CLSA Elects Melinda Richter of Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS as New Board Chair, Appoints New Vice Chair, Treasurer

Alex Kelly of Allergan Appointed Vice Chair; Jeff Jonker of Ambys Medicines Appointed Treasurer

WASHINGTON DC, SAN FRANCISCO and SAN DIEGO – May 9, 2019 – California Life Sciences Association (CLSA), the trade association representing California’s life sciences sector, today announced the appointment of Melinda Richter, Global Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS from Vice Chair to Chair of CLSA’s Board of Directors. Alex Kelly, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Communications Officer, Allergan, will move into the position of Vice Chair, ceding the role of Treasurer to Jeff Jonker, President and CEO, Ambys Medicines. In addition, previous Board Chair Bill Newell, Chief Executive Officer, Sutro Biopharma, will transition from the board chairmanship to a role on the CLSA Executive Committee.

Left to Right: Alex Kelly, Allergan; Melinda Richter, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS; Mike Guerra, CLSA; Jeff Jonker, Ambys Medicines

“In my role at JLABS, I’ve had the unique experience of working alongside truly innovative, early stage life science companies, helping to empower a global network of open innovation ecosystems,” remarked Richter. “I look forward to drawing on these experiences as I work with Mike Guerra, the board, CLSA leadership, and my peers and friends across the state to help accomplish our shared mission of advancing California’s world-leading life sciences innovation ecosystem.”

“As California’s life sciences sector continues to grow, and produce more new therapies, jobs, and opportunities, we face unique and complex challenges to sustain our momentum. Facing down these obstacles head on requires a diverse, talented and experienced team of people,” said Mike Guerra, President & CEO, CLSA. “We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have just such a group with Melinda Richter as our new Board Chair, Alex Kelly as Vice Chair and Jeff Jonker as Treasurer. The leadership and experience of our officers, as well as our entire board, will further our collaboration with officials in Sacramento and Congress to enhance the strength and growth of the state’s life sciences economy. I’d also like to extend our sincere gratitude to Bill Newell for his many contributions as our former Board Chair during a period of incredible growth for CLSA.”

About Melinda Richter, JLABS

At JLABS, Melinda Richter helps foster the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies external R&D engine and supports the innovation community by creating capital-efficient commercialization models that give early stage companies a big company advantage. Prior to joining JLABS, Melinda was Founder and CEO of Prescience International, an award-winning firm dedicated to accelerating research to the patient. Prior to starting Prescience, Melinda held posts across a variety of functional areas with a global corporation, Nortel Networks, in numerous locations across the globe. View full biography.

About Alex Kelly, Allergan

Alex Kelly has helped position Allergan in the industry since 2015. Previously, he co-led integration of Allergan and Actavis, as well as the integration of Forest Laboratories. With over 20 years of industry experience, he is skilled in investor relations and corporate communications and affairs. Prior to joining Actavis, Mr. Kelly was Senior Vice President, Chief Communications Officer, Public Affairs and Investor Relations at Forest Laboratories. In that role, he led Forest’s corporate communications and investor relations programs and continued to support acquisition integration. View full biography.

About Jeff Jonker, Ambys Medicines

Jeff Jonker joined Ambys as CEO in 2018 to lead the South San Francisco-based biotech’s efforts to pioneer regenerative medicines for severe liver diseases. Jeff joined Ambys from NGM Bio, where he served as President, leading advancement of the company’s robust multi-therapeutic area pipeline and helping orchestrate its broad, multi-year research and development collaboration with Merck. Jeff’s entrepreneurial experience spans corporate strategy, operations, fundraising, business development, and legal, with previous leadership roles at Theravance, Satori, Gloucester and Genentech. View full biography.


  • Learn More about the California life sciences sector
  • View CLSA’s Legislative Action Center
  • Watch CLSA’s Faces of California Biomedical Innovation Web Series
  • View Upcoming CLSA events
  • Meet the CLSA Board of Directors

About California Life Sciences Association (CLSA)

California Life Sciences Association (CLSA) is the state’s largest and most influential life sciences advocacy and business leadership organization. With offices in Sacramento, San Diego, South San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington DC, CLSA works closely with industry, government, academia and others to shape public policy, improve access to innovative technologies and grow California’s life sciences economy. CLSA serves biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostics companies, research universities and institutes, investors and service providers throughout the Golden State. CLSA was founded in 2015 when the Bay Area Bioscience Association (BayBio) and the California Healthcare Institute (CHI) merged. Visit CLSA at, and follow us on Twitter @CALifeSciencesFacebookInstagramLinkedIn and YouTube.

Media Contact:
California Life Sciences Association (CLSA)
Will Zasadny | Director, Communications | 619-961-8848