NAHAC Board of Directors

NAHAC is governed by an elected Board of Directors. Their terms of office are from March to March of each year. The Board of Directors has nine voting members and two ex-officio non-voting members. It elects four Officers of the Association at the yearly annual meeting in March: President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

The current Board of Directors for 2017 includes:


Joanna Smith, LCSW, MPH, CHA 

Joanna Smith is the CEO of Healthcare Liaison, Inc.®, a healthcare advocacy and consulting firm based in Berkeley, California. Ms.Smith received her Master’s in Social Work from Tulane University in 1978 and her Master’s in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health from the University of California, Berkeley in 1985. She is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of California and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Ms. Smith founded the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants in 2009 and served as its President from 2009-2012.  She organized the first Annual NAHAC conference in November 2009. Her other professional memberships include the National Association of Social Workers, the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California, and The Institute for Healthcare Improvement.  Healthcare Liaison is a certified Woman Business Enterprise (WBE).

Vice President

John Samuels - CEO and founder, Better Health Advisors

For over 20 years, John has served as a senior healthcare leader in New York City’s top hospitals including Northwell Health and Mount Sinai Beth Israel. John’s responsibilities included the operation of 15 emergency departments and a rapidly expanding network of urgent care centers. He sat at the helm of a system that touched nearly 700,000 lives per year.

John’s tenure in healthcare is marked by a ceaseless effort to improve patient care. His success is demonstrated both in internal assessments and improved patient satisfaction. Never satisfied with the status quo, John has always strived for better care for his hospitals’ patients by implementing staff training programs, managing surges to emergency rooms, reducing the time it takes to see a doctor, and many more innovations. Through his two decades of work in hospitals he has developed an enormous network of medical professionals, relationships with top doctors and facilities, and strong connections with all major New York area hospitals.

In April of 2016, John launched Better Health Advisors, a firm focused on helping people navigate the healthcare system by assisting with finding top doctors, second opinions, and Emergency Room and hospital support. He earned his Masters of Public Health from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and graduated from the Academy of Healthcare Leadership Advancement at Cornell University. He is also a licensed nursing home administrator in New York and New Jersey.


Maryellen Jachimowski - MSN, RN – Private Patient Healthcare Coordinator

Maryellen JachimowskiA physician and three attorneys in Maryellen’s family have been the initial and steady influences bringing her to the field of patient advocacy. Her 35 years in nursing began with undergraduate studies at Loyola University in Chicago, followed by graduate studies at Boston University, after which Maryellen focused her clinical work on psychiatric-substance abuse nursing for five years. Since then her professional experience has included staff nursing in a medical ICU; teaching basic nursing at Massachusetts General Hospital; and psychiatric liaison nursing positions in several hospitals where she evaluated and helped create revised care plans for distressed patients and families on general hospital units. Maryellen was recruited into corporate positions for two multi-state railroads based in Chicago, establishing their drug and alcohol screening program required by federal regulation. When those companies moved out of Chicago, she transitioned into the field of risk management, consulting for three Midwestern states; and later worked as a risk manager in a large Chicago hospital. While working in risk management she became certified as a Legal Nurse Consultant - a credential which opened doors for her at both plaintiff and defense law firms and, finally, at the Illinois Judges Foundation where she administered all business functions including planning major fund-raising events. Throughout all these experiences Maryellen has served as a patient advocate for family and friends, resulting in referrals to others in need of guidance in navigating the current healthcare system.


Lee Mulert, MBA, MS, CSA - Principal/Owner HealthACR, LLC

Lee Mulert is a Professional Health Advocate with more than 25 years of extensive knowledge and experience in the health care industry from business, reimbursement, clinical and psychosocial perspectives. In addition to her MBA, she has a Master’s degree in Counseling and is a Certified Senior Advisor, demonstrating knowledge across a range of issues critical to older adults. Lee’s decision to become a private Health Advocate arose out of her desire to have a direct impact on people trying to navigate complex health crises.  Her company, HealthACR, LLC, works with clients that include patients, their families and other connected loved ones.  Her intuitive personality and problem solving skills help clients work through medical and mental health crises and identify options that meet their needs. Lee is at ease with all levels of medical and mental health professionals. Her many years of experience conducting negotiations help to facilitate communications and mediate difficult situations for her clients. Lee’s goal is to ensure that her clients understand and feel that they are empowered participants in every aspect of their own health care.

Lee earned her Bachelor’s degree at Princeton University in Sociology/Science in Human Affairs (1980) and her Master’s in Business Administration at the University of Chicago (1984). She was awarded a Master of Science degree in Counseling by National Louis University (2012). Lee is a member of the Board and the Treasurer of the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants (NAHAC) since March 2015. She is NAHAC’s representative to the Patient Advocacy Certification Board’s Task Force addressing the process of certifying Patient/Healthcare Advocates in the future.  She is also a member of and is committed to the Codes of Ethics of the American Counseling Association (ACA), the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates (APHA), the Society of Certified Senior Advisors (SCSA) and NAHAC.

Past President

Sima Kahn, M.D. - Owner of Healthcare Advocacy Partners

A board certified physician, Sima Kahn has always been a passionate advocate for her patients and founded Healthcare Advocacy Partners in 2009 to fill a critical gap in the healthcare system. After almost 25 years of Obstetrics and Gynecology practice, Sima’s breadth of clinical experience has given her a deep understanding of the complexities of the medical system and the overwhelming confusion patients often feel when faced with significant health situations. Her strong abilities to help patients navigate these situations and to help them develop personalized treatment plans are some of the many reasons Sima consistently received high patient-satisfaction ratings while in clinical practice.

L. Bradley Schwartz – Attorney | Advocate

L. Bradley SchwartzFor more than 20 years, L. Bradley Schwartz represented insurance companies. As a courtroom litigator he defended hundreds of lawsuits in jury trials across northern Illinois, His years of experience as an insurance defense attorney exposed Mr. Schwartz to many aspects our healthcare system, including unfortunate instances of medical malpractice. He has deposed thousands of healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses and hospital staff on issues ranging from personal injury recovery, insurance coverage, malpractice and medical-error prevention. His knowledge-base includes a comprehensive understanding of many types of insurance policies and he has the litigation credentials to ensure compliance.

In 2004 Mr. Schwartz presented to the local emergency room with a worsening headache. Over the course of many hours, he gradually became septic and comatose. He was hospitalized for 6 months and lost his limbs due to medical negligence. He currently uses prosthetic legs and arms. In 2012 Mr. Schwartz left his law firm and started a solo practice. He began volunteering his services to the Chicago Legal Clinic, a non-profit legal services clinic serving the indigent and in 2014 he was honored with the James D. Jacobson Award for his “outstanding efforts in making the legal system accessible to those in need.“ Brad is a member of NAHAC (National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants) and various health and insurance law committees. He is a member of the ACA (Amputee Coalition of America) and) and he maintains professional relationships with many doctors, attorneys, nurses, therapists, advocates and counselors.

Today, L. Bradley Schwartz represent clients in medical malpractice, personal Injury and insurance litigation; In addition, he utilizes his legal skills and his insurance experience to advocate for proper medical care and coordination of care in complex medical cases. Mr. Schwartz provides peer support for amputees and assists individuals with disabilities overcome barriers to access, including ADA violations.

Nuran Saydam - Executive Vice President, PinnacleCare, Private Health Advisor

As Executive Vice President of PinnacleCare Member Services, Nuran oversees the service team of professional health advisors to ensure service excellence to clients.

Previous to joining PinnacleCare, a global health advisory company, Nuran was a Senior Patient Coordinator at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s International Service, assisting patients from other countries to access care. Her attention to detail and desire to help those in need helped to create a comfortable and trusting environment for patients coming to Johns Hopkins.  Nuran's passion continues to center on helping people identify and access the best healthcare, while building strong relationships. In her current role, Nuran is a mentor for others, sharing the knowledge she's gained while advocating for patients and navigating the often confusing healthcare maze.

Nuran's satisfaction derives from successfully assisting others to resolve their health issues and achieve positive outcomes.  When not helping patients, she enjoys continued education in courses related to health care, as well as spending time with her large family.

Christine Wells, MD - Owner, Sound Patient Advocates

Christine Wells is a board certified neurologist who has been in the medical field for over 40 years. She has provided general neurology care in Olympia, Washington, and general medical care for children and adolescents in Houston, Texas.  One of her favorite parts of taking care of those with neurological disease was providing information in understandable language to her patients and their families, and reviewing treatment options so that each patient could make the best choice for his or her unique situation. For the last several years, she has acted as a research subject advocate during the review of countless medical research studies for a local institutional review board (IRB). Ensuring that research subjects have adequate information to make an informed decision about whether to participate in research has been one of her primary passions. In addition, she has acted as guardian for a developmentally disabled sibling for many years. In 2015, she acted as a patient advocate for her critically ill parent over a three month period.  The gratification that came from advocating for her parent led, in part, to the founding of her business in 2015, Sound Patient Advocates.

Christine earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Sciences in the Physician Assistant program at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in 1975.  She obtained a medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in 1986, followed by an Internal Medicine internship and Neurology residency at The New York Hospital between 1986 and 1990.  In 2016, she completed a 40 hour professional mediation training course with the Dispute Resolution Center of Thurston County, and is continuing her training in order to become a certified mediator.

Robert J. Rogers, MD, FACP, SFHM 

Dr. Rogers is in private practice in Los Angeles, California, he is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Anesthesiology. He is a clinical professor, a member of the American Medical Association, California Medical Association, and Los Angeles County Medical Association, American College of Physicians, and the Society of Hospital Medicine.

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