and Founder -
Linda Rozell-Shannon, PhD
Linda and her daughter, Christine, reside in upstate New York. Linda founded
VBF after her daughter was born with a hemangioma on her lower lip and she was
unable to find information on treatment options. Dr. Waner surgically removed
Christine's hemangioma in 1995. Linda and Dr. Waner wrote the only book for
parents on the subject of birthmarks called "Birthmarks: A Guide to Hemangiomas
and Vascular Malformations." Linda is also a chapter author in the Facial Plastic
Surgery Clinics of North America textbook on "Vascular Birthmarks of the Head
and Neck" (published in 2001), which was guest edited by Dr. Marcelo Hochman.
Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon completed her PhD in 2008 at Walden University. Her
dissertation topic: Assessing the Impact of Hemangiomas on Maternal Stress was
written to support insurance appeals for families denied coverage.
Palmateer is the Financial Administrator for VBF. She has been with VBF since
the summer of 2001 and has served VBF in a number of capacities over the years.
Lauren is a wife, mother and high school history teacher at a school in Upstate
New York. She has an interest in medical issues and a love for children.
join the VBF in welcoming professional baseball player Frank Catalanotto and his wife
Barbara as Honorary Chairpersons. We know that by having their enthusiasm
and support, VBF can make a real difference in this world.
Frank Catalanotto was one of the top hitters in the Major Leagues
in 2001, finishing with a batting average of .330 and challenging
for the American League batting title.
While Frank is a professional baseball player with an impressive record, he
is also a spouse and parent just like you and I. And when he and Barbara had
their daughter in 1999, they were perplexed by a strange mark on her face that
was soon diagnosed as a type of vascular birthmark called a "hemangioma."
VP and Director of Advocacy Alliance
Brian A. Bolinger has been a member of the Board of Directors for the Vascular
Birthmarks Foundation since 2006.
Mr. Bolinger is currently the President of Bolinger Consulting, where he assists
companies with strategic planning, implementation, business model development,
team building and customer growth. Previously, Brian was the President
and Chief Executive officer of Apollo Power & Light, LLC, a retail electric
provider based in Dallas, Texas. Prior to starting Apollo, Mr. Bolinger was
Vice President of Legal Affairs and Operations for dPi Teleconnect and dPi Energy.
Mr. Bolinger has also served as Corporate Counsel and Director of Human Resources
for Smock Fansler Corporation, a large commercial construction company based
in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Brian earned his bachelor’s degree from DePauw University in Greencastle,
Indiana, his master’s degree from Midwestern State University in Wichita
Falls, Texas and his doctorate of jurisprudence from Indiana University School
of Law in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Brian and his wife Natalie, who is also a member of the Board of Directors for
the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation, become involved with the foundation after
their daughter Nicole “Coco” was born with a compound cheek hemangioma
in 2003. Through the foundation, the Bolingers were networked to a physician
who, through a series of six surgeries, completely removed both of Nicole’s
Brian and Natalie started the Angel’s Kiss Gala in 2003 to raise awareness
and funds for the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation.
Brian and Natalie reside in Austin, Texas and have two children.
Secretary and Parent Rep
Tiffany lives in Kentucky and has worked behind the scenes for years, helping
with projects and supporting efforts concerning Sturge-Weber syndrome (SWS).
Her son, Glen, was born with the rare disease. Tiffany, along with others affected
by SWS, helped to found the Sturge-Weber Syndrome Community (SWSC). Tiffany
and Glen have been advocates for SWS and vascular birthmarks, and have spearheaded
fundraising campaigns and awareness projects. She also serves as the Patient
Advocate and Welcome Volunteer for the SWSC.
Director of International Chapters
Glenda Ethington is cofounder of the Sturge-Weber Syndrome Community, a worldwide
organization for individuals and families living with Sturge-Weber syndrome
(SWS.) Her grandson, Glen, has SWS and she was inspired by his courage to form
an Internet support group for SWS, which eventually led to the SWSC chapter
membership into the VBF. She has a background in print journalism, and currently
resides in Kentucky.
Sherry (Sher) was born in the small city of Brockville, Ontario, Canada with two large dark Port Wine Stains covering most of the right side of her face. Her parents were told the only option was a large skin graft to cover the PWS, which they did not want to do. At ages 10 and 11, Sher had three surgeries on her PWS due to significant growth and thickening. At age 15 in 1982, she had the dreaded Argon laser treatment which left her with 3rd degree burns on the whole PWS area.
When she moved to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in 1989, she started receiving laser treatments from Dr. Sharyn Laughlin at Laserderm and has been going to Dr. Laughlin ever since. Currently, Sher gets treatments every 3-4 months.
She lives outside of Ottawa with her husband and three children. In March 2012, she started her own graphic/web design and social media consulting business, Crummy Media Solutions.
Sher joined the Birthmarks.com community in 2002 when she was researching new treatment options on the Internet. She has been an active member ever since. In 2010, she became Birthmarks.com's Marketing Intelligence Officer. She is now proud to be a board member for VBF.
VBF Director of Family Services
has a B.A. in Communications and Advertising. She lives in the Seattle, Washington
area with her husband and their four boys. Their son, Nicholas, had a large
segmental hemangioma. Corinne's quest to learn about her son's condition resulted
in her becoming the manager of the MSN Vascular Birthmarks Support Group. She
is a staunch advocate for parents. Her mission is to educate the public and
physicians about the latest information concerning the diagnosis and management
of vascular birthmarks. She is available to answer your questions and direct
you to the appropriate physician and resources. Corinne is dedicated to working
with families on an individual basis to address their specific needs.
Jeff Bergen is a former Navy Corpsman who completed 8 years of active service and was honorably discharged. After the Navy he went to nursing school and later went on to attain a Master’s Degree in Nursing. As a Registered Nurse, he has worked in infectious disease and oncology nursing, and was a hospital epidemiology nurse. He is certified in infection control and health care quality. He is currently the manager of the Office of Licensure, Accreditation & Regulation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA. He is also pursuing his PhD in Nursing through The Catholic University of America. Jeff is an established patient at the Beckman Laser Institute where receives treatment for his portwine stain. Jeff can be reached by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
her husband Brian, and their two children Brock and Nicole live in the Dallas
suburb of Corinth, Texas. Nicole was born with a compound hemangioma on her
right check at the corner of her eye and nose. The VBF networked the family
with Dr. Waner who, through a series of surgeries, completely removed the hemangioma.
In 2003, Natalie and her husband Brian began the North Texas Vascular Birthmarks Foundation Benefit which was the largest annual fundraiser for the VBF for several years.
Leslie M.W. Graff
has a Bachelors in Elementary Education and Masters in Marriage, Family, and
Human Development from Brigham Young University. She completed her child life
training at Johns Hopkins Children's Center and is a certified child life specialist,
trained to address the psychosocial/emotional needs of children and adolescents
in relation to their medical conditions by providing psychological preparation,
and therapeutic support activities. She worked as a child life specialist at
University of California San Francisco Medical Center and was on the faculty
at Ohlone College. She has worked with thousands of children in countries around
the world as a child life specialist for Operation Smile medical missions She
lives in Massachusetts with her husband and 3 sons. One of her sons has a port
Carla joined the VBF team in Dec. 2014 as an Administrative Assistant. She's excited about bringing her experiences as a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, ESL educator, non-profit affiliate developer, and surgical coordinator to VBF. Her passion is serving the needy and volunteering with social justice and peace groups. She also loves "winning" appeals for patients to get insurance coverage.
She lives in Reading, PA with her husband and three children. Her daughter bravely manages a venous malformation in her foot.
Paige Parrish is a senior at Boerne High School in Boerne, TX. She plays on the high school tennis team and is in National Honor Society. She will attend Trinity University in San Antonio, TX in fall 2016 and plans to major in chemical engineering. When Paige was 5 weeks old, a small spider vein appeared under her right nostril. By 8 weeks, this spider vein had grown into bruised hump about the size of a dime. Luckily our pediatrician knew that this was a cavernous hemangioma and would grow quickly.
Early and intense internet intervention by Paige’s mom, Sherry, led her to the Hemangioma and Vascular Birthmarks Foundation web page and Linda Shannon. Linda led Paige and her mom to Dr. Waner at that early age. At 10 & ½ weeks, Paige was already on oral steroids to abort the hemangioma growth and had several laser treatments her first year of life to slow the spreading of the superficial hemangioma that was on top of the cavernous hemangioma. At 13 months, Waner surgically extracted the cavernous hemangioma and at 2 years old, Waner performed lip repair on Paige.
Today, Paige is a beautiful senior in high school and hardly anyone notices the small scar above her lip left behind by the surgery. Dr. Linda and Dr. Waner were definitely angels in the life of Paige and her family.
Sherry Parrish is a pharmacist that graduated from the University of Texas College of Pharmacy in 1982. She has worked at several chain pharmacies, an independent pharmacy, an HMO, running an indigent medication program out of a hospital, and was regional director of the UT College of Pharmacy internship program in the Corpus Christi area. After her two girls were born in 1997 and 1999, she began moving around with her husband’s relocations and no longer worked as a pharmacist. Sherry, her husband, Martin, and children, Paige and Brooke, currently reside in Boerne, TX.
Sherry’s daughter, Paige, developed a facial cavernous hemangioma 5 weeks after birth. The
internet was slow and new, but she was persistent and the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation had a web page. Sherry contacted Linda Shannon who led Sherry to Dr. Waner. Dr. Waner performed surgical excision of the birthmark when Paige was 13 months and lip repair when Paige was 2 years old. Sherry and her husband have continued to support HVBF over the years.
Sharon is VBF's Parent Representative especially for families affected by Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome. In 2014, she organized the Alex and Ani fundraiser event in New Jersey and the clever Origami Owl jewelry fundraiser.
and her husband, Kevin, and two sons, Casey and Cody live in Albany NY. Lianne
joined the the VBF as a Parent Representative to assist other parents and children
find the right path to meeting their birthmark needs. The VBF was instrumental
in her son Cody having his lymphatic malformation removed from his right hand
in 2005 by Dr. Joseph Upton at Boston Children's Hospital. Lianne is aan Electric
Design Representative for National Grid Electric Company.
Marvin Kalafer, M.D. and Dinah Gonzalez, M.D.
and Dinah live with their daughter Marisa in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania.
Marisa developed a large upper eyelid hemangioma that was removed by Dr. Waner
when she was 5 months old. Both Marvin and Dinah practice Obstetrics and Gynecology.
VBF California Chapter Treasurer
Erin Miller is the Director of Development at the Beckman Laser Institute and
has done fundraising for children who can’t afford laser treatment for
the removal of their port wine stain birthmarks. She organizes the VBF Conference
every other year when it’s held in Irvine, California. Erin lives in Southern
California with her husband and their three children. She is currently the Treasurer
of the VBF California Chapter and enjoys working with the Vascular Birthmarks
Coordinator, VBF Musicians for Birthmarks
an opera trained singer, is the Coordinator for VBF Musicians with Birthmarks.
She lives in Cupertino, CA and has a port wine stain on her arm.
Lauri Firstenberg is the mother of Edie Yvonne Firstenberg, her five
year old daughter who was born with an extensive port wine stain and was diagnosed
with KT Syndrome at the age of 2. It is only with the help of the Vascular
Birthmark Foundation that the family received a proper diagnosis for Edie and
found a team of experts through VBF to monitor and care for Edie. Firstenberg
received her Ph.D. in the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University
in 2005 and that same year she founded the leading independent contemporary
arts organization in Los Angeles - LA><ART - supporting artistic and curatorial
freedom. Firstenberg has recently launched RTM Projects producing limited
editions with artists and designers, RTM Vintage - a curated line of vintage
modernist jewelry and RTM Consulting - a consultancy for cultural nonprofits.
Andria and her family live in Philadelphia, Pa. Her daughter Olivia was born
with a Port Wine Stain on her face, neck and head. Olivia has had over twenty-five
laser treatments to lighten the birthmark. Olivia has also had two surgeries
to the left eye due to glaucoma, caused by the birthmark. Andria became involved
with VBF in 2012 when she started Olivia's Walk for Birthmarks. Olivia's Walk
has become an annual event since.
Genevieve Mailloux is VBF's social media coordinator. She has been working
for VBF for two years. She is also a second year nursing student in upstate
Kyla and her husband, Jeff live in Guilderland, NY along with their son Chase.
When Chase was first born they noticed a small mark under his right eye that
continued to grow. By a chance encounter they met Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon
walking through the mall. They were instantly referred to doctors that
put all their worries at ease. After several treatments, Chase’s
hemangioma is almost completely gone. Kyla joined VBF as a parent representative
to help bring awareness as well as assist in anyway with helping parents and
children receive the treatment that they need.
Honorary Medical Co-Chairs
Co-Chairs of the Research and Scientific Advisory Committees
Dr. Martin Mihm and Dr. Stuart Nelson
Martin Mihm, Jr., MD, Director
Dr. Mihm is one of the founding members of VBF. He also founded the
Albany Medical Center Vascular Anomalies Program and the Massachusetts
General Hospital Vascular Anomalies Program. He is the Director at both
clinics. Dr. Mihm is responsible for having the World Health Organization
Rare Tumor Institute classify a hemangioma as a “rare tumor.” He is
Professor, Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts
General Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts and is the leading Pathologist
in the country studying vascular anomalies. He is also Co-Director of
the WHO melanoma pathology and is the Director of the Vascular Tumors
Research Team and the Scientific Advisory Committee.
J. Stuart Nelson, M.D. Ph.D.
Dr. J. Stuart Nelson is Associate Director of the Beckman Laser Institute
and Medical Clinic, and Professor of Surgery, Dermatology and Biomedical
Engineering, University of California-Irvine.
The principal goal of Dr. Nelson’s research has been to address
the problems associated with light propagation and dosimetry in human
skin with the end goal of improved clinical efficacy. Dr. Nelson developed
a novel and efficient method of cooling (“Dynamic” or cryogen
spray cooling) human skin in conjunction with laser dermatologic surgery.
Clinical studies have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of this approach
during laser treatment of pediatric port wine stain birthmarks and other
hypervascular skin lesions, removal of unwanted human hair, wrinkle
reduction, scar improvement and management of acne.
Worldwide, this methodology developed by Dr. Nelson has now been incorporated
into several thousand laser devices. Dr. Nelson has published more than
270 scientific articles and 13 book chapters. Dr. Nelson served as President
of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) 2001-2002
and was the Program Chairman of the Joint International Laser Conference
(co-sponsored by the ASLMS, British Medical Laser Association and European
Laser Association) held in Edinburgh, Scotland in September 2003. He
was the Program Chairman for last year’s Annual ASLMS meeting.
He assumed the position of Editor-in-Chief of the ASLMS journal Lasers
in Surgery and Medicine in April 2005.