Board of Directors
Kayla is the President and Founder of Transplant Unwrapped. She has received two transplants, including an isolated intestinal transplant in November of 2015 and a modified multivisceral transplant (stomach, pancreas, duodenum, and small intestine) in February 2019. Kayla has her Bachelor of Health Sciences from Duquesne University and was pursuing her Master of Physician Assistant Studies when she became too ill and required transplantation. Kayla has a passion for helping others and truly believes the education of both patients and clinicians can lead to better relationships and outcomes. Kayla currently lives in Dallas, Texas with her family. In her free time, Kayla enjoys riding her bike, baking, and traveling.
Bethany is an Architect, Project Manager and Vice President of the Board for Transplant Unwrapped. She has adapted and thrived despite struggles with GI issues her entire life. In 2018, she became an intestinal transplant patient, where she underwent life-saving surgery to remove her intestines. During recovery she decided to postpone transplant and continue to live dependent on I.V. nutrition which has allowed her to enjoy all aspects of life. Bethany is grateful for every day, good and bad, and seeks to share hope and passion with others living with chronic illness.
Julia Wright grew up in Henrico, VA, and she attended Christopher Newport University, where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a Master’s degree in teaching. She spent over 5 years in the classroom before switching careers and becoming an associate underwriter for an insurance company in Richmond, VA. Julia spends her free time singing in the church choir, relaxing at Lake Gaston in North Carolina, working out at the gym, and visiting with friends and family. She resides in Chesterfield, VA with her husband, Brian, and dog, Sydnee. She has a passion for education, and she believes that everyone can learn something new.
Michael S. Smith suffers from myopathic and neuropathic Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction. Michael and his family helped to develop the Marvin Schuster Center for Gastrointestinal Motility, one of the nation’s first centers for neruogastroenterology, which has now been reformed as the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology. Michael successfully completed college and law school at Hofstra University with Honors and as President of Hofstra’s Chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma.
Michael is a practicing attorney in New York with interests in corporate, insurance, and health care law as Associate Counsel with Starr Companies. Michael has past high school and college experience as a radio and television broadcaster. Michael, his wife Debbie, daughter Hannah and labradoodle Teddy live in Manhattan, New York.
Director of Communications and Marketing
Ella Untied holds a BS in Psychology and is pursuing her MSW focusing on trauma. Ella worked as a social worker for adolescents who had experienced complex trauma due to abuse and sexual exploitation before moving to Ohio to pursue intestinal rehabilitation and transplant due to CIPO. While awaiting a modified multivisceral transplant, Ella has continued her education with an interest in trauma and it’s effects on the physical body as well as the traumatic effects of chronic illness. Ella has a husband and teenage daughter and loves to enjoy her two labradoodles and horseback riding along with the outdoors, finding animals and nature therapeutic in difficult times.
Director of Patient Experience
Since childhood, Molly suffered from autoimmune disease and intestinal issues. She hopes her unique medical experiences will be able to provide support and insight to many who suffer with intestinal problems and patients who may journey down the path of organ transplant. She is excited to help create a strong foundation for such uncommon health concerns. Molly wishes to help provide the powerful tools of support, advocacy, and information. Always interested in the clinical side of medicine, Molly would like to continue her nursing studies so she may, once again, work with patients. Molly lives in coastal Maine with her family and dog, Lucy, and enjoys baking and spending time with good friends.
Director of Educational Content
Hannah Cawoski is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Duquesne University. She completed her PGY-1 Pharmacy Residency and a PGY-2 Pharmacy Residency in Pain Management and Palliative Care. She currently works as the Addiction Medicine Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at the Allegheny Health Network, Center for Inclusion Health. Her clinical areas of interest include acute pain, chronic pain, substance abuse, and addiction medicine.
Director of Content Editing
Jessika was born with intestinal malrotation that led to a volvulus in December 2019, resulting in the loss of her small intestine. She received an isolated small bowel transplant at UCLA in March 2021. Ever since this medical emergency, Jessika has become very active in the intestinal transplant community. She spends as much time living her life to the fullest as she can. Jessika’s transplant journey has only strengthened this desire and now wants to help others going through the intestinal transplant journey to realize that life can be full despite the many ups and downs a transplant patient goes through. Jessika lives in Southern California with her family and her cat, Sassy. She was employed full-time at a car dealership for 15 years before she got sick and plans to continue her work with the dealership once she is able. In her free time, Jessika volunteers at her local animal shelter, is active in her church community, and enjoys hiking and traveling.
Director Community Outreach
Kristin is a Registered Nurse working as an RN Compliance Coordinator for Med1Care. She has an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing from Terra State and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Spring Arbor University. She has a passion for community education, mental health awareness, and patient rights advocacy. Kristin was born with Intestinal Malrotation and is an Intestinal Rehabilitation patient for Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction and Global Dysmotility. She hopes to utilize both clinical knowledge and the patient experience to provide connection, support, and resources to this diverse and extraordinary community.
Melinda Fogg Nelson
Director Transplant Unwrapped Ambassador Program
Melinda Nelson is a resiliency expert, life coach, and multi-visceral transplant recipient. Melinda was born with Chronic Intestinal Psuedo-Obstruction Syndrome (CIPO) and spent 36 years on TPN. She is also a caregiver/mom now raising a child with the same disease. In 2015 she was facing transplant, and remembers feeling so overwhelmed. The one thing she wanted desperately was a patient’s perspective. She wanted to ask questions about their transplant journey/daily life. As director of the Transplant Unwrapped Ambassadors program, Melinda helps to connect post-transplant patients/caregivers with those who are new to the transplant world. Because she has experience being "both" the patient and a caregiver, she “truly” understands transplant and living with a chronic illness.
Director of Organizational Development
Transplant Unwrapped is excited to have Joan Bishop on the board as an advisor and Director of Organizational Development. Joan Bishop is also Executive Director and Conference Coordinator for the Oley Foundation—a national non-profit organization that provides information and support to patients with intestinal failure and consumers of parenteral nutrition. She has been with Oley since 1985—nearly its inception—and has served in many capacities, including the growth and development of the organization. As Executive Director, Joan handles the multitude of tasks it takes to keep Oley running and growing, including budget planning, building relationships, advocacy efforts, fundraising, board development, coordinating the annual conference, and more. She is dedicated to fulfilling the Foundation’s mission and welcomes your ideas, comments, and feedback.