Welcome to EFMN’s Spotlight Series!
It’s National Epilepsy Awareness Month and the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota (EFMN) is taking this time to shine the spotlight on our Regional Outreach Managers who live out our mission every day, connecting individuals and families to real resources in our communities, ensuring no one journeys with epilepsy alone.
Did you know we have five Regional Outreach Managers working across the state? Our Outreach Managers live in the same communities they serve. Because of these amazing leaders, EFMN is able to be there for those who need us; no matter who, no matter where, no matter when.
Meet Lisa Peterson, Regional Outreach Manager in the Northeastern and Central region of Minnesota. Lisa Peterson has been with EFMN for nine years and her passion for helping others is at the center of everything she does, “It is my deepest passion to help individuals and families with epilepsy find connection and support and bring greater understanding and awareness of epilepsy. Having lived with epilepsy for 21 years before brain surgery in 2002, I know how isolating epilepsy can be. Helping others know that they are not alone is what brings me the greatest joy in the work that I do.”
When she’s not connecting with the epilepsy community, Lisa loves scrapbooking and can be found hosting crafting events for friends when she isn’t spending time with her husband and three children who are 16, 14, and 9 years old. Join us as we learn all about Lisa’s unwavering passion to help and how she centers community in everything she does.
Lisa, what is one of your favorite memories from your time with EFMN?
One of my favorite stories is about a family that I connected with a few years ago after a kindergarten student had a first-time seizure in the hallway. I met with the mom and child over the summer, and I came to her school in the Fall to do a classroom visit where the student joined me in front of her peers to help me share about epilepsy. She told her classmates, “I have epilepsy, and I’m just like everyone else.” This story still gives me goosebumps because it is a reminder of the impact of how the work of the EFMN helps empower people with epilepsy to feel comfortable and confident in who they are knowing that epilepsy doesn’t define them.
Epilepsy impacts people across the spectrum of life, and this year I invited three older adults who were all newly diagnosed to meet together at a local coffee shop. Seeing and hearing these individuals share and relate to each other’s experiences at this stage of life reminded me again of the power of knowing that you are not alone in your epilepsy diagnosis. The EFMN makes it possible for people with epilepsy to make these meaningful connections to reduce isolation and feel supported in their epilepsy journey.
What is a service we provide you wish more people knew about?
Not everyone living with epilepsy knows that the EFMN is here and can help them navigate different aspects of their epilepsy journey. We provide free information services that we want all people with epilepsy to be aware of and utilize. EFMN staff can meet with individuals on the phone, over Zoom, or in person when possible.
What is one myth you would dispel about epilepsy and seizures?
Most people think of a seizure as someone convulsing, but focal seizures are more common and often misunderstood. I wish seizure types were more widely understood, leading to accurately recognizing and responding to seizures.
What are you most proud of from 2022?
In 2022, I took the initiative to start a connect group for parents who are living with epilepsy after connecting with several adults with epilepsy that expressed similar concerns about living well with epilepsy while having children at home. This monthly virtual group is open to adults with epilepsy, their significant others, and children. It has been heartwarming to see the way these families have been able to relate to and support one another.