Supporting 57,287 Angelenos Living with Parkinson’s Disease

Meet PCLA

In the face of a life-changing diagnosis such as Parkinson’s disease, it can be a constant challenge to maintain hope and positive energy needed to move ahead and maintain balance in life.

There are abundant resources available in Los Angeles to help provide emotional support, medical treatment, physical training, and other sources of wellness and relaxation for individuals with PD and their care partners.

The mission of Parkinson’s Community Los Angeles is to improve quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s disease throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

Our goal is to connect individuals and families to the information, support, programs, and activities they need to enhance wellness and live an active, engaged life. PCLA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Mobility equipment gifting program Los Angeles

Meet the Team

Board of Directors

Gail Buckley PCLA member

Patrick LoSasso

President, Board of Directors

Patrick LoSasso

President, Board of Directors

Patrick LoSasso has been an advocate for people living with Parkinson’s disease since 2000, serving on the board of Parkinson’s nonprofits before the formation of PCLA, and presiding over the largest Parkinson’s walkathon event in Los Angeles. Patrick is an internationally recognized authority on Parkinson’s exercise. He has developed products and strategies used by physical therapists and trainers to improve function for those living with Parkinson’s Disease. Patrick often appears as a speaker to support groups and educational events, encouraging people with Parkinson’s to fight back and become proactive in the management of their disease by maintaining a comprehensive exercise program to address the symptoms.

Gail Buckley PCLA member

Judy Yaras

Vice President, Board of Directors

Judy Yaras

Vice President, Board of Directors

Judy Yaras’ career has traversed the healthcare, retail, education, and nonprofit industries, and her expertise includes management, marketing, and executive leadership. After her husband Sandy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Judy became a fierce PD advocate, serving for six years as a board member of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, and for two years as a board member of The Parkinson’s Association of San Diego. She is a founding member of PCLA and continues to run a weekly support group started by her late husband.

Mike Weinman Treasurer

Michael Weinman

Treasurer

Michael Weinman

Treasurer

Michael Weinman is an experienced finance/operations executive with over 20 years of experience at Teleflora, West Coast Custom Rooms, and Infinilux LLC, where he is currently employed as Chief Operating Officer. In addition, Michael has previously served as President of Temple Emanuel Day School Board of Regents and the Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Board of Directors as a member of the Finance, Human Resources, and Building Operations Committees. In 2000, at the age of 36, Michael was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He is an active support group leader.

Joe Moller PCLA Board Member

Joe Moller

Board Member

Joe Moller

Board Member

Board member Joe Moller is the founder of Joe Moller Events (JME), a national experiential marketing agency based in Los Angeles. Joe has worked with clients including the City of Santa Monica, Estee Lauder, Lexus, Piper-Heidsieck, Saks Fifth Avenue, Los Angeles Magazine, British Airways, Johnson & Johnson, Dr. Dre, and many more. Joe’s extensive philanthropic work has included projects with non-profit organizations such as the Southern California Special Olympics and St. Vincent’s Meals on Wheels. He also worked to help establish the local chapter of KEEN (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now), and co-founded the Skid Row Carnival of Love with the Wayfarer Foundation. A family connection to Parkinson’s has led him to advocate for those living with the disease through his work with PCLA.

Angela Neff

Angela Neff

Board Member

Angela Neff

Board Member

Angela Neff is an educator, playwright, performer, proud mother and budding climate activist. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2019, she stays vibrant and agile by eating healthy, playing her ukulele and partaking in gobs of exercise.

Julia Nicholls, MA, CCC-SLP

Julia Nicholls MA, CCC-SLP

Secretary

Julia Nicholls, MA, CCC-SLP

Secretary

Board Member Julia Nicholls, MA, CCC-SLP, has worked as a speech-language pathologist in Outpatient Neurological Rehabilitation at Cedars-Sinai since 2005 and is an adjunct professor and clinical educator at California State University, Los Angeles. Her areas of interest include working with adults with aphasia, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, and brain tumors. Julia has run two community groups at Cedars-Sinai for those with mild cognitive impairment and voice disorders due to Parkinson’s disease. She also works at Santa Monica College facilitating a cognitive-communication group for people with acquired brain injuries (stroke, TBI, hypoxia) one time a week as part of the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) program at Emeritus. In May 2019 Julia received the Lois V. Douglass Distinguished Alumnus Award in recognition of significant accomplishments in the field of Speech-Language Pathology from California State University, Los Angeles, and in 2014 the Award for Excellence in Customer Service at Cedars-Sinai.

Bruce B. Ettinger, MD, MPH 400 x 400

Bruce B. Ettinger, MD, MPH

Board Member

Bruce B. Ettinger, MD, MPH

Board Member

Dr. Ettinger is a retired obstetrician/gynecologist with a master’s degree in health services. He practiced for 52 years in the public, private, and academic settings (UCLA and the Charles R. Drew University Schools of Medicine), creating access-to-care programs for underserved women and for victims of violence and abuse, and in public health for patient safety and quality of care. Dr. Ettinger is a Viet Nam era veteran, having served in the medical corps of the US Air Force. He is a hockey enthusiast (Go Kings!), is learning to create and cultivate bonsai (miniature trees), and plays percussion to Salsa music. But his proudest and deepest accomplishment has been as his wife’s care-partner, and now to carry her legacy of love and service to everyone else with Parkinson’s disease, and to those who love and care for them.  

Stephen Rubin

Stephen Rubin

Board Member

Stephen Rubin

Board Member

Board member Stephen Rubin is a lawyer and former law professor who has practiced on both coasts. After Steve’s wife, Barbara, received a Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2008 they moved to Los Angeles to be close to their sons and families. Barbara became a founding member of the PCLA board. Steve drove her to meetings, adding his lawyer’s two cents to board discussions from time to time. When Barbara succumbed to Parkinson’s complications in 2021, the board invited Steve to assume her seat. He is a member of the California, New York and other state bars, and national associations. Steve is a graduate of Penn and Columbia Law School.

Carol Walton

Carol Walton

Board Member

Carol Walton

Board Member

When Carol’s father was diagnosed with PD she struggled to find information and support. As a long distance caregiver, she worked with her brother to share the responsibilities, and educated herself on how best to help her family cope with the disease. In 1994 Carol attended a Parkinson’s Action Network forum in Washington, DC and became an active advocate. At the event she was offered an opportunity to lead a new foundation dedicated to research and advocacy, and in 1999 Carol moved from California to New Jersey to start The Parkinson Alliance. In her time with the Alliance she also oversaw the Parkinson’s Unity Walk in New York City, raising more than $34 million to support essential research and to end Parkinson’s. Like many nonprofits, the impact of the pandemic and an unstable economy made it increasingly difficult to operate, and the Alliance closed their doors in April 2023. Carol remains passionate about helping families with Parkinson’s and joined PCLA’s Board in March of 2023 in order to continue her work with the community.

Honorary Board

Gail Buckley PCLA member

Gail Buckley

Gail Buckley

Gail Buckley had a 30-year career in social services, holding a master’s degree in social work. Now retired, she has been pursuing her passion of mentoring young women, traveling the world, and making art. Gail has served for many years on the Board of her family’s nonprofit charitable foundation. The organization, founded by her parents, supports educational and health related causes. Most recently Parkinson’s disease has been a focus for her in deciding funding priorities for the foundation. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2011, Gail stays active and has found dance, Tai Chi, exercise and Pilates to all be beneficial.

Mike Weinman Treasurer

Nessa Weinman

Nessa Weinman

Weinman has been a care partner to her husband Mike Weinman for 24 years. She has been active as a Parkinson’s advocate since Mike was diagnosed at age 36, and she runs two of PCLA’s support groups, including a group for the Young Onset community that she co-runs with Mike. Nessa and Mike are founding board members of PCLA.

Mark Siegel Board Member PCLA

Mark Siegel

Mark Siegel

Board Member Mark Siegel was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was 47 years old. He became an activist in the Parkinson’s community shortly thereafter. He served for 10 years as president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease. Association. During his tenure the chapter raised over $2 million for research and services to the community. In 2004, Mark headed a team of activists and public health doctors and researchers, who successfully passed legislation creating the California Parkinson’s Disease Registry, the first such registry in the United States. The registry is an important research tool that can be used to identify disease clusters and correlation between pesticide usage and the disease.

Staff

Vivian Kanchian, MPH, BHN

Vivian Kanchian, MPH, BHN

Programming and Operations Manager

Vivian Kanchian, MPH, BHN

Programming and Operations Manager

Vivian Kanchian holds a Masters degree in public health, and a Bachelors in Nutrition. She is a big believer in food as medicine, and has seen its incredible power at work firsthand.

Some of her previous experience in the non profit sector includes helping successfully launch and grow a Food Is Medicine program in LA County from
inception and advocating for a more regenerative US Farm Bill via the coalition based initiative Regenerate America. Vivian is passionate about educating consumers and health practitioners on the link between soil and human health (microbiome), and health sovereignty. She is endlessly inspired and guided by nature’s cycle of : stress-rest-regeneration.

Medical Advisory Board

The Medical Advisory Board provides feedback on non-clinical care needs as well as insights into the latest in Parkinson’s care.

Dr. Keener

Adrienne Keener, MD

Medical Advisory Board Member

Adrienne Keener, MD

Medical Advisory Board Member
Adrienne Keener, MD is a board-certified neurologist and Movement Disorders specialist at UCLA and the West Los Angeles VA PADRECC (Parkinson’s Disease Research Education and Clinical Center). Dr. Keener participates in clinical research and patient care, and is interested in interdisciplinary treatment approaches for movement disorders, including DBS, botulinum toxin injection, and rehabilitation therapies.
Dr. Xenos Mason

Xenos Mason, MD

Medical Advisory Board Member

Xenos Mason, MD

Medical Advisory Board Member
Dr. Mason is a Movement Disorders Neurologist and Assistant Professor of neurological surgery and neurology at the University of Southern California. He completed his medical degree at Harvard Medical School, and neurology residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. His clinical and research interests are in the use and development of deep brain stimulation as a treatment for movement disorders. He lives in West Hollywood with his husband Daniel and their dog Sadie, and is a musician in the Los Angeles Doctor’s Symphony Orchestra. 
Gail Buckley PCLA member

Nicholas Szumski, MD

Medical Advisory Chair

Nicholas Szumski, MD

Medical Advisory Chair

Nicholas Szumski, MD is a fellowship-trained Movement Disorders specialist within the Cedars-Sinai Medical Group. He completed his residency at UCLA and advises PCLA on current medical issues which affect those living with Parkinson’s.

Wael El-Nachef, PhD

Wael El-Nachef, MD, PhD

Medical Advisory Board Member

Wael El-Nachef, MD, PhD

Medical Advisory Board Member

Dr. Wael N. El-Nachef, MD, PhD, is a gastroenterologist specializing in gastrointestinal manifestations of Parkinson’s disease. He completed clinical fellowship training in Gastroenterology at UCLA, earning board certification in 2018, and performed his PhD work at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he studied enteric neurogenesis in post-embryonic development. Dr. El-Nachef’s clinical interests include gastrointestinal complications of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, and esophageal and gastrointestinal motility disorders.

Dr. Melita Petrossian

Melita Petrossian, MD

Medical Advisory Board Member

Melita Petrossian, MD

Medical Advisory Board Member

Dr. Melita Petrossian is a fellowship-trained neurologist and movement disorders specialist and is the Director of the Pacific Movement Disorders Center located at Providence Saint John’s Health Center and Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance.

Dr. Jeffrey Wertheimer

Jeffrey C. Wertheimer, PhD, ABPP-CN

Medical Advisory Board Member

Jeffrey C. Wertheimer, PhD, ABPP-CN

Medical Advisory Board Member

Dr. Wertheimer is the Chief of Psychology and Neuropsychology, and the Director of Clinical Training in Neuropsychology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (CSMC) and the California Rehabilitation Institute (Cal Rehab). He is a board-certified neuropsychologist with a focus in neuropsychological and psychological assessment and psychotherapy and has developed innovative programming for cognitive and psychological resilience for diverse medical populations. Dr. Wertheimer’s research interests include movement disorders (the assessment of the cognitive and neuropsychiatric symptoms of Parkinson’s disease), cognitive and functional outcomes in individuals who have sustained traumatic brain injury, psychological adjustment and resilience with chronic illness, and inter-professional collaboration.

Clinical Research Advisor

The Clinical Research Advisor at Parkinson’s Community Los Angeles provides consultation on the most current research available.

Gail Buckley PCLA member

Michele Tagliati, MD, FAAN

Clinical Research Advisor

Michele Tagliati, MD, FAAN

Clinical Research Advisor


Michele Tagliati, MD, FAAN, is the Director of the Movement Disorders Program at Cedars-Sinai, where he is Vice Chair of the Department of Neurology. Tagliati pioneered the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s. His current research is focused on non-motor and non-dopamine related mechanisms in further understanding the physiology of Parkinson’s.

Local Parkinsons Support Groups Los Angeles - Nessa

Hi, I’m Nessa.

I care for my husband who has had Parkinson’s for 24 years, he was diagnosed when he was 36. I’m active in the PCLA community and for years I’ve volunteer to run two support groups a month for caregivers and people with Parkinson’s.

How we inspire, connect and support

6,070

Event Attendees

We’ve hosted more than thousands of people at our virtual and live events, helping those with Parkinson’s live better and connect with the PD community.

250

Annual Referral Inquiries

Our Information & Referral staff helps connect Angelenos to resources, support groups, exercises classes, clinical trials, research and more.

$150k

Donations Earned

Supporting the community through medical device donations, free ride grants to get to doctor’s appointments, events, support groups, local resources and programs.

WAYS YOU CAN HELP

SHARE

Whether you’re living with Parkinson’s or you are a caregiver, we want to hear from you
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SPONSOR

Organizations large and small can make a difference
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DONATE

$50 helps someone with Parkinson’s get to their doctor’s appointment
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Get Involved

“Through all of these groups and resources there has been an opportunity for connection and community for us. We have found people with PD and their caregivers are open to connection, and when you find a kindred spirit, it is a real gift.

We would encourage everyone living with Parkinson’s to seek out this kind of connection.”

–Stephen Rubin with Barbara Rubin