Discussion Forum
A place for registered ACHA members to discuss issues with other members of the ACHA community and provide and receive support.
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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
Barry Meil, Chair
Jerry Boegler, Vice Chair
John C. Fernie, Immediate Past Chair
Kevin Gordon, Treasurer
Denise Garvy, JD, Secretary
Curt J. Daniels, MD, Medical Advisory Board Chair
Heather Abbott
Tamar Adjoian
Christy Uher Ferguson
Cindy Huie
Michael Pernick, JD
Nicholas Pottebaum
Camille Richards, MSN, FNP-BC
Arwa Saidi, MB, BCh, MEd, FACC
Jared Shapiro

Heather Abbott has more than 12 years of experience in marketing and business development. She is a Retail Marketing Consultant specializing in helping retailers manage their gift card programs and she also runs her own online travel business. Heather became involved with ACHA in 2005 after attending a regional event in New Jersey. Since then, she has served on the ACHA Board of Directors from 2008-2014, including several years as treasurer. She is also the Co-Chair of the Congenital Heart Walk Long Island and has been a champion of the Congenital Heart Walk program since its initial inception in late 2009. Heather is thrilled to be rejoining the ACHA Board in 2016 and looks forward to using her marketing and social media skills to help ACHA broaden its reach to congenital heart patients who are currently lost to proper care. In addition to her work with ACHA, Heather also serves on the Board of the Incentive Marketing Association and as a member of the Cornell University Council. In her free time, Heather loves to travel, read, attend Zumba class and train for runDisney 5K and 10K races. Heather has a BS and MBA from Cornell University and she resides in the greater New York City area with her husband.


Tamar Adjoian resides in Brooklyn, NY, and works in research and evaluation for chronic disease prevention at the New York City Department of Health. She was born with ventricular septal defect and pulmonary stenosis, which were surgically repaired when she was a young child. Tamar's involvement with ACHA has been a great experience, combining her personal tie to the CHD community with her professional interest in promoting public health.




Jerry Boegler, Vice Chair, 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.


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.


Christy Uher Ferguson has been developing marketing strategies and enterprise-wide initiatives as an experienced and innovative senior marketing communications executive for more than 15 years. She currently leads Customer Content Marketing at a global technology and services company. Christy has led volunteer recruitment for the American Heart Association Walk in Denver, participated on the Board of the Women in Leadership and Service (WILS) Committee at West Chester University and previously was an active participant with Cardiac Kids. She became involved in ACHA after attending a webinar. She firmly believes that the mission and work of ACHA is critical for the education and advancement of medical care for the many adults now surviving with CHD. She is passionate and committed to producing top-notch awareness strategies that will resonate with ACHA’s members and influencers. Christy lives in Denver with her husband, Jeff.


John C. Fernie, Immediate Past 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.

Denise Garvy, JD, Secretary, 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.


Kevin Gordon, Treasurer, 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.


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.


Barry Meil, Board Chair, a resident of Potomac, MD, develops commercial real estate in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Meil serves on the board of several health-related charitable organizations and runs the Meil Family Foundation. He also previously served on the ACHA Board of Directors from 2008-2013. Barry’s wife Wendy is an ACHA Ambassador. His son Jason was born with tetralogy of Fallot in 1981. Jason had corrective surgery in 1984 and is currently being seen at Children’s National Medical Center in D.C.



Michael Pernick, JD, was born with tetralogy of Fallot and became actively involved with the Adult Congenital Heart Association in 2011 shortly after his third open heart surgery. Michael worked in politics for several years and served as campaign manager on a number of hotly contested political campaigns, as well as the campaign coordinator for a national education policy organization. After a few years in politics, Michael attended law school and is now working in the litigation department at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP, a New York City law firm. Michael is passionate about the Adult Congenital Heart Association because he believes the organization is uniquely suited to advocate for all Americans living with congenital heart defects. Michael is a graduate of Wesleyan University and NYU School of Law, and in his spare time he plays the fiddle in several bands. Michael grew up on Long Island and currently lives in Manhattan.


Nicholas Pottebaum is an experienced finance and accounting professional, currently serving as a business analysis director at CNA, a large insurance carrier in Chicago. Prior to his current role, Nicholas was a consultant in CNA’s financial planning and analysis group, and before that he held various positions at KPMG in both audit and business valuation consulting. Nicholas holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Financial Analyst. Nicholas was born with a coarctation of the aorta that was diagnosed and surgically repaired when he was 11. He became actively involved with ACHA in 2014 and is passionate about creating awareness around the need for CHD-specific medical treatment to save and extend lives. Nick resides in Chicago with his wife, Andrea, and son, Robert.


Camille Richards, MSN, FNP-BC, is the program director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS. She received her undergraduate training at the University of Virginia School of Nursing and her graduate training at the University of Florida School of Nursing. As a Mississippi native, Camille is well aware of the medical disparities among the patient populations in the state. While researching patient education resources for her program, Camille found the ACHA website. She began communicating with the Adult Congenital Heart Association to bring attention to the unique patient issues in Mississippi in order to fill the gaps in their care. She attended the Legislative Conference in 2015 and was impressed by the impact that providers, patients and families affected by CHD have on the legislature. She joined the board in hopes of expanding CHD knowledge within her state and drawing attention to the challenges CHD patients face. In her spare time, Camille is an avid kayaker and enjoys challenging outdoor adventures with her husband, Peter.


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.


Jared Shapiro was born and raised in Northern New Jersey and has more than 15 years of experience in healthcare operations and regulatory compliance. Jared is a PhD and a DrPh candidate in Health Policy. Jared was born with CHD; with his first surgery at 18 months old, he has spent much of his life going to various cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. Jared’s wife Rachel grew up with an undiagnosed CHD until she was in her late twenties. Jared is passionate about creating awareness and improving outcomes for adults living with CHD.