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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Keith James

Keith James Profile Photo Driftwood, Texas

I lost my grandmother from COPD (Emphysema) when I was ten years old. I watched my grandmother progressively get worse over the years and as a small child I didn’t understand why. My grandmother was in stage IV with a FEV1 of 27%. My last memory of her was in ICU on the ventilator. I held her hand and told her I would fight this disease so other families wouldn’t have to go through what our family did. I dedicated my life from that day forward to bring COPD awareness to families and friends. I’ve developed many novel medical modalities over the years to help patients with COPD and I have participated in several clinical studies to understand the importance of exercise with COPD patients to improve their quality of life.

My greatest accomplishment has been being asked by the Wounded Warrior Foundation to take one of our countries heroes, from Viet Nam era, to his class reunion at West Point. Our veteran was unable to walk greater than 10 feet at a time without becoming SOB. Our veteran wanted to be able to walk across the stage at West Point and receive an award that was given to him by his classmates with dignity. At the time, I was with a company that created a one pound wearable ventilator that was uniquely designed to provide positive pressure that significantly increased patient’s tidal volumes and improved ventilation. Our war hero was able to walk across the stage and accept his award and give a short speech to the crowded room full of decorated soldiers, family, and friends.

As State Captain I hope to bring awareness to COPD and have Texas lead other states for having the most support and raised the most money.

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Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis Profile Photo Adairsville, Georgia

I lost my grandfather and father due to COPD. My father passed November 2013. He lived a very good, long, happy life for about 20 years after being diagnosed even with his struggles. Since my father passed, I have become an advocate and have a passion to help raise awareness. I am here to help, educate, advocate, support and to continue learning about COPD; hoping one day for a cure.

As State Captain, I am here to help support and raise awareness about COPD; hoping one day for a cure.

My proudest COPD moment was becoming one of Georgia's State Captains

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Joe Morrison

Joe Morrison Profile Photo Flemington, NJ

I became aware of COPD because my dad and my mother in law are living with COPD. I’m a COPD Advocate because I wanted to help make a difference for the 30 million Americans with COPD and I want to reach the 12 million Americans who are currently undiagnosed. Together we can help people live better, healthier, and longer lives!!!

As a State Captain I want to help improve the lives of people living with COPD in New Jersey by enacting change that directly affects health outcomes. I have worked directly with my local congressman, participated in advocacy events in Washington, DC and worked to encourage others to get involved. I also started a new organization to promote lung health throughout the racing community called Right2Breathe.

My proudest COPD moment is participating in the creation of the National COPD Action Plan would be one of the moments that I feel has the potential to have the greatest impact.

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Lisa Melvin

Lisa Melvin Profile Photo Fayetteville, North Carolina

As State Captain I hope to bring awareness to my community as well as my state.

My proudest COPD moment was becoming North Carolina’s State Captain.

My inspiration to share is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

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Deb Daro

Deb Daro Profile Photo Metuchen, New Jersey

I am a patient.

By becoming a COPD State Captain, I hope to raise awareness in order to help raise funding for research. Ultimately it is about a cure.

Knowing how much exercise has helped me, I want as many people as possible to get up and moving again.

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Margaret Bate

Margaret Bate Profile Photo Alief, Texas

My father had COPD. I was his caregiver and coordinated his care in our family and his many health care providers. I shared in many of his hospital & ER trips including hospitalizations due to his COPD exacerbations. I experienced with desperation “Code Blue” calls on him while hospitalized. My hope for quality of life for him without COPD increased my determination to educate others about this deadly disease that does not have a cure yet but can be managed with proper treatments.

As State Captain I hope to educate COPDers, family, friends, and policymakers.

My proudest COPD moment was being a caregiver to my parents, especially my father who had COPD.

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Jim and Mary Nelson

Jim and Mary Nelson Profile Photo Tucson, Arizona

As State Captain I hope to raise awareness, use our story to educate, to inspire, and to support lung disease patients and their caregivers in their quest to achieve a decent quality of life.

Jim’s proudest COPD moment is surviving! Having the fortitude necessary to remain healthy enough to qualify for a double lung transplant at the age of 71.

Mary’s proudest COPD moment is not a particular moment but I am proudest of my capability to maintain a positive attitude the vast majority fo the time throughout my husband’s illness, his near death, his transplant and recovery, and the years of advocacy since.

Some of our advocacy work has included, travelling to 10 national or state conferences to present information and inspirational talks on living with lung disease, travelled to London, England to speak to a COPD conference, participated in COPD Action Plan working group in Bethesda, Maryland, have written many articles for COPD360 as well as other online support groups. I have served as an executive board member of EFFORTS, have served as Southern Arizona Advocate for the American Lung Association, and have been featured in numerous articles in national publications, including the COPD Digest, Costco Connection, and others. I’ve taught classes to rehab patient and caregivers to RT students, to pharmacy students, and to hospice volunteers. I maintain an online blog of articles and videos that my wife (caregiver) and I have produced. We also counsel patients, caregivers and potential transplant recipients in person, by phone, and through email. I have met with Representative Raul Grijalva and we have talked with him and his executive assistant at length about COPD awareness. We also presented Grijalva with an award for his participation in the COPD Caucus.

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Kim Saunders

Kim Saunders Profile Photo Wellston, Michigan

As State Captain I hope to raise awareness about COPD and help those newly diagnosed get help.

My proudest COPD moment is that I have gotten five people to quit smoking. One has slipped back but has begun working on quitting again.

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Rita Newman

Rita Newman Profile Photo Sherwood, Arkansas

I have been a respiratory therapist for over 30 years and have been involved most of that time with critical care therapy but always caring for COPD patients. I now teach COPD education to the patients, which has opened a completely new avenue for me. I want to get more advocates involved in COPD awareness, so we can create more attention to this disease and hopefully increase funding for research.

As State Captain I hope to get more people involved with COPD advocacy and to get more information out to patients in the community to help educate them so they can better take care of their disease.

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Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe Profile Photo Nashville, Tennessee

I am a Respiratory Therapist.

I want to be a State Captain because, I see so many pt that do not have the right medicines, and education about their disease, I want to increase the knowledge that these pt's get.

My proudest COPD moment is when I make sure I sit and talk with my pt's and many of them at the end tell me, :I did not know that, Thank You."

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Shereen Bailey

Shereen Bailey Profile Photo Miamisburg, Ohio

I am a COPD advocate because I know so many who suffer from this disease could have a much better quality of life if we could only reach them. Almost everyone has, or knows someone who suffers from COPD, yet it is not talked about like so many other diseases. The paradigm need to change, and I want to help change it.

As State Captain I hope to change the perception that their isn’t much that can be done to change the quality of life for someone that has COPD.

My proudest COPD moment happened with a patient I had been caring for with severe COPD named John. When I first started caring for him, he was so short of breath and weak it was difficult for him to even get out of bed. We worked extensively on breathing retraining, pulmonary rehab, relaxation techniques, and disease education. My proudest COPD moment was when John stopped by to visit several weeks after he had discharged home. We were walking down the hall together. He had his portable oxygen concentrator over his shoulder and was laughing at me, because he was walking so quickly, I was struggling to keep up. It struck me at that moment that the work we do for these patients really do have the ability to change their entire lives dramatically.

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Char Raley

Char Raley Profile Photo Sioux Falls, South Dakota

As State Captain I hope to help COPD patients in any way I can.

My proudest COPD moment was working with a patient who has improved his lifestyle by quitting smoking, taking medications as ordered, wearing his BiPap, and exercising. He is now leading a much more fulfilled life.

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