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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Mike Hess

Mike Hess Profile Photo Kalamazoo, Michigan

I am a Respiratory Therapist helping to educate people about lung disease.

As a State Captain, I hope to help change the trajectory of COPD in the United States by increasing awareness, funding, and research.

My proudest COPD moment is when a patient thanked me because, as they said, they "didn't know how bad my breathing was until it got better," because of their appointments with me.

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Phil Huston

Phil Huston Profile Photo St. Paul, Minnesota

I’ve fought for air to breathe all my life. A breath is a gift. From childhood asthma living in Los Angeles, with parents who smoked, to lung cancer and COPD in 2008—I understood about breathing. But, breathing has never stopped me from climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, or any other sports I wish to do. I work with my breathing and it works with me. I wish to inspire those that might be high risk for COPD to take the test, AND GET LUCKY! Knowing the results can lead to prevention. I want to raise awareness of lung diseases and help save lives by keeping them active and fit.

As State Captain I hope to bring awareness to undiagnosed COPD patients through adventure activities and by sharing my story.

My proudest COPD moment is getting folks to take the breathing questionnaire and understanding that the disease is manageable and treatable.

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Orlan Holmes

Orlan Holmes Profile Photo Fort Wayne, Indiana

I was diagnosed with COPD in 2003 and I was sent home to die. After a few years of living with the disease, I quit smoking. After I had quit smoking for over a year, my pulmonologists asked me if I would be interested in trying to get a double lung transplant. I was very interested. It took me over a year to get on the list and I waited for 3 years to get my new lungs. I received a double lung transplant on August 3rd, 2012. I have been thru a lot in the past few years and since I have received the gift of life, I am trying to make it count for something.

As a COPD advocate i speak at medical colleges and health fairs. I have traveled to Washington, DC with the Alpha-1 Foundation meeting with the FDA.

As State Captain I hope to make at least one person’s life better through education and awareness. This gives them hope and makes me feel good.

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Edna Shattuck

Edna Shattuck Profile Photo Washington, DC

As a State Captain I hope to encourage patients to come out from the shadows and become involved in the efforts of our community.

My early childhood included an apartment filled with cigarette smoke and overflowing ashtrays, asthma attacks that I thought would never end and, visits to my grandmother in a TB sanatorium, not knowing why I could only wave to her through a window and not snuggle up in her lap.

I’m convinced that those memories left me with an imprint to help people with respiratory conditions work through their fears and understand their conditions.

I became a Registered Nurse, Registered Nurse Anesthetist and Registered Respiratory Therapist ultimately settling into Chief Respiratory Therapy positions in Boston and San Francisco with a passion for Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

When I was ultimately diagnosed with COPD, of course I already knew I had it. Determined to “practice what I preached” I became a Patient Advocate and State Captain on behalf of the COPD Foundation. I am also a member of the COPDF Board of Directors and the Governing Board of our PPRN.

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Teena Culhane

Teena Culhane Profile Photo Royal Oak, Michigan

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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Tina Moyer

Tina Moyer Profile Photo Middleburg, Pennsylvania

As State Captain I hope to promote COPD awareness so that doctors can be more aware that pulmonary rehab can help those of us with chronic lung issues, to help fellow COPDers, caregivers, friends and family can understand COPD better, and most importantly, to let fellow COPDers know they are not alone in this journey that we all share. COPD goes through many stages to maintain quality of life and the COPD Foundation is there to help us.

My proudest COPD moment was when I traveled to Washington, DC to talk with elected officials about healthcare issues for COPD. October 2017 marks 8 years of being smoke-free, along with my son who quit with me.

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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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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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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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Suzan Michelle Collins BSRT, RRT

Suzan Michelle Collins BSRT, RRT Profile Photo Phippsburg, Maine

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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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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Bill White

Bill White Profile Photo Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

I am a COPD advocate because my Mother passed away from COPD and I struggle daily with the disease and I feel it is important to learn as much as I can about living day to day and sharing that knowledge with other COPD sufferers.

As State Captain I hope to bring awareness to this disease so the next generation will not have to suffer with it.

My proudest COPD moment is being interviewed on TV and having 50 people come to the next Better Breathers meeting.

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