Home Dialyzors United (HDU) is delighted to announce the appointment of Melissa Sondergaard to its Board of Directors. In addition, Melissa’s husband Henning has been appointed the point person for the HDU social media sites. Rounding out the leadership team is Robin Franzi who will be joining the Public Policy and Advocacy Committee.
Melissa Sondergaard is a published poet and essayist, as well as a mom to three daughters and grandmother to one grandson. Her education is in Education and English with a concentration in Creative Writing. She has tutored both Psychology and Statistics at the college level and brings a variety of work and life experience. Melissa also has extensive experience volunteering on several boards as well as leadership positions in various organizations. Melissa brings a passion for advocacy as well as an ability to unify disparate viewpoints to move a group toward a common goal.
Henning Sondergaard is a psychologist with a Master’s Degree from University of Copenhagen, specializing in health psychology. Henning is currently working as a counselor and teacher with the Danish Kidney Foundation. Henning has also recently been involved with helping potential Danish kidney donors make their decisions. Henning is a published writer of both articles and fiction, and he and Melissa have both co-written and been co-published.
Henning is a Danish citizen and has had kidney issues his whole life related to being born with spina bifida, which also has made him a lifelong wheelchair user. Henning has traveled internationally since he was very young, having split his adult years between Europe and the United States.
Melissa is a US citizen who moved to Denmark as Henning began his journey toward dialysis. When Melissa returned to the US, it became necessary to consider other dialysis options than what was offered. Henning and Melissa chose NxStage System One, as travel is necessary to their bi-continental marriage. Rich Berkowitz , Home Dialyzors United and NxStage together paved a path Henning and Melissa could follow to both improve Henning’s health, and live a reasonable married life.
Melissa and Henning are both honored and humbled to have been chosen to work for HDU. Melissa will work to increase and streamline communication between the HDU board and its membership. Henning will work to actively engage membership via social media and the website. Together they are committed to further HDU’s goals and advocate for kidney patients wishing to increase their quality of life by doing Home Hemodialysis.
Robin Franzi’s former life consisted of such accomplishments as a B.S. in Finance from Bryant College and an M.S. in Information Systems from Salve Regina University. Her career history spans over 20 years working in public policy and finance. Ms. Franzi was also regularly active in the arts community and varied interests, including being a Big Sister for a year when she first moved to Seattle.
Since her kidneys failed due to a rare, undiagnosed, progressive disease, Robin is now her own advocate, and gains strength from the love and support of her 28 year old son. Robin hopes to contribute to improving kidney care for all patients. Robin began dialysis in May of 2012 and switched to home hemodialysis by April of 2013. She is currently a Patient Ambassador with Dialysis Patient Citizens in Washington, D.C. and works to manage her health and continue to educate herself about her disease by administering her own dialysis at home, 4-5 times a week.
As a member of the HDU Public Policy and Advocacy Committee, Robin will assist in tracking legislative issues and formulating responses to proposed rules. She will also be integrally involved in communicating policy issues to HDU members and soliciting member response.
Home Dialyzors United is pleased to welcome Melissa, Henning and Robin to its leadership ranks.