Our Team

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Chairman of the Board

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s reputation as a resolute defender of the environment stems from a litany of successful legal actions. Mr. Kennedy was named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” for his success helping Riverkeeper lead the fight to restore the Hudson River. The group’s achievement helped spawn 300 Waterkeeper organizations across the globe.

Mr. Kennedy serves as Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Chief Prosecuting Attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper and President of Waterkeeper Alliance. He is also a Clinical Professor and Supervising Attorney at Pace University School of Law’s Environmental Litigation Clinic and is of counsel to Morgan & Morgan, a nationwide personal injury practice. He is co-host of Ring of Fire on Air America Radio. Earlier in his career he served as Assistant District Attorney in New York City.

He has worked on environmental issues across the Americas and has assisted several indigenous tribes in Latin America and Canada in successfully negotiating treaties protecting traditional homelands. He is credited with leading the fight to protect New York City’s water supply. The New York City watershed agreement, which he negotiated on behalf of environmentalists and New York City watershed consumers, is regarded as an international model in stakeholder consensus negotiations and sustainable development.

Among Mr. Kennedy’s published books are the New York Times’ bestseller Crimes Against Nature (2004), The Riverkeepers (1997), and Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr: A Biography (1977) and two children’s books St Francis of Assisi (2005), American Heroes: Joshua Chamberlain and the American Civil War and Robert Smalls: The Boat Thief (2008). His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Nation, Outside Magazine, The Village Voice, and many other publications. His award-winning articles have been included in anthologies of America’s Best Crime Writing, Best Political Writing and Best Science Writing.

Mr. Kennedy is a graduate of Harvard University. He studied at the London School of Economics and received his law degree from the University of Virginia Law School. Following graduation he attended Pace University School of Law, where he was awarded a Masters Degree in Environmental Law.

He is a licensed master falconer, and as often as possible he pursues a life-long enthusiasm for white-water paddling. He has organized and led several expeditions in Canada and Latin America, including first descents on three little known rivers in Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela.


Lyn Redwood

President

Lyn Redwood, R.N., M.S.N., is a Nurse Practitioner who became involved in autism research and advocacy when her son was diagnosed with autism. In 1999 she calculated the level of mercury exposure received from multiple thimerosal (mercury) containing vaccines and found her son was exposed to levels 125 times EPA Federal Safety guidelines and suffered with mercury toxicity. Since that time, Ms. Redwood has testified before the Government Reform Committee on “Mercury in medicine: Are we taking unnecessary risks?” and before a subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness, “Truth revealed: New scientific discoveries regarding mercury in medicine and autism health in 2004.

Ms. Redwood co-authored Autism: A novel form of mercury toxicity, a landmark paper linking the symptoms of autism with excessive exposure to mercury in 2000 and is published in Neurotoxicology, Medical Hypothesis, Molecular Psychiatry, Mothering Magazine and Autism-Aspergers Digest. She has appeared on “Good Morning America” with Diane Sawyer, the Montel Williams Show and numerous national news outlets. Ms. Redwood has been interviewed by U.S. News and World Report, Wired Magazine, People and is prominently featured in the award winning book by David Kirby “Evidence of Harm.”

  • Ms. Redwood is co-founder of the Coalition for SafeMinds and the National Autism Association.
  • She served as a public member of the National Institute of Health, Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee from 2007-2014 and was an Integration Panel Member for the Department of Defense, Autism Spectrum Disorder Research Program from 2007-2009.
  • She was awarded “Person of the year” in 2010 by Spectrum Magazine and was the recipient of the National Autism Association “Believe Award” in 2013.

Rolf Hazlehurst

Senior Attorney

Rolf is the Senior Staff Attorney for CHD. He graduated from the University of Tennessee and also attended St. John’s College in Oxford, England. He received his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Memphis and has been actively engaged in the practice of law since 1995. He has been admitted to practice law in multiple courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

Before joining CHD, he was an Assistant District Attorney General for the State of Tennessee. As a criminal prosecutor for over 14 years, Rolf gained extensive jury trial experience while prosecuting almost every criminal offense from minor misdemeanor offenses to the most serious violent felonies including first degree murder.

Since 2003, Rolf has fought for the rights of vaccine injured children. His son’s case Hazlehurst v. H.H.S. was the second test case in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. He intends to devote the remainder of his life to bringing the truth to light regarding the catastrophic injuries and injustices caused by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act of 1986.

He is also an avid outdoorsman, who has hiked and climbed 21 mountains with peaks over 14,000 feet.


Stefanie Stark, CNC

Executive Director

Stefanie Stark is the mother of three children injured by their vaccines, and her son is recovered from vaccine-induced autism. She studied in Budapest at the National Hungarian Ballet Academy and is a graduate of the University North Carolina School of the Arts and the University of Utah. Stefanie has spent more than 20 years in the charitable sector, including a career in the performing arts, followed by a career as development director in human service working with homeless women and children. She has been a brand strategist and consultant for many NGOs and serves as board president for Once a Soldier and board secretary for Inside the Vatican Magazine’s charitable foundation, Urbi et Orbi. Stefanie is a founding member of the National Association of Nonprofit Organizations & Executives and holds NANOE’s Certified Nonprofit Consultant Credential. She left her position as Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for Cause Inspired Media, a powerhouse social impact company specializing in digital marketing for nonprofits and singled out by Google as a leader in Google’s Certified Professional Community, to join Children’s Health Defense as Executive Director. Stefanie’s nonprofit clients have included the United Nations Foundation, The Bridgespan Group, VolunteerMatch, Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the San Diego Museum of Art, Kirov Academy of Ballet, and the National Foundation for Transplants. Born and raised in North Carolina, Stefanie now resides on a barrier island in St. Augustine, FL, and enjoys the simple pleasures of island life.


Laura Bono

Director of Marketing and Media

Laura Bono has a journalism and marketing background. Since her son regressed after his vaccinations in the early 1990’s, and was subsequently diagnosed with heavy-metal toxicity and autism, Laura has advocated for services, biomedical treatments, and civil rights for autistic children/vaccine injured in Congress, NIH, CDC, HHS and other governmental agencies. Laura is a co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of the National Autism Association and was on the Board of Directors for SafeMinds from 2005-2015. Laura is currently a member of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Public Interest Partners.

She served as a planning committee member and was a speaker for the 2007 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Workshop, “Autism and the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities for Research.” She also served as a Community Advisory Board Member for the NIEHS Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) Study, the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) “Study of Health Outcomes in Children with Autism and their Families,” and a collaborative study on Wandering by Johns Hopkins, NIH and autism groups. Laura helped to plan and execute the 2005 SafeMinds/National Autism Association/NIEHS collaborative workshop, “Environmental Factors in Neurodevelopmental Disorders,” served as a panel member in the NIH Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) workshop, “Identifying Priorities for Autism Spectrum Disorders Research on Risk Factors” and has been a contributing columnist to Autism File Magazine. Laura was instrumental in the passage of the Combating Autism Act, working to increase National Institute for Health (NIH) funding for the environmental triggers of autism, specifically autism/mercury research.

She has been interviewed by numerous magazines newspapers, appeared on the NBC Nightly News, CBS News, The Today Show, and provided background research to NBC Dateline, Meet the Press, Congress and independent documentaries. Her advocacy has also included planning press conferences and rallies to focus media attention on the link between vaccines and autism in children. Along with other directors of SafeMinds, her son’s autism story and Laura’s advocacy was chronicled in the book, Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic.


Heidi Kidd

Chief Financial Officer

Heidi Kidd has over 30 years of accounting experience, mostly in a Corporate Retail environment as well as ten years of Accounting and Tax Prep for a Non Profit Organization.

She was one of the parents involved with passage of the New Jersey Infantile Autism Biomedical Research Act passed in New Jersey. Heidi helped craft the original draft of the first federal autism legislation, the Children’s Health Act of 2000. Heidi was a co-author on “Autism: A Novel Form of Mercury Toxicity,” a landmark paper linking the symptoms of autism with excessive exposure to mercury and was published in Neurotoxicology, Medical Hypothesis, Molecular Psychiatry, Mothering Magazine and Autism-Asperger’s Digest. She served as president of the Cure Autism Now New Jersey chapter for two years and co-chaired the first New Jersey/New York Walk Now event, which raised more than $300,000. Heidi is a founding board member of SafeMinds and is very involved in the public policy arena. She has one child, Andrew, who has autism.


Rita Shreffler

Director of Development

Rita Shreffler is the Executive Editor of the Autism File magazine. She is also a founding board member of the National Autism Association and served as Executive Director from 2006-2011. Rita earned her BA and MA from the University of Missouri, and has worked in advertising and public relations for The Kansas City Star and The Daily Oklahoman. She has spent the past 15 years working to build public awareness of the relationship between increased toxic exposures to children and the development of neurological disorders such as autism and ADHD, working at state and national levels towards the removal of mercury from vaccines. Rita has been interviewed by numerous newspapers and magazines including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Mother Jones and has provided background research for Meet the Press and In These Times. She and her husband Arnie live near Springfield, Missouri.


Katie Weisman

Assistant to the Chairman

Katie Weisman is the mother of identical triplet sons who all have autism. After a career as a technical designer, she is now a full-time mom and autism advocate. She has done a wide variety of work with local school districts and police related to autism and has worked on state and federal legislation related to autism.

All three of Katie’s sons have mercury poisoning, which she believes is the primary cause of their disability. They received high doses of thimerosal in their vaccines as infants. Despite their prematurity, their vaccine schedule was neither delayed, nor adjusted for their body weights. Katie is also allergic to thimerosal and other metals herself. She is on the Board of Health Choice and an ex-board member of SafeMinds. She lives in Mount Kisco, New York with her husband, Doug, and her three sons.


Alix Mayer

Director of Communication

I turned a corporate strategy and research career into a health consulting business for those struggling with chronic illness. A compulsive researcher and data pervert, I turn data points and resources into strategy to help my health coaching clients find novel avenues to recovery.

In my early years, I managed advertising for Procter & Gamble products, where I became interested in the power of data and research. After that, I earned an MBA at Kellogg (Northwestern), where I majored in management strategy and finance, and was one course shy of also being a stats major. After Kellogg, I landed at Apple working in market strategy & research, eventually becoming Acting Manager of Worldwide Customer Research at age 29. A year before Jobs’ return and five years before the first Apple Store, my research led me to advise the then-CEO Gil Amelio that Apple would go out of business if we didn’t open Apple-only stores.

After losing my career to a mysterious disabling illness, I turned my corporate research lens to health and medical science, diving deeply into the published literature. I finally found a diagnosis, and am substantially recovered from Lyme disease and vaccine injury. While recovering, my personal medical research led to an online writing career and 5 blogs where I published almost 900 articles. My work was picked up in online and offline media, and was frequently featured.

My blog was voted the #1 General Medicine Blog (Wellsphere, 2010.) My video placed first in the Natural Health Transformation Video Contest (Natural News, 2011.) I am featured in the Patient Talk series (2017,) the Beyond Food documentary (2017,) have appeared on The Weather Channel (2004,) ABC (2004,) KSCO, Lyme Ninja radio, and more.

I’ve given nutrition and health presentations at Twitter, Stanford Medical School, Bay Area Lyme Foundation and at many other organizations.


Kim Spencer

Director of Advocacy and Outreach

Kim Spencer graduated from the University of Georgia in 1989 and pursued careers in television, public relations and project management before her son was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder and mercury toxicity in 2003. While recovering her son from autoimmune disease, she spent three years as a family advocate for a DAN/MAPS pediatrician. In 2012, she co-founded The Thinking Moms’ Revolution, a children’s health advocacy and activism group, served as Vice President, Public Relations and subsequently co-created TEAM TMR, a not-for-profit organization that raises and distributes money in the form of treatment grants to families living with autism and other spectrum disorders. She co-authored a book, The Thinking Mom’s Revolution, Autism: Beyond the Spectrum published by Skyhorse Publishing, and toured the nation sharing her story at events, conferences and television broadcasts.

Kim also serves on the team of the Children’s Health Defense, helping when and where she can. Her son with “autism” is doing well and graduates from high school this year with 12 college credits.