The PANDAS/PANS Advocacy and Support BOARD
Meet our passionate and dedicated executive board members
Caoimhe Dardis (B.Agr.Sc, M. Sc. Tox., Ph.D.) qualified with a first class honors degree in Animal Science from University College Dublin in 1998. She continued post graduate studies and completed a Ph.D. in Endocrine Disruption and its effects on Neuroendocrinology and Breast Cancer. Dr Dardis was appointed as a Regulatory Toxicologist in the Irish Government in 2002. She completed a Masters in Toxicology at the University of Surrey, London whilst pursuing her professional career in the Department. She was promoted to manage a team of toxicological experts reviewing EU pesticide and biocide applications and their impact on Human Health in 2007.
In 2010, Caoimhe took diplomatic leave when her husband was appointed the Irish Agriculture and Food Counsellor to the USA. The family moved to Washington DC where they lived for 5 years. During that time, Caoimhe was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. Her experience had a defining impact on her outlook on medicinal science. She utilized her own expertise to thoroughly research Lyme, its impact, and its treatment and to medically and holistically approach disease treatment. In summer 2015, her daughter Ella was also diagnosed with Lyme and successfully treated before moving to Illinois with her family.
Following the move, Caoimhe's son Tadhg was diagnosed with PANDAS/PANS and is currently undergoing treatment. Caoimhe has learned you must be an advocate for your children's health and believes awareness and education for teachers, doctors, and health care professional is the key to helping families struggling to get a diagnosis or get treatment for these insidious diseases. Caoimhe is passionate about spreading awareness of PANDAS/PANS and pursuing a more targeted treatment through increased research and understanding. Caoimhe is married to John and has three children, Johnny, Tadhg, and Ella Beatrice.
As Treasurer of PANDAS/PANS Advocacy and Support, Nancy Brennan is committed to facilitating the PAS mission. She has experienced the effects of PANDAS/PANS first hand and is dedicated to increasing awareness and education so that all PANDAS families will be able to get the support they so desperately deserve.
Since 2004, as founder and president of Promotional Graphics, LLC, Nancy has specialized in project management for non-profit and for profit companies, assisting clients with commercial print and direct mail marketing procurement to fulfill their specific marketing goals.
For the past 10 years she has successfully implemented and managed a national non-profit’s 2nd largest fundraising campaign brochure branding program. Nancy has a BA in Communication Studies from Northern Illinois University.
Jennifer Armetta graduated from Boston University in 1991 and began her career in partner marketing, strategic alliances, sales and client management. During her over 10-year career in this area she was fortunate to work with major brands, such as Rolex, Disney, House of Blues, Cartier, American Express, and Ferrari. Jennifer also cultivated her passion for supporting museum quality, emerging artists by opening Jennifer Armetta Fine Art in 1996.
Wanting to branch out on her own and observing an opportunity in the job search industry, Jennifer Co-Founded 4EntertainmentJobs.com in 2001, a subscription based job site that changed the way people approached employment. 4EJ grew to be the largest in its niche market and quickly went national. After deciding to take some time off for children and family, Jennifer again began consulting on museum quality art incorporating real estate into the equation, an ongoing interest of hers. Working with clients to help them envision, design and build their homes with the focus of showcasing art collections, ultimately grew into a business that solidified Jennifer’s decision to begin a formal career in luxury real estate with Sotheby’s International.
In addition to her accomplishments professionally, Jennifer has been an active Board member with a number of high profile institutions. Her interest in, and dedication to, helping emerging artists, lead her to the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art in 2006 where she was one of the original Emerge Board Members and continues to be an active member today. Jennifer also serves as Board member at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, as Vice President of the Jameson Charitable Foundation, as a member of Save the Children’s Philanthropy for Women, and as a proud member of Pandas/PANS Advocacy and Support dedicated to helping end the plight of children and families suffering with the devastation of this disease.
Jennifer lives in Chicago with her two children, Jaden and Siena.
Born and raised in Chicago, Wendy Nawara was no stranger to the medical adversities of young children. She spent the better part of her childhood at Children's Memorial Hospital with a younger brother who had the rare x-linked genetic disorder, Lowe Syndrome. He had both medical and social-emotional symptoms that by today's standards would be considered an autism spectrum disorder. Her parents were instrumental in starting the internationally recognized Lowe Syndrome Association long before the days of chat rooms and Facebook.
Wendy long had a desire to help children and families with special needs, so she pursued a Bachelors of Science in elementary education with concentrations in early childhood and special education at Butler University in Indianapolis. By the time she would graduate, however, she realized that teaching might not be the way to reach her personal and professional goals. She subsequently received her Masters of Social Work degree at Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Before she had her children, her work experiences included Recreation Supervisor in a Special Recreation Association and Social Worker in a specialized school for children with disabilities. Her primary focus was as part of a diagnostic team for children transitioning into school, as well as meeting significant family needs through counseling.
When her first child began to display symptoms of PANDAS, she had already experienced it from the "other side of the table" as a school social worker. A little bit of her own denial, as well as an inability to get real answers from her pediatricians meant that it would take years and her second child falling ill with the symptoms of PANDAS/PANS, before she could address what was happening in her own home. In the end, all three of her children would be diagnosed with PANDAS/PANS with comorbid immune deficiencies.
In 2011, Wendy began working on meeting the emotional needs of parents who found themselves in the thick of pediatric neuropsychiatric disorders by founding an Illinois based Facebook support group. It became clear that more advocacy needed to be accomplished for the families in the PANDAS/PANS community, so with the help of other parents of children with PANDAS, the non-profit, PANDAS/PANS Advocacy and Support (PAS) was born in 2014.