Meet The Team

FOFC Board Chairwoman

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Jody Yarborough

Jody is a proud graduate of the Clinic and the FOFC Chairwoman. Nothing less than "transformed" by her experience in the Clinic, Jody now volunteers with the FOFC year-round, sharing her personal experience and leadership skills to FOFC's operations, hopefully helping as many people's lives as possible. "I love it when people make the decision to change their life. To see people then have the courage to do the hard work that needs to be done to achieve success is so rewarding."

FOFC Board Chairwoman

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Fred Sprinz

Fred has been the Vice-Chairman of our Board of Directors since 2007, a Board Member since 2002, and often serves as Moderator during our classes. Fred himself graduated from the Clinic in 1996 and credits it with making an enormous difference in his life. His fear of flying had been persistent for years—Fred suffered from claustrophobia and feared having a panic attack on flights—but it wasn't until he had an opportunity to go to Switzerland that he was motivated to enroll and make a permanent change.

FOFC Board Chairwoman

Lance Shoemaker

Lance Shoemaker, J.D., is an instructor at West Valley College and a 2016 graduate of the Clinic. As someone who loves to travel overseas every year, Lance's fear of flying was a severe impairment and held him back from certain travel opportunities. After being sick and tired of being tense and nauseous on flights due to unnecessary nervousness, Lance decided to reach out to the Clinic. Since finishing the Clinic, Lance has become much more comfortable flying on planes and is grateful to the Clinic for changing his understanding and attitude about flying.

FOFC Board Chairwoman


Irfan Siddiqui

Irfan Siddiqui is an office manager for a Cardiology clinic in San Jose, California additionally our newest Board member. Irfan attended our Clinic after many Amtrak trips.  Somehow, somewhere Irfan developed a fear of flying and stopped flying since 1998. He made every excuse not to fly and took trains or just decided against going. But, after attending the Clinic in 2017 October and taking the graduation flight to Seattle he gained the confidence and was ready to fly again and encourage all the upcoming members of FOFC to fly and support them in any way he can.

Therapist and 


Paula Zimmerman, MFT

Paula is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Burlingame, California. She specializes in the treatment of anxiety in her work with the Fear of Flying Clinic. Through her 25 years providing cognitive behavioral therapy for the FOFC, she has developed an unparalleled understanding of the emotional complexities and real-life complications specific to flying phobias. She finds immense fulfillment in watching our clients succeed—often surprising themselves with their progress! Our counselor oversees the course's CBT elements, but is present for all components of the clinic. On our Graduation Flight, she is an on-board essential support, working closely with our clients to help them draw upon an arsenal of new coping tools and self-reliance. Paula's end goal is unwavering: to empower our fliers to alleviate their own anxieties, and to re-learn flight as a comfortable experience.

Product Manager

Justine Tideman, Psy.D

Justine is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in San Francisco, CA. She is a big supporter of the Fear of Flying Clinic because of it's friendly staff, use of proven therapeutic techniques, and successful outcomes. Justine specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in her private practice.  She enjoys helping people to change the way they think, so they can change the way they feel, and do the things that previously seemed impossible.  As a member of the Fear of Flying Clinic, she is particularly drawn to the opportunity to witness the transformation as Clinic attendees leave behind old fears and embrace new ways of coping that allow them to live the life they truly want - and to literally fly.

Product Manager


Rachel Laws

Rachel is a graduate of a 2012 Fear of Flying Clinic, and was so enthusiastic about her own success with FOFC that she's been involved with the Clinic since graduation. She has served as board member, moderator and now Office Administrator. Rachel describes her fear of flying as an anxiety that grew from inconvenient to outsized: "For many years I was a flier—I flew for business and for fun—but it started getting harder and harder." Then, September 11th stopped Rachel in her tracks. For the next 11 years, she didn't fly at all—with the exception of a single "traumatic" flight. In her search for help, Rachel tried everything from therapy to books to anxiety medication, and even signed-up for a ground aeronautics course. It wasn't until FOFC that she found real and resounding relief, and went "from shuddering when I looked at a plane in the sky, to thinking: this may be my least favorite thing, but I can do it!" She considers FOFC's Cognitive Behavioral element integral to her progress, and counts Pilot Mark Connell's demystifying presentations as her favorite transformational moment in the course: "Our fearful fliers have been telling themselves stories that are just not accurate, for so long. Seeing them be able to dialogue with Mark is so powerful."

Product Manager

Mark Connell

Mark is a retired commercial airline pilot for United Airlines. He has volunteered with the Clinic for more than a decade. He is one of several trusted commercial airline pilots who work with the FOFC to present clients with information on the principles of aviation, the built-in safety rigors of commercial flight, and to address any and all questions asked by course attendees. He is based in San Jose, with his wife, Andrea, who is also pilot and volunteer for the clinic. When they aren't flying, they enjoy spending time with their two grown children.

Product Manager

Karen Stahl

Karen has been a United Airlines pilot since 1995 and is currently a Captain on the Boeing 757 and 767. In 1986 she started taking flying lessons locally at Reid Hillview airport in San Jose, California and was a flight instructor and commuter/regional pilot before getting hired by United Airlines. Karen loves being involved with FOFC and especially enjoys helping fearful fliers by presenting factual information about aerodynamics, aircraft maintenance, pilots, pilot training, weather, as well as some surprising and little known facts about turbulence.  Karen has a super supportive, aviation enthusiast husband, Fred, who used to be a fearful flier. Now Fred enjoys traveling the world with Karen and their 3 kids!

Product Manager

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Jeff Berry

Jeff Berry is a First Officer with United Airlines. He started flying in high school and studied aeronautics in college at St. Louis University. His aviation career progressed through the civilian ranks, and he joined United Airlines in 1999. He’s flown the B-737, A-320 and is currently flying the B-757/767. From 2003-2006 he was furloughed from United, so he took that time to earn his law degree and worked in the healthcare industry. He started volunteering for the Fear of Flying Clinic about two years ago, and in addition to sharing his knowledge and love of flight from a pilot’s perspective, he has also traveled extensively as a passenger. He feels this gives him a good perspective of what the experience is on the other side of the cockpit door.

Product Manager

In Memoriam: Jeanne McElhatton (1928-2018)

Jeanne was the founder of the Fear of Flying Clinic, and continued to serve on the board and be involved in programs until the time of her passing. She was a pilot since 1945, a dream that took root when she was just a child—so determined to fly that she started saving babysitting money for lessons—and a dream she pursued full-throttle, refusing to be discouraged by the  assumption that women couldn't be pilots. Jeanne lived a life in flight and worked in all aspects of aviation, including 12 years as a NASA Aviation Safety Analyst. Her drive to see the Clinic continue over it's 40+ years is a direct result of the real life changes she described seeing in client success stories, year after year—the freedom they find, and exactly where they least expected to find it. As she is quoted as saying: "One client said to me: 'you have bought me a ticket to the world.'"

If you are a past graduate or a professional in the aviation industry and would like to inquire about
volunteering your time or services to the Fear of Flying Clinic, we would appreciate hearing from you.
Please click here to check out the various FOFC volunteering opportunities.

Fear of Flying Clinic • P.O. Box 2194 • Santa Clara, CA 95055
Office: 650.341.1595


We are located in the San Francisco Bay Area in California
The Fear of Flying Clinic is a 501(3)c non-profit organization. Please consider donating today!