Who We Are
Dan and Jennifer Gilbert have been passionate advocates in the fight to end NF since their oldest son, Nicolas, was born with NF1. They have been long-time supporters of NF research initiatives at the Children’s Tumor Foundation, Children’s National Health System and the University of Alabama Birmingham. In 2015, they established the Gilbert Family Foundation to further advance their NF research efforts.
In 2017, the Gilberts established NF Forward, a nonprofit 501c3 organization. It shares a vision with the Gilbert Family Foundation to eradicate NF by funding groundbreaking, cutting-edge NF research. NF Forward strives to raise awareness about NF among a wide range of individuals and invite their support of this innovative vision.
NF Forward’s signature event is the beNeFit, a major gala held at TCF Center in downtown Detroit every November. Since 2013, beNeFits I-VII raised over $30 million for NF research and attracted more than 1,700 supporters annually to join the fight to end NF.
What We Do
NF Forward funds NF research with audacious, high-reaching goals to bring us closer to a cure for NF. NF Forward focuses on three major areas:
- Co-funding pioneering research alongside the Gilbert Family Foundation. Projects include:
- Vision Restoration Initiative – Inspired by Nick’s loss of vision as a result of an optic nerve tumor caused by his NF, a consortium of twelve top researchers works to regenerate the optic nerve and develop first-in-kind vision restoration therapies.
- Gene Therapy Initiative – Since NF is a genetic disease, the search for a ‘cure’ will focus on replacing, repairing or otherwise addressing the mutated gene. A network of nine outstanding researchers pursues the most promising strategies.
- Supporting innovative work of NF organizations such as the Children’s Tumor Foundation, a national organization funding broad-based NF research and advocating for the NF community.
- Fostering the creation of critical research tools needed to advance breakthrough science.
NF Forward accepts applications for support by invitation only.
Board of Directors and Officers
NF Forward Team
Joyce Keller, Executive Director ~ JoyceKeller@NFForwardDetroit.org ~ 313-202-6606
Michael Walch, Assistant to the Director ~ MichaelWalch@NFForwardDetroit.org ~ 313-407-5347
Maria Cairo, Program Manager, Philanthropy ~ MariaCairo@NFForwardDetroit.org ~ 313-373-4830
Kayleigh Roy, Grants and Operations Manager ~ KayleighRoy@NFForwardDetroit.org ~ 313-373-7933
Mar Paricio Sunyer, Grants and Operations Coordinator – MarParicioSunyer@NFForwardDetroit.org ~ 313-545-7015