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 2014-2015 includes:


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

Sima Kahn PHDA 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.

Executive Director

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.

Maryellen sees her executive director position as the natural and ideal progression of all her patient care, teaching, consulting and administrative experiences, ones that benefit patients, families and advocacy practitioners alike. She also sees it as an opportunity to advance the emergence of the patient advocacy profession and its newly developed Standards and Best Practices believing that “it is a privilege to work with NAHAC’s dynamic and talented board of directors and, ultimately, with all members of NAHAC.”


Elizabeth Bailey – Author, Filmmaker, Patient Advocate

Sima Kahn PHDElizabeth Bailey is the author of The Patient’s Checklist: 10 Simple Checklists to Keep You Safe, Sane and Organized (Sterling Publishing), called a “godsend” for patients and families by The New York Times. The book provides 10 user-friendly checklists to help patients and caregivers navigate and better manage and monitor the complexities of high tech hospital care. She has an MA in Health Advocacy from Sarah Lawrence College and has worked as a Patient Representative at a major teaching hospital in New York City. She is a speaker on patient engagement in the hospital setting for both patient and provider groups and conferences.

In her first career she was the Head of Music Video Production for two major pop labels and executive-produced hundreds of music videos for a variety of musical artists. She has directed over thirty music videos and is currently at work on a documentary about palliative care.


Dianne Savastano - RN, MBA - Founder & President of Healthassist

Dianne SavastanoDianne understands healthcare from both the clinical and insurance perspective. In her 30-year career in healthcare she has worked as a registered nurse providing direct patient care, as a hospital administrator, as an insurance executive, and as a business management consultant. Dianne received her Nursing degree from Rhode Island College and her MBA from Simmons College. She is a member of The Commonwealth Institute, The Simmons School of Management Alumnae Association, The Society of Participatory Medicine and The Essex County Estate Planning Council. She has presented at many national healthcare and women related conferences, including the MA Conference for Women, appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and the PBS Second Opinion series.


Marsha Hyslop R.N, CSA, MBA - President of Liaisons for Healthcare

Marsha Hyslop R.N, CSA, MBAMarsha has over 30 years experience in the healthcare industry.Marsha's expertise includes a strong clinical and business background. After completing her undergraduate degree in nursing at The University of Texas she functioned as Head Nurse of Neurosurgery at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital. Upon completion of the Neuro Nurse Specialist program at The Methodist Hospital, she worked as a clinical nurse specialist for a group of neurosurgeons in the Houston Medical Center.In 1985, Marsha founded a durable medical equipment business with the goal of aligning herself with clinical professionals to ultimately expand into the rehabilitation field. After undergoing two back operations as a young woman, her personal and professional mission was to provide a patient centered, outcome focused, multidisciplinary center to help patients with chronic pain. Marsha founded the third CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilitates) accredited pain program in the city of Houston and eventually expanded to include six CARF accredited pain management and return to work programs as well as outpatient physical therapy, psychological, social and vocational services. She also obtained a CORF (Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility) license through Medicare to continue the business expansion into outpatient Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Marsha completed her MBA at Le Tourneau University in Houston while continuing to grow her businesses. After selling her businesses she has spent the last several years consulting in the healthcare and business industries.Marsha is continuing her mission to help patients achieve outcome focused treatment through her role in Liaisons for Healthcare LLC. Through her years of experience, compassion and commitment to excellence she is successfully bridging the gap between the patient and the healthcare team.

Lea Ann Biafora, MS, RN, OCN, CCM - President & Founder of Beacon Oncology Nurse Advocates

Lea Ann Biafora, MS, RN, OCNLea Ann has over two decades of experience in the healthcare industry.   With a unique combination of experience as a certified oncology nurse and as an accomplished leader within the health care business sector, Lea Ann has devoted her career to assist cancer patients, within acute care settings, academic medical centers and community settings. She understands the growing complexities and interconnectedness associated with cancer care thanks to her experience in oncology nursing, hospital administration and insurance administration.

Lea Ann understands the importance of patient advocacy and she recognizes the widened systemic gaps in cancer care.  After years of witnessing her family, friends, and patients struggle through the frustrating inadequacies within the healthcare system, Lea Ann founded Beacon Oncology Nurse Advocates and dedicated her life and work as an independent health advocate specializing in working with cancer patients and their caregivers.

She has created a new vision, a feet-on-the-ground patient-focused-consulting “concierge” model that helps cancer patients and their caregivers navigate the broad spectrum of cancer care services (i.e., understanding the latest diagnostic and treatment advancements, evidenced-based treatment options, questions to address and ask, billing/insurance issues) within the healthcare maze. Each engagement is tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual and services can be as little or much as desired. This model encourages each client/patient to be matched with their own oncology nurse to yield improved cancer care outcomes as well as higher satisfaction among the patient and their team of medical providers.

Beth Droppert, RN, BSN - CEO of Allied Health Advocates LLC

Beth Droppert, RN, BSNBeth founded Allied Health Advocates after a 35-year career in nursing, which began at the University of Pennsylvania hospital in direct patient care. Beth specialized in Intensive Care Nursing, working in management at the University of Washington Hospital. She co-founded a clinical research site management company, called Pacific Coast Clinical Coordinators Inc., which helped companies manage clinical trials. For the past 18 years she has been working with Biopharmaceutical companies to provide training that helps them set up and manage clinical trials. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from University of Washington and became a registered nurse in 1971. She was a founding member of the Women’s Bioethics Project and is a past board member of the Northwest Children’s Fund. She is a founding member and board member of the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants (NAHAC); is currently serving on the board of the Providence Hospice Foundation and is involved in the Puget Sound Health Alliance Consumer Engagement Committee.

Teri Dreher, RN CCRN iRNPA

Teri DreherWith over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based healthcare and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion for patient safety and drive to keep the patient at the center of the American healthcare system led her to incorporate North Shore Patient Advocates in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago. She is also an inspirational speaker, writer and private patient advocate who helps young and old alike navigate personal health challenges successfully, saving lives, financial resources and time. She specializes in complex multi system health management, positive collaboration and provision of premium health referrals.

Teri is a member of the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants, the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, and the NAHAC Best Practices/Standards committee that develops national standards for industry.

Linda Koebner – Advocate, Author, Non Profit Management

Linda KoebnerLinda Koebner advocates for patient and care providers through direct support and the written word. She is especially interested in encouraging dialogue about palliative and end of life care.

With the tools of medical narrative and animal assisted therapy, Linda supports the medically fragile. Currently she is a patient representative in a major New York teaching hospital as well as supporting seniors through life transitions in her private practice.

A graduate of the Health Advocacy Masters program at Sarah Lawrence College, Linda continues her advocacy work through action and education. She has authored numerous articles including a chapter in Our Changing Journey to the End, The Health Advocate in End of Life Care and Imagine in PULSE, Voice from the Heart of Medicine.

Prior to her current vocation, Linda was an advocate for non-human animals. In 1974, she became co-director of the Great Ape Protection Project. Funded through the National Science Foundation, Rutgers University and private support, she created a sanctuary for a dozen laboratory chimpanzees in Florida. Years later, as Executive Director of Chimp Haven, she established a consortium of organizations to focus on the creation of the CHIMP Act (Chimpanzee Health Improvement Maintenance and Protection) mandating the National Institutes of Health to retire chimpanzees no longer needed in biomedical research. Chimp Haven was named the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary System and is currently home to 200 chimpanzees.

Linda was Director of Development for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, has worked with The Wildlife Conservation Society, and developed programs and materials for major national cultural institutions. She is the author of numerous books and articles. Her work has appeared on national television programs.

Elisabeth Russell – Past President, Founder & President of Patient Navigator, LLC

Elisabeth Schuler RussellElisabeth Russell is the Founder of Patient Navigator LLC, a full-service patient advocacy firm established in 2004 to help patients and families navigate illness and the U.S. healthcare system. She is a founding member, former Vice President and President of the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants and the 2012 winner of the Ken Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass award. In 2011-12, she served as a member of the University of Wisconsin's Center for Patient Partnerships strategic planning task force.

In 2009, Elisabeth was trained as an integrative oncology "Cancer Guide" by the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C. and in 2011, upon completion of a five-day course she was certified in Mind-Body Medicine by the same organization. She has received continuing education credits for a conventional medicine course at Georgetown University. In 2007, Elisabeth was trained as a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®. She has been a hospice bereavement counselor, launched a Parent Loss Support Group in 1991 and has facilitated grief support groups over many years.

In her first career, Elisabeth worked 24 years as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State during which she earned nine prestigious Honor Awards. She holds a master's degree from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, a Bachelor's Degree from the American University in Paris, France and a French literature degree from the University of Paris, Sorbonne. She is married with two teenage children. The gift of her daughter's survival after an inoperable pediatric brainstem tumor led Elisabeth to her new calling as a patient navigator so that she can advocate, educate and solve problems for patients and families.

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