Meet the COTBDAA Board members
Born on the East coast, Monica spent her childhood and early adulthood active in the outdoors of New England, graduating with a BS in Wildlife Management from the University of New Hampshire in 1992. She then moved west to Colorado where she worked as a wildlife biologist and wildland firefighter throughout the majority of her career with the United States Forest Service. In 2008, she was forced to leave her career after struggling with increasingly debilitating symptoms that doctors attributed to “stress”. It took 7 ½ years, dozens of doctors, multiple surgeries, procedures, tests and evaluations at major medical centers to correctly diagnose Lyme and several co-infections that infected her, as well as her children and husband. She navigated the access to care and treatment for herself and her family, however lack of awareness of these diseases in Colorado, as well as lack of resources, timely and proper diagnoses, treatment, and support was devastating to her entire family physically, emotionally, and financially. Not wanting another Coloradan, family, or especially a child to be affected like they had been, she co- founded COTBDAA with her husband Andy, and has been assisted by her children Reece and Ison, to serve others in Colorado by increasing awareness and providing resources to prevent disease as well as access to the best available resources for those faced with these potentially debilitating or deadly diseases. Monica additionally serves on the Public Tick Integrated Pest Management working group, served as a subcommittee member on the Federal Health & Human Services Tick-Borne Disease Working Group (TBDWG) Disease Vectors, Surveillance and Prevention Subcommittee in 2018, and is currently serving on the HHS-TBDWG Subcommittee for Babesia & other Tick-Borne Pathogens the with hope to contribute to the changes we need to combat Lyme and other tick-borne diseases at the National level.
Jennifer Leon spent most of her life in Pennsylvania, first, growing up near Pittsburgh, then living 8 years outside of Philadelphia before moving to Colorado in 2010. In 1975, at the age of 5, she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis which led to 37 years of various RA treatments to help her chronic pain. With other health related issues growing, she continued her journey to find out why there were no solutions, which finally led to a proper diagnosis of Lyme disease in 2013. Today, doctors concluded that she never had RA. She now lives in Parker, CO with her husband, John and 2 children, Jack and Addison. She is dedicated to help others recognize the symptoms and empower them to be advocates of their own health. COTBDAA gives her the opportunity to not only increase awareness of the impact of tick-borne diseases, but support in the education, prevention, research and advocacy.
Born and raised in Colorado, Andy spent his childhood exploring the outdoors. He graduated with a dual degree in Forestry and Fire (BS) from Colorado State University. He has worked his entire career with the United States Forest Service as a wildland firefighter, first in the capacity of engine crew member, then captain, now in the career position of Fuels Specialist. Firefighting assignments continue to take him to incidents nationwide where risk of exposure to ticks and tick-borne diseases vary. He has supported a family infected with Lyme and multiple co-infections while at the same time being treated for the diseases himself. He co-founded COTBDAA with his wife, Monica, to help others afflicted with these diseases and to prevent others from acquiring the diseases.
Dr. Sharon P Austin
Dr. Sharon P Austin is a licensed Clinical Psychologist in private practice in Fort Collins, CO with over 25 years of clinical experience. She specializes in couple therapy, equine assisted therapy, complex trauma and chronic medical conditions. She is a Mom of a 21-yr old son and an 18-yr old daughter, both in college. She is an avid horse person, and, along with her husband, has an 18 acre “hobby” farm with horses, sheep, chickens and dogs. Sharon’s knowledge of Tick-Borne Diseases (TBDs) comes from experiences with clients, friends and family members dealing with likely chronic Lyme and co-infections. She also lived half of her life in New England before moving to CO in 1990. She is passionate about raising awareness of TBDs and providing support for those struggling with them.
Jillian Tosta grew up in San Mateo, California where she was diagnosed with chronic Lyme about 15 years ago. She moved to Colorado in 2014 and loves going to the mountains with her dog to explore the beauty that Colorado has to offer. She has a BA in Psychology and is currently taking training to become a health coach. She is passionate about using her education and personal experience to be a support and advocate for other survivors, especially children.
Reece & Ison White
Both Reece and Ison are Colorado natives. Both were infected with Lyme disease and multiple co-infections, most likely from congenital transmission of disease. Their childhood and adolescence has been shaped by the impacts of these diseases on their health, emotional well-being, education, social life and activities. They have both persevered through very difficult times while still struggling with the fallout of these infections. Reece is passionate about horses and puts her energy into assisting other children. Ison is passionate about baseball and video games! Both have supported COTBDAA and the passion of their mother, Monica, through volunteering at events since the inception of COTBDAA. Children’s prevention education programs and games are their areas of expertise. Kids teaching kids about prevention.