Executive Board

Melinda Riccitelli, President

Rebecca Martine, Vice President

Desiree Cougle, Treasurer

Mary Vanderlaan, Founder/President Emeritus

Advisory Board

Rachael Ballard

Carissa Froyum-Roise

Marne Harvich-Chergi

Nico Meyering

Wendy Stroup

Eddy Yang

Mary Vanderlaan, Ph.D., Founder and President Emeritus


Dr. Vanderlaan founded the CCHS Network in 1989, following the birth of her son, Nico, in 1988. Dr. Vanderlaan recently stepped down from her role as Executive Director and President of the CCHS Network.  Mary continues to manage new membership and the Network’s Facebook discussion board and she continues to advise the Network’s Research Advisory Board. Mary has long been a staunch and resolute champion of CCHS causes. Mary has traveled the world speaking about CCHS and, in addition to her work in the U.S., has helped many foreign groups establish a CCHS presence in their home country. Mary has been a formidable voice for CCHS and has empowered CCHS patients and their families to seek and lead full and productive lives. Professionally, Mary is professor emerita at Hartwick College and lives in upstate New York.

Melinda Riccitelli, Ph.D., Vice President


Dr. Riccitelli, in addition to serving as Co-chair of the Foundation, has succeeded Dr. Vanderlaan as President of the CCHS Network. Her CCHS daughter, Sarah, was born in 1989. Melinda lives in southern California with her family.

Desiree Cougle, Treasurer


Desiree Cougle has been an Advisory Board member of the CCHS Network since 1993. Desiree’s son, Erik, age 28, was diagnosed at 3 months of age with CCHS. In 2015, she joined the Executive Board of the CCHS Network as Treasurer. In addition to administering the Network’s financial resources, Desiree has a significant role in the Network’s family support, education, and fundraising programs: She serves as a new family contact liaison for the Northeast region, conference co-chair, and Regional Coordinator for the CCHS Foundation. Professionally, Desiree works as a medical administrative assistant and lives in Northwest New Jersey with her family.

Rachael Ballard, CCHS Foundation, Central-South US Family Representative


Rachael Ballard has served on the CCHS Board since 2015 shortly after the birth of her son Lincoln. Lincoln was born in December of 2014 and received his CCHS diagnosis and tracheostomy at one month of age. Rachael is a professional fundraiser who has worked for non-profits in the Pacific Northwest and Texas for 10 years. She currently resides in Austin, TX with her husband Brandon and two children Flora and Lincoln.

Carissa Froyum-Roise, Ph.D., Survey Research Support, CCHS Foundation Regional Coordinator, Midwest US Family Representative


Carissa Froyum-Roise became an active member in the CCHS Network in 2011, after the birth of her middle child Hans, and they attended their first family conference in 2013. Hans was diagnosed with a rare NPARM mutation of CCHS at four months old. He has been mask ventilated since his diagnosis. She joined the CCHS Board in 2015. She has expertise in research design, social activism, mask ventilation, and accessing services in a rural area. Carissa is a sociology professor at the University of Northern Iowa who specializes in the study of social inequalities. She lives in Denver, IA, with her partner and three children.

Marne Harvich-Chergi, Board Member


Marne Harvich-Chergi is one of the founding board members of the CCHS Foundation. Her daughter Cassidy coded at birth and remained in the NICU until her diagnosis three months later. Marne is the President of Duval Tile and Decorating and handles all aspects of small business ownership. Her background includes studies in accounting, interior design and digital media at Florida State and University of Florida.

Rebecca Martine, MSN, RN, PMHCNS, CCHS Foundation Co-Chair, Eastern US Family Representative

organizer_martineRebecca Martine has served as the Co-Chair of the CCHS Foundation since its inception in 2014.  In 2019 she joined the Executive Board as Vice President.  Her youngest son, Luke, was diagnosed with CCHS shortly after birth in 2012. Professionally, Rebecca is a Psychiatric/Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist who has specialized in Parkinson’s disease for over 15 years. Her area of expertise centers on disease education, outreach, and networking. Rebecca lives in Cherry Hill, NJ with her husband and three sons.

Nico Meyering, MPA, CCHS Facebook Administrator, Social Media Management, CCHS Foundation Regional Coordinator, Young Adult Intermediary


Nico Meyering was diagnosed at birth with CCHS. After completing graduate coursework at Binghamton University, Nico spent two years with national service programs, where he worked with small nonprofits to improve their social media outreach, marketing efforts, and development. Within the CCHS Family Network, Nico focuses on new and international family assistance, social media outreach, and organizational development. An avid comic book collector, Nico donated most of his collection to his hometown library in 2016. After living in San Francisco, CA, Binghamton, NY, and Denton, TX, Nico lives in Albany, NY with his partner Brittany and their two cats.

Wendy Stroup, Board Member


Wendy Stroup began serving on the Foundation board in 2016. Wendy’s daughter, Sadie, was born in January 2008 and was diagnosed with CCHS one month later. Wendy’s professional experience includes seven years as a product manager, specializing first in financial investment tools and later in consumer products. Wendy lives in Chandler, AZ with her husband and two children, Sadie and Deacon.

Eddy Yang, MD/Ph.D., Research Advisory Board Chair


Eddy Yang has served on the CCHS Advisory Board since 2011. Eddy’s daughter, Madilyn, was diagnosed at birth with CCHS. Dr. Yang is Chair of the Network’s Research Advisory Board. Dr. Yang received his undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University and his MD/PhD degrees from the University of Miami School of Medicine. He performed his internal medicine internship at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, FL and received his radiation oncology residency training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN. Currently, Dr. Yang is an Associate Professor and the inaugural holder of the ROAR Southeast Cancer Foundation Endowed Chair in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. He is also Director of the UAB Nanostring Laboratory.