Claire Wineland, Founder of Claire’s Place Foundation
At the age of 13, Claire Wineland founded Claire’s Place Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing support to children and families affected by cystic fibrosis (CF). Claire lived with cystic fibrosis her entire life.
Claire was an activist, speaker, philanthropist and author. She committed her life to traveling the world and speaking about her experience, from the beautiful and humorous to the painful parts of her life. She inspired all who followed her journey and broke down barriers for those who live every day with a chronic illness.
Claire loved sharing her unique outlook on life and raising awareness of the needs of children living with CF. Her inspirational outlook led her to be a social media star and TEDx Speaker. She spoke at leading events across the globe, as well as at top universities and companies such as Zappos and Philips.
At the age of 21, Claire was honored as Glamour Magazine’s 2018 “College Women of the Year” grand prize winner and she received numerous other awards including one of Seventeen Magazine’s “17 Power Teens” of 2016, Fox Teen Choice Awards 2015, Global Genes’ RARE Champion of Hope Award, World of Children Youth Award, the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes and winner of Los Angeles Business Journal’s “Small Nonprofit of the Year,” among others. She was featured on The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Huffington Post, ABC News, Cosmopolitan, People, Ladies’ Home Journal and more.
Claire, and her undying passion for living a life to be proud of, even inspired a major motion picture Five Feet Apart directed by her dear friend Justin Baldoni who she met while filming The CW’s My Last Days. Although Claire inspired Five Feet Apart, consulted on the script, attended table reads with the actors, etc., the story is not her life story. It is, however, the first major motion picture to cast a spotlight on people living with Cystic Fibrosis. Claire, unfortunately, was never able to see the final film. We know she would be proud of raising awareness about truly living life fully, regardless of whether you are lucky enough to be born healthy, and especially if you are faced with CF or another chronic illnesses. She will always remain your champion.
In September 2018, Claire passed away at the age of 21. Claire’s Place Foundation was a way for Claire to give back with hope, strength and joy. The foundation gave meaning to her life experience. Thanks to the continued generosity of her friends and fans; Claire’s family and the foundation’s board members proudly continue to carry Claire’s remarkable legacy forward by providing emotional and financial support to families living with CF.
We remain steadfast in our dedication to keeping her foundation alive as a safe harbor for families living with CF. We will not falter, and with your help, we will not fail.
Laura McHolm, Chairman of the Board
Featured in Ladies’ Home Journal as one of 16 women making the world a happier place and one of the few women at the helm of a moving company, Laura McHolm had an unlikely start as co-founder and marketing director of NorthStar Moving Company.
Laura began university at the age of 16. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, she worked for Lawrence Hall of Science teaching computer programming and mathematics and was approached by Atari Computer Division in its infancy to work in consumer marketing. She continued her work in the marketing department during the skyrocket growth of Atari. Encouraged by the Atari legal team to attend law school, Laura graduated from law school and also obtained an emphasis in computer law from Oxford University. While in law school, she began working for Intel in their legal department. She worked for various inventors as a general counsel and marketing director coordinating international intellectual property attorneys and marketing efforts on their behalf. In the mid-1990s she moved away from the Fortune 500 to fulfill her more creative, entrepreneurial spirit and partnered with Ram Katalan to launch NorthStar Moving® Company in Los Angeles.
Over the course of her career, Laura has earned dozens of accolades. Just in the past year Laura was awarded:
Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 by the Los Angeles Business Journal
Top Women-Owned Business 2019 by the Los Angeles Business Journal
Community Leader 2019 by The National Association of Women Business Owners – Los Angeles (NAWBO-LA)
World Refugee Day Award 2019 from Miry’s List
The Hunger Fighting Hero Award by Move for Hunger for her annual Let’s Send Hunger Packing Food Drive
Laura has been a member of the Claire’s Place Foundation Board since its founding and was elected Chairman of the Board in March 2016.
Irwin B Feinberg, Vice President
Irwin B. Feinberg is a lead litigator and a partner at FMBK. He completed his undergraduate work at UCLA in 1976 and earned his J.D. from the University of California at Davis in 1979. He clerked for the Honorable Bertram Janes, Justice of the California Court of Appeal. Before founding FMBK, he originally practiced at the law firm of Buchalter, Nemer, Fields, Chrystie & Younger. Mr. Feinberg has an AV rating with Martindale-Hubbell
He is the former Board Chair and currently serves on the Board and Executive Committee of Our House, and serves as Chair of the Board of Westview School. He is also a former BoardMember of Kayne ERAS and Cure FD Foundation. He was named as a Super Lawyer by Los Angeles Magazine, 2005 through 2011. Mr. Feinberg lives in Pacific Palisades with his wife, Deb, and has three sons.
Trish Dixon, Treasurer
Trish Dixon is acting CFO of Los Angeles-based Dixon Construction, Inc. a builder of high-end custom homes in Southern California. She helped start and has managed the family-owned company for over 19 years. A mother of three boys, Trish also donates her time and accounting expertise to several organizations. She served on the “Parents Working with Children” (effectively the PTA) board of St. Paul the Apostle School from 2005-20011 as Treasurer and then First Vice President. She currently serves on the St. Paul Foundation and has been the Treasurer of Mothers Guild at the prestigious Loyola High School in Los Angeles, for the last four years.
Even with this demanding schedule, Trish can be found cheering her sons on at any one of a number of football, baseball, basketball or Lacrosse games in the greater Southern California region. She is the epitome of the phrase, “If you want something done right, give it to a busy person!” A devoted friend to so many, she has participated twice in the Avon Breast Cancer 39 Mile Walk to support friends who’ve battled the disease. She is deeply committed to and involved with many charities, including the Claire’s Place Foundation.
A first generation Irish American, Trish hails from a large Catholic family in New Jersey. She attended Trenton State College in New Jersey as an accounting major in 1984 and moved to California in 1993 when she met her soon-to-be husband Nathan Dixon. They have been married for 20 years.
Melissa Nordquist Yeager, Co Founder, Executive Director and Board Secretary
Since the planning stages of Claire’s Place Foundation, Melissa has spent countless hours working for the cause and, of course, raising her two children, Claire (the foundation’s namesake) and Ellie. With many years experience in project management and event planning, she has the drive and the experience needed to get the foundation off the ground as well as the personal history of raising a child with cystic fibrosis. Melissa is also a strong supporter of many charities and fundraising activities in her community.
Founding Claire’s Place Foundation has been a way for Melissa to give back and share her experience with other families living with cystic fibrosis. “We have always been blessed with a supportive family and a wonderful group of friends. It is my hope that we can provide the same type of support to families walking this path alone. It definitely takes a village or in this case a foundation to raise a child with a chronic, life threatening disease like cystic fibrosis””
As the Executive Director of Claire’s Place Foundation, Melissa reports to the board of directors and is responsible for the organization’s consistent achievement of its mission and financial objectives. Maintaining official records and documents to ensure compliance with federal, state and local regulations is also an important job duty. Melissa constantly strives to develop a climate which attracts, keeps, and motivates a diverse group of top quality board members, volunteers and supporters. In addition, it is her responsibility to publicize the activities of the organization, its programs and goals to supporters, community members and potential corporate partners. Melissa says “The most rewarding function of my job is reaching out to and making a difference in the lives of families and children living with cystic fibrosis.”
Dr Richard Mathis, Director
“As a physician, I have cared for the full age range of people with CF, including infants, children, and adults. Secondly, I am a proactive person, with over forty years of CF experience in multiple hospitals nationwide, who has a great understanding of both the emotional and physical factors in this condition. Lastly, that I will use my knowledge of CF and experience as a physician, in numerous ways, to promote and explain the Foundation goals to various groups that other board members may be challenged to do. My expertise especially extends to areas of nutritional and digestive health in CF. The rewards of a board membership for me are many, they include the opportunity to give back my enthusiasm to a wider CF community, allow me to continue to honor Claire’s passion with efforts that represent my love for her, and to promote and help achieve triumph over this complex condition.
To summarize my CV, my education has been diverse and bicoastal at highly regarded institutions in the country, involving teaching and research. I began working with patients with CF early in my career. When I returned to southern California, I was invited by my pulmonary colleague to join the CF team at Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach and partner in their care. In the late 1970’s we created an innovative practice model, that to this day, elevates the care of people with CF by having a gastroenterologist (GI) involved in front line patient care, which remains a unique model across the country where pulmonary physicians continue to determine when a patient requires a GI consult. Within my practice I developed novel approaches specific to CF nutrition. I participated in the consensus development of nutrition guidelines for CF at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. My work reflects a lifetime of education, teaching, and research, very focused on CF. I have challenged and moved nutritional and gastrointestinal medical management as a standard of medical care. I have enjoyed attending Annual North American CF Conferences (NACFC), lectures, and other activities to stay current with cutting edge care.”
Rozalynn Woods, Director
Rozalynn Woods, owner and founder of Rozalynn Woods Interior Design, is an Interior Designer who is recognized for a clean and sophisticated sense of style that seamlessly integrates Interior Design and Architecture. She has worked on an extensive number of projects in Los Angeles, New York, Montana, Hawaii and Montreal. She has also participated in several Pasadena Showcase Houses of Design and ASID Home and Kitchen tours. Her work has been published in California Homes, Metropolitan Home, California Home and Design, Pasadena Magazine, Spectacular Homes of Southern California and The Sunset Garden Style Decorating Book. Her designs have received extensive newspaper and blog coverage, including a feature on HGTV and an award by Pasadena Weekly for “Best Interior Designer”.
“My team and I were thrilled to help Claire realize her vision for the UMC Playroom in Las Vegas by providing her with design assistance, Presentation Booklets and a PowerPoint visual file. It was especially rewarding to see the Playroom come to life and know that it will be a lasting tribute, not only Claire’s imagination, but to her life as well.
Cystic Fibrosis is a disease that has become a personal experience for my family and I. My nephew has Cystic Fibrosis and we have fought the fight alongside him. Having witnessed the devastation it causes, I feel compelled to help create awareness and raise money to fight this disease. Claire’s Place Foundation would be a perfect avenue for me to do so.”
David Martell, Advisory Member
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.
Past Members ~ We thank you for your service
Kathie David, Fundraising Chair
Kathie Vang David is the Vice President of Business Development at Identified Talent Solutions located in Irvine, CA. Identified Talent Solutions is a staffing and consulting firm that she helped build with her husband, Paul David. The firm has been awarded as one of the fastest growing private companies. Kathie is a native of Southern California and the youngest of 6 children. Her parents and 4 older siblings were evacuated from Laos during the Vietnam War. They resided in Santa Ana, CA where Kathie grew up. Kathie attended California State University, Fullerton and received a Bachelors in Business Finance. She worked in finance for 15 years before moving to Identified Talent Solutions.
Kathie is happily married and is the mother to her adopted daughter, Chloe. Kathie’s husband, Paul became a single father when Chloe was 4 years old after his wife passed away due to cancer. Kathie became the mother figure to Chloe and after Paul and Kathie were married Kathie officially adopted Chloe. Kathie states, “Chloe’s biological mother didn’t have a choice to leave but I do and Chloe deserves a strong female role model in her life”. Kathie enjoys keeping a healthy lifestyle and spending time making extraordinary memories with her family.
Kathie has been making a huge impact on Claire’s life and Claire’s Place Foundation. Kathie dedicated her recent bridal shower to raising money for the foundation in lieu of gifts; and her creativity and professional skillset has uncovered new opportunities to raise needed funds to continue to provide grants to families living with cystic fibrosis.
David Gersholowitz, MBA, Director
Dave is originally from Cape Town, South Africa, but has never been on a safari or in a single gold mine. Rather, after a few attempts, his family moved to the US to pursue the American Dream. Cue “Out Of Africa” Theme…
Dave entered the veterinary field in 2005 when he joined BluePearl Veterinary Partners to launch a large practice in NYC. Working with an amazing team of doctors and staff, Dave grew the NY Region into one of the largest Specialty and Emergency practices in the country. In 2011, Dave transitioned into the COO role for BluePearl and was instrumental in BluePearl’s growth to over 60 locations in 20 states. Then Mars came knocking…
In early 2017, Dave joined Andy Loar, Dave Gardiner and Everett Smith to pursue the next great thing, which is of course veterinary diagnostics. The four musketeers came together to create ZNLabs Veterinary Diagnostics with a simple goal – revolutionize the veterinary laboratory field. We’re working on it! 😊
Dave is married and lives with his wife and two children, Adam and Nadia, in sunny Tampa, Florida. They share their place with their three dogs, Ollie, Fiona, and Kenny. In his spare time, Dave enjoys travel, driving manual cars and looking for deals. Dave earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from USF and an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Dave reached out to Claire’s Place Foundation after reading a CNN article about Claire’s Place Founder Claire Wineland’s journey with cystic fibrosis. “We all face challenges in life and I am a strong believer that we each have a choice in how we respond to these challenges,” said Dave. “Claire’s amazing positive outlook on life and desire to help others despite her own challenges is truly inspiring. I was also impressed with the hyper-efficient, entrepreneurial nature of Claire’s Place Foundation. I knew I had to find a way to get involved. I am also excited for anything that brings me back for a visit to beautiful Southern California!”
“In addition to being a smart and driven entrepreneur, Dave is a compassionate, creative, giving and energetic individual. The moment the board met him, we knew we would be lucky to have him,” said Claire’s Place Foundation Executive Director Melissa Yeager. “Dave’s experience and business development skills are a huge asset to the foundation. He has already contributed to the foundation with his creativity, contacts and insight. He is continually thinking of new ways he can help. We are absolutely thrilled to have Dave join our board of directors.”
Heather 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.
John Wineland, Co Founder and Director
John is an entrepreneur who serves his community by donating his time and money to Recovery Groups, Men’s Group and Youth Empowerment Projects in Los Angeles. He is founder and owner of Milagra Floral Imports, $2 million dollar per year wholesale floral import company located in the heart of the Los Angeles Flower Market.
He founded and leads monthly mens groups serving over 150 men on the topics of relationship, mission and contribution. All proceeds from these groups are donated to Youth Charity Programs including The Wolf Connection, a Wolf Rescue and Youth Empowerment Foundation that brings together troubled teens and Wolves in a natural habitat in order to foster confidence, pride and understanding of nature. The Wolf Connection is an initiative of Spring of Evolution, Inc, a nonprofit of which he is a founding Board of Directors member.
He recently launched the Claire’s Place Foundation, with his daughter Claire Wineland, and her mother, Melissa Nordquist Yeager. Claire’s Place is a non-profit charity aimed at improving the lives of children with Cystic Fibrosis and their families. Claire’s Place Foundation has been recently spotlighted on Fox News, and the soon to be launched ABC Show “Everyday Health Heroes.”
Dr Leila Yoonessi, Advisory Member
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.
Miller Children’s Hospital, Long Beach
New York Medical College, 2009
Pediatric Residency, University of Southern California, 2012
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Thoracic Society
Sean Smith, Past Secretary
Sean has practiced and taught Critical Care, Prehospital, and Emergency Medicine for over 15 years. His career and service is diverse and notable. Sean holds advanced certifications in critical care, pediatric emergency nursing and flight nursing among other medical specialties. He has researched molecular neuroendocrinology, served on multiple international humanitarian missions and in the US Navy, as well as provided medical support to NASA. Sean recently returned from serving in the Ebola Emergency Response in West Africa and makes monthly medical trips to Haiti where he is working to make long term improvements in healthcare, particularly for newborn and pediatric patients. Sean has followed Claire’s journey for a number of years and shares her passions for counting blessings and providing support to chronically ill children.