About Us

About PMD Alliance

The Parkinson & Movement Disorder Alliance is an independent, national non-profit organization that provides opportunities for people impacted by Parkinson’s and other movement disorders to learn, live life more fully, and connect with others.

PMD Alliance reaches across all communities and partners with many organizations, institutions, and movement disorder specialists. We seek to address the needs of the people we serve by providing innovative solutions that inform, inspire and empower. These include experiential opportunities, educational programs, and growth-oriented social interactions.

Focusing on the whole person, PMD Alliance complements a physician’s care with live and online holistic wellness services that include: 

  • Educational workshops
  • Care partner and adult children retreats 
  • Support group leader conferences and resources
  • Interactive physician-led online discussions
  • Live-stream wellness and support programs 

Our Vision

PMD Alliance is a systems advocacy organization.

We created the Movement Disorder Care & Support Ecosystem© to serve as a guiding star as we develop and refine our programming. When all parts of the ecosystem are working well, and working together, the positive effect on people impacted by movement disorders is immeasurable.

Our Team

Sarah Jones, MPA, MS Strategic Design

CEO

With more than 25 years of experience leading non-profits and health care programs, Sarah is an energetic, visionary leader who continually seeks opportunities to increase impact and address unmet needs.  Her expertise extends to creating dynamic work cultures, systemic transformations, and blending passion for mission with innovative, high-quality business models. Sarah has led multi-million dollar nonprofits bringing an average annual revenue and service delivery growth of 80-150%. Recognized for her ability to develop strong cultures, she led the merger of two large nonprofits resulting in national recognition and positioning the organization to remain stable, and transform service delivery for people impacted by abuse statewide.

Sarah has designed programs and led trainings for local, national and international audiences, including groups in Canada and Botswana. She has developed extensive interactive materials, games and experiential learning modules and materials used to increase efficiency in hospital, community based healthcare systems, and nonprofit organizations. Called upon to solve issues of efficiency and develop a culture of innovation, she has acted as a consultant for large health care systems, integrated medicine clinics and global brands including Campbell’s Soup/Bolthouse Farms teaching teams to utilize design thinking and strategic design principles to disrupt and change end user experience.

Sarah holds two Masters degrees: Masters of Science in Strategic Design Management and a Masters in Public Administration (healthcare). She is a black belt in Lean Six Sigma and holds a number of certifications for providing team and individual development. Passionate about the team she works with and the people she is honored to serve.  Sarah is driven by the belief that life is too short to just show up every day and she strives to create a world that we are excited to live in and be a part of.

Andrea Merriam

VP, Community Engagement

After graduating magna cum laude from Boston University, Andrea began her career in the world of finance with JPMorgan Chase. A decade later Andrea found herself with the title of vice president at Chase, but wanting more. Now living in Arizona, Andrea was recruited into the tech start-up community of Scottsdale’s Silicon Desert. The fast pace and bold moves typical of young software companies was an exciting contrast to her past work, and Andrea learned much about technology and entrepreneurship. Still wanting more, Andrea added non-profit consulting work to her portfolio, helping causes she personally cared about with their business development strategy.

When she met PMD Alliance, the organization was a perfect blend of start-up energy, strategic creativity, educated professionalism, and fulfilling mission and Andrea eagerly transitioned into a full-time position. With a deep understanding of end-user experience and human centric design strategies, Andrea is able to synthesize convergent thinking and create partnerships and collaborations that exponentially add value to all partners. Her corporate and sales experience positions her as an ideal leader in developing and growing community and corporate partnerships.

Andrea now serves as the Vice President of Community Engagement for PMD Alliance. In this role, she leads the communication, business development, and technology initiatives of the organization. Her hard-wired empathy and refined communication skills make Andrea well-suited to developing connections, partnerships, and relationships across the organization’s numerous stakeholder groups.

Monika Sawdy, RN, MSN-L

VP, Program Operations

With more than 25 years of experience in nursing and nursing leadership in a variety of roles, Monika brings a depth of clinical understanding and operational expertise to her role as VP Program Operations. Prior to joining PMD Alliance she acted as Research Coordinator for Banner Sun Health Research Institute Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials. Having been the Director of the Peri-operative Acute-Care arena for 10 years, she is able to lead a variety of qualified personalities to accomplish extensive individual tasks while ensuring a high level of quality, attention to details and systemic adherence. This experience has enabled Monika to lead a lean, highly-skilled team to plan, produce and evaluate more than 30 live and 60 live-stream programs annually within PMD Alliance.

Monika was born in Germany and moved to the United States as a young adult. She immediately and fiercely pursued citizenship and engaged in the health and wellness field. Her medical and operational leadership has spanned roles including EMT/Paramedic for the military, case management, inpatient, surgical and private practice nursing as well as hospice care. Her breadth of clinical and operational experience coupled with her empathy and  innate ability to connect position her to meet the needs of the varied population of people impacted by movement disorders as well as those medical networks critical to their ecosystem. With a passion for streamlining and hardwiring processes needed for smooth function of organizational program operations, Monika oversees all program delivery, ensuring people accessing our services, donors and funders can trust that PMD Alliance is wholly dedicated on moving the needle in services we provide today!

Maureen Simmons, MA, Philanthropy & Development, CFRE

VP, Philanthropy

As Vice President of Philanthropy, Maureen oversees all Philanthropy, Community Events, Special Events, Planned Giving, and PMD Allies, our grassroots fundraising arm. She works across teams to ensure that the PMD Alliance helps raise necessary dollars to fund its ambitious educational workshop programs. Immediately before joining PMD Alliance, Maureen was Executive Director for the New Mexico Parkinson’s Coalition (NMPC), the state’s only nonprofit dedicated to persons impacted by Parkinson’s. During her career, she has served as a senior leader in a variety of healthcare organizations including: Chief Development Officer for the American College of Preventive Medicine, Director of Development for the American College of Radiologic Technology, and Director of Sales for St. Joseph Healthcare System PPO, a Medicare Advantage Plan.

Maureen 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. Her graduate work concentrated on the role and value of corporate partnerships. Her article summarizing her graduate work appeared in a piece that was published in the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy Journal. Her article was selected by the AHP Journal Advisory Council to receive the Healthcare Philanthropy Journal Award where she was recognized at the annual AHP International Conference. She holds the distinguished Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) credential, held by just 5,000 people internationally and a recognized certification in the fundraising field based on education, professional practice and professional performance (philanthropic dollars raised).

Margie Gray, CPC

Manager, Strategic Partnerships

In her career focused mainly within health care, Margie started in the Public Health space, developing a technology-based framework for documentation and reimbursement within the county-wide Home Care program. Entering the more complex institutional-based community, she was supportive in navigating compliance with the Federal Register in documentation and professional medical staff areas to ensure quality standing and optimum reimbursement. On a more grassroots level, Margie spent 22 years supporting private practice and corporate-owned neurosurgery, and as practice

manager and professional coder, implemented documentation tools to meet E&M requirements and secure maximum reimbursement with accurate coding principles and supportive documentation. She on-boarded a number of neurosurgeons through the years and maintained compliance with their licensure, malpractice and CME requirements for privileging.

As a practice manager, Margie developed an intimate knowledge of movement disorders and the nuances of people navigating a movement disorder from a neurosurgical standpoint with DBS (deep brain stimulation) for people impacted by Parkinson disease and Essential Tremor. It was a natural progression as she moved into a support role for MDS neurologists dealing with the day to day struggles of their patients with a variety of movement disorders through treatment plans designed uniquely for each individual. This deep and personal understanding of Parkinson’s and other movement disorders and the challenges that they face makes Margie a valuable member of the PMD Alliance team in general and the Leadership Team. As the Manager of Strategic Partnerships, she understands the people, the players, the processes, the purpose and the potential of what PMD Alliance strives to do to move the needle by helping those people impacted by movement disorders live life more fully –today!

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. While she stepped back in 2018 from a full-time position, she continues to be a valuable resource, drawing upon her extensive experience in business management along with over two decades of experience in retirement, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and hospital environments. While holding positions in sales and marketing, Judy understood well the importance of listening on purpose and using a positive, clear and engaging communication style. This is evident with her interaction and deep connection with all stakeholders, and she never hesitates to share her wisdom.

 

Judy has extensive experience and understanding of the complexity of the continuum of care and challenges faced by all members of the ecosystem, from individual care partners to staff members within residential facilities. Her understanding has truly changed the game in providing services to these stakeholders. She regularly designs and participates in program development with an eye on the end-user need, demonstrating her acute observation that a pragmatic and energetic compassion moves more mountains than an idealistic longing ever could. Recognizing that the best results occur when the effort benefits everyone involved and meaningfully answers their question, “What’s in it for me?” Judy uses her depth of knowledge and wisdom to constantly raise the bar of expectation for program development and delivery as well as for personal growth within the PMD Alliance team.

Becky Branum

Manager, Live Programs

It is safe to say that few individuals enjoy people and interacting as much as Becky.  She has an effervescent energy that creates immediate bonds and connections.  Her indescribable love and passion for people is evident to every person in the room as she shines a laser focus on ensuring that all people are cared for, connected and fulfilled.  Every organization she has worked for has benefitted from these unmistakable qualities.

As a private business owner for 10 years, Becky has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by all organizations.  She brings this wisdom with her to PMD Alliance and has transformed the planning and execution of PMD Alliance live events.

Never satisfied with mediocre, she consistently goes above and beyond for anyone in need of service, information or support. Becky’s extensive experience supporting physician directors for a movement disorder center of excellence for nearly seven years has provided her an in-depth understanding of the complexity of navigating the medical system for people impacted by movement disorders as well as their loved ones.

Shannon Elliott, NASM-CPT, MA

Manager, In Sync! Network

Having earned her Master’s in dance from York University and her Bachelor’s in dance management, Shannon brings an impressive set of qualifications to the table, but it doesn’t stop there. She has worked in the professional dance world for 20 years as a performer, teacher, choreographer, director and arts administrator. Her recognition goes even further in that she has served in various capacities for arts nonprofits and academic institutions in the United States and Canada and she has implemented programs and service lines ensuring that participants have an experiential learning opportunity.

Yet, again, it doen’t stop there. Shannon has applied her background more specifically by transitioning to the field of health and wellness. She earned her personal training and group fitness certifications as well as 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 her dance and movement experience with the opportunity to help support group leaders expand their roles and deepen their engagement in the movement disorder communities across the nation. Shannon’s creativity is endless and her ability to connect, empathize and engage with people is immediately evident in all of her interactions. All of the knowledge and skills that Shannon has gained are utilized as she coaches and guides support group leaders nationally to not just lead their groups, but to lead them in experiential ways and increase their capacity to live their lives more fully.

Rebecca Korduner

Manager, Digital Programs

An innovative problem solver at heart, and hailing from small-town New England, Rebecca has dedicated her career to bringing the power of technology to the non-profit sector. After graduating with an English degree from Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, she has spent over a decade helping a myriad of non-profit organizations grow and develop by researching, creating, and implementing IT solutions. Rebecca’s genius lies in her ability to uncover, understand, and dismantle complex roadblocks and inefficiencies, and then work creatively using everything from cutting edge technology to business fundamentals to craft a solution.

 

Rebecca’s ability to think both at the global and granular levels stems from the many roles she has held in the non-profit world, including: Salesforce administrator, web developer, IT Manager, grant writer, program facilitator, associate director, and more. This background, partnered with her technology skill set, allows her to understand each moving piece within an organization and develop automation and efficiencies that keep costs down and allow staff to focus on what’s important – the mission. Her current role as Manager, Digital Programs is a perfect blend of innovation, technology and program delivery, which allows PMD Alliance to reach individuals all over the world.

Amy Reiland

Coordinator, Communication Systems

Always looking to expand awareness and create buzz, Amy is a true marketing visionary. Her degree from San Francisco State University with a B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing set her on a trajectory to assist in transforming organizations based on how people think. She has worked for more than fifteen years in Marketing and Communications in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors, analyzing and effectively communicating value proposition. With a passion for analytics, Amy enjoys evaluating engagement, utilization and longevity in programming. This depth of analysis helps PMD Alliance continue its commitment to being a responsive and innovative organization – adapting to the needs of the people we serve in long-term planning as well as in the present. With excellent graphic design skills and a level of efficiency that rivals any professional, she is constantly creating change, moment by moment.

Amy’s personal experience with a loved one’s chronic illness, partnered with her fierce passion for living contributes to her commitment to ensure that PMD Alliance is recognized as the leading voice for deep change and personal connection, while partnering with others, in the Parkinson’s and movement disorder community.

Robin Myers, MAc

Business Manager

Robin’s broad and varied experience and training along with an excellent array of talent has uniquely prepared her for her critical role as Business Manager within PMD Alliance. Her management and accounting expertise is only the beginning. Her background of residential construction jobsite management, along with her experience in nonprofit accounting, blended with her training in oriental medicine all utilize analogous experience to assist her in rethinking puzzling and complex issues, all of this fitting perfectly within a focus of design thinking. Robin has extensive experience in accounting, grant reporting and financial management within health centered nonprofits and is a rock star, managing the many faceted financial and business aspects of PMD Alliance.

 

Robin has 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 many intricacies of Parkinson disease and other movement disorders in order for all those impacted by these disorders to be more fully served by the rich reservoir that Chinese medicine can offer. Fully aligned with PMD Alliance in the position 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 at times misunderstood.

Amanda Nelson

Manager, Program Logistics

For ten years Amanda was privileged to tell stories and plan events for the sports entertainment industry with incredible opportunities working for companies like ESPN and the NFL Network. While these opportunities might be aspirations for some, there were several assignments that made a lasting impression, gradually changing Amanda’s focus. These assignments included visiting Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and working the 2015 Special Olympics, and the experiences opened that inner “door” that turned Amanda’s focus on the social and nonprofit sectors. She found herself nudged toward transferring her skillset to plan events for those events that would have an immediate, yet personal and lasting impact.

With more than a decade of experience in communications, events, marketing and social media, Amanda helps PMD Alliance continue to impact lives through the more than 30 live programs offered each year across the country.  Navigating venues and negotiating details for the various events is a passion for Amanda.  She is determined to ensure attendees have a tremendous learning experience while maintaining good stewardship of sponsor and donor funding.

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