LEADERSHIP

APOPS History

Like most women, Sherrie Palm was a member of the "discovery upon diagnosis" demographic; she recognized within two weeks of her diagnosis that pelvic organ prolapse was the biggest secret in women's health, and that millions of other women were suffering in silence. Sherrie's journey began when she wrote the book, Pelvic Organ Prolapse:The Silent Epidemic, and shortly after the publication of the 1st Edition, founded APOPS, a grassroots movement to shift awareness and provide guidance and support to women navigating POP.  

APOPS' Board of Directors work diligently to evolve
 the future of APOPS community, engendering POP awareness, screening, education, support, and research.

APOPS Board of Directors

APOPS' Board of Directors (governing body) recognizes the value of a balanced board of representation between healthcare professionals from various disciplines, non-medical professionals from legal and business backdrops, and most importantly, women who have experienced pelvic organ prolapse.

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Sherrie Palm
Founder/CEO/Executive Director
Pelvic Organ Prolapse Health Advocate, Author, International Speaker

Sherrie Palm is the Founder/CEO/Executive Director of Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support (APOPS), a pelvic organ prolapse (POP) Key Opinion Leader, a global women's pelvic health advocate, author of award winning book Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The Silent Epidemic, and an international speaker on multiple aspects of pelvic organ prolapse quality of life impact. Sherrie’s points of focus are generating global POP awareness, developing guidance and support structures for women navigating POP, and bridge building within POP healthcare, research, academic, industry, and policy sectors toward the evolution of POP directives.
 Download Curriculum Vitae.

Director Susanne Vella, Organization and Program Development

Susanne Vella has spent the bulk of her career engaged in the work of Milwaukee’s nonprofit sector. With more than twenty years of experience providing organization development and training services to hundreds of nonprofit and public sector organizations, Susanne understands the importance of building organizational capacity through training programs which equip staff with the knowledge, skills and abilities to maximize performance and to contribute significantly to successful work teams. She is the Training Coordinator at the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee, providing leadership and direction to program design that meets the unique needs of the sector.  She previously served as the Organization Development and Training Specialist for the Social Development Commission and Director of Admissions & Recruitment for St. Joan Antida High School. Susanne has provided cultural competency training since the late 1980’s - equipping staff to value, embrace and appreciate diversity ­­- when diversity was a “buzz “ word, and organizations were just beginning to recognize the value and importance of recruiting, maintaining and managing an increasingly diverse workforce. 

Director Mary Pippen, POPS Forum Moderator, Internal Development Committee

Mary Pippen was diagnosed with POP at the age of 50 in 2014. She joined the POPS Facebook Support Forum where she immediately benefited from the support of the women on the forum. After two surgeries, Mary became a voice of support for other women in the forum, and gained a passion for the mission of APOPS. In November of 2015 Mary joined the POPS Administration team, APOPS Facebook based online support forum, providing support to women from around the world with POP, and a structured, and guiding the structured, safe, secure forum environment.  Mary additionally engages at a significant level in the development of APOPS vision, projects, and activities, including APOPS annual Stigma Stride walkathon and APOPS annual Women’s Pelvic Health Conference. Mary participated as a patient on the POP Patient Panel at APOPS 2016 Women’s Pelvic Health Congress and APOPS 2017 IUGA workshop patient panel.

Mary is a Recreational Therapist at the VA Medical Center for 16 of the previous 24 years, and is currently a VA Service Specialist. 

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Director Kathy Vater Hahn, CCRN, POPS Forum Liaison

Kathy Hahn Vater is a registered nurse with 39 years of experience.  She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Marian College of Fond du Lac (now Marian University).  With experience in medical, surgical, orthopedic, and labor and delivery nursing, she is now employed in Critical Care and Surgical Services at the Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center.  She currently holds American Association of Critical Care Nurses certification as a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN). Having a passion for nursing practice – the “why and how” behind what nurses do - she is a past co-chair of the Aurora System Nurse Practice council and continues to support nurses in her facility by participating in a variety of projects.  She has more recently become involved in supporting and advocating for women who are affected by pelvic organ prolapse, functioning as a liaison for the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support on their Facebook forum since April, 2017.  Her goal is to provide information and support to women as they journey from initial diagnosis through acceptance, enabling them to move forward with their lives.  She resides in Plymouth, WI with her husband, Gary, and is the mother of 3 adult children.  

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Director Melissa Frasure MSW, LCSW

Melissa Frasure achieved a B.S in Psychology in 2003 from Rockford College and a Masters of Social Work in 2005 from New Mexico State University. Starting with internship in 2003, Melissa worked in a variety of social service settings, providing a wide scope of social services to individuals from varied backgrounds, including under-served, rural, disenfranchised and economically disadvantaged populations. As a military Veteran, Melissa became interested in providing much needed services to other Veterans, working with the Department of Veterans affairs starting in 2009. While with the VA, she served both as a Medical Social Worker providing direct patient care and advocacy to home bound patients and also served as a Military Sexual Trauma counselor, providing trauma-focused services to both male and female survivors of Military Sexual Trauma. As an LCSW, she concurrently maintained a private practice for several years, counseling clients on a myriad of issues, including mental health disorders and physical health challenges. Melissa took a sabbatical in 2016 to begin working on a family. Following the birth of her daughter in 2017, Melissa was diagnosed with POP and found her way to the APOPS forum where she experienced, firsthand, how the organization brings attention and care to women suffering from a rarely publicized set of conditions. Melissa became very interested in advocating for all women experiencing POP related challenges and spreading awareness and promoting early prevention/detection of POP.

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Director Meghan Carl

Meghan Carl is a 2001 Graduate of the University of California, Davis. Immediately upon graduation, Meghan was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army. After leaving active duty in 2005, she worked in operations and logistics management and then returned to government service, helping to launch a fledgling workforce development program. Meghan left the paid workforce following the birth of her first child, but continued her professional development, obtaining a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management and developing a basic technology course for clients at her local food bank. Meghan currently resides overseas on a remote military base, raising her Army “brats” and supporting the military through volunteer leadership positions in the community.

Meghan received a POP diagnosis following complications with the birth of her second child. As a well-educated professional, she found the lack of information and awareness of POP disheartening. After many months of searching, she found the APOPS social media forum on Facebook, and was encouraged by the support of the women she encountered there. Meghan is anxiously anticipating a return to the United States and an active role, spreading the APOPS mission, especially within the military community.

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Director Julie Blacker, OTR/L, MSOT, MSEd

Julie Blacker, a Pelvic Floor Therapist, graduated from Columbia University – College of Physicians and Surgeons with her MS in Occupational Therapy. She received her BA in Theatre with Honors from the University of Florida and obtained her MS Ed in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College. Julie previously owned her own pediatric OT practice and has also worked in adult home health. After having three back-to-back pregnancies, Julie experienced first-hand the lack of early education regarding diastasis recti and pelvic organ prolapse.  In her efforts to heal, Julie developed a passion for pelvic floor therapy, including pelvic organ prolapse, diastasis recti management, pain management, and postpartum pelvic health, and she is in the process of obtaining her pelvic floor certification. Using a client-centered, team approach through education, evidence-based practice, and encouragement, it is her belief that prolapse, including pain and incontinence, do not have to consume one’s roles, routines and habits. Ecstatic to be a part of the POP network, Julie is especially excited to help women resume their daily activities - in addition to exercise - regardless their current health situation(s). When she is not taking continuing education courses or caring for her three children under five, Julie enjoys spending time with her husband, swimming, dancing, singing, and rescuing animals.      

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                                                                                    Director Anne Brown, Internal Development Committee

Anne K. Brown is a communications and resource development professional with more than 25 years of experience, and is currently Communications Coordinator for Milwaukee Public Schools. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Anne’s experience includes communications strategy, audience alignment, fund development, event management, long-range planning, and new product research and development for an international publishing company. Her work has involved writing, editing, and designing corporate communications, marketing materials, constituent relations campaigns, grants, fiction, nonfiction, and tabletop games. She is the author of ten published fiction and nonfiction books.

This experience has developed Anne’s craft as a storyteller, and her years in the nonprofit sector have given her an eye for advocacy, the ability to communicate needs, and a talent for turning attention into action. Anne plans to channel her skills to advance the mission of APOPS and help improve the lives of women who experience this life-changing disorder.

Targeted Focus Committees

To learn more about our committee members, click on the links below.

Medical Advisory

External Systems Analysis Committee

Internal Development Committee

POP Lay Advisory