Blaine Nelson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Cooper Institute. Nelson joined the organization in 2013. Before joining The Cooper Institute team he was Office Managing Partner of Deloitte's North Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas practices headquartered in Dallas. Under his leadership the firm grew from fewer than 1,000 employees to more than 1,600 in North Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. He formally retired from Deloitte in June 2013 after reaching the firm's mandatory retirement age.
Nelson's track record extends beyond the corporate sector to the government sector and non-profit sector. He has served as the Mayor of Fruit Heights City in Utah. And he has brought his community service to Dallas as Chairman of the Board of Governors for the Dallas Symphony Association, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the United Way Foundation of Metropolitan Dallas, the Dallas Regional Chamber and the Dallas Arboretum. Nelson was also recently elected Chair-Elect of the Board of Directors of the Texas Israel Chamber of Commerce. After graduating high school Nelson served on a two-year mission with his church to the South of France and French-speaking Switzerland. Upon his return he began his studies and graduated from the University of Utah.
Laura DeFina received her MD from George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC. She completed her post-graduate training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. While in the US Army, she practiced medicine at Andrew Radar US Army Health Clinic (Fort Myer, VA) and at Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center (Fort Gordon, GA). In Dallas, she practiced Geriatrics with the Health Texas Provider Network/Baylor Senior Health Network for 10 years prior to joining the Cooper Clinic in 2006 given her interest in prevention and research.
In June 2009, she transferred to The Cooper Institute as Medical Director to begin a full-time research career. Her areas of research interest are healthy aging, brain health, and preventive health care. Currently, she supervises our Clinical Investigations division which presently has active trials looking at the benefits of exercise on adolescent depression and on memory in seniors. In addition, she oversees the Cooper Institute/University of Texas Southwestern Research Collaboration with Dr. Scott Grundy from UT Southwestern which develops collaborative research projects with investigators from both institutions. She has authored and co-authored manuscripts related to, among other topics, brain health, cardiorespiratory fitness, injury in physically active women, and healthy aging. Her active grants include a Discovery Foundation Grant looking at cardiovascular issues in women and a Roche Grant looking at the impact of cardiorespiratory fitness on a cardiac biomarker. Dr. DeFina is on the Prevention and Brain Health Group for the Texas State Plan on Alzheimer's Disease.
Dr. DeFina joined The Cooper Institute as Medical Director of research in June 2009. She previously served as a preventive medicine physician with a special interest in healthy aging and caring for the elderly for the past 2 1/2 years at the Cooper Clinic.
Dr. Larry Gibbons joined The Cooper Institute in the fall of 2012 but his history with the Cooper Clinic began many years before. From 1974 to 2006, he was a trusted physician, researcher, and for the last several years, president of the Cooper Clinic. His extensive medical knowledge and profound interest in preventive medicine helped produce over 50 important research papers shedding light on the role of exercise, fitness, and nutrition in cardiovascular disease. In addition, he has lectured around the world to both professional and lay audiences on these subjects.
Today, Dr. Gibbons provides vision, leadership, and direction to the Chief Scientific Officer and acts as a mentor to The Cooper Institute research team. He collaborates with external research partners, including the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and The American Heart Association as a liaison and intermediary.
Dr. Gibbons works closely with CEO Blaine Nelson in his outreach to the community and in seeking funding through governmental grants, private donors, foundations, and corporate sponsors.
Connie Tyne has worked for Dr. Cooper in several capacities over the past fifteen years and has a passion for inspiring people to commit to healthy change in their lives. Connie manages the external business relationships and fund-raising events for the Institute in support of preventive medicine research, education, and fighting adult and childhood obesity.
For twelve years, she served as Vice President and Executive Director of the nationally reputed Cooper Wellness program offering realistic and effective strategies for weight loss, fitness, and stress management that are medically based, scientifically proven, and cost effective.
Joining The Institute gave her the opportunity to pursue fundraising and business development for the non-profit, research-based programs she believes in.
Connie received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and Psychology from Southern Methodist University and her Master of Science from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Jane Ann Layton oversees and administers all aspects of human resources. Her responsibilities include benefits administration, recruiting, new employee orientation, policies and procedures, performance management and employee relations. She is a seasoned Human Resources professional having worked in the field for almost 20 years. Jane Ann began her interest in human resources while working at The University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business as the Assistant Personnel Manager. From there she advanced her career as the Senior Human Resources Manager for Beckett Publications in Dallas for 16 years. She joined The Cooper Institute as the Human Resources Director in 2008.
She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Tech University and maintains a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management Association (SHRM), as well as a member of the Dallas Human Resource Management Association (DHRMA) where she participates in the non-profit professional emphasis group.