Meet Our Team
Brian Harman • President & CEO
Since 2018, Brian Harman has served as President & CEO of the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF), the country’s largest patient advocacy group for mitochondrial disease. Quickly recognizing the unmet needs of this rare disease community, Brian set lofty goals to grow the organization’s reach. To those ends, last year UMDF served over 1,200 patient families and helped educate hundreds of clinicians, setting new highwater marks for the organization’s impact. His time at UMDF has also seen the undertaking of several major initiatives such as launching a next-generation digital patient registry, piloting two no-cost genetic testing programs, and advancing high-level relationships with members of Congress, the Food & Drug Administration, and major hospital systems.
Brian joined UMDF from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation, where he served as senior director of Corporate Engagement and Community Partnerships. Prior to that, he held leadership roles at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio and the American Cancer Society.
Brian is a graduate of Ohio University and resides in Powell, Ohio with his wife and two sons.
Rare Fact about Brian: Brian was the weatherman for his college television station.
Philip Yeske, PhD • Science & Alliance Officer
Philip Yeske is UMDF’s Science & Alliance Officer. He received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Allegheny College and a doctorate in organic chemistry from Emory University. Prior to joining UMDF, he served as President and CEO of Fluorous
Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based, early-stage life sciences company. He also worked at Bayer Corporation in positions ranging from basic research to global account management and co-founded the drug discovery company, MS2 Array.
Dr. Yeske has been active in the mitochondrial disease community since 2004, first as a parent of an affected child, then as a trustee of the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation from 2010 to 2012. In 2013, he accepted the position of UMDF Science & Alliance Officer, responsible for leading the foundation’s research mission and managing all scientific and business development efforts related to improved diagnoses, development of treatments and cures and optimized patient care.
Rare Fact about Phil: Phil’s first job was as an usher at a movie theater where a lifelong
passion for buttered popcorn developed.
Andy Dearth • Director of Marketing & Communications
Andy started his career as a marketer for concert giant Live Nation, where he rose from part-time publicist to a director role over 12 years with the company, promoting some of the biggest names in music including The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and more.
He joins UMDF from Goodwill Columbus, where as Marketing Director the last five years he championed the organization’s unique social enterprise model, helping to grow shopping, donations and fundraising to boost Goodwill’s impact in the community.
Andy is a graduate of Otterbein University and resides in Central Ohio with his wife, son and many dogs and cats.
Maria Porto • Director of Finance & Operations
Maria came to UMDF in early 2024 with nearly three decades of finance expertise, most recently with Lowell Public Schools in Lowell, MA, where she served as Deputy Chief Financial Officer. Prior to this, she rose to the role of Vice President of Financial Wellness over a 20-year career with Hanscom Federal Credit Union. Maria resides with her husband and their two teenage children in the greater Boston area. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family skiing, hiking, bike riding, attending soccer games, and traveling. She also speaks three languages, including English, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Kara Strittmatter, MA, CMM • Director of Education and Support Services
Kara Strittmatter joined the UMDF in 1997 and has enjoyed many roles in support of patient families. As the first employee, Kara has touched many through her leadership in member services, finance, fundraising, meeting planning, marketing and communications. Currently, she is thrilled to be dedicating her time as the UMDF Meeting Event Director and focusing on education in our mitochondrial community to help the patients and families we serve.
Under her direction, the UMDF organizes a very successful annual international conference which attracts more than 700 physicians, researchers, industry partners, patients, caregivers, and families. She is also very excited about expanding the UMDF’s education outreach and assist in the creation of a new educational portal to better serve the mitochondrial community. Kara has a Master of Arts in Communications and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations/Theatre.
Rare Fact about Kara: Has played many theatrical roles in her life, including Peppermint Patty in the musical “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.”
Beth Whitehouse • Director of Development
Beth Whitehouse joined UMDF in January 2015 as Director of Development. In this role, she is responsible for developing and implementing the organization’s annual fundraising plan to maximize revenue in support of the UMDF mission. Prior to joining UMDF Beth held several positions with Autism Speaks. Most recently as National Walk Director, responsible for driving revenue growth of 80+ events through the development, enhancement and dissemination of tools, processes, systems, and marketing materials for Autism Speaks’ signature event, Walk Now for Autism Speaks.
Beth has a bachelor’s degree in Finance from La Roche College. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and Association for Talent Development. She resides in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband Bob, and two sons, Benjamin and Nicholas.
Rare Fact About Beth: Beth has completed three major full marathons (26.2 miles) and countless 5ks, 10ks and half marathons.
Tania Hanscom • Special Event Manager
Tania Hanscom joined UMDF in 2005. Since then, Tania has served in many capacities with UMDF. Beginning her career in data processing, Tania now works with patient families and volunteers to plan, organize, and host fundraisers in honor of their loved ones. Tania leads UMDF Special Event fundraising, including our Energy for Life Walkathons and helps our patient families organize events in their community and on social media.
Prior to coming to UMDF, Tania managed events and ticket sales for a professional sports franchise in Pittsburgh. Tania is a 2002 graduate of Slippery Rock University with a degree in Sport Management and Marketing. She and her husband, John, have two sons.
Rare Fact about Tania: She and her family practice Tang Soo Do Karate. They are working hard toward achieving their black belts. Tania enjoys teaching the students and hopes to be a certified instructor once she is a black belt.