"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
PPC is the first and only parent driven non-profit exclusively devoted to analyzing quality health care and quality of life for young people with chronic conditions.
WHO ARE WE?
PPC has a unique model of discovery driven by volunteer parent and expert driven think tank. Our young adult ambassadors are disseminating our body of knowledge through their personal experiences in the Invisible Wave movement.
A volunteer parent–driven think tank.
Invisible Wave is our social movement for young adults with chronic conditions.
Our mission is to enable an equitable playing field where young adults with chronic conditions are supported and accommodated so they can thrive and fully participate in society.
A world that embraces young adults with chronic health conditions so they feel safe to be their true selves and have the support to flourish.
U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen
PPC’s Champion since inception. Senator Van Hollen of Maryland upholds the truth and seeks equality and justice for all people. He has been and continues to be a passionate steward leader for Young Invisibles and their families.
Board of Directors
Santi KM Bhagat, MD, MPH
Founder and President
When my 8-year-old daughter was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, I found myself on the other side – not a doctor, but a mother in absolute fear on how to protect her from harm. When she came home after 3 weeks, my goal was to keep her safe and keep her morale up. My fear magnified when she outgrew her pediatrician and graduated from high school. PPC has advocated for young adults with chronic conditions since 2009, but little has changed. In this era of inclusion, can we continue to ignore this vulnerable population?
When Dr. Bhagat’s daughter became critically ill at age 8, she had to withdraw from a medical fellowship at the Armed Forces Institutes of Pathology not to care for her child, but to protect her from unsafe and poor-quality health care. Unable to find answers within the health care system, Dr. Bhagat studied health policy to gain the perspective from the outside looking in. Her research on physician-parents culminated in one question, “If we fail to secure quality health care for our children, how do non-medical parents manage?” This group unanimously voted on the need for a national organization to protect all families. Dr. Bhagat founded Physician-Parent Caregivers (PPC) to answer this call. PPC builds on the unique knowledge of physician-parents to advance quality health care and quality of life for all young people with chronic conditions. Dr. Bhagat works with multiple stakeholders to identify strategies that will enable young adults with chronic conditions to live full lives. She promotes policies based on patient and family-centered care and person-centered design. The heart of her work is centered on giving a face and voice to these young adults and their families. Dr. Bhagat received her medical degree from Bangalore University. She completed her residency in pathology and laboratory medicine at the Georgetown University Medical Center and her MPH in health policy at the Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Matthew Celentano, BA
I’ve spent over 20 years working on health care policy to examine how we can increase access and affordability as well as trying to examine the complicated world of health care financing. My path led to PPC after a parents’ worst nightmare was realized when my daughter was diagnosed with a rare and complicated disorder than has no clear and solid treatment plan. Our world was turned upside down and we quickly realized how complicated and fragmented the health care system can be for a patient with a chronic condition when it’s real, and not theoretical policy. I’m driven by the desire to make it easier for patients to coordinate their care and lead normal lives with their complex conditions.
Matthew Celentano is a government relations principle with Funk & Bolton, P.A. He joined the Firm in December 2017, following 16 years as Deputy Director, Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, an organization focused on the interests of health care consumers. Matthew held multiple roles for organization focused on expanding and securing quality, affordable health coverage for all Marylanders. He has expertise in government relations, communications, insurance, regulation and health care policy development. Matthew is passionate and highly motivated with 15+ years of political consulting and community organization experience on a variety of healthcare issues. Matthew received a BA with a political science major and religion minor from The University of Vermont. Matthew Head was a wrangler and lead guide for a ranch in rural Wyoming for over a decade.
Maryland Senator Brian J Feldman, JD
I urge you to join me and the “Wave" to ensure society includes young adults with chronic conditions. I worked with PPC to sponsor higher education legislation for students with chronic conditions that resulted in a landmark report with 17 recommendations. I have also worked on health insurance for young adults and prescription drug pricing. These initiatives revealed that this population continues to be left behind. It’s time to change that.
Maryland Senator Brian Feldman, Legislative District 15, Chairs The Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee and is a member of the Executive Nominations Committee. He has sponsored legislation to advance biotechnology, create green jobs while reaching renewable energy goals, advocate for individuals with developmental differences and update and modernize Maryland’s corporate, business and insurance laws. Previously, Brian was at the center of the debate on health care coverage for Marylanders and controlling the cost of prescription drugs. As the only Attorney/CPA in the Maryland Assembly, Senator Feldman practices law outside the legislature, specializing in tax litigation and tax controversies. He was previously employed by Price Waterhouse and the U.S. Department of Justice, Tax Division, where he was a three-time recipient of the Justice Department’s prestigious “Outstanding Attorney Award.” Brian received a BS in accounting from Penn State University, a JD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and a MA in Government from Johns Hopkins University. He has also served as an adjunct professor teaching graduate courses in state policymaking and health care at both Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland. Brian’s numerous honors and awards can be viewed at https://brianjfeldman.com/accomplishments/.
Jo Palmer, MHA
Chief Invisible Officer
I am volunteering with PPC to raise public awareness of the unique needs of Young Invisibles. I hope sharing stories of our experiences can help destigmatize chronic illness and demystify living with it.
Jo Palmer is an experienced health policy professional activated by the stress of years of neglect by our, currently, inadequate healthcare, education, and labor systems, which marginalized her efforts and made no space for her to excel while battling chronic illness. As a Young Invisible, Jo initially became involved with PPC in 2009, co-authoring PPC’s white paper “Enhancing Health Care Transition for Youth and Young Adults Living with Chronic Conditions and Disabilities.” Recently, Jo has enthusiastically utilized her educational and professional backgrounds to reengage with PPC, taking initiative in drafting various policy-oriented documents. Jo has also dedicated time to the Invisible Wave social movement to ensure young adults with chronic conditions have a safe space to congregate and amplify their voices to raise public awareness and political support to effect policy change that addresses the holistic needs of Young Invisibles. In 2023, Jo joined PPC’s working Board of Directors. Jo received her bachelor’s degree in public policy studies from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and completed master’s coursework at the University of Maryland College Park. Jo resides (advocates, rests, and recovers) in the District of Columbia with her husband, Raman, and daughter, Iris. In her free time, She enjoys playing acoustic guitar, figure skating, painting, and crafting.
Rhonda Van Diest, MA
When I saw how complex and complicated health care, pharmaceuticals, testing, advising, and management of conditions were for my son at age 16, I wondered how any child or young adult could manage the complexities of the systems while thriving emotionally and socially. Our social and health care systems are just not set up for young adults to make the transition to independence. I want to change this.
Rhonda Van Diest is the mother of a son with chronic conditions who currently lives in Vienna, Virginia. Originally from Montana, she holds BAs in Political Science and Philosophy, and an MA in Organizational Development from The George Washington University (GW). After earning her MA from GW, she went on to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers as a corporate trainer and business analyst. Rhonda left PwC and started her own company consulting for small businesses and federal clients. She earned her coaching certification from The Coaches Training Institute, and her Professional Coaching Certification from the International Coaching Federation in 2014. She now coaches individual and corporate clients and serves as a Red Team Coach, corporate trainer, and organizational development consultant for her own company, Van Diest Associates, LLC. Rhonda lives with her husband and young adult sons in Vienna. She is a dedicated yoga practitioner and voracious reader who spends her spare time pondering young adults with chronic conditions and how her son will manage the American health care system for the rest of his life.