Board Spotlight: Kathy Shafer

When Kathy Shafer’s daughter Sydney was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 14, Kathy was shocked. Her family had no history of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Kathy and her husband Tom navigated Sydney’s diagnosis with urgency—identifying the right specialists, researching treatments, and managing her care.

Sydney struggled with severe Crohn’s disease throughout high school, enduring ongoing infusion therapy and surgery her junior year. Though Sydney was still a pediatric patient, the Shafers were introduced to GIRF’s lead Scientific Advisor David T. Rubin, MD through a good friend. Dr. Rubin remained a lifeline for the Shafers until Sydney graduated from college, when he could officially be her doctor. Today, Sydney’s Crohn’s disease is in remission and she is living in Wyoming, “no longer feeling tethered to a hospital.”

Kathy joined the GI Research Foundation Board of Directors in June 2019, eager for the opportunity to raise money for digestive diseases research. Kathy hopes to introduce other parents of children affected by digestive diseases to GIRF.

Kathy is CFO of Thomas Shafer Architects and brings her visual expertise to the Ball Committee. As co-chair of the 2021 GIRF Ball, alongside co-chair Karyn Hurwich, Kathy enjoys the meaningful, active work the Ball Committee provides. The 2021 GIRF Ball will celebrate 60 years of supporting digestive diseases research at the University of Chicago Medicine virtually on Saturday, May 1st.