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

Kathy Mitzel

Kathy Mitzel Profile Photo Aberdeen, South Dakota

As a Respiratory Therapist and the newest State Captain for South Dakota, I hope to accomplish increasing awareness and treatment options in my community and surrounding areas.

As a COPD advocate, I have spoken to my family and friends about COPD, participated in health fairs or community events to promote COPD awareness, and have met with my elected officials to discuss COPD policies. This year I was chosen to represent my state of South Dakota in Washington DC as a PACT member to advocate for Respiratory Therapists and Telehealth in our communities.

As a State Captain, I am interested in working with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy, and raising awareness by 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.

My proudest COPD moment was when I represented the State of South Dakota in Washington D.C. as a PACT member to help make a change with all Respiratory Therapists and our COPD patients and families.

My inspirational quote to share is, “ "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.". Ralph Waldo Emerson

More about me, “I attended Dakota State University in Madison, SD and graduated with my Bachelors of Science in Respiratory Care. I became a Certified Respiratory Therapist in 1994 and a Registered Respiratory Therapist in 1995. To further my education, I became an AE-C (Certified Asthma Specialist) in 2004 and CPFT (Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist) in 2008 which all remain current. Over the last 24 years, I’ve worked in Pulmonary Rehab, the Pulmonary Function and Sleep Lab, and in Durable Home Medical Equipment. I've done volunteer work for the American Lung Association and our state's asthma camp. I've recently completed the American Lung Association's Better Breather Facilitator Course and look forward to people with COPD together in a form of a support group. With of the vast experience I've had, I have found it a blessing and it's made me a better RRT and advocate for my patients and families with COPD and other lung diseases I find so much joy hearing someone say that I've made a difference by what I've told them”.


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!