RNE Volunteer Team 
Heather Field Ruggiero, RN, BSN
worked as a nurse, facilitating patient care in a clinical setting for a comprehensive medical clinic in New England.

Heather's professional interests are in Medical Ethics, and Cellular Biology and Pathology. In addition to these, she has volunteered with with the patient support group Mito New England since its inception in 2013. She currently coordinates and facilitates Facebook groups; first for MNE, and now for RNE. 

Heather believes volunteering has provided her with networking opportunities, and has allowed her to meet members of the medical community from around the world. She has learned a great deal from these encounters. She has likewise learned a great deal about available resources in the medical community, and how vital these resources are to obtaining accurate diagnoses and treatment plans. Maintaining Facebook groups allows her to share her knowledge, and Heather feels a sense of joy and fulfillment in watching the groups she works with grow. 

In her life, Heather has experienced first-hand the effects of rare and complex medical conditions. She is currently on medical leave due to her own health issues, and is the mother of a child with complicated health issues. Heather resides in Maine, with her young daughter.
Technical Support/FB groups
A lifelong Connecticut resident, Joanna Mechlinski is a former newspaper reporter who now works in education. She was diagnosed with lupus, fibromyalgia and polymyositis in her early twenties. In addition to helping spread rare and chronic illness awareness, Joanna is also passionate about animal advocacy, reading, writing, and road trips.
Blog Coordinator
We would like to introduce and acknowledge our fabulous team of volunteers. Rare New England relies of the dedication of our Volunteers, whom are instrumental in carrying out our programs for patients and families. Their insight and efforts provide skill and support for conferences, social media, supply management, fundraising and more!
When Melissa Hoyt stated her education in the Psychology and Healthcare field, she no idea that at some point her health would change my course in life. While always having some variety of health problems the significance of it all wouldn’t be clear till adulthood. In 2008 she was diagnosed with a rare disease, Mitochondrial Disease, and goals and aspirations were changed as she learned to live with a complex disorder. 

Though life is different than she had once imagined, Melissa has found joy in various volunteer roles over the years while assisting in a health education library, joining a Community Emergency Response Team, and being a member of a Patient and Family Advisory Council at MGH; each one bringing their own opportunities for learning, collaboration and more. Melissa is also spent several years as member of the Boston Renegades Bleep Baseball team.

Melissa resides in MA with her fabulously handsome service dog Harkin.