Skip to main content

Meet The Hidden Truths Project Team

Hidden Truths Project (HTP) believes that the arts can become the narrative to engage and empower marginalized members of our society to promote dialogue and foster understanding and acceptance.

Co-founder | President

Dr. Julie Thompson-Dobkin

2012 | Founded Hidden Truths Project – Costa Mesa, California
2020 | Became the Cover Editor for Epilepsy & Behavior & Joined the Elvsevier Reviews Platform team – Cosa Mesa, California

Dr. Julie Thompson-Dobkin is a Board-certified neurologist, currently residing in San Francisco. She previously served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of Pittsburgh and was part of the clinical teaching staff at Washington University in St. Louis.  Dr. Thompson-Dobkin has most recently served as a consultant at Share Our Selves Medical Clinic, providing neurological care for the indigent and uninsured population of Orange County, California.

Apart from her medical work, she has a keen interest in addressing quality of life issues for those living with chronic illness, poverty, and housing insecurity. She founded Hidden Truths Project in 2012, which is dedicated to engaging and empowering individuals impacted by visible and invisible disabilities, through the arts.  The primary focus of HTP is in utilizing a creative platform becoming the narrative for people who have been marginalized.

Her work in social justice has included membership on the Inclusion Council at Newport Harbor High School, where she worked with academic staff and students to address racial, gender identity, and socio-economic injustices in the school and local community. She has served on the Board of Someone Cares Soup Kitchen and Tutoring Program, which addresses the local community needs precipitated by homelessness and food insecurity.  She volunteers at St. Anthony’s Foundation in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, working with the homeless and inner-city elderly population living with food insecurity.

In 2020, she was invited to become the Cover Editor for Epilepsy & Behavior and join the Elvsevier Reviews Platform team.

In her spare time, she is a novice artist, runner, and distracts herself playing piano.

Co-founder | COO

Heidi Meireles

20 Years | Professional Experience
2020 | Moved to Portugal

I am a wife, a mother, and a professional with 20 years of experience in fundraising and development.

As a mother, I cherish every opportunity my children have to learn and grow through quality education and the many experiences life at school and beyond brings their way in Southern California. We were blessed to enjoy the adventure of moving our family to Portugal to experience another country as you only can 24/7. We learned new ways of doing things and understood how different historical backgrounds inform and shape the attitudes of our Portuguese friends and classmates. We immersed ourselves in the Portuguese language — not just to improve our communication skills but to better understand the cultural norms and
expectations we now encounter daily.

My family and I are fortunate. We cherish the unique year we undertook. Yet, at home and abroad, I have seen the disparity that exists as governments and NGOs seek to provide genuine quality of life for many people. To overcome this disparity, I believe we each must stretch ourselves individually, expand our own personal boundaries and perspectives, and learn about and engage with communities worldwide. I am convinced that by being truly active in this global movement, we can achieve sustainable change, and true quality of life can become a reality for more and more of our fellows — regardless of the country or community they may call home.

I value my experiences with the Hidden Truths Project. When volunteering with Hidden Truths Project, I’m helping my community – a community of global citizens and fellow humans. And, I’m becoming a more open-minded citizen with an ever-evolving international perspective in the process.

I believe passionately that when people come together across cultures to work side-by-side, we build bridges of understanding that are powerful and essential to creating a safe and healthy future for all people.

Treasurer

Lance Dumas

2006 | Moved to Orange County
2012 | Joined Hidden Truths Project

Lance Dumas is a Managing Partner at Cornerstone Financial Advisers, a Tax and Consulting Firm dedicated to helping individuals and companies establish specific goals and then create financial plans to reach them. Prior to founding Cornerstone Financial Advisers, Lance held the positions of Regional Planning Specialist; Director of National Accounts; Officer, Product Development, and Regional Vice President at large national financial services and investment companies. Lance holds his FINRA Series 6, 66, 7 and 24 securities registrations, and is also an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®). Lance and his wife Melanie moved from Boston, MA to Orange County in 2006 and quickly adjusted to the new lifestyle. When not working with clients, Lance enjoys surfing, cycling, traveling, and spending time with Melanie and their dog Smitty.

Lance became involved with the Kant Institute: Hidden Truths Project in 2012 through 1:26 The Art of Epilepsy event and he has a deep-rooted passion for demystifying epilepsy and increasing the general public’s knowledge of the condition, all while trying to help raise funds for continued research.

Secretary

Steve Kahanic

20 Years | Big 4 Accounting Firm
3 | Grandchildren

Steven Kahanic is a retired management consultant.  He last served for over 20 years with the Big 4 Accounting firm KPMG.

Steve’s journey with the Epilepsy Foundation is personal.  He experienced a head injury at four-months old, but focal seizures, he labeled as “dream sequences,” didn’t start occurring until fifteen years ago.  His journey included multiple medications, hospital stays, and tests over a five-year period.  This also included active attendance in local meetings, national conferences, and frequenting epilepsy.com.  He grew tired of tracking over ten seizures some days and the side effects of medications.  This journey led to left temporal lobectomy surgery and amygdalohippocampectomy in May 2013.  Since that time medications have been reduced and no seizures have occurred.

Steve is now called to advocate individuals suffering with seizures to consider proceeding with life altering brain surgery.  He has supported the Hidden Truth Project for many years and is returning to the Advisory Board.  He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Orange County Chapter of the Epilepsy Foundation, as well.

Steve and wife Mary Ann are actively involved in the lives of three grandchildren and his church. You’ll find them attending soccer and football games many weekends during the year.

Treasurer

Alex Hamza

Mr. Hamza comes to Hidden Truths Projects from Nile AI, a digital platform dedicated to bringing the advantages of AI & telemedicine to patients with epilepsy, expanding quality care access to patients to reduce healthcare disparities in the treatment of epilepsy. His core work revolved around patient advocacy and practice management.

Mr. Hamza has received a Medical Assistance certification, Pharmacy Technician Training, and additional training in epilepsy education. He holds a Master’s in Business Administration from McMillan University and an associate degree in Hospitality Management; from London City College, Damascus, Syria; and fluent in English, Arabic, and French.

He has over 16 years of experience in clinical, pharmaceuticals, digital health startups, and non-profit and medical devices in the UAE and United States. Alex serves as an Ambassador at the Epilepsy Foundation of America and been a strong supporter of the Danny Did Foundation, to advance public awareness of epilepsy and the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP); facilitated the publication of “Simon Has A Seizure”, a book dedicated to helping children better understand epilepsy and reduce stigma; and avid supporter of “Under the Lights”, a film about a teenage boy with epilepsy wanting to feel normal; and Hidden Truths Project’s exhibits and film series.

Board Member | Art Educator

Lisa Alberts

32 Years | Art education experience

Lisa Albert has over 32 years of experience bringing art to children, adults and special education students in Australia, Los Angeles and Orange County. She owns and operates her own art studio in Costa Mesa and is contracted through the cities of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa as an art educator. Lisa specializes in teaching Mindful Art to adults and adolescents suffering from substance abuse.

Lisa teaches art to children and young adults with special needs through the Friendship Circle of Newport Beach. She also started a big buddy program with at-risk teens and special education students through the Orange County Department of Education in Santa Ana, California.

Lisa was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, where she attended New South Wales University and studied Fine Art and Art Education. She earned her Applied Behavior Analysis certificate through the Newport Mesa Unified School District.

Lisa has had the privilege of enriching the lives of thousands of students through art and believes that art connects people, promotes creative thinking and is the universal language that everyone can appreciate.

Board Member

Dr. Ian Bone

100+ | Peer-reviewed scientific papers

Dr. Ian Bone trained in neurology after graduating in medicine from St Andrews University Scotland. He was a Consultant Neurologist at the Institute of Neurological Sciences Glasgow and Honorary Professor of Neurology; he is now an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the School of Medicine, University of Glasgow. He has co-authored three textbooks in Neurology, Neurosurgery and Neuropathology and is author or co-author of over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers.
Ian has three children, one with long term epilepsy, and four grandsons. His personal and professional experiences led to him publishing a book on the history, representation in the arts and the social impact of epilepsy and to serve on the board of two UK epilepsy charities. He has been an advisor to the Scottish Government on Neurological Services.

Board Member

Ashley Carlton

2014 | Joined Hidden Truths Project

Ashley Carlton is a mother of two children with a background in Healthcare Public Relations, Cause Marketing, and Nonprofit Fundraising and Special Events. She currently spends her time supporting her children’s elementary school as an active member of the Parent Faculty Organization, as well as a volunteer room mom within her children’s classes. In addition, she is a member of the Newport Beach National Charity League Juniors Chapter.

Ashley is from California and attended Boston University where she studied Public Relations. She and her husband moved back to California in 2008. In her free time, she enjoys snow and water skiing, traveling, playing tennis, and reading.

Ashley and her husband first attended 1:26 The Art of Epilepsy event in 2014 and she has enjoyed being a part of the event committee. She hopes to continue to support the growth of a unique and powerful event that gives those who often go unheard a voice. She also hopes to continue to educate our community about the importance of inclusion and support for people from all backgrounds and experiences.

Board Member

Kuno Chiteji

2017 | Joined Hidden Truths Project

Kuno is a proven leader with over 20 years of experience in various areas of healthcare, technology and international art trade. He possesses a unique blend of entrepreneurial spirit combined with an infectious personality.

He became involved with the Hidden Truth Projects in 2017 when he co-chaired the first ever Art of Epilepsy Chicago event and is passionate about increasing understanding and general knowledge of the condition. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs and Economics from Miami University in Ohio. In his free time, he enjoys playing soccer, traveling around the world, and spending time with family.

Board Member

Teresa Prego

Teresa has worked in healthcare organizations and startups for the past 20 years, and most recently was Chief Commercial Officer for Nile, a digital health and virtual care platform focused on providing improved care for Epilepsy. She previously served as SVP, Marketing and Communications for Sevita, an organization focused on serving individuals with chronic conditions requiring both residential and home-based care. She has also worked for for Global Kinetics Corporation, an Australian-based startup providing novel monitoring technology for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease, Boston Scientific neuromodulation, as well as Marketing for Medtech Surgical, a robotic surgical startup based in Montpelier, France. The company built the first-to-market neurosurgical robot (ROSA), now used as a standard of care in sEEG for epilepsy surgery.

She has a BS from the University of Notre Dame, and an MBA from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. She is also the parent of a young adult and artist with epilepsy, and has worked to advocate for epilepsy awareness, SUDEP awareness, and is an avid fundraiser for various epilepsy advocacy groups and programs over the years, and has run the Boston Marathon multiple times for the Children’s Hospital Marathon Team to honor the team treating her daughter. She has also previously served as a Director on the board of Boston Area Youth Soccer and TOPS Soccer, providing access to soccer programs for youth with disabilities. She is an avid soccer playing, still competing with her ‘over the hill’ women’s team.

The Prego clan includes two parents, four kids and two dogs living outside of Boston.

Board Member

Hope Manzaneres

20 Years | Nonprofit experience

Hope is a seasoned development professional with over 20 years of experience in fundraising with a specialty with major gift prospects. She has a strong fundraising background with a track record of building donor relationships and soliciting gifts in the six-figure range.

Hope will be an excellent addition to our HTP team and offers expertise in fundraising for corporate events, grant writing, planned giving, volunteer support, mentoring, and trained staff. Moreover, she has worked with board members and CEOs to collaborate on capital campaigns, feasibility studies, and consultants on the strategy to reach fundraising goals.

Hope has many years of experience working with individuals and families with disabilities and joined the Epilepsy Foundation team in 2019 to help move its mission forward.

Hope lives in Irvine and grew up in Colorado, where her mother, who has epilepsy, still lives.

Board Member

Beth Ruark

An epilepsy advocate and volunteer educator with The Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, Beth Ruark has worked for over 13 years with the epilepsy community. Beth has worked with outreach, fundraising, support, and education on elementary, high school and college levels focusing on the importance of seizure awareness. I went to Springfield to support the Seizure Action Plan bill, which passed to require Illinois teachers to have epilepsy training, and seizure action plans for all students was a pivotal change for epilepsy awareness within schools. With a BA in Fine and Professional arts, Beth has worked for many design firms, ad agencies, a corporate marketing department, and freelanced for many clients. Her passion for the arts and assisting those with disabilities match the Hidden Truths Project’s focus to bring epilepsy awareness through the arts. Beth lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters, one diagnosed with generalized epilepsy when she was 12.
Board Member

Nathan Jones

10 Years | Nonprofit experience

Nathan Jones is a valued member of the Hidden Truths Project board and moderator of our virtual events. With more than ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Nathan is adept at donor relations, brand conception, and management. Nathan works entrepreneurially in special events fundraising, event logistics, volunteer leadership, budgeting, and meeting planning.

Nathan is skilled at producing videos and creative content for events, websites, and social media. His talent for building lasting and collaborative relationships with corporate partners makes him an ideal partner for corporate and donor opportunities to support special events and programs.

Advisory Board

Linda Sudlesky

Linda Sudlesky is an Instructional Designer at the University of Massachusetts Boston where she works to support faculty in teaching online. This includes conducting faculty consultations, teaching webinars, and assisting faculty in designing accessible online learning environments. Aside of being an artist, she is a lifelong advocate and learner who has taken courses on user experience design, project management and other design and accessibility-related topics. She recently published a book along with Dr. Steven Schachter, which includes the stories and images of people with or impacted by epilepsy that have become advocates and empowered other people with epilepsy.

Advisory Board

Adin Dobkin

Adin Dobkin is a writer and journalist in New York City. He is the author of the nonfiction books Sprinting Through No Man’s Land and the forthcoming These Bones Can Speak. His reporting, essays, and criticism have been featured in New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The Paris Review Daily, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others.