Board of Directors
We thank the extraordinary individuals who commit their time, wisdom and resources to ACHA. This group oversees our leadership and our activities. Each one of our members brings a special connection to CHD, special talents and strengths to our organization.
The Board meets once a month to discuss ACHA matters. Each member spends at least 12 hours a month working for ACHA. These activities range from fundraising to working with ACHA Board committees, volunteers and staff. Their contributions, both individually and as a group, are vital to advancing ACHA’s mission and advocating for people living with CHD.
The 2017 Board of Directors
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nicholas Pottebaum, secretary, 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.
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.
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.
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 serves as Vice President of 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.
Jeff Ishida is Vice President of Real Estate Development at Costco Wholesale who received his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is a Mustard corrected d-TGA and discovered ACHA in 2009 just before the placement of his first ICD. Jeff found it to be an invaluable source of information, encouragement and camaraderie for adults tackling the complex and uncharted process of aging with a CHD. Currently receiving care at the Washington Adult Congenital Heart Program at Children's National in DC, he is an avid climber, runner and paddle boarder who hopes to inspire other CHD patients to be as active as possible. Jeff lives in Reston, Virginia with his wife, Heather, and sons, Daniel and Mason.
Bonnie Johnson, Esq. was born with d-transposition of the great arteries and became involved in ACHA prior to her most recent procedure to repair pulmonary stenosis of her neo-aortic valve. While researching the procedure, Bonnie found the ACHA online discussion forums to be both a wealth of knowledge and a supportive community. After volunteering for over a decade with another national heart non-profit, Bonnie found her home at ACHA as the only non-profit solely dedicated to addressing the unique medical concerns of those living with CHD. Bonnie is passionate about creating awareness around the necessity of accessible, lifelong care for those living with congenital heart disease and believes no other organization is better situated to do so than ACHA. Bonnie is a graduate of Drexel University School of Law and currently practices in the area of criminal law. In her spare time, Bonnie enjoys investing in real estate and is an avid yogi. Bonnie strongly believes that aside from medical care, there is no greater way to take care of the adult living with CHD than through healthy diet and exercise. Bonnie resides in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband, Abie, and rescue pup, Beau.
Aliza Marlin first committed to advocacy and awareness at age 15 by planning a “Jazzercise for Heart” fundraiser. She was introduced to the Adult Congenital Heart Association after transitioning to an adult CHD specialist and now serves as the Co-Chair of the NYC Congenital Heart Walk, an organic evolution of her teenage dedication. Aliza’s personal mission through ACHA is to gather the adult CHD community together to feel less isolated; to openly and honestly share their unique experiences in a safe environment. Aliza received her BFA from Emerson College in Boston and is a professional Event Planner for New York City’s most iconic and impactful events. She is a member of SAG-AFTRA, The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists as well as Actors’ Equity Association. As a means to find balance, Aliza is also a Certified Yoga Instructor. Aliza and her husband, Gary, live two blocks away from Times Square.
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 is an attorney at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP, a New York law firm, where he practices in the litigation department and maintains an active pro bono voting rights practice. Prior to law school, he served as campaign manager on a number of political campaigns in New York and as the campaign coordinator for a national education policy organization. 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 lives in Rockville Centre, New York.
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.
Susan Timmins is the mother of an adult daughter with CHD. With continual gratitude to the dedication of her daughter’s surgeons and cardiologists for providing innovative surgeries, procedures, and care from the 1980’s to present, she has volunteered over many years with several organizations and foundations committed to improving the lives of those with congenital heart defects and other serious diseases. She attended her first ACHA conference in 2006 and has participated with ACHA in DC since 2007 in advocating for CHD research funding. Susan is delighted to join with ACHA’s other board members and staff in working toward ACHA’s mission of improving and extending the lives of everyone born with a CHD. She is passionate about ensuring access to everyone with CHD to quality appropriate lifelong CHD care. She and her husband reside on the west coast of Florida where they have owned and operated a restaurant perched by the Gulf of Mexico for the past 31 years.
Ted Wagner has been active in the CHD community since his son’s 2nd open surgery in 2013. His middle son, Ben, was born with tetraology of Fallot. Thanks to great medical teams and advances in technology, Ben has been able to enjoy a very active lifestyle. Ted is the co-founder and current co-chair for the Orange County, Ca. Congenital Heart Walk. His prior Board experience includes Habitat for Humanity, Bethany Christian Services and Art & Creativity for Healing. His professional experience includes several financial management positions in technology companies ranging from start-up to Hewlett Packard. Recently, Ted was co-owner, COO & CFO of Ascolta, a technology education company. He is currently a consulting CFO for several growing companies in a variety of industries. Ted’s education includes an MBA from University of California, Irvine and a Bachelor’s in Finance from Cal Poly Pomona. He currently resides in Orange County, Calif with his wife, Donna, and has 3 sons, all in their 20s.
Tom Wix was born with a coarctation of the aorta and a bicuspid aortic valve. Both defects went undetected until the age of 12 where he was asked to get a physical in order to try out for a soccer team. At the age of 13, the narrowing of the aorta was repaired. The bicuspid valve continues to perform normal functions and continues to be monitored with annual checkups. Tom has advanced degrees in Business and Computer Science. He has worked as an engineer, architect, consultant for numerous software related companies for over 35 years. During his professional career, he has also been an entrepreneur starting a consulting company and working for numerous companies managing the customer services departments. He has continued an active life including soccer, running, tennis, and golf and volunteering for several charities. Tom and his wife live in Alpharetta, Georgia, and he currently works for a software company as Customer Success Operations Director.