Speakers and Panelists 2022

Rachel Westlake – Speaker 2022

Rachel Westlake

Rachel Westlake

Rachel Westlake is an independent health advocate and organizational consultant. As a health advocate, she works with young adults who have had a cancer diagnosis, usually post-active-treatment, and young adults with chronic illness. She serves her clients with a focus on building their self-advocacy skills and helping them create healthy teams that buttress them holistically.

As an organizational consultant and facilitator of the Coalition of Health Care Advocacy Organizations (CHCAO), she works to build intentional teams for the ultimate benefit of advocates and patients. Her facilitation and design techniques focus on slow-process inquiry for enduring success, joy, curiosity, transparency, and inclusion.

Rachel will speak Saturday morning:
Interorganizational Collaboration: Better Together

Lea Christo – Speaker 2022

Lea Christo, MSW, LICSW, BCPA

Lea Christo

As a licensed independent clinical social worker, Lea has long been privileged to help patients and families successfully navigate the healthcare system and provide support along life’s difficult journeys.

As a full-time faculty member and director of the Health Advocacy Program at Assumption University, she is eager to promote the expanding professional field of patient advocacy through the work of the PACB. She believes we must advance best practices that respond to the dynamic challenges faced by healthcare consumers and serve our communities through health promotion, which is why Lea served as a member of the inter-organizational Ethics task force that updated existing guidelines to better reflect current practice.

Lea will speak Saturday morning:
Update to the Code of Ethics Statements for Advocates

Richard Niksic – Speaker 2022

Richard Niksic

Community Outreach Coordinator | Outreach for Curaleaf

Richard NiksicRick Niksic has been working in the Cannabis industry for nearly five years.

Rick began doing Outreach and Education for the Greenhouse, one of the original medical cannabis providers in Illinois. During those years Greenhouse grew from four Dispensaries in Illinois to over 1000 employees with licenses in 17 states. In 2020 Greenhouse was acquired by Curaleaf which has become one of the largest cannabis companies in the world.

Curaleaf is dedicated to being a leader in education and social responsibility in this rapidly growing industry. Rick has spoken to senior organizations, health care professionals, and veterans organizations in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland and gets a tremendous amount of satisfaction in spreading the word about this safe and effective alternative medicine.

Rick will speak Friday morning:
The Cannabis Elephant in the Room: Who’s Using and Why

Rebecca Abraham – Speaker 2022

Rebecca Abraham, RN, BSN

Rebecca Abraham

Rebecca Abraham, RN, BSN is the President and Founder of Acute on Chronic. Acute on Chronic was the first cannabis nurse clinic in the Midwest. 

Rebecca has trained and worked at some of the best academic medical centers in the country and was board certified in Critical Care Nursing. She holds a certificate in Cannabis Nursing through the American Association of Cannabis Nurses. Rebecca is currently attending Northern Illinois University and enrolled in the Doctorate of Nursing Practice program. 

Rebecca was awarded a continuing education scholarship from National Nurses United to Rutgers University’s Women’s Global Health Leadership Certificate program. In 2015, she was awarded the Illinois Nurses Association “40 under 40 Leaders in Nursing” Award and was a scholarship winner for the 2012 Nurse in Washington Lobbyist Internship.

Rebecca remains an active member of the American Cannabis Nurses Association, National Nurses United (NNU), Patient Advocacy Alliance, and Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society. She has testified and lobbied for healthcare, patient safety, nursing, and cannabis policies on the municipal, state, and federal levels.

She currently is a national speaker in the healthcare and cannabis community. She also proudly educates physicians, nurses, patients, and the cannabis industry on cannabis science, safety, potential therapeutic uses, and the growing area of cannabis nursing.  

Rebecca will speak Friday morning:
The Cannabis Elephant in the Room: Who’s Using and Why

Kerry Peck – Speaker 2022

Kerry Peck

Kerry PeckKerry R. Peck is the managing partner of the Chicago law firm Peck Ritchey, LLC.

He is the past President of the 22,000 lawyer Chicago Bar Association. His clients have included families, hospitals, banks, the State of Illinois, County of Cook, and City of Chicago. Since 2006, he has been selected by his peers in statewide surveys of Illinois attorneys as a “Super Lawyer”, an attorney to whom other attorneys would refer their family, and he was named a member of the Leading Lawyers Network.

Mr. Peck is the recipient of the 2014 Justice John Paul Stevens Award, the Chicago Bar Association’s highest honor. He was also selected by IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law as one of their 125 Alumni of Distinction.

In 2021, Mr. Peck was appointed Chair of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Elder Justice. Mr. Peck was retained by the City of Chicago Department of Aging to rewrite the State of Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect Act.

Mr. Peck is the co-author of Alzheimer’s and the Law and Don’t Let Dementia Steal Everything, both published by the American Bar Association. Mr. Peck has written articles for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Chicago Bar Association Record, Illinois State Bar Journal, and various other journals and newspapers. He teaches attorneys and healthcare professionals across the country and is a former adjunct professor at John Marshall Law School’s Elder Law Studies program where he taught a guardianship course.

• Advises individuals and banks charged with the administration of estates and trusts. Guides fiduciaries through the probate process, appearing in court as required, assisting them in the transfer of assets, and resolution of claims, as well as the implementation of the decedent’s estate plan.
• Vigorously represents all parties in will contests and contested guardianships including minors and disabled adults.
• Assists families to plan for disabled children or other family members who are, or are likely to become, disabled and require special protection. 

Kerry’s will speak Friday morning:
The Other Pandemic: Dementia (and How to Protect Vulnerable Adults)

Robin Shapiro – Panelist 2022

Robin Shapiro

Robin ShapiroPresident of HealthAdvocateX


A pioneer in the Health Advocacy Movement, Robin Shapiro has spent her 30+ year career helping people find their voice to improve their care.

She has founded award-winning healthcare engagement companies (including HPG LLC) and co-founded HealthAdvocateX, a non-profit whose mission is to help people transform from patient to active participant in their own care.

She is the bestselling author of The Secret Language of Healthcare: How to Ask for the Care You Deserve, published in 2019.

Robin will participate in the panel discussion Friday morning.

Brad Schwartz – Panelist 2022

Brad Schwartz

Founder and President of Greater National Advocates

Brad Schwartz

L. Bradley Schwartz is the president and founder of Greater National Advocates, a nonprofit public awareness foundation and directory for the profession of Independent Patient Advocacy. 

He is an attorney who lost his limbs after communication breakdowns in a hospital ER resulted in a failure to recognize the clear warning signs of sepsis.

It became Brad’s personal mission to make sure every patient’s voice is heard, because in his case, it wasn’t. His personal medical malpractice survival story led to the formation of Greater National Advocates.

GNANOW.ORG is a leading national online directory of Independent Patient Advocates. The goal of GNA is to quickly connect patients and families with Independent Patient Advocates and to promote the profession as a necessary and welcome component of modern patient care. 

Brad will participate in the panel discussion Friday morning.

Debra Feldman – Panelist 2022

Debra Feldman

President, The Aging Life Care Association

Debra Feldman

Debra Feldman is an Aging Life Care® Manager with over 30 years of experience working with older adults and their families to navigate the challenges of aging by helping them adjust, cope and problem-solve long-term care planning issues. 

She established her Aging Life Care Management Company, Debra D. Feldman & Associates, Ltd. in 1991. Debra is a licensed clinical social worker. She received her Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan and her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from Washington University in St. Louis.

She is currently serving as the President of the Aging Life Care Association and has been on the National Board since 2018.

Debra will participate in the panel discussion Friday morning.

Beth Droppert – Speaker 2022

Beth DroppertBeth Droppert

Beth co-founded and is the Vice Chair of HealthAdvocateX, previously the Washington State Health Advocacy Association (WASHAA) which is a national nonprofit organization made up of healthcare professionals, patients, community members, and many others, who are dedicated to promoting health advocacy, empowering patients and improving healthcare outcomes.

HealthAdvocateX aims to help patients and their families or caregivers struggling to understand and access the health care system.

Beth co-founded Allied Health Advocates in 2008, the first independent health advocacy company in Washington state. 

She is a founding member and advisory board member of the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants (NAHAC).  She has been involved in the process of credentialing patient advocates and enjoys educating and mentoring advocates.  

Beth will speak Saturday morning:
Update to the Code of Ethics Statements for Advocates

Anne Llewellyn – Speaker 2022

Anne Llewellyn

Anne LlewellynAs an ICOPA organizer, Anne will be found on the podium throughout the conference.

Anne Llewellyn is a registered nurse with over forty-three years of experience in critical care, risk management, case management, patient advocacy, healthcare publications and training and development.   

Anne has been a leader in case management and was the President of the Case Management Society of America 2003-4. She was awarded their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 for her service to the case management industry. She also served on the Patient Advocate Certification Board and was one of the leaders to develop and launch the first National Certification in Patient Advocacy through the Patient Advocate Certification Board. She serves as a Board of Director for the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy and is the education chair for the organization. 

Anne is also a patient, a Brain Cancer Survivor, who uses her expertise and knowledge to educate people how to be their best advocate. She also writes to the healthcare team to remind them about the importance of providing patient and family centered care. Today, Anne works as a Nurse Advocate to assist people on their healthcare journeys. 

Anne speaks and writes frequently on topics for consumers, caregivers, and all members of the healthcare team so together we can improve each person’s healthcare experience. Follow her in her weekly Blog, Nurses Advocate where she shares stories and events that will help ALL be better prepared when they enter the healthcare system. https://nursesadvocates.com 

 

ICOPA