Ashton Nesmith-Kochera, BCPA, CBD (CBI)​​
​​Board Certified Patient Advocate,
and Certified Birth Doula

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style."-- Maya Angelou

It took twenty-five years for Ashton to be properly diagnosed with a genetic connective tissue disorder, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, with multiple co-morbid conditions. It was Ashton’s life experiences and gained knowledge that led her to a career in patient advocacy. Ashton went to college and became a teacher but was only able to pursue her childhood dream for a short time before teaching was not an option due to the reality of her unpredictable and demanding health needs.

However, that did not stop Ashton! Her passion to educate and support others came easy when she felt called to help those who experienced similar health situations. Ashton obtained her birth doula certification and began attending births which led her to co-founding Hagerstown Birth, a non-profit childbirth advocacy organization. Ashton went on to found Tri-State EDS, an EDS support group in 2015 which currently has nearly 300 members. She has more recently become one of the 149, first, National Board Certified Patient Advocates. Among being a member of many other patient advocacy organizations, Ashton also sits on various committees and boards within those organizations.

 A lover of both, reading and writing, Ashton is currently writing her own book and has two published pieces in current medical literature. Ashton also speaks on behalf of CampaignZERO – Families for Patient Safety as one of their Community Educators and lobbies on behalf of chronic illness and rare disease patients as a legislative advocate. Between spending time with her family and friends and what life has to offer around her home in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, Ashton continues to stay up to date on the latest medical research by conducting her own research and participating in research studies. She enjoys furthering her education and expertise by attending continuing education classes, medical conferences and patient advocacy events. Ashton lives to make every day count as she’s committed to ensuring that others never have to experience what she’s endured.

Becoming informed and having a strong support system has quite possibly saved Ashton and her daughter's life...a few times! Therefore, she has realized the significance and need for patient advocacy.