Our Board of Directors
The Board is responsible for mapping the strategic plan for the network. They are tasked with advancing the mission, maintaining the integrity of the network, and representing the NPN on a national level.
Gigi Khonyongwa-Fernandez – President
Gigi Khonyongwa-Fernandez, is the mother of four angel babies and a surviving twin born at 24 weeks. She is both an International Coach Federation (ICF) accredited Professional Coach and a Trauma-Informed Certified Coach, and founder of GKF Coaching and Consulting and Families Blossoming LLC. Her companies are separate yet related entities, providing a dual-focus on people/leadership development and the NICU community, respectively. Gigi’s niche areas are leadership and organisational wellness, trauma-informed coaching, NICU/maternal-infant health, diversity, empowerment, consulting, and training/facilitation. She is passionate about incorporating and imbedding joy across all aspects of her work and with all her clients, within any sector or workplace culture. Gigi’s clients range from individuals and professional teams to medium to large-size organisations across the healthcare, education, faith-based, government, industry, and corporate sectors. She also partners with several consultancy groups to help them deliver on a range of leadership, diversity, and organisational development initiatives and is a vocal advocate for equity in the healthcare and educational realms.
Gigi holds a BSc in Occupational Therapy (University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA), MSc in Health, Population and Society (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK) and a Diploma in Personal Performance Coaching (The Coaching Academy and Invite Change, UK/USA). She has almost 20 years of international clinical, strategic and project management experience within the healthcare sectors both in the USA and UK health systems and holds several global board appointments in the NICU and maternal-infant health space. Gigi currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors for NICU Parent Network (NPN), a Parent, Patient, Public Advisory Board (PPPAB) member for European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI), a Chair Committee Member for the Global Alliance for Newborn Care (GLANCE), and a Chari Committee Chair member for the European Standards of Care for Newborn Health (ESCNH). She is an experienced international speaker and presenter.
Gigi is a free spirit, having lived and worked across several states in the USA and internationally as well as traveled to 25 countries (and counting). Through her travels, Gigi learns valuable lessons about the diverse beauty, strength, joy, and resilience of the human spirit and applies these lessons within her professional and personal life.
A native of the USA, Gigi currently resides in London, England.
Kristy Love – Executive Director, National Perinatal Association (NPA), NPN Founding Member & Past President
Kristy is a mother of two preemies. For over 20 years Kristy has worked in the nonprofit community providing health education, advocating for NICU Families and high-risk population.
She has collaborated with community groups, corporations, national organizations, and universities to improve outcomes for families of premature infants, babies born with special needs and developmental needs.
Tieast is the mother of three inspiring children including a micro preemie NICU graduate who was born at 26 weeks. She is actively engaged in advocacy for neurodiversity and eliminating disparity in access to medical care and serves on the Board of Trustees for On My Own of Michigan. Tieast has held positions in training, public speaking, government contracting, and commercial aviation, and is currently the University Relations Lead for Stellantis North America.
Elizabeth Simonton is an attorney and former small business owner, who started the NICU Families Fund with her Husband in 2014 after having a NICU experience of their own. ICU baby was developed in 2015 to broaden and extend the mission of the NICU Families Fund. Elizabeth serves on the 2020-2021 Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative Committee, was named a 2019 Miami Leader by the Miami Foundation and is a graduate of Radical Partners’ Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp’s Cohort 6. Elizabeth believes that every parent should have the opportunity to be at their baby’s hospital bedside and she is passionate about removing barriers for NICU parents to be able to accomplish that.
Jennifer Degl is the mother of four, including a micro preemie who was born at 23 weeks gestation, and the founder of Speaking for Moms & Babies, Inc. Her mission is to educate the public on maternal and neonatal health issues. She is the author of three books and articles in both the Journal of Pediatrics and Journal of Perinatology, a passionate public speaker, an active member of the International Neonatal Consortium Leadership Team, and she also serves on the Board of Directors for both the NICU Parent Network and the NIDCAP Federation International. Jennifer is also the creator and coordinator of Maria’s Hope, the NICU parent mentor program at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in NY. Jennifer has been a high school science teacher for 23 years and believes education is the key to health care reform.
Pam Frasco is a proud NICU mama two-times over and founder of Project NICU. Her experience with the unexpected deliveries of 31- weeker Santino and 30-weeker Salvatore has given her a passion to connect with and give back to the NICU Community. Her sons have inspired her to create a community that supports parents during and after their NICU Journey, and the medical teams that care for them.
Elizabeth Smith Klein aka Leelee received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Communications from Denison University 1985, and a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College in 1995. Ms. Klein served as President of The Tiny Miracles Foundation, Inc. from 2007 until 2016. Her twin daughters, Grace and Larsen, were born at 26 weeks gestation in 2000. The birth of her daughters was a very lonely and traumatic time in her life, which led to her passion for developing programs that provide support to all parents of premature babies. Ms. Klein lives with her husband Michael and their three daughters in Darien, CT.
Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.
– HENRY FORD