Jackie Zimmerman

Consultant | Advocate | Writer


Hello, I’m a right-brained creative type who has made a habit out of making lemonade out of lemons. I’m a nonprofit founder, a published writer, and a designer as well as a veteran patient advocate. I’ve been a chronic illness patient since 2006, seven surgeries and two diagnoses later, I’m focused on using my experiences to make positive change. I have a vast knowledge of patients, healthcare, and nonprofit organizations. When those are partnered with my digital marketing and branding skills I have the ability to create incredibly targeted materials for specific audiences.

This site is a great place to get to know me and also to find a way for us to work together!  You can read my blogs, take a look at some of my past work and take a look at the services I offer. If you have a business or event that is need of a virtual team member, I would love to hear from you.

  • Contact
  • Speciality
    Brand Management and Maintenance
  • Diagnoses
    Multiple sclerosis & ulcerative colitis
  • Hobby
    Roller Derby


Nonprofit Founder
Girls With Guts
Founder and former Executive Director
In 2012, I founded an organization called Girls With Guts that has a mission to support and empower women living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis) and ostomies. Each year GWG hosts a live weekend-long event where they bring together women from around the nation (and even Canada!) to connect, share their stories and to learn from some of the top medical professionals in the GI and mental health fields. While I am no longer the Executive Director of Girls With Guts, founding this organization was one of my most proud accomplishments and I continue to be inspired by the clientele they serve. I planned and executed five weekend retreats in a new state every year and each time we opened the doors there were so many new faces looking at us with hope and hesitancy but by the end of the weekend, almost every face left with a smile, a support network and people they’d call sisters for life. Over the course of the 5 years I was directing our retreats, we saw over 200 women walk through our “doors”.

The Girls With Guts 2017 Five Year Celebration


Ann Arbor Roller Derby
Sponsorship Chair and President
I have been playing roller derby since 2014 and in my time as an athlete in this league I have not only proven to myself that my body could still accomplish amazing things, but I also was given the ability to learn so much more about participating in and leading groups of women.  I began my time on the Board as the Sponsorship Chair and then migrated into my role as President. Working with Ann Arbor Roller Derby was such a different experience than I had with Girls With Guts, and I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to learn how different organizations run.

That me, #442 in black, making a jammer very sad.

Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation
Camp Oasis Counselor
One of the most life-altering experiencing I’ve ever had was being a counselor at Camp Oasis, a camp designed for children living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I spent one week for four summers in Michigan and one in Wisconsin learning from children who are wiser than most adults I know.  Camp Oasis saved my life at a time I didn’t know it needed saving and it inspired me to push forward and eventually to create Girls With Guts in an effort to recreate this experience for adults.  Summer camps save lives. I didn’t have IBD as a child, but I felt the same isolation, fear and shame that the kids did. I met people for the first time who understood. I met other ostomates. I met others with j-pouches. I was 25 and will forever be indebted to the children I met. Those incredibly brave and wonderful children changed my life and gave me hope when it felt very hopeless. The counselors that I met, who are dear friends now, continue to inspire and encourage me to keep living my best version of my life. 

One of my favorite groups at Camp Oasis

Patient Advocate

After my first diagnosis in 2006, I felt very alone, much like many other chronic illness patients. I felt like there weren’t any resources for me and where I was in my life at that time, so I wanted to create one and it was that moment that my passion for advocacy was born. I’ve had the joy and pleasure of being a patient advocate and have been able to travel across the nation for this purpose. I’ve lobbied on The Hill, attended the HealtheVoices Conference for patient advocates, been on various advisory boards or focus groups and have given a handful of keynote speeches about the patient experience.

Taking my advocacy to Washington!


I am a formally trained graphic designer and have been working as a designer since 2006. Over the years the medium has changed but the principles stay the same. I always try to create timeless design that evokes emotion. I have worked as a brand manager, a digital communications specialist, social media consultant and a digital email marketing manager. I have worn many hats in the digital space but they always circle back to making designs with purpose.

Once I started blogging, I discovered that I really enjoyed creating websites. I have learned the ins and outs of using WordPress to create great sites that are easy to maintain and won’t cost an arm and a leg.


After my MS diagnosis, I wanted to create a newsletter for people in their twenties living with MS. This newsletter was called MSUnderstood and eventually evolved into a blog and was my first step into advocacy. I blogged about my life with MS and met other MS advocates along the way, forming relationships that last even today. After my second diagnosis, I created a blog called Blood, Poop & Tears, where I chronicled my IBD journey, which was a long and very tough road. This blog enabled me to share parts of myself I couldn’t share with people in my real life, and it simultaneously enabled me to create connections with other patients who were living the same reality I was. The BPT blog was the first time I was recognized for having useful information, being a resource and viewed as an expert voice in the IBD space.

I have since written for various other sites and was even published in a book which was about the art of connecting people.

I write regularly for Health Central and have been featured on Healthline.com, MultipleSclerosis.net and XOJane.

How I spent my time

Using The Adobe Creative Suite
Web Design
Social Media Consulting
Developing Email Marketing Campaigns
Dreaming About Derby
Editing My Own Website
Getting Enough Sleep
Looking For Ways For Us to Work Together


There are so many ways we can work together.

I’m always open for working with other advocates or healthcare companies to help improve the patient experience in addition to nonprofits or social enterprises who are out to change the world!

Let’s Work Together


I help women who want to grow their business elevate their online presence through marketing strategy and implementation.Yes, I said implement it. I’ll do all the heavy lifting and be your wizard behind the scenes. We’ll sit down together and you’ll tell me everything about your business: what you do, who is your dream client, what types of marketing you’re currently doing, what marketing you’re not doing but you know you need to be doing and with all this information I’ll create a plan unique to you…and then I’ll put it in motion. With my help, we’ll rocket you and your business into the ether! Find out more at QueenOfGSD.com.

Who are my dream clients?

Companies Owned by Women

I spent a lot of time trying to find my place in corporate America but when I finally decided to create my own space, that is when the magic started to happen. It is so important for women to take their space and make it their own and I want to help businesses ran by women do that. If you’re a woman who runs a business with the mission of helping other women to improve their lives, I want to work with you. 

Nonprofits and Social Enterprises
With over 12 years of freelance experience, my skill set continues to expand and I am able to offer a vast array of services to help meet the needs of your business.  My focus is on nonprofits and social enterprises because I want to support organizations that are putting good vibes into the world. As a nonprofit founder and small business owner myself, I understand time and funds are always limited, so I want to make sure you get the best bang for your buck. Let’s work together to create strategies that will make you stand out and inspire your clients to continue their support, so you can keep pursuing your mission.
Health Bloggers
I got my start in health blogging in 2006 after a surprise diagnosis and my life was forever changed. I’ve used blogging since then as a way to heal my mind and body as well as a means to advocate and educate. I know that sharing your story is your biggest focus, but getting your blog set up might be the one thing standing in your way. I offer discounts for health bloggers who are looking to set up a basic website and start changing the world.
Learn More

What do I love to do?

Online Course Development

From concept to launch, I can help you with every stage of development for your online education offerings. You write it and I make it happen by getting your tech in place, developing an email pipeline and developing all the accompanying graphics you’ll need. Help track the clients, design that landing page and more.   

Brand Management

How cohesive is your brand? I’ll take a deep dive into your brand, create some usage guidelines, and roll them into your media and content plan to keep you looking sharp across all platforms. Remember, that brand is so important with your content, graphics, timing and more….

Visual Assets & Content Plans

You need boatloads of content for online marketing and a plan for how to use it. I’ll develop a media content plan just for you and create all of the accompanying assets. You’ll need social media graphics, enewsletter images and copy, a blog schedule and webinar promos and I’ve got you covered. Oh …and swag. Everyone loves swag.

Let the Queen of GSD Help!

I’m really passionate about the work that I do and the people I work with. If you’re a woman with a business that’s on the rise, let’s talk about how I can help you get to the top.




Let’s chat about your business!

Patient Advocacy

In my young twenties I was handed two chronic illness diagnoses that shook my whole world. I was alone in my illnesses and did what any good millennial would do and took to the internet for education and support. What I found was not only a community that was endlessly supportive but I also found my voice. I started blogging in 2006 about my life with chronic illness and my path to advocacy began the first time I hit “publish”. Since then I’ve met thousands of other patients, learned their stories, amplified their voices and done my best to make the world a kinder place to those with disabilities.

I had the privilege of leading the women of Girls With Guts, a nonprofit that I founded to support women living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and each year hosting a weekend retreat to bring them together to foster connections and build support networks. Together we changed the conversation about IBD and ostomies among women and children all over the world.

From the moment I was diagnosed I found myself in the role of “connector”; I wanted to help people find the right resources to easy their journey, whether that be people, websites and platforms to share their story. After connecting with thousands of patients and managing a community of chronically ill people, I’ve learned that together we can accomplish great things when we share our stories and listen to each other.

Speeches & Presentations
  • Presentation – Everything you need to know to talk yourself into or out of starting a nonprofit – HealtheVoices | Dallas, TX – 2019
  • Keynote- Leading Perspectives on Disabilities Reception – Bloomberg | New York, NY – 2017
  • Keynote – Advances in IBD Conference – Des Moines, IA – 2016
Events Attended
  • HealtheVoices Conference 2019
  • HealtheVoices Conference 2018
  • Connected Health Conference 2018
  • IBD Day on the Hill 2017


Latest Blog Posts

Click here to see all of my blog posts.

9 Ways to Find Support for MS in Rural Communities

We live in a wonderful time where most people have access to endless amounts of information and support. However, if you live in a rural area, you may struggle to find local resources. Here is a list for you! I have compiled resources designed for people with limited access to internet, other patients, and specialists. […]

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Dear Adam: A letter from your chronically ill wife

Dear Adam, Some people write love letters to their spouses and insert them in adorable Hallmark cards around the house (“some people” = you), but I have never been one for keeping private moments private, so here we are! Adam meet Internet. Internet meet my husband, Adam.   2018 was a year full of things […]

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Reassessing Your Career When You Live With Chronic Illness

From a young age, I have measured my value by my accomplishments. Right or wrong, it’s been a lifelong pattern for me. I’m almost 34, and my chronic illness has prompted me to consider how much longer I’ll be able to work full-time. For someone like me, this is earth-shattering. It has made me question […]

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What to Expect at Your Ocrevus Infusion

Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) was approved as a new treatment for Multiple Sclerosis in March of 2017. It is an infusion that patients have every six months, aside from the first two doses (which are one-half, two weeks apart). As one of the hot new medications on the market, a lot of patients are showing interest in […]

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How to Talk to Your Friends About Your Ulcerative Colitis

Living with a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis (UC), a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can lead to a lot of embarrassment and, in turn, isolation. That’s why it’s important to keep your support network intact. But sometimes, talking to your friends can be daunting. I’ve put together some helpful tips on how to talk […]

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Dear Society: A Letter From an Ulcerative Colitis Patient

Dear Modern Society, I bet you’re tired of getting letters by now, aren’t you? It seems as though everyday there’s a new letter to the world, telling us how ill-informed we are on endless topics. This will not be that type of letter. Though I do hope we can all agree that we’ve got a […]

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Knowing When to Switch MS Medications

I get a newsletter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with information about all of the recently approved drugs. It’s exciting to see. We live in a time when we are seeing treatment options advance before our eyes — from new offerings for long-treated condition areas to the first-approved medications in others. What […]

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It’s been a while but I’m back now! In the past few years, I’ve taken a break from personal blogging and even put some of my freelance work to the side to focus on building some of my professional skills and I’d like to think that work has paid off! I’m launching this new site […]

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Dear Newly Diagnosed Patient

Dear newly diagnosed ulcerative colitis (UC) patient, Hey, nice to meet you. I’m Jackie, and I’ll be your UC spirit guide for the start of your journey. As a veteran patient myself, I have a few nuggets of information that I’d like to share with you because you’re probably feeling pretty overwhelmed right now. I […]

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Challenges and Successes of Being Employed With IBD

I graduated college in 2007, and have been working ever since. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) 10 years ago, and with ulcerative colitis eight years ago. I have spent essentially my entire professional life working hard to prove I’m a good employee. There can be plenty of challenges while trying to be employed […]

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