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.


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Lisa Hall

Lisa Hall Profile Photo Sauk Center, MN
lhall4096@gmail.com

I am involved in the COPD Foundation, and I am on the Propeller App advisory board. I am interested in traveling to Capitol Hill as a patient advocate with the COPD Foundation to represent people with Asthma ,COPD, and chronic respiratory conditions. I have had asthma all my life which has turned into COPD. I am on disability because of my condition. I was on prednisone for 5 years as a child which could have contributed to my spinal issues resulting in fusions or metal rods in all but 2 vertebrae in my back.

I recently shared my story with ResMed, a medical technology company focused on respiratory disease, in a recorded interview and a graffiti artist interpreted my experience. ResMed works with clinician and patient organizations to support their voices. After my recent experience, which was displayed at ViVE, a health technology conference, ResMed offered to sponsor patient organizations to help patients like me speak with policy makers to get our point of view across. I, and I’m sure other patients, can’t afford to go to these events as we are forced to choose between working or our very expensive medication.

As a child I also went to Camp Superkids for 2 weeks out of every summer in the 80’s where I learned how important it is to advocate for yourself, and I learned I can do almost anything anyone else can do with limitations and time. My whole life I have hit brick walls trying to keep a job or afford my medicine.

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Dr. Sara Tibbett-Wright

Dr. Sara Tibbett-Wright Profile Photo Millsboro, DE
Stibb1105@gmail.com

I have been a registered respiratory therapist for 19 years, with roles in acute care, LTACH, pulmonary rehabilitation, and management. Most recently, I am an entrepreneur and the Chief Executive Officer of a new non-profit organization, the Southern Delaware COPD Coalition. My passion is empowering those living with COPD, through education and advocacy.

Over the past 19 years, I have enjoyed volunteering with the American Lung Association and participating in numerous health fairs. I have also participated in job fairs, promoting the role and importance of respiratory therapists in both the acute and homecare settings.

My greatest COPD accomplishment would have to be when I received final approval for a Pulmonary Navigator position, filled by a respiratory therapist, at my current employer. This took more than 3 years of research and data collection and a large presentation to demonstrate a positive ROI (return on investment) - and was worth every minute! The Pulmonary Navigator has been truly instrumental in addressing the COPD-specific needs of patients, which has made a tremendous impact on the lives of patients living with COPD.

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Renea McClure

Renea McClure Profile Photo Hoover, AL
reneamcclure@hotmail.com

I am a happily retired former Human Resources Professional. I have over 30 years of experience in HR - including talent acquisition, training/development, compensation and benefits, labor relations and strategy.

I live with Edward McClure, my husband of 44 plus years, in Hoover, AL. Edward lives with COPD (emphysema). I would like to use the position with the COPD foundation to engage other members of the community leveraging my experience caring for Edward to assist in making their lives better. Using my training/presentation skills, I would like to educate others about this illness and how they might make a difference. This includes interacting with governmental officials and agencies.

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Linda Esposito

Linda Esposito Profile Photo New York, NY
becleartoday@gmail.com

I am a health and fitness educator specializing in helping individuals diagnosed with chronic diseases who are looking to make lifestyle changes. What a surprise when in 2017, I myself was diagnosed with two rare lung conditions–bronchiectasis (BE) and NTM lung disease.

Fortunately, I live in New York City and have access to top specialists in the field. However, I know many do not have bronchiectasis centers nearby. As a BE/NTM lung disease Ambassador, I look forward to answering questions about these poorly understood diseases. I also hope to learn more about COPD and how COPD as a comorbidity impacts one’s health management.

Being a COPD Foundation Ambassador and a Captain will enable me not only to help individuals, but to advocate for our community as a whole. I am especially passionate about pulmonary rehab and would like all individuals with COPD, BE and NTM to have access to these life-enhancing services.

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Edward McClure

Edward McClure Profile Photo Hoover, AL
edwardmcclure@gmail.com

I am 66-year retired advertising/account executive who was diagnosed with COPD/emphysema in 2013. However, I have had health issues most likely attributed to COPD for over 20 years. In recent years, it has progressed significantly which led to my early retirement.

My association with COPD support groups and medical professionals has inspired me to charge my experiences with others living with this disease. Having this personal perspective allows me to help others with coping strategies and educational opportunities.

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Bob Herlong

Bob Herlong Profile Photo Clinton, South Carolina
papaherlong@gmail.com

Mr. Herlong received his BA degree from Presbyterian College and a law degree from the University of South Carolina. A veteran of the US Army, he was a registered lobbyist for the property and casualty insurance industry for more than 30 years. He now lives in a retirement community near his grandchildren in South Carolina.

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Dawn Lawson

Dawn Lawson Profile Photo Orangevale, CA
dawn@allfiredup.blue

I joined the COPD Foundation captain’s program in September of 2021. I was first diagnosed with COPD in 2015 and told that I had less than a week to live. Like many others, I became my own best advocate and fought for the right to join a pulmonary rehabilitation program.

Pulmonary rehab saved my life and I want others to have access to these same life-saving services. Today, I am passionate about advocating on behalf of the entire community and I frequently fight to expand access to pulmonary rehab programs for all that need it.

I am also an animal activist and often take in abandoned senior dogs.

My goal is to take away the “secrets” often associated with COPD and ensure that everyone has access to the care they need.

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Dr. Luis C. Losso

Dr. Luis C. Losso Profile Photo Sao Paulo, Brazil
lclosso@gmail.com

I am Dr. Luis C. Losso and I am honored to be the first Captain of the COPD Foundation in Brazil. I am currently Director of the Center for Thoracic Medicine and Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery, and also of the Severe Pulmonary Emphysema Unit at Hospital Edmundo Vasconcelos de São Paulo; and former President of the Department of Thoracic Surgery of the Sao Paulo Society of Pneumonology.

At our institution I have the opportunity, along with my entire team, to treat many patients with COPD, especially those with severe pulmonary emphysema. I have been book editor, author of several book chapters, as well as scientific articles on thoracic surgery presented at national and international conferences around the world.

I see the need to raise awareness among physicians and patients about the treatment of COPD in my country, particularly with regard to the minimally invasive interventional treatments available and so underutilized in patients severely compromised by pulmonary emphysema for which they can represent the very best in precision medicine.

I understand that, as a captain, I can exercise influence at health fairs and other community events and promote information, awareness, and research opportunities for people to participate. I believe that, working together, we can improve the quality of life for people with severe pulmonary emphysema.

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Jamie Anderson

Jamie Anderson Profile Photo Franklin, TN
jda0726@yahoo.com

I am glad to join a great group of advocates with the COPD Foundation! I’m originally from Toledo, OH but have been in Nashville for 29 years and planning to stay. As a Post-Acute Respiratory Specialist, I hope to educate the public and offer support for those dealing with pulmonary diseases.

There are a few things that I have already done as a COPD advocate. I have spoken to my family and friends about COPD, and I have participated in health fairs and community events to promote COPD awareness. Also, I stay active on COPD360social.

As a COPD Foundation Captain, I am interested in connecting others in the COPD community to more resources so they can live healthier, fuller lives. I hope to do more work raising awareness and hosting fundraisers to support my community. I would also like to participate in research opportunities to help find a cure.

My proudest COPD moment has been recognizing that I can help change how this disease affects people. I love offering education and support to my community!

My favorite inspirational quote is, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” -Unknown

I love spending time with my family and my 2nd canine Princess Lucy. My passion is with patient education. I believe respiratory technicians have a responsibility to teach our patients how to manage their disease better and have them realize that LIFE can get better if we work together in helping to reach your goals. I’ve seen it!! Let’s do this TOGETHER, YOU are not alone.

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Chrishuna Vasser

Chrishuna Vasser Profile Photo Oklahoma City, OK
Crvasser@yahoo.com

I am a goal-oriented Respiratory Care Practitioner with a demonstrated history of working in various healthcare environments within the healthcare industry. Strengths include adult acute, critical, long term and home care environments. I have a passion for education, with emphasis on disease management education. As an educator, I take pride in motivating, influencing, and sharing professional experiences.

I am a small business entrepreneur who administers life-saving training courses using curriculums of the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross. I am also a practicing COPD Educator and Pulmonary Disease Educator.

Professional goals include building my brand as a dynamic Respiratory Care Practitioner and serving the aging population as a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator while facilitating effective team organization and collaboration. I am a proud and active member of the American Association for Respiratory Care, Oklahoma Society for Respiratory Care, American Association for Notaries, National Notary Association, and American College of Health Care Administrators.

In my role as State Captain, I look forward to empowering patients and caregivers with evidence-based knowledge to leverage clinical understanding and increase awareness. I am eager to work with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy. COPD Education is a true passion of mine and I am excited to explore research opportunities and participate in health fairs and community events.

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Elina Ikavalko

Elina Ikavalko Profile Photo Ireland
elinaivalko@gmail.com

Hi! I am Elina Ikavalko, originally from Finland and currently living in Ireland. When you see me, you see a normal happy-go-lucky 30-something year old woman. But what you don’t see is that I have severe emphysema and COPD. I got diagnosed at the age of 26, which is quite young. I Still exercise on daily basis, do my cardio and lift weights. I am doing my best to keep my remaining health in check.

As a person living with the COPD, I have made it my life mission to raise awareness for COPD, show that younger people can get sick with it too. I hope to inspire and encourage others living with the condition. Ever since I got diagnosed, back in 2014, I felt so alone because I was so much younger than anyone else living with the condition. And it was hard to find any information of emphysema and COPD. So I started to share my experiences on social media, especially on my Instagram account, so that if someone else got diagnosed, and they would stumble on to my instagram account, they wouldn’t feel as alone as I did, that they would have someone they could reach out to.

I was part of #Speakup4COPD campaign (speakupforcopd.com) and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I also spoke at World EXPO, Healthcare resilience summit as a COPD patient and shared my experiences and it was important to get patient voices out there and make sure we are seen and heard.

Be the change you wish to see in the World.

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Chastity Bargerhuff

Chastity Bargerhuff Profile Photo Oxford, AL
Chastitybargerhuff@hotmail.com

Hello! My name is Chastity Bargerhuff.

I work in Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation as a Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist. I currently have 5+ years’ experience working with pulmonary patients. I am a current member of the COPD foundation, but my experience with COPD did not start there. I have lost several family members to COPD, including my father and paternal grandmother. I have several immediate family members that struggle with smoking, vaping, and nicotine addiction.

I grew up in Anniston, Alabama, which unfortunately was deemed one of the most toxic cities in the nation by a 60 Minutes investigation in 2002. These toxins have taken their toll on many community residents, causing various lung ailments and cancers.

My goal in becoming a State Advocacy Captain is to expand my knowledge base. Increase my networking options and expand services to reach those in need of them. Many patients have limited access and knowledge about services available to them. Continuing to educate patients, providing support, and progressing their advocacy is key to reaching more people. We must get people involved-real people, real stories, real struggles. This is where the fight begins. I hope to continue to raise awareness about COPD. I am so thankful to be a part of this journey.

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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!