Without our amazing volunteers we couldn't do half of what we do!
Heather Iselin, Graphic Designer
Heather went to the University of MN-Twin Cities where she got her BS in Graphic Design. After graduation she moved to Chicago to be in a “warmer” climate and much closer to her family in WI.
She currently works for a small agency as a senior designer. Heather’s was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at the age of 31. It took 10 years to finally give her symptoms a name and she had her first surgery in March of 2018.
She is excited to be a part of Girls With Guts and use her design skills to help promote such a great organization. In her downtime, she loves to travel, bake, and cheer on the Chicago Blackhawks.
Melanie kate, forum moderator
Melanie Kate is a twenty-one year-old UC patient currently pursuing a degree in Elementary Education. She loves working with kids and works as a dance teacher. Outside of school and work, Melanie loves connecting with other patients, traveling, competing in pageants, and crafting.
I became involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation chapter near me. I attended events including walks and educational events, and I became a Team Captain for the Take Steps Walk. Advocating for the IBD community became a goal of mine, as well as my pageant platform. I have spoken to state and national communities about Crohn’s and Colitis, and I am so blessed to help raise awareness for these diseases.
Joan Osterberg, forum moderator
After being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2013, IBD took over her life very quickly. After trying many medications with no luck Joan had to have emergency surgery to remove her colon January 2017 and is now a proud permanent ostomate who is now living her best life of being active and strong.
She’s an artist with many outlets. She enjoys traveling, camping in their vintage camper, music festivals, hiking and bird watching. Joan, is grateful to now be apart of GWG and hopes to spread her positive energy to those who could use it. She open about her story and hopes she can inspire other girls like to feel comfortable in their bodies while raising awareness about IBD and the stigma around ostomys and IBD.
Jennifer Waters, Pen Pal Coordinator
Jennifer was diagnosed with Crohn’s in 2012. She’s incredibly grateful to have found Girls with Guts, and has attended the retreats annually since 2015. She loves to make and send cards, has had pen pals since she was a girl, and is excited to join the team of GWG volunteers.
Jen works in Financial Planning for a technology company in the Seattle area. She earned her business degree from the University of Washington, and an MBA from Seattle University.
When she’s not sending cards or updating spreadsheets, she enjoys traveling, reading, live music and hanging out with her baby niece.
Sarah Lemansky, forum moderator
Sarah Lemansky is a 22 year old photographer and guinea pig mom living outside of Boston, MA. Her ulcerative colitis has been in remission since her colectomy and ileostomy in 2016, and now she takes pictures of babies and eats a LOT of popcorn.
I spend my time usually trying to communicate with my guinea pigs, and screaming along to early 2000’s hip hop alone in my car (specifically Lil Mama’s “Lip Gloss”, debatably one of the best musical creations of all time). I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2014 at age 17, a senior in high school. I had a full colectomy after developing toxic megacolon in May of 2016 at age 19, as a rising junior in college, and have been going on adventures with my ileostomy for the last year and a half. I never thought IBD and ostomy advocacy would be such a huge part of my life, but it has changed my life completely.
Casey Flancbaum, Forum Moderator
Casey was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at 22 which ultimately was changed to a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease the next year. She found the GWG organization and forum during a late night search for a support group geared towards women and is so grateful for the online community that she is now a part of!
Casey holds degrees in Music Performance from the Crane School of Music and University of North Texas, and is currently an active performer and teacher in the DFW area. In her free time, Casey loves to cook, garden, and spend time with her amazing husband and three adorable fur kids!
Charlotte Rensberger, Sponsorship & Donation CHAIR
Charlotte Rensberger is from Battle Creek, Michigan. She has been battling Crohn's disease since she was 16 years old, and currently has a permanent ileostomy at age 36. She has been married for 13 years, and her husband owns a beef jerky and chocolate shop. They have two school aged children who keep them busy.
Charlotte is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with 16 years of pediatric nursing experience. She currently works in a community hospital's newborn nursery and loves her job!
She enjoys baking, re-finishing furniture, antiquing, and singing with her church's worship band. She started a Facebook page/blog in 2015 when she underwent permanent ileostomy surgery. During that time, she realized that she enjoys writing and finds it fun, relaxing, and therapeutic. Charlotte has been doing some guest blogging for Girls with Guts, and is happy be part of the Event Planning team.
SAMII EMDUR, volunteer
Samii was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2006 at the age of 20. She has been on nearly every medication and also has several other autoimmune diseases such as RA, Sjorgrens, Lupus and epilepsy.
Despite her diagnosis, she works as a pediatric oncology nurse, fosters children and runs summer camps for kids with medical/social needs.
She has been a part of Girls With Guts since late 2012 and is passionate about advocating and educating the community about IBD.
When Samii is not working tirelessly as a humanitarian you may catch her at the dog park with her pup, Utley.
Mike Patterson, Developer
Mike is a Chicagoan, born and raised. After finishing his bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering, he moved to the Windy City full-time to work as an advanced software engineer for an eDiscovery software company. He’s led some major projects and also supports summer interns as an intern mentor.
Mike’s passion for software development plays a huge role in his non-work life, and he’s using his passion toward web application development for Girls With Guts.
Although he doesn’t have IBD, Mike is a proclaimed IBD advocate and caregiver, by sharing in the IBD world with his girlfriend, Mandy. When Mike isn’t furiously coding into the night, you can catch him at nearly any Chicago sporting event - well, maybe only the Cubs and Blackhawks.
Angela cohen, twitter manager
Angela was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in June 2010 after an emergent bowel resection with abscess. Along with Crohn’s, some of her diagnoses include psoriasis, Arthritis, PTSD, PCOS, EDS, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, Migraines (abdominal and head) and multiple forms of Dysautonomia including POTS.
She enjoys long walks to the fridge and sarcasm. However, her greatest pleasure comes from spending time with her family, education events about pretty much anything science related (especially IBD), Twitter Chats, doing what she can to help spread awareness, and spending time with her three rescue cats.
MEGHAN NYESTE, Volunteer
A Michigander by way of the East Coast, Meghan has a passion for helping others. She holds a B.A. in communication from Western Michigan University and a M.A. in communication from Oakland University. She has been helping students and parents navigate the college-going process for over a decade.
Although she does not have IBD, she has witnessed the devastating effects of the disease on close friends and family. She has seen the positive impact Girls With Guts has made in the lives of women with IBD, and when offered an opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors, she jumped at the chance to be a part of an amazing community.
When she’s not working or advocating for IBD, you can find her obsessing over otters, her dog, Dot, and her newborn son, Michael.