Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors is comprised of key dystonia community stakeholders – those impacted by dystonia, along with their loved ones. The Board provides direction and financial oversight of all operating programs and initiatives of the Foundation, including research.


Samuel Belzberg, Co-Founder (1928 - 2018)*

Samuel Belzberg died on March 30, 2018 following a massive stroke. He passed away surrounded by his family. Sam is survived by his wife of 68 years, Fran; his children, Cheri, Marc, Wendy and Lisa; 16 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Read more about Sam's extraordinary life here. 

Frances Belzberg, Co-Founder, Honorary Chair

Frances Belzberg co-founded DMRF with her late husband Samuel Belzberg after their daughter’s dystonia diagnosis. Finding very little in the way of information on the condition and support for the community, Fran and Sam established DMRF so that other families impacted by dystonia would have a network of support and hope for a future without dystonia. Now, more than 45 years later, Fran continues to be an active board member, engaged in planning and setting strategic direction. In 2021, Fran was appointed to the Order of British Columbia, the province’s highest recognition. In 1996, She was appointed to the Order of Canada, the nation’s second highest honour of merit. The dystonia community is honoured and grateful to Fran for her incredible ongoing contributions to our mission.

Connie Zalmanowitz, Chair

Connie Zalmanowitz has been proudly serving as a Director on the Board – as well as a Co-Leader of the Edmonton Support Group - for close to twenty years. Dystonia has been a part of Connie’s life since 1995 when her son was diagnosed with generalized dystonia. A former speech-language pathologist for 40 years at the Glenrose Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, Connie committed much of her career to those with voice disorders, including patients with spasmodic dysphonia. Connie possesses the unique perspective of a parent of a child with dystonia as well as a medical professional who understands the challenges that exist in the field of medical research. 

With her appointment as the Chair of the DMRF Canada Board in 2020, Connie’s solid leadership over the past three years has sustained progress during a particularly challenging time. Connie believes strongly in the value of advocacy for people living with dystonia and believes the key to helping is continued investment in high quality scientific research. She has put this belief into action for many years raising funds in Canada for education, support and research initiatives. 

Pearl E. Schusheim, Secretary/Treasurer

Pearl became involved with DMRF Canada in a professional capacity more than 20 years ago as a Tax Partner at Ernst & Young. She now serves as Secretary/Treasurer on the DMRF Canada’s Board of Directors. As the founder of P. Schusheim Advisory, Pearl is a strategic advisor to multigeneration high net worth families, entrepreneurs, foundations, and not-for-profit institutions. She works with complex wealth structures to ensure realization of succession and estate planning objectives, tax minimization, family governance development, philanthropic strategy, intergenerational wealth transfer and education. Pearl lives in Toronto with her husband.

Dennis Kessler, Director

Dennis Kessler and his wife Barbara got involved with DMRF US in 1982 when their son Art was diagnosed with dystonia. Dennis was invited to join the DMRF US and Canada Board of Directors shortly after that time and has been proudly serving both organizations ever since. Throughout Dennis’s time with DMRF, the organization has witnessed many advancements for the community, including the identification of numerous dystonia genes, the discovery of neurotoxin treatment, the discovery of DBS and its use for dystonia, and the use of PGD to help families eliminate dystonia in future generations. 

Dennis is the President and Founder of Midwest Family Business Advisors, a consultancy that provides strategic guidance for family businesses. He currently serves on the Board of three family-owned businesses and provides invaluable governance expertise to DMRF. Dennis lives with his wife Barbara in Chicago.

Rosalie Lewis, Director

Rosalie joined DMRF in the mid 1980s shortly after her sons were diagnosed with generalized dystonia (DYT1). At that time, the DMRF Board of Directors was small but very determined to develop a cadre of researchers and clinicians who could help find the answers to this rare disorder. As the mother of young sons challenged by generalized dystonia, Rosalie became focused on raising funds and awareness. Rosalie has proudly served in many positions on the DMRF US Board, including President. 

DMRF US and Canada have made a profound impact in the world of dystonia research - we have succeeded in many efforts but many more remain. Although Rosalie’s sons have benefitted tremendously by DBS surgery and are now married and have dystonia-free families of their own, Rosalie and her husband Richard remain absolutely committed to helping the dystonia community find cures.

Casey Kidson-Reid, Director

Casey Kidson-Reid is a dystonia thriver who joined the DMRF Canada Board in 2020. Casey first got involved with DMRF Canada as a Dystonia Ambassador and launched her campaign, Dyfying Dystonia, to raise funds and awareness. An avid cyclist, runner, and swimmer, Casey continues to ‘dyfy’ dystonia and serves as an inspiration to so many. She hosts the ‘Dyfy the Storm’ podcast, facilitates the DMRF Canada Kingston Support Group, has developed exercise videos, and was featured in DMRF Canada Dystonia Awareness video, which has now has more than 50,000 views. 

In her spare time, Casey enjoys travelling with her husband and spending time with her two new rescue dogs Kleo and Luna, who is training to be a Therapy Dog.

Catherine Mulkins, Director

Catherine has been living well with dystonia for more than 20 years and has been active in the DMRF Canada community for 10+ years, having participated in DMRF Canada’s Freedom to Move event in Toronto as an attendee, Team Leader, and a dedicated fundraiser. A human resource professional, Catherine has been recognized for her exceptional skills in employee relations, talent management, and project planning, skills that she brings to her role as a Director on the DMRF Canada Board. Recently retired, Catherine enjoys spending time with her family in Toronto.




Last update: Oct 2023