Gabi Conecker, MPH
President and Co-founder of the International SCN8A Alliance, founder and President of Wishes for Elliott, dedicated since 2014 to advancing SCN8A research
Gabi is mom to Elliott, now 8 years old, who struggles with one of the most severe strains of SCN8A mutations. Gabi founded Wishes for Elliott to fight for better treatment and research even before Elliott was diagnosed with SCN8A at 15 months. At diagnosis, the family received the one published article on SCN8A in children offering little to no guidance on care, treatment, or prognosis. Even though she was still working full time building maternal/child health programs in sub-Saharan Africa and caring for a severely medically fragile child, she was inspired to bring the passion and urgency of SCN8a families to the nascent but growing community of SCN8A researchers and clinicians – and do everything possible to improve understanding for better treatment and outcomes for all SCN8A children.
View a video about the decision to launch Wishes for Elliott, their initial SCN8A foundation.
JayEtta Hecker, MS
Executive Director and co-founder of the International SCN8A Alliance and co-founder of Wishes for Elliott. JayEtta is an economist who specialized in independent public policy analyses and held several positions with the National Academy of Sciences.
JayEtta trained and served in multiple federal agencies, including 25 years with the Congressional research arm, the Government Accountability Office. Elliott was her first grandchild and she was an active caregiver and partner in his diagnostic odyssey. She partnered with Gabi, her daughter, to form Wishes for Elliott to advance SCN8A research and create a lasting legacy for Elliott, who continues to serve as an inspiration with his pure love, connection, resilience, and joy.
Scientific Communications Specialist
Sara Te is an MPH candidate at Boston University focusing on global health program design, monitoring, and evaluation. She recently graduated from the University of Arizona with a BS in Microbiology and a BS in Care, Health, and Society with a minor in Molecular and Cellular Biology. She is also a Certified Community Health Specialist. She has worked in a pharmaceutical science lab studying protein purification as well as clinics as a medical scribe in various specialties such as pediatrics, family medicine, cardiothoracic surgery, sports medicine, and ophthalmology. Sara has experience in scientific communication and mentoring high school STEM students. She hopes to pursue a career in the non-profit sphere as an infectious disease program manager. When she is not studying, you will most likely find her reading a variety of fictional books at a nearby coffee shop.