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.
The PAC is currently taking applications for membership. Please complete the membership application form. The PAC works to reflect the great diversity in patient experiences through its membership. Therefore, not all applicants may be selected to serve at this time, but all applications will be considered on an annual basis by the PAC's membership committee.
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 was voted to become Chair in 2020.
Quantrilla Ard, PhD, MPH is a passionate behavioral scientist and Black maternal and infant health advocate. Currently, she uses her social media platforms to engage, educate, and inform others on her doctoral research and personal experience with preeclampsia. Dr. Ard is a champion of reproductive justice and maternal health disparities and serves as a Certified Patient Family Partner with MoMMA’s Voices through the Preeclampsia Foundation, and a Family Health Advocate through the H.E.A.R.T for Georgia program. She is an engaged member of the Healthier Generations Community Action Network and also volunteers with the March of Dimes Atlanta Collective Impact as Co-chair of the Dismantle Racism Workgroup and steering committee member. Quantrilla is also an accomplished, faith-based personal development author and dynamic speaker who has been a guest on several podcasts discussing the topics of Black maternal and infant health. In addition, she often provides expert opinion on maternal health in various print and online media outlets. Lastly, Quanny humbly stewards a grief and loss community and podcast, both entitled It’s All Grief to Me, as a coach and liason for individuals navigating their journeys.
You can follow her and the work she is involved in at https://www.thephdmamma.com She joined the Preeclampsia Foundation Patient Advisory Council in May 2023.
Leah Bahrencu is HELLP syndrome and preeclampsia survivor following the 34-week birth of her twins in January 2017. Leah experienced multiple organ failure, DIC, sepsis, and now has life-long pancreatic insufficiency following her traumatic pregnancy experience. She has undergone five surgeries and three full months of hospitalization.
Leah wanted to ensure other women were educated through her experience, so she shared her story with National Public Radio (NPR.org), provided investigative reporting in her hometown of Austin, Texas, and has been involved with the MoMMA's Voices coalition to share her experience. She has served on research panels, provided the patient perspective on the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies (the Texas state perinatal quality collaborative), and served on the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) Maternal Early Warning Signs (MEWS) coalition. As a Preeclampsia Foundation volunteer, she has also helped to organize her local Promise Walk for Preeclampsia and been active at sharing her story with local publications to raise awareness and research funds.
After suffering from this traumatic birth and overcoming HELLP syndrome, Leah is passionate to empower women to find and use their voice to create changes in maternal health care. She is honored to serve on the Preeclampsia Foundation Patient Advisory Council to help other moms know the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia and to empower them to speak out to their health care providers when they feel something is not right.
Leah and her twins live in Austin, Texas, where she works as a fitness instructor and nutritionist. She joined the Patient Advisory Council in March 2021.
Danielle Hallinan experienced HELLP syndrome in 2009 at 24 weeks of pregnancy with her first daughter, Grace. Grace was born via emergency c-section and only survived 3 days due to her extreme prematurity. Danielle then went on to also experience postpartum preeclampsia after Grace's passing.
In 2011, Danielle developed rapid severe preeclampsia at 34 weeks pregnant, requiring her daughter Annelise to be delivered early. Thankfully, Danielle and Annelise recovered safely. Annelise was joined by her brother, William, in 2014 after a healthy 37-week pregnancy.
After suffering from these traumatic birth experiences, Danielle has worked to spread awareness of HELLP syndrome and preeclampsia. She has been a member of the volunteer committee for the Philadelphia/South Jersey Promise Walk for Preeclampsia for 8 years, helping to make the event a success in her local community, and spreading awareness and fundraising for the Foundation. She served as the Mission Mom for the Philadelphia/South Jersey Promise Walk in 2013, sharing her story with local publications to raise awareness. She is passionate about empowering women to know the signs and symptoms and to speak out about any and all health concerns.
Danielle is honored to serve on the Preeclampsia Foundation Patient Advisory Council to help other moms. Danielle lives with her husband and two children in Southern New Jersey where she works as a high school mathematics teacher. She joined the Patient Advisory Council in May 2021.
Starlita Kilpatrick is a postpartum preeclampsia survivor, which she experienced one week after the birth of her third child in 2017. Her traumatic birth experience has had lingering physical and mental health effects. While in the throes of motherhood with a then 4-year-old, 1-year-old, and newborn, a random blood pressure self-check warranted a call to her midwife and trip to the local hospital. Because they lacked a maternity unit, the doctors would not admit or stabilize her. After having her supportive husband drive another 20 minutes into town to a full-range hospital, Starlita was ultimately admitted with blood pressure over 200/100 and without other preeclampsia signs. Two days later, she was discharged home on blood pressure medication, only to return to the ER three hours later and readmitted for an additional 3-day stay. It was not until she later followed up with her midwife, post-hospital discharge, that she learned of her preeclampsia diagnosis.
Starlita uses her voice to raise awareness of postpartum preeclampsia and improve the outcomes of all perinatal hypertensive disorders, highlighting Black Maternal Health. She is also passionate about supporting, empowering, and mentoring other mothers with similar experiences. She believes all mothers should receive proper and adequate information and perinatal care regardless of race, ethnicity, or zip code.
Starlita's advocacy work began in 2021 with a forum she organized and moderated through her platform, The Mama Connect: All Things Mommyhood, for Black Maternal Health Week. She is a Certified Patient Family Partner with the Preeclampsia Foundation's MoMMA’s Voices program, where she received training on effectively sharing her story as a maternal health advocate and collaborating agent of change. She provided the patient's perspective on an interdisciplinary panel for peripartum postoperative and postpartum pain management led by the University of Michigan and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Starlita has also served on the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) coalition to update the Postpartum Discharge Transition Care patient safety bundle. As a Preeclampsia Foundation volunteer, she has helped to organize and fundraise for the Philadelphia/South Jersey Promise Walk for Preeclampsia and actively shares her story with national publications and organizations through interviews and guest speaking opportunities.
Starlita has a Bachelor of Science in Sociology-Anthropology from Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland. She is a Certified Babywearing Consultant, Birth and Postpartum Doula, Lactation Educator, Published Writer, and Homeschool Coach. She is a member and volunteer with other various local and national organizations. Starlita resides in South Jersey—just outside Philadelphia, PA—with her husband and three children.
She joined the Preeclampsia Foundation Patient Advisory Council in May 2023.
Tashae Lawrence is glad to have this opportunity to be on the Patient Advisory Council. A preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome survivor with her first daughter at 31 weeks, she learned about the Preeclampsia Foundation while volunteering during the Promise Walk in Georgia. She had no idea of what the two conditions were at the time and because of that, she wants to help bring awareness to women so that they know what they are through her service on the PAC.
She is a mother of two sweet girls, Ava and Rue, and resides in Decatur, Georgia, where she is currently in school for Sonography/Radiology. Tashae joined the Patient Advisory Council in March 2021.
Katie Lemire was 33 weeks pregnant in 2018 when she developed severe preeclampsia and was rushed by ambulance to a nearby tertiary hospital where her son was delivered by emergency c-section. Her hypertension had led to the development of pulmonary edema (severe swelling in the lungs), which led to respiratory failure requiring intubation. She spent the first day of her son's life on a ventilator in the ICU. Prior to that experience, she had not learned much about preeclampsia: she certainly didn’t realize it was something that could be so dangerous for mother and baby. In less than 12 hours, Katie went from being at home not feeling that great to fighting for her life and that of her unborn child. Her son, who is now thankfully a healthy, rambunctious three-year-old, had a 34-day stay in the NICU. (Read her full story.)
Katie also represents the many women in the preeclampsia patient community for whom postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was a very real consequence. Following delivery and her return home from the ICU, she began to have terrible flashbacks of the moments leading up to delivery and feeling unable to breathe. After reviewing the research (including through organizations like the Preeclampsia Foundation), Katie chose a specialized therapy called "eye movement desensitization and reprocessing," or EMDR. Though EMDR is an intense therapy, it allowed her to process the trauma and the emotions for what happened to decrease the symptoms of her PTSD.
She is grateful for the medical and psychological support she received, so as a member of the Preeclampsia Foundation Patient Advisory Council, her purpose is to advocate for the women, babies and families, who are unable to do so for themselves. Her hope is that continued research helps find a cure so that other women do not have to fight this disease.
Katie currently lives in northwest Boston with her husband and two sons, where she also serves as joint chair for the Boston Promise Walk for Preeclampsia. She holds a Master's of Education in School Counseling and hopes to one day volunteer in an antepartum floor to provide emotional support to expectant moms. She joined the Patient Advisory Council in March 2021.
Bio coming soon.
Jamie Moyer is a patient family partner and maternal health advocate located in central Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband of 14 years, Adam, and their son, who is an active baseball player. She also serves as the co-chair for the Harrisburg Hershey Promise Walk.
In 2012, Jamie delivered her son at 34 weeks due to severe onset preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. She felt "blah" for a few days with some pain, but assumed it was normal pregnancy symptoms and waited until her regularly scheduled Ob appointment. A routine blood pressure check by the nurse revealed dangerously high blood pressure readings, so much so that the medical providers sent Jamie straight to labor and delivery at the hospital. She was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome and induced. Her son was born at 5 pounds, 14 ounces, and Jamie spent three more days in the hospital, waiting for her bloodwork and pressure to return to safe levels.
Jamie considers it a huge honor to serve on the Preeclampsia Foundation Patient Advisory Council and represent other patients with similar experiences. She wants everyone to know the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia, and be empowered to use their voice when something doesn't feel right. Her hope is that every educated patient is an empowered one.
Jamie joined the Patient Advisory Council in September 2023.
Kristian Poitier 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 weeks gestation. 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.. Kristian and her husband live in California and 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. She has served on the Patient Advisory Council since Spring 2021.
Trashaun Powell is a leader in human fundamental rights having over two decades of experience in State government and Nonprofit organizations. Through her near-death pregnancy experience she has been a long-standing advocate for equitable and quality maternal health for birthing people of color nationwide. Currently, Trashaun is the Vice President of Programs with the New Jersey Family Planning League, a non-profit organization committed to providing access to quality reproductive and sexual health services for all residents of New Jersey who need them, regardless of identity, income, and/or insurance status. Trashaun is passionate about issues impacting women with a primary emphasis on Black maternal health. Trashaun has advocated, amplified,
and illustrated these issues within New Jersey through the National Preeclampsia Foundation’s signature event “The Promise Walk” since 2013 raising over $25,000 in hosting fundraising events. She is currently a member of the Preeclampsia Foundation’s Racial Disparities Taskforce, Certified Patient Family Partner and Faculty with MoMMA’s Voices and uses her lived experience to move the work forward to improve outcomes of the maternal mortality health crisis.
A New Jersey native, Trashaun earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Stockton University and Master of Arts degree from Thomas Edison University. Trashaun is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. She is a long-standing Girl Scout and Dedicated Troop Leader. She is happily married to her wonderful husband of over 10 years, and they are the proud parents of two wonderful and energetic children. Trashaun is a proven leader who is committed to the vision that social
equity and liberation must align.
She joined the Preeclampsia Foundation Patient Advisory Council in September 2023.
Mavis Stephens is an Army veteran who 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. Though originally from Georgia, she 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 six surgeries and very intense follow-ups. (Read her story in the NIH website.)
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. She has served on the Patient Advisory Council since December 2019.
Shakima “Kima” Tozay is a bereaved mom, preeclampsia and stillbirth survivor, writer, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and military veteran. After the death of her son Jaxson in 2017, she has dedicated herself to supporting BIPOC families impacted by pregnancy and infant loss. She and a group of bereaved moms in her state were instrumental in passing the Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth legislation that became law in 2021. Kima is driven by the belief that everyone deserves high-quality maternal healthcare.
She’s passionate about health equity and advocating for policy changes that can help make this a reality. In addition to her work on the third Washington State Maternal Mortality Review Panel, Kima was appointed Snohomish County Children’s Commission Commissioner. Through the Preeclampsia Foundation's MoMMA’s Voices program, she raises awareness about the effects of preeclampsia and pregnancy and infant loss for women of color by sharing her story.
When she’s not working, Kima enjoys hiking, writing, and going on road trips with her family. She finds peace walking along rocky beaches, writing Jaxson’s name in the sand, and listening to the waves crashing against the shore. She joined the Preeclampsia Foundation Patient Advisory Council in May 2023.
In 2016, when she was just shy of 31 weeks pregnant and after expressing many concerns, Stephanie was diagnosed with missed preeclampsia. Expressing her concern, her OBGYN referred her to a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist as a peace of mind visit, that quickly turned into an action plan to save the lives of her and her unborn daughter. From her second trimester until her daughter’s birth, she was dismissed as having “normal” symptoms of pregnancy, i.e., hyperemesis, headaches, elevated blood pressures, extreme swelling, and later visual disturbances). She owes her life to the MFM who diagnosed the preeclampsia and admitted her for a scheduled cesarean section that week after discovering dangerously low fluid levels of her baby. Her daughter was born premature at 31 weeks 3 days and spent 4 weeks in the NICU. Stephanie was sent home a few days after the birth and was sent home from two Emergency Rooms with all of the classic symptoms of post-partum preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. After begging to be readmitted to hospital almost a week after the birth, the Hospitalist diagnosed her with HELLP syndrome, and she fought for her life in the ICU.
This was an extremely overwhelming time for Stephanie as a new mom, being separated from her daughter by two floors until she was well enough to visit the NICU. It is important for her to support families who are going through similar situations, not only for the physical, but mental toll that comes with this disorder. Her goal is to sit beside you, listen, and be your advocate.
Stephanie immediately joined social media groups such as the Preeclampsia Foundation, HELLP Syndrome Survivors, and Near Miss Survivors to find others like her who had battled post-partum HELLP, and were not being heard. She attended her first Preeclampsia Foundation Summit in 2018 in Chicago IL, and this fueled her fire for change. From that day forward, she set her passion and purpose at the forefront. As a maternal health ambassador, Stephanie works closely with many organizations such as Mom Congress, 2020 Mom, MoMMA’s Voices, and the Preeclampsia Foundation, using her story to help others in realizing they are not alone, and that we have the ability to move mountains when we work together. She has passed legislation at both the state and federal levels and continues to join fellow ambassadors annually at Congress. Joining forces with the Preeclampsia Foundation, Stephanie has been invited to speak at the Indianapolis Promise walk, and the honor to speak alongside CEO Elenis Tsigas at the Indiana AWHONN meeting in 2019. She leads a team annually at the Chicago March of Dimes in her preemie daughters name, and supports Northwest Indiana hospitals with awareness and education, representing the patient perspective.
Stephanie sits on the Indiana Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative (IPQIC) and is a co-author of the new hypertensive toolkit. She works closely with the Indiana State Department of Health, their Commissioner, and Governor on new initiatives such as the OB Navigator Program in efforts to lower the states maternal mortality and morbidity rates. Although she survived and is called a near miss, she knows that our stories do not end there, that the cure is not birth, and that we have so much work to do in maternal health. Maternal mental health as well as physical health go hand in hand, and with the help of the Preeclampsia Foundation and their initiatives, she strongly believes we can make a better future for mothers and babies. Her daughter is now a happy, healthy, and thriving 4-year-old, yet Stephanie still suffers from long term complications. Her work is not only therapeutic but brings a purpose and passion to her life that she has never known.
Stephanie has a master’s degree in Business Administration and is currently working towards a Doctorate in Business Administration from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She works as an Associate Professor at Ivy Tech Valparaiso and is extremely involved in her community. Stephanie has been awarded 20 under 40 in Business of Northwest Indiana and has been nominated for Up and Coming Influential Woman of the Year for the not-for-profit sector of NWIIWA. She is currently working on her first book. Stephanie has served on the Patient Advisory Council since March 2021.
Jennifer was diagnosed with postpartum preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome in 2015. One week after having her daughter, she was re-hospitalized due to the diagnoses and spent a week in the hospital fighting to make sure that she would be here for her newborn daughter and husband. Jennifer had all the classic signs of preeclampsia before birth, but feels that these symptoms were overlooked, until Jennifer advocated for herself, and her doctors finally investigated it.
In 2016, Jennifer attended the first Patient Advocate training held by the Preeclampsia Foundation in Orlando, Florida. Jennifer learned the skills needed to be a patient advocate and tell her story to others. Since attending the training, Jennifer has worked with Baby Cafes in Buffalo, NY to work with expecting and new mothers to help them identify any signs and symptoms of hypertensive emergencies in pregnancy or the postpartum period.
In 2018, Jennifer attended the HAPPEN workshop held by the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard in Boston, MA. Jennifer met with survivors and practitioners to discuss heart health and what happens after preeclampsia. Jennifer was a co-author of a published white paper discussing what the HAPPEN workshop was, the outcomes, and what practitioners providing services to women who had a hypertensive emergency in pregnancy need to know and look for.
Jennifer has a master’s degree in Counseling and is about to become a Certified Paralegal. She currently works in the Juvenile Justice system, specifically in the family courts. She also is a leader in her Union, being a member of the Executive Board. Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, which includes her daughter, husband, and 4 fur babies! Jennifer volunteers for an animal rescue and fosters puppies until they can find their forever home. Jennifer also strives to make sure that women and their families know about the symptoms of hypertensive emergencies, as well as advocating for women’s health after preeclampsia.
Jennifer Voelker has been a member of the Preeclampsia Foundation Patient Advisory Board since September 2021.