ME International Board of Directors
DAVID STECKEL, President
Currently living in Illinois, David Steckel is a Veteran and DoD retiree. He has a BS in Aerospace Engineering and an MS in Engineering with a focus on Product Assurance. During his time with the USAF he held many positions, including Environmental Restoration Division Chief which led him to a second Masters degree in Bioregional Planning. Adding to his Army active duty time in the mid-70s, Mr. Steckel volunteered for a year’s deployment in Afghanistan where he served as the Base Master Planner at Bagram Airbase, putting him in charge of inventorying and assigning all land parcels within its 3,700 acre expanse. He is currently a volunteer/member of veteran-based nonprofit Team Rubicon, the Homer Volunteer Fire Department, and the Creative Dramatic Workshop, Inc as the Facility Manager of the historic 1902 Homer Opera House.
To support his wife, who has had ME for 30+ years, David was on the board of May12.org from October 2015 to October 2019. Since leaving May12.org, he and his wife Colleen became involved in the development of ME-International. Creating an organization that promotes the International Consensus Criteria is very important to both of them as well as helping patients with ME know what they’re dealing with, as well as educating the government and the medical community to improve the quality of life for people with ME.
JAMES DAVIS, Vice President
James was born and raised in the Midwest just outside of St Louis. Until recently, he lived in Western Colorado, but now calls Washington State his home. James was a Social Studies teacher until his ME cut his career short. When he could no longer teach, he decided to write novels to have something creative and productive to do while struggling with his ME. He has completed two novels and is working on the third in his trilogy. James currently enjoys spending time with photography and getting outdoors when possible. It took James well over a decade to be diagnosed with ME, and his experience discovering his illness created a desire to give back to the ME community.
MARY KELLEY, Treasurer
Mary Kelley lives in the very Southwest corner of Denver. She was born in Western Nebraska but moved to Colorado when she was 15 years old. She called the Palisade/Grand Junction area home for 34 years after moving there with her parents. Her career started with the IRS handing out tax forms as a seasonal employee in Grand Junction, moving into a clerical position and audit aide before becoming an auditor for 14 years, and ending her 27½ year career as an Office Audit Group Manager. After becoming an auditor, she was named to the National Teaching Cadre and traveled all over the United States teaching classes for the IRS. Mary moved to the Denver area in 2007 and retired in November of 2014.
Mary is an Enrolled Agent and started her own income tax practice in 2016. Her “fun” but sometimes trying job is ushering for the Colorado Rockies, last year working 55 games. The rest of her time is spent being a Grandma to eight Grandchildren, playing Texas Hold’em, traveling and being “mom” to her Havanese dog, Mr. Buttons.
Mary is honored to be part of the ME International team and looks forward to getting to know all of you and working with you.
JAMES LUTEY, Past President, Secretary
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jim.lutey
Jim has been married to his wife, Pam, for 56 years. He is mostly retired, but does a lot of volunteer work including Rotary, book work for his son’s landscaping business, ME International, as well as being a caregiver for his wife, Pam, who has ME.
When Jim’s wife, Pam, became ill, she not only consulted many doctors, but in her research, found out about ME Action Colorado. That organization helped Pam and she and Jim became members of their Steering Committee. It was, and still is, the only organization in Colorado that provides some help to ME patients and that works hard on ME education and advocacy. Realizing that there wasn’t really an international ME organization, Jim’s wife, Pam, founded ME International.
Jim grew up in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Wyoming where he met Pam. He had a 32½ year career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They moved 8 times, living and working in Montana, Oregon, S. Dakota, Washington, Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado. After retiring in Denver, he and Pam moved out of the city to the town of Johnstown, CO. Both were co-executive directors of the local Chamber of Commerce and Jim was involved in the Historical Society and on Johnstown Planning & Zoning Commission. They have a marketing company and owned Johnstown Milliken News for several years.
Jim is a generalist; always has been. He thinks it evolved from his childhood and early years. He liked to do a lot of things (fish, hunt, golf, taxidermy, fly tying, camping, etc.) and never really concentrated on any one thing to do it really well. “I was good at lots of things, but never an expert at any one thing.” So, in regard to ME International, he expects to be good at organizing, leading, and common sense, but not getting deeply involved in the details. He is pleased that ME International’s diverse board can cover the details.
For over 25 years Heather Seckinger has been a survivor of ME, having been diagnosed at 15 years old. Being located in Camarillo, CA (a suburb of Los Angeles) allowed for an early diagnosis and led to a great understanding of the disease.
Her life has been severely disrupted. After having to be home schooled in high school, she went on to achieve a degree in History from CSUCI with a lot of determination on an extended timeline. What working career she’s been able to have, has been devoted to children.
Unfortunately the last 5 years she’s found herself bed-bound for most of her days. She spends a good portion of her time helping others understand this disease and alleviating fears. She keeps her brain active by participating in many Facebook groups and admins for groups like Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Global and a few others including “Loving someone with ME,” specifically for carers and supporters, which is of particular interest to her.
She’s been truly inspired by all the lives interrupted and is devoted to changing that. To the Board she brings enthusiasm and a deep desire to help her fellow warriors.
Interview of Heather by accessiBe, 01 January 2023
Colleen is an ME patient with sudden onset in 1989 at age 29. She was originally trained as a legal secretary and then worked as an executive secretary which came to a halt due to severity of illness. ME drastically changed the course of her life and the lives of her husband and daughter. Early experiences with knowledgeable doctors who diagnosed her with CFIDS set the stage for good understanding of the reality of living with ME. Many bad experiences with medical professionals and friends and family who were misinformed showed the need for advocacy.
Having had periodic experiences with more severe ME and majority of the time as moderate or low moderate ME, she learned many tips on how to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Colleen had been sharing information on how she managed her symptoms for many years prior to starting the North Carolina/Ohio ME & FM support group (public on Facebook) in 2014.
Colleen began advocating at a national level when she joined www.MEadvocacy.org. The mission of MEadvocacy is to Advocate for Recognition, Definition, & Research for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis as described in the International Consensus Criteria. Colleen continues her volunteer work at MEadvocacy and joining ME International is a natural fit for extending advocating for ME to an international level.
Pam Lutey was born and raised in Lakewood, Colorado. She attended and got a teaching degree from The University of Wyoming and met her husband Jim at UW. She has moved 8 times from Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Washington State, South Dakota, Oregon, Missouri and Minnesota and enjoyed every minute of it. She enjoyed being a teacher, a retailer and Co-Executive Director of the Johnstown Milliken Chamber of Commerce. She is currently in Rotary but is unable to attend meetings. She loves starting projects, like ME International. She is one of the lucky ones, getting ME when she was older. She has two sons, Bert and Paul and two grandchildren, Anton and Claire. She has lived the last 20 years in Johnstown, CO. She knows this organization is going to take time and it is wonderful to have such great volunteers. “We will just take each day as it comes and educate along the way.” She hopes that we might have a Foundation Fund to help those that need it the most.
When Pam became sick she tried to find out as much information as she could about ME. At the time, the only ME group in Colorado was Colorado ME Action. She tries to help as much as possible from home but is unable to attend events. She formed a small group on Facebook so they could get to know each other and help whenever possible. She made many friends in this group and they try to support each other and keep up to date about what is going on in Colorado. Pam didn’t join ME International, she founded it. It just seemed like ME should have an international organization like many other non profits.
SUZY PAULSEN, Board Member
Suzy Paulsen grew up in the sunny Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada. She raised her two children there while working as a paramedic with the BC Ambulance Service. Her career was cut short after a car accident that left her with lifelong pain. Aside from an ME diagnosis, Suzy also has a connective tissue disorder that has the potential for causing several co-morbid conditions. She manages to stay active in her community by volunteering with several organizations as well as advocating for patients with Huntington Disease and their family members/caregivers. Suzy is also passionate about supporting people with mental health issues and those considered vulnerable members of the community. She currently divides her time volunteering for ME International, HD COPE, Pain BC, and the Patient Voices Network.
Suzy currently lives in Abbotsford, BC with her amazingly supportive spouse, David. He has always been there to drive her to all her medical appointments and attend consults with doctors/specialists. When Suzy realized work was not feasible, David encouraged her to continue with her academic studies. She is now a couple of courses shy of completing a bachelor’s degree in Integrative Studies with a focus in Sociology. Suzy also studies at Quantum University and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree as a Holistic Health Practitioner. These studies are done on a part-time basis so Suzy can manage her multiple illnesses. She considers herself a life-long learner.
Having a diagnosis of ME can be a very lonely experience. Even having the official diagnosis can be a long battle for many. This was Suzy’s experience as well. She went to so many doctors/specialists before they were able to piece together all the health issues she was experiencing and finally decide on the diagnosis of ME. Her passion for helping others feel less lonely on their journey is the reason she volunteers. ME International supports the International Consensus Criteria and this is one of the main reasons Suzy decided to volunteer with this organization.
Jess lives in lutruwita / Tasmania, Australia with her partner, 2 children and 3 fur babies. Born in Melbourne, she has also lived in Brisbane and in Japan teaching English. She studied English, Marketing and International Business and has an accomplished 15-year procurement career, managing significant spend portfolios across various industries, in local and global settings. During her more active years she enjoyed yoga, Pilates, walking, beach holidays and catching up with close friends.
In 2021, Jess was finally diagnosed with ME, backdated 15 years fluctuating at a mild to moderate level. She progressed to very severe, bed-bound and became entwined in the ME community, who provided great support.
Jess experienced immense difficulty in obtaining a proper diagnosis, screening and treatment. However, using ME International resources, the ICC and ICP, she was able to better understand her illness and communicate with the medical community, which immensely enhanced her level of care and ultimately, her function improved in 2022.
Jess now balances her time between her loving family, part-time procurement consulting and working with ME International to improve the lives of people living with ME. With a passion for, and long history of community contribution, joining ME International was a natural fit.
Jess is especially passionate about those she left behind, with severe ME, who are too sick to have a voice of their own and desperately need better support. She is most excited to be part of an international team, working to clarify muddled classifications of ME and help patients to obtain through screening, to ensure best possible outcomes.
Her philosophy is “Together we can make a difference!”