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Patient Advisory Council

Last Updated on Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Patient Advisory Council (“PAC”) serves as an advisory resource to the Board of Directors and staff of the Preeclampsia Foundation, for the purpose of maintaining and furthering the Foundation’s position as a patient-centered, patient-driven, patient advocacy organization. The patient voice and experience are integral to the mission of the Foundation; therefore, the PAC operates to directly engage patients, the Board, and staff, in meaningful, ongoing communication, and keep the patient at the forefront of all we do.

Each member of the Patient Advisory Council is a preeclampsia survivor or a family member of a woman who suffered death or disability such that she is unable to represent herself as the result of preeclampsia.

Heather Alonge


Heather Alonge was hospitalized with severe preeclampsia in 2013 when she was 28 weeks pregnant. One week later, Heather delivered her daughter after unsuccessful attempts at stabilizing her blood pressure and suffering a seizure. Today Heather is thankful her daughter is healthy and thriving and that her own health has returned to good condition. Heather currently serves on the Patient Advisory Council and wants to work with other champions, survivors and experts to improve outcomes and ultimately find a cure. She holds a PhD in health services with an emphasis in health management and policy and a masters in public health. Heather has spent the past ten years of her career researching health issues and currently works in academia teaching public health and health care administration courses. Heather's research interests and experiences include: telemedicine utilization, access to care and outcomes, ethical frameworks, program evaluation, qualitative analysis and rural health outreach.  She has served as a member on the Patient Advisory Council since November 2014 and as its chair since November 2016.

Read Heather's Story.

M Canedy

Meghan JS Canedy


Meghan JS Canedy became acquainted with the Preeclampsia Foundation during her first pregnancy, in which she delivered her daughter late preterm after struggling for ten weeks with preeclampsia and continuing to experience it in the postpartum period. She went on to develop gestational hypertension and postpartum preeclampsia with the delivery of her son during her second pregnancy. She resides in New England with her daughter, son and Active-Duty military husband. She earns her stress relief with distance running, biking and swimming. Meghan received her MSN from Yale School of Nursing and works as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in a Level 2 Special Care Nursery and Family Birthing Center.  She has served as a clinical adjunct instructor for Yale School of Nursing advanced practice nursing students, and also helps mothers and families achieve their breastfeeding goals as an IBCLC. She has served on the Patient Advisory Council since its creation in March 2014.

Lisa Aaron


Lisa Aaron developed severe preeclampsia in 2000 at 32 weeks, and delivered her 3-pound daughter by emergency C-section. Though she was enrolled in a graduate program in medical social work at UC Berkeley, the challenges of caring for a premature infant exacerbated a prior upper extremity disability, and Lisa was not able to finish graduate school. In addition to helping fund research for a cure for preeclampsia, Lisa is interested in supporting families who have children with developmental delays due to preeclampsia/prematurity and parents with disabilities. She also wants to ensure that women who have had preeclampsia are aware of their increased risk of heart disease and that they get the care they need. Lisa lives with her husband and daughter (now a bright, involved high-school sophomore) in Northern California, where she enjoys hiking, wildlife and cooking. She has served on the Patient Advisory Council since November 2015.

Norlisa Abrenica-Keffer


Norlisa Abrenica-Keffer is a stay-at-home mom to her three children: boy/girl twins and their younger brother. In her twin pregnancy, Norlisa developed preeclampsia twice postpartum after delivering them at 38.4 weeks. She also developed preeclampsia with her singleton at 34 weeks resulting in delivery at 36 weeks, and had preeclampsia again one week postpartum. She credits much of her pregnancy success to the knowledge and vigilance of her perinatologist and nurses, and working with them and her husband as a team. She hopes to spread knowledge, awareness, and patient advocacy. Norlisa has also served on the Perinatal Advisory Council at the University of Washington Medical Center, and with other non-profits to help patients suffering from infertility and high-risk pregnancies. In a previous life before marriage and family, Norlisa was a biochemist with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Delaware, working in both research and private tutoring. She lives in the Southwest with her husband, Gordon, three children, and two pugs. She has served on the Patient Advisory Council since November 2014.

Claudia Chahin


Claudia Chahin developed preeclampsia in her first pregnancy in 2009. After weeks of bed rest her son, James, was delivered at 35 weeks. In her second pregnancy in 2012, Claudia began having high blood pressure at 18 weeks and after medication and bed rest her daughter, Isabel, was delivered at 30 weeks. She continued to have high blood pressure for 8 months post partum. Claudia is thankful that she and her babies are healthy and is honored to have the opportunity to be more involved with the Preeclampsia Foundation to help bring awareness and education to other families as well as to support research of this condition. Claudia received a Juris Doctorate from The University of Texas School of Law and works as in-house counsel at a national non-profit organization that provides education, safe shelters and alternatives to incarceration for over 200,000 youth and their families annually.She lives in Austin, Texas and has served on the Patient Advisory Council since November 2014.


Carol Hamilton


Carol Hamilton developed sudden severe preeclampsia at 24 weeks during her first pregnancy in 1998 and was forced to deliver. Her daughter, Mary, was stillborn. Her second pregnancy in 2000 resulted in a healthy daughter born at 36 weeks. Her third pregnancy in 2002 resulted in a son born at 37 weeks, after which Carol suffered post-partum preeclampsia. Carol has worked with the Preeclampsia Foundation in various capacities since 2002, including serving on the Board of Directors from 2004 – 2008. She received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from University of Florida and worked as a clinical pharmacist prior to having her first child. She currently lives in Naples, FL with her husband Jim and two children, a son and daughter. She has served on the Patient Advisory Council since its creation in March 2014.

Linda Laszewski


Lynn Laszewski was diagnosed with severe HELLP syndrome during her first pregnancy and had an emergency c-section at 37 weeks to deliver her son. Her son was in the NICU for a week because his lungs were not fully developed. Lynn was 51 years old when she had her only child using fertility treatments and hopes to use her experience to assure other "later in life" moms that they and their babies can be healthy. Lynn received a Masters Degree in Public Health from Loma Linda University and works in resource conservation and sustainability for PepsiCo. She and her family live in Oak Park, IL. She has served on the Patient Advisory Council since November 2015.

Lauren Pappas


Lauren Pappas was a first-time expectant mom who developed severe HELLP syndrome at almost 27 weeks pregnant in 2015. Her son Peter Joseph was born emergently at 2.1 pounds when he was only 28 weeks of age. Six days later, Peter passed away in the NICU due to an infection he acquired in the hospital. In order to memorialize her son, Lauren and her husband created the Peter Joseph Pappas Fund, a restricted fund with the primary goal of supporting research that will end pre-term deliveries due to preeclampsia and related disorders of pregnancy by 2050. Lauren received her Bachelor’s of Nursing from Georgetown University and currently practices in the Endoscopy and Post-Anesthesia Care Units in Philadelphia, PA where she resides. Although Lauren is a nurse, she felt blindsided by HELLP syndrome and the lasting effects from the disease.Lauren helps to represent patients with families who have an extensive heart health history: both her great-grandfather and grandmother died of congestive heart failure, and her father is a survivor of three open-heart surgeries. Like many other preeclampsia/HELLP survivors, Lauren has actively worked with her cardiologist to manage her health. She wants to ensure that other patients are closely monitored by their doctors and understand the signs and symptoms in order to push for care. She has served on the Patient Advisory council since November 2016..

Ushma Patel


Ushma Patel developed severe preeclampsia and partial HELLP syndrome in January 2014 at 36 weeks pregnant. She delivered her daughter soon thereafter, but suffered neurological complications from the high blood pressure. Ushma spent 8 days in the hospital and several weeks on medication to manage her blood pressue. In addition, her daughter was found to have a congenital heart defect at 2 months and underwent open heart surgery at 7 months. Both Ushma and her daughter are now healthy and excited to be back to a "normal" routine. Ushma is a health services researcher with experience in qualitative research, and training in cognitive interviewing and conducting focus groups. She has contributed to survey development, program implementation and evaluation, engaging consumers in safety and quality, and explaining evidence-based medicine to consumers and clinicians. She received a Masters of Science in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Health Policy and Management. Given her career and experience, she developed a strong interest in representing the patient voice and raising awareness for preeclampsia. She lives right outside of Raleigh, NC with her daughter, son, and husband. Ushma has served on the Patient Advisory Council since November 2014.

Read Ushma's Story.


Christina Simmons


Christina Simmons developed severe HELLP Syndrome and preeclampsia during her first pregnancy in 2011, which required the immediate and premature delivery of her daughter.  Christina is grateful for The Preeclampsia Foundation's education and resources that supported her throughout her pregnancy, early delivery and the aftermath.  Today, Christina and her daughter are both healthy and thriving.  Based on these experiences, Christina is a strong advocate for raising awareness and education about hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.  Her wish is for every impacted family to have same high level of support and exceptional care that she and her daughter received from skilled and knowledgeable healthcare providers.  Christina is a healthcare attorney and lives in Atlanta with her husband and daughter. She has served on the Patient Advisory Council since November 2015.

Joy Victory


Joy Victory developed severe preeclampsia and partial HELLP syndrome in 2013 late in her pregnancy, but her symptoms were disregarded and treatment was delayed. Her newborn daughter required immediate NICU care after being born in respiratory distress with suspected meconium aspiration syndrome. Joy’s highly chaotic and poorly-managed hospital care was nearly as life-threatening as her disease. In January 2016, she wrote in-depth about her experience with preeclampsia and the nation's high maternal mortality rate for Cosmopolitan magazine. She lives in Queens, N.Y., with her husband and daughter, where she works as a journalist. Joy has served on the Patient Advisory Council since November 2014.

Matthew Cooper

Board of Directors Liaison

Matthew Cooper serves as the Patient Advisory Council Board Liaison. Matthew's passion for addressing unmet medical needs in preeclampsia is a direct result of almost losing his wife to preeclampsia during the birth of his son. Matthew has over 15 years’ experience in biomarker and drug development across all stages of development. He is currently the Chief Scientific Officer of Progenity, a life science company specializing in women’s health. He has dual MBAs from Columbia Business School and the Berkeley Haas School of Business. He has served as Board Liaison on the Patient Advisory Council since January 2017./p>

Laney Poye

Staff Liaison

Laney Poye, Director of Community Relations, serves as the Patient Advisory Council's Staff Liaison. Laney currently manages the organization’s volunteer leaders and community partners in development, patient support and communications, and leads the national team for the Foundation's signature awareness event, The Promise Walk for Preeclampsia.

Laney received her Master’s degree in International Affairs from Florida State University. Her studies focused primarily on global issues of women’s health and welfare, with an emphasis on determining sustainable change for women in low-resource settings.  She has spent many years volunteering for health causes and is an enthusiastic supporter of increasing awareness and advancing medical understanding of this devastating pregnancy condition.

Who We Are

Impact Reports

Foundation in the Media


Helping Moms and Babies, Herald-Tribune, April 10, 2017


Anne Allred's Long Road to Recovery, 5 On Your Side, August 20, 2016


Awareness Can Save Lives! - Tia's Story: Black Women Birthing Justice Blog, May 18, 2016


National Preeclampsia Awareness Month: Text4Baby Tuesday Weekly News, May 17, 2016


Four Facts Childbirth Educators Can Share About Preeclampsia: Lamaze International Science & Sensibility Blog, May 17, 2016


Lua Lepianka: How to Support a New Mom After Preeclampsia: American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Support Network Blog, May 16, 2016


La Historia de Lisa y la Preeclampsia: March of Dimes Nacersano Blog, May 16, 2016


Participate in Research to Save Lives: Double the Monkey Business Blog, May 7, 2016

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