About Us

What We’re About

“When you are open and allow others the gift of being with you, you find resilience.”
– Sarah Jones, CEO of PMD Alliance

We’re the Parkinson & Movement Disorder Alliance, “PMD” for short—an independent, national nonprofit dedicated to providing opportunities for people to learn, live more fully and spark meaningful connections around them.

More than 40 million Americans are affected by movement disorders. It’s a challenging reality—and one we cannot face alone. That’s why we play differently. PMD Alliance reaches across all communities and partners, including our sister organizations. Yes, in a world where genuine collaboration can be tough to find, we treasure it! Our journey is a team sport.

We’re always people-oriented. Whether it’s those living with a diagnosis, their care partners, adult children or support group leaders, we meet the needs of those we serve by providing solutions that fundamentally enlighten, inform and incite positive change.

How We See It

Designed with real people in mind, our Movement Disorder Care & Support Ecosystem© serves as a kind of guiding star and a catalyst for action. Today! Everything we do centers around strengthening that ecosystem. We know that when these stars are shining in alignment, the effect on those we serve is immeasurable.

Meet Your Motivators

“Empathy and creativity is our core. We are never satisfied with the status quo. When we listen, ask questions and put ourselves in others’ shoes, we discover profoundly that their experience…is ours. Shared learning is the essence of true connection.”

Sarah Jones, MPA, MS Strategic Design

CEO

With more than 25 years of experience leading non-profits and healthcare programs, Sarah is our visionary leader. She’s a dyed-in-the-wool dynamo who continually seeks opportunities to impact and address unmet needs. Sarah has designed programs and led training for local, national and international audiences, including groups in Canada and Botswana.

Called upon to solve issues of efficiency and develop a culture of innovation, she has also acted as a consultant for global brands, including Campbell’s Soup. Sarah holds two Masters degrees: Masters of Science in Strategic Design Management and a Masters in Public Administration. She has consulted with large health care systems, integrative medicine clinics teaching utilization of strategic design principles to innovate and change end-user experience.  Sarah is driven  to create a world that people are excited to live in.

Andrea Merriam

VP, Community Engagement

Graduating magna cum laude from Boston University, Andrea kick-started her career in the suit and tie world of finance for JPMorgan Chase. After rising to the level of VP, she found herself still wanting something more. Andrea added non-profit consulting to her portfolio, helping causes that personally moved her. So when she met PMD Alliance, it was the perfect fusion of start-up creativity, educated professionalism, and driving mission.

Andrea was hooked. She eagerly transitioned into a full-time position with us and now serves as our Vice President of Community Engagement. Her hard-wired empathy and refined communication skills make Andrea ideally suited to developing connections, partnerships and relationships across our numerous stakeholder groups.

Monika Sawdy, RN, MSN-L

VP, Program Operations

With more than 25 years of experience in nursing and nursing leadership, Monika brings an unmatched depth of clinical understanding and operational expertise to her role as VP Program Operations. Monika leads an elite team that has planned, produced and evaluated more than 30 in-person and 60 online programs annually within PMD Alliance.

Born in Germany and moving to the United States as a young adult, Monika’s transatlantic upbringing helped hone her ability, from an early age, to connect with people from vastly different backgrounds. With a passion for streamlining and hardwiring processes, Monika oversees all program deliveries, which ensures that people can wholly trust what PMD Alliance is bringing to the table.

Maureen Simmons, MA, Philanthropy & Development, CFRE

VP, Philanthropy

As Vice President of Philanthropy, Maureen works across teams to ensure that PMD Alliance raises the necessary dollars to fund its ambitious, groundbreaking workshop programs. She oversees Philanthropy, Community Events, Special Events, Planned Giving and PMD Allies, our grassroots fundraising arm. We’re talking heavy-duty responsibilities, but she makes them seem like a breeze.

Before joining us, Maureen was Executive Director for the New Mexico Parkinson’s Coalition (NMPC), the state’s only nonprofit dedicated to persons impacted by PD. She graduated magna cum laude with a BA in English from the University of New Mexico and later received a MA in Philanthropy and Development from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. She holds the distinguished Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) credential, held by just 5,000 people internationally.

Margie Gray, CPC

Manager, Strategic Partnerships

As Manager of Strategic Partnerships, Margie intimately and innately understands the people, players and purposes that PMD Alliance strives to impact with every fiber of our organization. Margie spent 22 years of her career supporting private practice and corporate-owned neurosurgery clinics.

Thus, it was a natural progression when she moved into a support role for MDS neurologists confronting the day-to-day challenges of patients with a variety of movement disorders. Her deep, personal understanding of Parkinson disease and other movement disorders makes Margie a standout member of our Leadership Team.

Judy Talley, MA Gerontology

Director, Certified Parkinson Disease Care

“I’ve had a checkered career trajectory – but I keep it interesting,” says Judy Talley, MA Gerontology, PMD Alliance CPDC director and past PMD Alliance Vice President of Strategic Programs. Judy draws upon extensive experience in business management, along with over two decades of experience in retirement, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and hospital environments.

A rare jack-of-all-trades, Judy parses complexity with finesse and understands the full continuum of care. She foregrounds the challenges faced by all members, from individual care partners to staff members within residential facilities, and delights in discerning solutions. Judy applies her depth of knowledge towards continuous improvement and constantly revises her expectations for program development, as well as personal growth within our team.

Becky Branum

Manager, Live Programs

It’s safe to say that few individuals enjoy interacting with people as much as Becky.  Becky has an effervescent energy that creates immediate bonds and lasting connections in a field that can otherwise push people towards the transactional. As a private business owner for 10 years, Becky nurtured a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by organizations.

She brings that wisdom to PMD Alliance where she has transformed the planning and execution of our live events. Becky’s extensive experience supporting physician directors provides an in-depth understanding of the complexity of navigating the medical system for patients and caregivers—often transforming frustration into action.

Shannon Elliott, NASM-CPT, MA

Manager, In Sync! Network

Earning her Master’s in dance from York University, Shannon famously trod the boards and regaled audiences of the professional dance world for more than 20 years. Her career was and is storied. Always up for expanding her horizons, Shannon executed a full-on career pivot at the opportune moment and applied her artistry to the field of health and wellness. Someone should write a book about this.

A teacher at heart, Shannon earned her personal training and group fitness certifications and began teaching Dance for PD® classes for seniors and those living with Parkinson disease. As the PMD Alliance In Sync Network Manager, she expertly blends elements of dance and movement with the opportunity to help support group leaders expand their roles and deepen their engagement in the movement disorder communities.

Rebecca Korduner

Manager, Digital Programs

Hailing from small-town New England, Rebecca grew up appreciating the value of a tight knit community. After graduating from Gordon College in Massachusetts, she launched her career helping a myriad of non-profit organizations research and implement IT solutions. Never one to stagnate, Rebecca grew into numerous roles, including: Salesforce administrator, web developer, IT manager, grant writer, program facilitator, and associate director.

All this experience honed Rebecca’s Sherlock Holmes-level ability to think at both the global and granular levels and instilled a passion for bringing the power of technology and connectivity to those isolated by health or circumstance. Her current role as Manager, Digital Programs is a perfect blend of innovation, technology and program delivery, which allows PMD Alliance to grow our online community of individuals all over the world.

Amy Reiland

Manager, Community Engagement

Amy is our marketing visionary. She pilots the universe of word and image. She’s also a graphic design gunslinger whose messaging and taglines could give Don Draper a run for his money. Her degree from San Francisco State University with a B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing set her on a trajectory to transform perceptions of organizations based on how people think, feel and react.

She’s worked for more than fifteen years in Marketing and Communications—spurring change for namesake brands in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Amy’s fierce passion for living and laughing and connecting in the moment contributes to her commitment to ensure that PMD Alliance is the leading voice for personal connection in the Parkinson and movement disorder community.

Robin Myers, MAc

Business Manager

Robin holds a Master’s degree in Accounting, and her résumé boasts a long and varied history in accounting, grant reporting and financial management within health-centered nonprofits. She is a rock star in managing the many-faceted financial and business aspects of PMD Alliance. But that’s just for starters. Robin has also earned her Master’s degree from Han University as an acupuncturist and is currently pursuing her doctorate.

Robin is passionate about educating acupuncturists about the intricacies of movement disorders to help patients be better served by the rich reservoir of Chinese medicine. Fully aligned with PMD Alliance in the belief that “information is power,” one of her goals is to bring health and healing through integrative therapies to a population that is severely underserved and seriously underestimated.

Amanda Nelson

Manager, Program Logistics

For ten years, Amanda told stories and planned events for the sports entertainment industry on behalf of incredible companies like ESPN and the NFL Network. It felt like she was living the dream. Several assignments made a lasting impression on her very being, including a visit Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and working at the 2015 Special Olympics. Suddenly, she felt a new calling.

Her desire to not just tell stories but also help others opened what she calls an “inner door,” and she stepped through it. Amanda transferred her skillset towards planning events for nonprofits—events that would have an immediate, yet personal and lasting impact on all who attended. Today, with more than a decade of experience, Amanda helps PMD Alliance impact lives through the more than 30 in-person programs offered annually nationwide.

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