The RCRF Team



Mark Laabs, Founder and Chairman
Mark Laabs is an ocular melanoma survivor. Inspired by the work that his good friend, Josh Sommer, has done to improve the lives of patients suffering from a bone cancer called chordoma, Mark founded RCRF to try to bring innovations from the very best rare cancer foundations to all rare cancers. Aside from his work on RCRF, Mark has extensive executive leadership experience in global renewable energy project development and solar product distribution. He is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Modern Energy, a holding company for clean energy businesses leading the transition to a net-zero carbon economy that partners with clean energy business leaders to scale innovations in energy efficiency, distributed generation, and storage.

Benjamin Abram

Benjamin Abram, Founding Director and Treasurer
Ben Abram has been a part of RCRF since long before its founding and previously served as a Founding Director of the Chordoma Foundation. Ben is also the founder of Wylan Capital, which develops energy efficiency projects in the U.S. Ben is a Kauffman Fellow in Class XIV, a former Trustee of Duke University, and a sitting Director of the Sall Family Foundation and of FACE AIDS. He has a BSE in Environmental Engineering and Public Policy Studies from Duke University.

Jyri Engestrom

Jyri Engestrom, Director
Mr. Jyri Engestrom is a Finnish entrepreneur, and his daughter is an epithelioid sarcoma survivor. Born in Helsinki, Finland, he graduated with a Master’s degree in Social Science from the University of Helsinki in 2002 and pursued PhD studies in the UK. He is best known as the cofounder and Chairman of Jaiku, which was bought by Google in 2007. He left Google to found, a mobile local recommendations business, which he sold to Groupon in 2012. He holds patents in remote content delivery, content prioritization, and RF tag reading capabilities in mobile devices. A sociologist by training, he is noted for coining the term ‘social object’ to refer to photos, links, and other shareable Web content.

Barbara Van Hare

Barbara Van Hare, Director of Foundation Partnerships
Barbara joins RCRF after a 30-year sales, marketing, and product development career with Hallmark. Her organizational and interpersonal skills, honed by years of working with both small, independent entities as well as world-renowned corporate enterprises, contribute to her ability to multitask and adjust to rapidly changing priorities. Barbara’s ability to work across corporate silos led to her selection to sit on several high-profile task forces. Her focus on client needs and partnerships contributes a unique perspective to the RCRF team. Barbara graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.


Will van der Vaart, Strategy & Operations
Will is a Principal at the Boston Consulting Group with 8 years of experience in digital transformation, strategy, and operations. He has driven high-impact scaling transformations for clients in Europe, Australia, and North America. Will is focused on scaling Pattern’s systems and processes and continually evolving the patient offer and experience.

Adam Back

Adam Back, Software Engineer
Adam is a fullstack JavaScript engineer with experience building rich, interactive web and mobile applications. He enjoys being part of RCRF’s agile team and contributes to many technological aspects of the organization, with a focus on Adam spent his undergraduate time mascotting at the University of Arizona and attended Hack Reactor for JavaScript engineering.


Jeff Trawick, Software Engineer
Jeff has 30+ years of experience implementing and supporting networking software, web infrastructure, and applications for Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and non-profits. He is well-versed in both planned development and urgent problem resolution. Prior to RCRF, he worked at IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Oracle and more recently consulted for small businesses and non-profits.


Irene Lerman, Patient Navigator
Irene is an experienced healthcare project management professional who has extensive experience as a Senior Clinical and Research Project Manager at leading hospitals and clinics in the Boston area. In her role as Patient Navigator, Irene helps patients and coordinates with operating hospitals to collect and deliver donated tissue and fluid.