Speakers

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Information about additional speakers to be posted.

Opening Speaker
Governor Ralph Northam

Before he was inaugurated as the 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Ralph Northam served as an Army doctor, pediatric neurologist, business owner, state Senator and Lieutenant Governor.

A native of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Governor Northam was educated at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), where he graduated with distinction. After graduation, Governor Northam was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. He served eight years of active duty and rose to the rank of major. He attended Eastern Virginia Medical School and then traveled to San Antonio for a pediatric residency, where he met his wife Pamela, a pediatric occupational therapist at the same hospital. Governor Northam did his residencies at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and served as chief neurological resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital. As an Army doctor, he served in Germany, treating soldiers wounded in Operation Desert Storm.

When Governor Northam and Pamela returned home, they chose to build their life in Hampton Roads. He began practicing pediatric neurology at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk. He established Children’s Specialty Group, his current medical practice, to provide expert pediatric care for patients. Governor Northam also served as assistant professor of neurology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, where he taught medicine and ethics.

Governor Northam volunteered as medical director for the Edmarc Hospice for Children in Portsmouth, where he spent 18 years caring for terminally ill children. Governor Northam approaches public service with the same passion he brought to his military and medical service. He is committed to working with leaders from both parties to build a Virginia that works better for every family, no matter who they are or where they live. Governor Northam is the first native of the Eastern Shore to serve as Governor since Governor Henry A. Wise took office 1856. He is also the first VMI Keydet to serve as Governor since Governor Westmoreland Davis took office in 1918.

Governor Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam have two adult children: Wes, a neurosurgical resident in Chapel Hill, and Aubrey, a web developer in Richmond.

Keynote Speaker
David E. Brown, D.C.
Department of Health Professions Director 

David E. Brown, D.C. was appointed in 2014 by Governor Terry McAuliffe and reappointed in 2018 by Governor Ralph Northam as the Director of the Virginia Department of Health Professions.

Dr. Brown is a former member of the Virginia Board of Medicine. He served as Mayor of the City of Charlottesville between 2004 and 2008, continuing on city council until 2012. From 2012 until 2014 he was the special assistant to David Toscano, Democratic Leader of the Virginia House of Delegates. Dr. Brown began his healthcare career in 1982 when he established his chiropractic office in Charlottesville.

 A former president of the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards, Dr. Brown was also a member of the Virginia High School League Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Additionally, from 2010 until 2012 Dr. Brown was Chief Operating Officer for Edison2, a Lynchburg-based technology start-up that won the prestigious 2010 Automotive XPRIZE for a 100 mpg car.

A native of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Dr. Brown graduated from the University of Virginia in 1977, and received his chiropractic degree from Western States Chiropractic College, in Portland, Oregon, in 1981.

Jean Bennett, PhD, MSM, MSN, RN
Regional Administrator, Region III
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Dr. Jean Bennett has served since 2011 as the SAMHSA Regional Administrator in Philadelphia. Her federal Region III territory includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. As the Regional Administrator for SAMHSA, Dr. Bennett is focused on evidence based system change, connecting stakeholders’ behavioral health needs with resources, and facilitating bi-directional messaging between the region and The Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use at SAMHSA headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. Dr. Bennett carries out SAMHSA’s mission to reduce the impact of substance use and mental health disorders on America's communities by identifying emerging policy issues and opportunities for collaboration, and facilitating the formation of partnerships and implementation of solutions. 

During her tenure in Region III, through Prevention, Treatment and Recovery-focused convenings, progress has been made by medical, dental and social work education and training leaders on addiction education, ongoing dialogue has occurred regarding the challenges of opioid overdose and suicide prevention via the Region III Opioid Task Force and Overdose Prevention Collaborative, and as a result, state teams have improved their ability to expand access to naloxone, harm reduction services and medication assisted treatment.  Conducting behavioral health workforce development analyses, encouraging primary and behavioral health integration, collaborating with federal colleagues, partnering with foundations, and coordinating with national organizations have each contributed to the progress made by Region III stakeholders. 

Prior to joining SAMHSA, Dr. Bennett served in three other federal roles – in Washington DC as the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Administration, in Dallas (Region VI) in a Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response role for Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico, and in San Francisco for the Veterans Integrated Service Network. During her military career from which she retired as a Navy Nurse Corps Captain, Dr. Bennett's assignments included clinical roles in mental health, pediatrics, ICU, and medical-surgical nursing, and administrative leadership assignments overseeing national recruiting scholarship and commissioning programs, tri-service incentive policy development to recruit and retain medical professionals, and as the Executive Officer for the Atlantic Fleet Department of Defense-wide transition assistance program. 

Dr. Bennett recently completed a 2017 Engaging Community Partners to Decrease Addiction regional project funded by a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Award. While at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Bennett studied women participating in a methadone program throughout their pregnancy and postpartum with their newborns. Her survey research experience includes developing and administering organizational satisfaction assessment surveys, conducting coastal hospital assessments in Louisiana and Texas post-Katrina, and a doctoral dissertation entitled E-mail Communication in Generation Y employees: A quantitative study of attitudes, perspectives and perceptions.  Her academic degrees include a PhD in Organization and Management, a MS in Management and both a BS and MS in Nursing. 

Amanda Wilkins, CNM
Certified Nurse Midwife, Centra Medical Group

Amanda Wilkins is a certified nurse midwife at CMG Women’s Center in Forest, VA. She does deliveries at Virginia Baptist Hospital in Lynchburg, VA. Amanda has been a nurse for 7 years and prior to being a midwife she worked on the antepartal unit at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC and also labor and delivery at Duke University Hospital. She received her Masters in Nursing at East Carolina University. She is an active member with ACNM. Amanda lives in Lynchburg with her husband Marshall and their wiener dog Dominic.

Georgia Rosenblatt, MS, RN, PMHCNS-BC
Nurse Clinician, VCU Substance Abuse Services, VCU Health

Gigi Rosenblatt is a Master’s Prepared Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist with 30 years of experience in psychiatric-mental health nursing with many of those years spent focusing more specifically on substance abuse. She helped create a crisis intervention detox unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1993 before going on to be the Nurse Manager at Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital for an inpatient substance abuse rehab unit, an outpatient methadone clinic, and 2 outpatient drug research units. Before leaving Hopkins in 2014 to come to VCU, she worked as Clinical Case Manager and Asst. Program Director for 6 years for the same crisis intervention detox unit she helped create in the nineties. Gigi is currently the Nurse Clinician for Substance Abuse Services at VCU Health providing education house-wide to providers and staff. She works both with the inpatient services to improve care of persons with Substance Use Disorders and works at the MOTIVATE Clinic, an outpatient addiction treatment program. Gigi has presented numerous lectures on a variety of substance abuse topics, has presented internationally on substance abuse, and is the author of a chapter entitled Substance Use Disorders in the Adult Population in the Hoffman-Sullivan Medical Surgical Textbook Making Connections to Practice.

Megan Hebdon, DNP, RN, FNP-c
Assistant Professor of Nursing
Radford University

Megan Hebdon, DNP, RN, FNP-c is an assistant professor at Radford University School of Nursing. She has practiced as a registered nurse and nurse practitioner in various settings including: oncology, pain management, internal medicine, employee health, urgent care, and primary care for uninsured clients. The promotion of health and wellness for individuals with chronic disease is a primary emphasis of her practice, teaching, and research activities. Her interest in substance abuse and holistic pain management has dated back to her nurse practitioner training at the University of Utah where she participated in substance abuse seminars, a training conference, and patient teaching activities. She most recently has been part of an Access to Care group that developed community training on pain management.

Kathy Baker, RN, PhD, NE-BC
Nursing Director, Emergency Services & Patient Care Support
VCU Health

Kathy Baker is a nurse leader with strategic, operational experience in multiple healthcare settings as well as specific expertise in workforce development, financial management, and optimization of personnel resources and work environments to achieve high value patient centered outcomes. She earned Master’s and PhD degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University with a focus on Nursing Systems. She currently holds a Nursing Director position at the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System (VCUHS) in Emergency Services, Critical Care Transport, Resource Management and Patient Care Support. She is also a nurse scientist at VCUHS with a research focus in work environments and top of license practice. Her clinical background includes critical care, cardiovascular and emergency nursing with experience in both adult and pediatric populations.

Dr. Baker holds an affiliate faculty position at the VCU School of Nursing where she teaches in the Graduate Nursing Leadership program. She has served on the National Council for Research for Emergency Nursing. She was also co-chair of the American Nurse's Association Professional Issues panel on Eliminating Barriers to RNs ability to Practice to the Fullest Extent.

Her recent publications include an Overview of Elimination of Barriers to Practice in Frontline RNs published in the Online Journal of the American Nurse's Association and her recent presentations include Eliminating Barriers to Practice for RNs, presented at the ANA's National Quality Conference in 2017.

Ruth Bielke, MSN-Ed, RN, PCCN
Nurse Educator
Chippenham Johnston Willis of HCA

Ruth Bielke comes to nursing after prior years as an entrepreneur and business manager. Her interest in healthcare began early, but life’s detours led to divergent opportunities which allow her to bring a multifaceted approach to nursing and education. Her clinical background focuses on cardiovascular nursing with an emphasis on heart failure. She is working on research to trial the effectiveness of an Education Tool developed to assist nurses with teaching patients and families the cardinal elements of self-care for the heart failure population. She speaks on Living with Heart Failure and Nursing for the Substance Abuse Patient.

Ruth pursues and shares tools and education for healthcare providers to promote resilience and mindfulness practices. She co-facilitates a partnership with members of the Alcoholics Anonymous Fellowship to provide support for patients seeking relief from the bondage of drugs and alcohol. This program also reinforces the interventions of nurses who seek to promote recovery but may not have the self-efficacy or resources to provide the means for same. This system removes barriers and allows the nurses to easily contact AA members who come to the hospital to visit willing patients, affording sober volunteers the opportunity to reach out to the addict and provide a bridge to the recovering community.

Ruth’s involvement and support for clean and sober living is reflected in personal activities and service to the community. Since 1994 she’s ridden with a clean and sober motorcycle club, serving as a State Officer for 20 years. One most beneficial project was the development of a network of over 800 recovering bikers spanning most US states and some foreign countries; this allowed her to serve as a resource to connect individuals traveling in unfamiliar areas with local recovering riders.

Ke'Shawn Harper, MS
ARTS Behavioral Health Senior Policy Specialist
Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services

Ke’Shawn Harper is the ARTS Behavioral Health Senior Policy Specialist for the ARTS Program. She works for the Division of Developmental Disabilities and Behavioral Health Services with the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS). She serves as the ARTS program owner/lead. Prior to her current role Ke’Shawn served as the ARTS lead for the Managed Care Organizations. She has also worked within Contract Administration on various contracts across DMAS. Prior to working for Medicaid Ke’Shawn worked directly with individuals suffering from mental health, substance use and developmental disabilities as a qualified mental health professional in a variety of community settings. Ke’Shawn graduated from Virginia State University with her Masters in Counseling and Community Services; she just completed her Graduate Certificate in Public Administration & Policy at ODU and is currently working towards her Graduate Certificate in Public Procurement and Contract Management.



Lori Price, RN-BC
RNII, Preceptor
Carilion Clinic


Lori works at Carilion Clinic Roanoke Memorial as a Registered Nurse II. She is a preceptor and board certified in Med/Surg nursing. Lori is a member of AMSN and AACN; as well as the pain council advisory board for her hospital . Additionally, she is also an active member of numerous other quality committees.


Jean Hoyt, CMA, DAA
Injury Prevention Specialist, Division of Prevention and Health Promotion
Virginia Department of Health

Jean Hoyt is an Injury and Violence Prevention Specialist at the Virginia Department of Health, Division of Prevention and Health Promotion. He current initiatives include primary prevention strategies for reducing risk associated with opioid misuse. Her role additionally focuses on other critical priorities including suicide prevention. Jean has over 15 years of experience in health care provider settings. She is a Certified Medical Assistant and Certified Dental Anesthesia Assistant. She is has been married to her husband Jerry for 30 years and they have two children. In her spare time she enjoys boating at Lake Anna and exploring Virginia's wineries.

Information about additional speakers to be posted.

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