Meet the Pennsylvania Chapter Board of Directors
President: Lori Jones
Lori Jones has been the chapter president since 2013 and also sits on the national board. She’s been involved with CHF since 2011 when she helped plan Pittsburgh’s first Congenital Heart Walk and has chaired the annual walk ever since. She’s also the 2013 winner of the Philadelphia Eagles Community Quarterback Award for her work with CHF. Her daughter Riley was born with Complete Congenital Heart Block in 2005. She is also an author and a mom to daughter Sydney.
Secretary/Treasurer: Erica Austin
Erica first became involved with the Pennsylvania Chapter in February 2009 after meeting then-president Patty Cheshire at an advocacy event. Since then, Erica joined the board in 2010 and has helped to plan a number of CHF events. She has served as chapter Secretary since 2012, and Treasurer since 2013. Erica is the proud mother of Aaron, born in 2008 with mitral atresia, double outlet right ventricle, VSD, and pulmonary stenosis, and Eli, who is heart healthy and was born in 2014.
Vice President: Nicole Snyder
Nicole Snyder is a mother of two children. Her daughter, Olivia, was born with Coarctation of the Aorta and Bicuspid Aortic Valve in June 2014. Nicole become increasingly interested in supporting research that would help children with CHD’s not only survive, but thrive. She hosted her first event, a Pampered Chef Charity Party, benefitting CHF in February 2015. In honor of Olivia’s first heartiversary, Nicole and her family hosted “Liv With All Your Heart” benefit at the Jersey Shore, in June 2015, which focused on supporting two critical research programs that profoundly impacted Liv’s in utero development at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her passion for supporting CHD research and families led her to join the CHF Pennsylvania Chapter – Sweet Hearts Ball 2016 committee. Nicole joined the Pennsylvania Chapter Board in March 2016.
Founder: Patricia Cheshire
Patricia Cheshire started fundraising for the Children’s Heart Foundation in 2006 and is the founder of the Children’s Heart Foundation’s Pennsylvania Chapter.
Pennsylvania Board Member: Stacey Dritsas
Stacey Dritsas is the mother of three boys, her youngest, Lucas, has Tetrology of Fallot. Lucas had his first open heart surgery at 8 weeks, a heart cath and four other related surgeries. Stacey helped with the Delaware Valley Congenital Heart Walks in 2014 and 2015 as well as the Sweet Hearts Ball in 2015 and joined the board in March of 2015. Stacey wanted to become more involved to help fund the critical research her son, as well as all the other children and families living with congenital heart defects. Her son Lucas will need at least one more open heart surgery to replace his pulmonary valve, which is actively being researched at this time.
Pennsylvania Board Member: Denise Kahler
Denise Kahler’s son Alec was born with a congenital heart defect in 2007. Through many doctors’ efforts and surgeries he unfortunately passed away at 7 weeks old. To survive the unthinkable, Denise and her family began hosting the “Remember An Angel, Swing For a survivor” Golf Outing in loving memory of A.J. in 2009. All of the profits go to the Alec Kahler Memorial Fund of The Children’s Heart Foundation. She’s thankful to have found such a wonderful organization that may save another parent from the heartache of losing a child.
Pennsylvania Board Member: Krista Kaufman
Krista Kaufman’s son was born in 2009 with moderate Aortic Stenosis and at 3 weeks underwent a cardiac catheterization. Her daughter was born in 2011 with Bicuspid Valve, but has needed no intervention. She decided to become involved with CHF after seeing families in more difficult situations than her children and wanted to help raise awareness and funds for research. She’s helped plan several events including Philly Hearts, Thankful Hearts and the Sweet Hearts Ball.
Pennsylvania Board Member: Kelley Lee
Kelley Lee served as chair for the Delaware Valley Congenital Heart Walk in 2015 and plans to fill the same role again in 2016! Her passion to promote CHD awareness and fundraising is wholly inspired by the short life of her son, Griffin, who passed away from complications with his own CHD in 2013.
Pennsylvania Board Member: Jessica Matcho
Jessica Matcho is one of the newest board members at CHF joining in 2015. She became mom to daughter, Gianna, who was born in 2014 with a large ventricular septal defect and small atrial septal defect. She organized the Heart Warrior Walk to raise awareness and funding for CHF in her hometown area of Altoona-Johnstown. She is a Registered Nurse, earning her bachelor’s degree at Robert Morris University and works in an Intensive Care Unit at a Level 1 trauma center. She also has a heart healthy 4 year old son, Gannon.
Pennsylvania Board Member: Michelle McDowell
Michelle McDowell has been involved with CHF 2010. She joined the Pennsylvania Chapter Board in 2015. Michelle has helped plan five CHF events, including co-chairing Philadelphia’s 2016 Sweet Heart Ball. Her daughter Gabrielle was born with Tetrology of Fallot, Ventricular Septal Defect and Pulmonary Artresia in 2008.
Pennsylvania Board Member: Laura McManus
Laura McManus has been involved with the CHF-PA Chapter since 2010 after her daughter, Lily, was born with a complex congenital heart defect, Transposition of the Great Arteries. Laura has been an integral part in helping to plan such events as The Congenital Heart Walk, Philly Hearts 2011 & 2012 and The Sweet Hearts Ball 2015 & 2016. She is thrilled to be able to give back and raise funds for much needed research.
Pennsylvania Board Member: Jamie Mountain
Jamie Mountain is the mother of Sawyer. He was born in October 2014 with a diagnosis of Tricuspid Atresia. Jamie wanted to get more involved with CHF and joined forces with other heart moms for the local Heart Warrior Walk. She is the “go to” person for the Change My Heart fundraiser. Jamie has her bachelors in nursing and is currently a registered nurse in hospice care. She is also a nursing clinical instructor at Penn State Altoona.
Pennsylvania Board Member: William Roberts
William joined the PA Board in 2015. He is the Executive Vice President of Brown & Brown Metro, Inc. and is our board’s advisor on sponsorship acquisitions. He has a passion for children’s charities and giving back to the community.
Pennsylvania Board Member: Melissa Torrissi
Melissa Torrissi joined CHF’s board of directors in September 2013. She has been involved with CHF since June 2013 when she held the first Keep the Beat benefit in Philadelphia, PA. Melissa found CHF when searching for organizations who best represented her need to save children’s lives through Congenital Heart Defect research; her daughter Lux was born in 2012 with Unbalanced Atrioventricular Canal Defect.
Pennsylvania Board Member: Melissa Womelsdorf
Melissa Womelsdorf’s daughter Annalise was born in 2002 with Pulmonary Atresia. Melissa has been a board member with CHF since 2012. Her participation with CHF began in 2011 after attending a CHF-PA fundraising event shortly after her daughter, underwent her 2nd open heart surgery. Realizing her daughter’s most recent type of valve repair surgery was only possible because of CHD research, Melissa decided to become more actively involved in promoting much needed funding for increased CHD research. In addition, Melissa has contributed to the Delaware Valley Congenital Heart Walk as both a committee member and event chair.
Pennsylvania Board Member: Kiley Woodburn
Kiley Woodburn has been on the CHF PA chapter board since March 2015. She was a volunteer for the Greater Pittsburgh Heart Walk in 2014 and co-chaired the event in 2015. Kiley is a registered nurse and worked in both emergency departments at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and also Presbyterian Hospital of UPMC. Kiley has chosen to be a stay at home mom for her two girls, Izzy and Evelyn.
Jaryd, a father of 4, and is the Executive Director/Founder/Head Trainer of Premier Fitness & Boxing Club Inc. Jaryd and his board are active members of the community with a relentless passion, vision and mission to provide a positive environment to families and youth in the community. *His organization held the inaugural “Back 2 School Bash” fundraiser to benefit CHF & Make-A-WISH in August 2016 in an effort to give back to the two foundations who played a major part in his son, Jaryd Jr’s, Quality of life. * *His son was born premature with TGA,VSD, ASD, and other issues that required an emergency surgery at 11 days old. which led to other complications while recovering, all the while CHF and their programs provided extraordinary support while Jaryd Jr. fought to recover. Jaryd is passionate and has high hopes that he can contribute in anyway possible to CHF, the families, and board in anyway possible.*
Medical Advisory Board Members
Dr. Marshall Jacobs
Dr. Marshall Jacobs joined the faculty of the Department of Surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in May, 2013. Dr. Jacobs has been a cardiovascular surgeon and clinical investigator for three decades, with special emphasis on congenital heart disease. In his role in the Division of Cardiac Surgery at Hopkins, he assists the Surgeon-in-charge with respect to oversight of collaboration between the three Pediatric Cardiac Surgery programs affiliated with Johns Hopkins Medicine, and coordinates pediatric cardiac surgery outcomes research for these programs.
Dr. Jacobs’ early investigative work focused on basic cardiovascular physiology, including response to pressure and volume overload under conditions of normal and abnormal coronary perfusion. He was the principle investigator of NIH-funded research that evaluated magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy in the diagnosis of cardiac transplant rejection in a primate model. In the clinical realm he participated in the development and evaluation of innovations in the surgical management of congenital heart malformations, including the staged reconstructive approach to functionally univentricular hearts.
Dr. Jacobs has been a medical advisory board member with the Pennsylvania chapter since the chapter began.
Gil Wernovsky, MD
Dr. Wernovsky works in The Heart Program at Miami Children’s Hospital as the Medical Director of Patient- and Family-Centered Care within the cardiac service line.
Prior to joining Miami Children’s, Dr. Wernovsky served as the Director of Program Development at the Cardiac Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Associate Chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology. He was also the Medical Director of the Neurocardiac Care Program, and the former Medical Director of the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.
Dr. Wernovsky received his medical training at Pennsylvania State University, and his pediatric training at New York Hospital. He completed additional training in pediatric cardiology and cardiac intensive care at Boston Children’s Hospital, and had a faculty appointment at Harvard Medical School. In Philadelphia, he has been a professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Wernovsky has been a medical advisory board member with the Pennsylvania chapter since 2011.