Meet Our ICOPA 2019 Speakers and Panelists

Find all speakers and panelists at this year’s ICOPA listed alphabetically below.

Jackie Boyd

Jacqueline Boyd

Jacqueline Boyd brings passion and expertise to the field of aging and LGBTQ+ advocacy. A dynamic speaker, and entrepreneur, Jacqueline is the owner of The Care Plan. The Care Plan is the country’s first LGBTQ+ centered care management company. The Care Plan’s innovative model of client directed care provides advocacy, care navigation and advance planning for successful aging experiences. Jacqueline is a sought after speaker and author, and recently contributed a chapter to Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Health and Aging, available from Springer Publishing and authored the guide Create Your Care Plan: An LGBT Person’s Guide To Preparing For Medical Procedures.

Hear Jackie speak Friday morning.

Karen Curtiss

Karen Curtiss

When it comes to hospital stays, the rule of thumb is “take someone with you.” But think about it…How are any of us trained to safeguard our loved ones’ care? Karen Curtiss came to this realization the hard way and her family paid the price.

After a successful lung transplant at a top hospital, her father took a fall that went untreated for 57 hours, resulting in pneumonia, blood clots, MRSA, and C diff. He died 7 months later, never having left the hospital.

Just weeks later, sepsis nearly claimed her husband’s life following “routine surgery.” Then… their young son would have had completely unnecessary surgery if Karen hadn’t questioned an ER doctor’s diagnosis — and hired an ambulance to take her child to another hospital for a second opinion. With that, Karen resolved to be a vocal activist for safe care for all patients, everywhere.

Hear Karen speak Saturday morning.

Teri Dreher

Teri Dreher

Teri, an RN with over 30 years of clinical experience, is a pioneer in the emerging field of professional patient advocacy, as well a best selling author, mentor and public speaker. With a lifelong passion to keep the patient at the center of the nursing care model, Teri established NShore Patient Advocates in 2011, one of the first professional patient advocate organizations in Chicagoland, and now the largest RN only private advocacy company. With critical care, cardiovascular nurse clinician and home-based nursing experience, Teri has collaborated with physicians and ancillary health care team members at some of the country’s premier hospitals. She believes in the benefits of improved communication between patients and providers and is committed to helping patients navigate complex medical crises, thus reducing medical error and improving patient satisfaction. Her book, Patient Advocacy Matters, is now in it’s second printing.

Hear Teri speak throughout the conference.

Beth Droppert

Beth Droppert

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

Hear Beth speak on the Friday morning panel.

Carrie Espinosa

Carrie Espinosa

Carrie Espinosa is the Owner and Principal Advisor at Horizon Benefit Services. She has deep expertise in the intricacies of health insurance, ranging from employer sponsored plans, to ACA (Affordable Care Act) plans, to Medicare. She has more than fifteen years of experience and specializes in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Carrie is certified in Medicare Insurance and Long Term Care Insurance and has authored articles for the Daily Herald. She speaks on the topic of Medicare Insurance at local venues including Northshore University Health System and Oak Street Health; and teaches the Medicare & Medicaid portion of the Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation for the Association of Realtors.

Carrie is the Legislative Chair for the Chicago Northeastern Association of Health Underwriters. She has served on the Boards of several local organizations, including the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, the Gurnee (IL) Chamber of Commerce, and Athena Powerlink.

Hear Carrie speak Saturday morning.

Gary Gilles

Gary Gilles

Gary is a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) with a private practice in Palatine and has been working with families, couples and individuals for over 30 years. In his clinical practice he specializes in working with chronic disease, stress management and anxiety disorders. In addition to his practice he is an adjunct instructor at Trinity International University and Judson University and has extensive curriculum development experience. He regularly creates and teaches continuing education seminars for social service professionals both locally and nationally on a variety of therapeutic and mental health topics. For five years he was the managing editor of a regional publication entitled Chicago Caregiver magazine.

Hear Gary speak Friday afternoon.

Anne Llewellyn

Anne Llewellyn

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

Anne has been a leader in the area of 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.

In 2008, when working for Dorland Health, Anne and her team established the Professional Patient Advocate Institute. She is a founding member of the Patient Advocate Certification Board. She is currently the treasurer and also the Chair of the Certification Exam Committee.

Anne’s experience as a Brain tumor survivor led her to write a Blog, Nurses Advocates. The Blog allows Anne to share her personal experience as a patient and to assist consumers, caregivers and all members of the healthcare team in improving the delivery of care.

Hear Anne speak throughout the conference.

Amy Matson

Amy Matson

Amy has 15 years of experience working in health care on the business side. She is the glue that holds the Black Hills Advocate together and provides team members with a route plan every week to serve clients in the most efficient and prioritized manner possible. Her areas of expertise are insurance billing, durable medical equipment, office management and advocacy. Prior to becoming an owner in Black Hills Advocate, Amy was a corporate trainer at a large medical facility with 150 locations, clinics and hospitals, throughout the Midwest. Amy and Jenny quickly grew Black Hills Advocate into the successful business it is today.

Hear Amy speak Saturday.

Michael Millenson

Michael L. Millenson has been described by National Public Radio as being “in the vanguard of the movement” to measure and improve American medicine. A three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, he left journalism to write a critically acclaimed 1997 book, Demanding Medical Excellence: Doctors and Accountability in the Information Age. He has continued to work to provoke change and promote better, safer and more patient-centered care as president of Health Quality Advisors LLC. Michael is also an adjunct associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and he has written for publications ranging from the BMJ and Health Affairs to the Washington Post and USA Today. He is a current board member of Project Patient Care, a former board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine and serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Medical Quality.

Hear Michael speak Thursday.

Pete Miska

Pete Miska

Pete Miska is the Owner/Administrator of Phoenix Home Care, L.L.C. Pete is a thirty-year veteran in the post acute care continuum. This includes the Home Health, Medical, Infusion and Hospice industry. He currently is the president of Phoenix Home Care, L.L.C. Phoenix Home Care is a IDPH deficiency free, Joint Commission Accredited, 5 star CMS rated Medicare Certified Home Health Agency that has been servicing Illinois families for over 20 years.

Hear Pete speak Friday morning.

Christine Morley

Colleen Morley

Colleen Morley DNP, RN, CMCN ACM-RN is the Director of Case Management Services for West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, IL and Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park, IL for Pipeline Health. Her career has included leadership roles in Managed Care, Community Health and Acute Care Facilities.

She is active with CMSA Chicago; currently serving as President, CMSA National Board of Directors and Director on the ANA-IL Board of Directors. She has been named to several national level committees for CMSA , ACMA and AAMCN. She was named Nurse Leader of the Year in 2010 by the American Association of Managed Care Nurses. Colleen has been a frequent contributor to AAMCN’s Nurses’ Notes, American Nurse Today and CMSA Today.

She has presented posters at CMSA National and teaching sessions at national level care coordination events and has her own healthcare education consulting firm, Altra Healthcare Consulting.

Hear Colleen speak on the Friday morning panel.

Chris North

Chris North

Dr. North currently serves as President of PACB, and is Professor Health Communication and Public Health at Ohio Northern University. She has taught in the area of health communication and cross-cultural communication as well as the ethics of international aid. Much of her work has involved work in public health settings in developing communities in international settings. Chris has served as a member of the Patient Advocate Certification Board since 2016 and as President since 2018.

Hear Chris speak on the Friday morning panel.

Kim Pedersen

Kim is the Director of Patient Relations at the Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital (Northwestern Medicine) in Wheaton, Illinois.

She has 25 plus years of experience in healthcare, including operational oversight of multiple areas, patient experience strategic planning and education and training, and working with patients and families to resolve issues and concerns. Kim is an advisory board member of The Beryl Institute and an executive team leader of the Patient Advocacy Community. Kim has presented multiple conference sessions, conducted a research project on the field of patient advocacy, authored a white paper and co-authored another white paper focused on patient advocacy.

Kim states that she is really excited about the future because even though the medical arena is ever changing, she feels the “wave” building that will touch all care providers and change the culture of how we interact and advocate for those in need.

Hear Kim speak on the Friday morning panel.

Dr. William Rhoades

Dr. William Rhoades, DO, FACP

Dr. Bill Rhoades is a geriatrician in practice at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital since 1995. He completed medical school at Des Moines University, an internship at Chicago Osteopathic Hospital, a residency at Lutheran General Hospital, and a fellowship in Geriatrics at Duke University. Dr. Rhoades is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, and Palliative Care and Hospice. Since 2009, he has been the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Advocate Lutheran General and Vice-Chair of Clinical Science and Director of Medicine at Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University since 2011. Dr. Rhoades practice is limited to patients over 65 years of age and he has special expertise in dementia, gait disorders, and end of life care. Dr. Rhoades comes from an estrogen rich environment a wife and three girls, twins age 27 and a 21 year old.

Hear Dr. Rhoades speak Friday afternoon.

Dianne Savastano

Dianne Savastano

Dianne Savastano is Founder and Principal of Healthassist, a Massachusetts-based company founded in 2004 that specializes in helping clients navigate the complexities of the healthcare system.

She is a founding member of the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy (NAHAC) and served as Treasurer on the Board of Directors for 5 years. She currently serves as a member of NAHAC’s Advisory Board. She is a founding member of Massachusetts Healthcare Advocates (MAHCA), the first regional group in NAHAC. She is a Board-Certified Patient Advocate.

Beginning as a registered nurse providing direct patient care, Dianne’s 30-year career includes roles as a hospital, insurance and employee benefits executive and as a management consultant. Her experience has taught her to ensure that the healthcare consumer is at the center of the healthcare equation.

Dianne received her BS in Nursing from Rhode Island College and her MBA from Simmons University in Boston.

Hear Dianne speak on the Friday morning panel.

Jenny Schmidt

Jenny Schmidt

Jenny Schmidt has over 25 years of experience working in the health care field. She has a passion for serving vulnerable people in our community. She attended Elmhurst College, graduating with honors with BA in Professional Communication.

Following graduation, Jenny worked in business development for large companies in Chicago including during its startup and IPO as well as piloting a initiative and successfully creating a new revenue stream for Her business background gives her a unique perspective to address financial, insurance and quality of life questions.

Following her return to Rapid City in 2006, Jenny worked for a decade connecting seniors with housing. Seeing the need for someone to help people in the community quarterback care and ensure quality of life with an unbiased opinion and fierce allegiance only to the client, Jenny launched Black Hills Advocate in June of 2015 with a passionate focus on connecting people with the services that were right for them while ensuring delivery of the best care available.

Hear Jenny speak Friday and Saturday.

Brad Schwartz

Brad Schwartz

A staunch advocate for patient safety and the prevention of medical error, L. Bradley Schwartz is the founder and president of Greater National Advocates (GNA), a national public service organization dedicated to promoting independent Patient Advocacy to the public. He is a practicing attorney and a survivor of medical error. Mr. Schwartz served on the Boards of Directors of The National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants (NAHAC) and The Patient Advocacy Credentialing Board (PACB). He’s actively involved in the national Patient Safety Movement and he serves as a mentor and counselor to amputees, sepsis victims and malpractice survivors.

Hear Brad speak on the Friday morning panel.

Trisha Torrey

Trisha Torrey

Trisha Torrey is known as Every Patient’s Advocate. She is the founder and director of The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates,,, and a former board member of the Patient Advocate Certification Board.

She has written six books. The You Bet Your Life! series, help patients and caregivers understand how to navigate the healthcare system. The four books of the Health Advocate Career Series support the business needs of private, independent patient advocates.

Trisha keeps an eye on the good, the bad, and the ugly of a healthcare system that was developed to do good, but which too often serves only itself. As a passionate supporter of patients’ rights, she believes that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Her work in empowerment and advocacy is a direct result of her own run-in with the healthcare system in 2004, and that experience drives her work still today.

Hear Trisha speak throughout the conference.