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    Community Leaders Join American Lung Association Board

    Dr. Allen Merritt of Loma Linda is a new American Lung Association board member. Photo by Chris Sloan

    Kraig Strom is a new member of the American Lung Association board.

    Leslie Pollard of Riverside is a new member of the American Lung Association board.

    Laura Ellers of Hesperia is a new member of the American Lung Association board. Photo by Chris Sloan

    (SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.)  There are 58 counties in California. The Pollution Information Site lists them by degree of air quality, from worst to best. Riverside County is number 10 and San Bernardino 11. There’s a lot of work to be done.

    Terry Roberts, the Inland Empire area director of the American Lung Association, has her hands full. She oversees all regional programs, heads the numerous and important fundraising efforts, directs the volunteer and office staff and coordinates the goals and membership of the organization’s Leadership Board.

    “We have an 11-member board,” she says, “for both counties. They provide guidance and direction, but also take on tasks in their professional specialties. The board is of vital importance to the area’s American Lung Association work.”

    The national effort for more than a century has evolved from initially battling tuberculosis to now “Fighting for Air.” In the Inland Empire the American Lung Association has been fighting that good fight for 80-plus years.

    Roberts, who lives in Crestline, has most recently been tasked with finding four new members for the Leadership Board, adding Leslie Pollard as chair of the Executive Committee, plus Kraig Strom, Laura Ellers and Dr. Allen Merritt.

    Pollard is the vice president of Community Partnerships and Diversity of Loma Linda University,
    Strom is a certified financial planner with Team Financial Partners and is also a chartered financial consultant, for nearly three years Ellers has been the director of Respiratory Care at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton and Dr. Merritt heads Pediatrics and Neonatology at Loma Linda’s Children’s Hospital.

    Leslie Pollard has lived in Riverside twice, the latest time for 14 years.

    “I work at Loma Linda Medical Center on the preventative side of health care as the vice president for Community Partnerships,” he said. “This new board position is my first time with the American Lung Association. Last summer I did a presentation to the Nonprofit Executive Network in San Bernardino, and afterward Terry Roberts came to me and asked me to join their leadership board. I was both honored and excited. I want to bring attention and awareness to the American Lung Association here. I’ll be also identifying allies of the association from the general public as well as organizations.”

    Kraig Strom met Roberts at a Planned Giving Roundtable, “planned giving” meaning the actions of people interested in making charitable donations to worthy causes and organizations.

    His new board position also marks his first involvement with the area’s American Lung Association. “I approached Terry,” he recalls, “at the event early this year, and offered my services to connect the organization with local donors who can help her group accomplish its valuable goals of keeping us breathing healthy air instead of what we in the Inland Empire take in now.” In addition, Strom wants to help increase public knowledge of the organization’s work.

    “Lung cancer and lung disease,” he says, “lack the public awareness of, say, breast cancer, but are also very significant killers.”

    Laura Ellers was born in San Bernardino, raised in Redlands and has resided in Hesperia for 20 years. “I’ve been involved with the American Lung Association in the Inland Empire for five years,” she says. With a grandson suffering with asthma, respiratory care has been a major priority for her, even involving taking part in the American Lung Association’s annual fundraising walk. “I’ve been with the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center for about 20 years,” she points out, “and heading the respiratory care department now is what I care most about, and bringing that experience and knowledge to the Leadership Board is a blessing.”

    Dr. Allen Merritt, a member of the American Thorasic Society of the American Lung Association, has lived in Loma Linda about four years, since joining the staff at Loma Linda University. “I specialize in lung problems of premature babies, problems that far too often stem from parental smoking, and even second and third-hand smoke’s effects on newborns. Fully 20 percent of premature births can be attributed to smoking by the mother or father, often both.” Also a member of the American Lung Association in Oregon, he now sets sights on “educating our public about the harmful side of smoking, on the one hand, as effectively as does the tobacco industry on the other.”

    Other members of the area’s American Lung Association leadership board are Barbara Cole, registered nurse with the Riverside County Dept. of Public Health; Carl Dameron, Creative Director of Dameron Communications; Dr. Joe Corless, pediatrics consultant; David Madsen, senior. public information specialist with the South Coast Air Quality Management District; Lisha Smith, deputy chief of staff for San Bernardino County’s Fifth District Supervisor Josie Gonzales; Penny Stone, registered nurse with  Riverside Unified School District; and Wendy Williams, director of marketing for Omnitrans.

    Terry Roberts says, “Our leadership board is stronger than ever. The next few years will be among our most effective in leading the way in our organization’s fight for clean air.”
    For more information, call Terry Roberts at (909) 884-5864.


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