Our Board of Directors

Our inaugural Board of Directors is composed of professionals with expertise in a wide range of areas, including healthcare, advocacy, education, management, and fund development. Every member of our board is also someone who has hypoparathyroidism. The Board meets monthly and is responsible for taking care of the strategic and financial health of the organization on an ongoing basis.

Ryan Polly, PhD, MEd

Founder & President

Ryan Polly is the founder and president of HypoPara Support & Advocacy. In addition, Ryan is a Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for a major healthcare system. As a fellow hypopara traveler (status post-thyroidectomy due to Graves’ disease in 2011), Ryan understands the challenges of living with this chronic illness while struggling to maintain a professional career and raise children (he has 5). Ryan’s goal is to bring the HypoPara community together to not only support one another but to lift our collective voices so that our needs are met. Ryan believes that community is critical for wellbeing and wants to ensure that our community has a chance to truly thrive.

Laura Stillmunkes

Co-Chair of the Board 

Professionally, Laura is Executive Director of Capital Adoptive Families Alliance in Sacramento, CA. Her experience lies in executive leadership, strategic planning, project management, and training and development. Laura’s heart has been with the non-profit sector for 12 years, after finding the private sector unfulfilling. Laura is proud to be part of this new organization, as she developed hypoparathyroidism 22 years ago and has run the gamut of doctors, treatments, and medical studies. In her spare time, Laura loves to garden, hang out with her teenagers, volunteer, and play with her many pets.

Denise Fournier 

Secretary & Board Member

Denise is a 42-year post-surgical hypopara patient. She is a retired nurse, last working in corporate clinical appeals management at a large health insurance company. She has previous experience advocating for and training about hypoparathyroidism to physicians and pharma representatives. Denise is a vocal advocate for hypopara patients and was a clinical trial participant for Natpara for 9 years. She is also a volunteer melanoma patient advocate and has lobbied her state senators on various issues pertaining to melanoma research and treatment. Denise is currently part of the Connecticut Rare Action Network Committee. She resides in Connecticut with her husband and various pets.

Kelsey Tavares

Treasurer & Board Member

Kelsey brings a diverse history of legal expertise, political activism, and human rights advocacy to the HypoPara Support and Advocacy Board. In 2014, she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Kelsey went on to earn a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) from Harvard Law School in 2019. Since graduating, Kelsey has built her career and professional expertise at DLA Piper as an associate specializing in complex commercial litigation and regulatory work.  While pursuing her career and educational goals, Kelsey has simultaneously managed her Hypoparathyroidism since 2014. Having first-hand experience with the everyday struggles associated with this rare disease, she aims to utilize her optimistic spirit and expertise to play a key role in Hypoparathyroidism awareness, fund-raising initiatives, and medical technology development.

Amy Brotslaw Schweiger

Board Member

With a lifetime commitment to social justice, Amy Brotslaw Schweiger is recently retired from 25 years of grant writing, fundraising and development. Her recent experience includes raising funds for Liberty Hill to support community organizing. She also served as Director of Development for Progressive Jewish Alliance and as an institutional fundraiser for NPR. Previously, she served on the board of the ACLU of Southern California. She holds a bachelor’s degree in film theory and history from the University of Wisconsin, and an MBA in Nonprofit Management from American Jewish University. Prior to joining the nonprofit world, Amy worked in television production for many years.

Caroline Warmkessel

Board Member

Caroline Warmkessel joined the hypopara community in the winter of 2012 following her total thyroidectomy. Caroline has worked in FDA-regulated environments since her graduation with a BS in molecular biology from UCSD. Her 20+ year career in quality/regulatory for companies marketing pharmaceuticals, biologics, and medical devices will help us shape our advocacy strategies. In addition, Caroline is experienced with creating and providing training and is excited to provide training and education to our community and medical providers.

Caroline currently resides in Santa Cruz, California.

Cece Donoghue

Board Member

Cece lives in Connecticut with her husband, Mike, where together they raised their five children. Through her work with the Order of Malta, Cece works with a number of non-profit organizations that serve the homeless, the incarcerated, expectant mothers who are at risk, children and adults with specials needs, the victims of human trafficking, and the disenfranchised. Cece was diagnosed with hypopara in 2005, after a thyroidectomy due to thyroid cancer. Since her diagnosis, she has been an advocate for those who suffer from HypoPara including testifying before the FDA advisory panel during the approval process of Natpara in 2015. Cece is inspired daily by her fellow HypoPara patients and is thrilled to be part of the HypoPara Support & Advocacy organization.

Chrissy Bonatch

Board Member

Chrissy lives in Pennsylvania with her husband Dennis and 3 children. She has spent the majority of her life helping others in one form or another. With a degree in Psychology and Family Relations and a Masters in Human Resources, she has answered crisis hotlines, facilitated group therapy sessions, worked with insurance companies, and organized health fairs. She continues to be active in her community by being a member of the Junior Women’s Civic Club which raises funds for local agencies, as well as being active in her children’s school activities. She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2011 which caused her hypoparathyroidism. She has a passion for advocating for Hypopara and strives to help our community fight to ensure our needs are met.

Michele West, MPH, RN

Board Member

In the middle of a rewarding career in nursing and Public Health, a diagnosis of thyroid cancer in 2009 and the subsequent surgery, cut short Ms. West’s ability to continue working. She was a clinical trial participant for the Natpara studies and was honored to testify to the FDA as to the difference it makes in our lives. Michele was also one of the first patients to be placed on a pump for Natpara delivery. She now volunteers her time to teach both doctors and patients how to get the best outcomes, despite the daily challenges all HypoPara patients experience.