Meet Your State Advocacy Captains!

State Captains are volunteers with COPD, caregivers, friends and family members or healthcare providers who use their contacts and talents and partner with the COPD Foundation to serve as state and community leaders.

Captains promote the importance of becoming a part of the COPD community. They work to spread COPD awareness in their state and local areas, mentor fellow COPD community members, and participate in online and in-person grassroots advocacy and community building activities focused on health policy issues that are important to those who have COPD. To learn more about becoming a state captain in your area please email

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Karen Deitemeyer

Karen Deitemeyer Profile Photo Melbourne, Florida

I’m a COPD Advocate because I have COPD and wanted to help make a difference for the 30 million Americans with COPD. When I was growing up, it was considered “cool” to smoke cigarettes – we now know the dangers and many of us are living with COPD as a result. I want to bring awareness to the many who still use tobacco products and to the youth who may be tempted to start. As an Advocate I hope to educate Congress about our COPD Community and what we need.

As State Captain I hope to have made a difference in the lives of other diagnosed with COPD by showing them that it is possible to live well with COPD. I hope to be successful in encouraging others to join the COPD PPRN so that one day there will be a cure.

My proudest COPD moment was sharing my story at a Congressional Briefing in Washington, DC.

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Dawn Fortner

Dawn Fortner  Profile Photo Sapulpa, OK

As a Registered Respiratory Therapist and COPD Navigator, I am thrilled to apply my professional knowledge and background into the State Captain role in Oklahoma. As a State Captain, I want to be an advocate for patients and caregivers. I want to help eliminate the stigma behind the disease and create awareness. I want to be a voice for those who need it and educate others. I want to empower others to take control of their disease and give them the tools to care for themselves.

As a COPD advocate I have emailed my elected officials, spoken to my family and friends about COPD, and a host weekly support group, provide patient education, and patient advocacy. Additionally, I help to find resources for patients with COPD who are uninsured, underinsured, and help low income individuals who cannot afford their medications. I also help patients with tobacco cessation, and teach at pulmonary rehabilitation.

As a State Captain, I hope to participate and promote research opportunities to help find a cure, work with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy, and write about COPD to share my story and help raise awareness. I would also like to raise awareness by participating in local health fairs and community events.

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Linda Mullin

Linda Mullin Profile Photo Princeton, West Virginia

As an Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Defeciency/ COPD’er, it is important to get the word out about these diseases. The leaders of our state and nation have an impact on how chronic health issues are being handled. Letting officials know our current status by speaking up will hopefully help our communities in the fight for breathe. MY LIFE IS WORTHWHILE, AND SO IS YOURS! Speak up or you are never heard. The silence of voices: “A person dies in the United States every four minutes from COPD---the third largest killer.”

As State Captain I hope to raise awareness for COPD and Alpha-1 in my state, letting every individual know they are not alone.

My proudest COPD moment is helping others. Not proud for myself but of them in learning more to make their lives better. Anxiety is the fear of the unknown. Knowledge is the key factor in unlocking that fear through understand.

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Louise Hobden

Louise Hobden Profile Photo Litchfield, NH

As the first State Captain of New Hampshire, I hope to accomplish getting patients to advocate for themselves by educating themselves about COPD.

As a COPD advocate, I have emailed my elected officials, signed up for COPD 360Social, and am a member of a support group. I have also participated in wellness workshops, pulmonary rehab, and maintenance.

As a State Captain I am interested in Connecting others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives and working one on one with patients and through a support group. Additionally, I am also interested in participating and promoting research opportunities to help find a cure.

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Crystal Hiser

Crystal Hiser Profile Photo Magnolia, Delaware

As the newest State Captain from Delaware, I would love to expand upon the work I am doing with our local American Lung Association Events for awareness in community outreach. Whatever opportunities that are available to help, I am more than willing. I would love to accomplish something that I have never done before maybe participating in a Capital Awareness Day. This will be my first year as a State Captain so I am looking forward to learning new things and helping as much as possible. I hope to help elevate the care for COPD patients in my community and create public awareness of the disease.

As a COPD advocate I have emailed my elected officials and published articles about COPD in my local newsletter. Additionally, I have participated in health fairs and community events to promote COPD awareness. I have spoken to my family and friends about COPD and try to raise awareness any chance that I get.

As a State Captain, my interests include connecting others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier and fuller lives, as well as working with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD Policy. I am also interested in raising awareness by participating in health fairs and community events.

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Michele Ceuterick-Feehan

Michele Ceuterick-Feehan Profile Photo South Bend, IN

I am a daughter, sister, wife, mom, grandmother, and friend. I am that person you may look over and see at a stoplight, or pass in a store. My story is modest, I have spent the majority of my life beginning in high school participating in community volunteerism and raising my children.

I was diagnosed with emphysema in 2008 and I was terrified, left mostly on my own to try and figure out how to cope. In 2015 my Dr. gave me two years, told me to get my affairs in order, begin my goodbyes. I took a second to breakdown and feel the full weight of devastation, and then I got angry, very angry, nobody was giving me an expiration date, period. I have always during difficult times sat myself on the floor in front of a mirror and told me to get up, find my strength and move on. I’ve spent my life never accepting no, never allowing someone to tell me or anyone I loved that something could not be done, I am the consummate think outside of the box person and now I needed to find that tenacity for me.

I researched, I read, I asked a million questions. I fought for six months to get into rehab, and I went from sitting on a couch with a potty chair near, and using a walker to get around my home to completing approximately forty to sixty miles a week via treadmill and bike often using a 4% incline, I lift weights, and use tension bands, and I work out at home as well. This opportunity to make a real difference, to help people like me find hope and strength, to help change the narrative is both humbling and exciting. I am honored to be given this moment at this time in my life.

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Ken Ellis

Ken Ellis Profile Photo Kennewick, Washington

I’m a COPD Advocate because I wanted to help make a difference for the 24 million Americans with COPD. A democracy runs best with the input of its citizens so for me being an advocate is about being sure my voice is heard. As an advocate I want to make sure Congress knows who the COPD community is and what we want.

As State Captain I hope to keep the COPD community in our elected officials minds and bring a face to them.

My proudest COPD moment is when I am able to help somebody.

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Jeremy Fulmer

Jeremy Fulmer Profile Photo Bloomsburg, PA

Our respiratory therapy department is so excited to become group State Captains for Pennsylvania. As a department, and State Captains, we would like to accomplish being a resource and affiliate for the community.

As COPD advocates, we have participated in speaking to our friends and family about COPD, signing up for 360Social, and have engaged in health fairs or community events to promote COPD awareness. We have also emailed our elected officials, and participated in a COPD support group.

As State Captains, we are most interested in Raising awareness by participating in health fairs and community events, and Connecting others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives. We would also like to Host and participate in fundraisers to support my community

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Laurie Niemer

Laurie Niemer Profile Photo Harrison Township, Michigan

As State Captain I hope to bring awareness to the increasing need for education in the community and the patients affected by COPD. I would hope to be a voice for those who cannot or do not have the resources to get their story out.

My proudest COPD moment was when I was a therapist working in a Detroit hospital I took care of a man (I'll call him Mr. Smith). He was a "frequent flyer." The first time I met him I was told in "report" he was a cranky person and just "get in and get out." I was always challenged to NOT be that therapist. Mr. Smith was cranky, but he had a reason to be-- he had COPD and it was getting worse. He did this to himself from years of smoking and he was mad, mad at himself. I was determined to make him smile. Since I was new to him, he gave me a bit of a hard time, and I gave it back. We got along quite well. I sat and talked with him on my breaks, and he would even ask if I was working when he would come in so I would go visit him. I believe laughter is the best medicine, and it worked not only for him, but me too. I am not sure where Mr. Smith is today but I would hope that I brightened his day and he would smile when he thought of our visits.

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Adrian McDonald

Adrian McDonald Profile Photo Marietta, GA

My name is Adrian McDonald, and I became a Georgia Registered Respiratory Therapist in 2010. I recognized early in my career that I had a very strong desire to improve the lives of my patients, and have always operated in a manner above and beyond the standard of care. The frustration I felt during my early years came from seeing a lot of the same patients repeatedly, and feeling like there was more needing to be done to help with no clue how to do so.

It wasn't until I became a Clinical Specialist for the InCourage Vest system in 2016 that opened the doors for helping people stay out of the hospital system through education and awareness of providers and their staff. With each discussion and presentation, I quickly realized the magnitude of just how much work still needs to be done to ensure our patients are diagnosed accurately, earlier, and fully informed while given everything they need to ensure the best quality of life possible.

My life has since become dedicated to making each of those a reality for the millions of respiratory patients that need our help, and have discovered many platforms that I can volunteer my expertise, time, and support for the greater good of pulmonary patients.

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Christie Ward

Christie Ward Profile Photo Jackson, Tennessee

I am a Respiratory Therapist working as the Director of Clinical Education for an RT program in West TN. I also developed educational plans for a free COPD Disease Management Program in Jackson, TN and started a Pulmonary Rehab Program in Jackson,TN.

As a State Captain: I have just accepted a job as Director of Clinical Education for an RT program. I hope to saturate the minds of students to the importance of COPD disease management, patient and caregiver education and increase the involvement of those in our profession with community outreach and awareness.

My proudest COPD moment was hearing a group of severe COPD patients perform Amazing Grace on the Harmonica as part of Harmonicas for Health program. The reward of seeing improvement in any discouraged patient because they have been able to have an improved quality of life due to education, medication issue resolution or by participating in pulmonary rehabilitation. The Pulmonary Rehab Program we started at JMCGH dedicated the program in my honor. All of these moments make me proud.

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Jean Rommes

Jean Rommes Profile Photo Des Moines, Iowa

As State Captain I hope to represent the Foundation well as a patient advocate with every group I come in contact with. Education regarding COPD and how to live well with it is extremely important to patients; education for health professionals regarding the experience and burden of living with COPD is critical to providing complete health care to patients; and educating the public regarding air quality, tobacco cessation, and genetics is critical to gaining acceptance and support for good public policy in regard to health in general and COPD in particular. I want to be able to help in educating all those groups.

My proudest COPD moment was presenting at COPD10 in Birmingham, England in the summer of 2016.

As an advocate I am a member of MASAC, the Governing Board for PPRN, a primary investigator for RELIANCE, member of the planning committee for COPD10 and Readmissions 2017 in CT, EFFORTS board, Lung Association in Iowa Board of Directors, planning committee for Lung Force Expo in both Iowa and Nebraska.

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COPD Foundation State Captain Program Informational Video

The COPD Foundation is looking for new State Captains to join our community to be champions for promoting COPD awareness, improving quality of life for those with COPD, to participate in research opportunities, policy, and much more. Email for questions and to start the onboarding process today!