Discussion Forum
A place for registered ACHA members to discuss issues with other members of the ACHA community and provide and receive support.

Board of Directors

The Adult Congenital Heart Association is overseen by an elected Board of Directors.

The members of the Board meet monthly to discuss ACHA matters and each member spends at least 12 hours a month working for ACHA, from fundraising independently to working with volunteers on numerous ACHA committees. Each member brings a variety of talents to the Board and working together, they are able to combine their strengths to best serve ACHA's mission to educate and advocate for adults with congenital heart defects.

Interested in joining the ACHA Board of Directors? Click here for a full description of responsibilities.

Board of Directors
John C. Fernie, Chair
Anne Gammon, Vice Chair
Heather Abbott, Treasurer
Kay Deeney, Secretary
Curt J. Daniels, MD, Medical Advisory Board Chair
Jerry Boegler
Denise Curcio
Elyse Foster, MD
Denise Garvy, JD
Kevin Gordon
Jenne Hickey, MSN, FNP-BC
Cindy Huie
Martha Pauly
Peggy Powers
Arwa Saidi, MB, BCh, MEd, FACC
Marion Wachtenheim

Heather Abbott, Treasurer, has over eight years of Marketing and Business Development experience and currently manages the Gift Card Corporate Sales program and the 3rd Party Gift Card program for a major NY based retailer. She also has over three years of experience as a Board Member for two local Cornell Alumni groups. Coupled with her professional and non-profit Board experiences, Heather brings her enthusiasm for helping find “lost” adult congenital heart defect (ACHD) patients and prior fundraising experience to the ACHA Board of Directors. She is also the NYC area ACHA Local Leader. Heather received her Bachelor of Science (BS) degree from Cornell University in 1998 and received her Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Cornell University in 2003.

Jerry Boegler has more than 10 years in business development and marketing in the defense and federal marketplace and is a Senior Manager with one of the world’s largest defense and aerospace companies. Jerry has been involved in the congenital heart community through his husband and former ACHA Board member, Brian. Brian was born with Transposition of the Great Arteries and a ventricular septal defect. He had corrective surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston currently receives care at the ACHD program at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Jerry understands the unique role a spouse plays in the lifelong care of an ACHD patient.

Denise Curcio became an active member within the congenital heart community shortly after her daughter was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome in 2009. She has been a volunteer committee member for the annual Congenital Heart Walk – Delaware Valley since its inception in 2010, forming the top fundraising team that year. She volunteers for the Children’s Heart Foundation–Pennsylvania Chapter. Denise’s full commitment to ACHA is due to her belief in the mission, along with the confidence that their efforts represent the greatest chance of hope and optimism for a bright future, not only for her daughter but for everyone affected by CHD. Denise has nearly 25 years of professional experience in for-profit and nonprofit organizations within many consulting, clinical and management roles. She is also the founder of Journeys with Purpose, a vocational consulting firm specializing in helping individuals discover their passions, purpose and innate giftedness. Denise holds an undergraduate degree in International Relations and Economics and a Master of Science Degree in Counseling Psychology, and is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in psychology. She resides in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband, two children and two golden retrievers.

Curt J. Daniels, MD, Medical Advisory Board Chair, is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics in the Division of Cardiology at The Ohio State University and Division of Pediatric Cardiology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He is the Founder and Director of the Columbus Ohio Adult Congenital Heart Disease (COACH) and Pulmonary Hypertension Programs. Board certified in both pediatric and internal medicine cardiology, Dr. Daniels serves on the Adult Congenital/Pediatric Cardiology Council and the ACHD Working Group of the American College of Cardiology and is also the Chair of the Quality Metrics Working Group for ACHD. In addition to the ACHA MAB, he is a member of the Professional Affairs Committee, the Research Committee, and was a member of the Steering Committee for ACHA Vision 2020. Dr. Daniels is the current President–Elect of the International Society for ACHD. He is committed to education and has developed a fellowship program for ACHD and has worked to develop subspecialty board certification in ACHD. Dr. Daniels is also committed to patient education and for the past three years has led a bi-monthly regional patient education lecture series for ACHD patients. He has also led the effort to provide a personalized electronic medical record for all ACHD patients followed in their program. Dr Daniels has designed, implemented and successfully completed multiple ACHD research studies and presented his research nationally.

Kay Deeney, MLS, AHIP, Secretary, has been a biomedical librarian for more than 30 years. She received her MLS from Rutgers University and currently works in the regional offices of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region, located at UCLA. As a librarian, she teaches classes about health information resources from the National Library of Medicine such as PubMed and MedlinePlus. Kay has extensive experience in internet health information resources and has been active in promoting access to health information for better decision making among people with CHD. As an adult with CHD, she has seen many positive changes in the treatment of patients with chronic diseases. Kay is interested in these CHD issues: lifelong care, patient registries and transitional care.

John C. Fernie, Board Chair, became curious about ACHA as his young adult child with congenital heart defects discovered ACHA. They found that the organization provided extremely important support and encouragement through its forums, previous local groups, conferences, leadership and educational opportunities. John attended the 2011 ACHA national conference and was very impressed with the professionalism that ACHA exhibited during the conference as well as the commitment of patients and medical professionals to ACHA. John’s professional experience includes a stint as a college professor and subsequently 32 years in management positions in the finance and real estate industry. He is currently a Trustee on the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation and has served on the governing boards of several for-profit and non-profit organizations. John and his wife Barbara, who is a hospital Chaplain and also an active member in several charitable organizations, have two children.

Elyse Foster, MD, received her undergraduate degree and M.D. from Tufts University. She did her residency in Internal Medicine and Cardiology Fellowship at Boston University Hospital. She joined the faculty at University of California, San Francisco in 1989, and she is currently Director of the Adult Echocardiography Laboratory and the UCSF Adult Congenital Heart Disease Practice. The UCSF Core Research Echocardiography Laboratory has analyzed echocardiography data for numerous large clinical trials under her direction. Her current research interests include the natural history of congenital heart disease and vascular function in patients with repaired congenital heart disease. Dr. Foster has had an active role in the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and the International Society of Adult Congenital Cardiac Disease. She is currently the co-Chair of the newly formed Committee on Adult Congenital Heart Disease of the AHA.

Denise Garvy, JD, became involved with ACHA through her husband, who was born with d-transposition of the great arteries. Denise and her husband have found ACHA to be a tremendous resource for adults with congenital heart defects and have been extremely impressed with the organization’s commitment to improving the quality of life of adults with congenital heart disease. As the spouse of an adult congenital heart patient, Denise is acutely aware of the need for quality and accessible care for this patient group, as well as the need to empower these patients to manage their care. Denise is passionate about ensuring that ACHD patients receive appropriate care from specialists who understand their unique issues. Denise is an attorney who has practiced nearly 20 years in a wide range of legal areas, including corporate, employment, litigation, real estate and estate planning. She is currently taking a leave from the practice of law as she focuses on raising her two young daughters. Denise resides in a suburb of Chicago with her husband, their two daughters, and their two English bulldogs.

Anne Gammon, Vice Chair, has been active within the congenital heart community since 2002. With a background in writing, she has put this skill to work for several non-profit groups. In addition to serving on their boards, she also helped with the formation of two non-profits. After her youngest child was born in 2001 with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, Anne began working with the Congenital Heart Information Network and later with Palmetto Hearts. She participated in her first Lobby Day in 2009. Hearing the stories of several adult CHD survivors impressed upon her the strong need for the message of lifelong care to reach parents of young CHD patients. Living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Anne and her husband Bill have four children.

Kevin Gordon hasn't allowed his complex congenital heart defect (d-TGA) to keep him from a wonderful life and a successful career. Professionally, Kevin has significant experience in retail sales, sales management, advertising, marketing, consumer research, technology development, e-commerce, retail concept development, strategic planning, venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, financial strategy, and new ventures. After 20+ years in corporate life, much of it with Best Buy, Kevin spent another decade as a founding partner in a retail strategy consulting firm. Personally, Kevin has traveled much of the world, and continues to pursue his passion for friends, books, music, theater, photography, sports cars, and (spectator) sports. Kevin finally hooked up with the Adult Congenital Heart Association after he attended the 3rd National Conference held at the Mayo Clinic in 2004. Kevin is excited about the opportunity to use his skills to help others with CHD learn more about their condition. Kevin lives in Minnetonka, MN, and Palm Springs, CA, with his wife, Michelle Traeger, and Squirt, their adorable Maltese.

Jenne Hickey, MSN, FNP-BC, has been involved in the care of CHD patients for 10+ years. In 2005 she decided to commit her career to the care of ACHD patients while working with the Columbus Ohio Adult Congenital Heart Program (COACH Program at Nationwide Children's Hospital & The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center). She is committed to providing quality care to patients with CHD. Jenne is particularly interested in the efforts to locate patients lost to cardiology care as well as the education and transition of patients during the move from pediatric to adult-centered CHD care. ACHD research is also a passion for her in an effort to identify long-term outcomes and treatments that will extend the lives of ACHD patients. Jenne received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Capital University as well as training as a family nurse practitioner and a Master of Science in Nursing at Otterbein College. She works as a nurse practitioner in the COACH Program in Columbus, Ohio.

Cindy Huie, lives in Scottsdale, AZ, where she and her husband, Richard, own and operate a landmark seafood restaurant. She is the mother of an adult with CHD, Andi Young, and discovered ACHA in 2007 when they were in search of ACHD care. In 2008, Cindy and her daughter attended the ACHA National Conference in Philadelphia and came away very impressed with ACHA’s commitment to improving and prolonging the lives of heart defect survivors. They both soon became ACHA volunteers in Phoenix, working on advocacy, awareness and education projects jointly with the local ACHD program staff and administrators. In 2009, they initiated and coordinated a successful ACHA fundraising event in Phoenix which will continue to be an annual event. Prior to Cindy’s involvement with ACHA, she sat on the state and regional Boards of Directors of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic for almost 9 years; during those years, she served as Chairman of the state Board for 3 years. Cindy comes to the Board excited to bring her non-profit resource development experience and put it to work helping grow ACHA.

Martha Pauly lives in Northern Virginia. She works inspecting child care centers for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Martha is the single mother of two adult children, ages 21 and 25. Her 25-year-old son, Andrew, has single ventricle and has had seven open heart surgeries. She and her son have participated in Lobby Day on Capitol Hill three times and been to one ACHA Conference. Martha has become an “accidental” medical advocacy expert and continues to learn everyday through this unique journey.

Peggy Powers began working in pediatric cardiology in 1994 and was surprised to find out how many adult patients the practice continued to follow! This launched her interest in ACHD and the way care is delivered, and her eventual discovery of ACHA. In 2000, Peggy became Executive Director of the Center for ACHD at California Pacific. She coordinates education and support group meetings for ACHDers and their loved ones, and quarterly ACHD case management conferences for medical providers. Peggy enjoys living in Berkeley with her partner and their son, and has been an active board member at her son's school.

Arwa Saidi, MB, BCh, MEd, FACC, received her degrees from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland, in 1988. She completed a residency in internal medicine/pediatrics and a fellowship in pediatric cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. After working in Dublin for several years, she returned to the United States and worked briefly in Orlando before joining the faculty at the University of Florida in 2003, where she currently serves as director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program. Residents have twice chosen her as the department’s “Outstanding Teacher of the Year.” Away from the hospital, she enjoys traveling, watching movies and running marathons.

Marion Wachtenheim, MSW, is a psychotherapist in private practice. For 34 years she has worked with individuals, couples, and families struggling with various issues in their lives. She is the mother of Daniel, born with Tricuspid Atresia. During his childhood she served on boards and task forces that addressed the needs of children with complex health problems and their families, and developed an organization and support group for families in Rhode Island. She became interested in ACHA when Daniel was an adolescent, and attended a conference, which inspired her to become a member. In November 2008, Daniel died suddenly at age 25, as he was pursuing a career in screenwriting and directing. Marion presented on the parent perspective at the ACHA professional conference in Boston in 2009. She has particular interests in the area of training of professionals, bringing a strong psychosocial perspective to care at CHD centers, and attention to the needs of people with congenital heart defects, their families, and significant others during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Marion lives in Rhode Island and has another son who is about to begin medical school in Israel.