2014 Changes to our Board of Directors

February 7, 2014

As we embark on a new year, we welcome two additional board members and say goodbye to our current Secretary, Heather Baker.  Heather remains a dear friend of our family and continues to support Claire in her mission to help other families living with cystic fibrosis.

Heather served as our Board Secretary and provided a tremendous amount of support for the first year we were established. Thank you so much for your loving service, you are an exceptional friend and a woman committed to charitable works.  One of our heroes!”
~ Melissa Nordquist, Executive Director

heather bakker clairesplaceHeather Baker, Founding Board Member,Past Secretary

Heather Baker has extensive management experience in both the business and family world.  She has been employed in sales, law, and marketing, and possesses highly developed organizational skills recognized throughout the Las Vegas community.  Heather has a diverse employment history, which includes shipping for entertainment celebrities and participation in the development of major Las Vegas resorts. Heather has most recently spent her time concentrating on friends and family, was a co-recipient of the “Power of One” award for dedication to the Jewish community, and assisted her daughter, Dylan Sage, in receiving the American Legion Award.  She has also been recognized by the Clark County School System for her educational involvement.  Ultimately, though, Heather is known as a dedicated worker, a faithful friend, and a tireless supporter of Claire’s struggle to achieve a long and meaningful life.


We have been so very blessed by like minded members of our community and board of directors stepping forward to provide charitable service to our newly established foundation.  Please help us welcome our two newest board members, Dr Leila Yoonessi and  Mr. David Martell.

Leila BIODr Leila Yoonessi, Director

Dr. Leila Yoonessi is currently a pediatric pulmonology fellow at Miller Children’s Hospital, Long Beach. Dr. Yoonessi holds a BA in psychobiology with a minor in religious studies from Occidental College. She graduated cum laude and was awarded a psychobiology departmental award for her academic achievements. She then studied at the University of Southern California where she earned Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in health care promotion. She then went on to complete her medical degree at New York Medical College. She relocated to California to rejoin her family where she completed her pediatric residency at Los Angeles County University Southern California. She is currently a board certified pediatrician. She has several research interests with several publications pending including Progression and Prognostic Indicators of Bronchial and Alveolar Disease in Children with Sickle Cell Disease, Cortisol levels as predictors for need for vasopressor support in the first 48 hours of life, environmental factors contributing to lung function and growth velocity decline, and inflammatory cytokines as predictors of respiratory disease in Cystic Fibrosis related metabolic syndrome. She remains committed to patient advocacy, research, complementary medicine, preventive medicine, holistic health, and non-profit work.

Practicing locations:
Miller Children’s Hospital, Long Beach
New York Medical College, 2009
Pediatric Residency, University of Southern California, 2012
Professional society memberships:
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Thoracic Society

“I enjoy positively impacting the lives of my pediatric patients. They constantly inspire me with their imaginations, zest for life, energy, enthusiasm, and infinite kindness. When you meet a brilliant young girl like Claire Wineland, who is filled to the brim with inner and outer beauty, you will know exactly what I mean.

During my pediatric residency at the University of Southern California, I began to understand the complexities that doctor’s face when trying to promote underlying health and facilitate healing.  By adopting a multidisciplinary approach, physicians, patients, and their parents can create and implement effective treatment plans.  My decision to pursue a pediatric pulmonology fellowship stems directly from my passion for the field of pediatrics and my desire to aid in the timely diagnosis and treatment of respiratory diseases.
During my third-year pediatrics rotation, I came to a clearer understanding of my skills and abilities and how this best fits into my vision for my professional future.  I discovered which direction I would pursue in this field.  While making my rounds in the Westchester Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, I saw a child struggling to breathe during a cystic fibrosis pulmonary exacerbation.  Her mother was completely distraught at seeing her child in pain, – but after the child was hospitalized her condition rapidly improved, the mother expressed a sense of gratitude that even surpassed her previous sense of worry and concern was even greater than her worry had been.  Children living with cystic fibrosis require coordinated interdisciplinary care including endocrinology, pulmonology, and infectious disease.
On a personal level, during high school I had a talented and gifted friend who lived with cystic fibrosis without complaint.  She carried herself with quiet reserve and internal strength.  I admired her tenacity and, the drive to live life to the fullest, and developed a deep respect for her and perseverance in the face of daunting despite her health issues.  Academically and personally, she demonstrated leadership among her peers, and always treated others with an abiding sense of kindness.  In many ways I was inspired by my interactions with her. I knew I wanted to contribute to the the constantly growing body of research in the pulmonology field in the hope of improving the quality of life and reducing the mortality and morbidity of children living with respiratory disease.”

David Martell PhotoDavid Martell, Director

David Martell is a veteran in the financial services industry with experience and a passion for fundraising for charitable organizations. Currently, David is an account executive with a large firm in the commodities industry where he is responsible for the buying and selling of new and rare precious metals. Previously, David was the primary fundraiser for an outreach educational organization. He conducted fundraising strategy and outreach trained other fundraisers.  On a personal note, David has been a long time friend and supporter of Claire Wineland and her family.  He believes in and is committed to helping her further her mission to support families living with cystic fibrosis.



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