The leadership of the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation consists of Board Members and Medical Advisors who are committed to serving and changing the future for those affected by CHDs.

Jason Smith
Jason SmithCo-founder | Board Member
Jason is Emerson Rose’s Dad and the co-founder of the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation. He is a native of South Carolina and graduated from Southern Wesleyan University with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration. Jason lives with his wife, Susan, in Clemson and is self employed working in real estate. Jason loves spending time with his family and serves as an elder at Crosspoint Church. Jason’s ultimate goal in serving through the ERHF is to make an eternal impact by displaying the hope exclusive to Jesus Christ to families encountering the most difficult days of their lives.
Susan Smith
Susan SmithCo-founder | Board Member
Susan is Emerson Rose’s Mom and the co-founder of the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation. She is a native of South Carolina and attended Clemson University where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and a Master’s degree in Counselor Education. Susan lives in Clemson with her husband Jason, and enjoys spending her days at home with their two children, Rowan and Campbell Jane. Susan is very passionate about serving families who are affected by congenital heart disease and sharing with them the love of Christ.
Dr. Eric Graham
Dr. Eric GrahamMedical Advisor
Dr. Eric Graham is the chief of pediatric cardiology at the Medical University of South Carolina. He graduated with his medical degree from the University of Illinois in 1999 and completed his pediatric residency and pediatric cardiology fellowship training at MUSC. He joined the MUSC staff in 2005 and was promoted to professor with tenure in 2017. Dr. Graham has expertise in pediatric cardiac critical care and his research interests include defining and modulating the inflammatory response to cardiopulmonary bypass, improving outcomes for children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and related single ventricle physiology, and improving the perioperative management of congenital heart disease.
Dr. David Steflik
Dr. David SteflikMedical Advisor
 Dr. David Steflik is a pediatric cardiologist located in Murrells Inlet, SC and spends time working at the Medical University of South Carolina as well. He graduated from the Medical College of Georgia, did his residency at Washington University in St. Louis, and completed a pediatric cardiology fellowship at MUSC. His clinical interests include the longitudinal care of newborns, infants, children and adolescents with congenital heart disease.
Liz Lucey
Liz LuceyBoard Member
Liz is a Registered Nurse at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in the Pediatric Cardiology ICU (PCICU). She is a native of Stony Brook, Long Island, New York but has lived in Charleston since 2000, when she met her best friend, and now husband, Lorcan Lucey. Liz was one of Emerson’s nurses and took care of her many times in the PCICU. Liz is very passionate about helping children and families affected by congenital heart defects.
Dr. Sinai Choi Zyblewski
Dr. Sinai Choi ZyblewskiMedical Advisor
Dr. Sinai Choi Zyblewski is the director of fetal cardiology and the pediatric cardiology fellowship training program at the Medical University of South Carolina. After completing medical school as well as advanced training at MUSC, she joined the MUSC faculty in 2009 as a pediatric cardiac intensivist and fetal cardiologist. As a member of the MUSC faculty, she has led the single ventricle interstage monitoring program and the cardiac neurodevelopmental program. Dr. Zyblewski’s research interests include feeding, growth, and nuerodevelopmental outcomes in the single ventricle population.
Brian Bentley
Brian BentleyBoard Member

Brian is originally from Powder Springs, GA. He moved to the Spartanburg, SC area in 2004 with his wife, Tina. They now have two children, Zachary and Anna Grace. Anna Grace was born with Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome. As the father of a child born with a heart defect, Brian appreciates the work and impact of ERHF. He is grateful to be part of a team which strives to raise awareness about not only the physical heart but our spiritual hearts as well. Brian is an elder at Hope Point Church. He has owned and operated a realty company since 2004, called Bentley Ventures, LLC. The company provides multiple services throughout South Carolina, specializing in residential real estate appraisals in the Upstate area. When Brian is not leading his team at Bentley Ventures, he can normally be found with his family, at the gym training, or running/mountain biking on the trails around the Upstate SC areas.

Carrie Smetana
Carrie SmetanaBoard Member

Carrie Smetana is a native of Clemson, S.C. She was born with a congenital heart defect, bicuspid aortic valve stenosis. In 2013 she had open heart surgery to replace her aortic valve. She is passionate about bringing members of the CHD community together and raising awareness about congenital heart defects and the need for ongoing care for CHD patients as children transition from childhood to adulthood. She is married and has 2 children.

Katherine Gutierrez
Katherine GutierrezDirector of Development

Katherine has been involved with the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation since 2013, serving on the Board of Directors for four years and leading the Family Advisory Board for several years. Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Katherine is an attorney. She graduated from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in 2005 and St. Mary’s University in 2001. She has previously worked for large law firms in Dallas, Texas and Greenville, South Carolina. Katherine lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband, Alex, and their three children.
Katherine met Jason and Susan Smith during a March of Dimes’ board meeting. She was so inspired by their story and the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation that she was determined to get involved. Katherine said, “The Emerson Rose Heart Foundation has blessed my life in so many ways. I have the opportunity to positively impact people in our community and spread awareness about the number one birth defect in the world, while sharing the love of Christ.”

Brenda Rabon
Brenda RabonBoard Member
Brenda Rabon is a native of South Carolina and lives in Pendleton. She graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor’s degree in English and The University of Tennessee with a Master’s degree in Human Performance and Sport Studies. Brenda is passionate about using her experience to serve the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation in hopes of helping those who are affected by CHD.
Kirby Player
Kirby PlayerBoard Member
Kirby Player is a farm boy from Bishopville, SC and received a degree in Agricultural Education in 1983 from Clemson University during which time he had the honor of serving as Student Body President of Clemson University in 1982/83. Kirby later completed a Master’s degree in PRTM and PhD in Therapeutic Recreation both from Clemson University. Kirby is the Director of the Palmetto LEAF (Leadership for the Environment, Agriculture & Forestry) Initiative. Kirby serves the ERHF with a desire to see the lives and hearts of young children and their families ministered to medically and with the Gospel.