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Group photo of the attendees and NPF staff at the Community Conference - Healthier Together: Learning for All Ages
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Healthier Together: Learning for All Ages

A conference of laughter, some tears, and so much community.

On April 30, constituents, volunteers, staff, and experts gathered in Chicago, Illinois for the first in-person National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) Community Conference since 2019. There were over 60 people in attendance from across the country. After over two years of emails, webinars, and video conferences, there was a palpable relief when attendees at the NPF Community Conference “Healthier Together: Learning for All Ages” were able to see each other live and in-person. Even before the end of the conference there was talk about when and where the next community conference would be held.

The morning of the conference, with board member and longtime NPF volunteer Matt Kiselica as the emcee, the attendees were primed, laughing, and ready to go. Kiselica first welcomed on stage NPF’s Leah Howard, J.D., who was proud to kick off the first in-person conference since becoming Interim President and CEO. On Wednesday, June 8, 2022, Howard was officially named President and CEO of NPF.

There were also a few remarks from board member and ex-NFL football player Jonathan Scott, who saw no need to go onstage as he managed to tower over Howard and Kiselica from the floor.

The one-day conference had phenomenal speakers including dermatologist Dr. Shatil Amin, discussing comorbidities of psoriatic disease, and gastroenterologist Dr. Adam Stein, who discussed gut health and inflammation. These two health care providers, both from Northwestern University, delivered incredibly informative content, and did it with a wonderful mix of compassion and humor. It was also clear that both understood that living with a chronic disease is not easy and that learning about comorbidities can be difficult.

After lunch, Craig Ing, of Ing Martial Arts & Advanced Training got everyone moving with Qi Gong. Then, Miles Seiden, son of NPF Board Member Richard Seiden, J.D., joined NPF volunteer and youth advisory committee member Jaime Moy in unveiling the updates Miles made to the “Our Spot” branding. The reveal for the NPF youth services program was two years in the making. The public launch was originally scheduled for the community conference planned for May 2020, which was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The conference concluded with a panel of “Professionals Living with Psoriasis,” featuring several members of the community – a first of its kind topic at an NPF conference.

Matt Kiselica, Michelle and Skylar, Michel and Leah Tarrabocchia

In parallel to these sessions, youth attendees participated in programming designed just for them, including a jeopardy game, a psoriasis “huddle” with Jonathan Scott, and self-expression with pediatric psychologist Dr. Rachel Piszczor. The youngest attendee, Skylar, and her mother Michelle had been struggling with Skylar’s diagnosis. Michelle had been urged to attend by her One-to-One mentor, Michel Tarabocchia. The two mothers connected at the conference, as did their daughters, Leah (9) and Skylar (7). Skylar said to her mother on their flight home to Washington, D.C., “You know Mom, psoriasis is not so bad.”   

All attendees enjoyed lots of laughter, some tears, and so much community. It was clear that whether attendees were at their first conference or 5th, they found the discussions valuable and enjoyed spending time with others in the community.

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