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Astrid Heppenstall Heger, M.D.

National Board
Dr. Heger is the Executive Director of the Violence Intervention Program (VIP), located at the Los Angeles County (LAC) + University of Southern California (USC) Medical Center where she is a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics. Dr. Heger is the pre-eminent expert in the field of child sexual abuse and assault, physical abuse, domestic violence and abuse of the elderly. She is the author of numerous articles in this field as well as the definite textbook “Evaluation of the Sexually Abused Child,” now it it’s second edition. 

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John Faught, J.D.

Strategic Advisor
Faught shares a lifelong passion for ending child abuse and neglect with his fellow co-founders, having served as President and CEO of The Kempe Foundation since 2014. Prior to this role, he was actively engaged in private legal practice and served on the Foundation's board of directors for 20 years. Faught is a champion for children and advocates for our most vulnerable population by engaging with communities in Colorado and across the country.

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Dr. Des Runyan

Board Member
Dr. Desmond Runyan is the Jack and Viki Thompson Professor of Pediatrics and Executive Director of the Kempe Center. Runyan completed the MD degree and pediatrics training at the University of Minnesota and added a doctorate in public health and the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars fellowship at the University of North Carolina. Runyan has researched child abuse for over 30 years while maintaining a clinical practice evaluating possible child abuse victims and serving as a general pediatrician. He joined Kempe in August of 2011. Dr. Runyan has published over 170 articles, book chapters and books. His research has addressed the identification and consequences of child abuse and neglect in the United States and in other countries. He designed longest multi-site prospective study of the consequences of child abuse; LONGSCAN is now more than 28 years in duration. Runyan also helped design and conduct the first US study examining the incidence and consequences of “shaken baby syndrome.” His other work has included examining the rates of harsh or abusive discipline around the world.

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Hildegard Messenbaugh

Board Member
Dr. Messenbaugh is a highly accomplished psychiatrist who has spent her entire career treating adolescents and their families in both out-patient and residential settings.  As one of only three female Chief Residents in the U.S. in 1967 to Founding Psychiatrist of Third Way Center, Inc.., Dr. Messenbaugh has been a trailblazer in her field.   The treatment methodology she developed while at Third Way Center, known as Six Boxes™, has increased success of patients in the residential treatment program she helped to found.  Dr. Messenbaugh has been instrumental in working with abuse and neglect empowering young people to live better lives, become productive members of their communities and break the intergenerational cycles of abuse and neglect.


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John Piotrowski

Board Member
John has led strategy and technology projects at some of the largest private, public, and nonprofit organizations in the world. He began his career at the International Monetary Fund, where he worked on issues of poverty and inequality in developing countries. At McKinsey & Company and then Goldman Sachs, he advised companies in the energy, manufacturing, and finance sectors on a variety of business strategy and corporate finance issues. In between, John spent a year running political campaigns in vulnerable communities in South Los Angeles. Currently, he is co-founder and CEO of The Ocean, a capital markets technology company. John has a B.A. in Economics and History from the University of Virginia and is completing a M.S. in Financial Engineering from NYU.