Kristen Milliron

My day job is Associate Director of Advancement for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF). Our goal is to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease (PD) and improve the lives of people living with PD. Since our inception in 2000, we have grown to become the largest non-profit funder of Parkinson’s research in the world. Actor Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with the disease at a young age—29—and after he went public with his diagnosis, he decided to launch MJFF as the first non-profit solely focused on Parkinson’s research. We are committed to investing in research that we describe as “high-risk, high-reward” and to increasing scientific collaboration in an effort to speed results while make tangible improvements in the life of people with Parkinson’s.

I was first drawn to MJFF because of its unique business model and when my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (another neurodegenerative disease) years later, I knew that this was going to be the best opportunity for me to make an impact in the field.

My most memorable caffeine would be the Trader Joe’s products I consumed last summer during the Tour de Fox. This was an undertaking where we climbed the highest pointin each of the 48 contiguous states and my colleague, extreme athlete Sam Fox (no relation to Michael, though he does have a son named Sam!), rode his bike 8,000 miles in between. I was the Tour’s Support Director and throughout our 3.5 month journey we put 20,000 miles on the car. As you can imagine, staying alert was key on some of those long driving days and we fueled up with Trader Joe’s chocolate covered espresso beans and their cold brewed coffee—which, we only discovered later, was supposed to be diluted. Let’s just say we had no problem staying awake!

The Tour was an extreme success – over 3,000 people from the Parkinson’s community joined us along the way and we more than doubled our goal, raising $2.5 million for Parkinson’s research.

 My current caffeine of choice is A Dirty Chai, which is a chai latte with a shot of espresso. It’s delicious hot or iced and I typically sub soy for dairy

My favorite place for caffeine is Bauhaus Ballard in my new stomping grounds of Seattle, Washington. They are great about encouraging people to work from their shop and I’m happy to take them up on it now that I’m working remotely (MJFF is based in New York City).

The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is Michael J. Fox! When he’s in the room, there’s no one better to sit and chat with. He’s extremely humble, kind, and, not surprisingly, hilarious.

World problem that (I wish!) could be solved with the right amount of caffeine:  is clean water (our scientists at MJFF are nicely caffeinated and making great strides with PD, so I’ll choose another issue to discuss). If you look at so many of the problems throughout the world—education, health, poverty—what’s often at the core is a lack of access to clean water. The ripple effect it has on a community can be devastating and if clean water were more accessible we’d see a positive shift in school attendance, preventable disease, and, in turn, the overall economy of the community as well.