The Vascular Birthmarks Foundation

Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon, PhD President and Founder

Our panel of Parent Advocates are available to answer your questions. We invite you to contact each parent advocate by geographic area to contact them directly. By using this service, you agree to our HIPAA Policy and Privacy Policy.

Corinne Barinaga is our Patient Advocate and VBF Family Services Director. You may browse our list of physicians and other VBF Experts below, or If you would like assistance in selecting a physician, Corinne is available to answer any questions concerning family advocacy, treatment questions or physician referral. Learn more about Corinne or contact her at patientadvocate@birthmark.org.

United States

Western US

  • Lauri Firstenberg
    Parent Representative

    Lauri Firstenberg is a producer and curator based in Los Angeles. She runs the gallery there-there in Hollywood. Lauri has worked with nonprofits and foundations for 25 years, presently working on AG ARTIST GUILD for art and advocacy. She is a parent of Edie Yvonne, who was born with KTS. Lauri returned to the VBF Board in 2017.

  • Jeffery Bergen, MSN, RN, PHD (C)
    Chair of the Community Representatives Advisory Committee

    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, and is currently the manager of the Office of Licensure, Accreditation & Regulation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA. He is also completing 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 port wine stain.

Southwest

  • Jody Lee
    Treasurer, Chair of the Committee on Development and Finance, and DOA Coordinator for Walk / Runs​

    Jody Lee and her husband, John, live with their daughter, Meghana in Lake Orion, Michigan. Meghana was born in 2015 with a port wine stain on the right side of her face. Prior to starting treatment, the Lee family connected with the VBF and received invaluable support and advice. Meghana is being treated at the University of Michigan by Dr. Jeff Orringer and has had 9 laser treatments to date. The Lee family organized the 1st Purple Polka Dot Race in August 2015, and has make it an annual event to raise awareness for vascular birthmarks and fundraise for the VBF. Jody is a physical therapist and works with people who have spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.

South and Southeast

  • Glenda Ethington
    Sturge-Weber Syndrome (SWS) Parent Representative

    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.

  • Tiffany Ethington
    Secretary

    Tiffany Ethington 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. Tiffany also serves as the Patient Advocate and Welcome Volunteer for the SWSC.

  • Sarah Kenis
    Medical Research Director

    Sarah Kenis was born with a complex lymphatic and vascular malformation on her right axillary. She has undergone numerous operations and procedures to manage her malformation. She attended Lewis University on an athletic scholarship for swimming, and graduated with her BSN in 2014, and accomplished All-American status in her swimming career. She has been a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse since graduating, and has worked at Children’s National Medical Center, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, and as a travel RN in South Florida. She is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Program at Rush University, with a specialty in Pediatric Primary Care. Her goal for the DNP program and her work with VBF, is to help establish a set of guidelines for infantile lymphatic and vascular anomalies in order to provide early and accurate treatment.

Mid-Atlantic

  • Carla Mannix
    Insurance Specialist & DOA Coordinator for Give2MyVBF Pages & International Events​

    Carla Mannix serves as the Insurance Specialist for the VBF network and supports the VBF International Day of Awareness campaign. She advises families on strategies for winning appeals for insurance coverage and prior authorization. Carla has shared her varied experiences as a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, ESL educator, non-profit affiliate developer, and surgical coordinator with VBF since 2014. Her passions are serving the needy and volunteering with social justice and peace groups. She lives in Reading, PA with her husband and three children. Her daughter bravely manages multiple venous malformations in her legs.

  • Dinah Gonzales & Dr. Martin Kalafar
    Parent Representative

    Dr. Dinah Gonzalez is a board certified ObGyn physician. Dinah is also certified in Integrative Medicine. She has combined these disciplines and has a private practice. Dinah lives and works in Pennsylvania with her husband and fellow Board member Dr. Marvin Kalafer.

North & Northeast

  • Sharon Israel
    Parent Representative Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome (KTS)

    Sharon Israel has a BS in human development from Cornell University, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and over 20 years of work experience in education. Her daughter’s Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome went misdiagnosed until age 4, when her dermatologist referred her to Dr. Rosen who was able to get Olivia on the right path for treatment and pain relief. VBF is thankful for Sharon’s help and support of other parents and families as they navigate the medical, insurance, social and educational world of vascular birthmarks.

  • Elizabeth Dishman, RN
    Board Member
    Elizabeth was born with a large Port Wine Stain on both sides of her face, right rib cage, right forearm, hand and fingers. She started getting her PWS treated at 6 years old. Going through the laser treatments sparked Elizabeth’s interest in dermatology. Elizabeth holds a BS in Psychology from Northeastern University and a BS in Nursing from the MGH Institute of Health Professions. She has worked in private practice dermatology since 2009. Elizabeth enjoys having the opportunity to work with patients with vascular birthmarks, assist them during treatments,  and connect with them on a personal level, as has been through the treatments herself. Her passion as a nurse is patient education, especially surrounding the many questions that come up with regard to vascular birthmarks and their treatment, as well as the psychological effects of having a visible health condition. Elizabeth is thrilled to be a part of the Vascular Birthmark Foundation’s Patient Education Committee and help in their mission to provide patients and families with comprehensive treatment information, along with compassion and community.

International

  • Linda Rozell-Shannon, PhD
    President & Founder

    Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon 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 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.

Europe

  • Josie Moore
    VBF Europe Chapter Ambassador

    VBF Chapter Ambassadors are volunteer VBF Global Ambassadors who are available to answer your non-medical, location-specific questions and to otherwise provide support and leadership. Please contact the VBF Doctors listed on this page directly with your medical questions, or use use our ASK THE EXPERTS feature.

  • Joie Davidow
    VBF Italy Chapter Ambassador

    VBF Chapter Ambassadors are volunteer VBF Global Ambassadors who are available to answer your non-medical, location-specific questions and to otherwise provide support and leadership. Please contact the VBF Doctors listed on this page directly with your medical questions, or use use our ASK THE EXPERTS feature.