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'm happy to speak at meetings and events.  Feel free to contact me! 

Here is what's happening in Ohio:

  • The first Cleveland area Patient Resource Group will be held Wed. Oct. 24 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at Ahuja Medical Center in Beechwood Ohio. The topic will be "Adults Living with CHD: Issues and Challenges." Family and friends are welcome to attend. Click here to register.
  • There will be a Central Ohio area Patient Resource Group meeting on Sat. Nov. 3 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm in Hilliard Ohio. The topic is "Common illnesses and Your Heart." Family and friends are welcome to attend. Click here to register. 
  • We plan to hold a Meet & Greet event in Central Ohio in November for current and prospective volunteers. Watch for more information here!

Click here to join my Facebook group

Southern California

Hi!  I am the Southern California Community Development Coordinator for ACHA.  I am a LA native and an adult living with a CHD, Shone's Complex.  A graduate of UC Berkeley and the University of London, I have worked as an education coordinator and project manager in both the medical and non-profit sectors.  I currently reside in Orange County with my husband and rescue dog.  I am beyond excited to connect and grow the CHD community of Southern California through increased awareness, resources and patient events. 

Upcoming events:

What I'm working on:

  • Generating Spanish language resources

  • Meeting with our local legislators

  • Planning more Patient Resource Groups

  • Recruiting and managing a volunteer base in Southern California

Click here to join the SoCal ACHA 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?

  • Planning Regional Patient Resource Groups in Colorado. Click here to learn more and join us in Colorado Springs on November 13 and here to RSVP to the Denver event on November 29.
  • Growing our community via booths at community events, our ACHA Colorado Facebook Group, and in-person across the Front Range. Meet & Greets will be coming soon!
  • Building teams and sponsorship for our Denver Congenital Heart Walk on October 28.
  • Meeting with anyone and everyone in Colorado who is interested in volunteering for ACHA.

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.

Upcoming Events:

11/29/18 – Houston Patient Resource Group- Houston Methodist Hospital Sugar Land, Dr. Huie Lin

12/16/2018 - Holiday Meet and Greet- The Rustic Houston

1/2019 - Houston Patient Resource Group - Texas Children's Hospital, details to come

Right now I am…

  • Looking forward to the first Houston Patient Resource Group at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. Dr. Huie Lin will be speaking about Heart Catheterizations. 
  • Working with volunteers to plan winter fundraising events, please reach out to me if you are interested in hosting or volunteering
  • Continuing to meet with ACHD providers in the Houston and surrounding areas.
  • Planning an exciting Holiday Meet and Greet in December at The Rustic, more details to come soon

Click here to join my Facebook group 

Kristin Edwards
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