Jill Morningstar and Tejal Patel join foundation board

NEW YORK, NY (January 9, 2024) – The Lung Cancer Research Foundation (LCRF) is pleased to welcome Jill Morningstar and Tejal Patel to its Board of Directors.

Jill Morningstar lives outside of Washington, DC and has worked in the United States Congress for Chair George Miller on the House Education and Labor Committee, Senator Paul Wellstone, and Congressman Barney Frank. She has also worked at a range of advocacy organizations including the Children’s Defense Fund, the Earl Warren Institute at the University of California at Berkeley Law School, and the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews. Most recently, Jill chaired the LungCAN Steering Committee advocating for increased federal funding for lung cancer research.

In 2018, Jill’s husband, Al Fitzpayne, was diagnosed with stage four, EGFR lung cancer.  He was 46 years old, had two children in middle school, and had no risk factors for the disease.  Al developed MET amplification in 2020, and in 2022, he was diagnosed with Leptomeningeal disease. Jill recently spearheaded a fundraising campaign, resulting in the support of five LCRF grantees whose projects focus on MET-driven lung cancer and understanding resistance in lung cancer.

“Because of incredible recent advances in lung cancer research, Al continues to thrive,” says Jill. “Lung cancer research means everything to us, and I am excited to be joining the board of the Lung Cancer Research Foundation.”

Tejal Patel’s professional background includes an early career in clinical pharmacy.  She currently serves as Vice President of Operations at Sinai Chicago where she leads inpatient hospital operations. Tejal is highly skilled in bringing together teams to ensure patient satisfaction, caregiver engagement, efficient operations, and quality of care. She was an integral leader in overseeing the COVID-19 pandemic response for Sinai Chicago. Her efforts helped provide over 100,000 vaccines at the height of the pandemic to communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.   

Tejal has been awarded the 2021 Samuel A. Goldsmith Young Professionals Award for her outstanding work by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. She has also been awarded the 2021 Partner of the Year through Metropolitan Family Services.

While continuing to conquer her day job as a health care executive, she recently graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago and received her master’s degree in Healthcare Administration. While completing her MHA studies, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer and initially believed the diagnosis would derail her life and career. However, her diagnosis has helped shape her perception of quality care and she hopes to make more advances in the Chicagoland area to impact as many patient lives as possible. Over the last several months, she has been involved with the Lung Cancer Research Foundation and raised over $46,000 to support leading edge cancer research through her team, Breathe Easy Fight Hard.

In addition to her busy work and fundraising schedule, Tejal is a loving mom to twin boys, an endearing wife, and in her spare time, enjoys reading and traveling.

“I am thrilled to be joining LCRF in this capacity,” remarks Tejal. “It is another way for me to ‘breathe easy, fight hard’ and in the process, be able to bring hope to others with lung cancer, just as this community has done for me.”

To learn more about LCRF and its Board of Directors, visit www.LCRF.org.

# # #

About the Lung Cancer Research Foundation (LCRF)
The Lung Cancer Research Foundation® (LCRF) is the leading nonprofit organization focused on funding innovative, high-reward research with the potential to extend survival and improve quality of life for people with lung cancer. LCRF’s mission is to improve lung cancer outcomes by funding research for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of lung cancer. To date, LCRF has funded 416 research grants, totaling nearly $43 million, the highest amount provided by a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding lung cancer research. For more information, visit LCRF.org.