Council Members

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Together, the members of the Boston Children's Hospital Family Advisory Council have decades of experience navigating complex health conditions and pediatric care. They joined the council to share the expertise and insights they've gathered along the way — with physicians, nurses, hospital administrators and support staff, and other patient families. Their dedication and hard work helps make the care and patient experience at Boston Children's as excellent as possible for all patients, whether they visit once a year or dozens of times a year.

Interested in joining the council? Contact us at FamilyPartnerships@childrens.harvard.edu or fill out our online form for more information.

Natasha Aljalian

Member since: 2016

Experience/Areas of Interest: Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Dravet Syndrome/Neurology/Epilepsy/Rare Disease, Research, Clinical Trials, Emergency Department, Child Life.

About Natasha: Natasha Aljalian is mom to Gabriel (born in 2008) and Mary (born in 2013). Gabriel was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2013. He was cared for by the Boston Children’s Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Blood Disorders Center, in conjunction with Dana Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic, for the following 3 years while he underwent cancer treatment and care for after effects of treatment. Mary was diagnosed in 2015 with Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy, and is cared for by the Department of Epilepsy and Neurophysiology at Boston Children’s.

Natasha and her family are grateful that their children are receiving care at the best hospital in the country, and from the best doctors, nurses, and staff at Boston Children’s. Her children have been cared for by most every department in Boston Children’s. She considers herself fortunate to have formed partnerships (and friendships) with the caregivers at Boston Children’s, and to feel a valued and contributing part of their treatment plans. Natasha joined the Family Advisory Council to partner with Boston Children’s, help implement system-wide improvements to benefit other patients and families, and to provide valuable insight from a parent’s perspective. An attorney by profession, she is also a member of the Boston Children’s Virtual Advisors group.

Brenda Allair

Member since: 2012

Experience/Areas of Interest: Kidney transplant and dialysis, inpatient experiences, children with disabilities and complex medical care, pediatric palliative care, rare and undiagnosed diseases.

About Brenda: Brenda is the mom of three children. Her youngest daughter, Jillian, was born with complex medical needs and disabilities, which were recently diagnosed as an extremely rare WDR19 related ciliopathy disease. In 2002, when Jillian was an infant, she received a kidney transplant at Boston Children's, and has had many other inpatient experiences at the hospital. She is also followed by numerous specialists in the hospital's outpatient care clinics. Because Jillian's condition is currently considered to be a unique genetic variant, Brenda has found it crucial to cultivate collaborative partnerships with medical teams to think "outside the box" in developing care plans.

Brenda is grateful for the expertise and innovation of the physicians and staff at Boston Children's. She was involved in the early development of an FAC at her local hospital, and in 2012 joined the Boston Children's Hospital Family Advisory Council to work with other families on projects to support family-centered care. She is particularly committed to working on projects relating to communication between families and providers and coordination of care across practices and hospitals.

Brenda lives in Western Massachusetts and works as a teacher of students with visual impairments, focusing on early childhood education. Her experiences with her daughter as well as her students have given her a passion for helping families of children with rare and complex diseases become active leaders in systems of care.

Tahirah Amatul-Wadud

Member since: 2017

Experience/Areas of Interest: Cardiology, Endocrinology, Orthopedics

About Tahirah: Tahirah has seven children ranging in ages from small children to young adults. Her family first became familiar with Boston Children's Hospital in 2008 when her nephew had open heart surgery as a newborn. In 2011, Tahirah's newborn daughter, Mahmooda, was diagnosed with AP Window, a congenital heart defect which required open heart surgery. Since then Tahirah’s children have received care at Boston Children’s in the areas of orthopedics, endocrinology and cardiology.

In deep gratitude of the work of the hospital, Tahirah organized a small fundraiser on the first birthday of Mahmooda to celebrate her recovery. The proceeds were donated to the Boston Children’s.

Tahirah is committed to raising her own children to be healthy and strong in body, mind and spirit. All of her children participate in athletics and other extracurricular activities. Additionally, one of her favorite community commitments is that she is active with a panel of the Hampden County Bar Association called the Children’s Law Project, which provides representation to children in their parents’ contested custody disputes. She often moderates and participates in trainings for that panel. Her goal is to help lawyers remove toxicity from these disputes so that children are spared the lasting trauma of contested custody litigation. 

Kate Cook

Member since: 2018

Experiences/Interests: Transplant, Oncology, in- and outpatient visits, complex care
 
Kate is mom to Tommy (born 2013) and Charlotte (born 2010). In the spring of 2017, when Tommy was 4, he was admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital with a diagnosis of hepatoblastoma. After five weeks in the ICU, Tommy received a liver transplant, in addition to chemotherapy. Tommy is presently followed by Transplant, Renal, Oncology and Audiology. Tommy’s care has been complex and involves many specialties within the hospital, and Kate and her family have had many experiences with the hospital both inpatient and outpatient. 
 
Kate and her family are overwhelmingly grateful for the high level of care and commitment to excellence displayed by the entire community at Boston Children's. Kate felt compelled to give back and is honored to be part of the Family Advisory Council. She is excited to partner with the hospital on strategic initiatives that directly impact families, particularly those with complex cases.
 
Kate lives on the North Shore and works as an in-house litigation attorney for a local corporation, handling environmental tort-litigation matters all over the U.S. Kate also serves as a Girl Scout troop leader for her daughter’s Brownie troop. Kate and her family treasure their time together as a family and can often be found at their house in Maine, enjoying both summer and winter sports.


Michelle Domey

Member since: 2016

Experience/Areas of Interest: GI, Orofacial Granulomatosis, Crohn's Disease, Concussion Prevention, Multi-disciplinary Outpatient Coordination, Technology to enhance patient/provider care.

About Michelle: Michelle is the proud mom of Carson. Carson has been treated at Boston Children’s since 2012 for Oro-facial Granulomatosis (OFG), a chronic inflammatory condition of the mouth that is highly associated with Crohn’s Disease. Carson’s OFG progressed to Crohn’s Disease in 2015, affecting both his bowel and his mouth. Michelle has extensive experiences navigating the healthcare system and creating technology tools to help her do so. Since day one of her son’s diagnosis she has worked tirelessly to improve health systems and empower patients and families to be active partners in their/their child(ren)’s care. In 2014 Michelle, along with Carson, joined the fundraising efforts for Boston Children’s Hospital by creating “Carson’s Crew” and participating in the annual Walk for Kids. Their team motto is: "When life hands you lemons… Make a difference." And make a difference they have, recruiting large teams for Carson’s Crew and raising significant funds, year after year, to benefit Boston Children’s.

In October, 2014 Michelle was selected to be one of the keynote speakers at Boston Children’s Hospital’s “Hacking Pediatrics 2.0” and shared her top self-created technology tools that have helped her both manage Caron’s condition and bridge the gap between patients and and their care team. In addition to Michelle's experience with her son's chronic illness, she began her own patient experience journey in 2008 after suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury. Michelle's dual adult/pediatric experiences enable her to bring a unique perspective to the Family Advisory Council. Michelle lives with her husband Chris, and Carson, in Bellingham, MA. She owns and operates a corporate travel business, established in 2002, and serves the Commonwealth as a National Lancer in the Militia’s Ceremonial Cavalry Unit.

Read more about Michelle and Carson on our patient and family blog, Thriving.

Sabrina Dunlap

Member since: 2016

Experience/Areas of Interest: Rheumatology, chronic illness, care coordination, complex care, inpatient stays.

About Sabrina: Sabrina lives in New Hampshire with her husband and their two daughters. At about 15 months of age, Sabrina's daughter was diagnosed with Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (SJIA) and has spent a significant amount of time at Boston Children’s in the years since her diagnosis, both inpatient and outpatient. She is overseen by several specialty clinics at Boston Children's, but her care is managed primarily by the Rheumatology Department.

Sabrina and her family are grateful for the level of care that her daughter receives at Boston Children's, particularly from her Rheumatology team, who are essential in managing a complicated chronic disease like SJIA. Sabrina joined the Family Advisory Council as a way to help other families and contribute to an institution that is so important to her and her family.

Sabrina is a lawyer in the health care field, serving as senior corporate counsel at a company that provides cloud-based services for medical practice management. She hopes to draw on her professional experience, as well as her personal experiences at Boston Children's, when working on projects for the Family Advisory Council. She is interested in working with families who also have children with rare or chronic diseases, as well as working on health policy/regulatory issues and technology projects. In addition to her work on the Family Advisory Council, Sabrina is Chair of the Juvenile Arthritis Committee affiliated with the Arthritis Foundation's Newton, MA office.

Valerie Fleishman (Co-Chair)

Member since: 2012

Experience/Areas of Interest: Liver disease, GI clinic, radiology, emergency department, digital health, care coordination, patient and family experience, patient safety and quality.

About Valerie: Valerie is the mother of two children. In 2004, at just eight weeks old, her son was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare, chronic liver disease. He underwent immediate surgery at Boston Children’s, and continues to be followed there by the Gastroenterology and Transplant teams. Valerie’s deep connection to Boston Children’s comes from her family’s experiences with the doctors, nurses and other staff and the extraordinary care they have provided her son. She is passionate about advancing patient-centered care and working in partnership to improve the patient and family experience. 

In addition to serving on the Family Advisory Council, Valerie is executive director of NEHI, a non-profit health policy institute whose mission is to advance innovation in health and health care. Valerie also serves on the Board of Trustees for Hebrew Senior Life and Playworks. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband and two children.

Jennifer Frank

Member since: 2016

Experience/Areas of Interest: Celiac Disease and associated lifestyle issues, patient/family wellness, autoimmune diseases.

About Jennifer: Jennifer is the mother of three girls. In 2004, her two oldest daughters were diagnosed with celiac disease, at the ages of five and three. She was pregnant with her third daughter at the time. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects primarily the small intestine and meant that her children could not digest gluten and had to change their diet and their lifestyle in order to remain healthy. Upon their diagnosis, Jennifer joined Boston Children’s Hospital Celiac Support Group as a Board Member. She worked in various roles with the group over the years, including providing support to newly diagnosed families. Her children have also been seen by other specialists throughout the hospital. Jennifer is grateful for the excellent care she and her children have received at Boston Children’s Hospital.

In Jennifer’s professional life, she has worked in both the non-profit and private sector in development and marketing. She is also a Certified Holistic Health Coach, a role she took on after her children’s diagnosis in order to help her family live a healthy, gluten free lifestyle. Currently, Jennifer is employed by Boston Children’s Hospital as a Family Partnerships Coordinator, focusing on creating and marketing wellness programming for patients and their families. She is also committed to working with both hospital leadership and employees as well as families to ensure that the family perspective is a priority across all areas and departments.

Learn more about Jennifer's daughters, Emma and Abby, in their Thriving blog post, "No gluten, no problem." 

Serena Hadsell

Member since: 2014

Experience/Areas of Interest: ICU, ECMO, outpatient cardiology, high reliability.

About Serena: Serena is the mother of two children, Julia and Sebastian. In late 2013, her daughter, then nearly four years old, was transferred to Boston Children’s Medical/Surgical Intensive Care Unit (MSICU), where her breathing difficulties from RSV required advanced intervention. She spent six days on ECMO; the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenator takes over the function of the heart and lungs while the body heals.

Julia is followed in outpatient cardiology and Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program. In her professional life, Serena’s career as a dance/movement therapist has focused on emotional expression and the creative process. She has treated people dealing with mental health issues across the lifespan from preschoolers to the elderly. She has also been involved in the education of dance/movement therapy students as a clinical mentor and adjunct faculty.

Serena joined the Family Advisory Council in 2014, and has worked on the High Reliability Initiative, an effort to eliminate preventable harm to patients and employees. She seeks to bring to light the emotional needs of patients and families. She feels immense gratitude for the expertise and care Boston Children's offers. On the weekends, Serena can be found walking in the woods with her husband and children, listening to the woodpeckers and enjoying the stream near her house.

Katie Litterer

Member since: 2012

Experience/Areas of Interest: Chronic Lung Disease, care coordination, complex care, home oxygen, G-tube, home care nursing and equipment, feeding/swallowing/voice challenges, long-term inpatient stays.

About Katie: Katie Litterer is the mother of identical twins, Sophie and Maddie. In 2008, Maddie and Sophie were born at 27 weeks gestation and had severe complications associated with their prematurity. Following the girls’ birth, Katie left her career to care and advocate for her daughters. As a result of Sophie and Maddie’s needs, Katie has extensive hospital and health care experience, both in- and outpatient, as well as home nursing care.

Katie began her volunteer efforts at Boston Children’s Hospital in 2009, while Maddie was still hospitalized. She served on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Family Advisory Council for two years and then joined the hospital-wide Family Advisory Council in 2012. In 2016, Katie joined Boston Children’s Hospital as an employee, taking on the role of a Family Partnerships Coordinator in which she seeks to extend and broaden the reach of the patient/family perspective throughout the hospital.

Katie lives with her husband, Paul, and their daughters outside of Boston. She is actively involved in her daughters’ school district and also serves as trustee of a charitable private foundation dedicated to supporting archaeological research of native peoples in the Americas. Most importantly, though, Katie continues to coordinate care and advocate for her girls as they navigate school, friends, activities, and their complex chronic illnesses.

Read more about Katie and her family on our patient and family blog, Thriving. 

Esterlina MacInnes

Member since: 2017
    
Experience/Areas of Interest: Integration care, kidney disorders, G-tube, feeding/swallowing difficulties, vision impairment, speech/AAC, home care nursing, complex care.
    
About Esterlina: 
Esterlina is a mother of a young son named Ian. At 4 months old, he was diagnosed with Lowe Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that affects the eyes, the kidneys and the brain. Since her son’s first surgery at 5 weeks, Esterlina has spent countless hours navigating Boston Children’s Hospital, including inpatient, ambulatory, ER, as well as therapy services. She is grateful for the excellent attention and care she and her son have received at Boston Children’s.
    
As a result of her journey with her son, Esterlina decided to embark on a new career helping families going through similar circumstances. To complement her personal experience, in 2016, she completed the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and other Disabilities (LEND) program at Boston Children’s. This is a multidisciplinary, family-centered fellowship that covers health and cultural issues related to disabilities, public resources and policy initiatives. In 2017, Esterlina joined Boston Children’s as an employee, taking on the role of Family Partnerships Coordinator, concentrating her work on developing projects to support and empower Latino patient families who receive care here at the hospital.
    
Esterlina is a member of the Lowe Syndrome Association and the Region 3 Advisory Committee of Massachusetts Commission for the blind. She has also participated in advocacy activities at the state and federal level.
    
Esterlina lives with her husband and son in Medford, where she advocates for her family within the education system, as well as community and social activities. But especially, Esterlina continues coordinating the care of her son’s complex health condition.

Susan McCarthy

Member since: 2017

Experience/Areas of Interest: Complex medical care, pediatric palliative care, home care nursing, epilepsy, home parenteral nutrition program.

About Susan: Susan lives in Walpole with her husband Joseph and three children, Matthew, Daniel and Caitlin. At the age of one, Caitlin was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease and, at the age of five, with Rett Syndrome. She is followed by Gastroenterology, Epilepsy, Complex Care, Palliative care, Neurology, Orthopedics, Endocrine, Home Parenteral Nutrition and the C.A.P.E team. Caitlin has spent a great deal of time at Boston Children’s, both inpatient and outpatient. Susan and Joseph are grateful to so many doctors and nurses at Boston Children’s for providing such great care for their daughter.

Susan was the director of development for a non-profit agency in Attleboro from 2011 until January 2017. In addition to becoming a member of the Family Advisory Council, she is also a complex-care family mentor.

Joselyn Montes

Member since: 2018 
Areas of expertise: GI motility, Nutrition, Urology and Complex Care 

 Joselyn Montes, originally from the Dominican Republic, came to Boston seeking care for her daughter, Gabriela. She is a single mom of two daughters, Gabriela being her younger child. Joselyn works as a Life Coach and is an active advocate for Gabriela’s care both in and out of the hospital. Gabriela receives care in multiple clinics here at Boston Children’s Hospital including the Rainbow clinic, GI (motility department), Urology and Nutrition. She is also followed by Complex Care. Joselyn is grateful for all that Boston Children’s has done for Gabriela and her family. She believes in the Boston Children’s mission and is excited to be part of it through her participation in the Family Advisory Council. As a member of the Family Advisory Council Joselyn looks to give back to an organization that has given her family so much.

Sarah Morris

Member since: 2012

Experience/Areas of Interest: Tracheostomy, G-Tubes, Long Term Care, Home Care, Home Nursing, Durable Medical Equipment navigation, NICU, Complex Care, Coordinated Care, Parent to Parent Networking.

About Sarah: Sarah Morris is the proud mother of premature twins, Drew and Emma, born in 2008. Emma has spent more than 400 nights at Boston Children’s Hospital. Emma has been diagnosed with a type 3 laryngeal cleft, lung disease and a primary immune deficiency that brings her in for monthly infusions to name a few.

Sarah has had to learn to manage home nursing care at its finest, from durable medical equipment to pediatric home nursing care, as well as making late night calls to Emma’s doctors to do critical thinking of how to keep her safely at home. Learning along the way, Sarah has become a strong advocate for her children and is able to adeptly navigate the medical world. Her nights have been spent researching diagnoses and organizing medical equipment and supplies. She feels as a caregiver she has been given one of the most amazing jobs and every day brings new surprises.

Giving back to Boston Children’s Hospital has been a priority for Sarah and her husband, Jon. Before joining the hospital-wide Family Advisory Council, Sarah served two years as a member of the NICU Family Advisory Council along with her husband. They both have found individual avenues of contributing to bring the parent voice into different areas of the hospital.

Read more about Sarah and her family on our science blog, Vector.

Lisa O'Brien

Member since: 2014

Experience/Areas of Interest: Developmental medicine (cognitive development and neuroscience, ADHD, developmental delays), care coordination.

About Lisa: Lisa is the mom of three children: Georgeanne, William, and Charlie. William was diagnosed with a Chiari I malformation and developmental delays at an early age. Lisa has been an advocate for William as he navigates academic, social, and physical activities in a world that often moves faster than he does. Lisa began her volunteer relationship with Boston Children's Hospital as a Miles for Miracles participant in 2009, raising funds and awareness for Boston Children's while pursuing her lifelong passion of running.

Lisa joined the Family Advisory Council to bring her perspectives and experience with outpatient and satellite clinic care to the group. Prior to becoming a mom, Lisa worked as a healthcare consultant, primarily focused on decision support tools and their use. She considers it a privilege to be able to give back to Boston Children's as well as stay abreast of pediatric healthcare advancements and challenges as part of her Council responsibilities. Lisa and her husband, Sean, live outside of Boston with their three children. Lisa is actively involved in her children’s schools and plays a leadership role on her community’s special education parent advisory council. Lisa also enjoys coaching youth sports and building youth-oriented recreation programs.

William O'Donnell 

Member since: 2012

Experience/Areas of Interest: Pulmonary Hypertension, Cardiology, High Reliability Organization.

About Bill: Bill lives in Medford with his wife and daughter, Shannon. Shannon was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Hypertension in 2001 has been a patient at Boston Children’s ever since.

Bill feels it’s imperative to give back to the hospital that saved his daughter’s life. In addition to being a member of the Family Advisory Council, Bill and his family have been involved in several fundraisers including Shannon being a patient partner for marathons. Bill is an avid blood donor and encourages everyone who is eligible to donate.

Read more about Bill and his family on our patient and family blog, Thriving.

Erin Sullivan

Member since: 2018
Experience/Interests: Cardiology, in- and outpatient visits, transition to adult care, Boston Adult Congenital Heart (BACH) and Pulmonary Hypertension Team
 
Erin Sullivan has been a patient at Boston Children’s Hospital since the day she was born. Erin had open heart surgery at three months of age and has been followed by Boston Children’s cardiology ever since, requiring the expertise that cardiologists trained in both pediatrics and adult cardiology can provide. 
Erin is grateful for the excellent that she has received at Boston Children’s Hospital. Erin volunteered at Boston Children’s Hospital during high school and college and joined the Family Advisory Council to bring her patient perspective to the group.
 
Erin has spent most of her career in healthcare research and education; she is currently the research director at Harvard Medical School’s (HMS) Center for Primary Care, holds a faculty appointment in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine (HMS), and teaches in the Simmons School of Management’s Healthcare MBA program.  In her free time, Erin enjoys running, spinning, yoga and adventures with her partner, Matt, and miniature golden doodle, Sully.


Aimee Williamson

Member since: 2014

Experience/Areas of Interest: Spina bifida, complex care.

About Aimee: Aimee Williamson is the mother of two children, Colton and Lena. She and her husband, Rob, lived in Colorado when both children were born, Colton in 1994 and Lena six years later. While Colton experienced little aside from common childhood issues, Lena was born with a lipomyelomeningocele, a form of spina bifida occulta. After an initial detethering surgery at 7 weeks old to separate her spinal cord from the lipoma it was embedded within, the early years were relatively uneventful and related medical problems were well controlled.

In 2007, the family moved to Massachusetts and Lena has received care at Boston Children’s ever since. Initially, this just meant regular check-ups, but in 2011, Lena began experiencing symptoms that ultimately led to three more detethering surgeries over the next few years. Related losses of function and complications have required multiple surgeries, hospitalizations, and visits with many specialists and departments throughout the hospital. Despite these challenges, Lena is thriving. She is an involved student, serves as a member of the hospital’s Teen Advisory Committee, and plans to be a medical professional herself someday.      

Aimee is grateful for the dedication, kindness, and responsiveness of physicians, nurses, and other staff across the hospital. She joined the Family Advisory Council as a way to give back to the hospital for all the time and effort providers have given to her family over the years. As a public administration professor with work related to children’s issues and a board member of the Spina Bifida Association of Greater New England, Aimee has also found that the experience serves as a rewarding connection between her personal and professional interests. 

Learn more about Aimee's daughter, Lena and the Teen Advisory Committee on our patient and family blog, Thriving.

Read "My sister, my inspiration" - a blog post written by Aimee's son, Colton.

Boston Children’s is so much more than a hospital—it’s a community of researchers, clinicians, administrators, support staff, innovators, teachers, patients and families, all working together to make the impossible possible. ”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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