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 six this past May. She is thrilled that the past thirteen charity tournaments have raised nearly $10 million to help support crucial research and people living with MS.
Eden Lopez-Robles is a leader in the fight against MS. She works tirelessly to find a cure for her mom, Lois, and everyone else living with the disease. In 2006, Eden was inducted into the National MS Society Hall of Fame. She was a founding board member of MS Hope for a Cure and was elected Chair in 2015. Her goal is to ensure MS Hope raises as much money as possible so that each and every fundraising dollar makes the biggest impact in the fight against MS. Eden is a Managing Director at J.P. Morgan Securities and lives in Manhattan with her husband, Anthony and their three children, Briana, Maxwell and Dylan.
2019 Benefit Committee
Myles D. Gillespie Jr. is the Director of Finance at Golden Child Holdings, LLC in Westchester, NY. He attended the poker tournament for the first time in 2016 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 be a member of the MS Hope 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. Last 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 and 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 three dogs in Manhattan.
Ken Rivlin is a senior partner at Allen & Overy LLP, where he co-heads the International Trade and Regulatory Law Group and heads the Environmental Law Group. His practice focuses on a range of US and international regulatory issues, covering the environment, climate change, human rights, supply chain and other business risk, economic sanctions, anti-corruption compliance, trade, and national security (including dealings with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)). He is a Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School, and serves or has served on numerous NGO boards and bar committees. Currently, he is Chair of the Advisory Council for the Institute at Brown (University) for Environment and Society, and President of the Board of Trustees for the Human Needs Food Pantry, Inc.
Anthony Robles is the lucky guy married to co-chair Eden Lopez-Robles. Their love of poker is one of the things that brought them together and Anthony actually asked Eden to marry him at the poker table. He planned an elaborate proposal at a poker room in Atlantic City and when the dealer turned over the flop, turn and river, it was a Straight Flush (hearts) with the words Eden - Will – You – Marry – Me printed on the cards. When Anthony is not sweeping Eden off her feet he is helping clients find their dream homes as one of the founding partners of the Scott-Robles Team at Douglas Elliman. They are ranked among the top 250 real estate teams in the country. Anthony and Eden live in Manhattan with their three children, Briana, Maxwell and Dylan.
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.
May Siu met EJ playing poker in NYC home games many years ago. She was immediately inspired by EJ’s story of perseverance, hope, love for life and the ability to turn her MS struggles into a positive powerful movement. May worked in finance and now plays high stakes poker in Atlantic City, Las Vegas and Macau. She earned a 3rd place finish in the 2014 WSOP Ladies tournament. When she’s not playing poker, May focuses her energy on and volunteers for human rights issues, including gender equality, education, and child advocacy. She is currently working on integrating her poker life with the nonprofit world by starting a poker for good movement and setting up charity tournaments. Ask May how you can get involved or offer her your expertise and visit www.pokerforgood.org to learn more.
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.
Michael Stepniewski first attended the tournament in 2016 and has spent the last two years on 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 in the debt capital markets group at Tishman Speyer.
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, Lyndal, and their three children in Westchester.
Jason Winter has been attending the MS Hope Poker Tournament since 2010, when he volunteered carrying boxes in and out of the venue in return for a seat. Since then, he’s attended every year with his parents, both of whom are benefit committee members. Jason is the founder and director of the Winter Learning Group, a tutoring company that specializes in SAT and ACT Prep, College Essay Counseling, and Academic Support for middle and high school students. While he can teach you to calculate the probability of winning on any given hand, he has never made a final table (he did come in 12th a few years ago).
Lisa Kassel and Mitch Winter met EJ through a mutual friend, 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. In addition to volunteering for MS Hope for a Cure, she serves on Lafayette College's Board of Trustees. They have three kids: Jason, recently married to Betsy, Rebecca, engaged to be married to Josh in October, 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.