- Diana Clynes – Executive Director
Diana Clynes is the Executive Director for AAKP. She is responsible for implementing and executing the mission and national strategy for the Association. Mrs. Clynes initiates and manages the organization’s funding contracts and maintains and develops existing and new relationships with industry, government and organizational partners. She represents AAKP on a variety of state and national renal-related committees, coalitions and workgroups. Diana works directly with the Board of Directors and Executive Leadership Committee to create program metrics and analyses to ensure mission, goals and objectives of the Association are being met/exceeded, are meaningful and create positive behavioral changes in constituents.
Diana joined AAKP in 2005.
Prior to joining AAKP, Diana conducted public relations, communications and marketing for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Outreach Coordination and Division of Marine Fisheries Offices as well as the Tampa Bay Port Authority. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations as well as a minor in Business.
- Valerie Gonzalez – Director of Office Operations
Valerie Gonzalez is the Director of Office Operations for AAKP. She supervises all activities related to fulfillment of information requests, data entry and telephone inquires.
Valerie joined AAKP in 2005.
Valerie brings many years of office managerial skills to AAKP. Before joining AAKP, Valerie worked for Choice Medical Management Services as a Complex Care Services Specialist. She also served as Office Manager of Troya Engineering and Fabrication, Inc.
- Erin Kahle – Director of Stakeholder Operations, Center for Patient Engagement & Advocacy
Erin Kahle joined AAKP in April 2017 as Director of Stakeholder Operations for AAKP’s Center for Patient Engagement & Advocacy. Erin’s primary responsibilities include establishing a national network of patient ambassadors and encouraging patients and family members to be engaged in various awareness, advocacy, and research opportunities like focus groups, Technical Evaluation Panels (TEPs), and public testimony before Federal agencies.Prior to joining AAKP, Erin worked at the National Kidney Foundation Home Office in New York City for 13 years in program development and advocacy. Erin also worked at a nonprofit organization in King, North Carolina with a focus on programs in early childhood education. Erin has a BA in Communication Studies and is working on her Master’s degree in Public Administration. She recently received her Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential through the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.
Deborah Pelaez – Manager of Marketing and Communications
Deborah Pelaez joined AAKP in May 2017 as Manager of Marketing and Communications. Some of Deborah’s projects include aakpRENALIFE magazine, electronic newsletters, social media, website, graphic design and development activities.
Originally from Bergen, New York, Deborah holds a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Journalism, Public Relations from West Virginia University. She has lived and worked in the Tampa Bay area since 1999. Her past experience includes managing marketing, communications and creative services for both corporate and local non-profits including the Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office (DACCO) and Ferman Motor Car Company
Richard Knight, MBA
Richard A. Knight is a healthcare professional and a former hemodialysis patient. He received a kidney transplant approximately thirteen years ago. He is President of the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP), a member of the Transplant Roundtable, and a member of the Board of Directors of Quality Insight’s Renal Network 5.
Mr. Knight has a background in public policy and Congressional operations based on both his professional experience on Capitol Hill where he served in various roles including communications, policy and Legislative Director as well his advocacy work as a kidney transplant patient. While working in the U.S. House of Representatives, Mr. Knight served as a liaison to the Congressional Black Caucus for his Member of Congress and was involved in substantial work with the House Energy and Commerce and Small Business Committees. Mr. Knight’s knowledge of Executive Branch agency budget and procurement policies is based on direct experience as a Federal government contractor and as a ten-year co-chair of the Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce Annual Regional Government Procurement Fair. Mr. Knight received his MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and his BA from Hampton University. He is a business strategist, providing patient engagement consulting for healthcare organizations and businesses developing tools designed to leverage patient input and preferences in their care plans and quality measures. As a small business owner, he is heavily involved in business and education issues through multiple executive networks in the Washington, D.C. region. He serves as adjunct professor at Bowie State University (BSU). He is a founding member of BSU’s College of Business Advisory Council.
As a policy expert and a national kidney patient advocate, Mr. Knight was appointed to serve as a member of the National Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Advisory Council and was recently appointed to the Scientifc Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) Visiting Committee. He was also recently appointed to the Steering Committee for NIDDK’s Kidney Precision Medicine Project as well as the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI), which is a public-private partnership to develop and drive adoption of practices that will increase the quality and efficiency of clinical trials. He has served as a member of four Technical Expert Panels (TEPs) for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Assistance (CMS). He was a member of CMS TEPs focusing on Emergency Department Readmissions Hospital Readmissions, the Fistula First Breakthrough Initiative and recently on the End Stage Renal Disease Dialysis Facility Compare Star Ratings for the Arbor Research Collaborative for Health and the University of Michigan Kidney Epidemiology and Cost Center. He is a founding member of the End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Health Information Technology (HIT) Project administered by the National Renal Administrators Association and the End Stage Renal Disease Forum and served on the National Kidney Disease Education Program’s (NKDEP) Health Information Technology (HIT) Working Group.