Roberta Sydney becomes Chair of Friends, welcomes new members

Roberta Sydney, Chair of the Friends and Circle of Willis Society.

The McGovern Institute is pleased to announce that Roberta Sydney SM ’88, a member of the McGovern Leadership Board, has accepted the invitation to serve as Chair of the Friends of the McGovern Institute with the goal of expanding the group and broadening its mission.

“We are delighted that Roberta accepted our invitation,” says Robert Desimone, director of the McGovern Institute. “She brings to the Friends extensive executive and organizational experience, as well as a personal commitment to neuroscience research and to the mission of the McGovern Institute.”

Roberta’s commitment to neuroscience research is indeed personal. Her father, Stanley H. Sydney, SB ’52, SM ’54, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease more than twenty years ago and her mother, Sheila Sydney, suffered a stroke when Roberta was only 13 and her four brothers and sisters ranged in age from 1 1/2 to 14. In 2007, after visiting the McGovern Institute, Roberta and her family created a fund to support Ann Graybiel’s research on Parkinson’s disease. (Spring 2008 issue of Brain Scan).

“While my family has faced significant challenges, we have also been most fortunate,” explains Roberta, who is President and CEO of Sydney Associates, a real estate development company in Brookline, Mass. “We continue to be involved in the causes in which we believe. After meeting Ann Graybiel’s talented team, we felt compelled to support her Parkinson’s disease research become directly involved with the McGovern Institute.”

A graduate of Wellesley College with an MBA from Harvard Business School and a master’s degree from MIT’s Center for Real Estate, Roberta excels in bringing people together for a common goal. She admits that her current goal is an ambitious one—she aims to double the number of McGovern Friends by the Institute’s tenth anniversary celebration on October 14, 2010.

Established by founding chairs Regina Pyle, and her late husband, Thomas Pyle, the Friends of the Institute provide members with special access to the latest developments in neuroscience research. By supporting the Institute’s scientific mission, Friends interact directly with McGovern scientists and they receive regular research updates as well as invitations to private lectures, seminars, and symposia.

“I believe that we have much to gain from dialogues between McGovern scientists and individuals beyond the scientific community.” Together with the Friends Executive Committee, Roberta is developing new ideas about Friends programming that she hopes will encourage even more engagement with the Institute’s faculty and research initiatives.

Roberta’s enthusiasm for the Institute is infectious. Since becoming Chair in March, Roberta has already recruited 20 new Friends and is well on her way towards reaching her goal.