Peggy Lillis Foundation is building a nationwide C. diff (Clostridioides difficile) awareness movement by educating the public, empowering advocates, and shaping policy.
Founders & Staff
Christian John Lillis
Peggy’s elder son. Christian has 25 years of experience in fundraising, advocacy, and nonprofit management, including at NYU Langone Medical Center and the National LGBTQ Task Force.
As head of PLF, Christian has led eight national convenings of C. diff Advocates, built a 50-person volunteer Advocates Council, coordinated the first-ever C. diff Lobby Day on Capitol Hill, and produced the first-ever public service announcement on C. diff infections. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognized PLF’s work with its Excellence in Partnership award for domestic advocates and organizations.
Christian has presented to state hospital associations, quality improvement organizations, healthcare systems, and industry leaders, including Mount Sinai Health, National Quality Forum, and the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria. He has also testified at Congressional briefings. Christian’s writing has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the CDC’s Safer Healthcare Blog. He has also co-authored articles for journals, including Advances in Therapy and American Journal of Gastroenterology. PLF’s work has been featured in Consumer Reports, USA Today, and Reuters. Peggy’s story was also featured Dr. Martin Blaser’s 2014 book, Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues.
Christian holds a B.A. in Political Theory from Brooklyn College-City University of New York. A native Brooklynite, he lives in its Kensington neighborhood with his husband, Chris, and their beagle, Maggie Anne.
Peggy’s younger son. Liam is a plumber at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn and member of Plumbers Local 1. He previously worked for Ideal Plumbing and AC Klem.
With PLF, Liam has participated in our public service announcements, co-chaired our annual Galas (which have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars), and presented to a range of audiences, including Merck’s Chief Patient Officer Rounds and national sales meetings.
Liam lives in Marine Park, Brooklyn with his wife, Melissa, their son Greyson as well as their dog, McGee, and their cat, Maizey.
Lauren has been a full-time staff member at Peggy Lillis Foundation since graduating from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s of science in Health Education in 2022. Lauren has also been a member of the Advocates Council alongside her mother Maryann, a C. diff survivor, since 2021. At PLF, Lauren works alongside Advocates and stakeholders to help manage day-to-day operations as well as several of the organization’s long-term projects and programs like the Peer Support Network.
Erin joined Peggy Lillis Foundation in January 2022. She worked for 10 years in nursing and bedside patient care before taking some time off to start a family. In 2021, she decided to return to work and launch a new career as a Virtual Assistant and Project Manager. At PLF, she manages day to day operations in addition to the PLF social media and blog.
As the spouse of a U.S. Navy Sailor, she has moved all over for the past 12 years, including several years in Japan. She is a native of Baltimore, MD and now lives in Southern Maryland with her spouse David and son Brandon.
Gerard Honig is a research professional focused on improving health and reducing suffering through technology. He has focused his work on inflammation, immunology and gastroenterology since 2010. Most recently, at Celsius Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on drug discovery and development enabled by high-resolution molecular understanding of inflammatory diseases, he was responsible for advancing therapeutics and biomarkers to address unmet needs in inflammatory bowel diseases. Previously, at the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, a leading patient advocacy organization, he developed and managed a diverse portfolio of research investments focused on ulcerative colitis & Crohn’s disease, and with Symbiotic Health, a startup company he founded focused on novel drug delivery systems for microbiome-based therapeutics, he developed a novel clinical modality for the treatment of C. difficile infection. Gerard received his PhD in neuroscience at the University of California San Francisco as a fellow of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and subsequently trained in several leading immunology laboratories. He has received several prestigious awards and has authored 22 academic articles. Gerard has been working with the Peggy Lillis Foundation since 2015, volunteers on numerous additional boards and committees, and enjoys biking, Japanese martial arts and cooking.
Helen is Peggy’s sister. Helen was a registered nurse for 25 years and retired as Assistant Director of Nursing for Northwell Health. Helen holds a BS in Nursing from Molloy College.
Victoria is Director of Global Oncology Product Communications at Daiichi Sankyo. She has more than 20 years of healthcare public relations, advocacy and marketing experience that spans several disease areas including hematology/oncology, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and infectious diseases/vaccines. Over her career, Victoria has supported and developed relationships with top medical and third party organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, National Meningitis Association, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, the American Academy of Pediatrics and AARP. Victoria holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communication from Boston University.
Dr. Hill is the President of Hill Scientific and Public Affairs LLC. She is the former Vice President of Innovation Policy, Global Policy at Pfizer, which places the advancement of human health at the center of global life sciences policy development. Her work addressed unmet policy needs in vaccines, anti-microbial resistance, therapeutics, precision medicine, clinical trials and compassionate access. Prior to joining Pfizer, as clinical director of the International Center for the Disabled, she led the social policy research with the National Council on Disability, that helped secure passage of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. As a former Executive Director of the March of Dimes in NYC, she worked to advanced maternal and infant health nationally.
She is a member of the Harvard and Brigham and Women’ s Multiregional Clinical Trials Center Executive Advisory Board, the Vivli Inc Executive Advisory Board, and on the Steering Committee of the Sepsis Alliance. She is a recipient of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America Guthrie Family Humanitarian Award, the National Coalition of Women with Heart Disease Corporate Leadership Award, the Arthritis Foundation Patient Services Award, Rotary International Award for Outstanding Work with Children in Need, and the Freedom of the Human Spirit award from INCLUDEnyc.
She earned a Ph.D. in Speech Science and Communication Disorders from Columbia University and earned an MIT Certificate in Artificial Intelligence Business Strategies. She is a published author and graduate of the Executive Program, Columbia University Graduate School of Business, and the Harvard Business School Pfizer Leadership Development Program.
Jeff is the head of Mintz & Gold’s Labor and Employment Department, and concentrates his practice in all areas of labor and employment law. Jeff is recognized as an authority on the Fair Labor Standards Act. He represents companies in lawsuits involving allegations of wage and hour violations, union representational campaigns, collective bargaining negotiations, and regularly practices before the Federal and State courts, the NLRB, EEOC and the New York State Division of Human Rights. Jeff received a B.A. degree from Emory University, and a J.D. degree, cum laude, from Boston University, where he served as an editor of the Law Review. Jeff also serves as an arbitrator and mediator in employment disputes, and is the author of numerous published articles on labor law.
Bruce Hirsch, MD is a graduate of Cornell University Medical College. His infectious disease practice focuses on optimizing the complete health of a person. Illness is not just biology – we are often impacted in every aspect of our lives. The irony of infection resulting from antibiotics manifesting as Clostridioides difficile colitis has been one professional focus. Together with Gerard Honig, Dr Hirsch developed and described the effectiveness of transfer of fecally derived bacteria by oral capsules and was honored with an Innovators Award by the Peggy Lillis Foundation – the largest lay-person advocacy group for C. diff in the country. Dr Hirsch recently published research describing persistent enhanced morbidity and mortality for those hospitalized with C. diff throughout the 180 days follow up measured. The phenomenon of C. diff reveals our relationships with the microbial life that sustains us, with the well-intentioned but flawed health practices that sometimes hurt us and with our understanding that health and well being are precious and connected with the well being of others.
Carol is a certified Neuro-Linguistic Practitioner, retired accounting professional, musician, and C. diff advocacy champion. She is a C. diff survivor and has been advocating for awareness and education for many years. Carol is also the Chair of the Peggy Lillis Foundation Advocates Council.
Alicia is the Executive Director of the American Camp Association, NY and NJ. Before joining the ACA, NY and NJ, Alicia was with The Fresh Air Fund for 14 years, serving as director of camping and year-round programs for ten years. In this role, she oversaw six camp programs serving over 3,500 children annually and all year-round student/camper engagement programs. Alicia was involved with ACA, NY and NJ for many years before joining as Executive Director. She has served on the ACA, NY & NJ Board of Directors as a member and treasurer for nine years and volunteered as a standards visitor for 14 years. Alicia also served as an officer and president of the New York State Camp Directors Association, tirelessly advocating for issues that affected New York camps. Over the years, Alicia has been recognized by ACA, NY & NJ as a leader and advocate in camping with the Thelma Hurwitz Leadership Award and the Tri-State CAMP Conference Award.
She graduated from Brooklyn College (where she and Christian first met) and attended Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work in New York City. Alicia had dedicated over 30 years to working with/for at-risk youth. Alicia is a current Board Member and Past President of the New York State Camp Directors Association (NYSCDA). Ms. Skovera worked with people living with HIV/AIDS, and was a director at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center in New York City, where she provided counseling and consulting services.
Maryann is a C. diff survivor having received an FMT in late 2018 following 3 years of C. diff
infection. She is married to her husband of nearly 28 years. Maryann has spent over 30 years in
a variety of executive management positions responsible for regulatory affairs interacting with
FDA and comparable international health agencies for dietary and nutritional supplements,
infant and clinical nutrition, and functional foods. It is her hope to work together with PLF so that
no one ever has to endure the trauma of this disease, and families struggling with it are able to
benefit in some small way from her experience and support. Maryann has been an Advocate
with PLF since 2019 and joined the PLF Board of Directors in 2023.
Dr. Young was born in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from Williamsville East High School. He received his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1985 and his M.D., and his Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from Stanford University in 1992. Dr. Young completed clinical training in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the Massachusetts General Hospital followed by postdoctoral research at MIT. He was previously on the faculty at Michigan State University before joining the University of Michigan in 2007. Research in the Young lab is directed at understanding the role of indigenous microbiota in influencing the health status of their host. A key research focus is on the relationship between the gastrointestinal microbiota and healthcare-associated pathogens including C. difficile. Dr. Young’s research spans the gap between the bench and the bedside, conducted both with material from human subjects and using animal models of disease. Outside of the lab, Dr. Young enjoys hiking and cycling. He is the proud father of two adult sons. Dr. Young is also an amateur musician, playing keyboards in a local band and dabbling in jazz with other local musicians.
Scientific Advisory Council
The Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) is a group of researchers and healthcare providers who work in close collaboration with PLF on an array of projects, including:
Peggy Lillis Foundation’s Advocates Council
Peggy Lillis Foundation’s Advocates Council is a nationwide network of individuals whose lives have been impacted by a Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection, whether directly or through a loved one. Comprised of volunteer community leaders, the Council is the nucleus for our national movement to raise C. diff awareness by educating the public, empowering advocates, and shaping policy.
Supported by PLF, Advocates engage in a wide range of activities to educate the public, support and empower CDI sufferers and caregivers, lobby for CDI-related laws and regulations at the state and federal level, and help build a powerful and sustainable movement.
C. diff is preventable and treatable and not something everyone has heard of – yet. Through our work, we’ve made measurable differences in driving awareness among the public and helped shape policy through legislation.
Peggy Lillis Foundation is grateful to all of our generous supporters.
The following gifts have been received since January 1, 2022. If you believe you’ve been listed incorrectly, please email Erin Burns at erin at cdiff.org.