About us

Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW, founded Pain Connection in 1999 following a motor vehicle accident that left her with unrelenting pain. 


As a licensed social worker, she was frustrated with the lack of support and treatment available to those suffering. Determined to help bridge that gap in care, she established Pain Connection to provide support groups and resources to help individuals with chronic illness and pain as well as their families. 


In 2016, Pain Connection joined forces with U.S. Pain Foundation and has continued to expand its offerings nationwide.

Our mission

 A program of the U.S. Pain Foundation, Pain Connection is dedicated to empowering people with chronic pain to improve their quality of life, decrease their sense of isolation, and take a more active role in their treatment.

Our team

The Pain Connection team includes:

Bill Santer. Bill co-leads the Maine state support group, with longtime support group leader, Ernie Merritt. 

Bobbi Blades. Bobbi co-leads the organization’s educational videoconference, Building Your Toolbox. She currently leads the New Hampshire state support group and the last Saturday of the month national meeting. She and Kate Benson co-facilitate the Creative Arts meeting as well. 

Brittany Barta. Brittany facilitates the in-person Eastern North Carolina support group. 

Cindy Steinberg. Cindy, National Director of Policy and Advocacy for U.S. Pain Foundation, has run a support group in Arlington, MA, for 20 years. She co-leads Pain Connection’s support group leader trainings.

Christie Cox. Christie facilitates the Mindful Meditation meeting.

Christine Sotmary. Christine facilitates the Functional Nutrition group.

David Hall. David facilitates the Arizona/Nevada/New Mexico state support group, the Georgia state support group, and helps with the South/North Carolina state support group.

Erin Knauer. Erin facilitates the Iowa state support group meeting.

Ernie Merritt. Ernie facilitates the state of Maine support group meeting. Bill Santer co-facilitates with him. 

Janet Fox & Julie Litten. Janet and Julie co-facilitate the Maryland state support group meeting.

Jenevieve Wardell. Jenevieve facilitates the Teens support group, for teens 13-17 years of age.

Jill Cooper. Jill facilitates the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut state support group meeting. 

Kate Benson. Kate facilitates the Florida state support group and the specialized group for veterans, Basic Training for Veterans with Pain. She and Bobbi Blades co-facilitate the Creative Arts meeting as well.

Kit Kennedy. Kit facilitates the U.S. Overseas Military support group meeting as well as the in-person Alaska chronic pain support group.

Kristina Knight. Kristina Knight facilitates the Colorado/Wyoming state support group.

Linda Shaw. Linda Shaw facilitates the BIPOC Community support group meetings.

Marty Steinberg, JD. Marty presents at Pain Connection support group leader trainings on the role of the caregiver.

Mary Beth Lewis. Mary Beth Lewis helps oversee the monthly topic for the national meetings. In addition, she facilitates the Ohio/Kentucky/West Virginia state support group as well as the fourth national meeting every month.

Michele Rice & Noelle Lopez. Michele, Patient Engagement Lead for U.S. Pain, and Noelle facilitate the California state support group as well as the first national meeting.

Millie Quiñones-Dunlap. Millie facilitates the Reading Room and Writing Room support meetings.

Rebecca Fleming. Rebecca facilitates the Illinois/Missouri state support group as well as the second national meeting every month.

Renee Russell. Renee facilitates the Oregon East and Oregon West state support group meetings.

Ryan Drozd. Ryan leads the third national meeting every month.

Sara Gehrig. Sara facilitates the Wisconsin/Minnesota state support group, the Daily Check-In, and the LGBTQ+ Communities group.

Tammy Hummel. Tammy facilitates the Indiana state support group as well as leads the in-person Indiana/Ohio group.

Teresa Gardner. Teresa facilitates a Seniors support group at Nora Commons.


Pain Connection has also trained support group leaders for Miles for Migraine. Miles for Migraine offers support for those living with headache diseases. The individuals that have gone through the Pain Connection program, and lead Miles for Migraine groups, include:

  • Annikah Salim
  • Deb Turk
  • Deena Migliazzo
  • Diane Fox
  • Katie Moran
  • Kelly Amspacher
  • Sharon Rhoades
  • Tanya Upadhyaya
Contact us

U.S. Pain Foundation
15 North Main St.
Unit 100
West Hartford, CT 06107

Email: contact@uspainfoundation.org

About U.S. Pain Foundation

The mission of the U.S. Pain Foundation is to empower, educate, connect, and advocate for individuals living with chronic illnesses or serious injuries that cause pain, as well as their caregivers and clinicians. Its programs and services include a network of support groups, educational resources and events, a program for children and their families, advocacy efforts, a magazine called the INvisible Project, and more. The U.S. Pain Foundation is a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization. For more information, visit www.uspainfoundation.org.

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

State-based and National Support Groups:


Specialized Support Groups:


Chronic Pain Support Group Leader Training:


Building Your Toolbox: