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 3 children, Johnny (11), Tadhg (9) and Ella Beatrice (6).
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.
Kate was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, IL and is the mother of three beautiful children, Charlie, 11; Emma Jane, 9; and Jack, 7. She had worked in Sales for over 10 years before she became a stay at home mom. He oldest child was negatively affected by strep on his 8th birthday, and subsequently became nearly nonfunctional.
It was during that time that Kate found the PANDAS/PANS Advocacy and Support group of parents who led her to a doctor and a clear diagnosis for her son. Her younger son was also diagnosed with PANDAS a few months later. Because Kate was able to identify PANDAS in it’s earliest stages, she was able to get a life changing treatment of IVIG for her oldest son and he is doing much better. Thankfully, her younger son’s illness has not progressed to that level because of her own awareness and dedication.
Witnessing her children get well with prompt diagnosis and treatment has given Kate a sincere passion to spread awareness for all of those with a PANDAS/PANS diagnosis. She was able to join PAS and has directly impacted legislation that will affect change for all of those in Illinois struggling with the disorder. She knows that with many families working across the world to raise awareness, in a few short years, all of our kids will get the help, the early diagnosis, and the treatment that they need. She will not give up!
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.