Dear PH Community,
As we enter 2021, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) welcomes important milestones and new beginnings. The new year marks the start of PHA’s 30th anniversary, the launch of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States and signs of an eventual return to post-pandemic life.
In this remarkable time, I am delighted to join PHA as its third president and CEO. I look forward to working with a talented group of professionals and committed volunteer leaders, patients and their families to make a difference in the lives of those affected by pulmonary hypertension (PH). Although I can’t yet connect with you in person, I hope to learn as much as I can about your lives, your challenges and your visions for the future.
For now, I’ll share a bit about myself. I grew up in Argentina in a typical (and loud) Italian family. I also lived in the U.K., France and Germany and feel as comfortable there as I do here. I settled in Washington, D.C., in 2000, and find it a fascinating diverse “little” city. My spouse, two sons and I enjoy traveling and seeing the country and the world through “local” eyes. Except for 2020, we have traveled to several U.S. states, Canada, Europe and South America many times.
While I am new to the PH community, PHA’s mission to improve and extend lives is a common thread of my career. For the past four years, I was CEO of the Society For Maternal-Fetal Medicine, where I worked with physicians and health care providers who cared for women whose lives were at risk because of complications from their pregnancies or underlying conditions like PH. The faces of these women and their families were constant reminders of what we did and why we did it.
Not every story had a happy outcome, but knowing that our work had enabled providers to do their best or had given patients even a few more hours with loved ones was rewarding and a reason to keep trying to do better.
I started my association career in 2002 at America’s Blood Centers, a trade association of community blood centers responsible for 50% of the U.S. blood supply. I worked with physicians and administrators to ensure a safe, ample blood supply for emergencies and everyday needs of sickle cell patients, new moms and babies, surgery patients and those undergoing treatments for blood disorders or cancer.
Throughout my time, I interacted with patients whose lives depended on a safe supply and learned about their stories. I met bereaved families who had lost loved ones but could spend “extra time” with them because of transfusion treatments.
In everything we did, we kept a visual of the patient at the other side of the needle, similarly to the way PHA has ensured patient-focused support and services since its founding 30 years ago.
Before joining America’s Blood Centers, I was as a legal analyst at the Association of American States, a multi-country international body (similar to the United Nations but for the Americas). I was in charge of assessing human rights abuses in three countries and making recommendations to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on ways to repair those abuses. It was a rewarding job but emotionally taxing, which made me move to nonprofit health care association management.
There are lots of ups and downs in health care, including the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (an up) and the threat of its defunding (a down), But working in this space is my way of making our country a better place. And knowing that makes it all worthwhile.
In joining PHA just a week after Congress passed the No Surprises Act, I am hopeful we will see more victories to ensure accessible, affordable health care for our community. Your work to end the unfair practice of surprise medical bills at out-of-network rates shows your commitment to our shared mission to improve the lives of those affected by PH.
The victory seems to signal an auspicious start for my new position, PHA’s 30th anniversary year and a strategic, unified approach to defeating the pandemic. I look forward to working with all of you to achieve a world without PH, empowered by hope.
Until we can meet in person, I look forward to hearing from you.
With gratitude and respect,