Ronald A. Witmer, Esq. - President
Ronald A. Witmer was born in Jackson, Michigan and attended Albion College (B.A.), Union Theological Seminary in New York City (M.Div.) and Northeastern University School of Law in Boston (J.D.). For the majority of his professional life, he has been practicing family law in downtown Boston. Mr. Witmer and other parents of children diagnosed with BPD founded NEPDA in 1996 in order to provide education, support and advocacy to those affected in some way by the disorder. As President of NEPDA, his goals are to continue to develop and expand NEPDA support and education programs, increase the membership and leadership of the organization and continue to enjoy time spent with others who are involved in this critically important work.
E. Virginia Coffin - Vice President
E. Virginia Coffin is a parent of an adult child who was diagnosed with BPD. She is a trained facilitator of the twelve-week psycho-education course entitled, Family Connections. With her husband, Howard, and Cindy Knight, she has conducted several Family Connections sessions. She has additional training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Virginia runs a weekly support group called Families Together for friends, family members and partners of persons with BPD. She earned a B.S in Communications from Salem State College in 1998 and is a Certified Medical Technologist.
Irving Wu - Treasurer
Irving Wu is a Bostonian who grew up in the South End neighborhood. Unfortunately, due to a turbulent home life, an adolescent cancer diagnosis, and later, mental illness, his formal education was interrupted. In spite of these challenges, however, he successfully was tested for and received his GED (General Education Diploma). He then attended the Year Up program, focusing on financial operations, for which he completed a six-month internship at State Street and added to his internship experiences in financial services and the passenger transportation sector. Shortly thereafter, he began experiencing first-episode psychosis and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia. During this time, he learned about BPD, from which he suspects one of his parents suffers. He hopes to return to Bunker Hill Community College to finish his college coursework and transfer to a four-year university. In the meantime, he is independently studying Asian American sociology/psychology and mental illness, specifically, schizophrenia spectrum disorders and personality disorders. Irving has completed a twelve-week Family Connections course and has received a tremendous amount of support from NEPDA. As a member of its Board of Directors, he hopes to give back to NEPDA administratively.
Carolee J. Varga - Secretary and Clerk
Carolee was introduced to the NEPDA organization by her sister, Cindy Knight. She is a retired educator and has held leadership positions in many professional organizations. Her teaching experience is with both children and adults. Currently she teaches English to non-native speakers. Carolee is a trained mediator in both Massachusetts and Maryland. She has specialized training in mediating parenting plans for non-custodial parents and advocating for families seeking facilitation in disputes. Carolee is a leader in her church and is Superintendent of the Sunday School Program. “ I bring energy and enthusiasm to NEPDA, an organization whose mission I strongly support. Education is a tool that improves the lives of many and I believe that we should never stop learning. “
David Greenleaf, Ph.D
David Greenleaf, Ph.D. has been a member of the NEPDA Board of Directors for many years. He earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from Syracuse University and has been professionally affiliated with McLean Hospital since 1980, when he began his internship in clinical psychology. He has a background in forensic psychology and extensive experience working in public-sector inpatient programs. It was in the mid-90's, while working at Medfield State Hospital, that Dr. Greenleaf and a number of his colleagues became interested in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). After receiving DBT "Intensive" training, he was part of a team that implemented, first, a DBT day treatment program and, later, a DBT specialty unit at the hospital. Presently, Dr. Greenleaf is Director of Psychology at Tewksbury Hospital in Tewksbury, Massachusetts.
Dana Coombs is the founder of BioSampleZone, an early stage venture that creates an automated marketplace for human biological samples. Previously, Dana served at several hardware and software companies in various Sales, Product Management and Business Development roles. When a family member was diagnosed, Dana explored and utilized NEPDA resources for BPD education and support. Dana lives in the Boston area and is an active tennis player.
Howard F. Coffin, M.B.A.
Howard F. Coffin, M.B.A. is the Treasurer of NEPDA and is the parent of an adult child who was diagnosed with BPD. In 2000, he was awarded an MBA from Salem State College. He is a trained facilitator of Family Connections, the psycho-educational program developed by the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA-BPD) led by Dr. Perry Hoffman. With his wife, Virginia, and Cindy Knight, Mr. Coffin has conducted several Family Connections sessions. He and Virginia have raised four children. He retired from teaching at Salem State College in 2002. The Coffins enjoy cruising.
Cynthia J. Knight
Cynthia J. Knight has been a member of NEPDA for many years, previously serving as Secretary and President before assuming her current position of Secretary and Clerk. As a parent searching for answers, and desperate for information about BPD, she found NEPDA to be a wonderful and helpful organization. She was in the first group of trained leaders for Family Connections, the psycho-educational program offered through the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA-BPD) led by Dr. Perry Hoffman. Ms. Knight currently facilitates Families Together, a weekly support group where family members have a safe place to express their experiences dealing with BPD. Having previously worked in business administration, Ms. Knight is now an early childhood education teacher at the YMCA. She also facilitates supervised visitations for children when it is required to increase family stability. The best interests of children have always been her passion and having personal life experiences with mental illness in the family, and aligning with excellent organizations such as NEPDA, have enhanced her ability to be empathic.
Missy F. Cunningham
Missy F. Cunningham grew up in Bedford, New York. She attended Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut and Vassar College. She has held several different positions, including serving as Secretary to Sidney Friedberg, head of Fine Arts at Harvard, Secretary at Harvard Business Review, and coaching girls' Lacrosse and field hockey. She was a photographer for the Vermont Standard for a substantial period of time and also free-lanced. For many years, she served as a full-time volunteer for the Woodstock, Vermont Learning Clinic, a school for severely brain-injured children. As a parent of a child diagnosed with BPD, she became involved with NEPDA and the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA-BPD). Ms. Cunningham has three children and six grandchildren and has lived in the Woodstock area since 1970.
By attending a Family Connections program sponsored by the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder [NEABPD], Jim gained an appreciation for the unique communication skills and validation concepts deemed vital to enhance his relationship with a family member with BPD traits.
Through participating in monthly support group meetings sponsored by the New England Personality Disorder Association [NEPDA], Jim has gained a sense of hope, respect and empathy for those who share the challenge of developing a viable support strategy for family members with BPD traits.
Jim, a graduate of Boston College and Bentley College Graduate School [MST], recently retired from his career as a CPA after many years of public service.
Judy Cody has lived all her life in the Boston area, obtaining a B.S. in Accountancy and a Masters in Taxation from Bentley College. For the majority of her professional career, she worked as a CPA for the U.S. Treasury Department from which she has recently retired.
By attending a Family Connections program sponsored by the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder [NEABPD] and monthly support group meetings sponsored by the New England Personality Disorder Association [NEPDA], Judy has learned valuable communication and validation skills to enhance her relationship with a family member. She recently joined the Board of Directors in hopes of giving back to NEPDA.
Robert Judge has been a member of NEDPA for many years. He is the parent of an adult child who was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 2004. He started by attending NAAMI support groups for a number of years. Once the diagnosis of BPD was given to his child, Robert signed up for a BPD support group, run by Dr. David Greenleaf. This was the beginning of his affiliation with NEDPA. He has been an active member since, attending whatever support groups, programs and seminars NEPDA has had to offer. This has helped give him a tremendous understanding of BPD.
Robert attended University of South Carolina. Then he served 3 years in the United States Army. Since 1972, he has been employed as an Architectural Sales Representative for commercial door products.