Our Staff

Caroline Kruse | Executive Director

Caroline Kruse is Executive Director of the Platelet Disorder Support Association. Prior to her appointment in January 2009 by the PDSA Board of Directors, Caroline was PDSA’s first Director of Public Relations. Before joining the PDSA staff, she served for two years as a PDSA board member, the second year as Vice Chair. Caroline co-founded the first local ITP support group in the country, in Cleveland, Ohio, and still serves as its co-facilitator.

Her focus on mission has resulted in PDSA’s greater emphasis on advocacy, growing the local support groups, creating more programs for children, teens and families affected by ITP, education initiatives to improve the quality of life for those living with ITP, and the designation of National ITP Awareness Month.

Before joining PDSA, Caroline worked as a broadcasting professional for over 20 years, working on-air and behind-the-scenes at WCPN, Cleveland’s National Public Radio affiliate, and at FOX and CBS TV affiliate stations. She is the creator, producer and co-host of the nationally syndicated talk radio program, Family Matters. Caroline is the recipient of numerous broadcasting and journalism honors, including Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards, Cleveland A.I.R. Awards from the March of Dimes, Distinction in Media Excellence Awards, and Cleveland Communicators’ Award from Women in Communications. Her award-winning programs focused primarily on health and family issues.

Caroline has a B.A. degree in Communications from Cleveland State University. Personally, Caroline had ITP for three years and has been in remission ever since, so she knows firsthand the physical and emotional struggles ITP patients face on a daily basis.

Nancy Potthast | Director of Marketing

Nancy joined PDSA in January of 2010. She started her marketing career working on Madison Avenue in New York City where she spent 10 years at the world’s largest advertising agency, Young & Rubicam New York. Nancy helped create branding for non-profits including The American Cancer Society, UNCF, Ad Council, and ChildFind, as well as corporate clients including Merck, Whitehall Laboratories, Xerox, and AT&T to name a few. Realizing her passion for the medical industry and it’s fitting union with her nearly 20 years of corporate professionalism, Nancy later became a successful Executive Recruiter in the medical and biotech industry placing sales and marketing executives. More recently, she has been a Marketing Manager in the clinical laboratory industry, marketing services to physicians including hematologists and oncologists. Nancy received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with a concentration in Advertising and Marketing from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.

Jody Shy | Programs and Events Manager

Jody Shy joined PDSA in January 2015 as the new Programs and Events Manager. Jody hails from Cleveland, Ohio where she has worked for many years in various fundraising capacities. Before joining PDSA, Jody worked for the Garfield Heights City Schools as the Secretary of Special Projects, overseeing the district’s social media and public relations needs. Prior to that, as a professional fundraiser, she worked for Light of Hearts Villa, the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, and Lawrence School. During her tenure at Lawrence School, Jody helped secure funding of nearly $7 million for their Upper School project. Jody has more than 13 years of fundraising experience. Jody attended Kent State University for elementary education.

Brenda Foster | Administrative Manager

Brenda Foster joined PDSA in January 2015 as our new Administrative Manager after the office relocated to Cleveland, Ohio. She is responsible for the daily office operations, programs and services management, and membership/data base management. Brenda brings to PDSA a wealth of experience. She has worked for many years in administrative support in a variety of industries. She received her Associates Degree in Applied Business from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio.

Alexandra Kruse | Research Coordinator

Alexandra Kruse is the Platelet Disorder Support Association’s first Research Coordinator. She created and manages the ITP Natural History Study Patient Registry in collaboration with the National Organization for Rare Disorders and support from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A promoter of patient-powered research, she reshaped PDSA’s grant guidelines with guidance from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, encouraging patient involvement in promising ITP research and oversees the PDSA Grant Program. Alexandra is PDSA’s research and policy contact, frequently attending patient advocacy and scientific meetings in the Washington, D.C. area and coordinating policy initiatives with federal healthcare agencies. Alexandra also contributes to PDSA’s monthly and quarterly publications, summarizing cutting-edge research for the ITP patient community. Alexandra has a B.A. in Modern Languages and a Pre-Medicine Concentration from Kenyon College; she spent summers as a clinical research intern with PDSA Medical Advisor Dr. James Bussel at Weill Cornell Medical Center, having published research through the European Hematology Association and the American Society of Hematology.

Joan Young | PDSA Founder

Joan Young was diagnosed with ITP in 1992. After failing all the usual medical treatments available at the time, including a splenectomy, and suffering from numerous side effects from the medications, both Joan and her doctors thought she might not live. Joan decided to try the alternative treatments and lifestyle changes she’d read about in the hopes of improving her health. Working with other healthcare professionals, Joan slowly recovered from her ITP. Joan had her life back. When Joan went into remission, she could have walked away and put her frightening ordeal with ITP behind her. But frustrated by the lack ofinformation and support available for others afflicted with this disease, Joan created the Web site www.itppeople.com. Soon, people from all over the world found the Web site, shared their trials and successes, and learned of many options that could help them heal. The response to the Web site prompted Joan to create the Platelet Disorder Support Association and www.pdsa.org. Since the PDSA was founded in 1998, Joan has worked tirelessly on behalf of those individuals and families affected by ITP. She has personally answered thousands of phone calls and emails from people desperate for information, all along offering them hope and inspiration. Joan collaborates with top hematologists, researchers, and pharmaceutical companies working diligently to find new treatments for ITP and, ultimately, a cure.


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