Ilissa Reich is a former fashion executive who transformed her career into being a fierce advocate for families of children with special needs.
When her now-3-year-old son, Eli, was diagnosed with FOXG1 Syndrome, a rare brain disorder with no cure, she spun into action and co-founded Believe in a Cure (webelieveinacure.org), a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation working to develop a treatment for FOXG1.
Founded in 2019, Believe has raised millions of dollars and funded over 40 research and development projects around the world.
long the way, the foundation has partnered with preeminent institutions ranging from the National Institutes of Health to Harvard, MIT, and Tel Aviv University, to biotechnology companies in Europe, Asia, and the United States.
Renowned scientists from industry and academia serve on the scientific advisory board of the foundation, and several notable leaders serve on the foundation’s lay advisory council, including former U.S. senators Joe Lieberman and Paul Kirk, the former CEO of Staples Ron Sargent, mediation czar Ken Feinberg, and many more.
This journey has opened Ilissa’s eyes to the experiences of countless other families who struggle each day, and despite her own anguish, Ilissa endeavored to create a platform for mothers of kids with special needs to build community and offer support.
She has appeared on the Today show, in People magazine, and a host of other outlets profiling her efforts.
A native Long Islander, Ilissa previously worked in fashion at notable brands Tibi, Free People, Splendid, and Alternative Apparel.
She studied business in college at The George Washington University. She lives in Port Washington with her husband, Scott, and their three children.
• What has enabled you to be successful?
“I always aspire to be a good role model for my children. I want to be someone they’re proud of.”