The MSA Coalition welcomes new leadership to the Board of Directors starting January 2023. Learn more about our new Chair of the Board and new board members below:
The MSA Coalition Welcomes New Chair of the Board, Pam Bower
The MSA Coalition is excited to introduce Pam Bower as the new Chair of the Board of Directors. Pam is no new face to the organization having served as Secretary and then Vice Chair of the Board. She has led the Research Committee as chair through seven research grant cycles, maintains an active presence on MSA social media groups, and has been globally recognize for her efforts in MSA advocacy. Read more about Pam’s service to the organization here.
“It is my great honor to continue to serve MSA families as I accept a new role as chair of the MSA Coalition Board of Directors,” Pam shares. “Over the past 30 years, the MSA Coalition has built a community of hope for all affected by the disease by offering caring support, sharing reliable information and advocating for increased awareness and research funding. Our vision to improve quality of life and advance research towards a cure has never been clearer or our mission more urgent. I would like to extend a warm welcome to our new board members joining this year who bring with them fresh ideas and enthusiasm.”
As Pam steps into her new role, Cyndi Roemer has transitioned from Chairperson, a role she has held with the Coalition for 6 years, to serve as Immediate Past Chair for this final year of her tenure on the board. She will help ensure a smooth transition for the organization.
“I want to acknowledge and thank the outstanding team of volunteer board members and advisors with whom I have had the privilege to work during my tenure as Board Chair,” Cyndi shares. “I am proud of the great strides we have made building on the work of the founders to support this community, advancing our mission and expanding our impact.”
“I am pleased that Pam Bower will lead the next chapter of our efforts,” she continues, “with the support of an impressive board and professional staff. Pam has demonstrated exceptional commitment to this community and her experience on the board will provide valuable insights in her new position as Chair. I look forward to further progress under her leadership. She has my support in my role as Immediate Past Chair to ensure a smooth transition and continued services to this community.”
Reflecting on Cyndi’s role with the organization, Pam shares how grateful she is to Cyndi for her leadership. “I look forward to continuing to work with her as she completes her term on the board this year. I also look forward to working closely with Joe Lindahl, our energetic and passionate Executive Director, as well as our experienced and dedicated Board of Directors.”
With fresh perspectives and a plan to roll out some exciting strategic initiatives for the organization this year, The MSA Coalition is looking forward to having its most impactful year yet!
Meet The New Board Members
We are excited to introduce you to our newest group of dedicated volunteers joining The MSA Coalition Board of Directors this year:
Dawn Rodgers-Dexter, Treasurer of The MSA Coalition
Dawn’s journey with MSA began when her father-in-law, Richard Dexter, began to experience balance difficulties and falls from orthostatic hypotension in early 2015. After many visits to specialists in Memphis, TN, Dawn, and her wife worked with his primary care physician to secure an appointment at Mayo Clinic-Scottsdale, AZ. After several days at Mayo, it was determined that Richard was experiencing symptoms related to a possible MSA diagnosis. Unfamiliar with the disease, the family sought a second opinion from a movement specialist at UAB where the possible MSA diagnosis was confirmed.
“Upon receiving Pop’s diagnosis,” Dawn shares, “Jana and I immediately began to research and advocate for his treatment and overall well-being. It is when we found The MSA Coalition that we were able to find guidance on how to manage his symptoms and give him the greatest enjoyment of life possible. It was also through The MSA Coalition’s Patient and Family Conferences that we met other families having a similar experience and lifelong friendships were formed. We are grateful we found The MSA Coalition very early on in our journey.”
A Midsouth native born and raised in Tennessee, Dawn attended Christian Brothers University in Memphis where she participated as a member of the Division II Women’s Softball Team and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Dawn earned an Executive Certificate in Financial Planning from Christian Brothers University, Certified Trust & Fiduciary Advisor designation from the Institute of Certified Bankers, and Certified Wealth Strategist® designation from the Cannon Financial Institute. Dawn is a Vice President and Fiduciary Strategist at Comerica Bank & Trust, N.A.
A passionate sports enthusiast, Dawn enjoys spending time outdoors with her wife, Jana, and two beloved English Labrador Retrievers, Adler and Lucia.
“I am truly honored to serve on the Board of Directors of the MSA Coalition. The impact this organization has had on my family is immeasurable. I look forward to the opportunity I have to further the mission and goals of the Coalition.”
Alan Smally, Patient Representative for The MSA Coalition Board of Directors
“Like many MSA patients I was diagnosed initially with Parkinson’s disease in 2016 after 1-2 years of mild symptoms. The possibility of MSA was discussed and the likelihood was thought to be low. I was competing in triathlons and doing well in my age group at that time. Symptom worsening prompted me to see a movement disorder specialist who diagnosed possible MSA and on follow-up visit, likely MSA.
My wife (a pediatrician) and I had retired in 2014 and purchased an Airstream RV trailer. Between 2014 and 2020 we traveled twice yearly on 2-3 month journeys around the USA. Our travels totaled 150,000 miles. We visited most states and National Parks in the lower 48. RVing was curtailed by MSA.
After growing up in Florida, I attended the University of North Carolina as an undergraduate and the University of Florida College of Medicine. The last 27 years of my career were spent in the Emergency Department of Hartford Hospital, an urban high volume (>100,000 patients/year) and high acuity teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. During my career, I served as Chief of Emergency Medicine at the University and Hartford Hospital, Medical Director of the Hartford Hospital ED, and Professor of Traumatology and Emergency Medicine at the University. In addition to my administrative responsibilities as chief, I was elected to Hartford Hospital Medical Executive Committee for several terms, including two as treasurer.
My greatest career enjoyment was practicing clinical emergency medicine and teaching residents in the clinical setting. Teaching physicians and other healthcare professionals was also important to me. I authored or coauthored over 50 publications in the medical literature. Awards received included residency teacher of the year award three times; Phil Stent Award for “leadership and outstanding contributions to Emergency Medicine in CT” by the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians; University of CT Integrated Residency in Emergency Medicine Lighthouse Award for “leadership and support of residency education”; and Distinguished Service Award given annually by the Hartford Hospital Medical Staff.
After six years and 150,000 miles, the progression of MSA ended our travels, and when I became familiar with the Coalition, I felt that being a patient, coupled with my experiences as a physician, provided a perspective that would allow me to help other patients by volunteering as the patient representative to the board.”
Andre Cote Barch, Care Partner Representative for The MSA Coalition Board of Directors
“My mother, Isabelle, was diagnosed with probable MSA-P in 2019 after initially being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2018. As a young caregiver, I have supported my mother in her daily tasks, visits to neurologists across North America, and her clinical trial in New York City. The MSA Coalition has provided my family with educational resources and supportive communities which enable both my mother and my family to flourish in new ways. I am hoping to share my experiences and advocate for caregivers as a member of the Board of Directors.
I currently serve as an Investment Banking Associate at Greenhill & Co. where I am focused on serving clients in Canada across industries. Prior to that, I served as an Investment Banking Analyst at Gordon Dyal & Co. in New York City and RBC Capital Markets in Toronto and Calgary. I hold a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University. I live In Toronto, Ontario with my wife, Emily, and share caregiving duties with my father, Richard and my sister, Margot.
I am honoured to join the Board of Directors of the MSA Coalition and continue to advance its mission. As a caregiver to my mother, I have seen firsthand how the MSA Coalition has provided our family with a community of support, research initiatives, and a platform to spread awareness about MSA. I look forward to working with the board to represent caregivers and contribute to the strategy of the MSA Coalition.”
Gary Troutman, Director At-Large
“My wife went with me to see my Neurologist at Emory when he confirmed my diagnosis of MSA-P, in April 2022. I’ll never forget the ride home, we were devastated with the news. However, both of us had a good start at our understanding of the condition and how it could affect me over time. And since then, I’ve been focused on learning as much as possible about the condition and research related to improving the lives of people that suffer from MSA.
I’m married to an incredible and beautiful woman, Martha. We have a blended family with 5 amazing children, 3 girls and 2 boys. They are all very close, very different and doing well. I am so proud of each one of them! We also recently became Grandparents and have 2 G-babies that are about 2 weeks apart and recently turned 1 year old.
Way back, a few years ago, I graduated from the University of South Carolina with an undergraduate degree in chemistry and later went back to get an MBA from the Moore School of Business. After graduation, I moved to Georgia where I worked with Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC). The ATDC was set up by Georgia’s Board of Regents to provide support to researchers within Georgia’s University System designed to help commercialize technology, often developed through research contracts within the various institutions. I left Georgia Tech and started a technology services company that I ran for almost 20 years, which I ended up selling. For the past few years I provided new business development support for large and speciality accounting and professional services firms such as Crowe LLP, True Partners Consulting and RSM US, LLC. I took disability leave in June 2022 and am currently not working.
MSA is a rare condition and there isn’t much information out there. Fortunately, I found the MSA Coalition organization early on and it has been such a beneficial resource and most importantly, a place where I connect with others who have MSA or are care takers/loved ones as well as people interested in MSA related research.
I’m very excited and honored to be part of the Board for the MSA Coalition. I’m looking forward to being part of the team and hope to become an integral component of this incredible, support-focused organization.”
William Finnerty, Director At-Large
“In 1998 my mother Gloria Finnerty was at the top of her game! She had a fabulous job, a loving family and a bright future right in front of her. Then little things started happening, things she could not understand. Things that made people notice. At the time she was living alone and keeping these events to herself. Until she couldn’t hide it anymore. Finally, after many trips to many different doctors, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease like many MSA patients. Little did we know that it was Multiple System Atrophy. After many years of looking for the correct diagnosis, we finally landed on MSA. I had the honor of being a caregiver for her throughout her battle. It was a unique dynamic taking care of the woman who raised you and should be in the prime of her life. My mother fought this disease from 1998 until her passing on February 8th, 2013, at the young age of 64. For her to make that age and fight what she fought is the single greatest achievement that I will ever witness in my life.
In September of 2013, I attended the Annual Patient & Family Conference in Milwaukee and was amazed so many other people were suffering like her. At that point I made it a goal to spread the word about MSA. To raise awareness could be the key to turning the tide in this battle.
I have lived in the Western New York area since 1982. I consider myself a proud Buffalonian and a proud part of #BillsMafia. This area supports each other with unquestioned love and support. I attended St. Francis High School and SUNY Fredonia before entering the foodservice industry on 6/17/1994. Working at J. P. Fitzgeralds for 21 years until after my mom passed gave me a unique opportunity to provide round the clock care for my mother with the help of my brother and future wife. In 2014, I started working for Meals on Wheels of WNY until the present day. I realized giving back to the community is my true passion.
In 2016 we opened Finnerty’s Tap Room in Ellicottville, NY. Being an owner/operator gave me the experience of running a business on all different levels. From operations, to staffing to community involvement, the amount of knowledge I’ve gained over the last 6 years has been incredible. I’m looking forward of using that to help spread the word about MSA!
After seeing the great work the MSA Coalition does and my experience as a caregiver for my late mother Gloria, I can think of no higher honor than joining the board to add my perspective and enthusiasm to help those thru awareness, understanding and fundraising!”
Happy 2023 and Welcome to the Board!