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Inherited Retinal Disease

Foundation Fighting Blindness Announces Leadership Changes

Posted on June 21, 2022

The Foundation Fighting Blindness, the world’s leading organization committed to finding treatments and cures for blinding retinal diseases, announced today the promotions of Jason Menzo to chief executive officer (CEO) of the Foundation and Russell Kelley, PhD, MBA, to managing director of the Retinal Degeneration (RD) Fund, the venture arm of Foundation Fighting Blindness, effective July 1, 2022. Ben Yerxa, PhD, who has served as CEO of the Foundation since 2017, will be transitioning to assume the permanent CEO position for Opus Genetics, the first spin-off company internally conceived and launched by the RD Fund to further the Foundation’s mission.

“I’m exceptionally proud of the progress we’ve made toward our mission during my nearly five years at the Foundation, including the launch of the RD Fund to further the Foundation’s mission through venture philanthropy,” said Dr. Yerxa. “Stepping into the permanent CEO role at Opus Genetics – a company that we created and launched through the RD Fund – enables me to be on the front line of bringing potentially life-changing treatments to the patients who so urgently need them.”

Dr. Yerxa continued, “Under the sound leadership of Jason, Rusty and the rest of the Foundation team and board, I am confident the Foundation and RD Fund will continue to thrive and make great strides toward curing blinding retinal diseases, and I look forward to continued collaboration with them in my new role.”

“We thank Ben for his incredible service to the Foundation. He was the right person at the right time for the Foundation, and we are pleased that he will stay close to the organization as he leads Opus Genetics. We look forward to working with Jason and Rusty in their new roles as CEO of the Foundation and managing director of the RD Fund, respectively,” said David Brint, chairman of the Foundation board of directors and member of the RD Fund board of directors. “Jason and Rusty each have the expertise and the confidence of their teams, patients and the boards to build upon the current direction and strategies to propel the work of each organization forward.”

Since joining the Foundation in 2018, Mr. Menzo has had a profound positive impact on redefining the nonprofit’s operations and engagement, including fiscal, fundraising, outreach, communications and managerial operations. He is recognized by colleagues and constituents for his passionate leadership style and ability to create innovative partnerships. In addition to being involved in the formation of the RD Fund, Mr. Menzo is one of the founders of Opus Genetics. Mr. Menzo was elevated to the role of president and chief operating officer of the Foundation in January 2022. Prior to the Foundation, he spent nearly 20 years in various leadership positions in the eyecare industry, and intimately understands the space, and key players in it.

“We’re grateful for Ben’s leadership in advancing therapies to address retinal disease and highlighting the patient voice – both during his tenure at the Foundation and RD Fund, as well as throughout his more than three-decade career translating research into clinical-stage and commercial products for the eye,” said Mr. Menzo. “This is the beauty of the venture philanthropy model that we’ve pioneered with the RD Fund. We can collaborate closely, identify needs and respond seamlessly to advance the shared missions of our organizations to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those in our community. I am honored to carry this momentum forward for the Foundation, together with Rusty at the helm of the RD Fund, and our respective management teams.”

Read the full press release here.

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