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.
Kristian experienced mild preeclampsia in her first pregnancy in 2004 and developed severe preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) with her second pregnancy in 2010 at around 23 weeksgestation. Kristian’s inpatient hospital course spanned 30 days including several days in the ICU, multiple plasmapheresis treatments, countless medications and physical therapy. The most lasting memory of her hospital experience was the unfortunate loss of baby Jacob. Kristian and her husband, Baron, subsequently had two successful pregnancies. The family keeps Jacob’s memory alive by participating in community grief support initiatives and sharing their faith walk. Kristian holds a Bachelor in Nursing Science, a Master in Business Administration and a Master in Health Systems Management. She works in the field of Quality, Patient Safety and Risk Management and leads the Women’s Ministry at her church The Chosen Vessel in Fort Worth, TX. Kristian and her husband have three beautiful children, Jasmin, Isabela and Samuel. Kristian is excited about the opportunity to become directly involved with the Preeclampsia Foundation and support the efforts to help bring awareness and education to women and their families.
Jasmine Mago struggled with infertility for years before becoming pregnant in 2010. She experienced a normal pregnancy through her first trimester and most of her second, before developing symptoms of preeclampsia around 26 weeks. As the only option for survival, Jasmine’s son was born via cesarean section weighing two pounds at 28 weeks and 2 days gestation. Today, Jasmine’s son is healthy, but the days, months, and years following his birth took a toll on Jasmine and her husband, as they dealt with the developmental delays and challenges typical of premature birth. Jasmine knows first-hand the limited awareness and understanding of preeclampsia by many pregnant women, the confusion and fear that accompany diagnosis, and the long-term impacts of the disease on women and their infants. Jasmine leverages her experience by serving as a mentor to women who have suffered from preeclampsia. She also serves as an advocate by raising awareness and education on preeclampsia by regularly participating in the Chicago Promise Walk, and has shared her experience in live interviews on 20 radio stations across the country. Today, Jasmine is a Senior Manager at Deloitte, an accounting firm and lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two sons. She is a new member of the Patient Advisory Council.
Mavis Stephens is an Army veteran, she served at Walter Reed during the Gulf War, and received an honorable discharge. After active duty she served in the Army reserves for a short time and started her federal government civil service career. She's worked for the federal government for 30 years in the areas of patient care coordination, medical administration, program & project management, policy/issues manager, and currently as a public health analyst. She's originally from Georgia but has live in the DC/MD metro area for over 20 years. Mavis is passionate about serving the Preeclampsia Foundation as she's suffered with severe preeclampsia with all 3 of her pregnancies; 2 resulting in infant loss. She's the proud mother of her young adult son who lives on his on in Atlanta. Her son suffered from a left arm brachial plexus injury sustained during delivery which resulted in 6 surgeries and very intense follow-ups.
Mavis is currently working on certifications in Grief & Loss Counseling and Organizational Management. She's a member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals and The American Association of Christian Counselors. In her spare time she enjoys volunteering throughout the community, serving at church, reading, and adult coloring.
Alissa Goodman almost lost her life 12 days after delivering her son, Landon, due to severe eclampsia. After her blood pressure shot up to a critical state, she suffered from significant swelling in the brain and numerous seizures, putting her into a status epilepticus coma state. Her injuries included posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES), respiratory failure, pulmonary edema, severe sepsis, a heart attack, chronic migraines, occipital neuralgia, central pain syndrome, and a herniated disc in her neck. She had significant brain damage and spent the next six months in physical therapy and working to rebuild her memory, reading, and language skills. She is passionate about the need for more awareness and education about preeclampsia and hopes to help increase funding for research so that one day we can find both a cause and a cure for the disease. Alissa holds a Master in Business Administration from the University of Florida, a Juris Doctor from Fordham University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Miami. She works in New Product Development at UPS, where she serves as Chair of the Women’s Leadership Development Community Connections Committee. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and son, and has served on the Patient Advisory Council since January 2018.
Jaye Wilson is a Mom, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Social Activist, Maternal Advocate and Self-sufficiency Coach. In her professional career as a Community Health Nurse, she saw the importance of how community engagement created better physical, emotional and mental health outcomes for its people. Through her own personal transitions from marriage to divorce, she redefined single motherhood by creating a community of support that changed the narrative of motherhood, sisterhood and womanhood through her women-empowerment organization, Melinated Moms. Melinated Moms is a community-based membership for moms and women of color. We curate events that empower, motivate and cultivate our women to be better versions of themselves with support. We bridge our women through the intersections of Motherhood, Sisterhood & Womanhood. Although Melinated Moms initially started as a self-reflective supportive community for moms and women of color; it has quickly grown into an amazing platform for empowerment, advocacy and motivation for the women in our community. Jaye has reached over 1,000 women through her events and has created an organization that is trusted for its authenticity and support. She connects and empowers women throughout the Melinated Spectrum to find their power and purpose in their lives. Jaye continues this work on the local, state and federal level in State of New Jersey advocating for Maternal Health Awareness and initiatives on the Black Maternal Health crisis. Jaye is the proud mother of 2 young girls, Nadiyah and Ava, who continue to move and motivate her to create a space where women's rights are acknowledged and not silenced.
Alexandra De Leon developed HELLP syndrome in 2013 at 24 weeks of pregnancy. She began developing HELLP at a rapid pace, which required an emergency cesarean. Her beautiful baby, Gabriella, unfortunately did not make it. The Preeclampsia Foundation was a huge support for Alexandra because she was able to understand what had happened with her body and all of the signs that were missed. Today, Alexandra and her husband Joshua have two beautiful children, Josiah and Jazmin. Alexandra keeps Gabby’s memory alive by serving as the Promise Walk Chair in the Bay Area, CA. She is committed to bringing awareness to HELLP syndrome/preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. She hopes that one day all medical providers will be educated on HELLP syndrome/preeclampsia and can provide the adequate care for women, so no mother will ever experience a loss of a child. She recently joined the Patient Advisory Council in August 2018 and looks forward to what is to come.
In 2015, when she was 33 weeks pregnant, Jennifer developed preeclampsia. At first, Jennifer dismissed her uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms (i.e., nausea, headache, swelling, fatigue) as the normal pitfalls of the third trimester. Yet, when these symptoms persisted, Jennifer contacted her doctor and was later admitted to the hospital for observation. A few short hours later, Jennifer underwent an emergency cesarean section welcoming a healthy baby boy seven weeks before her due date. Her baby was immediately taken to the NICU where he stayed for the next three weeks. This was an extremely overwhelming time for Jennifer as a new mom. She wishes that she and her family had a better understanding of the emotional and physical toll preeclampsia can suddenly take on a family.
Jennifer considers herself lucky and feels that it is important to lend her voice to others who were not as lucky. After three weeks in the NICU, her son was discharged and is now a thriving, funny, playful four year old. Jennifer’s experiences of developing preeclampsia and suffering through her own recovery has made a huge impact on her and her husband. Sharing her personal story and giving back to others is why Jennifer joined forces with the Preeclampsia Foundation. Six months after her son’s birth, her family participated in the Promise Walk in Brooklyn, and since then, has become a patient speaker sharing her personal journey with physicians and family educators.
Also, Jennifer sits on the NYC Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee (M3RC) representing the patient perspective and participates on social media campaigns to disseminate patient education materials on preeclampsia, especially early education and awareness.
Jennifer has a master’s degree in Public Administration and works in medical education. She now lives in northern New Jersey/NY Metro area with her son and husband.
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.
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.
Toyin Idehen is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of United Against Poverty and Disease (UAPAD), a non-profit founded in 2010 as a result of losing one of her twin girls due to severe preeclampsia. She delivered twin girls at 28 weeks but due to the severity of her condition, her eldest twin daughter grew her wings two days after she was born. Her now healthy daughter spent three months in the NICU and during this time, Toyin’s path and future changed as she decided to turn tragedy into empowerment with the founding of her nonprofit. UAPAD was birthed with the idea of making sure her experiences, knowledge, and faith serve as a platform, voice, and promise to deliver knowledge, education, tools, and services to those in need (particularly in under-served communities in the U.S. and developing countries around the world) who lack access to basic health care, education, prenatal care, or are misinformed about issues relating to their health and lifestyles. Toyin is especially passionate about mobilizing her generation of young adults to be empowered and be the voice of many, while she focuses on building up her organization to help people around the world. She has a deep passion for humanitarian work and hopes to lend her voice and experiences to the Preeclampsia Foundation in hopes of saving babies, mothers, families, and communities one day at a time, while helping to ensure ongoing research and support for families who endure the same condition. It is Toyin’s hope to improve support for families by working with healthcare institutions and policymakers to provide more clinical, emotional, and financial support for families enduring these conditions. Toyin received a Bachelor's degree of Business Administration with emphasis on Computer Information Systems from Howard University in Washington DC, and obtained a Master's degree in Public Health with a focus on Low Income Countries from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom. Toyin lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and three children and works in the non-profit and healthcare sectors.
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.