Anita’s greatest desire was to educate the public about epilepsy and help eliminate the fear and stigma associated with epilepsy and brain trauma. The Foundation was established in 2004 at the direction of Anita, after she passed away.
October 10, 1954 – November 26, 2003
“A kind and giving person who tried to better the world.
She achieved closeness with God by honoring his Word.”
Anita Kaufmann wanted to share her story with the world, so that people will not be afraid of epilepsy, a condition that has been stigmatized for a very long time.
When Anita was 14 years old, she was thrown from a horse and was not wearing protective head gear. She suffered a head injury and was in a coma for four days and was hospitalized. Anita appeared to make a full recovery.
After finishing high school in New Jersey, Anita graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. She then went on to obtain her law degree from Georgetown Law School.
After graduation Anita worked as an associate with an elite law firm in New York City. After a few years, she changed careers from the practice of law to legal recruitment. In 1986 she launched her own legal search firm, Anita Kaufmann Associates (“AKA”). Under her leadership AKA became one of the most well respected firms in the industry. Her clients included Fortune 500 companies, major Wall Street financial institutions, and prestigious international law firms. Anita’s career blossomed.
Suddenly, one day, it all changed. Anita experienced one of her first seizures while taking a well-earned vacation and was asked to leave the vacation spa where she was staying. At that moment, Anita decided to establish a foundation to help others avoid the discrimination she had suffered.
Anita wanted the world to know that most people with epilepsy can be successful and lead normal lives with a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
We invite you to become a Purple Day Ambassador and spread the word about epilepsy! The Anita Kaufmann Foundation has educational materials available to help you share the facts about epilepsy and seizures.
The Anita Kaufmann Foundation is interested in supporting grassroots organizations that are working on worthwhile projects in the area of epilepsy education. Please contact us and we will consider funding your efforts.
If you have any suggestions on how to further our mission of educating the public not to fear epilepsy, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are always looking for fresh, creative ideas on how to spread the message that people with epilepsy are just like others who happen to have a medical condition.
Finally, if you have epilepsy and feel you have been discriminated against, please contact us and we will do our best to assist you.
A professional sales, marketing and advertising businessperson, Debra was entrusted with creating a foundation in memory of her childhood friend, Anita Kaufmann, dedicated solely to educating the public about epilepsy. Debra and Anita met in third grade in Teaneck, New Jersey when their teacher asked Debra to walk Anita home. Since then, they became fast friends until Anita’s death. Debra has run the Foundation since its inception in 2004 with Anita as the guiding light.
Director of Special Projects
With a diverse background in education, healthcare, and client services, Lena has over 12 years’ experience in both public and private sectors. She attended California State University San Bernardino, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology. Having been diagnosed with epilepsy in her early teen years, she knows the importance of creating programs to improve the lives of those living with epilepsy.
Dr. Nathalie Jetté, the Medical Director of the Anita Kaufmann Foundation, was previously a Professor in Neurology and Community Health Sciences and Director of the Epilepsy Clinic and Seizure Monitoring Unit at the University of Calgary. She is currently Senior Faculty Neurology and Population Health Science and Policy at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
She holds a Canada Research Chair in Neurological Health Services Research. She is President of the Canadian League Against Epilepsy, Chair of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) Task Force on Stigma in Epilepsy, Chair of the ILAE Task Force on Epilepsy Guidelines, Secretary of the ILAE North American Regional Commission and Chair of the American Epilepsy Society Epidemiology Special Interest Group. She is also an expert member of the World Health Organization Guidelines Committee for the mhGAP Intervention Guide for Mental, Neurological and Substance Disorders in non-specialized health settings. She is an Associate Editor of Epilepsia and sits on the editorial board of Neurology.
As part of her research program she is studying appropriateness of care in epilepsy, health resources use and access to care in epilepsy, the epidemiology of epilepsy comorbidities (particularly mental health) and epilepsy outcomes. She is developing innovative online tools and using a variety of knowledge translation approaches to improve care for persons with epilepsy.
We are very grateful that she is graciously donating her valuable time to us, as well.