Who We Are
In the face of a life-changing diagnosis such as Parkinson’s disease, it can be a constant challenge to maintain hope and positive energy needed to move ahead and maintain balance in life. There are abundant resources available in Los Angeles to help provide emotional support, medical treatment, physical training, and other sources of wellness and relaxation for individuals with PD and their care partners. The Parkinson’s Community Los Angeles will deliver this information with encouragement and support to aid you and your loved ones in this challenging journey. We are in this together! We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Our mission is to improve the quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s disease, their families and care partners. Our goal is to connect people to the information, support services, programs and activities they need to enhance wellness and live an active, engaged life moving forward.
Informational & Referral Specialist
Sarah King recently joined Parkinson’s Community Los Angeles as the I&R Specialist and has been an advocate for people living with Parkinson’s since 2011.
As State Director for Southern California for the Parkinson’s Action Network (now part of the Michael J. Fox Foundation) from 2012-2015, Sarah worked with a network of grassroots leaders and volunteer advocates to implement PAN’s initiatives on the state and national levels. Since 2013 she has produced a monthly e-newsletter for the Parkinson’s community.
Sarah’s 15+ years in project management, public relations, and development in the non-profit sector has helped inform her advocacy and community work. In 2014 she was awarded the “Louis Fishman Award for Outstanding Advocacy” from the Parkinson’s Action Network.
Board of Directors
Parkinson’s Community Los Angeles is privileged to have an outstanding and dedicated group of volunteers who generously donate their time and talents by serving on the Board of Directors. Without their efforts, the work of PCLA would not be possible.
President, Board of Directors Patrick LoSasso has been an advocate for people living with Parkinson’s disease for the past 15 years. He served as President of Los Angeles nonprofits and presided over the largest L.A. Walkathon in the history of Los Angeles. He proudly serves the Los Angeles community as President of the Parkinson’s Community Los Angeles nonprofit whose mission is to make lives better, today. Patrick is an internationally recognized authority on Parkinson’s exercise. He has developed products and strategies used by physical therapists and trainers to improve function for those living with Parkinson’s Disease. Patrick often appears as a speaker to PD support groups and educational events, delivering his positive and fun filled message which encourages PWP to fight back and become proactive in the management of their disease by maintaining a comprehensive exercise program to address the symptoms.
Vice-President, Board of Directors Robert Potter holds a Master’s of Arts in Television and Film from The University of Texas at Austin. He has worked in various capacities in the entertainment industry, mainly as writer, producer, director and editor of non-fiction and documentary programming for various clients including CBS, NBC, Fox, Fox Sports, PBS, Discovery Channel, History Channel, A&E, E-Entertainment among others. In 2006 Robert was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Since then he has been involved with the Parkinson’s community in Los Angeles as an advocate and organizer. In 2014 he was Co-Chairman of the Parkinson’s Association Los Angeles Walkathon, raising over $120,000.
Vice-President, Board of Directors Judy Yaras has an expansive professional background that encompasses the healthcare industry, retail business management and marketing, teaching as well as extensive boardroom experience on a number on nonprofit organizations. Currently she is the Director of FIDM Museum Shop Operations at The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. After her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Judy became a board member of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, serving on this board for six years. She has also served two years on the board of The Parkinson’s Association of San Diego.
Linda O’Connor, LCSW
Secretary Linda O’Connor is a licensed clinical social worker. Linda worked for 15 years as the Coordinator for the American Parkinson Disease Association Information and Referral Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and was the social worker for the Movement Disorders and ALS clinics in the Department of Neurology at Cedars-Sinai. Her community outreach work included facilitation of several Parkinson’s disease support groups, organization of an annual Parkinson’s disease patient educational conference, and collaboration with numerous local community organizations on efforts to increase awareness of movement disorders and treatment options. Currently Linda is Director of Training at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, a community mental health center in Los Angeles.
Treasurer Michael Weinman is an experienced finance/operations executive with over 20 years of experience at Teleflora, West Coast Custom Rooms, and Infinilux LLC, where he is currently employed as Chief Operating Officer. In addition, Michael has previously served as President of Temple Emanuel Day School Board of Regents and the Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Board of Directors as a member of the Finance, Human Resources, and Building Operations Committees. In 2000, at the age of 36, Michael was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. For the past two years, Michael has also run a support group for Young Onset Parkinson’s disease.
Board Member Mark Siegel was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was 47 years old. He became an activist in the Parkinson’s community shortly thereafter. He served for 10 years as president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease. Association. During his tenure the chapter raised over $2 million for research and services to the community. In 2004, Mark headed a team of activists and public health doctors and researchers, who successfully passed legislation creating the first Parkinson’s Disease registry in the United States. The registry is an important research tool that can be used to identify disease clusters and correlation between pesticide usage and the disease.
Board Member Barbara Rubin is a past member of the Florida State Museum committee for formulating educational programming. She is the founder and President of a successful wholesale bakery. As a consumer advocate in Virginia, she developed toy safety regulations that became a national standard. In 2001 Barbara was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Board Member Gail Buckley had a 30-year career in social services, holding a master’s degree in social work. Now retired, she has been pursuing her passion of mentoring young women both here in Los Angeles and on the Navajo and Hopi reservations. Gail has served for many years on the Board of her family’s 501 C3 nonprofit charitable foundation. The organization, founded by her parents, supports educational and health related causes. Most recently PD has been a focus for her in deciding funding priorities for the foundation. At age 75, Gail Buckley has been coping with Parkinson’s disease for 3 ½ years. She is physically active and has found dance, Tai Chi, exercise and Pilates to all be beneficial.
Board Member Lora Kurtenbach has an extensive background in entertainment and consumer goods marketing with companies such as Game Show Network and Nickelodeon. She currently spearheads digital strategy for multiple brands at Mattel, the global toy company located in El Segundo, CA. Lora has been an advocate for people living with Parkinson’s Disease since her father was diagnosed over 10 years ago. She has been involved with the PD community in Los Angeles for 9 years as a volunteer and is currently a board member for Parkinson’s Community Los Angeles.
Clinical Research Advisor
The Clinical Research Advisor at Parkinson’s Community Los Angeles provides consultation on the most current research available.
Dr. Michele Tagliati
Michele Tagliati, MD, FAAN, is the Director of the Movement Disorders Program at Cedars-Sinai, where he is Vice Chair of the Department of Neurology. Tagliati pioneered the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s. His current research is focused on non-motor and non-dopamine related mechanisms in further understanding the physiology of Parkinson’s.
Medical Advisory Board
The Medical Advisory Board at Parkinson’s Community Los Angeles provides feedback and assesses non-clinical care needs (those elements of PD care that take place outside of the exam room) in Greater Los Angeles. The Board helps provide ongoing information and insights into the latest in Parkinson’s care.
Dr. Nicholas Szumski
Medical Advisory Chair Dr. Nicholas Szumski is a fellowship-trained Movement Disorders specialist within the Cedars-Sinai Medical Group. He competed his residency at UCLA and advises Parkinson’s Community Los Angeles on current medical issues which affect those living with Parkinson’s