Meet Your Georgia Bio Team

Maria Thacker HeadshotMaria Thacker-Goethe, President & CEO
Executive Director, Georgia BioEd Institute

[email protected] | 404-920-2042

Maria Thacker-Goethe joined Georgia Bio April 2006. She oversees the general office operations for Georgia Bio and the Georgia BioEd Institute. Maria is responsible for programs and events, purchasing programs, member outreach and engagement, as well as new member development. Additionally, she is responsible for conceiving, developing and executing a comprehensive internal and external communications strategy.

In addition to her work with Georgia Bio, Maria is Executive Director of the Georgia Global Health Alliance which strives to advance global health equity by promoting and facilitating collaboration amongst business, academia, non-profits and government organizations within Georgia and linking them with partners in the US and other countries. Officially launched in late 2016, GGHA is working with the global health community in Georgia, local community business leaders, and national partners to develop strategy and organize the sector to embrace collaboration and speak with a collective voice. GGHA is housed within Georgia Bio.

Maria has a diverse background including environmental health, women’s health and health communications and marketing. Prior to joining Georgia Bio, Maria participated in a fellowship at Centers for Disease Control & Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in environmental investigations, working closely with the National Center of Environmental Health in Chemical Demilitarization.

Maria received her Master in Public Health in health education/communication, and maternal and child health from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Sweet Briar College. She is a 2009 recipient of the Power 30 Under 30 Award for professional and community excellence. Maria currently sits on the CJD Foundation Board of Directors and previously served on the Supervisory Committee for the CDC Federal Credit Union. Additionally, Maria has volunteered for more than 9 years with the Junior League of Atlanta Estrellitas program which works to empower Latina teens.

Joseph Santoro, Vice President of Business Development & External Affairs
[email protected] | 404-334-7538

Joseph Santoro is the Vice President of Business Development and External Affairs for Georgia Bio. In this position he provides leadership in developing and implementing sound public policy strategies by communicating with Georgia Bio member companies and other stakeholders. He is also responsible for recruiting new members from life science organizations, research institutions in Georgia and service providers that support the industry. 

Joseph served as the Director of External Affairs for the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG); the leading technology industry association in the state with more than 400 member companies consisting of 35,000+ individuals. He has previous experiences working with economic development organizations including the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Invest Atlanta. 

Joseph graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in Public Policy. He has been a member of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and CompTIA. In his free time, he enjoys hiking Kennesaw Mountain and spending time with family and friends. 

Kristina Forbes HeadshotKristina Forbes, Senior Director of Member Engagement
[email protected] 404-920-2042

Kristina Forbes is the Senior Director of Member Engagement for Georgia Bio and is responsible for the strategic direction and financial management of the association’s member services and membership engagement. She also serves as a liaison to current and prospective members of the association and the life sciences community.

Kristina served as Director of Business Development for the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG); the leading technology industry association in the state with more than 400 member companies consisting of 35,000+ individuals. Additional nonprofit experience has included the Chi Phi Educational Trust and the Atlanta Area Council – Boy Scouts of America.

Ms. Forbes received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Georgia (Dean’s List). She also has training in nonprofit fundraising from Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. A native Georgian, Kristina lives in Midtown Atlanta and has been a volunteer member of Rotary International, Cobb County Chamber of Commerce, Delta Gamma and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her dog and baking apple pies.

Kristen Pappaterra HeadshotMegan Heaphy, Program Intern, Georgia BioEd Institute
[email protected]

Megan Heaphy joins Georgia Bio as the Program Intern for the Georgia BioEd Institute. Megan supports the planning and execution of educational programs and initiatives and seeks to strengthen community partnerships to increase the efficiency and impact of GaBioEd. After teaching high school AP Biology and Chemistry for 9 years in metro Atlanta, her passion for science led Megan to return to school to advance her education. She is finishing her Master of Science degree in Biology with a concentration in Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at Georgia State University, where she is researching how hands-on bioreactor use in microbiology teaching laboratories impacts student learning and science perceptions. In her free time, Megan enjoys horseback riding, gardening, and traveling and hiking with her husband.