US COPD Coalition

Board of Directors & Members

To have a comprehensive network of COPD organizations, the USCC has multiple categories for membership: patient organizations, state coalitions, liaison members, hospitals/practice groups/accountable care organizations, and professional health organizations.

Board of Directors

David Mannino, MD – Chair

David Mannino, MD,  is currently the Medical Director at the COPD Foundation. He has a long history of research and engagement in respiratory health.

Dr. Mannino graduated from Jefferson Medical College (now Sidney Kimmel College of Medicine) in Philadelphia in 1981 and went on to complete his internship and residency at Lankenau Hospital in Philadelphia. He completed his fellowship in pulmonary medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Morgantown, West Virginia. He joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch in 1991 until his retirement from the US Public Health Service in 2004. While at CDC, he helped to develop the National Asthma Program and led efforts on the Surveillance Reports that described the US burden of Asthma (1998) and COPD (2002).

After his retirement from CDC in 2004, Dr. Mannino joined the faculty at the University of Kentucky where he was involved both clinically in the College of Medicine and as a teacher, researcher, and administrator in the College of Public Health. He served as Professor and Chair in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health from 2012 to 2017, with a joint appointment in the Department of Epidemiology.

In 2004 Dr. Mannino helped to launch the COPD Foundation, where he served as a board member from 2004 through 2015, chair of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee from 2010 through 2015, and Chief Scientific Officer from 2015 to 2017.

Dr. Mannino has over 350 publications and serves as an Associate Editor or Editorial Board member for the following journals: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Chest, Thorax, European Respiratory Journal, and the Journal of the COPD Foundation. He was also a coauthor of the Surgeon General’s Report on Tobacco in 2008 and 2014.

Valerie Chang, JD – Vice-Chair
Valerie Chang, JD

Valerie Chang is a retired judge and patient advocate, Executive Director and Founder of the Hawaii COPD Coalition, founded in 2007. She was diagnosed with idiopathic COPD in 2000. Some of the notable accomplishments of the Hawaii COPD Coalition are strong partnerships throughout the state, including the Hawaii Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Education Program and others. Annual education days have been held since 2007 as well as monthly support groups, currently at two of the major medical centers. The Coalition has also been active in advocacy, providing the “face” for COPD, helping getting clean air legislation in Hawaii passed, as well as licensure for Hawaii Respiratory Therapists and requiring durable medical equipment providers to be licensed in Hawaii if they are doing business in Hawaii.

Valerie has spoken on local and national venues about COPD and lung health advocacy. She has been on the Board of the US COPD Coalition since 2012 and a consumer advocate of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs since 2014. She was a special education hearing officer and an attorney in private practice, as well as a graduate of University of California at Davis Law School. She has a bachelor of arts with honors in Sociology from University of Oregon. She is licensed to practice law in both California and Hawaii. Term expires August 31, 2024

Goldia Brown, MS – Secretary

Goldia Brown is the Georgia Advocacy Captain for the COPD Foundation and a member of the COPD360 Community Engagement Committee (COPD3CEnCo). Having served as a caregiver for her mother, who died from COPD in 1997 at the age of 53, she is wholly committed to increasing the awareness, funding, and research of COPD. Goldia is a passionate, servant leader who has advocated in Washington, D.C., and Georgia; attended and presented at health fairs; met one-on-one to educate and encourage COPD patients; and spoken tirelessly to legislators on behalf of COPD patients and their caregivers. 

Goldia served as a manager in the litigation support field for over 20 years. She received a B.A. (Brenau University) and a M.S. (Mercer University, concentration in nonprofit management), both in Organizational Leadership. A certified John Maxwell speaker and coach, she focuses on COPD, leadership, and spirituality. She is also a Master Teacher through the Transformative Living Program of the Barbara King School of Ministry (Atlanta, GA). In addition, she volunteers with the Lupus Foundation, Georgia Justice Project, her local church, Crisis Text Line (suicide prevention counselor), and other organizations. Term expires August 31, 2024

Joel Africk, JD – Treasurer
Joel J. Africk, JD

Joel Africk is President and Chief Executive Officer of Respiratory Health Association (RHA), located in Chicago, Illinois. Joel is a principal advocate for the Association’s programs and policy agenda. Some of the Association’s notable policy achievements include working for passage of smoke-free laws in Chicago, the surrounding suburbs, and Illinois; advocating on behalf of smoke-free multi-unit housing in Chicago and other Illinois communities, and securing passage of important asthma inhaler “right to carry” legislation in Illinois.

Joel is a frequent speaker on lung health topics, including tobacco control, COPD and asthma. In 2010, Joel was appointed to the State of Illinois Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Task Force. Prior to assuming his current position with RHA, Joel was a partner in the Chicago law firm of Jenner & Block, LLP, where he represented clients in a broad range of business litigation matters from 1984-2001. Joel is a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School and a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, where he received an A.B. in Political Science and passed the Uniform CPA examination. Term expires August 31, 2023 (Treasurer term expires August 31, 2024)

Patricia Jellen, MSN, RN – Board Member
Patricia Jellen, MSN, RN

Patricia Jellen, MSN, RN received her BSN from the College of New Rochelle in 1985 and her MSN from Columbia University in 1993. Pat’s nursing career at the Columbia University Medical Center site of the New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYPH) has spanned from the bedside as a new graduate to nursing management and program development in more recent years. Over the last two-plus decades, Pat has focused her clinical and professional efforts on the development and management of the Lung Volume Reduction program at NYPH. Currently, Pat is the hospital’s administrative lead at the Pulmonary Diagnostic Lab. Because of her clinical background and interest in COPD, she was the Administrative lead for the development and implementation of the Clinical pathway for COPD at NYPH.

Beyond the hospital, Pat is an active member of the ERWG committee of the COPD Foundation; NY ALA planning committee for Lung Force in NYC. She was an active member of the COPD9USA & COPD10USA planning committees. Pat has been an invited speaker at COPD9USA; NY Lung Force 2015; group leader at the NIH COPD Call to Action meeting in 2016; and COPD10 in Birmingham 2016. Term expires August 31, 2023

John Linnell – Board Member
John Linnell

John is a COPD Patient diagnosed in 2005. His career was in retail as District Manager and troubleshooter and then as a Marketing Director. He left the workforce in 2011. After engaging in an educational COPD internet film project and being asked to share his story at a pharmaceutical conference, John decided his experiences and efforts would be best spent in advocacy work for the COPD community.

In addition to serving on the Board of the US COPD Coalition, John is Wisconsin Advocacy Captain for the COPD Foundation. He also serves on the Executive Board of Directors for EFFORTS (an international support group for the COPD community). He seeerves on the Governing Board PCORI-sponsored Patient Powered Research Network (PPRN) for the COPD Foundation. John also sits as a Patient Reviewer for Peer Review Medical Research Programs for the Department of Defense.

His involvement in social media and interacting with other patients and caregivers led to a position of Research Associate with the Breathe Chicago Center at University of Illinois/Chicago. John is also a Co-investigator for a PCORI funded study at Johns Hopkins: Impact of a Peer Support Program Amongst COPD Patients and Their Caregivers. Term expires August 31, 2022

Akshay Sood, MD, MPH – Board Member
Akshay Sood, MD, MPH

Akshay Sood, an occupational and environmental pulmonologist, is a tenured Professor and the founding Miners Colfax Medical Center Endowed Chair at the University of New Mexico’s School of Medicine at Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr. Sood completed his postdoctoral fellowship in Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut in 1997. He is a member of the ATS Environmental, Occupation, and Population Health Assembly and served as the first assembly Web Director (2003-2005); member of the Environmental Health Policy Committee (2013-present), assembly’s International Program Committee (2011-2014), assembly’s Planning Committee (2005-2010); and an assembly mentor for junior faculty (2014- present). Over the past 10 years, he has facilitated and chaired numerous scientific sessions at the ATS International Conference. In addition, he has served the Society’s New Mexico Chapter as a member of its Board of Directors (2007-2010), President (2009), and President-elect (2006-2008). He co-chairs the Respiratory Health Cross-Sector Council in the National Occupational Research Agenda of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Dr. Sood’s research has focused on non-smoking host risk factors for obstructive lung diseases. He is known for his work in the field of obesity/adipokines and asthma in women. He helped define the protective role of Hispanic ethnicity and the risk related to inhalational wood smoke exposure for COPD in New Mexico. His study on the causal role of depression in asthma was judged as one of the most important respiratory research in May 2014 at the ATS International Conference. His recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine established that low FEV1 in early adulthood is important in the genesis of COPD. His recent research has focused on dust related obstructive lung diseases, particularly in miners. Dr. Sood has a long standing interest in the health effects of environmental and occupational exposures in lung diseases. He has received funding for K-23 and P50 grants by the NHLBI, R01 grant by the AHRQ, R13 grant by the NIEHS, UL1 grant by the NCATS, Pipeline to Proposal I to III grants by PCORI and various HRSA-funded grants. Term expires August 31, 2023

Barbara Yawn, MD, MSc – Board Member
Barbara Yawn, MD, MSc

Barbara Yawn is a family physician and researcher with extensive experience with obstructive lung disease research and practice. She has been a member of the USCC Board of Directors for several years and co-chair for 4 years in the past. Dr. Yawn represents primary care, an important group to bring into a more active role in COPD screening, evaluation and management. She also sits on the COPD Foundation Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee, and in 2017 she became the Chief Science Officer for the COPD Foundation. Term expires August 31, 2024

Albert Rizzo, MD, FACP – Board Member
Albert Rizzo, MD, FACP

Albert Rizzo is Chief of the Section of Pulmonary Medicine at the Christiana Care Health System in Newark, Delaware and a member of Christiana Care Pulmonary Associates. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine and is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Medical School in Philadelphia. Dr. Rizzo also serves as the Chief Medical Officer for the American Lung Association.

Dr. Rizzo is a member of the American Thoracic Society, a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians and the American College of Physicians and a Diplomat of the American Board of Sleep Medicine. Dr. Rizzo treats patients with COPD on a regular basis and is a strong advocate for pulmonary rehabilitation. He has served as the Principal Investigator for over 30 clinical trials in the fields of asthma, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, pneumonia and sleep apnea. He is also directly involved with maintaining the American Lung Association’s Better Breathers Club. Term expires August 31, 2024

Marc Carrel, JD – Board Member

As President & Chief Executive Officer of Breathe Southern California and the Emphysema Foundation of America, Marc Carrel manages the day-to-day operations and provides strategic direction for these two organizations. He assumed these dual roles in 2017 after working on air quality and clean technology issues for nearly a decade at the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), Southern California’s clean air agency. He led their environmental justice programs, conceiving and developing the agency’s Environmental Justice Community Partnership initiative, as well as overseeing their first three annual environmental justice conferences. He also directed community outreach and public education programs including an annual series of briefings for civic leaders, government officials, and other community stakeholders on the impact of air pollution on public health.

A child of former smokers and a father to kids with asthma, Carrel is personally invested in the mission of these organizations, to improve lung health for all. Prior to SCAQMD, Carrel served in several senior government roles, including as California’s Assistant Secretary of State for Policy and Planning, Senior Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor, Counsel to the Speaker of the California State Assembly, and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Ranking Member on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. Carrel also worked for a global strategic communications firm and ran his own public policy consultancy. Carrel received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan and his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He and his wife Hilla, an attorney, have three daughters. Term expires August 31, 2025

Sharon Cornelison, BSRT, RRT-NPS – Board Member
Sharon Cornelison

Sharon Cornelison is a respiratory therapist, a Pulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist, and a COPD Research Coordinator at Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest University School of Medicine. After receiving her BA in Theatrical Design, Sharon then completed her clinical training in Respiratory Therapy through Forsyth Technical Community College. She will receive her bachelor’s degree in Respiratory Care from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s College of Health Sciences in May 2020.

Sharon’s professional focus centers around improving the quality of life in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) through intensive patient education, identifying and resolving barriers to care, educating COPD patients on how to be an effective, valuable team member in their own healthcare, and through the education of local primary care physicians in the early diagnosis and management of COPD. Since 2014, Sharon has served as a COPD Navigator implementing inpatient and outpatient protocols to help Wake Forest Baptist Health reduce their 30-day, all-cause, COPD hospital re-admissions. In 2019, Sharon co-authored “Pulmonary Rehabilitation in the Management of Chronic Lung Disease” for the Medical Clinics of North America. Term expires August 31, 2023


Keith Siegel, MBA, RRT, CPFT, FAARC – Executive Director

Executive Director Keith Siegel manages the day-to-day operations of the Coalition under the supervision and guidance of the Board of Directors. Keith has forty years of experience as a respiratory therapist, and has a passion for helping individuals with chronic lung disease. In addition to his training as a Registered Respiratory Therapist, Keith has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in Healthcare Management from Southern New Hampshire University. Keith is a Fellow of the American Association for Respiratory Care (FAARC).

Member Organizations

The U.S. COPD Coalition does not charge membership dues.  100% of our revenue comes from grants and individual donations. Please consider helping us fulfill our mission by clicking on the link above and making a tax-deductible donation.