PAN's Founder

Joan SamuelsonIn 1991, Joan Samuelson founded the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) when she realized that Parkinson’s disease was not receiving enough funding or attention from the Federal government. Joan immediately put her hard work and creativity into building a Parkinson’s organization to educate those with Parkinson’s how to advocate for themselves.

Diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1987, Joan left the practice of law to found PAN four years after her diagnosis. Upon starting the organization, she used her spirit and drive to fight for more attention for Parkinson’s disease. This determination and dedication inspired many more around the country to become advocates and successfully fight for their cause.

Joan immediately took her fight to Capitol Hill where she walked the halls of Congress, knocking on doors to be heard. With each meeting, her voice grew a little louder and PAN began to grow. What started as an organization of one person has now become a strong, nationwide advocacy group and the unified voice of the Parkinson’s disease community. Joan’s dedication has helped take Parkinson’s disease from limited visibility to the national consciousness. Thanks to Joan’s work, serving as PAN President until 2006 and Board Member until 2008, millions of Americans today understand more about Parkinson’s disease and are involved in the fight for a cure.