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

Jim and Mary Nelson

Jim and Mary Nelson Profile Photo Tucson, Arizona

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 (, 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.

Jim’s inspiration to share is, leave everyone better than you found them!

Mary’s inspiration to share is, choose to make each day the best one possible. You may have to make that choice repeatedly during the day but you always have that choice.


Join Us on COPD360social

Sign In to Participate
Or register to become a member

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 for questions and to start the onboarding process today!