Arthritis Support Network Staff
Arthritis Foundation Senior Director of Community Support Network
Arthritis Introspective Founder and President
Kevin was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of ten. He learned early that the memories of the physical pains of living with Rheumatoid Arthritis fade, but the emotional pains are not as easily forgotten. Kevin often felt like an outcast struggling with self-esteem and body image issues, being the only one in his life who had to face the serious physical and emotional challenges which come along with any auto immune disease.
In his mid-twenties Kevin attended his first support group for younger people with RA. He instantly felt the isolation and lack of understanding disappear. He felt firsthand the power of an understanding support group and the immediate impact it could have to improve a life. Kevin became both a local and national volunteer for the Arthritis Foundation; his contributions ranging from being a camp counselor for kids with arthritis, to assuming the role of Editor of the American Juvenile Arthritis Organization’s Newsletter, to serving on the Young Adults Advisory Group.
In 2007, Kevin saw a need in the arthritis community for a dedicated program which could offer everyone the very same face to face support that had such an impact on his life years before. He knew many thousands of people could benefit from such a program. So, Kevin and twenty-five people from across the country held our first conference and it a great success! Soon afterward, he submitted an application to form a 501(c)(3) organization whose focus is to bring people together who have arthritis – the first of its kind!
In January 2016, after 22 years of being “medically retired” Kevin has returned to work full time with the Arthritis Foundation as the Senior Director of Community Support Network.
Kevin lives in Tucson. He is a pilot of sailplanes and an avid motorcyclist.
Arthritis Foundation, Arthritis Support Network Director
Ms. Sedlmeier has been living with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis since the age of 7. Like many living with arthritis, at times, she felt isolated and misunderstood as a young person living with what many people believe is an “old person’s” condition - yet she manages to maintain an independent and positive attitude. She’s learned how to be adaptive and resilient while dealing with the ups and downs of living with a chronic condition.
Haydee graduated from Loyola Marymount University. She was fortunate to work for over 20 years as an Operations and Human Resources Manager for major retailers in the Greater Los Angeles area which afforded her the opportunity to enjoy one of her passions: international travel. She has also worked for a Human Capital company and a Personal Development company. She “medically retired" in 2004 - 2015 and enjoyed expanding her culinary skills, being a professional patient, spending more time with friends and loved ones. She shifted her energy towards serving the arthritis community and found her voice through volunteering.
Ms. Sedlmeier has been involved with Arthritis Introspective (AI) since its inception, attending the first Gathering Conference in 2007. In 2010, shortly after returning from the third Gathering Conference, she heard a fellow patient complaining about the lack of support groups in the West Los Angeles area and she launched the West LA Support Group. She quickly joined the Board of Directors serving on both the Membership and Support Group Committees and began the task of redesigning Support Group Leader Training Program. Haydee assumed the role of Vice President of AI and her attention expanded to building up the organization’s infrastructure in preparation for its next growth phase including the implementation of this website. Her leadership and commitment is to provide adults living with arthritis networking opportunities, wellness education, empowerment, and face to face support groups.
Concurrently, Haydee developed into a Champion of Yes by volunteering with her local Arthritis Foundation, serving as the Pacific Region Speakers Bureau chair, advocate, public health intern, and volunteering on numerous committees. She served Greater Los Angeles County as a certified speaker for the Arthritis Foundation between 2008 - 2015 and was sought after to speak and educate LA’s diverse, widespread population in partnership with local organizations. She also volunteers with Landmark Worldwide as a coach and a former program team leader.
Ms. Sedlmeier’s is thrilled that Arthritis Introspective merged into the Arthritis Foundation in 2016. She joined the Arthritis Foundation as the Arthritis Support Network Director and is the staff person accountable for training new Arthritis Support Network Leader and expanding the presence of these support groups across the United States. This is volunteer driven and patient led initiative that provides personalized help & support to people with all types of arthritis and related diseases.
Haydee’s passion is to increase arthritis awareness, connect, educate, and empower people living with arthritis to not just survive but to thrive!