Meet Your COPD Foundation Captains!

COPD Foundation 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. If you are interested in joining our group of volunteers, click here.

If you'd like to speak with a COPD Foundation Captain directly, please email and we will connect you with the Captain in your area of interest.

Search for a COPD Foundation Captain


To search by keyword(s), simply type the words in the search box and click Search.

To search for a specific phrase, enter the phrase within quotation marks and click Search.

To filter by State, sledct a state from the drop down above the search box.

Kimberly Pianko

Kimberly Pianko Profile Photo Wixom, MI

I am a registered respiratory therapist in Michigan and Florida. I have previous experience in the hospital, skilled nursing and pulmonary rehabilitation settings (owner and therapist), clinical site for respiratory students with Oakland Community College, partner with the COPD Foundation's "Circles" program, as well as having been the program owner/ manager for a home COPD/asthma education program later named "Catching A Breath" for Meridian Medicaid HMO contracting for over thirteen years. This program, as well as pulmonary rehabilitation taught patients how to recognize and self-manage their lung disease more affectively leading to a healthier lifestyle and reduced hospital readmissions and thus reduced insurance costs. This program won an award with the Michigan Association of Health Plans. I have gained a unique skill set in that not only was I able to teach and help patients, but I was able to advocate to Meridian Medicaid, physicians, senior citizens and the community about lung disease, pulmonary rehabilitation and the importance of understanding the disease process, exercise, support and resources along with insurance reform. In fact, my advocacy consists of enhancing the home COPD program with Meridian from 5 counties in Michigan to the entire state and Illinois. I will be using this background to continue to advocate and share knowledge about lung disease. The COPD Foundation is a wonderful organization and platform to partner with to be able to advocate and educate. I look forward to the opportunity.

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Tom Manges

Tom Manges Profile Photo Donora, PA

My name is Tom Manges. I have been married to my wife, Renee, for 26 years and I will be her caregiver when she gets her double lung transplant. I have been driving a semi for 30 years now, and my goal is to spread as much awareness as I can with my semi and the pamphlets I have and to grasp more knowledge from the COPD Foundation team to help others that are fighting this.

My favorite saying is “Communication is the foundation to success.”

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Terra Thanadabouth

Terra Thanadabouth Profile Photo Nampa, ID

I have been a respiratory therapist for 19 years and a pulmonary educator since 2021. This has allowed me to meet and work with people affected by COPD and their families on a daily basis. I have been impressed, and dismayed, by the impact COPD has on every aspect of a person’s life.

I’m so excited for an opportunity to be a COPD state captain. As a state captain, I will be part of change and the opportunity to help advocate for people with COPD, provide education for the community about COPD so we can all better treat and understand individuals suffering from COPD, and provide a link between medical care and community resources. I am passionate about helping people learn the tools they need to better manage their COPD so they can live a life filled with the best possible quality.

My proudest accomplishment is my daughter. She inspires me to rise and to face any challenges that I may face. She reminds me that obstacles are meant to help us grow and push us to think outside the box. 

Quote “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

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Debbie Carter

Debbie Carter Profile Photo NC, Morrisville

It is an honor to be a part of this community. As a COPD Foundation Captain, I will serve as a dedicated advocate, drawing from personal experience as a family member of someone, my father, affected by COPD. My father fought a valiant yet exhaustive fight against this disease until his transition on October 11, 2023.

My father’s passing has become the catalyst and driving force for me to connect with family members and caregivers of those living with COPD to bring awareness and resources to help their loved ones live healthier lives until a cure is found.

I am interested in engaging in advocacy efforts to raise awareness about COPD, its challenges, and the importance of support and resources. I am also interested in participating in advocacy efforts to influence legislation that supports COPD research, access to treatment, and improved healthcare policies.

My proudest moment is answering the call to become active in this community to honor my father.

I have several inspirational quotes that I live by, but this is the one I often lead with, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela.

More about me: I am an avid reader and have been a part of a book club for over ten years. We are known as The Reading Divas! I love to travel and enjoy taking road trips with my travel buddy to visit all 50 states. I have 17 more to go! I find great fulfillment in volunteering and impacting people’s lives for the greater good.

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Emma Goebel

Emma Goebel Profile Photo Hewitt, NJ

I’m incredibly honored to be able to join the COPD Foundation! I am an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, working in Pulmonary Disease/Critical Care with an inpatient and outpatient population. Having the experience in treating these individuals, I hope to use my skills to advocate for further support and education for those living with COPD to improve quality of life and understanding of the disease.

I have 5 years of experience at the bedside as a critical care RN and transitioned to an Acute Care NP about two years ago. I have worked in the pulmonary clinic seeing patients with COPD daily & helping achieve stability of their chronic condition. In addition to this, I also treat the inpatient population with COPD exacerbations and ensure prior to discharge they are stable and ready to return home with quick clinic follow up to prevent hospital readmissions.

As a COPD Foundation Captain, I am interested in being in the loop with the most recent endeavors the COPD Foundation has been taking on. I am hoping that by learning what the COPD Foundation has to offer, I can connect my patients with more resources to help them improve their quality of life and support their chronic condition.

My proudest COPD moment has been recognizing that not all treatments are created equal, and listening to the patient and educating the patient on their condition is KEY to ensuring the correct fit of treatment for the disease and longevity of compliance with treatment.

My favorite inspirational quote is “You’ll always try your best to do the right thing.”

I hope to use the COPD Foundation as an extra resource for my patients & will strive to give the best care I can to them on a daily basis.

Emma Goebel, DNP, ACNPC-AG, CCRN

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Kristen Richards

Kristen Richards Profile Photo Hawesville, KY

Hello Everyone!

I recently accepted a position within my organization as a COPD Clinical Program Specialist with experience as a Respiratory Therapist. Throughout my career, I have cared for numerous COPD patients in the emergency department, critical care, and now as a clinical program specialist. Being able to advocate and bring awareness to these patients is what’s most important to me in this role.

As a COPD Foundation Captain, I look forward to working with others to identify tools and resources that I can utilize with patients I visit throughout the hospital to help them better manage their disease process, hence reducing the risk of readmission.

When I'm not working, I like to go shopping, travel, and spend time with my family. The thing I am most proud of in life is my family; they inspire me and motivate me to reach my full potential.

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”- Ronald Reagan

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Loretta Anderson

Loretta Anderson Profile Photo Arkadelphia, AR

I am a passionate respiratory therapist with a decade of experience and excited to volunteer as a COPD Captain. My inspiration for this role comes from watching my grandfather's battle with COPD, which has left me with a deep sense of compassion for those facing similar challenges.

As a COPD Captain, I aim to raise awareness in my community and empower individuals living with COPD. I firmly believe that understanding the disease and learning to self-manage are crucial steps toward improving the quality of life for those affected.

One of my most cherished childhood memories is walking with my grandfather, who took proactive steps to exercise his lungs after his COPD diagnosis. Witnessing his determination and responsibility was truly inspiring.

"Don't forget to breathe! In and out!" – This Sesame Street quote serves as my favorite piece of advice and a guiding principle in my role as a respiratory therapist. I aim to instill this mindfulness in those I assist as a COPD Captain in Arkansas. Leveraging my expertise as a Registered Respiratory Therapist and Critical Care Specialist, I hope to create a sense of community and empowerment among those impacted by COPD in Arkansas. Together, we will face the challenges, one breath at a time.

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Felix Reyes

Felix Reyes Profile Photo Tucson, AZ

Hello everyone, I am a Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, who provides direct patient care to patients suffering from COPD. My interest in COPD began early in my medical training, and throughout different research projects my interest turned into a passion.

Being a companion to many patients in their COPD journey has taught me the multiple difficulties COPD patients face in attempting to live a normal life. As a COPD Foundation Captain, my two main objectives are to raise awareness and advocating for relevant topics for those suffering of COPD. I am also interested in bringing the newest research in the field of COPD to the State of Arizona.

My proudest moment is when I am able to make an impact in the quality of life of my patients.

In my free time, I enjoy working out and reading long novels.

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Laurene (Lauri) Bianchi

Laurene (Lauri) Bianchi Profile Photo River Grove, Illinois

As a State Captain for Illinois and patient advocate, I hope to accomplish with understanding and compassion for those struggling with COPD by passing on valuable information through education and resources... and fellow COPD patients who have learned from others over time, to help improve and adapt to living a better life, living with COPD.

When I was diagnosed, close to 20 years ago I had never heard of COPD and there was very little information available.

After learning about the COPD Foundation and attending pulmonary rehab a new world of knowledge opened up for me... and I wasn’t alone, as there were others just like me. And we continue to move forward since those early days of confusion.

As a COPD advocate I have participated in health fairs and community events promoting COPD awareness.

I have worked and continue to work with PPRN which is, the Patient Powered Research Network which works to one day help us all.

One of our respiratory therapists with the COPD Foundation came up with a terrific and fun way to help us practicing better breathing. We were taught to play a harmonica. It was a great idea and continues to live. I and six others played with a support group a few years ago and actually did a little traveling around to inspire others, even though we didn’t sound so great... we did inspire and had a lot of fun.

I enjoy and learn a lot in our Oxygen360 support group for those of us who use oxygen. We help each other and always learn something new from our leader who is extremely informative.

I have been in training to become a Peer Group Coach to support newly diagnosed COPD patients adjust to pulmonary rehab along with the hope they will understand how valuable exercise and learning how to be an advocate for their own health... and by learning how to help ourselves lead a fuller and purposeful life is my goal for me and others.

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Dr. Rajkumar Ganesan

Dr. Rajkumar Ganesan Profile Photo Tamil Nadu, India

Hi! I am Dr. Rajkumar Ganesan, and I am glad to join a great group of advocates with the COPD Foundation! I was born and raised in Tamil Nadu, India, I am cardiopulmonary physiotherapist with special interest in Pulmonary Rehabilitation. I hope to achieve my goal of raising COPD awareness and improving the daily activities of COPD patients by promoting Pulmonary rehabilitation, which will improve the quality of life in people living with lung disease, and I want to broaden the conversation about COPD.

As a Captain, I am interested in connecting others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives and to improve their quality of life. I would also like to raise awareness by participating in health fairs and community events via COPD360social.

My favourite quote is “Keep breathing. Just keep doing it. It’s easy. In and out.” - Jenny Downham.

I am very grateful to be a part of this experience.

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Sally Mims

Sally Mims Profile Photo Saginaw, MI

Hello I’m Sally. I’m a retired manager/social worker. My job was working with people who had mental illness and or substance abuse issues. My work was with kids as young as 8 to a 72 year old. It was very difficult, yet rewarding at the same time. I enjoyed advocating for the rights of individuals to be treated no differently than if they had a physical condition.

One day I was working and the next I found myself on disability with breathing difficulties. It was later diagnosed as COPD. I had emphysema I was told. Even though I had smoked for years I had quit for 15. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought I had quit in time to thwart off the consequences of smoking. But, I had not. I went from being physically active to having trouble being short of breath. This was/is my new normal!

Now I advocate for lung health and lung disease especially COPD. I try to educate people about lung disease and how it affects peoples daily life. I try to be an example of living my best life with a disease that has no cure. I have been given many opportunities to learn from others and that’s what I want to achieve with my life as an example of what to do once diagnosed.

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Leizel Trinidad Jacobsen

Leizel Trinidad Jacobsen Profile Photo Henderson, NV

Hi there! I'm so excited and proud to be a Captain for the COPD Foundation!

I was born and raised in the Philippines, but Las Vegas has been my 2nd home since 1996. I was raised by my grandparents, with my grandma diagnosed with COPD. I experienced firsthand the seriousness of having to deal with this condition. It was not easy for her—and it wasn't always easy being around her because of the way she was affected by it. But it made me realize how important it is to educate yourself about COPD and find ways to manage its symptoms.

Since then, I've been working as a respiratory therapist for 10 years. I love helping people who are dealing with COPD—and now that I'm a Captain with the COPD Foundation, I get to do that even more. It's an honor to be able to offer support, coaching, and encouragement to those who need it most.

As a COPD Foundation Captain, my mission is to connect as many people as possible to the COPD community so they can learn about how this disease affects them and their family members, as well as offer them resources so they can live healthier and fuller lives. I also hope to do more work in raising awareness events and hosting fundraisers to support our community.

I am a Christian who believes in the inherent goodness within each person; we all have something special that we can offer others if we only look for it! My passion is to provide encouragement to individuals so that they may pursue their goals with faithfulness and purpose.

My favorite inspirational quote comes from one of my own, "An act of goodwill is always rewarded. A good gesture is always appreciated."

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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!