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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Jean Rommes

Jean Rommes Profile Photo Des Moines, Iowa
jmrommes@gmail.com

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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Marshall Swanson

Marshall Swanson Profile Photo Kronenwetter, Wisconsin
MarPaul2@msn.com

My goal in life is to make as many people as possible aware of the importance of finding a cure for this dreaded disease. Smokers and nonsmokers are affected. At least 12 million American’s are unaware of the fact that they may have COPD.

As State Captain I hope to spread the word along with the COPD Foundation.

My proudest COPD moment was attending the lobby days in Washington, DC.

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Suzan Michelle Collins BSRT, RRT

Suzan Michelle Collins BSRT, RRT Profile Photo Phippsburg, Maine
maine@copdfoundation.org

Over my 25 years in healthcare, I have seen the struggles of COPD patients on many levels from the inability to access needed medication, lack of family support, impact from repeated hospitalizations and the overall feeling of fear and hopelessness.

As State Captain I hope to increase awareness; create a community of volunteers to aid in creating and maintaining a community for those with COPD; have self-sustaining harmonicas for health programs across the state of Maine; assist medical communities with establishing and maintaining a COPD case management plan; assist with advocating for the COPD community on a local and national level; assist medical facilities with developing and maintaining Alpha-1 screening and education; participate in health fairs and offer screening and teaching/instruction about COPD and Alpha-1; create a system that identifies people with COPD at earlier stages in the disease process and assist each person with COPD with having a better quality of life.

My proudest COPD moment was when a wife said that she wanted to pay for two other people to be able to participate in the Harmonicas for Health program because of the tremendous difference she saw in her husband just after two weeks of participating in the program.

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Cindy Wehrman

Cindy Wehrman Profile Photo Hartford, Wisconsin
cindy.wehrman@yahoo.com

As a respiratory therapist and State Captain for Wisconsin, I hope to accomplish the development of relationships with my elected officials with the goal of informing representatives about COPD, the people, their needs, and about important issues related to COPD that are present in our states locally and that are important to the Foundation (e.g. medication, pulmonary rehab, insurance, oxygen access, research, joining the COPD Caucus etc.). Elected officials both locally and federally may not know what COPD is, how it impacts people and families or what the major issues are and I would like to be that voice for all of patients I advocate for and all of the people living with COPD that I may never encounter.

As a COPD advocate, I have participated in emergency department COPD research and participated in health fairs and community events to promote COPD awareness. Currently, I advocate for COPD patients, veterans and families in my day to day work for greater than 4 counties. And over the past year, I have developed and implemented a successful COPD program where my goal is to help patients improve their health related quality of life while also helping them lower admission rates. My goal is to ensure my patients have all the resources they require to improve their quality of life. I find it important to consider the whole patient and not just the disease.

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 I would like to work with local, state and national officials to improve COPD policies.

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Gabrielle Davis

Gabrielle Davis Profile Photo Boise, Idaho
davisg@slhs.org

As a respiratory therapist and the newest State Captain from Idaho, I hope to accomplish working with other Captains in the state in order to promote awareness about COPD and assist people with COPD increase their quality of life. I hope to promote the necessity of more educators (both with and without lung disease) in our state to be available for people with COPD.

As a COPD advocate, I have spoken to my family and friends about COPD, participated in health fairs or community events to promote COPD awareness and have sent a letter to my members of Congress about COPD. I have also signed up for COPD360Social.

As a State Captain, I am interested in raising awareness by participating in health fairs and community events, as well as connecting others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives. I would also like to write about COPD to share my story and help raise awareness.

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Dawn Fortner

Dawn Fortner  Profile Photo Sapulpa, OK
Oklahoma12@copdfoundation.org

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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Jim Farmer

Jim Farmer Profile Photo Fort Payne, Alabama
jimf@abcplus.net

As a former caregiver, current healthcare professional, and the first State Captain for Alabama, my goal is to establish county level committees to drive awareness and participation in COPD Foundation initiatives.

As a COPD advocate, my efforts to bring awareness to COPD and the causes of COPD have presented many opportunities to discuss this disease through many avenues, including print media, electronic media, and live events, such as community events and health fairs.

As a State Captain, I am interested in connecting others in the COPD community to available resources so they can live healthier, fuller lives. I will continue to raise awareness by participating in community events and recruiting new State Captains and volunteers. I will also continue to write about COPD and work with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy.

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Jim and Mary Nelson

Jim and Mary Nelson Profile Photo Tucson, Arizona
bluechickeninc@gmail.com

As State Captains we 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 of the time throughout my husband’s illness, his near death, his transplant and recovery, and the years of advocacy since.

Jim: Some of our advocacy work has included: travelling to 11 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. We have served as an executive board members of EFFORTS, have served as Southern Arizona Advocates for the American Lung Association, and have been featured in numerous articles in national publications, including the COPD Digest, Costco Connection, and others. We’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. We 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.

Mary: We have spoken to many support groups, Better Breather's groups, and others to spread awareness about COPD. We have developed several different PowerPoint presentations for use in giving informative and inspirational speeches. We have taught classes to pulmonary rehab patients and caregivers on living well with lung disease. We have taught classes to pulmonary rehab students in Tucson and in Phoenix, and to pharmacy students in Tucson. We have taught Hospice volunteers about handling and dealing with lung disease patients. We have traveled to Chicago, (three times), San Diego (twice), Denver, Miami, Trenton, NJ, Phoenix, Kalamazoo, MI, and London, England to present at COPD conferences. We were invited to participate in the COPD summit in Bethesda. We will be attending COPD 10 in Chicago again this summer.(Remove) We have written many articles for online support groups such as COPD360 and other Facebook groups. We have established a website (uncleim-auntmary.net), which contains many of the articles and posts, and several videos. I have been a Hospice volunteer for 21 years, and I have used that training in dealing with many COPD patients.

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Emily Myers

Emily Myers Profile Photo Glasgow, MT
Emily.Myers@fmdh.org

As a respiratory therapist and the newest State Captain from Montana, I would like to accomplish educating people about COPD, spread awareness about the effects of the disease, and help those suffering from COPD to improve their quality of life.

As a COPD advocate, I have written about COPD in a newspaper, magazine, or other publication, as well as have spoken to my family and friends about COPD. I have also participated in health fairs or community events to promote COPD awareness.

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

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Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe Profile Photo Nashville, Tennessee
ABLowe03@aol.com

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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Quincy Futrell

Quincy Futrell Profile Photo Prairieville, LA
quincyf02@yahoo.com

As a respiratory therapist, and the first State Captain for Louisiana, I hope to accomplish bringing COPD awareness to individuals at every learning stage. Also, I want to give hope to those who are living with the condition.

As a COPD advocate, I have participated in health fairs or community events to promote COPD awareness.

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 raising awareness by participating in health fairs and community events. I would also like to work with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy.

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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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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!