We are connectors. We aim to connect doctors with PANS/PANDAS medical experts. We connect families with those who understand so they can get emotional and social support. We network and engage people throughout the mid-Atlantic to raise money for PANS/PANDAS research projects so we can finally put the controversy to rest.
We have come together in a grass-roots effort to advocate for our children who cannot advocate for themselves.
We pride ourselves on our dedication, values, and ethical approach in all that we do within our organization, and also on our collective professional and academic experiences that make us a diverse organization.
Jessica Gavin Founder & President, Legislative Committee, Provider Awareness, Family Support
Jessica Gavin is the founder and President of PRAI. She formed the organization following the diagnosis of her 4 year-old son Dexter. Wanting to bring PANDAS out of the shadows and into the light, she organized an impressive grass roots effort and recruited volunteers from across her state to rally behind the cause. Jessica formed the organization in order to support families and fundraise for research and from that moment forward, she has served as chairman, leading the organization as it engages a community of leaders and promotes a unified voice for families who once suffered in silence.
Previous to her work at PRAI, Jessica was President and founding member of Heaven House ministries, a non-profit organization that fights poverty in Malawi, an active volunteer at Girls for a Change coaching inner city girls to complete locate mission projects, and she made her mark embarking on a spiritual journey called the 52 Prayers project where she vowed to attend a different house of worship for entire year and documented her experience. Her project drew an international following and her writing has been featured in Skirt! Magazine, Crosswalk.com and WRIC's morning show.
Jessica received her BS from Virginia Commonwealth University in Mass Communications. She resides in Richmond, Va with the love of her life Patrick, 3 beautiful children, and dog Chuck. She enjoys personal development, car dancing, writing and laughing with friends and family.
LaDonna Branson Vice President, Fundraising Committee, Legislative Committee
As a military war veteran, LaDonna has a strong passion to serve and is always readily assisting those effected by PANS/PANDAS while raising awareness to others. She is a full-time employee at the Department of Veteran Affairs. She is also a member of Kappa Epsilon Psi Military Sorority Inc., where she also serves her local community. LaDonna’s heart to assist is evident through her efforts of spreading awareness to families as she also advocates for her son who was recently diagnosed with PANDAS at the age of 8. She is very active with PANDAS research as well as finding local treatment options, providers, and facilities for children with PANS/PANDAS. Her personal struggles with her own son makes her drive in this organization that much stronger.
LaDonna received her BS in Health Administration from University of Phoenix with a concentration in Business Management. She recently relocated and lives in Chesterfield County with her husband who just retired from the military, their three children, and a recent addition to the family, Riley their dog. When she is not fulfilling her obligations to her family and digging for answers on PANDAS, she manages to volunteer at her children school events, lead a dance ministry, and host essential oil parties.
Gina Pomering Member of Provider Awareness & Fundraising Committees
Gina originally grew up in northern Virginia. She attended The University of Tennessee where she earned a degree in Advertising and Communications. After graduating, she moved to the Richmond area working in publications and staffing. In 2001 she moved with her husband to Charlotte, NC where she resided until her son was born, after which the family moved back to the Richmond area. Currently, she works from her home office as the VP of Executive Search for Staff on Site.
In 2013, her only child was diagnosed with Autism. Later that summer, after multiple bouts of strep in his Kindergarten year he was also diagnosed with PANDAS. Gina joined PRAI because she is dedicated to bringing awareness to providers and educators, and is hoping to help them understand the challenges and hardships that families suffer while fighting for treatment. She is passionate about using her extensive sales and marketing background to help raise funds to research a cure for PANS/PANDAS.
In her "free" time she loves cooking and baking, singing, spending time with her large Italian family and watching her son play baseball. She is a member of the Woodlake Swim and Racquet Club, The Autism Society and SCOPE the Parent Association for Northstar Academy.
Christine Leininger Amabile Provider Awareness Chair
Christine is a single mother (a.k.a. superwoman) who resides in the Chesterfield area and is a full time Child and Family Psychotherapist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in Sociology, and a master’s in Clinical Social Work, from Virginia Commonwealth University. For the past 13 years, she has been a Senior CAST Clinician at Chesterfield Mental Health Support Services, where she provides individual and family therapy. She also provides sensitivity training on children’s mental health issues to local police, firemen, EMT and magistrates. In February 2015, her son, Andrew (7 years old), developed PANDAS and this is where her education, training, advocacy, research skills and strong mom intuition led to a correct diagnosis, quick effective treatment, and full recovery. In chairing the Provider Awareness Committee, she is passionately driven to advocate for acknowledgement, understanding, and accurate treatment of this disorder amongst the medical and mental health community. She is motivated to do this as a legacy to her son's healing and out of compassion for parents and children suffering long term effects of this disorder. In her spare time she loves power yoga, movies, reading and socializing with other supermoms. Dr. Sue Swedo and Beth Maloney are her personal heroes.
Christina Teague is a marketing and public relations consultant specializing in educational and awareness campaigns through print and social media. With over 25 years of experience, she has assisted nonprofit organizations and small businesses with branding, outreach, advocacy, development and media relations. Christina is currently co-chair of the Family Advisory Committee of Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital and just completed a board term with The Women’s Committee of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation.
Christina became involved in PANDAS/PANS advocacy when her son, Will, was diagnosed with PANDAS in January of 2008. Since that time, she has worked with numerous families and physicians both locally and nationwide in providing resources , information and education relating to PANDAS/PANS. She is excited to further educate physicians with the current and expanding information available.
Christina is a 1988 graduate of the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill where she received a B.A. in Psychology. After working in program management for several nonprofits, she was employed in sales, public relations and communications. Her favorite activities include those spent with her husband Nelson, daughter Caroline and son Will, now 17, who with early treatment is a PANDAS success story.