2017 Co-Chairs

Elissa (EJ) Levy is the Founder and President of MS Hope for a Cure. Since being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2002, EJ has dedicated her time and energy to help find a cure for MS. She became an avid poker player as her symptoms worsened and she could no longer ski or run (but still needed an adrenaline rush). Due to research that produced a new MS medication that became available in 2010, EJ can now not only ski and run again, but is well enough to be a single mom to Matilda, who turned four this past May. She is thrilled that the past twelve charity tournaments have raised over $8.4 million to help support crucial research and people living with MS.

Eden Lopez-Robles is a leader in the fight against MS, in hopes of finding a cure for her mom, Lois, and everyone else living with the disease. Eden is a founding member of the MS Hope for a Cure Board of Directors, and in 2015 was elected Board Chair. Eden is a Managing Director at J.P. Morgan Securities. She lives in Manhattan with her family.

Howie Rubin is a former Mortgage Bond Trader and Senior Managing Director at Bear Stearns and Co. He began his wall-street career in 1982 at Salomon Brothers working for legendary traders Lew Raineri and Mike Mortara, where in 1984 he priced the first Collaterialized Mortgage Obligation (CMO) with Fannie Mae. From 2008-2016, Howie ran a Distressed-Debt Securities Portfolio at Soros Fund Management, earning 20%+ annual returns over an eight-year time span. He is featured in Michael Lewis’s books Liar’s Poker and The Big Short and in Scott Skyrm’s book Rogue Traders.  Howie fills his time now with the World Series of Poker, swimming, yoga, soul cycle and driving his “Fast and Furious” 550hp 1968 RS/SS Camaro. He looks forward to all his friends and colleagues attending the “lucky” 13th Annual MS Hope Texas Hold’em Party.


2017 Benefit Committee

Myles D. Gillespie Jr. works at Atlantic Trust Company, a private wealth management firm in New York City. He attended the poker tournament for the first time last year and had an absolute blast.  His parents have supported Multiple Sclerosis organizations for years and he feels it is time for him to do his part, especially since he has a very close friend who suffers from MS. Myles is very excited to get more involved and wants to help pave the way for the next generation of awareness and action through MS Hope for a Cure!

James Kennedy works for UBS as part of Madison Park Partners, a private wealth management group in New York City.  A fan of poker since his youth, he dreams of one day playing in the WSOP Main Event.  He is excited to join the 2017 poker benefit committee and rally his peers to help fight the battle against MS.

Judd Levy is the very proud father of EJ.  He is the former Chairman of the NY State Housing Finance Agency and the State of NY Mortgage Agency. Judd is the founder and former President of CDT, the country’s only affordable housing REIT.  He is an accomplished no-limit cash and tournament player having cashed out in AC, Las Vegas and online but still plays 4 3 off suit. This Summer he played in the WSOP Seniors Tournament with 5,388 players and finished 55th (top 1.1%) and won $9,239! He has seen Rounders 24 times.

Catherine “Cat” McKenzie is Senior Producer at ABC NEWS.  Cat is a founding member of the MS Hope for a Cure Board of Directors, she met EJ while the two were cheering on their respective football teams at their favorite sports bar.  She’s “all-in” to finding a cure for MS, which she believes, will happen in their lifetime.

Stacy and Jonathan Pollack feel so lucky to be involved with MS Hope for a Cure.  Stacy serves on the MS Hope for a Cure Board of Directors. Her father suffers from the primary progressive form of MS.  They know that a cure will be found with the money raised from events like this!  Jonathan is the Global Head of Blackstone real estate debt strategies.  They live with their two boys and two dogs in Manhattan.

Ken Rivlin is a senior partner at Allen & Overy LLP, where he heads the Global Regulatory and Environmental Law Group.  His practice focuses on a range of US and international regulatory issues, covering environment and human rights, economic sanctions, anti-corruption compliance and national security clearances with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).   He is a Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School, an Adjunct Professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and has served on numerous bar committees and boards.  Currently, he is a Trustee at Montclair Kimberley Academy, Board Member for Pure Earth / Blacksmith Institute, Vice President and Trustee for the Human Needs Food Pantry, and a member of the Advisory Council for the Institute at Brown (University) for Environment and Society.

Ashley Steinhart heads up the Estate and Trust group at Lowenstein Sandler.  He has counseled clients for over 40 years on incorporating values into their personal planning.  Also, he has been involved in many of the most substantial family trust and estate feuds and his advice is often, “Settle quickly and give the money you would have paid to the attorneys to MS or some other worthy cause.”  He has a monthly poker game that Elissa sometimes joins. Thus far, he hasn’t been as impressed with her poker play as he has been with her huge heart and total commitment to MS.  Her passion has inspired him to help.

Kent Rowey is a partner in Allen & Overy’s New York office and is responsible for the firm’s Americas Projects, Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Group. He started playing in the charity tournament in 2013, and although the cards have not been kind to him in the past, he is hopeful that this is the year he will make it to the final table. As a new member of the benefit committee, Kent is committed to raising money to find a cure for MS, for his niece and the hundreds of thousands of people around the world living with multiple sclerosis.

Michael Stepniewski first attended the tournament in 2016 and has since joined the committee to advance fundraising efforts. He is excited to bring a new wave of donors to the tables and be part of such an inspiring organization. Mike lives in Manhattan and, when he’s not fine tuning his poker skills, works at LoanCore Capital, a private real estate finance company, in Greenwich, CT. 

Peter Vermette met EJ through his work as a Board Member of the NYC Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society which he joined in hopes of helping to find a cure for his dad, Greg, and everyone else living with the disease. He attended the tournament for the first time in 2013 and has since joined the committee and made this an annual event with his friends and colleagues. Peter is a Managing Director in the Merchant Banking Division at Goldman Sachs and lives with his wife and their three children in Westchester.

Lisa Kassel and Mitch Winter met EJ through their good friend, Howie Rubin, and have been supporters of MS Hope ever since. Mitch is a Managing Director, Wealth Management at Merrill Lynch and Lisa is a fundraising consultant.  She also volunteers hours of her time for Lafayette College, and of course, MS Hope for a Cure. They have three kids: Jason, Rebecca and Alexander, all of whom are avid poker players, and MS Hope supporters, as well. Mitch is hoping that his experiences at the World Series of Poker Main Event will help him make his third final table this year and walk away with the trophy.