Volunteers

Without our amazing volunteers we couldn't do half of what we do!

 

Heather Iselin, Graphic Designer

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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.

Pen Pal Angel Volunteers

Melanie kate, forum moderator

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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

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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.

Charlotte Rensberger, Blog cOORDINATOR

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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.

Jennifer Waters, Pen Pal Coordinator

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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 and nephew.

Casey Flancbaum, lead moderator

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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!

Arielle GOLOD, Forum Moderator

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Arielle was diagnosed with severe UC when she was 12. After trying every medication available, she made the choice at 19 to have her colon and rectum removed. After 3 surgeries, 2 years of having an ileostomy, and a lot of life-threatening complications later, she can finally say that with her new j-pouch she feels free to live her life.

Arielle currently works at her dream job as a chemist in an R&D lab researching environmental catalysts. In her free time she enjoys traveling, painting, and going to lots of concerts and DIY shows in the NJ/Philly area with her friends. She is ecstatic to be a part of GWG; to share her story and help the community come together to support each other and not feel alone.

Katie Wahlen, Forum Moderator

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After growing up in South Dakota and getting her degree in art education, she worked for several years as a jack of all trades in the media industry. From graphic design and video editing to helping to produce a local TV news show. Then in 2010 she started getting sick and never quite got better. She was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2013 after a trip to the Mayo clinic in MN. Then, later that year, her husband was also diagnosed with Crohn's, which gives her a unique perspective as both patient and caregiver.

Katie went to her first GWG's retreat in 2016 and drove 1,200 miles to do it. Living in a rural area there weren't many options for in person disease support. But finding Girls with Guts was like finding a sisterhood. Now she gives back to the group by acting as a Facebook moderator. She hopes to be a comfort to others going through all that comes with this disease by being open and honest about living with IBD. 

Manda Barger, PR Chairperson

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Manda can attribute two things to her parents: IBD and dedication to hard work. Raised in a farmtown in Illinois, Manda learned to do all the good you can in all the ways you can for all the people you can. In 2008, she graduated from Bradley University within three years while working at a local TV station. Her career led her through studio production, journalism, producing, and now digital and social media. 

Manda took her love of adventure to Kentucky where she became an award-winning journalist, working mother, and yes- an IBD warrior. While diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2013, doctors at Vanderbilt University later diagnosed her with Crohn's Disease. That hasn't stopped her from enjoying life with her husband, young son, and their pets.

When she first heard of GWG, Manda entered a guest blog about her family tree and IBD. She was soon smitten with GWG Facebook group where she found support, advice, and friendship. As a journalist with a love of creative story telling, Manda is elated to be the group's PR chairperson!

Corri Gardner, Social Media Marketing Intern

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Corri Gardner is from Stillwater, Minnesota. She is currently studying political science at UW-River Falls. She has been battling ulcerative colitis since she was 18 years old. While working on political campaigns, she has helped manage multiple social media pages which is what she will be doing for GWG! 

During the summertime, Corri enjoys boating on the St. Croix River, camping with friends and hiking trips with her family. She is very excited for this opportunity and hopes to get to know many more women in the IBD community!

Amy Brangaccio Wolf, Fundraising Co-Chair

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Amy was born and raised in Easton, CT.  She graduated from the University of Vermont with a BS in Fashion Merchandising.  She currently lives in Pottstown, Pennsylvania with her husband Levi and son Harrison. Amy manages a law firm, and is very involved in her synagogue and many other civic activities around town.  She also hosts a podcast, Moving FOURward with Amy Wolf, which focuses on the revitalization of the town she loves so much.  

Amy was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 1995. After many surgeries and a failed j-pouch, she was eventually re-diagnosed with Crohns Disease. She had her permanent ileostomy in 2011 and has been enjoying life to the fullest ever since!

Amy has attended many GWG retreats, which she loves because they make everyone feel “normal.”  Amy’s family is particularly thankful for the help and support that Girls with Guts have provided to her over the years. She is excited to give back by joining the board and helping fundraise so that other women can have the life-changing experience of attending a retreat. 

Samii Emdur, Volunteer

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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

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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 fiance, 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.

Alexis Etzkorn, Fundraising Co-Chair

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Born and raised in St. Louis, MO, Alexis currently lives in Philadelphia, PA. A lover of communities of all shapes and sizes, she's called many communities home--she's served in her church youth group, communed with Quakers, camped out with new age hippies, and lived in an activist-minded housing Co-op in West Philadelphia.

So when Alexis attended the first ever GWG Newbie Retreat in 2019, she immediately felt at home. She found community support there unlike any other she'd experienced since her Crohn's Disease diagnosis in 2011.

Unwilling to let her spark of passion for GWG fizzle out, she knew she needed to find a way to stay connected after the retreat. She jumped into fundraising for the 2019 Virtual 5K, sharing her Crohn's Disease story and what GWG meant to her. She's now so excited to continue to use her strategic planning skills and enjoyment of fundraising to serve Girls With Guts as Fundraiser Co-Chairperson.