Heart of Gold Leadership

Board of Directors

Clarissa Pearson-founder-heartofgold

Clarissa Pearson

Original Founder

Our founder and CEO, Clarissa Pearson was born with sickle cell disease and passed away in 2021 because her body became too weak from the wear and tear of this terrible illness. Never was there a true spirit of a sickle cell warrior than Clarissa Pearson. She was also a mom, daughter, cousin, friend, Non-profit CEO, AKA and much more! Her life was one of trials and suffering and hospital stays and multiple blood transfusions.


Valerie Bey

Board Member

Board Member Valerie Bey is the Heart of Gold Communication and Public Relations Director. With a BFA in Communication Arts and Design from VCU, she has more than 38 years of experience, in all aspects of broadcast media production. Valerie’s has produced several videos for Fairfax County’s Channel 16 over the years, that have been nationally recognized, including an Emmy nomination, The Communicator Awards, NATOA, Telly, and Home Town Media to name a few.

Heartofgold-member-Melanie Pearson Hurley

Melanie Pearson Hurley

President, CEO and Treasurer

Melanie Pearson Hurley is the CEO and Treasure for the Heart of Gold Sickle Cell Foundation of Northern Virginia. She stepped into the position when the orginal Founder/CEO Clarissa Pearson passed away from sickle cell disease in 2021. Melanie has an extensive science background and works full time as an Environmental Scientist with the U.S. Department of Energy.

Edna Williams

Board Member and President, Statewide Sickle Cell Chapters of Virginia

Edna Williams manages and assists all aspects of work with the Northern Virginia Heart of Gold Chapter. Mrs. Williams plays a vital role in the success of the organization and helps with everything from organization of health fairs, advocacy work, gathering information for clinical studies and client outreach, and posting on social media. Since 2017, she has also been the President of the Statewide Sickle Cell Chapters of Virginia.


Dr. Clarence Pearson

Medical Advisor

Dr. Clarence E. Pearson is Board Certified Internal Medicine and Cardiology physician. A graduate of the Medical College of Virginia (now Virginia Commonwealth University Medical School), he served 20 years
in the U.S. Army and most recently works for the Veterans Administration. Dr. Pearson, who has the Sickle Cell Trait, has extensive expertise in pain management. We are honored that he also serves on our Board of Directors.