PHA Outstanding Member Awards

At every Conference, PHA recognizes the unique contributions of select individuals in the pulmonary hypertension community through the PHA Outstanding Member Awards. Congratulations to the 2014 winners:

Julie Hendry Memorial Scholarship Award

Julie Paton Hendry, daughter of PHA founding members Pat and Jerry Paton, was the first full-time, non-patient PHA volunteer. Every two years, she looked forward to the PHA Conference as an opportunity to meet the PH patients and families she talked with by telephone and email. Sadly, Julie passed away in 1998. Her family established the Julie Hendry Memorial Scholarship Award in her memory to help a non-patient volunteer attend Conference.

Anaelis PadillaAnaelis Padilla

Anaelis’ journey with PH began in 2009 when her friend, PH patient Mineliz Colon, invited her to be a co-leader with the Caparra Wellness Center PH Support Group. Even though Anaelis was not directly affected by PH, joining the support group opened the door for Anaelis to get more involved with the PH community and raise awareness about the disease. Anaelis has participated in health fairs, visited patients in the hospital, and worked on various fundraising campaigns including PuckerUp4PH. Anaelis has also been a driving force in the creation of a third support group in Puerto Rico.  While her level of involvement can be time consuming, Anaelis credits the PH community for keeping her focused and motivated: “PH is giving a fight, and we will fight back. For those who have lost the fight while waiting for a cure, I will keep fighting for you.”


Mary FelkelMary Felkel

Mary’s journey with PH began in May 1990 when her daughter, Sally Maddox, was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension.  Having never heard of the disease, it wasn’t until May of 1991 when Sally was being evaluated for transplant that Mary learned about an organization known as UPHAH, now PHA. The two immediately joined and started getting involved in any way they could. Mary routinely helped out at Sally’s Support Group until she retired to Florida and has attended every Conference since the first one in Stone Mountain, Ga. In 2004 Sally began raising funds by having the Georgia Fun Walk for a Cure. Mary has participated in all of the walks since then, whether it meant staying by Sally’s side in the ICU as the rest of the family hosted the walk or volunteering on-site.  In regard to her dedication to the PH community Mary says, “I do what I do not only for my daughter, but also for every other family facing the challenges of PH.”

Previous Winners: 2012 - Jaclyn Burdick; 2010 - Matacha Saul; 2008 - Kathie Starkweather, Steve Van Wormer and Tracy Zanitsch; 2006 - Heather Koczur and Christie Hetrick; 2004 - Theresa Kuhn; 2002 - Dena Giddens; 2000 - Carol Wilson.

Outstanding Allied Health Professional

Awarded to an allied health professional (nurse, physician assistant, technician, therapist, etc.) for contributions to the PH community through any combination of the following: raising awareness, participation in advocacy efforts, fundraising, service to PHA, and providing kind and compassionate care to PH patients.

Abby Poms, RRT, RCPAbby Poms, RRT,RCP

Abby’s commitment to PHA and the pulmonary hypertension community spans out over several decades. Abby first became involved in pulmonary hypertension in the early 1990’s as the Duke Study Coordinator, helping to forge the establishment of the Duke Pulmonary Hypertension Center.Besides being heavily involved in the PH community, Abby has also been a driving force in several medical membership programs at PHA.  Abby served on the original Scientific Leadership Council (SLC) for 10 years and co-founded the Pulmonary Hypertension Professional Network (PHPN) for allied healthcare professionals. Recently she has helped organize and found the Pulmonary Hypertension Care Centers (PHCC) program intiative and is currently the Co-Chair of the Evaluation and Implementation Task Force piloting the program. Abby continues to put her heart into all she does for the PH community.

Past winners: 2012 - Mary Bartlett, NP; 2010 - Deborah McCollister, RN, BSN; 2008 - Christine Archer Chicko, MSN, CRNP; 2006 - Daniela Brady, RN; 2004 - Eileen Shalit, RN, BSN; 2002 - Traci Housten, RB, MS; 2000 - Beth Vogel, RN; 1998 - Cathy Anderson-Severson, RN, BSN.

Outstanding Caregiver

The Outstanding Caregiver award is given to a non-patient caregiver who not only focuses their efforts on the needs of a loved one with PH and does their best to ensure the patient has the best quality of life possible, but also exemplifies dedication to the PH community through any combination of the following: raising awareness, participation in advocacy efforts, fundraising, service to PHA and helping to provide the public with a voice and face of the PH community.

Evan WhiteEvan White

When Evan’s oldest son Sean was diagnosed with PH she was determined to not only fight back for him, but for others as well.  Evan was part of the founding of the Caregiver Advisory Board, has been involved as a PH Caregiver Mentor and has helped guide parents that have had a child diagnosed with PH, encouraging and comforting them along their journey. Evan has made it her mission to learn everything she can about PH and then educate others about it, including local physicians. As her son Sean puts it, “She epitomizes what it is to be an exceptional caregiver. Her loving and caring spirit never wavers no matter how tumultuous the experience may be for me or others”.

Past winners: 2012 - Jennifer Davis; 2010 - Jason Janjanin; 2008 - Joe Haan; 2006 - Christina Puckett; 2004 - Linda Rocco; 2002 - Jerry Paton; 2000 - Betty Lou Wojciechowski; 1998 - Harry Olson.

Outstanding PH Citizen

Awarded to a PH patient who exemplifies dedication to the PH community through any combination of the following: raising awareness; participation in advocacy efforts; fundraising; service to PHA and helping to provide the public with a voice and face of the PH community.

Michelle HoldenMichelle Holden

After being given three-to-five years to live, Michelle immediately turned to PHA for support and guidance. While feeling defeated, Michelle was speaking with a pediatric PH patient who told her not to worry “we will kick this.” This gave Michelle the motivation she needed to create super hero capes for not only PH pediatric patients, but also children with cystic fibrosis, because as she puts it, they are the true heroes. In addition, Michelle has trained local fire departments on facilitating better management of PH, sold bracelets to raise funds for PHA and handed out business cards with PH facts printed on them. In an effort to spread awareness far and wide Michelle obtained 59 proclamations for PH Awareness Month across the U.S. Thanks to all her efforts on educating the public about PH, Michelle proclaims “I haven’t run into a medical professional who doesn’t know what PH is!”

Past Winners: 2012 - Jeannette Morrill; 2010 - Merle Reeseman, 2008 - Joanne Sperando-Schmidt; 2006 - Gail Boyer Hayes; 2004 - Candi Bleifer; 2002 - Shirley Craig and the Stibbs family; 2000 - Bonnie Dukart and the Smith family; 1998 - Jan Travioli and the Simpson family; 1996 - Dorothy Olson and Pat Paton; 1994 - Teresa Knazik.

Outstanding Physician

The Outstanding Physician Award recognizes an outstanding physician who has been most notable in his or her service to PHA and in promoting excellent clinical care, research, education and advocacy on behalf of PH patients.

Murali Chakinala, MD, FCCPMurali Chakinala, MD, FCCP

Dr. Chakinala first became acquainted with PH in the late 1990s, during his training to become a lung transplant physician at Washington University. Dr. Chakinala is currently at the Washington University School of Medicine and holds the positions of Associate Professor of Medicine, Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Center, and Co-Director of the Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia Center. He is a member of PHA’s Scientific Leadership Council (SLC) which is the guiding body for PHA’s clinical, research and medical education activities. He served as chair of the PHA 30-City Medical Education Program Planning Committee and as the 2011 PHA on the Road: PH Patients and Families Education Forum Regional Committee Chair for St. Louis. Most recently, he has spearheaded PHA’s Pulmonary Hypertension Care Centers (PHCC) program initiative and is the Chair of the PHCC Committee. His frequent late nights, intense efforts, and dedicated belief in the PHCC initiative has propelled the program to where it is today.

Past Winners: 2012 - Raymond L. Benza, MD, FACC, FAHA; 2011 - Ronald Oudiz, MD; 2010 - Vallerie McLaughlin, MD; 2009 - Nicholas Hill, MD; 2008 - Robyn Barst, MD; 2007 - John Newman, MD and James Loyd, MD; 2006 - Greg Elliot, MD; 2004 - Michael McGoon, MD; 2002 - David Badesch, MD; 2000 - Bruce Brundage, MD; 1998 - Stuart Rich, MD; 1996 - Lewis Rubin, MD; 1994 - Walker Long, MD.

Outstanding Support Group Leader

Awarded to a support group leader who provides a welcoming environment for patients, families and friends of PH patients; champions and serves PHA by leading local efforts to raise awareness; leads and participates in advocacy efforts and acts as a PH ambassador to the general public.

Tiffany GundermanTiffany Gunderman

Within months of being diagnosed, Tiffany received a post card informing her of an upcoming PHA Support Group meeting, thus beginning her involvement with both PHA and the PH community. Driven by her desire to connect with others in the PH community, Tiffany started the Long Beach Support Group in California in March 2013. Tiffany’s bubbly attitude and encouragement provide continuing hope to patients far and wide, many of which nominated her for Outstanding Support Group Leader. When she’s not personally reaching out to community members and encouraging their attendance at support groups or spreading awareness, Tiffany also raises money for PHA, most recently orchestrating a silent auction. Tiffany believes becoming a support group leader and helping others cope was instrumental in changing how she not only deals with, but feels about PH.

Past Winners: 2012 - Nicole Cooper; 2010 - Barbara Nickels; 2008 - Penny Engel; 2006 - Cheryl Massaro; 2004 - Jean Szwarc; 2002 - Joanne Sperando-Schmidt; 2000 - Maribeth McCarthy.

Outstanding Young PH Citizen

Awarded to a PH patient, less than 30 years of age, who exemplifies dedication to the PH community through any combination of the following: raising awareness; participation in advocacy efforts; fundraising; service to PHA and helping to provide the public with a voice and face of the PH community.

Haley Ann LynnHaley Ann Lynn

Diagnosed in 2010 at only 18 years-old, Haley couldn’t quite predict how her life would change. As she saw it, pulmonary hypertension was just a quick little obstacle that needed to be overcome. After realizing that this was no quick obstacle, but a lifetime journey, Haley accepted her PH and took control. After reaching out to PHA, Haley found herself raising awareness, first locally in her classroom and then for all to see online. Haley started the “Phenomenal Haley” blog which follows Haley through every aspect of living with a disease that affects every part of your life, from doctor visits, to getting tattoos, and even fashion choices. Haley is a recipient of a Tom Lantos Innovation in Community Service Award which she used to launch posters and “Just Breathe” Lung T-shirts across the world. She credits PHA for continuing to fuel, and support her goals, as well as every patient, survivor, and supporter. As Haley puts it, this will never be about just existing with a disease; this is about living a PHenomenal life.

Past winners: 2012 - Sean Wyman; 2010 - Lauren Johnson.

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