2018 Essey Award Honorees
About The Essey Awards
In 1995, Richard "Dick" Essey founded the Greater Bay Area Chapter of The ALS Association in honor of his wife, Sheila Essey, and in recognition of the needs of people with ALS and their caregivers. In 2010, the chapter merged with Greater Los Angeles, and became The ALS Association Golden West Chapter. The Essey family is proud to support the mission and vision of The ALS Association and the Golden West Chapter, as well as to fund the annual Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research, presented at American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting. To honor the family's ongoing commitment, the Golden West Chapter created The Essey Awards, to be given annually to individuals and organizations whose outstanding contributions and efforts have advanced the search for effective treatments and cures for ALS. Congratulations to this year's Essey Award Honorees!
Healthcare and ALS Advocate
For more than 30 years Rusty Selix has been a healthcare advocate, most recently as a person living with ALS who helped secure significant state funding to benefit the ALS patient population in California.
On April 30, 2018, Rusty testified in Sacramento on behalf of people with ALS, requesting support for The ALS Association Golden West Chapter's wraparound model of care, which combines medical, community and home-based services and support which is proven to help people with ALS live better and longer with the disease. It is also a model of care designed to accelerate the search for effective treatments and cures for ALS. On June 27, Governor Brown signed budget bill SB 840, in support of California's ALS community.
In addition to his recent work for the ALS community, Rusty was the original co-author (with Darrell Steinberg) and leader of the Proposition 63 Campaign—the November 2004 California ballot measure generating nearly $2 billion per year to transform California’s public mental health system.
He did this work as the Executive Director/Director of Policy and Advocacy for the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, a statewide association of publicly funded mental health and substance use disorder providers, which he served from 1986 to 2017.
Rusty also served as the Executive Director for the California Access Coalition and of the Mental Health Association in California (also known as Mental Health America of California). As such, Rusty has been a leading expert in mental health policy and finance for the past 25 years, and in state and local government policy and finance for 45 years.
Rusty has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Northwestern University and a J.D. degree from the University of California at Davis.
The ALS Association Golden West Chapter salutes Rusty Selix for leveraging his expertise and influence in the public policy arena as a powerful spokesperson to advance the Chapter’s commitment to providing care and discovering cures for ALS.
About Dean & Kathleen Rasmussen
Dean Rasmussen is fondly referred to as the Golden West Chapter's "Godfather of Advocacy." He has spearheaded advocacy efforts in both Sacramento & Washington D.C., and served as the catalyst and provided seed funding for the creation of the chapter's public policy program.
Dean graduated from both the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, New York and Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science. He holds a Third Mate's license in the U.S. Merchant Marines, a Lieutenant's Commission in the U.S. Navy Reserve and private pilot license with IFR rating. Dean is the Managing Member and Emeritus Chairman of the Board of C.A. Rasmussen Co., Inc., a privately-held, general engineering contracting firm founded in 1964 which builds highways throughout the State of California.
Dean is an Emeritus Trustee of the National ALS Association; Founder and Emeritus Chair of National ALS Association Federal Advocacy Committee, and Founder and Benefactor of the California ALS Advocacy Committee. He has also held Board positions with: Harvey Mudd College; Venice Island Reclamation District No. 2023; Viewpoint School; the Southern California Contractors Association; Los Robles Hospital and Casa Pacifica.
His wife and life partner, Kathleen O'Brien Rasmussen works in the Rasmussen business and has founded a business with her daughter in real estate development. She also holds a position with Douglas Elliman Real Estate as a Realtor.
After her previous career in various colleges and private schools around the country as a public relations, capital and development director, Kathleen became an Advisory trustee and later the Chairman of the Board of The ALS Association Greater Los Angeles Chapter. During her tenure, she successfully co-Chaired the merging of the Bay Area and Los Angeles Chapters into the Golden West Chapter in 2010.
She has also served as a trustee of the Board of Harvard University's NeuroDiscovery Center. Currently she is involved in the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. She is a graduate of Smith College and attended university in Paris at La Sorbonne and Beaux Arts.
At the top of the Rasmussen's list of passions is their family and grandchildren.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading innovative biopharmaceutical research companies, which are devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. Since 2000, PhRMA member companies have invested more than $600 billion in the search for new treatments and cures, including an estimated $71.4 billion in 2017 alone.
GOBOLDLY explores the innovative research and technological breakthroughs of America's biopharmaceutical industry, and helps us get to know the people behind the fight to prevent, treat and cure disease.
We applaud PhRMA for building public and member awareness about ALS and the urgent effort to find treatments and cures. We are thrilled to present the Spotlight Award to PhRMA for their work on the GOBOLDLY campaign, which features Ice Bucket Challenge co-founder, Pat Quinn, and Sanofi researcher, Dr. Pablo Sardi.
Commitment to a Cure Award
Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals will receive the Commitment to a Cure Award for their efforts to assess the efficacy of H.P. Acthar Gel® in people living with ALS.
The company is currently conducting a phase II clinical trial, following the results of a short eight-week pilot study testing the safety and tolerability in ALS patients. These results were used to support Mallinckrodt’s Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has granted the company’s request for a Fast Track designation, which is designed to expedite the review of new treatments for serious diseases, such as ALS, with the goal to get novel drugs to people living with such diseases quicker. H.P. Acthar® Gel is a repository corticotropin injection that is given either subcutaneously or intramuscularly. It has already been approved by the FDA for the treatment of 19 conditions, including the treatment of acute exacerbations of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in adults. The drug has anti-inflammatory indications and is targeted at neuro-inflammation in ALS, which is a known disease pathway that has been shown to cause motor neuron death.
The ALS Association Golden West Chapter’s mission is to discover treatments and cures for ALS, and to serve, advocate for and empower people affected by ALS so they can live their lives to the fullest.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a fatal neurodegenerative illness that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Everything we do advances the search for effective treatments and cures for ALS. The Chapter currently serves more than 1,700 people with ALS and their families in 31 counties in California and the state of Hawaii.
Proceeds from Champions for Care and a Cure will provide critical funding for The ALS Association Golden West Chapter’s mission priorities in the areas of care services, public policy, and cutting edge ALS research—all of which are essential to achieving our vision: creating a world without ALS.
Director of Special Events