As Ezra’s parents, Kyle Matthews and his wife Robyn founded Because of Ezra to channel their passion for a cure for neuroblastoma. They have made it a mission to do all they can to ensure no families and kids have to go through their crushing loss and neuroblastoma experience. Kyle’s leadership as Executive Director includes overall foundation direction, management, fundraising, and creative attention.
Previously, Kyle spent over a decade in the technology entrepreneurship space, and is an experienced CTO and technology consultant. He co-founded Laicos, a creative design agency in Tampa focusing on modern web and mobile applications and process optimization. Through Tampa / Denver based ModMy, LLC, he helped to build the largest online iPhone community (aside from Apple), with over 900,000 members and 1/2 million daily page views.
Kyle and Robyn live in Tampa, FL (born and raised in Seattle, WA) with their son Charley.
Noelle joined Because of Ezra after learning of the Matthews’ story through a mutual friend. She developed a profound empathy for all of the families who have lost children to neuroblastoma and a desire to support those who are currently in the fight. She is fiercely committed to working with Because of Ezra to help find a cure.
Noelle has extensive experience in public relations, media, marketing, corporate partnerships and community relations. Prior to joining Because of Ezra, Noelle was a Senior Account Executive at Tucker/Hall, Tampa Bay’s largest PR firm. There, she led innovative campaigns for a diverse set of clients in the areas of strategic communications, crisis management and public affairs.
Before moving to Tampa, Noelle worked in Los Angeles for several years with various clients ranging from consumer brands and celebrity talent to production companies, large corporations, restaurants, non-profit organizations and major film studios. Noelle has held positions at Rogers and Cowan, ID Public Relations and got her start in the publicity department at Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Noelle is originally from Philadelphia and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Emerson College in Boston. She is active in the Tampa Bay community and has been on the leadership team of Emerge Tampa Bay. Noelle is also on the Advisory Board for Film Tampa Bay, Tampa’s newly re-instated film commission. She is on the board of the Tampa Pig Jig, which raises awareness and funds for a rare kidney disease called, FSGS. She currently lives in South Tampa with her husband.
Eric is the Chief Investment Officer of Csenge Advisory Group, responsible for overseeing the Asset Management division which he created. On a daily basis, he drives the application of sophisticated risk management and tactical asset allocation techniques. Eric holds multiple professional degrees including the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) and Chartered Market Technician (CMT) designations.
As a steward of the financial industry, Eric dedicates considerable time to professional and community organizations. He is an active member of the CFA Institute, the CFA Society of Tampa Bay and the Market Technicians Association, of which he is currently serving as chair of the Tampa Bay chapter.
Eric and his firm also set aside time each month for pro-bono activities, which have included appearing on Fox 13’s “Ask a Planner” segment. Eric is a graduate of the Tampa Connection class of 2012 and the Leadership Tampa Bay class of 2014, where he met Kyle.
After hearing the Matthews’ story, Eric was immediately compelled to action and joined the Host Committee for Because of Ezra’s Karaoke for the Kure event. By joining the Board of Directors, Eric hopes to make a difference in raising awareness and finding a cure for children’s cancer.
Eric is originally from Connecticut, where he graduated from The Taft School. He subsequently earned an Economics degree with honors from Vanderbilt University. He currently resides in South Tampa with his wife.
Erica Copeland currently lives in Los Angeles and is a homemaker and stay at home mother. She began her life in Los Angeles working her way up the ladder in the entertainment industry, starting as a production assistant on the show “Home Improvement” and ending up in Post Production for the show “Everybody Loves Raymond”. Somewhere in between she met and married the first love of her life, and then gave birth to the second love of her life, her son.
Erica is originally from Florida, and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Political Science. She became involved with Because of Ezra through a mutual acquaintance of Kyle & Robyn Matthews. The moment Erica laid eyes on Ezra and the Matthews family, she knew her life would be changed for ever. Having a toddler son of her own made her astutely aware of how precious and amazing a child’s life is; it is truly a gift. Erica is determined to help put an end to neuroblastoma, and believes Because of Ezra is the perfect tool to help stamp out this senseless, devastating disease.
Marissa Devins is an agent in the Television Literary Department at United Talent Agency in California, where she represents a number of the entertainment industryʼs top emerging television creators, show-runners and writer/producers. She began her career in the UTA mailroom and has been with the company ever since. It was here that she discovered her passion for talent and more importantly, being a fierce advocate for those she believes in. Devins believes that there is certain purity to representation, always knowing who you are fighting for and never being compromised in that fight.
It is that particular character trait that she brings into every aspect of her life. Devins serves on the Board of Directors of Because of Ezra for these simple reasons: watching Ezra and his family suffer through this often misunderstood and under-researched cancer, was simply too much to bear. Understanding that neuroblastoma is the most common solid mass cancer in children and is currently the most devastating with survival rates in the 50% range, she seeks to be an advocate for these children who suffer from this disease and desperately need our help. She is passionate in being a key player in BoE to raise awareness for neuroblastoma and the devastation it brings to all those who touch it, as well as to provide critically needed funds to those who are aggressively searching for a cure.
Devins graduated from the University of Arizona in 1998 with a Bachelorʼs of Arts and Sciences degree in Political Science and an emphasis on English, Philosophy and Communication. She resides in Los Angeles with her family.
Xuan Hurt, or “Sing” as she’s gone by since she was a child, has called Tampa her hometown after immigrating here from Vietnam with her family when she was just 2 years old.
She entered the hospitality industry during college where she discovered her love of excellent food and creative concepts. She and her husband are the proprietors of Anise Global Gastrobar, a trendy fusion restaurant that features craft cocktails in the Arts District in downtown Tampa.
She is a new realtor at Urban Living Tampa Bay Real Estate, specializing in South Tampa and Downtown homes for sale and rent.
She and her husband do not have children, but with her energetic nieces, nephews and god children AND her close knit, restaurant staff of 40 (who call her “Mom”), her heart feels full and her blessings abundant. She believes that her life experiences, trade knowledge and work ethic should be used to help give back to the community.
She looks forward to contributing as a Because of Ezra board member.
Matt is a graduate of the University of Florida where he played baseball and became the only 2-time South Eastern Conference player of the year along with All-American honors. Matt was the 7th overall pick of the 2007 Major League Baseball draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2008 he represented Team USA in the Beijing Olympics and helped the team earn a Bronze Medal finish. Matt played in the big leagues with the Cleveland Indians from 2009 through 2012.
Matt is married to Dara LaPorta and they have three kids. Sienna (4), Price and Maddox are twins (2). The family resides in Tampa Florida.
Matt LaPorta has a consistent track record of successful endeavors in real estate and the finance industry. Known for high engagement, collaboration and integrity with clients. His passion for helping others has brought him to SunTrust Mortgage to help guide people on the purchase of their home.
Ryan McGee is an attorney born and raised in Tampa, FL, where he has held appointments with both the State and Federal Government, and now maintains a private practice in the areas of corporate and franchise litigation with the law firm Shankman Leone, PA. He is also active in Tampa Rotary, as well as various legal and business organizations in the Tampa Bay Area.
Ryan first met Kyle at a local benefit in Tampa in 2014. When Ryan noticed Kyle’s “Because of Ezra” wristband, the two began to discuss at length the shortcomings of research in the field of childhood cancer, and Ryan immediately sought to contribute to Because of Ezra by joining the Host Committee for Karaoke for the Kure and spreading the message from Florida, to Austin, New York, Seattle, and anywhere else he travels. Ryan joined the Board of Directors to not only provide guidance, but also expand Because of Ezra’s reach in Tampa and beyond through corporate sponsorships and partnerships to fund promising and effective research in the field of childhood cancer.
Ryan graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Business Economics and History, then obtained his law degree from Stetson University College of Law.
Ryan is the co-founder and CEO of Laicos, Inc, a creative mobile technology company based in Tampa, FL. Ryan is an experienced entrepreneur who sold his previous business, NegriElectronics.com, in December of 2013 after almost 8 years of growth under his vision and leadership.
As a personal friend of Ezra’s dad, Kyle, Ryan followed Ezra’s story from diagnosis, attending his funeral in 2010. NegriElectronics.com has delivered over 3000 Because of Ezra bracelets to clients over the past few years, and Ryan has shared Ezra’s story every chance he gets. His extensive network and business experience are extremely useful in growing Because of Ezra’s interests in curing neuroblastoma.
Ryan graduated from St Cloud State University in Minnesota with a degree in Business Economics and Marketing.
Derek is the CEO of the Foundation for Orthopaedic Research and Education (FORE) in Tampa, Florida. FORE has grown to be one of the largest independent orthopaedic research and education institutes in the country under his leadership. Derek has always been fascinated by science and how things work which is what led him to the field of research. While at FORE, he has co-authored 25 peer-reviewed publications, several book chapters and was awarded one of the top honors in orthopaedic research in 2011. He also designed and oversaw the build-out of a state-of-the-art surgical training facility at FORE where hundreds of surgeons have improved their surgical skills.
Derekʼs desire to serve on the board of directors for Because of Ezra comes from seeing the strength and determination that his close friends Kyle and Robyn demonstrated while caring for Ezra. After seeing the devastation caused by neuroblastoma, and also learning about the unacceptably high mortality rate, he wanted to join with his friends to do whatever he could to help with the cause. Although his expertise is in a different field, he hopes to utilize his experience in the research world to help guide the foundation when directing its resources to finding better evidenced-based diagnostic tools and treatments for neuroblastoma.
Derek graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Biomedical Science in 2002 and earned a Master of Business Administration in the Executive MBA program at USF in 2007.