Avery’s Angels Board of Directors


Nicole Blomerus, BScN
Retired OR Nurse Kelowna, BC, Canada

Jessica Deighan M.Ed, BSSE.
Developmental Specialist Instructionist, Dynamite Therapy Arizona Early Intervention Program, Grand Canyon University Doctoral Canidate 2018.

Marcia L. Feldkamp, PhD, PA
Associate Professor, Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah School of Medicine, SLC, Utah

Jessica Holmes
BA Psychology UNC 2007, MAT Special Education UGA 2012

Beth Moore, M.Ed.
Family Services Manager, Partnership for Children,  Johnston County, NC.

Mark Puder, MD, PhD
Boston Children’s Hospital, Professor of Surgery Harvard Medical School

Melissa Turner RN, BSN
Newborn Critical Care Center Charge Nurse, North Carolina Children’s Hospital, Chapel Hill, NC

Avery’s Angels Team


Meghan Rauen – CEO, Founder

In 2009 my life changed as I knew it; I became a mom to an amazing little boy named Avery. His case of gastroschisis looked to be extremely rosy; small loop out, good size and gestational age, strong lungs and heart. However after 107 days Avery moved very unexpectedly to watch over his family, imprinting a legacy of hope and advocacy in my life. I was “that mom” with my spiral notebook, searching the internet every minute I got trying to figure out when I was pregnant what to expect, where to go, during treatment I was looking for validation for medical treatment and case progression. There was not anything formalized at the time, and I knew from being told the numbers that there had to be many more like me. With the encouragement of every “angel” that had been over his case- from family to his medical team, I started blogging, emailing and posting about creating a community, providing support, education and information for families affected and the world about the disease that was on the rise. more…

Phebe Hovingh – COO

My Gastroschisis story starts with my second son’s 14 week ultrasound. Like so many others I had never heard the word “Gastroschisis ” before that day, let alone knew what it was. The rest of my pregnancy was filled with appointments, research, and a whole lot of prayer. In 2008 (when we had our diagnosis) Avery’s Angels Gastroschisis Foundation didn’t exist. However the hospital I was to deliver at had a parent support program. I was so blessed to talk to and listed to another Gastroschisis mom. She was amazingly helpful. Her story helped carry me through so much. We are good friends to this day. We spent 6 months in the NICU, and 6 more under continued home care. He was given a clean bill of health at 2 years and lives a super active life today. Yet, in those first few weeks of NICU I started to realize how different Gastroschisis can be from one case to another. I wished there were more resources and support. more…

Marcia Feldkamp – Officer of Birth Defect Research Pediatric Genetics

Dr. Feldkamp is an Associate Professor in the Division of Medical Genetics in the Department of Pediatrics. Her interest and career in birth defect epidemiology began while working as a physician assistant and caring for women of reproductive age. Due to the limitations of existing data in Utah, Dr. Feldkamp led the efforts to develop a co-agency program between the Utah Department of Health and the University of Utah Department of Pediatrics for a clinically based birth defects surveillance system. Dr. Feldkamp was one of several founding members of the National Birth Defects Prevention Network in 1997 and became President of this organization in 2005. This Network is a cohesive group of individuals from states in the US that are interested in birth defects surveillance, research, and prevention. more…

Carissa Shoemaker – Director for Bereavement and Loss Support

My name is Carissa Shoemaker. I am a hospice CNA and a mother of 5, one of which is our gastroschisis angel Emersyn.  We have 3 additional girls Jaelyn, Khloe, and Liyah and our rainbow boy Oakley.  Our gastroschisis journey began in 2014. After extensive hospital visits and stays our Emmy was born April 21st 2014 with a large case of gastroschisis involving multiple organs including her intestines, liver, and stomach. She had multiple complications with her lung function due to the size of her gastroschisis and a large hole requiring donor skin and a wound vac. After 24 days in NICU and 2 surgeries our Emersyn cuddled in our arms filled with love and took her last breath on May 15, 2014 at 5:15pm. 2 months after Emersyn passed away I leaped into a new career with hospice as that’s where I felt drawn and have savored what I’ve learned through my time there. more…

Havilah Sthole – Director of Medical Education and Research Education

I am Havilah Sthole, former Alabama Hub Leader for AAGF, now serving as the Director of Medical Education and Research Education among our leadership. My youngest son was diagnosed with gastroschisis at 24 weeks gestation in 2013, a diagnosis that ignited a passion to increase awareness, offer support, and encourage more research. I had the wonderful opportunity to do a directed independent study in an evolutionary shark genetics lab while pursuing my Bachelor’s in Biology which helped to further my understanding of genetics and research. I have since graduated with my Bachelors in Pre-Professional Biology from the University of West Florida and am currently in medical school at the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine. more… 


Kaitlyn Pitman – Landmark Lightups and Proclamation Requests

My name is Kaitlyn, at 20 weeks I found out I was going to have a baby girl born with gastroschisis and I found Avery’s Angels while I was pregnant. Once my daughter was out of the NICU I knew I wanted to give back to other parents affected by Gastroschisis. I became a parent volunteer and helped with carepackages for awhile. But then I had the chance to step in and take over Social Media and I love it. I love that I can give back to Avery’s Angels, because even to this day they are still helping out me and my daughter. Now, as the Awareness Day Coordinator, you can contact me for more details on how to request your state, region, or province declare July 30th as Gastroschisis Awareness Day. Or, visit our Official Proclamation Programs page. more… 


Christie Biggers – Director of Social Media

Bam!  There goes gravity… I remember sitting in shocked silence as the doctor highlighted my sweet baby’s little extended loops of bowel and tried to explain to us what the word Gastroschisis meant.  I didn’t even know what questions to ask, what I was supposed to think or to do.  That’s when I heard the doctor gently offer termination of my pregnancy.  Anger flooded in… “No!  Absolutely not!  This baby is coming into this world!”  I will never forget that he told us not to go home and google the word because it would frighten us, unnecessarily. Of course, that’s exactly what we did!  We were devastated.  Back then, in 2004, social media wasn’t really available and I remember feeling so alone.  No one could even pronounce what our sweet Ava was facing, much less understand it. more… 


Lyndsey Leonard – Director of Awareness Day Development

My name is Lyndsey Leonard, a mother to two handsome boys, Emmett and Ethan. I am also a stay at home mom, a fiance to a wonderful man, and currently going to school for Criminal Justice – I eventually hope to be a police officer one day. My journey with Gastroschisis began when my son Emmett was born was Gastroschisis in August of 2010. Although AAGF was founded in 2009, I actually had never stumbled upon the support until 2011. I was shocked that I never found this resource. We felt alone when we didn’t have to and it was then that my passion to volunteer had began to form. I didn’t want any other family out there experiencing this journey by themselves – especially when they didn’t have too. more… 


Megan Turcotte – Graphic Designer

In 2003 Megan Turcotte’s son Josh was born with rare complications arising from gastroschisis. He developed Short Bowel Syndrome from this complication. Megan and her husband journeyed through the medical world never knowing another parent who had a child like Josh. While Josh grew, Megan never stopped searching for information and an answer to the question, “Why?” During this search, in 2009, she found Avery’s Angels. It was the first time in 6 years she didn’t feel alone in her journey. Megan joined in hopes of helping raise money for AAGF by selling some of her craft goods. Her love of art and creating transformed itself into graphic design for Avery’s Angels. With self taught skills she now designs AAGF’s logo,  flyers, brochures, business cards, along with running and designing for Avery’s Angels online Cafepress shop. more…

Haley Odvody – Graphic Artist

Hi, I’m Haley! I’m a graphic artist with a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts. I love to create beautiful, usable, professional designs but I also like a challenge and any chance to let my inner child take command. When my husband and I found out our baby boy, Jackson, would be born with gastroschisis we were shocked and devastated to say the least. I had never heard of such a thing and researched like my life depended on it. Then I came across Avery’s Angels and reached out for guidance. This foundation gave us the hope and knowledge we needed to arm ourselves with in order to bring our son into this world with a fighting chance. Because AAGF does such amazing work I jumped at the chance to give back in the best way I know how. more… 


Lea Krutel – Director of Web Development

Lea came to join Avery’s Angels Gastroschisis Foundation after the unfortunate loss of her first child, Amara Belle, in 2009 due to complications arising from the birth defect when she was just three months old. During these difficult times, Lea’s father-in-law was searching the internet for emotional support and further information on gastroschisis, and came to find Meghan Hall through her blog. He introduced the two via email and they came to find that they had experienced very similar paths in regards to the birth and loss of their children within a very short time of each other. In 2010, Lea joined AAGF as a Volunteer Supporter, providing emotional support to expecting parents. Later, in 2014, Lea and her husband, Bryan Richter, took on the task of rebuilding the current website for AAGF to create the largest gastroschisis compilation available on the internet. more…


Avery’s Angels District Managers


District Managers are responsible for providing Hub Leaders with mentorship, organization and development. They help interview, train and place new leaders and volunteers, help localize efforts in states and grow the awareness and support efforts in their districts. These are senior Hub Leaders who have had tenure with our organization and know the complexities of gastroschisis, local government and support mechanisms and medical systems.

Jessica Deighan – South West District Manager (AZ) – Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada

My name is Jessica Deighan. I’m a mommy to three amazing kids including one amazing superhero, wife to Andrew of 13 years, fixer of boo boo’s, rocket ship builder, princess clothing designer, educator and Southwest District Manager for Avery’s Angels. I have a Master;s degree in Secondary Education, dual bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Elementary Education and am currently in my doctoral program for Psychology with an Emphasis in Integrating Technology, Learning, and Psychology. I work as a Developmental Specialist Instructionist for Arizona Early Intervention and work closely with Neonatal care teams to ensure a smooth transition from NICU to home. more…


Analeise Guild – California District Manager

My start with gastroschisis began very different than most. I had never heard the word gastroschisis until my daughter was 18 months old. This is because my daughter was adopted. From the second I heard what she was born with, the researching began and to this day has not ended. My daughter was left with short gut syndrome from gastroschisis. This left her dependent on IV nutrients until she was almost 5. I am located in Northern California and have 4 children ages 5 and under. Between kids school and hockey, I enjoy meeting new families at the local hospital and hope to help as many as I can. I have a passion for families that are affected by gastroschisis and I hope to help as many people as possible through my role with Avery’s Angels Gastroschisis Foundation. more… 


Lyndsey Leonard – North Central District Manager (IN) – Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin

My name is Lyndsey Leonard, a mother to two handsome boys, Emmett and Ethan. I am also a stay at home mom, a fiance to a wonderful man, and currently going to school for Criminal Justice – I eventually hope to be a police officer one day. My journey with Gastroschisis began when my son Emmett was born was Gastroschisis in August of 2010. Although AAGF was founded in 2009, I actually had never stumbled upon the support until 2011. I was shocked that I never found this resource. We felt alone when we didn’t have to and it was then that my passion to volunteer had began to form. I didn’t want any other family out there experiencing this journey by themselves – especially when they didn’t have too. more… 


POSITION AVAILABLE  – West South Central District Manager – Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota

Gaby Luna – Northeast New England District Manager (MA) – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland

I’m Gaby Luna, your MA Hub Leader and Northeast New England District Manager. I was born and raised in NJ but now live in this wonderful city, East Boston. I have a degree in Small Business Management & Pastry Arts Management . I am looking to continue my education and become a Nurse Practitioner. I am a mom and caregiver to a fun and wild boy who was born with Vanishing Gastroschisis in September of 2016. I registered for support with AAGF the day I found out at 20 weeks that my son had Gastroschisis. After he was born I kept to myself . I have always been a person to do everything on my own. I don’t like seeking out help/support. As the months passed my son was still in the NICU and not ready to be discharged anytime soon.  I transferred his care to a specialized hospital. more…


POSITION AVAILABLE  – South District Manager – Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee


Liz Tuck – Mountain Region District Manager (CO) – Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon

My name is Elizabeth “Liz” Tuck living on the Western Slope of Colorado on our small farm living life post military. Our gastroschisis journey began May 13, 2015.  After three very normal pregnancies, we decided our fourth (a rainbow baby) would be born at home with a skilled midwife team. I had one ultrasound early that didn’t catch the gastroschisis.  When Silas was born into my own arms, we had a complete surprise!  He had his small and large intestines, stomach and liver born outside but still managed full closure at 7 hours old with no organ damage.  He spent 22 days at the NICU.  Silas had a second surgery at three months old for an umbilical hernia repair.  We have been extremely blessed!  I did not find Avery’s Angels until after we were home.  I instantly knew I wanted to be involved to the max!  I want to give the support I didn’t know even existed. more…

POSITION AVAILABLE – Southeast Atlantic District Manager – West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida