Exceptional Lives' Staff brings a diverse array of personal and professional experiences to our work. We share a stong commitment to excellence and our organizational mission.
Anne Punzak Marcus
Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Anne Punzak Marcus has over ten years of experience working with organizations focused on brain disorders, education, and health. She was a co-founder of the Autism Consortium and previously worked for Fidelity Investments as a portfolio manager and research director. Anne was a 2012 and 2013 Harvard Advanced Leadership Fellow. She earned her MBA from the Wharton School after receiving her BS from Boston College.
Marisa Howard-Karp, MS
Chief Operating Officer
Marisa Howard-Karp has spent her career in public health working on improving access to health care and services. As a parent and caregiver to four children with disabilities, she has had a crash course in navigating complex services and loves being able to think about how to make that system easier for other families. She’s a non-profit lifer and a Georgia native who has made her home in the Boston area.
Nell Curran, Ph.D.
Head of Product
Nell is an anthropologist, UX evangelist, and a passionate advocate for equitable design. At Exceptional Lives, she works to center user experience and high-quality data in our product strategy & design decisions. She is deeply committed to alleviating inequality and improving opportunities in tech for marginalized communities, and brings a background in tech, nonprofit strategy, as a justice studies professor in prisons, and as a health disparities researcher.
In addition to her professional background, she also brings personal experience advocating for her own all-neurodivergent family, including her autistic child.
Community Engagement Specialist
Over the last 6 years, Christina has been heavily involved with volunteer work and non-profit organizations, specifically working with mothers and with individuals with disabilities. Christina’s family includes a son with disabilities, so she has first-hand experience navigating both school systems and health care systems as his advocate.
Christina is a 2022 graduate of Louisiana Partners in Policymaking and a member of the 2022 Racial & Health Equity Learning Lab Cohort. Her heart’s work is working with rural communities to educate and empower individuals so that they can better advocate for themselves and their families.
Marjunique Louis is a driven and passionate UX apprentice with a background in social media and marketing. Originally from New Orleans, she pursued her B.A. in mass communication at Loyola University and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Information at the University of Michigan.
Marjunique has developed her skills as a UX researcher through collaborative projects and while working with her university library to create equitable spaces and ensure accessibility of library resources. She has applied the same principles to her work as a UX apprentice for Exceptional Lives, where she focuses on making our disability resources accessible and understandable for parents. Marjunique brings a user-centered approach to her work, using her skills to create a meaningful experience for BIPOC communities.
Family Support Specialist
Carey Luckey is an administrative team member with over 20 years experience in both government and non-profit organizations and a single mom of an 11-year-old boy who has dyslexia and struggles with anxiety. She has been with ELI since 2019 and currently works with the User Support team to help connect families with information about programs and services. Carey also has the pleasure of working as a job coach for an individual with disabilities in order to support their success in the workplace.
Julie McKinney, MS
Director of Product Content and Health Literacy Specialist
Julie McKinney is a health literacy expert with extensive experience writing and revising health information for audiences with lower literacy skills. She has a BS from Brown University and an MS from Northeastern. As a parent of a child with a disability, Julie also has a personal understanding of the barriers that complex health information presents, and a heartfelt appreciation for information that is easy to understand and use.
Social Media Community Manager
Sydni Raymond is a storyteller with a passion for helping organizations share their journey in the digital space. She is a New Orleans native and a graduate of Xavier University. In her time working in social media & communications, she has received numerous awards, including Public Relations Association of Louisiana’s 2020 Rising Professional Ember Award and NOLA.com’s 33 Greater New Orleans Business People on the Move.
Outside of the office, Sydni can be found shooting videos, scrolling down her timeline or spending time with her son, Beau. She is a current member of PRSA and serves as Chair of Junior League of New Orleans Scholarship Committee.
Partnership Development Director
Rob is a father, husband, friend, and lifelong learner who has dedicated his work to increasing access to resources for those who need it most. In that work, he has collaborated with schools and districts across the country to create lasting partnerships. He hopes to do the same for Exceptional Lives.
When not working, Rob can be found training for a half marathon, hiking through the Bay Area, learning Spanish, playing video games, cooking for his family, and spending time with his amazing daughters, wife, two dogs, and cat.
A native North Carolinian, Paul has bachelor’s degrees in Music and French and a master’s degree in Voice Performance from Boston University. Paul also enjoys studying and speaking other languages. He especially enjoys translating ELI’s written material from English into Spanish and providing phone support as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking callers.
In addition to our staff, Exceptional Lives benefits from regular contributions from advisors, who offer additional technical and content expertise.
Marketing & Growth Lead Advisor
Simon has over 15 years of experience working with B2B marketing in multiple industries including tech and healthcare. He is deeply committed to growth within organizations and has had a track record of strategically creating and restructuring multiple marketing and growth plans within organizations leading to additional rounds of funding and acquisition.
Simon is a huge proponent of non-profit organizations which help communities in need and is alumni to national organizations centered around helping ethnic communities of lower income.
Julie McIsaac, Ph.D.
Child Development and Disability Advisor
Julie specializes in working with children and families with diverse developmental profiles She uses reflective practice, emotion-coaching, play and a relationship-based framework to support skill building in the areas of emotional-regulation and problem-solving. Julie consults with families, schools and community organizations. As a parent, she understands the need to have a cohesive team supporting a child and family.
Pamela White, Ed.S.
ESS Instructional Support Specialist and ESS Program Facilitator, East Baton Rouge Parish School System
Pamela White is an ESS Instructional Support Specialist and ESS Program Facilitator for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. She has worked with individuals with disabilities in the school setting for almost 15 years. She is passionate about establishing high expectations for students with disabilities, developing reading skills, and teaching with intention.
Our Board of Directors guides our mission to support families and providers caring for children with disabilities. Each of our board members brings personal and professional expertise that supports this work.
Ms. Boines is an educational leader with over 15 years of experience in special education in the pursuit of educational equity for all students by ensuring their individual needs are met. Currently, Darlika is a Student Support Coordinator for Special Education for Jefferson Parish, supporting schools to ensure that students with disabilities are receiving high quality instruction based on their needs. She is pursuing an Educational Administration Doctorate at the University of Southern Mississippi. She believes that all children deserve an adequate education.
Carol Raphael, MPA
Carol Raphael is a nationally recognized expert on health care and workforce issues. She served as the Chair of the Board of Directors of AARP and CEO and President of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the largest non-profit home health agency in the US. She has held an executive position at Mt. Sinai Medical Center and was an Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Human Resources Administration in charge of the Medicaid and Public Assistance programs in NYC.
She serves as a Director on numerous Boards including the Primary Care Development Corporation, the Medicare Rights Center, the Scan Foundation, the New York eHealth Collaborative, Commonwealth Care Alliance, Henry Schein, Inc., Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine, and the RAND Health Advisory Board. She has been appointed to many commissions including the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, the Federal Bipartisan Commission on Long Term Care, and the Age Friendly Commission. She was a member of New York State Governor Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team.
She is the Chair of the Long-Term Quality Alliance, an alliance of payers, providers, consumers and policymakers working to strengthen and better integrate the Long Term Services & Supports system. Ms. Raphael was 2012 Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard.
Joyce Frank Ridgeway, MSW, RSW
Ms. Ridgeway is the Early Intervention Specialist at Lighthouse Louisiana, which provides services for the Blind. She has worked with children, youth and families for over 25 years in a host of community organizations and programs.
She is a public servant whose goal is to ensure that families understand that we care about them and work to identify and address their priorities to support their child’s development. Ms. Ridgeway was formerly the regional coordinator in EarlySteps regions 1/10, which cover Orleans, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, and Jefferson parishes.
David Sargent is a Senior Advisor of Mergers & Acquisitions at Statemen’s Business Advisors, a middle market investment banking firm in Houston, TX. David assists clients in effecting mergers, acquisitions, capital sourcing, restructuring, and with general corporate advisory matters. He currently serves on the boards of Asuragen Inc., SAM Inc., and the Babson College Board of Overseers. He is a member of the 2016 Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University.
Ms. Strauss has specialities in both for profit and non-profit investing and research. She recently retired from Fidelity Investments, after seven years as the Director of Research for Fidelity Charitable and 13 years in numerous senior management and investment roles for Fidelity Management & Research’s actively managed fixed income and equity funds. Prior to Fidelity she was a founding Managing Director of a French-owned merchant bank in New York and held a leadership position in leveraged finance at Citibank.