About Us

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.

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.

Judy Talley, MA, Gerontology

Director, Certified Parkinson Disease Care

Judy Talley, MA Gerontology,  brings over two decades of business management and practical insights to her work with PMD Alliance. In her current role as CPDC Director, she applies her wide-ranging experiences in retirement, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and hospital environments to educating facility staffs about ways they can improve daily care for patients and residents with movement disorders.
As PMD Alliance Vice President of Strategic Programs at the organization’s inception, she was instrumental in forming its empowering philosophy and focus on living optimally despite the disease.
Anissa Mitchell, LCSW

Director, Programs

Anissa has a masters degree in social work and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has over 25 years experience working as a medical social worker in a variety of settings.
Ten years ago, Anissa had an opportunity to work exclusively within Parkinson’s disease running an outreach center and found what some would say is her calling. In fact, she has been described as a Parkinson’s passionary- a person with passion and vision for those impacted by Parkinson’s disease.  Anissa has a special interest in supporting the family network. Not long after starting her work in Parkinson’s her own mother was diagnosed. Anissa has developed and facilitated a variety of groups and educational programs for both persons with Parkinson’s and their family members, and loves using creativity to empower others.
Robin Myers, MAc

Director, Business & Operations

Robin holds a Master’s degree in Accounting, and her resume 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 under served and seriously underestimated.

Margie Gray

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.

Amanda Faught Nelson

Manager, Development

As Development Manager, Amanda truly loves connecting with and helping people. Before she came to PMD Alliance, she connected with people through story-telling in the sports entertainment industries 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, 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 through communicating opened what she calls an “inner door,” and she stepped through it. Amanda transferred her skill set towards fundraising and donor relations. Today, with more than a decade of experience, Amanda helps PMD Alliance impact lives through the relationships we build and sustain with donors.

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.

Amy has worked for more than fifteen years in Marketing and Communications—spurring change for namesake brands in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Her 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.

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.

Rachel Staenberg

Manager, Events & Logistics

Rachel is one of PMD Alliance’s newest team members. Earning a Bachelor of Science for Hospitality Management at the University of New Hampshire, Rachel has lived in many cities and has worked at numerous hotels over the last 15 years.

When her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, about 10 years ago, he was in great shape. Rachel lived far away from her folks and was content with life far from home. About 3 years ago, her dad’s prognosis changed into A-typical Parkinsonism with the focus on PSP (Progressive Supranuclear Palsy) and FTD (Frontal Temporal Dementia). Living in NYC at the time, Rachel knew that it was time to move and be closer to her folks. While continuing to work in the hotels and resorts in Scottsdale, AZ, Rachel became very active in the Parkinson’s Community. She became an ambassador with our Alliance in 2018 and when we realized our need for help booking and organizing all of our live events, we couldn’t think of anyone better than Rachel!

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 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.

Shannon Elliott,MA, NASM-CPT

Manager, In Sync!® Network

Earning her Master’s in dance from York University, Shannon was part of the professional dance world for more than 20 years. 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.

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.

Trang Nguyen

Coordinator, Operations

An Arizona native, Trang grew up in Tucson where she studied Marketing at the University of Arizona. She has over a decade of nonprofit experience ranging from online marketing, peer-to-peer fundraising, and database management. Prior to joining PMD Alliance, Trang was a Project Manager and has overseen a wide variety of digital projects for non-profit organizations.

Her project management background has honed a deep passion for organizing and handling all of the little details. As our Operations Coordinator, Trang is involved in creating and implementing the processes that help PMD Alliance’s daily operations run smoothly.

Monika Sawdy, RN, MSN-L

Clinical Educator

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 hard wiring processes, Monika oversees all program deliveries, which ensures that people can wholly trust what PMD Alliance is bringing to the table.

Abbie Stone

Renew! Retreat® Facilitator 

With over 25 years of experience in the fields of Health Education and Gerontology, Abbie has gained invaluable insights working closely with individuals and family members in retirement and adult housing communities.

As an educator she maintains a strong commitment to providing tools and resources that offer an increased awareness and knowledge in the day to day challenges we face living and staying engaged. She contributes heartfelt dedication, compassion and enthusiasm to enhance the well being of care partners and families living with Movement Disorders. Most recently, she was able to respond to residents of the Tucson area who are living with Movement Disorders and started a support group. Through her work with the support group, she was able to connect with PMD Alliance and wanted to join the heartfelt work they were doing.

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