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 statecaptains@copdfoundation.org.


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Angie Brunkhardt

Angie Brunkhardt Profile Photo Haslet, Texas
ambrunk1990@att.net

As a respiratory therapist and the newest State Captain for Texas, I hope to accomplish broadening knowledge about COPD at state levels as well as in the community.

As a COPD advocate, I am a facilitator of a Better Breathers support group, I have spoken to my family and friends about COPD and I have participated in community events to promote COPD awareness. In September, I will also be taking a course to become a smoking cessation facilitator.

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

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Deborah Willis

Deborah Willis Profile Photo Waxhaw, North Carolina
northcarolina@copdfoundation.org

As State Captain I hope that I can make a difference in patient’s lives--they are so underserved.

I have been a respiratory therapist for over 28 years. This particular patient population has been overlooked for so many years. Many COPD patients have been hard-working, dedicated members of society that deserve a voice and the ability to receive many of the resources that have been made available to other patient populations. I truly believe that the more focus and attention we provide to this patient population, the better outcomes we will collectively achieve which will lead to potentially better quality of life for this underserved group./p>

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Jeremy Fulmer

Jeremy Fulmer Profile Photo Bloomsburg, PA
pennsylvania11@copdfoundation.org

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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Teena Culhane

Teena Culhane Profile Photo Royal Oak, Michigan
michigan09@copdfoundation.org

As State Captain I hope to improve access to care for patients with pulmonary disease and increasing lung health awareness.

My proudest COPD moment is happening right now. I am assisting one of our pulmonary rehab patients apply for a lung transplant. Due to his age, 73, he has been denied at over 35 transplant centers and we will not give up until we’ve applied to the remaining 35+ centers.

Some of my advocacy work includes, being a member of the Regional Leadership Council of the American Lung Association’s midland states and I am also the Legislative Co-Chair for the Michigan Society for Respiratory Care. For the past eight years I have met with the Michigan Congressional offices in DC to advocate for greater access to respiratory therapists.

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Rhonda Clover

Rhonda Clover Profile Photo Lufkin, Texas
texas01@copdfoundation.org

My COPD story is actually about my family and our struggles to fight and advocate for a cure. In most, cases if one person becomes effected by a disorder it effects everyone and ours is no exception. For 27 years my husband and I have had a small ministry gaining a reputation for our willingness to help worthy causes. We are advocates for those without a voice or struggling to survive. In order to achieve our goals it was necessary to work with pastors, politicians local, state and federal, foundations and non profits. Our motto " helping those in need and the organizations' which support them." Never my husband, daughter or I ever imagine one day, we would be on the other side of the spectrum. COPD came on my radar when my step mother and mother in law were both diagnosed within months of each other. My step mother lost her battle with COPD only a few short years later. My mother in law, she has suffered many years with COPD and it's crippling effects. She has been a pillar of strength even in the worst of times.

As State Captain I hope to bridge the gap of understanding between those affected by lung disease, medical professionals, media and elected officials is immensely rewarding. As a COPD State Captain, nothing makes me prouder than to know those initiatives were met & people were positively impacted

My proudest COPD moments evolve around reaching out to support other Captains accomplish their goals and knowing makes a difference for those affected by COPD.

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Diane Cameron

Diane Cameron Profile Photo Webster, New York
newyork@copdfoundation.org

As State Captain I hope to encourage airlines to streamline the forms necessary to fly with oxygen. Every airline has had a different required form to fly. Southwest has just made this requirement unnecessary. Others need to follow so people with COPD can travel. We also need to make the state laws more uniform fro being able to have infusions. They are all different.

My proudest COPD moment was receiving the Dennis Pollack Award for advocacy at the local, state, and national levels in June 2013 at the National Alpha-1 Conference.

Some of my advocacy work includes, being an Alpha-1 Support Group Leader for five years, I train pharmaceutical reps, participate in ride alongs to pulmonologist offices, attended 8 Alpha-1 National Conferences, obtained a New York Alpha-1 Proclamation, advocated in Washington, DC for respiratory therapists, attended Alpha-1 Education Days, spoken at respiratory conferences, spoken at respiratory conferences, educated people about oxygen use, participated in the George Washington Bridge Walk for Alpha-1, Celtic Connection for Alpha-1, Federal level meeting about Alpha-1,k shared brother/sister Alpha-1 journey, teamed with the American Lung Association, and spoken to several Better Breather Groups and Pulmonary Health Fairs. I have been with State Representative Johns and State Senator Nizzolio along with Federal Drug Administration officials in Washington, DC.

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Victor Eckstein

Victor Eckstein Profile Photo Jasper, IN
vicellie@aol.com

As a patient, I am looking forward to using my perspective, and sharing my insights with others as a State Captain for Indiana.As a State Captain I hope to help other COPD patients have a better life through education.

As a COPD advocate I have called, emailed, and met with my local officials. I have written letters to local papers about COPD, been active on 360Social, and have participated in COPD research opportunities such as the COPD PPRN. I have also been active in my local support group, spread awareness about COPD through talking to my family, friends, and community members.

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Christie Ward

Christie Ward Profile Photo Jackson, Tennessee
Tennessee08@copdfoundation.org

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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Nancy Wall

Nancy Wall Profile Photo Grandville, Michigan
nancy.speedsong@gmail.com

As a respiratory therapist and State Captain for Michigan, I hope to accomplish improving the quality of life of the COPD patients that I serve by implementing proven strategies, and I hope to raise awareness of the disease with the general public. Also, to become knowledgeable about available resources and to use my decades of experience in any way possible to promote research and aid in finding a cure.

As a COPD advocate, I facilitate the Better Breather’s Club and a Harmonica’s for Health Program. I also am a member of a support group, have spoken to my family and friends about COPD, and have signed up for.

As a State Captain, I hope to connect others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives and work with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy, I would also like to raise awareness by participating in health fairs and community events and write about COPD to share my story and help raise awareness.

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Kelle Oestreich

Kelle Oestreich Profile Photo Bucyrus, KS
koestrei@jccc.edu

As a respiratory therapist, and the first state captain from Kansas, I hope to accomplish utilizing my experience and knowledge of evidence-based strategies to address the current health care disparities in COPD. I am passionate about quality health care and would like to decrease the disease burden for COPD patients through advocacy and education.

As a State Captain, I am most interested in connecting others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives, and working with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy. I would also like to raise awareness by participating in health fairs and community events, and write about COPD to share my story and help raise awareness.

My proudest COPD moment has been when patients thank me for taking the time to educate them on their condition.

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Wendy J. Linscott

Wendy J. Linscott Profile Photo Albuquerque, NM
NewMexico16@copdfoundation.org

As a respiratory therapist and COPD Educator, I am excited to join the COPD Foundation State Captain Program for New Mexico.As a State Captain, I would like to improve the education and knowledge base of COPD for clinicians and all healthcare professionals involved in the care and treatment of COPD patients in order to ensure appropriate diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for early diagnosis and treatment resulting in improved quality of life for the COPD population.

As a COPD Advocate I have called, emailed, and met with my state officials. I have also participated in health fairs and community events to promote COPD awareness, am a member of a local support group, and am a certified COPD Educator.

As a State Captain, I am looking forward to connecting others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives. Additionally, I would like to Work with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy and participate in COPD Education for early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

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Toni Caldwell

Toni Caldwell Profile Photo North Wales, PA
toniere.caldwell@jefferson.edu

As a State Captain for Pennsylvania, an RRT and a COPD Educator, I would like to increase community awareness of COPD, educate my patients about their disease & symptom management. I would also like to learn about what resources are out in the community for my patients.

As a COPD advocate I have educated RNs, aides, case manager, social workers, and physical & occupational therapists on COPD medication, disease and symptom management.

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, as well as working with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy. I would also like to host and participate in fundraisers to support my community, and to raise awareness by participating in health fairs and community events.

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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 statecaptains@copdfoundation.org for questions and to start the onboarding process today!