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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Jennifer Nulph

Jennifer Nulph Profile Photo Columbus, IN
indiana07@copdfoundation.org

As a respiratory therapist and State Captain for Indiana, I hope to accomplish raising awareness of patients/families and policymakers to help improve healthcare of patients, and to increase funding for COPD research.

As a COPD advocate and pulmonary rehab professional I have met with local officials to enact and support strong local smoking ordinances. I taught COPD education classes that were open to the public at our local senior community center, and I was part of a group at my hospital that put together a COPD free lunch and learn event for the public as part of a health fair. I have also written articles for our local paper and given radio interviews. I regularly participate in health fairs and community events to promote COPD awareness, and I co-facilitate the local Better Breathers Club support group.

As a State Captain, my interests include continuing community outreach and increasing my interactions with local and state legislators and policy makers to support policies that help the COPD population and support tobacco cessation efforts.

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Kim Bennion

Kim Bennion Profile Photo Eagle Mountain, Utah
kjbennio@gmail.com

As a respiratory therapist and State Captain of Utah, I hope to accomplish three key objectives!

  1. Improve awareness of the need for early identification and treatment for COPD.
  2. Align legislators, healthcare professionals as well as patients and their caregivers to raise awareness and improve healthcare access so patients with COPD can have the right care, in the right location at the right time.
  3. To improve general patient knowledge of their disease and it's trajectory so they are equipped to make educated decision about their healthcare to include advance care planning.

As a COPD advocate, I have created and gifted the Breathe-zy health promotion and disease prevention, free course to the AARC State Societies. It's an after school program that includes tobacco prevention and culminates in pig lung dissection.I have also written about COPD in a newspaper, magazine, or other publication, and have sent a letter to my members of Congress about COPD .

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Milton Schenk

Milton Schenk Profile Photo Thermopolis, Wyoming
miltsch@rtconnect.net

As a patient advocate, and the first state captain from Wyoming, I hope to accomplish helping to raise awareness about COPD in my local community and statewide.

As a COPD advocate, I have spoken to my family and friends about COPD, and I have sent a letter to my members of Congress about COPD.

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 participate and promote research opportunities to help find a cure, as well as raise awareness by participating in health fairs and community events.

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Michele Ceuterick-Feehan

Michele Ceuterick-Feehan Profile Photo South Bend, IN
indiana02@copdfoundation.org

I am a daughter, sister, wife, mom, grandmother, and friend. I am that person you may look over and see at a stoplight, or pass in a store. My story is modest, I have spent the majority of my life beginning in high school participating in community volunteerism and raising my children.

I was diagnosed with emphysema in 2008 and I was terrified, left mostly on my own to try and figure out how to cope. In 2015 my Dr. gave me two years, told me to get my affairs in order, begin my goodbyes. I took a second to breakdown and feel the full weight of devastation, and then I got angry, very angry, nobody was giving me an expiration date, period. I have always during difficult times sat myself on the floor in front of a mirror and told me to get up, find my strength and move on. I’ve spent my life never accepting no, never allowing someone to tell me or anyone I loved that something could not be done, I am the consummate think outside of the box person and now I needed to find that tenacity for me.

I researched, I read, I asked a million questions. I fought for six months to get into rehab, and I went from sitting on a couch with a potty chair near, and using a walker to get around my home to completing approximately forty to sixty miles a week via treadmill and bike often using a 4% incline, I lift weights, and use tension bands, and I work out at home as well. This opportunity to make a real difference, to help people like me find hope and strength, to help change the narrative is both humbling and exciting. I am honored to be given this moment at this time in my life.

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Karen Anzalone

Karen Anzalone Profile Photo Northport, New York
Newyork03@copdfoundation.org

I’m a COPD Advocate because I wanted to help make a difference for the 24 million Americans with COPD. My father died from COPD in November 2010. As his primary caregiver and a witness to the devastating effects of this disease, I knew I needed to make a difference for everyone affected by COPD. My journey has taken me from being my Dad’s caregiver to serving the COPD community. My focus has expanded to community based advocacy and social media, “advocacy is key to raising awareness”.

As State Captain I’d like to raise COPD awareness. It’s vital that we educate and empower patients to learn and manage their COPD. I would like to get more caregivers involved with advocacy efforts.

Some of my advocacy work has included, creating a virtual World COPD Day in social media which resulted in thousands of participants and was shared worldwide.

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Dan Kealing

Dan Kealing Profile Photo The Woodlands, Texas
dankealing@me.com

As the newest State Captain for Texas, I hope to accomplish developing a list of quality resources such as doctors, pulmonary rehabilitation specialists, dietitians,psychologists and other professionals in my area and reach out to other COPD patients to connect them with those resources.

As a COPD advocate, I have spoken to my family and friends about COPD and I have signed up for COPD360Social.

As a State Captain I hope to connect others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives as well as to participate and promote research opportunities to help find a cure.

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Joan Agee

Joan Agee Profile Photo Lenore, Idaho
idaho1@copdfoundation.org

As State Captain I hope to raise awareness of COPD and proven methods to reduce readmissions. In addition, patient self-management education using teach-back methods is effective in supporting patients with COPD.

My proudest COPD moment was the publication of my manuscript in the January 2017 Journal of Nursing Administration (JONA), describing the successful outcomes of a nurse-led COPD readmission reduction project.

Some of my advocacy work includes, creating a Quality Improvement project with the goal of reducing COPD readmissions as my scholarly project in partial fulfillment of completing my doctorate of nursing. I have also collaborated with Qualis QIO on preparing a Squire report for CMS regarding reducing COPD readmissions in 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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John Linnell

John Linnell Profile Photo Viroqua, Wisconsin
wisconsin03@copdfoundation.org

I don't want others to have to figure so many things out entirely on their own such as I had to do. There are so many resources and forms of help out there that are actually so easy to reach out to, one simply has to know they are there!

As State Captain I hope to promote patients helping patients, in both education and in research.

My proudest COPD moment was being featured as the cover article in the COPD Digest.

My inspiration to share is if you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong and patients listen to patients.

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Sarah Tencza

Sarah Tencza Profile Photo Catonsville, MD
sarahtencza@umm.edu

As a respiratory therapist and the newest State Captain from Maryland, I hope to accomplish increasing awareness of COPD in the community. I also want to provide education to those affected by COPD and their family members.

As a COPD advocate, I have participated in health fairs or community events to promote COPD awareness, and am a Better Breathers Club facilitator.

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 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 and host and participate in fundraisers to support my community.

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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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Shelby Medley

Shelby Medley Profile Photo Debary, FL
Shelby.medley@fhfm.org

As a respiratory therapist and State Captain for Florida, I hope to accomplish promoting more awareness and education surrounding COPD.

As a COPD advocate, I have called, emailed, sent letters and have met my local state legislators and have spoken with them about COPD. I have also spoken to my friends and family about COPD, have signed up for COPD360 Social, and have participated in health fairs or community events to promote COPD Awareness.

As a State Captain I am most interested in participating and promoting research opportunities to find a cure, work with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy, and to raise awareness through participating in health fairs and community events. I would also like to Connect others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives, and to recruit new State Captains and volunteers.

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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!