Staff


 
PHC Board of Directors
Cheryl Switzer Cheryl Switzer- President, Board of Directors Member, Site Editor, Writer

Cheryl is our volunteer president and chairmen of the board of directors at PHCentral. She started as a diarist, became Feature Editor and Diary Section Editor in early 2001. Around 2004 PHCentral was out of funds and no one had been fund-raising at all.  Knowing that the site was about to be taken down, Cheryl stepped up and volunteered to fundraise and manage the site.  Mimi and Dennis also stepped up to help form a three person decision making body - the Board of Directors.  After some fund-raising success, PHCentral has been plugging along.  Cheryl also serves as a writer and content manager. 

In late 2008, Cheryl Switzer and Michelle Smith collaborated to revamp the entire website.  Seeing that it was hopelessly out of date, disorganized and hard to navigate, they decided it needed to be re-designed and re-organized.  With the blessing of the Board of Directors, this project moved forward in late 2008 and the unveiling took place in late August 2009. 

Cheryl is a former project manager for a software developer in San Francisco. She retired from her work in 2000 when she was diagnosed with PH secondary to restrictive lung disease caused by a chest wall deformity. She lives with her husband, one cat and one dog within walking distance of Golden Gate Park in her City by the Bay.
 

Dennis Stenshorn Dennis Stenshorn - Board of Directors Member, Newsroom Editor, WebBoard Moderator
Dennis is a PHCentral board member and e-mail list moderator.  Diagnosed in 1998 with PH and an ASD, Dennis retired from work in 2001.  He lives in upstate New York with his wife and son, two Bassett Hounds and 9 cats.  He also works with the local eye and tissue bank promoting organ donation, and is on the board of the local transplant organization.
 
Mimi Bitner Mimi Bitner - Vice President, Board of Directors member, WebBoard Manager
Mimi, PHC's vice-president and a member of the board of directors, began her volunteer work at PHCentral early in 2001. In addition to her staff duties, she serves as lead Moderator for the group of volunteers that monitor our WebBoard activity. Mimi is retired from a long career as a legal secretary and executive secretary to a Houston City Councilman. Mimi was diagnosed with ph in January 1999, secondary to sleep apnea; her sleep apnea being successfully treated resulted in some improvement in her PAH in 2001. As the mother of 5, grandmother of 11 and great-grandmother of 3, she understands the art of diplomacy. And as she puts it herself, she is uniquely qualified to serve the PAH community because in her lifetime, "I have made upwards of 71,822,564 decisions".
 
 
PHC Staff Members
Alan Harder Alan Harder- Social Security / Disability Advisor, Writer

Alan is a 34-year veteran of the Social Security Administration. Before his  retirement at the end of 2006, he worked in Social Security district offices as a Claims Representative, Supervisor, Technical Expert and Area Systems Coordinator. He spent the last two years of his career teaching SSA employees how to use their new Electronic Disability Claims process and installing the equipment they use to make it work.

Alan’s wife was diagnosed with PAH in October 2005 and retired from her career as a high school English teacher in April 2006. Alan now enjoys a 2nd career as a part-time lay pastor.

Alan’s articles center on how SSA handles disability claims, and on how to communicate effectively with Social Security as PHer's begin the process of filing for benefits. He offers insight into the critical process of filing for Social Security Disability Benefits and responds directly to questions sent in by PHers.

Armond Aserinsky, Ph.D. Armond Aserinsky, Ph.D.- Site Co-founder, B.O.D. Consultant
Armond, currently a consultant to the board of directors, is the past president and co-founder of PHCentral, Inc. He is a Clinical Psychologist with a longstanding interest in the use of mass media for educational and therapeutic purposes. When his wife became ill with PAH, he harnessed his skills to create an electronic world-wide self-help community which evolved into PHCentral. He is an activist who sees his role as one of providing information, fostering connections, and directing political pressure to benefit the PAH community.
Diane Ramirez Diane Ramirez - Chat Leader, WebBoard Moderator
Diane is a 46 year old, long time survivor of PH.  Diagnosed in 1988, she didn't have any friends with PH until she moved to North Carolina and joined PHCentral.  Diane always felt alone with this illness.  The only person she could speak to was her brother who lived in New York.  She moved to North Carolina to be treated at Duke University Hospital in 2001, then connected with PHC and starting getting involved with the on-line community.

Diane currently is very involved in awareness and advocacy for Pulmonary Hypertension.  She is very grateful to PHCentral for welcoming her and she continues to call PHC her cyber home.  She tries to help as many new members as possible.  She believes every day as a true gift and is grateful to be a member of such a wonderful community.
 
Helen Puckett Helen Puckett- Medical Editor

Helen lives in a holler in a remote, isolated area among the beautiful hills of NE Tennessee. She and her husband packed up their belongings and the animals and moved there in 1987 from the DC area where she worked as a paralegal. Her husband Rick, is a retired Marine. She has no children but dearly loves her 2 dogs, 2 cats and the horse. She currently owns and operates a small computer repair shop and local Internet service.

Having stumbled into the role of patient as a "very interesting" but seemingly undiagnosable case back in 1983, she found that education became a major key to living with a chronic illness. It started with the medical books and the libraries, then in 1994 she got her first home PC. Having been lucky enough to be exposed to the budding of the Internet during her teen years due to her father's work, research and the ability to locate information became almost second nature. She now has 38yrs of experience in navigating the Internet along with a fascination with the world of medicine.

In 2008, she returned to school and is currently working to obtain her degree as a medical assistant with the goal of becoming certified as a patient advocate.

Helen was diagnosed with secondary ph in early 2009. It is believed to be the result of the very rare thyroid hormone receptor defect that she was born with. The thyroid disorder was finally confirmed in 2007 but had already resulted in quite a few other medical issues for her over the years. She is currently being treated with Revatio along with receiving proper treatment for her thyroid and other disorders.

It is her desire to share what she has learned and offer up her skills as a researcher in the hopes of helping others learn to live with the difficult and often stressful task of understanding and dealing with chronic disorders.

Jed Koops Jed Koops- CMS Developer and Webmaster
Jed Koops, who lives in a suburb outside of Cleveland with his wife and young daughter, took over much of the implementation of the new CMS system we were designing in November 2008. Jed is the only paid independent contractor working for PHCentral.

Jed, who spent most of his childhood living in Nigeria, holds a doctorate in music composition, is currently working toward a degree in dentistry and is otherwise a stay-at-home dad with a lot on his plate. We don't know how he finds time for us, but he's built such a good and reliable CMS with the goal of our becoming more or less self-sufficient, it's really worked out well for all of us.
Merle Reeseman Merle Reeseman - WebBoard Moderator, Chat Leader, Insurance Advisor
I am a wife, mother and grandma to 7 (oh my). I would say we had a typical family life raising children and at times wanting to pull my hair out during their teenage years but we survived. Now we have grandchildren and they are the sunshine in my life. They bring such joy and wisdom to what has become a challenge in my life. My husband is a great support and comfort to me along with the rest of my family. I was diagnosed with PPH toward the end of 2002 and put on Flolan in early January of 2003. As with most of us I had no clue as to what PH is and became very active in research of this disease. I am concerned that the majority of medical professionals, specialist included, don't know what PH is and I am grateful that my PCP has learned how to deal with me and is willing to talk with my PH specialist when needed. I feel it is very important that we become advocates for ourselves and there is a major need for our politicians to become aware of this disease. There are bills out there for research and awareness on PH and we need to write to our Representatives in Congress and our Federal Senators to ask for their support and sponsorship. If you are willing to help with this battle, write to me direct with your zip code plus the 4 digits and I will e-mail you a letter to make copies of; you can have your family, friends and any one at all sign them and then mail to your respective politician(s). I am honored to be part of this PH Central Team and I will do my best to keep us aware of what is going on in the political world of PH.
 
Paul Carew Paul Carew- Newsroom
Paul joined our newsroom staff in January 2013.  He is a 52-year-old communications software engineer and a self described "lover of life".  In his own words "I was diagnosed with PAH in December 2010 and have been reclaiming my life from the clutches of PAH ever since".

He has been involved in four company start-ups and is currently running his own mobile software firm, Close Reach Communications Inc.

In his spare time, Paul loves to sail his boats (there are two) , participate in Scouts, volunteer at a local school in the IT dept, spend time with family and take music lessons.  He hopes to one-day fly again, but that will depend on his health in regaining his pilots license.

He has a special interest in learning more about the biology of PAH and in helping educate others through the news feed we provide as a feature of this website.



 
PHC Web Board Moderators
Annette (Annie) Whitaker Annette (Annie) Whitaker- PHFriends Moderator
We live in Cairns in the far north of Australia, which is a bit of a tropical paradise except when the occasional cyclone pays a visit. I am married to Richard and have two gorgeous sons: Timothy, my oldest son who passed from PH in 2006 - (we still cannot believe this has happened) = and Phil , my baby, who has moved back home recently. We're still all learning how to cope without Tim.

I have always worked in health admin / accounting. but am now back at University studying Psychology (although I may switch to arts). In my spare time, I enjoy art and painting and have a section in creative corner. I also wrote an article in the features section called " In the wee hours" and Tim has a lovely memorial page on this site that I visit often. I also manage an Aussie PH website.

PHCentral has been a HUGE part of my life for nearly 8 yrs and has seen our family through many stages of dealing with my son's illness. My most precious life friends are people I have never seen but understand me more than those I see every day. I am proud to be a part of the moderator team.
 
Cindy Hammond Cindy Hammond- PHFriends Moderator - On leave
Cindy is a wife, mother of two wonderful boys, and a nurse specializing in Infection Prevention. Cindy knew nothing about PH in 2001 when she was diagnosed.

She is the soccer mom; just ask her son's high school soccer team!   She has coached, refereed and been an all around cheer leader for the boy's soccer teams for 15 years.
 
While coaching her youngest son's team (in Feb 2001) , she joked that she was too old for this, having chest pan and feeling as though the world moved without her. She became so short of breath, just lugging the equipment became very difficult; she finally realized something was very wrong and so began her PH journey. She had to give up coaching for more reasons than just PH, but she is still the loudest voice on the field!
   
Cindy joined PHC late in 2001. Being told she had PH was terrifying, and then she met the PHC people, "They have been my life saver. What a relief to know there are others that have walked in similar shoes and really understand what you are going through! "

She is working at living with PH, one day at a time!
Helen Forrest- PHFriends Moderator - On leave
Bio coming soon.
Jane Northrop Jane Northrop- PHFriends Moderator
(Jane joined the PHCentral volunteer staff in the fall of 2012.

Jane is a 51-year-old wife and mother turned caregiver for the past three years..  Her 18-year-old daughter, Nicole - she and her husband's only child - is a PH patient diagnosed in 2010 at the age of 15.  After many dead ends and years of incorrect diagnosis, it was determined her PH is associated with congenital heart defects consisting of several VSD's and a PFO which may have been present since birth.  In the last three years, Jane has become very active, mostly on Facebook, hoping to raise awareness about PH, congenital heart defects and the importance of organ donation.  

Nicole is currently on the following therapies:  Revatio, Letairis, and subq Remodulin. She is also being evaluated for transplant which will consist of double lung, heart. 
Karen Jo Whittlesey Karen Jo Whittlesey- PHFriends Moderator - On leave
Karen Jo lives in Fort Worth Texas, has PH and has been on Flolan for about 4 years. Karen Jo is a self-proclaimed "zookeeper", sharing her home with Ollie, her eleven-year-old chow/germ. shep mix, and Mattie, her African Grey parrot who talks. Karen Jo's words of wisdom: Ya'll need to know this. I learned the hard way. NEVER, NEVER HUG YOUR PARROT IF YOU'RE WEARING EARRINGS!
Lisa Smith Lisa Smith- PHFriends Moderator
Lisa was born with two congenital heart defects - an ASD and a VSD - which have both been surgically repaired. She was "officially" diagnosed with SPH in 1990, possibly caused by pulmonary thrombosis due to surgery, although her medical records reflected PH since her first heart catherization in 1967. Lisa currently uses oxygen 24/7 and takes warfarin. She is a finance administrator with a Lutheran Church in Denver, Colorado. She has a wonderful husband, a married daughter in her 20's, and was blessed to adopt a daughter from China in February 2006. Lisa also has a grandson who was born in January, 2008.
Lisa says she feels honored to be a PHFriends moderator.
 
Margaret Wright Margaret Wright- WebBoard Moderator
Bio coming soon.
 
Ralf S. Ralf S.- PHFriends Moderator and News Team Contributor
Ralf lives with his family in Germany.  In 1996 he was diagnosed with PH at the young age of 30.  Three years later, he had to retire from his job as an electronics engineer.  He became quite active in the world wide PH community around 2001 and tries to learn as much as possible about PH and it's treatments.  He then is able to pass along what he has learned to other patients world wide.

Although PH took speed out of Ralf's life, it has enriched him with good friends from all over the world, and with time for hobbies like silver smithing, painting and working with clay.  Even learning and writing about PH has become one of his hobbies. 

Ralf is proud to be a part of the moderator team.
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