DES Action USA Staff

Suzanne B. Robotti

Executive Director

Su RobottiSuzanne Robotti founded MedShadow Foundation Inc. in 2012 after two major health issues drove her to become engaged in patient advocacy.

Robotti’s mother, like millions of other women in the 1950s and 1960s took the prescription drug DES (diethylstilbestrol), which was thought to prevent future miscarriages. The drug was widely used despite earlier publication of a study that linked DES to reproductive organ malformation and even cancer. DES was eventually taken off the market in 1971. When Robotti reached childbearing age herself, she discovered she was infertile due to DES exposure. This prompted her to join DES Action, a patient advocacy group.

In 2010, her son’s physician prescribed Ritalin for his ADD, but was unable to explain the medication’s side effects. Robotti was concerned about the long-term effects of this stimulant on her son’s developing brain.

In 2014, MedShadow Foundation acquired DES Action USA, a nonprofit advocacy organization that provides information and educational resources to individuals exposed to the harmful drug diethylstilbestrol (DES).
Email Su Robotti or use our Contact form.


Tara Haelle

Editor, VOICE

Tara Haelle is a freelance science and multimedia journalist who specializes in writing about women’s health, prenatal health, vaccines, infectious disease, pediatrics, endocrinology, immunology and other areas of medicine as well as marine biology and environmental science. She is a Forbes contributor whose work also appears in NPR, Scientific American, Politico, Medscape, and elsewhere. She cowrote The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Guide to the First Four Years and blogs about reporting on medical research for the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Tara also blogs about evidence-based parenting at Red Wine & Applesauce and writes children’s science books. She draws on her years as a high school teacher, test prep tutor and college adjunct instructor to inform the way she writes about science and to explain complex ideas in accessible prose or in public talks, such as She holds a master’s in photojournalism from the University of Texas at Austin, and her photography has appeared in various regional and national publications. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Email Tara or use our Contact form.





Pat Cody – DES Action VOICE Editor (9/14/1923 – 9/30/2010)

We will always remember Pat Cody, DES Mother and co-founder of DES Action USA. She worked as Program Director from 1978 – 2004. Her years there saw passage of Congressional funding for DES research, creation of our quarterly newsletter DES Action VOICE, and assistance in setting up DES groups in the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, France, England and Ireland. But Pat was so much more. She wasn’t the loudest voice in the room but she usually was the wisest. Pat knew how to get things done and you could never say “no” to Pat. She kept DES Action USA on a steady course and her spirit guides us still. Thank you, Pat!


Michael Freilick – Former President (9/16/1953 – 7/6/2011)

Sadly, Michael died of a heart attack – unrelated to DES.

Michael was a health educator by choice. As a DES Son who had surgery for testicular cancer at age 29 he learned that men, and especially young men, need to pay more attention to their health. He wanted to alert them, and spoke out where ever and whenever he could. His message was simple. Start doing testicular exams as a teenager. Michael used his experiences to show how early detection prolonged his life for decades. Michael, and his wife Carol, are the adoptive parents of their daughter, Michelle.

DES Action Executive Directors and dates served

Fran Fishbane (national president) at least 1979-1980

Nancy Adess (national president/executive director) 1980-1985

Eileen Hanson 1985-1986

Katherine Bella 1987-1988

Nora Cody 1990-2004

Fran Howell 2005-2015

Su Robotti 2015-present

Pat Cody (program director) 1980s – 2005

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