Last Updated on Monday, January 23, 2017

Eleni Z Tsigas

Executive Director

Eleni Z. Tsigas is the Executive Director of the Preeclampsia Foundation. As a preeclampsia survivor herself, Eleni is a relentless champion for the improvement of patient and provider education and practices, for the catalytic role that patients can have to advance the science and status of maternal-infant health, and for the progress that can be realized by building global partnerships to improve patient outcomes.

She has served as a technical advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) and participated in the Hypertension in Pregnancy Task Force created by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to develop the national guidelines introduced in 2013, as well as a similar task force for the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC). Eleni also serves on behalf of the Preeclampsia Foundation as a voting member of the Council on Patient Safety in Women's Health Care, the Patient Advisory Board of IMPROvED (IMproved PRegnancy Outcomes via Early Detection), Ireland, and the Technical Advisory Group and Knowledge Translation Committee for PRE-EMPT (funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). Eleni is frequently engaged as an expert representing the consumer perspective on preeclampsia at national and international meetings, and has been honored to deliver keynote addresses for several professional healthcare providers' societies.

Eleni has colloborated in numerous research studies, has authored invited chapters and papers in peer-reviewed journals, and is the Principal Investigator for The Preeclampsia Registry.

A veteran of public relations, she has secured media coverage about preeclampsia in national consumer magazines, as well as newspapers, radio and online. Eleni previously spent 8 years executing and managing strategic communications and public relations for technology and biotech companies with Waggener Edstrom Worldwide and for 6 years prior in the television industry.

Prior to serving as Executive Director, she served in a variety of volunteer capacities for the organization, including six years on the Board of Directors, two as its chairman. Working with dedicated volunteers, board members and professional staff, Eleni has helped lead the Foundation to its current position as a sustainable, mission-driven, results-oriented organization.

She is married, and has had two of her three pregnancies seriously impacted by preeclampsia. 

Hugh Mackrell

Acting Director of Finance and Operations

Hugh Mackrell oversees the administration of the Foundation, including finance, HR and IT departments, providing strong day-to-day leadership for all staff, and bridging national and local operations. He has extensive experience in professional services, government contracting and information technologies for both small and large companies. He also brings to the Foundation over twenty years of experience in public accounting and auditing, federal contracting, strategic planning, IPO's, financial transactions, operations and mergers and acquisitions.

He most recently served as CFO for a mid-sized Brevard County, FL professional services government contractor providing services to the U.S. Navy until the company was sold in 2003.

From 1999 to 2008, Mr Mackrell was COO and CFO for Jefferson Consulting Group, a Washington DC based government relations, lobbying, contracting and public relations firm. His areas of expertise and responsibility included strategic planning, financial management, administration and information technology.

Prior positions also included operational and financial oversight and reorganization to maximize efficiencies, effectiveness and growth. Hugh also spent ten years with Deloitte & Touche, responsible for all aspects of client relationships, service delivery, and practice development for clients in the public, private and non-profits sectors, varying in size from start-up to large, and multi-national companies.

Hugh received a B.S. degree in Accounting, summa cum laude, from the University of Maryland. He is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.


Debbie Helton

Director of Marketing and Communications

With a passion for health care and patient advocacy, Debbie Helton brings more than 20 years of experience to her role as the Foundation's Director of Marketing and Communications. Before joining the Foundation, Debbie worked with Health First, a four-hospital system and insurance company based in Brevard County, Florida -- also home to the Foundation. While there, Debbie served as Health First's Corporate Director of Marketing and Communications, and helped launch and grow multiple programs and services, including the Birthing Suites and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Holmes Regional Medical Center and Obstetrics Unit at Cape Canaveral Hospital. Debbie later served in a patient advocacy role as Manager of Patient Relations and Volunteer Services at the system's newest hospital, Health First Viera Hospital.

Debbie is a Certified Public Relations Counselor by the Florida Public Relations Association and completed a year-long Integrative Medicine Fellowship with the renowned Kaiser Institute. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in Journalism and specialty in Advertising and Public Relations.


Alina Brewer

Research Coordinator

Alina brings a diverse background of implementing research initiatives in a variety of medical fields. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Studies from Brigham Young University-Hawaii and started her career in research in 2007 enrolling participants for a genetic Scoliosis study. Since then, she has coordinated participant enrollment, interfaced with physicians and institutional review boards, and developed study websites and patient communications for several studies including a variety of pediatric motor disorders (such as spinal muscular atrophy), degenerative disc disease, and also worked for a non-profit organization on the start up of a Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Pre-Term Labor study. Alina cares deeply about research and the positive outcomes for families and individuals that can result from the efforts of both researchers and participants. She has a passion for helping others and feels fortunate to work with women and families affected by preeclampsia with the goal of advancing our knowledge of this poorly understood disorder.


Kelly Breese

Accounting Manager

Kelly Breese is responsible for handling the fundamental aspects of the Preeclampsia Foundation's financial record keeping, including recording financial transactions and managing accounts payable and receivable. She has over 17 years experience in the accounting field, primarily working in the private sector as CFO for a regional telecommunications company.  Kelly received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance in 2000 at the California State University, Sacramento.  Kelly moved from California to Florida in 2011 with her husband and three children, and has been an active volunteer with various local elementary and middle schools.   She is excited about making a difference in the lives of women and children by supporting the mission of the Preeclampsia Foundation.


Sara Gauthier

National Events Manager

Sara Gauthier is the National Events Manager for the Preeclampsia Foundation’s Promise Walk for Preeclampsia™ signature event. With an extensive background in training across the United States for both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, Sara is honored that the majority of her work is spent coaching and working alongside amazing volunteer leaders and community partners to raise funds and awareness for the Foundation's mission. She has been with the Foundation for three years, previously serving as the Donor Relations Coordinator.

Sara has a B.F.A. degree in dance from Western Michigan University, and is currently taking courses in Non-Profit Management through the University of Montana. She has two children, enjoys exercising and traveling, and is passionate about the mission of the Preeclampsia Foundation.


Jessica Lieber

Program Assistant

Jessica Lieber is the Program Assistant for the Preeclampsia Foundation, assisting with volunteer management and administrative support.

She graduated with a degree in Nonprofit Management from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and has worked in the nonprofit field in Ohio and Florida. Before joining the Foundation staff, Jessica previously worked for a child abuse prevention center as their Director of Volunteer Programming and Marketing. She also has had experience as a volunteer coordinator at an agency that assists people in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes.

Jessica is very excited to assist with the Promise Walk for Preeclampsia and support the mission of the Preeclampsia Foundation. She hopes to help make a difference in the lives of preeclampsia survivors and their loved ones and to bring more awareness throughout the United States.

The Preeclampsia Registry

    preeclampsia registry

    The Preeclampsia Registry is a "Living Database" bringing together those affected, their family members, and researchers to advance knowledge and discover preventions and treatments for preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome, and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.

Research Resources

Research Funding

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