Behind the Scenes at CFRI - Meet Kathleen Flynn

Summer 1998

With each issue of CFRI News, we introduce you to some of the folks who work behind the scenes for CFRI. A lot of volunteer time and talent is necessary to allow CFRI to provide its services and programs for the CF community. One way we believe we can honor CFRI’s volunteers is by letting the CF community know a little about our hard-working volunteers. In this issue, we introduce you to CFRI’s Board President Kathleen Flynn.

Meet Kathleen Flynn

Kathleen became CFRI’s Board President in January of 1988. She was formerly the CFRI News Editor-in-Chief for over three years, and she’s written numerous heartwarming and informative articles for the newsletter as well. She’s been active as a Board member, a support group member, and as an organizer for "Ride N’ Stride," a combined bicycle-walking fundraising event CFRI used to sponsor. Kathleen is the mother of 10-year old Brendan and 6-year old Devin, who has cystic fibrosis. She is married to Scott Wakefield, who also is active with CFRI. They live in Palo Alto.

CFRI: What led you to take on a new challenge (as Board President) for CFRI after you’d been the CFRI News Editor for over three years?

Flynn: One of the reasons I wanted a change in roles at CFRI was to get a fresh perspective. When you do the same thing for so many years you tend not to see other things going on in the organization. I’ve been seeing things from the CFRI News Editor’s perspective, but when, at the board’s invitation, I became part of the strategic planning process, it gave me an opportunity to get a more introspective look at our group and how we work. [Editor’s note: The CFRI board has been conducting a strategic planning review.]

CFRI: What are your personal goals as Board President for the coming year?

Flynn: We’ve come up with exciting goals in the strategic planning process and I really want to see us set our committees and our fundraising and educational goals while holding our priorities consciously in our minds.

CFRI: What are some of these goals?

Flynn: Our long-term goal is to put ourselves out of business by finding a cure for cystic fibrosis. In the meantime, we want to find controls for CF and let people know about these controls so that they can live as long and as productive a life as possible. We want to expand on the community of support we’ve created, both in the research area and in the CF community at-large. We’re continuing the process we started through strategic planning to evaluate all aspects of how we function. We’re looking closely at what we do and how we do it and examining whether or not it aligns with our mission.

CFRI: How did you first become involved with CFRI?

Flynn: In 1991, after my son Devin was born with cystic fibrosis, I was referred to CFRI by the hospital. I first came to CFRI for moral and educational support. I joined the board almost immediately and I have been involved ever since, writing articles for the newsletter, helping out with Ride N’ Stride, support groups, etc.

CFRI: What’s your philosophy about Devin’s health care?

Flynn: I’m very proactive. I truly believe that any small problem I can catch up front and deal with now is preventative medicine for the future. We’re very strict about airway clearance treatments which we do at least twice a day, and regular check-ins with the doctor. To me, Devin’s quality of health is based on how much we can slow the progression of his disease. I read everything I can and I attend every CFRI conference. I consult a variety of doctors, gastroenterologists, allergists, pulmonologists, ENT specialists, etc., regarding Devin’s care. However, just for the record, I think quality of life is more important than quantity. We play whenever we can. Even on the sick days there has to be time for a good book, card game or sitting in the sunshine. If we can’t do that, then none of the above is worth it.

CFRI: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

Flynn: Devin is 6 and in the first grade and Brendan is 10 and in the 4th grade. Brendan does not have CF. My husband, Scott, is an electrical engineer in logic design. He’s also offered a lot of his time to CFRI through the Research Advisory Committee and his computer expertise. For fun as a family, we love camping and going to the beach. Swimming is what keeps me sane. I love being around kids. I work at my kids’ school and I coach basketball and soccer. We consider sports part of our children’s health regimen, so we’re active in the YMCA and sports as a family.

CFRI: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Flynn: You’ll notice in the book review article of this issue, I just finished a great book called Kitchen Table Wisdom and I’m currently reading a book about a woman with CF who made quilts. I love to read and I read anything I can get my hands on about how people with illness manage their lives. They are very inspirational. It never ceases to amaze me the indomitable spirit with which many people with CF live their lives. They contribute so much to our world. People who struggle with illness have had an illusion of security taken away from them. They remind me of my priorities and how I want to live.

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