In Memory of Vicki Kalabokes
It is with a heavy heart the National Alopecia Areata Foundation announces the passing of our longtime President and Chief Executive Officer, and dear friend, Vicki Kalabokes, on January 22.
Victoria Brandy Kalabokes was born on November 18, 1945, in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. The postwar years were a transformative time in American history, and Vicki was witness to and participated in several events that changed our country, including the 1961 Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington. From an early age, Vicki took a passionate interest in helping others and shaping policies to improve the lives of people in need.
During the tumultuous 1960s, Vicki walked precincts during hotly contested elections and she was even present during a military coup in her beloved Greece — all while receiving her undergraduate degrees in Spanish and Education from Towson State University. She subsequently took courses in Media Communications and Ethnic Studies at the University of Maryland.
Women’s causes were of tremendous importance to Vicki. Moving to Southern California, she co-founded the Ventura County Women’s Equity Coalition and served on the American Association of University Women as Legislative Chair and Program Vice-President for the state of California. In Northern California, she continued this work as the Marin County National Women’s Political Caucus Legislative Chair and founder of the Marin County Women’s Political Action Committee.
Already a proven activist — driven, tireless, always looking for new challenges and people who needed her help and her voice — Vicki was on the cusp of her greatest achievement. In February 1987, Vicki was hired by a tiny non-profit in San Rafael that had been in existence for less than five years and helped people with a disease very few had heard of: the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
Vicki Kalabokes served as President and Chief Executive Officer of NAAF for 27 years. During her tenure, she brought the Foundation from a small national support group to an international research, support, and awareness organization. Under her leadership, NAAF saw the launch of a significant number of still-successful programs and initiatives including the Alopecia Areata Treatment Development Program, the Team Up awareness games, and the Legislative Liaison patient advocacy program. Attendees at every NAAF conference between 1987 and 2013 will recall Vicki’s unusual gift for seeming to be everywhere at once, and always being available to talk with a patient in need. Her chant at the opening of conference Tortoise & Hair™ walks — shouting “Gimme an N! Gimme an A! Gimme another A! Gimme an F!” — became a NAAF tradition. And thanks to her sound judgment, upon retirement Vicki left the Foundation in its most sound financial condition since inception.
Vicki led NAAF to join the Coalition of Patient Advocates for Skin Disease Research, a coalition of 25 skin disease patient groups, and served as co-chair of that organization for six years. The organization eventually became the Coalition of Skin Diseases, of which NAAF is an active member to this day.
Vicki was also chosen to be one of the original 20 members of the National Institutes of Health Council of Public Representatives, which advises the NIH Director on how to increase public understanding of the NIH and public participation in its activities. She also served on the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) Advisory Council, the Board of the North American Hair Research Society, and the Board of Directors of the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc. (AAHRPP).
Vicki is survived by her husband Chris, children Kathryn (Joseph) Della Cella and Andrea (Marlon) Morales, and five grandchildren whom she adored, Matthew (Elina), Rocco, Athena, Thalia, and Talos.