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

Laurie Niemer

Laurie Niemer Profile Photo Harrison Township, Michigan

As State Captain I hope to bring awareness to the increasing need for education in the community and the patients affected by COPD. I would hope to be a voice for those who cannot or do not have the resources to get their story out.

My proudest COPD moment was when I was a therapist working in a Detroit hospital I took care of a man (I'll call him Mr. Smith). He was a "frequent flyer." The first time I met him I was told in "report" he was a cranky person and just "get in and get out." I was always challenged to NOT be that therapist. Mr. Smith was cranky, but he had a reason to be-- he had COPD and it was getting worse. He did this to himself from years of smoking and he was mad, mad at himself. I was determined to make him smile. Since I was new to him, he gave me a bit of a hard time, and I gave it back. We got along quite well. I sat and talked with him on my breaks, and he would even ask if I was working when he would come in so I would go visit him. I believe laughter is the best medicine, and it worked not only for him, but me too. I am not sure where Mr. Smith is today but I would hope that I brightened his day and he would smile when he thought of our visits.

Some of my advocacy work has including, I have been a member of our PAC for the Michigan Society for Respiratory Care. I have met with many of our elected official during the "Day on the Hill" to Advocate fro RT's across America and our patients in regard to increasing the care and the coverage for RT's to have time and the opportunity to teach patients about their pulmonary disease and how to best manage their symptoms.

My inspiration to share is "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." - Albert Einstein


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!