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 eight members and elects four Offices of the Association at the yearly annual meeting in March: President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer.
The current Board of Directors for 2012-2013 includes:
Elisabeth Russell – Founder and President, Patient Navigator, LLC
Elisabeth 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 current 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.
Jason McNichol Jason McNichol, PhD - Founder and President of Health Advocacy Solutions
Jason McNichol is a medical sociologist and consumer advocate with over 15 years' experience helping diverse patients and families make fully informed healthcare decisions. He is founder and president of Health Advocacy Solutions, a Portland-based consumer support and education nonprofit that has assisted over 400 clients in the Pacific Northwest and nationwide since 2006. Currently, Jason also serves as the interim executive director of the Oregon Health Action Campaign-- the state's oldest grassroots organization dedicated to achieving quality, affordable healthcare for all. Jason is active on several state and national committees representing consumers in healthcare reform, and speaks regularly on trends in patient advocacy for both public and professional audiences. Jason holds his MA and PhD degrees from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University.
Beth van Bladel, CPA - Director, Capital Region Patient Advocacy
Beth Van Bladel, CPA is the Founder and Director of Capital Region Patient Advocacy, a grassroots endeavor dedicated to teaching healthcare advocacy and navigation skills to New York’s Capital Region community. She develops healthcare navigation tools, teaches workshops and facilitates caregiver support groups. Tools and helpful links can be found at www.capitalregionpatientadvocacy.com.
Ms. van Bladel has developed an extensive resource network of healthcare experts and actively collaborates with professional and community organizations. She has conducted community educational sessions on behalf of the Albany Medical Center, Alzheimer’s Association, Capital District Scleroderma Foundation, Capital Region Caregiver Coalition, Colonie Senior Services, Community Caregivers, Foundation of New York State Nurses, National Kidney Foundation and the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants (NAHAC). Ms. van Bladel also prepared outreach materials and conducted community educational sessions and provider outreach visits in support of New York’s IPRO Care Transitions Initiative. She has had recurring guest appearances on WMHT’s “Health Link with Benita Zahn” and WGY “Life Matters”. She currently serves as Secretary on the NAHAC Board of Directors and is a former Board Member of Community Caregivers, Inc. Ms. van Bladel is also employed as a Corporate Controller for EYP Architecture & Engineering, P.C. She is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the State of New York and earned a BS in Accounting from the University at Albany. She is an active member of the New York State Society of CPA’s, is a Northeast Chapter Past-President and previously served on the State Society Board of Directors.
en, lives in Oakland California with her husband. Her hobbies include hiking, bicycling and teaching yoga.
Dianne Savastano - Founder and President of Healthassist
Dianne 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 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.
Additional Board Members
Sima Kahn, M.D.
Dr. Sima Kahn is a board certified physician who has practiced Obstetrics and Gynecology for more than 25 years during which time she has worked with a diversity of patients and a wide range of medical issues. Before founding Healthcare Advocacy Partners, Sima spent 17 years practicing clinical medicine at one of the nation's largest staff model HMOs and several years prior to that in a small private practice. Previously, she was a clinical assistant professor at a UCLA teaching hospital. Sima graduated from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. She completed her residency in Ob/Gyn at the University of Iowa Medical Center.
Vicki Breitbart, EdD, LCSW
An accomplished public-health leader, she has dedicated her career, spanning 40 years, to improving health services for underserved New Yorkers. As a researcher and program manager, she has led efforts to assure that reproductive health services and practices are solidly evidenced-based and to demonstrate an understanding of the need for collaboration between disciplines and sectors. Many of the programs, partnerships, and policies she helped initiate serve as models for other urban centers across the country. She recently served as Vice President of the Department of Planning, Research, and Evaluation that she created at Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) and served as Senior Vice President and Director of the Clinician Training Initiative at PPNYC, as well. She has held positions as Project Director at the Columbia School of Public Health for a national study funded by the Ford Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to review and formulate policies regarding infant mortality, HIV prevention, and substance use among pregnant women. She also served as Deputy Director of the Office of Women’s Health at the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation, where she monitored all the city hospital programs for substance-using women and pregnant adolescents. Prior to that, she developed the Women’s Healthline, a public information system for the New York City Department of Health and then served as Program Management Officer at the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health at the New York City Department of Health, where she managed the 300-staff initiative to reduce infant mortality in the city. Working with community and government partners, her accomplishments include founding the first Bereavement Program in New York City for families experiencing perinatal loss, establishing the Brooklyn Perinatal Network, and developing the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Healthy Teen Initiative. In recognition of her work and leadership abilities, she was elected president of the Public Health Association of New York City in 2010 and has served as chair of the board of the National Abortion Federation. Breitbart has taught at CUNY School of Public Health, Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and New York University. Her publications include books on education and articles on reproductive health and intimate partner violence for peer-reviewed journals.
Michelle Gilmore, RN, MSN, NP - President & CEO of Heartwood Health
A graduate of University of California San Francisco School of Nursing, for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees, Michelle has more than 30 years experience in the health care industry. She has held both clinical practice and management positions with national and international companies. Her experience in chronic illness geriatrics, health care administration, and business management led her to create Heartwood Health in 2004. Michelle has successfully built a team who is equally qualified and passionate about assisting patients and their families navigate the health care system. Her passion is to support and educate healthcare consumers about their medical options, assuring that they receive the best possible care. Michelle is a member of the American Geriatrics Society, a Board Member of the Hemophilia Council of California and a national speaker of the National Transitions of Care Coalition. She has two grown children, lives in Oakland California with her husband. Her hobbies include hiking, bicycling and teaching yoga.
Joanna Smith LCSW, MPH, Founder and Past President of NAHAC, CEO of Healthcare Liaison, Inc.
Joanna Smith LCSW, MPH is the CEO of Healthcare Liaison, Inc. and is the founder and first president of NAHAC. She has 25 years experience in the fields of health, public health and mental health and has worked as a medical social worker and hospital discharge planner in healthcare systems throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Previous experience also includes work in home health and community-based agencies. She has a thorough knowledge of both public and private sector healthcare systems and a special interest in cross-cultural issues in healthcare. Joanna received her masters in social work from Tulane University in 1978 and her Masters in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health from the University of CA, Berkeley in 1985. She is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of California. She also holds a credential as a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Joanna is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, the California Society for Clinical Social Work, the Society for Social Work Leaders in Healthcare, the Northern California Human Resources Association and The Hastings Center.