About Us


Advocating increased Awareness and Support for persons affected by Relapsing Polychondritis.

The Relapsing Polychondritis Awareness and Support Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and advocating research, providing patient and family assistance, educating the general public and medical communities, and increasing awareness and support of Relapsing Polychondritis.


Relapsing Polychondritis Awareness and Support Foundation’s vision and guiding principles on which our advocacy initiatives are based:

  • A global awareness and support of the challenges faced by people living with Relapsing Polychondritis and the associated awareness, support and costs to society and the medical community as a whole.
  • A world where people with Relapsing Polychondritis can secure access to shared information and support through patient experiences. Providing assistance to the patient community to secure specialty physician services and diagnostic services relevant to their wishes and geographical location in order to extend and improve their lives.
  • A social and financial culture of innovation that supports both the basic patient communities’ interactive support and information regarding physician access, and physicians in translational research facilities for diagnostics and therapies for all patients with Relapsing Polychondritis.

A web-based environment that encourages and supports physician awareness and access to timely resources of safe and effective diagnostics and treatments for patients with Relapsing Polychondritis.

Get to Know Us

This Foundation is unlike any other Foundation for Relapsing Polychondritis, past or present. This entity had been just a dream for many suffering from this relentless disease. As an incurable and progressive condition, there is a constant need for a unified, proactive voice for current and future patients, as well as their supporters.

After many months of discussion and planning, The Relapsing Polychondritis Awareness and Support Foundation, Inc. was officially launched in April 2013. Despite having no “seed money” and being led by just four RP patients, the Foundation has received a tremendous show of support. We have a very long road to travel, but we also have the determination and dedication to make this grow and prosper. We intend to be the “long arm” and the “voice” for the ever-growing RP community.

We’d like you to get to know the leaders of the Foundation who, though sometimes too ill and in need of a break, are working very hard together to recruit supporters, spread awareness, raise funds, and much more. All of this has been and will be done in the spirit of prosperity, growth, and longevity for our mission.

RPASF,Inc. Current Board of Directors

Tom Christie



Tom currently resides in his home state of Minnesota, having returned after a 20-year absence. He co-founded RPASF to create greater awareness of Relapsing Polychondritis (“RP”) and provide access to support for the many patients and families who are affected by this rare disease.

Tom joins us with 17 years of experience in business management, ownership, sales and marketing, and over 20 years of experience in Information Systems Management, Integrated Marketing Communications, and Consulting Business Systems Analytics. During his career, Tom held leadership roles in the development and implementation of projects for large organizations, including Lockheed Martin, Department of Defense Navy, Allianz Life and Wells Fargo Bank NA.

Tom is an RP patient. He was diagnosed in 2007, and the disease forced him to retire in 2010. Tom currently spends his time actively advocating research, diagnosis, and treatments for persons with RP. He is an active member of several rare and autoimmune advocacy organizations and remains determined to continue awakening the world to the reality of RP.

Dale Ross



Susan Ross, known as “Dale” to most, lives in Northeast Georgia near Athens, a college town of the University of Georgia located one hour North of Atlanta. Dale has been married for close to 30 years, and she and her husband have one daughter.

Dale is no stranger to Relapsing Polychondritis, having begun her journey in the late 1980s through the 1990s, and she had an aortic heart valve replacement in November 1998.

Dale trained and showed horses and cattle dogs throughout the U.S., and also participated in bookkeeping, riding horses, supervising and announcing equestrian events, fundraising for charities, nursing, caregiving, boat captaining, and freelance writing, in addition to her duties as a wife and mother. Her family operates a full- time business, Silver Creek Farms, raising cattle, producing hay, and selling cattle feed. There is always work waiting to be done.

Dale has long dreamed of helping others battle RP and hopes to help them go through a better process and obtain a more timely diagnosis. A quote from the Relapsing Polychondritis Awareness and Support Foundation site that she finds to apply in daily life is, “life is a beautiful struggle.” Carol Giordano was the first fellow RPer Dale met personally during a trip through Indianapolis in 2005, and she later met Tom Christie when traveling to Minneapolis in September 2013.

Carol Giordano

Director – Moderator/Advisor


Carol is a married mother of three grown sons and the proud “Nana” of seven grandchildren. She did mostly volunteer work until becoming involved in real estate in 1994 and going on to earn her realtor’s license in 1997. She works part- time now with her husband, Mike, who obtained his RE license in 2004 and is Carol’s partner as well as caregiver and main supporter.

Carol started experiencing RP symptoms in 1999 but was not diagnosedcorrectly until 2002. As one who always needs to know everything about what she faces, Carol became involved with a Yahoo Support Group for RP. She was subsequently asked, about three years later, to take over as moderator of that group. She then went on to create a Facebook group for Relapsing Polychondritis and is now administrating both groups.

It has been Carol’s dream to build a foundation for this rare and severe illness – one that provides help and hope for sufferers and their loved ones. Thanks to Tom, Dale, and all of you, this dream is coming true.

Kenny Ritter

Director – Director Strategic Alliances / COO


Kenny currently hails from the Deep South and resides in Mississippi. He is the first among us for now who does not have RP. His background is in Engineering, System Design and Development for commercial and industrial building systems. Kenny has since retired and asked to join our organization on his own behalf, as personal friend of Tom Christie, our Chair/CEO.

In his capacity of Director – Strategic Alliances, Kenny will be responsible for the management of the Foundation’s communications strategy and objectives, developing communications plans, and implementing a broad range of public relations activities including press, media, and sponsor organizations.

He will also work with the CEO to achieve organizational goals and objectives by administering the communications and public relations initiatives as determined by the larger organizational strategic planning process.

Michael Linn


Mike has over 25 years of operational, transaction and start-up experience in the investment management business. Currently, Mike is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Compliance Officer for Varadero Capital, L.P., a New York-based investment management company.  Prior to joining Varadero in 2015, Mike played an integral role in the development of businesses at several investment management firms, including River Birch Capital, BlackRock / Quellos Group, Omega Advisors and Steinhardt Partners.

Mike is a member of the board of directors of The Relapsing Polychondritis Awareness and Support Foundation, Inc. (“RPASF”) and The Autoimmune Registry, Inc.  He is also an adviser to the board of directors of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc. (“AARDA”).

Mike received a B.A. in Chemistry from Emory University in 1982 and an MBA and M.S. in Finance from Louisiana State University in 1984 and 1985, respectively.

Our Advisers

The Relapsing Polychondritis Awareness and Support Foundation Inc.’s Medical Advisor is a distinguished medical professional and is acting as part of her official capacities of the NIH to the foundation. She is deeply committed to helping the RP community. She is also a Non-Voting member of our Board of Directors. Our respected and knowledgeable Advocates are unique individuals offer the Relapsing Polychondritis Awareness and Support Foundation Inc. advice and assistance in spreading the work of the organization.

Dr. Marcela Ferrada

Medical Advisor and Patient Advocate to the Relapsing Polychondritis Awareness and Support Foundation 

Marcela lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband and daughter. She was recently diagnosed with RP August 2015 after having symptoms for 6 years. Marcela is originally from Colombia. She came to United States in 2005 to pursue her career goals. She practiced internal medicine in Miami, and then moved to Maryland where she completed her Critical Care Fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Infectious Diseases Fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She works as staff clinician at NIH, as an intensivist at St. Agnes Hospital, and as an infectious diseases attending physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Our Advocates

Kathleen Oleson Lyons

PhD- Advocacy, Advisor

Lisette Arriola




Lori Pryor Weeks


Bianca Bras

Advocate/Advisor Northern Europe