Board of Directors and Officers

To find out more, click the person’s name to be taken to their individual LinkedIn profile.


Specialized Volunteers



HESA is a 501c(3) nonprofit corporation

Press Release: HESA Publishes Follow-up to Groundbreaking First Book

WOODSTOCK, IL, May 05, 2017 /24-7PressRelease/ — The Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy SREAT Alliance proudly announces the highly anticipated Understanding Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy 2016 Edition: An Expanded and Updated Guide For Patients, Families, and Caregivers.” This new and expanded second edition includes interviews with the top neurologists in autoimmune neurology from around the world. This edition also brings to light the daily struggles of patients stricken with “Hashimoto’s encephalopathy” (also known as Steroid-Responsive Encephalopathy Associated with Thyroiditis).

The book features a foreword written by Dr. Sarosh R. Irani, the world-renowned consultant neurologist, and clinician-scientist, specializing in autoantibody-mediated diseases of the central nervous system. Dr. Irani has said of the book, “Understanding Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy draws on the experiences and knowledge of patients diagnosed with HE, as well as insights from caregivers and clinicians. It offers guidance for future and current HE sufferers who are coming to terms with their illnesses. This balanced and extensive text was written with great care, as a resource guide for this heterogeneous condition.”

The book also prominently features interviews with twelve clinicians who work directly with patients affected by autoimmune encephalitis and the resulting neurological deficits presented by the condition. In addition to the invaluable insights of these clinicians, the follow-up book continues to focus on patient, family, and caregiver narratives which remain the core of the book. The book is rounded out with additional text describing the condition, a chapter offering support for those who have received a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s encephalopathy/SREAT and providing suggestions for how to move forward, and finally, a robust resource section with an extensive glossary.

“Understanding Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy 2016 Edition: An Expanded and Updated Guide For Patients, Families, and Caregivers” is currently available in softcover and will be released in the Kindle digital book format in May of 2017.

To learn more about this serious condition, you can follow Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy SREAT Alliance on the following social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Riley’s HE Story [Video and Text]

Riley wrote, in her own words, her experience with Hashimoto’s encephalopathy. She and her mother contributed the below story to the 2017 #Wear4Rare365 campaign. We are republishing here with their permission.

You can see Riley’s video about her HE experience and read her own words below.





My name is Riley, I am 12 years old, I live in McKinney Texas, and this is my HE story.

I woke up on April 7, 2016 a different person. All the sudden I had unexplained symptoms that continued to rapidly get worse over the course of six months. Before April 7 I was a very confident, motivated, brave, and outgoing person. Not much phased me, made me nervous, and I was a very healthy and active person! Now I was having unexplained panic attacks, stroke like symptoms in my face, irrational phobias that I couldn’t explain, moments of OCD, muscle spasms or ticks, memory loss (several times forgetting who my family members were), hearing voices, complete lack of concentration or motivation, blacking out, hallucinations, and sometimes I went back to being in a two-year-old state where I acted and spoke like I was two again.

These symptoms confused everyone, and as you can imagine, they resulted in many visits to the ER, doctor’s clinics, and a lot of tests!  It was very difficult to finish the school year but with a very supportive school and teachers I managed to finish the year without having to withdraw. Because my initial CT scan and EEG came back normal every doctor, psychologist, ER doctor, nurse, psychiatrist, or professional that I saw didn’t have any idea as to what I might be suffering with. They all had a different diagnosis and all they could do was offer a different medication to try and help suppress these unexplained symptoms. Luckily, my parents kept pushing for answers as to why I just suddenly woke up a totally different person one day. This leads us to the man who saved my life, my neurologist. He knew to test for a few different rare things and so he sent us to an ER to run those tests. However, when we got there, the ER doctor told us that we “didn’t need to run these tests because there was no way I had what this test is testing for…” and “your Neurologist is just covering his own butt” and “the test could hurt, cause an infection, and we should just go home.” Trusting this doctor’s persuasive argument, we left that day even more discouraged than ever. To this day we all wish that that doctor would have known more about my disease, listened to my neurologist who wanted the test done, or that she had access to ER Rare Disease Protocol information. The actions of this ER doctor convincing us to leave without that testing was a break within my journey because the following months were very difficult.  I started to get sicker, my symptoms got worse, more dangerous, and we were all very scared. I had a lot of people praying for me and at this point in my journey I tried to figure out what life was going to look like now that I had these mysterious attacks and challenges. They changed who I was, how I acted, what I could do, and I didn’t like that. I would always smile and I was thankful for the moments where I felt like myself briefly and could enjoy myself.

Then one day, about two months later, my mom had a bad feeling about leaving the ER that day without performing those tests. So, she picked me up from school and we drove to have them done right away. Three days later my neurologist called us and gave us the news we will never forget. We finally had a name to what was slowly taking over my life, a diagnosis! Something to call this! Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy, a steroid responsive autoimmune disease that very few people have.

We immediately started oral steroids and within 48 hours, 99% of my symptoms had vanished and I felt like myself again for the first time in six months! Our prayers had been answered and we finally had taken a step in the right direction. However, sadly, as soon as the steroids ended, my symptoms returned almost immediately. We did this treatment a few times and had the same results each time. My neurologist then told us about a treatment called IVIG. We scheduled this treatment in mid-October and I received five days’ worth. Four weeks after is when I first noticed that I was feeling like myself again! It was amazing! I had zero symptoms, my motivation and determination returned, and I was back to enjoying school, my friends, and all my hobbies that I used to enjoy. 100% Riley! Our family and all my friends who had been praying for me had a big celebration and there were a lot of happy tears!

It has been almost 4 months since my treatment and I’m proud to say that I’ve been in remission the whole time. I am so thankful for the people who donated blood for me to receive my IVIG because it has saved my life. I have hope that my remission will last a very long time, but I know that if I need it, that treatment is always available to me again. As for right now, I love going to school, where I’m active in theater, I look forward to my youth group every week, and my family and I are closer than ever having gone through this season of life together. I couldn’t have done it without the amazing people around me who love me. I hope and pray that enough research will be done about HE and SREAT so that in the future it is diagnosed earlier and recognized by doctor’s so that the experience isn’t as frightening and unsure as mine was for so long.

HESA Helps Promote Encephalitis Research with Funding Pledge to AE Alliance

Chicago, IL, February 6th, 2017:  The Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy SREAT Alliance (HESA) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, started in 2012 by co-founders, Nicola Nelson and Susan Foley. After both women were affected by the condition commonly known as Hashimoto’s encephalopathy, the women embarked on a mission to collect, archive, and share information on the condition, and offer emotional support to patients, families, and caregivers. This mission was furthered by the publication of the book published in 2013, “Understanding Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy: A Guide for Patients, Families, and Caregivers”, (available on


HESA could not be more proud to contribute a portion of our donations and proceeds from both of our books to help further research into autoimmune encephalitis, and by proxy, Hashimoto’s encephalopathy, through AE Alliance,” said Executive Director, Susan Foley.


The AE Alliance is proud of the long-standing relationship with the Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy SREAT Alliance. We are grateful beyond words for HESA’s generosity. This collaboration allows both groups to look anew at imaginative ways to raise awareness on all autoimmune encephalitis fronts, fight this disease, and lessen the suffering of patients and their families,” said John Spencer, Executive Director of the AE Alliance.

The Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance improves the lives of patients with autoimmune encephalitis by promoting collaboration in clinical and basic research and by creating a community of patients, families, and caregivers so that no one faces autoimmune encephalitis alone.

The AE Alliance strives to find a cure for autoimmune encephalitis through multi-disciplinary, collaborative research, and clinical care. The AE Alliance is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and all services are free of charge. For more information visit

To learn more about the Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy SREAT Alliance and mission, please visit

HESA Working with The Cambria Lord Foundation for #Wear4Rare365 in 2017

As folks in our support forum may know, we are happy to work with The Cambria Lord Foundation on their #Wear4Rare365 campaign this year. The campaign seeks to create a national (United States) emergency room database, giving ER doctors around the U.S. access to rare disease treatment protocols.

We encourage our #HEFamily and other autoimmune encephalitis patients to get involved either by joining our #Wear4Rare365 day by submitting your story or by contacting the appropriate autoimmune encephalitis group working with The Cambria Lord Foundation.

Our #Wear4Rare365 awareness day will co-incide with our annual #Dazzle4Rare day on August 18th, 2017.

We look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible to help accomplish this amazing and potentially life-saving goal! If you’d like to get involved, you can email HESA via our “contact” page.

UPENN Publishes Updated List of Known Autoantibodies

As many visitors to our website may already know, University of Pennsylvania has their own clinic manned by Doctors Eric Lancaster and Josep Dalmau. This clinic has it’s own proprietary laboratory which using immunohistochemistry to identify serum and/or CSF samples that are shown to have immunoreactivity with the brain. We are told that these are most often the patients that receive an autoimmune encephalitis/encephalopathy diagnosis from Dr. Lancaster and Dr. Dalmau’s team of doctors at UPENN.

This list may be a great resource tool for patients, families, and caregivers who wish to learn more about autoimmune encephalitis/encephalopathy and the diagnostic procedure at UPENN.

We encourage you to read more on the UPENN website [].