Webinar Series: YOPD Council
(12 pm PDT, 2 pm CDT, 3 pm EDT, 8 pm GMT)
Because of the unique challenges of living with YOPD, we want to increase awareness of YOPD, provide resources, and share stories to help people with YOPD live better today.
One way we’ve decided to do that is to create a YOPD Council. This council has been convened so members can share their experiences of living with YOPD. Join us each month for this ongoing webinar series.
Upcoming webinars in this series
Thursday, May 19, 2022
Reaching Your Limit – During our May session, the YOPD Council will discuss how to know when you’ve reached your limit in living with Parkinson’s. For example, we’ll talk about driving, work, movement and exercise, executive function, and much more. Bring your questions, hot tips, and sense of humor. As always, it will be a fun one!
Thursday, June 16, 2022
Thursday, July 21, 2022
Thursday, August 18, 2022
Thursday, September 15, 2022
Thursday, October 20, 2022
Thursday, November 17, 2022
Thursday, December 15, 2022
Past Webinar Recordings
Thursday, April 21, 2022
Thursday, March 22, 2022
Thursday, February 24, 2022
YOPD Council LEADERS
Michael S. Fitts serves as an assistant professor and assistant dean for user access and diversity at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB Libraries). He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011 at age 38.
In 2001 he became the first African American faculty member of the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences and later went on to become both the first African American assistant director and assistant dean. On the local level, Michael serves on the Executive Board of the Parkinson Association of Alabama. In addition, he has worked nationally and internationally in conjunction with the Michael J. Fox Foundation (patient council), the Parkinson’s Foundation (research advocate) as well as the Davis Phinney Foundation (YOPD Council). In addition to his 25 plus year career with UAB, he serves as an advocate for the education of those with early-onset Parkinson’s and other underrepresented communities by striving to be a positive example of living successfully and productively with the disease. In his spare time, Michael loves thrifting and photography.
Karen was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 47 in 2018. Following her diagnosis, Karen had to retire from her beloved career as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist because of the challenges Parkinson’s presented when performing her job. Her unexpected early retirement opened the door for her to follow her passion to help others overcome challenges in their own lives.
No stranger to overcoming adversity, Karen proudly maintains longstanding sobriety after overcoming drug and alcohol addiction many years ago. Her own recovery experience set her on a path to become a peer advisor to other medical professionals experiencing similar life challenges.
Karen now spends her time helping physicians and nurses who struggle with substance abuse. She is an active public speaker with the Missouri Physician Health Program and the Missouri State Medical Association where she speaks to groups of physicians about overcoming trauma and adversity and recovering from substance abuse within the medical profession. Karen started New Directions Coaching, where she mentors physicians and nurses who battle addiction, alcoholism, and other disorders.
Karen brings this same passion for living well in her recovery to living well with Parkinson’s. She now serves as an Ambassador for the Davis Phinney Foundation and thrives when helping others embrace living well with Parkinson’s. More recently she has begun coaching people with Parkinson’s to improve their lives as they navigate living with chronic illness. Karen also formed and leads a YOPD support group for the St. Louis Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association.
Kat is from Portland, Oregon, where she lives with her husband and Yorkshire terrier “Baxter.” She believes that we can choose joy in our lives no matter what we’re faced with. Movement, mindfulness, and gratitude help her navigate the challenges of living with Parkinson’s. She is a retired nurse-midwife and delivered over 800 babies in her career. Now in her second act, she’s a Davis Phinney Foundation Ambassador, author, speaker, and advocate for living well with Parkinson’s.
Heather is the founder of Kathleen Kiddo, an advocacy site offering resources and connection through social media. An entertaining speaker known for her unique talks and film presentations about living well with Parkinson’s, Heather writes from her home near San Francisco, CA. Since her diagnosis in 2011, she has collaborated with organizations such as the Davis Phinney Foundation, The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, and The World Parkinson’s Congress. In 2020, Heather expects to release two books, one on how to approach grief and a vivid collection of short stories.
Kevin brings deep experience as a biopharmaceutical executive to the board of directors of the Davis Phinney Foundation and the Parkinson’s community. Today, he is the Head of Patient Engagement at Theravance Biopharma in the Bay Area and just recently set new roots in Boulder, Colorado. Previously, he was a partner at a leading executive recruiting firm, where he led the North American Life Science practice. Kevin earned his doctorate degree in clinical pharmacy from the University of Michigan (GO Blue) and his family resided in nearby Midland.
An avid lifelong wannabe athlete, Kevin was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in in his late 40s. He has taken control of his Parkinson’s with bold irreverence, optimism, and biting humor. As a self-proclaimed amateur “PD satirist,” he has been a speaker and patient advocate for several foundations and has been featured on national news programs and webcasts, speaking about living a high-impact life, thanks to traditional therapies and a “zen-aggressive lifestyle.”
Robynn Moraites works tirelessly to destigmatize mental health conversations with lawyers. Outside of her work, she lives for a good adventure or an involved Enneagram discussion. She loves to think expansively understanding that the possibilities for tomorrow arise out of our most far-fetched ideas.
Tom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008 at age 48. While balancing his professional and personal life with the onset of symptoms, he sought to meet the challenges of PD head on with curiosity, practicality, and optimism. Volunteering at the local Parkinson’s support organization led him to New York and on to Washington DC, serving as Chair of the Parkinson’s Foundation, People with Parkinson’s Advisory Council (PPAC), and representing the needs and interests of the PD community to Congressional leaders.
“As an ambassador and advocate, I stay alert and active, but good health and fitness is key, and maybe as important as any medication or PD treatment,” says Tom. He leads a Pedaling for Parkinson’s class at the local recreation center near his home, and helped establish a boxing class for People with PD. With the pandemic, he offers an online version of the indoor cycling class, leading as many as 20 riders from throughout the United States.
In June 2019, he launched the Tour de Victory Cycling Classic — an organized cycling event to benefit the Davis Phinney Foundation. In its first year, the event brought in more than $70,000. He enjoys cycling, fly fishing, and traveling the world with his wife, Jeanette, and spending as much time as they can with their adult children Emily and Mitch.
Sree was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease (YOPD) in 2015 but knew something was not working properly in her body years beforehand when she noticed non-motor symptoms in her 20s and motor symptoms in her 30s. Sree has been documenting her journey in writing and photography, slowly working within these and other mediums to create a narrative that helps her understand the many ways life has changed post-diagnosis.
Sree currently works full-time in tech, sits on the Board of Directors for a local arts nonprofit, is working on personal photography and writing projects, and squeezes in naps whenever possible due to the constant fatigue she battles with Parkinson’s. Sree became involved with the Davis Phinney Foundation not only to make a difference but also to increase representation in the South Asian community. Sree also co-founded the Women’s Parkinson’s Project, a website where she and her “two sisters with Parkinson’s”, as she likes to say, curate stories, bring awareness and representation and raise the voices of women with Parkinson’s.