as a pediatric ICU nurse had inspired her to start a company that helps move new therapies through FDA processes to get them into the hands of patients desperately in need. By providing a strategic development team, innovative start-up companies could have access to world-class expertise at a fraction of the cost. Since its humble beginnings, Halloran has grown into a leading consultancy of like-minded experts who are dedicated to improving human health by making life science companies better at what they do.
As a passionate advocate for workforce development and women in leadership, Laurie started early in her career with these efforts as she established and developed Worldwide Training capabilities within Clinical Operations at PAREXEL International Corporation during the 10 years of the company’s rapid growth into a leading international Contract Research Organization. Her efforts have continued for 25 years, partnering with local and global trade associations and educational institutions to create entry points into the life science community in Massachusetts.
Laurie has been named 2018 Women’s Business Enterprise Star by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and has won a 2017 Enterprising Women of the Year Award from Enterprising Women Magazine. Halloran Consulting Group was also named an Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Company for the past five years in a row. In 2015, Laurie was honored by the Boston Business Journal as a Woman of Influence, in 2010 was selected as one of the 100 Most Inspiring People in Life Science by PharmaVoice, and in 2009, she was awarded Clinical Researcher of the Year by the New England Chapter of the Associate of Clinical Research Professionals.
Laurie lectures at Boston University Medical School and the Tufts Center for Drug Development Post-Graduate program. She has previously taught at George Washington University and Harvard University. Laurie earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Russell Sage College and a Master of Science in Management from Lesley University. She is also a Prosci Certified Change Practitioner.
Tom Snow is currently Global Franchise Head, Neurology and Immunology, at Sanofi Genzyme. He joined the organization in 2012 as Vice President of Global Commercial Strategy for MS, where he oversaw global marketing, market access, and market intelligence to support the successful global launches of Aubagio and Lemtrada. From 2014-2017, he served as regional Commercial Head for MS in Europe.
Before joining Sanofi Genzyme, Tom spent 9 years with Merck Serono, both with the US commercial organization in Rockland, MA and global in Geneva, where he was the head of global strategic marketing for Merck Serono’s MS franchise. Tom spent the first half of his career at several marketing and communications agencies, working for both consumer and health care clients, including Schering, Novartis, and Bayer.
Tom received his BA in English and Economics from Amherst College, and his MBA from Babson College, both in the US. In his “spare time,” Tom enjoys tennis, running, listening to music, playing the drums, and reading books. He also publishes a blog about spirituality and business travel (theabsoluteceiling.blogspot.com) which receives tens of unique visitors per month.
Jay Mettetal is a Director in Early Oncology Bioscience at AstraZeneca, leading the preclinical drug combination strategy, and coordinating AZ preclinical efforts on late-stage programs. He initially joined AstraZeneca in 2013 to build a Modelling and Simulation group focusing on translational safety and ADME. The team heavily supported the oncology portfolio with an emphasis on Quantitative and Systems approaches to common adverse events for single agent and combination therapies. Prior to joining AstraZeneca, he worked at CombinatoRx developing algorithms for identification of optimal combinations, and subsequently held positions at Pfizer in the biologics unit as well as Millennium/Takeda where he was modelling and simulation team leader in DMPK. He earned his PhD in Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology applying quantitative approaches to problems in population heterogeneity and cellular signaling.
Melissa is the Chief of Staff, President and CEO’s Office at Boston Medical Center Health System. Previously, she held the role of Associate Director of US Corporate Communications at EMD Serono, where she was responsible for positively positioning the company with external and internal audiences, driving the positive reputation of the company through digital, media and advertising support and setting the communications strategy to enable the business to achieve its business and scientific leadership goals.
Prior to joining EMD Serono, Melissa was the Director of Strategic Communications at Boston Medical Center (BMC), New England’s largest safety-net hospital and trauma center. At BMC she managed the media relations and internal communications for the hospital and was responsible for developing and implementing broad, pro-active internal and external communications strategies in support of BMC’s key priorities.
Earlier in her career, Melissa was a Senior Vice President at Rasky Baerlien Strategic Communications, where she managed the firm’s healthcare practice working with a range of high-profile healthcare companies and organizations.
A graduate of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, Melissa also serves on the Board of Healthworks Community Fitness, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing high-quality fitness opportunities and health education for women and children in low-income neighborhoods to prevent and treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases, improve health and fitness, and promote well-being and empowerment.
Kendalle Burlin O’Connell
As President and CEO, Kendalle leads the strategic direction, global expansion, and business operations of the organization ensuring that MassBio offers the greatest value to its members and that Massachusetts life sciences companies have the best environment possible to research, develop, and commercialize breakthrough therapies and cures for people around the world who need and deserve them.
Kendalle first came to MassBio in 2008 as Director of Purchasing and Strategic Alliance. She was promoted to Vice President of Member Services and General Counsel in 2012, then promoted to the organization’s first-ever Chief Operating Officer in February 2019. Throughout her tenure at MassBio, Kendalle has played a critical role in the growth of MassBio’s membership supporting its expansion to become the largest life sciences trade association in the world with over 1,400 members. Kendalle has overseen the rebrand of a number of MassBio’s core programs and services, including the MassBio Edge, MassBio’s savings and rewards program, and its expansion into other New England states by building valuable partnerships with the supplier community and creating MassBio’s highly-rated Employee Rewards program. She also led the development of the MassBioHub, MassBio’s conference and business center, and the creation of MassBio’s 2025 State of Possible Report. In 2019, Kendalle commenced a multi-year digital health initiative to support the convergence of digital tech and the life sciences in Massachusetts. And in 2021, Kendalle was instrumental in the launch of MassBio’s Partnering Week, a new initiative to bring together established biopharma companies with early-stage startups and academic institutions.
Kendalle has reached extraordinary heights in her growing career. She was named a 2019 Boston Business Journal 40 under 40 honoree which recognizes a leader’s impact on Massachusetts’ industries. Currently, Kendalle serves as a Board of Director for the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd) and the New England Chapter of the March of Dimes. She also served as the Event Chair of the Black Tie for Babies Gala from 2016-2018.
Prior to joining MassBio, Kendalle practiced law in the areas of Estate and Medicaid Planning, Probate and Asset Protection. She graduated cum laude from Sacred Heart University with a B.A. in Economics and Political Science and received her Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School. She resides in Haverhill, Massachusetts with her husband and two children.
Mary Ellen Wiltrout
Mary Ellen is the Director of Online and Blended Learning Initiatives and Lecturer in Digital Learning for the MIT Department of Biology. Mary Ellen completed her undergraduate degree in biological sciences from Carnegie Mellon University and her Ph.D.in biology studying translesion synthesis at MIT. From 2009 to 2013, she co-taught the molecular biology course at Harvard University as a preceptor. She also developed several of her own courses at Harvard Extension School.
In 2013, Mary Ellen moved to the Broad Institute to be part of the core group with Michelle Mischke and Brian White to create Eric Lander’s MITx course, 7.00x Introduction to Biology – The Secret of Life. Mary Ellen now oversees the execution and evolution of MIT Department of Biology’s digital learning strategy with her group. The group develops digital learning content for MIT students and advises evidence-based teaching practices. They also implement these practices in the creation of world-wide bound MITx on edX MOOCs. Mary Ellen’s group completes research on the design of digital learning content as well.
Rita is currently the Regional Business HR – US/PR Pharma for AbbVie Bioresearch Center (Worcester, MA) and Cambridge Research Center (Cambridge, MA), the company’s center of excellence for biologics and neuroscience. In this role, lead the site’s Human Resources function and supports the Research & Development and Operations functions.
Prior to this role, Rita was Director, Business Human Resources to AbbVie’s Chief Human Resources Officer and EVP and the global HR function.
Rita joined AbbVie in December of 2013, as HR Business Partner Operations supporting Purchasing and Supplier Management (PSM) and Manufacturing Science & Technology (MS&T). She also held a previous role in Executive Development leading our manager level key talent workshop, the Emerging Leader Program (ELP) and Executive Coaching program for our global senior leaders.
Prior to AbbVie, Rita was Senior HR Business Partner of Operations Business Group (OBG) in the Defence Business at Rolls Royce and held progressively responsible HR Business Partner and Labor Relations roles at Ford Motor Company. Rita started her career as a Staff Attorney in house counsel to Service Employees International Employees (SEIU). Rita has a Juris Doctorate (JD) and Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.