Meet Our Team


Allergy & Asthma Network Staff

Lynda Mitchell head shot

Lynda Mitchell, MA, CAE


As CEO of Allergy & Asthma Network, Lynda leads the strategic direction of the organization, advances the organization’s mission by building partnerships with stakeholder groups and aligns the organization’s health equity work in all mission areas.

Lynda first came to Allergy & Asthma Network to lead the digital transformation of the organization. She began using digital strategies to connect the organization’s mission areas with patients and caregivers to improve their health and quality of life, and to become empowered consumers and patient advocates.

Lynda has 25 years of experience in nonprofit leadership roles in the allergy and asthma community. She was a healthcare consultant when she became the mom of a child with asthma and food allergies. She used her professional background in healthcare management and consumer health informatics to establish the nation’s first nonprofit online community for parents raising children with food allergies in 2005. Under her leadership, that organization grew to 40,000 members in its first 8 years. She continued in other senior leadership positions before joining Allergy & Asthma Network in 2019 and being named CEO in May 2023.

Throughout her nonprofit career, Lynda has drawn on her deep experience in healthcare compliance to implement best practices in nonprofit management, direct strategic growth, and build high-performance teams. She has long championed patient-centered care and patient engagement, and the use of innovative approaches and digital strategies to advance an organization’s mission and to empower patients and caregivers as partners in their healthcare.

Lynda also sits on the Board of Directors for the Global Parents for Eczema Research, where she is chair of the investment committee, and the American Health Information Management Association Foundation, where she is chair of the finance committee.

Lynda is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and holds a master’s degree in health information management with a certificate in health informatics from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where she enjoys being involved in animal rescue, 100+ Women Who Care Bucks County, and walking every day with her Black Lab.

Photo of Charmayne Anderson

Charmayne Anderson, MPA

Director of Advocacy

Charmayne’s career in government affairs and advocacy spans nearly 30 years serving both public sector and nonprofit organizations. At Allergy & Asthma Network, Charmayne brings a unique capability of engaging the Network in the public policy process, enhancing partnerships with policymakers and collaborating with national associations and other constituencies. She also leads the Network’s annual Allergy & Asthma Day Capitol Hill event.

Centering her advocacy efforts on the health and well-being of individuals and creating sustainable communities that thrive, Charmayne has successfully developed and executed policy and funding strategies to influence legislation and agency actions that address critical public infrastructure needs, service delivery and quality of life of local constituencies. Not only is Charmayne a resilient advocate for patients, but she also works tirelessly in this role on behalf of her children and herself – all who suffer from asthma and allergies.

Charmayne brings her passion and expertise to organizations that make a difference in the lives of children as a volunteer in her community, and actively participates in charitable events as a member of the Washington Football Team cheerleader alumni.

Catherine Blackwell

Catherine Blackwell, RN, MBA

Chief Health Equity Officer

Catherine is a registered nurse with an MBA in Health Administration, a Certified Professional Patient Advocate in Life Sciences (PPALS), and has 25+ years in leadership roles in the pharmaceutical and CRO industry. She is also a patient advocate responsible for building trusted relationships and collaborations with patients, patient organizations and professional medical associations.

Catherine is committed to keeping the patient’s voice front and center while collaborating to obtain patient insights and feedback to develop innovations for patients, with patients. She is at the forefront of patient engagement and minority recruitment for clinical trials. She believes that health equity should be at the highest level for people from all walks of life regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, economic status, or geography.

Outside of her professional life, Catherine is a community advocate with a heart for the elderly, a passion for helping the underserved population and a desire to impact health disparities through awareness and education to help people access affordable, culturally competent healthcare.

Catherine is a native of Philadelphia (Go Eagles!) and currently resides in Atlanta with her husband Don. She enjoys interior decorating, landscape design, dancing, entertaining at home, and spending time with family and friends.

Kris Brown headshot

Kris Brown

Administrative Coordinator

Kris joined Allergy & Asthma Network from the Nashville, Tennessee area in 2021 and now resides in Texas. She previously served in areas of work that allowed her to use her customer relations and people skills. She believes these relational gifts come from a heart to serve those in need.

Kris relates to people who have chronic allergies, as she underwent allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots) from 7 until 13 years of age. She also had tubes placed in both of her ears to prevent the buildup of fluids in the eardrum due to allergies.

Kris helps care for her mom in Texas. She also has a passion for the church. During her free time, Kris enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She has a love for sports. Although she may no longer live in Tennessee, she still loves cheering on her Nashville Predators, remaining true to “Smashville” during the hockey season!

photo of Gary Fitzgerald

Gary Fitzgerald

Senior Editor and Communications Strategist

Gary believes in the power of today’s media to inform, inspire and empower people to change their lives. He is an award-winning writer and editor with a diverse background that includes producing digital content and print publications for healthcare, education, physical fitness and professional sports.

Gary joined Allergy & Asthma Network in 2012 with the goal of producing practical healthcare information that is understandable and relatable for every patient and healthcare professional. He manages the organization’s digital platforms, including website, social media and monthly E-newsletter. He also serves as communications lead on press releases and statements.

Gary previously worked 10 years as director and managing editor of a professional football team’s official website. He has also worked as an editor with the Humane Society of the United States, several newswire services, and a daily newspaper in New Jersey. Gary lives in Cheverly, Maryland with his wife and two daughters.

Photo of De De Gardner


Chief Research Officer

Dr Gardner is responsible for all aspects of the research mission area and focus on ensuring the patient voice is incorporated in all aspects of research.

De De is a respiratory therapist, a higher education professional and a public health professional. She is recognized for her leadership and contributions to the respiratory field with numerous awards and 40 peer reviewed publication and presentations.

Before joining Allergy & Asthma Network, Dr. Gardner served on the faculty and in leadership roles at two universities. Dr. Gardner continues to serve on variety of local leadership roles in the respiratory care field. She also continues her roles as adjunct faculty at two universities.

De De holds degrees in respiratory therapy, health and human services and a doctorate in public health.

Dr. Gardner lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband, a high school football coach and video game design teacher. Dr. Gardner has a daughter with lifelong eczema and a son with severe pollen allergies. In her spare time, De De enjoys reading, puzzles, and gardening.

Photo of Marcela Gieminiani

Marcela Gieminiani

Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Marcela is a Journalist and Communication Specialist from Chile. She joined the Network in 2007 to lead Outreach and expand our Hispanic Outreach Program, ensuring all our Spanish-language resources and services are inclusive and culturally competent. Marcela has managed multiple projects with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand asthma education in African American and Hispanic communities. She has supported the Network’s health disparities work and initiatives in many capacities through the years.

Prior to joining the Network, Marcela was editor and publications manager at the Pan American Health Organization (Family and Community Health Area), where she developed health-related resources for community programs in several Latin American countries.

Marcela’s passion is to provide support and advice to the families we serve in her maternal language. She lives in Northern Virginia.

Tori Martel headshot

Tori Martel, MPH

Senior Public Health Communications Manager

Tori works among the Allergy & Asthma Network’s digital team and is responsible for overseeing various digital initiatives and projects as well as promoting creative content on all social media platforms to engage our audience and keep them informed.

Tori is a Master of Public Health graduate from Tufts University with a concentration in Behavioral Science and Health Communication. She started working with Allergy & Asthma Network as a part-time intern while completing her education. She uses her academic knowledge of public health and health communication to optimize the dissemination of information to the public.

Tori also volunteers her time as the Associate Executive Director for Penpals United, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Type 1 diabetics in third-world countries. She lives in Boston, MA, where she enjoys going to the beach and spending time with her friends and family.

Photo headshot of Tonya Nash

Tonya Nash, MPH, CHES

Project Manager

Tonya is a public health consultant with over 15 years of experience in both public and private sectors. She is a certified health education specialist and has a certificate in digital health communication from Tufts University. Tonya is the President of Spectrum Public Health Strategies, LLC, and founder of the award-winning Autism Faith Network.  

Tonya is Assistant Project Manager for our CDC EXHALE project. She recently served as Project Manager for our Not One More Life Trusted Messengers program. In that role, she coordinated with volunteers, faith leaders and Atlanta city officials to provide COVID-19 and respiratory health screenings at predominantly African American churches. Tonya is passionate about communicating health information in a way people from all backgrounds can understand. 

Mitu Patel MPH

Mitu Patel, MPH

Health Data Analyst

Mitu Patel graduated from Rutgers School of Public Health with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. She has a background in biology and research experience in maternal and child health. While in school, she worked on a perinatal mental health research study that was accepted for publication in the BMC Public Health peer-reviewed journal.

Mitu is passionate about improving the health of mothers and their children through research as well as supporting meaningful contributions to the research of various health conditions. She hopes to use her public health data analysis skills to contribute to Allergy & Asthma Network’s mission of improving health equity in the United States. Outside of professional work, Mitu enjoys reading novels (not textbooks anymore!) and dancing.

Headshot of Kolleen Shallcross

Kolleen Shallcross

Director of Web Tech & Organic Growth

A graduate of Pratt Institute and owner of a marketing agency for over 4 decades, Kolleen has faced many challenges living with asthma and severe allergies, long before they were so common. “I felt like the canary in the coal mine growing up,” she says in regards to having very little medical help available to mitigate her symptoms.

Kolleen first came to Allergy & Asthma Network as an SEO consultant and created the organization’s website redesign under Shallcross Marketing & Design. Her work increased website traffic by 1,000%, enabling more people to obtain medically accurate information.

Since then, Kolleen has joined the Network full-time. She fully supports the organization’s mission.

In addition to supporting women-owned businesses through mentoring and community outreach, Kolleen organized and led Long Island’s largest secular homeschool group. She also enjoys creating analog and digital artwork for friends and family.

Leandra Tonweber headshot

Leandra Tonweber, PA-C, AE-C

Lead Disease Management Coach

Leandra is a Certified Physician Assistant and Certified Asthma Educator with 15 years of experience in allergy, asthma and immunology. She joined Allergy & Asthma Network in 2021 as the lead Asthma Coach and participates in several educational and research projects.

Leandra has had allergies since she was a young child and her personal experiences have fueled her desire for treating and educating patients with asthma and allergies. She began her career as a medical assistant and health educator for an Allergy, Asthma, Immunology and Rheumatology Practice in Rochester, New York.

Prior to joining Allergy & Asthma Network, Leandra worked for allergy, asthma and immunology medical practices in Charlotte, North Carolina. She works from Charlotte, where she enjoys spending time with friends and family.

Photo of Paul Tury

Paul Tury

Creative Director

Paul is an award-winning graphic designer and illustrator. He controls the imagery of Allergy & Asthma Network, providing a consistent look and feel across a wide variety of products from the website to the Network publication Allergy & Asthma Today.

Prior to joining the Network, Paul was Senior Art Director in charge of three business-to-business magazines. Paul believes that graphics help convey the meaning of the information that we receive and works to make that information accessible to every patient.