Board of Directors of Epilepsy Alliance America: 2023 Leadership Changes and New Members
Epilepsy Alliance America’s Board of Directors met in November 2022 and approved the nominations of new members of the Board of Directors as well as the officer slate for 2023. The terms for the new Board members and officers take effect on January 1, 2023.
PEGGY BEEM JELLEY
Peggy will serve as Chair of the Board of Directors. Peggy is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Epilepsy Alliance America and President and CEO of Epilepsy Association of Western and Central Pennsylvania. She has served on the Executive Committee and the Program Committee of Epilepsy Alliance America since its inception.
Peggy assumed the position of President and CEO of Epilepsy Association of Western and Central Pennsylvania in April of 2014 after 21 years of program experience with the Epilepsy Foundation. Peggy’s career spans 36 years of work in legislative advocacy for disability rights and advocacy organizations including the Arc, Life Service Systems, the Iron City Legal Assistance Workers and other community based service agencies in Pennsylvania. She has developed strong general management, program development, human resources, budgeting, planning, board relations, advocacy, fundraising and government relations skills. Peggy now uses those skills to lead a staff team serving 49 counties in western/central Pennsylvania.
Jeff completes his term as Chair of the Board of Directors on December 31, 2022. Jeff is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Epilepsy Alliance America. His first role on the Executive Committee was that of Vice Chair and he assumed the role of Chair in 2020. During his tenure as Board Chair the membership of Epilepsy Alliance America increased from eight founding member organizations to seventeen member organizations. Jeff will continue to serve on the Board of Directors and on the Executive Committee as Immediate Past Chair.
In addition to Peggy and Jeff, the Executive Committee Members for 2023 are LIZA GUNDELL , serving as Vice Chair; KAREN EGOZI, serving as Treasurer and KATHY SCHRAG, serving as Secretary.
NEW BOARD MEMBERS
New individuals joining the Board of Directors of Epilepsy Alliance America effective January 1, 2023 are CAITLIN BERNARD-VINCENT, SARAH DAU and ERIKA FLECK.
In 2009, CAITLIN BERNARD-VINCENT graduated high honors with a Master’s of Social Work and a Master’s of Criminal Justice from Loma Linda University in Southern CA. Caitlin went on to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in 2014. Caitlin has been working at Valley Children’s Hospital as a social worker since early 2012 in the Neurology Department where she specialized in Epilepsy as well as mental health. Most recently, over the last three years, she has been Valley Children’s Epilepsy Program Manager.
Caitlin loves this role, as she is able to take her experiences with patients and families who live with epilepsy to create, build and implement patient, family and community support programs. Caitlin’s goal remains to Elevate Epilepsy and break down surrounding stigma through education and awareness campaigns. She has helped create a Seizure Safe Program at Valley Children’s Hospital, Seizure Medication Administration Videos, School Education Trainings among other initiatives. Caitlin is excited to join Epilepsy Alliance America as a Board member to help join in the mission to provide epilepsy care and expand access to resources for families across the United States.
SARAH DAU is the VP of Business Development at The Power Practice, providing practice management consulting services and empowering optometrists to accomplish their goals to create, develop and/or grow their dream practice. Doctors do not receive business and entrepreneurship training while in optometry school. Power Practice helps to bridge the gap between clinical training and business ownership so each and every client can approach their practice in an organized and strategic manor. She finds her role incredibly rewarding and believes the company, and her personal success, is a direct result of amazing clients coupled with a collaborative team she is honored to work with every day.
Sarah has been a long-standing advocate and voice to the epilepsy community. Her mission to create awareness and support those individuals and families affected by epilepsy is a personal one. Her father was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 18 years old. At the time of diagnosis, the neurologist told him not to tell anyone about his seizures because no one would want to be his friend. As a result, this created a sense of isolation and shame with the only coping tool he was directed to use – silence. Fast forward to 2008, Sarah’s 8-year-old son was also diagnosed with epilepsy. Her father’s biggest fear was that someone would learn of his grandson’s diagnosis resulting in he too, having to live under the same stigma. He wanted Sarah to “protect” him by keeping “the secret.” She instinctively knew, the best way to protect him was to spread awareness and turn fears into understanding and acceptance. It was time to change the narrative! In 2009, Sarah contacted Epilepsy Services of NJ (ESNJ) for help and support. ESNJ provided that much needed support and guidance which helped funnel fears and emotions of our journey into action. Sarah and her family soon found themselves volunteering for Epilepsy Services of NJ, participating in epilepsy walks, events, speaking engagements, advocating on “the Hill” in Washington, DC, to her son being the main character in a comic book all about epilepsy. In 2019, she was asked to become a board member to help support Epilepsy Services of NJ, under their umbrella organization of Family Resource Network. To date, she serves as the Executive VP of the board.
When not working or advocating, you will find Sarah enjoying spending time with her husband, Eric, and their 3 children, rescue dog, George, as well as extended family and friends. She also serves as a volunteer assistant coach to her local high school’s gymnastics team. She strives to live by one of her favorite mantras, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This has “fueled her fire” in both her professional and personal life. Sarah looks forward to serving and supporting all within the epilepsy community and is excited to be a part of Epilepsy Alliance America.
ERIKA FLECK currently serves as the Vice President of Government Affairs Public Relations & Advocacy of the Epilepsy Advocacy Network, of which is she is also a co-founder. Erika has been a peer facilitator for support groups for ten years, a role she started in as a volunteer. Erika plays an integral role of connecting with doctors and specialty services in the communities that Epilepsy Advocacy Network serves. She has extensive experience with supporting individuals, families and medical professionals to have productive and positive interactions to achieve treatment goals.
Erika is a certified cognitive coach for HOBSCOTCH. She is also trained in PACES and UPLIFT. These are specialty programs for people with epilepsy that are part of the Managing Epilepsy Well network. Erika is a Registered Medical Assistant (American Medical Technologist) and has certification in non-profit leadership. Erika has served on the Program Committee for Epilepsy Alliance America since 2022 and joined the Board of Epilepsy Alliance America in January 2023.
Erika’s public speaking experience includes presentations on epilepsy, seizure response, and first aid training, as well as being the spokesperson for Loyola University following her brain surgery to control her seizures from epilepsy. Erika has been seizure free for ten years and continues to be an advocate for our clients through her real-life expertise.
The Board of Directors also recognized the service of DR. ADEOLA SONAIKE at the November 2022 Board meeting. Adeola’s term on the Board of Directors officially ends on December 31, 2022. She was a founding board member of Epilepsy Alliance America and at the time of the founding of Epilepsy Alliance America, in July 2018, served as the Senior Vice President of Health and Innovation at Epilepsy Services of New Jersey.