ACHA Across the Country

ACHA is experiencing an exciting period of growth, and with that growth come challenges and opportunities. While ACHA addresses many challenges that face the ACHA community, there are still critical, unmet needs.

One of these needs is to provide more local and regional congenital heart disease (CHD) education programs for patients and their families. Another is to collaborate with local pediatric and adult congenital heart cardiologists to help facilitate patients’ transition from pediatric to adult and life-long care. Helping to connect and engage patients and their families through regional resource groups, and fostering consistent outreach in local communities are also priorities.

As part of this strategy, ACHA has identified five locations across the U.S. to establish a regional presence: Northern Mid-Atlantic, Ohio, Southern California, Colorado, and Texas. These Community Development Coordinators (CDCs) will play a pivotal role in ACHA’s continued success and expansion.

Any questions? Email

Meet the Community Development Coordinators

Northern Mid-Atlantic

As ACHA’s Administrative and Programs Assistant for four years, I developed an understanding of the needs of the CHD community, and look forward to furthering ACHA’s mission to impact and improve the lives of those affected by CHD. Prior to ACHA, for the better part of a decade I worked with chief Tri- State hunger relief organizations with the aim of eradicating hunger and malnutrition locally. Early in my career, I got my start in the non – profit sector as a Community Development Specialist with First State Community Action Agency. It was during this time that I developed a passion for advocacy and outreach. My previous experience in community and economic development, and program and project management will greatly benefit me in this role.

 Upcoming Events

What am I working on?

  • Currently, I’m organizing Regional Patient Resource Groups for the Philly Metro area and Central PA.
  • Organizing Meet and Greets for the Lehigh Valley area and New York.
  • Working with local volunteers to plan fall fundraisers.

Click here to join my Facebook group.


Trawana Porter
Margaret High-Thomas


Hello, my name is Margaret High-Thomas, and I am the Community Development Coordinator for Ohio. I am also the parent of a child with CHD. My daughter, Haley, was diagnosed with aortic stenosis at eight months old. I am very excited to be working with staff and volunteers on local programming and development activities in Ohio.

I am currently working on:

  • Meeting adult congenital heart providers and patients throughout the state and finding out what the needs are in their communities.
  • Setting up Meet & Greet events for current and prospective volunteers.
  • Increasing community awareness of ACHA and supporting local fundraising efforts, including Congenital Heart Walks in Central Ohio and Northern Ohio this fall.

Click here to join my Facebook group

Southern California

As a L.A. native and a CHD patient, I am familiar with the issues surrounding CHD care both personally and locally in Southern California. With a background in anthropology and culinary arts, I have worked as an education coordinator and project manager in the medical and non-profit sectors to bring meaningful programming to communities in need. I am excited to connect and grow the CHD community of Southern California through increased awareness, resources and patient events.

Upcoming events:

  • 9/22/18: San Diego Meet & Greet - La Jolla

  • 9/25/18: Los Angeles Patient Resource Group - Mid-Wilshire

  • 9/29/18: City of Brea Wellness Festival and Health Fair - Brea

  • 10/20/18: Camp del Corazon Family Fun Festival - North Hollywood Park

  • 11/2/18: Women’s Health Conference and Expo - Pasadena

What I'm working on:

  • Organizing more Meet & Greets

  • Arranging in-district visits in October with our local legislators

  • Planning more Patient Resource Groups in the San Fernando Valley and Inland Empire

  • Recruiting and managing a volunteer base in Southern California

Click here to join my Facebook group.

Emily Earhart
Eliza Fernie


Hey there, I’m Eliza Fernie—your Community Development Coordinator.

Originally from Colorado and as a person with CHD in my family, I volunteered to organize an ACHA team for the Bolder Boulder 10k years ago. With a background in public health, I’ve worked as a project coordinator and facilitator in non-profit home health and community health sectors. My passions are connecting people in meaningful ways, building sustainable partnerships, and exploring solutions to unmet needs for people and communities when health-related challenges emerge.

What am I up to?

Click here to join my Facebook group.


I am the Community Development Coordinator for the Texas Region. I myself am an adult living with a CHD. I was born with tetralogy of Fallot and have had several open heart surgeries. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where I still live today. I am a Texas A&M graduate and am married to my college sweetheart, Ben. We have two beautiful children; Clayton, our 3 year old son and Hudson, our 1 year old daughter. I am beyond excited to get to be a part of this organization and bring awareness about ACHA and the resources we can provide for patients, their families and ACHD providers.

Right now I am…

  • Working hard to plan and fundraise for the upcoming Houston Benefit on October 26.
  • Working with the Congenital Heart Walk team to prepare for the upcoming Houston event on October 20.
  • Working with Houston ACHD providers to schedule a patient resource group.

Click here to join my Facebook group 

Kristin Edwards
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