Judy Chang, MD, MPH; President-Elect
Judy Chang, MD, MPH is an Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences with a secondary appointment in the Division of General Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. She is also an investigator at the Magee-Women’s Research Institute and core faculty member in the Center for Research in Health Care and Center for Women’s Health Research and Innovation. She also serves as an Assistant Dean of Medical Student Research. After completing her undergraduate studies in the Plan II Honors Liberal Arts program at the University of Texas in Austin, Judy obtained her medical training at Baylor College of Medicine and completed residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. She then went on to obtain training in health services research and public health leadership in the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Her early research focused primarily on understanding intimate partner violence (IPV) and how health care providers can help women experiencing IPV. Through this qualitative work, she found that women described the potential power of patient-provider communication as a source of support, motivation, empowerment and validation. Judy then expanded her research expertise to focus on patient-provider communication in women’s health, particularly in obstetric care. Her more recent research has examined a variety of topics within obstetric care communication including screening and counseling regarding substance use, addressing mental health concerns, breastfeeding counseling, and examining the impact of electronic medical records on patient-provider communication.
Judy is also a dedicated educator. She co-facilitates communication workshops for obstetrics and gynecology residents that teach skills such as Ask-Tell-Ask, delivering bad news, and dealing with patient emotions; co-facilitates Balint groups for obstetrics and gynecology residents; and leads workshops for medical students focusing on communication strategies to address and respond to intimate partner violence among female patients. Her contributions have been recognized with numerous teaching and mentoring awards.
Daniella Cordero, BS, Neuroscience; Student/Professional Trainee Member at Large
Daniella Cordero, BS Neuroscience
Medical Student Year 3
University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Daniella Cordero, B.S. is a fourth year medical student at University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. Daniella completed her undergraduate studies at Duke University, where she received a B.S. in Neuroscience and a certificate in Ethics. She has a background in global health, including HIV and substance abuse research.
Since beginning medical school, Daniella has been very active as a leader in campus organizations devoted to supporting students of color and marginalized patients. She has been a student of facilitation in the UCSF Women of Color and Women of Color in Research meetings. Daniella has also organized intra- and extra-curricular education on gun violence prevention using relationship-centered principles. She views communication as an invaluable tool for promoting health equity and improving patient outcomes. Daniella is committed to a career in surgery and hopes to become a faculty advocate for communication in academic medicine.
Raymond Curry, MD, FACP; Treasurer
Raymond Curry, MD, FACP, FACH
Senior Associate Dean for Educational Affairs
University of Illinois College of Medicine
Raymond H. Curry, MD, FACP, FACHis Senior Associate Dean for Educational Affairs at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, and Professor of Clinical Medicine and Medical Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. As chief academic officer for one of the nation’s largest medical schools, he oversees educational programs across the school’s four campuses in Chicago, Peoria, Rockford, and Urbana.
A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Dr. Curry is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He completed internal medicine residency at Northwestern University/McGaw Medical Center in 1985, and then joined the Northwestern faculty. From 1998-2014 he served as vice dean for education at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Dr. Curry is a charter member of AACH, having first joined as a member of the Task Force on Doctor and Patient of the Society of General Internal Medicine in 1986. He served on the Research Committee from 1998-2000, and as host and planning committee member for regional faculty development courses, the annual research forum, and the 2005 and 2011 International Conferences on Communication in Healthcare. He is also active in the Society of General Internal Medicine and the American College of Physicians, and has been a regular accreditation site reviewer for the Liaison Committee on Medical Education for over twenty years. Locally, he serves on two non-profit organization boards, for the Provident Foundation and the Chicago Area Albert Schweitzer Fellowships.
Dr. Curry is married to Dr. Kristi Kirschner, a physician at the Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital and Chief Medical Officer for the Community Care Alliance of Illinois. They live with their two sons in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the South side of Chicago.
Denise Davis, MD, FACH; VP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Denise Davis, MD, FACH
University of California, San Francisco
General Internist and Clinical Professor of Medicine
San Francisco, CA
Denise L. Davis is a general internist, Clinical Professor of Medicine at University of California San Francisco and she serves as Associate Director for Faculty Development for the San Francisco VA Center of Excellence in Primary Care Education. Dr. Davis teaches faculty development workshops locally and nationally on communication skills, including ground breaking workshops for the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare on opening discussions about race in clinical settings and facilitating small groups with cultural humility. She has conducted focus groups with African American patients about health and doctor-patient communication, the results of which inform her teaching. Dr. Davis consults and teaches for medical groups including Florida Hospital Orlando, Colon Rectal Surgery Associates Limited in Minneapolis, Fairview Medical Group of Minneapolis, San Mateo Medical Center, San Mateo California and Franciscan Medical Group in Tacoma Washington on topics including improving doctor-patient communication, obtaining informed consent, negotiating cultural differences in clinical relationships, disclosing medical errors and giving effective feedback. Dr. Davis is a past recipient of the prestigious Kaiser Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching for her work with students at UCSF School of Medicine and was recognized by the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators as an outstanding teacher in 2013. Dr. Davis was elected to the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators in 2015.
Dr. Davis piloted “Mentoring Across Differences,” a 3 hour faculty development training designed to improve the skills and confidence of faculty mentors in building relationships with minority learners at the for San Francisco VA. She also co-facilitated and helped design a well-received longitudinal “Faculty Peer Consultation Group on Race, Ethnicity and Power” for UCSF faculty. Dr. Davis is also lead faculty for the “Differences Matter Orientation” a 3 day intensive on communication skills for diversity and inclusion designed to help incoming first year UCSF medical students understand and participate fully in the school of medicine’s culture of equity. Dr. Davis also serves as specialist for minority medical students through the UCSF Student Experience Team.
Pamela Duke, MD, FACH; Member at Large
Pamela Duke, MD, FACH
Drexel University College of Medicine
Associate Professor of Medicine
Pam Duke, MD, FACH is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine, and a practicing internist at Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia with an interest in geriatrics and urban medicine. She is currently the course director for the first-year integrated yearlong medical student doctoring course teaching: communication skills, bioethics, behavioral health and physical exam skills. In addition, she is course director for a third-year medical student professionalism course at Drexel University College of Medicine where third year students explore issues of the hidden curriculum in faculty led small groups. She has been involved in teaching medical students and residents since graduating from University Connecticut School of Medicine. She contributed a chapter in the Academy of Communication in Healthcare book, Communication Rx, on the “Communication Skill Set and the Electronic Medical Record” and has co-authored a pathophysiology textbook entitled Med-Maps for Pathophysiology. She worked with the American Board of Internal Medicine’s Choosing Wisely Campaign creating communication videos to help health providers talk about cost of care issues. She is an active faculty member of the Academy of Communication in Healthcare, doing workshops on use of the electronic medical record in patient-physician communication and improving physician patient engagement. Pam’s research interest has been in integrating the EHR into medical practice and professional formation of medical students. She is presently working on a ACH co-sponsored project creating on line education modules supporting professional growth in healthcare learners.
Michael Farrell, MD, FACH; Member at Large
Mike Farrell, MD, FACH has been a member of ACH since 2003. He is Associate Research Director for Aurora University of Wisconsin Medical Group, in Milwaukee. After graduating from UW Madison with emphases in psychology and molecular biology, Dr. Farrell attended medical school at St. Louis University and a combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residency program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is a graduate of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program (also at Ann Arbor) and the Bioethics certificate program at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Dr. Farrell’s main professional focus is the system-scale assessment and improvement of provider communication. He has also had NIH and foundation funding to work on communication processes and outcomes after newborn genetic screening, and prior to adult screening for prostate and breast cancer. He is active in the newborn screening community, and has been an enthusiastic and frequent mentor for scholarly activities by students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty. He was on the editorial board for Medical Encounter for several years, and is currently on the boards for Patient Education and Counseling and Aurora’s in-house journal, the Journal of Patient-Centered Research and Reviews. He was active in several ACH meetings, and course-directed the 2010 Forum. Clinically, Dr. Farrell calls himself a “bleeding heart generalist” in primary care, and he also has experience with special-needs adults and young adults with chronic health conditions. He also was a leader in the effort to develop what may have been the world’s first genomic medicine clinic for adults, which was then based at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Dr. Farrell lives in the Milwaukee area with his former high school sweetheart (and frequent ACH socialite) Laura Farrell. They have two children in college, and one in high school. He enjoys reading, hiking, architectural photography, living vicariously through his kids, and traveling to profound and/or offbeat destinations.
Timothy Gilligan, MD, MS; Member at Large
Timothy Gilligan, MD, MS
Taussig Cancer Institute
Dr. Timothy Gilligan is a medical oncologist, Vice-Chair for Education, and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute. Previously, he served as the hematology/oncology fellowship program director for ten years. Dr. Gilligan served on the leadership team that developed and launched the Cleveland Clinic Center for Excellence in Healthcare Communication, which has trained over 7000 clinicians in a one-day small-group experiential communication skills course. Together with Dr. Adrienne Boissy, he co-edited the book Communication the Cleveland Clinic Way. He has published numerous essays on healthcare communication in the New York Times, the Journal of Clinical Oncology and on the healthcare blog https://Cura.Space.
At Cleveland Clinic and other hospitals and at national and international conferences, he teaches communication skills, team-building, and coaching, and trains others to teach communication skills. Dr. Gilligan works on quality of care and clinical practice guidelines with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the National Cancer Institute. He helped develop and serves on the faculty and steering committee of the ASCO Quality Training Program, and co-chaired the ASCO panel that wrote the society’s guideline on patient-clinician communication. Dr. Gilligan is an internationally recognized expert in testis cancer. He has contributed to a range of national and international guidelines on the disease and currently chairs the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Testis Cancer panel. He has co-authored numerous review articles, textbook chapters and Up-To-Date sections on testis cancer.
Dr. Gilligan graduated from Swarthmore College, Stanford University School of Medicine and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He trained in internal medicine and medical oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He completed the Academy on Communication in Healthcare three-year faculty training program and is a member of their faculty.
Krista Hirschmann, PhD, FACH; VP of External Education
Krista joined the ACH in 2003 after calling into a radio talk show and speaking with Dennis Novack. (Ask her about it sometime!) Since then, her ACH activity includes completing the FIT Program, serving as FIT Co-Director, a Board member, VP of Education, and a Guide. She is also a Fellow with the ACH. Krista has a Ph.D. in Communication with an emphasis on interpersonal and organizational issues in healthcare. She worked as a college professor for several years in the Penn State system before moving to healthcare full-time, and spent the next 14 years at an academic community hospital where she led physician faculty development programs, introduced Schwartz Rounds, worked with the ABIM, helped to establish and served as Faculty for a Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship, and established a team of Practice Coaches to facilitate a patient-centered medical home transformation project.
Currently, she is contributing to the ACH’s external education projects and serving as the U.S. liaison and Master Trainer for Flinders University’s Chronic Condition Self-Management Program. She is also co-author for Communication Rx’s chapter on “Patient Engagement and Motivational Interviewing” and a certified professional in Relational Coordination.
Krista lives in semi-rural Pennsylvania with her partner, Kevin, a family physician, and their 3 children Kelsey, Carter, and Eleanor, and their Golden Absconder of socks, Sydney. When she is not running to soccer or hockey practices and games, she enjoys listening to podcasts, reading historical fiction and biographies, and most things outdoors.
Kirsten Isgro, PhD; Patient/Community Member Representative Member at Large
Kirsten Isgro, PhD
State University of New York
Department of Communication Studies
University of Vermont, Core Faculty
Department of Biomedical and Health Sciences
Plattsburgh, NY/Burlington, VT
Kirsten Isgro, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in Communication Studies at the State University of New York in Plattsburgh and core faculty in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Department of Biomedical and Health Sciences at the University of Vermont. She also teaches health communication for Champlain College’s Continuing Professional Studies Healthcare Management program. She is committed to improving communication between providers and patients and their families, with a specific focus on disabilities and sexual minorities.
Kirsten serves on the Vermont Pediatric Palliative Care Program Steering Committee and was on the Patient and Parent Advisory Council (PFAC) for the Vermont Children's Hospital at the University of Vermont Medical Center for seven years. She has worked for sexual justice with the Columbus (Ohio) Urban League, the National Assault Prevention Center, the Ohio Coalition on Sexual Assault and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. She was education coordinator for the AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region (ASMR) in rural New Hampshire and later coordinated professional workshops on gender and sexual health issues across New England for educators and health providers. In summer 2001, she worked with the International Women’s Tribune Centre (IWTC) in New York City as a research fellow, where she monitored and researched United Nations and non-governmental organization activity, particularly those focusing on HIV/AIDS and women and disarmament issues. She is a family faculty member for the University of Vermont medical and nursing students, which include teaching collaborative communication skills with families with medically complicated needs.
Her academic interests include gender/sexuality studies, sexual justice and health communication. Her current research focuses on the communicative role of (end-of-life and birth) doulas and the impact on health outcomes for those who access doula services. Much of her patient advocacy focuses on interprofessional collaboration with the explicit purpose of improving organizational systems for individuals seeking health and social services.
Christopher Koenig, PhD; VP of Research
Christopher Koenig, PhD
Professor, Communication Studies
San Francisco State University
San Francisco, CA
Barbara Lewis, MBA; Member at Large
Barbara Lewis, MBA, launched her career as a journalist writing for many national publications from the Wall Street Journal to Ladies Home Journal and more recently for BMJ and Modern Healthcare. She is the author of two books – Get a Black Belt in Business and Get a Black Belt in Marketing based on her black belt in karate. Barbara built a marketing consulting company while getting her MBA from UCLA where she taught business communication. Barbara’s life took an unexpected turn after spending two weeks in the ICU watching her sister die in 2012. She decided to devote her life to improving the patient experience. For five and a half years she was the Managing Editor of DocCom, an on-line communication skills learning program for clinicians and students. She currently serves as the Program Director for ProfessionalFormation.org, an on-line professionalism learning platform and the Managing Director of the Academy for Professionalism in Health Care. Barbara’s volunteer work has included organizations such as the Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital IRB (lay representative), Kaiser Permanente Southern California Regional Patient Advisory Council (co-chair emerita), the Beryl Institute Global Patient and Family Advisory Board (co-chair emerita), National Quality Forum, CMS, SIDM and UCLA Health No One Dies Alone, as well as other organizations. Barbara is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences.
Kara Myers, CNM, MS, FACH; President
Kara Myers, CNM, MS, FACH
University of California San Francisco;Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital
San Francisco, CA
Kara Myers, CNM, MS, FACH, has been practicing nurse-midwifery since 2000, when she completed graduate training at UCSF. She is currently Clinical Professor in the UCSF Department of OB, Gyn, and Reproductive Sciences. Her clinical practice sites are Zuckerberg San Francisco General (ZSFG) and Mission Neighborhood Health Center. Additionally, she serves as a member of the leadership council for the nurse-midwifery faculty practice at ZSFG.
Kara co-directs the Relationship Centered Communication program at ZSFG and was a founding co-director of the Relationship Centered Communication Facilitators program for the Academy of Communication in Healthcare (ACH). Within the UCSF community and nationally, as faculty of ACH, she regularly facilitates workshops in relationship centered communication, conflict, and feedback. In collaboration with colleagues, she has designed and implemented workshops focusing on the application of relationship centered communication to the promotion of equity in health care and health professions education.
Lynn O'Neill, MD, MS; VP of Internal Education
Lynn O'Neill, MD, MS, is Associate Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Family & Preventive Medicine, Program Director of the Hospice & Palliative Medicine Fellowship, and Associate Director of the Palliative Care Center at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. After undergraduate work at Emory, she entered medical school at Vanderbilt and continued her training in internal medicine residency at University of Alabama, Birmingham. She then completed fellowships in palliative care and geriatric medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. She held faculty positions at Mount Sinai and Duke University prior to joining the faculty at Emory in 2014. Her clinical work is focused at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, and she is proud to be able to provide veterans and their families with the symptom management and support they need while living with serious illness. In addition to a love for clinical palliative care, she gains great joy from teaching communication skills both on the wards and in formal communication courses. She developed the communication course, GeriTalk, designed to provide fellows in geriatrics and palliative care with the essential skills necessary to discuss serious news and goals of care. She facilitates communication skills courses nationally as a faculty member of both the Academy of Communication in Healthcare (ACH) and VitalTalk and serves as the Vice President for Internal Education of the ACH.
Nynikka Palmer, DrPH, MPH; Expert in Communication Research to Promote Health Equity
Nynikka Palmer, DrPH, MPH
University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Nynikka Palmer, DrPH, MPH is an Assistant Professor at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, with secondary appointments in the Departments of Urology and Radiation Oncology. Her research program focuses on unraveling multilevel mechanisms of cancer disparities – particularly inequities in quality of care among African American men with prostate cancer, cultural influence, patient-centered communication, and strategies to enhance delivery of high-quality cancer care. She currently has a National Cancer Institute K01 career development award to bridge the divide between low-income African American men and equal prostate cancer treatment by anchoring the evidence-based intervention of peer navigation in the relational concept of African American brotherhood as a means to foster trust and empowerment, and optimize patient-centered communication and quality of care. She is also quantitatively examining the communication patterns between newly diagnosed African American prostate cancer patients and their providers in the context of treatment decision-making and patient-centered communication, using the Roter Interaction Analysis System. Additionally, she has established a support group for African American men facing prostate cancer to promote survivorship and empowerment, which has been thriving since September 2014. She is also co-leader of the Prostate Cancer Task Force of the San Francisco Cancer Initiative (SF CAN) – a city-wide initiative to eliminate prostate cancer disparities through community outreach and education, targeted early detection and appropriate follow-up of aggressive disease, navigation and support services, and institutional partnerships that ensure high-quality care across healthcare institutions.
Jhoanna Santos, MD; Member at Large
Jhoanna Santos, MD FACP is a practicing general internist and geriatrician for over 10 years at Skagit Regional Health in Mount Vernon, WA. She is the Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Skagit Regional Health and an adjunct clinical faculty at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, an osteopathic medical school in Yakima, WA. She is also the Division Chief for Ambulatory Medicine of the medical executive committee at Skagit Valley Hospital.
Dr. Santos completed her medical school training at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine and finished her internal medicine residency training at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital (now Mt. Sinai West) in New York. She then completed her fellowship in Geriatrics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA.
Dr. Santos participated in the RCC course at the 2019 ACH course in Pittsburgh which she found to be innovative and life-changing. Being in active outpatient practice in a community-based setting, she brings the perspective of being in the forefront of looking into ways of improving communication, patient care and physician satisfaction in their practice as well as reducing healthcare disparities. As the residency program director, she ensures diversity and inclusion in residents and faculty. She started incorporating relationship-centered communication into the residency curriculum. She hopes to spread the value of ACH to a community setting which requires resourcefulness to provide high-value care including diversity, equity and inclusion.
Bronwyn Wilson, MD, MPH, MS Education; Member at Large
University of New Mexico
Senior Associate Dean Professor, Internal Medicine
Bronwyn Wilson, MD, MS Ed, MPH, is the Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Career Development at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine (UNM SOM). She is Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine. The year after finishing her undergraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania (U Penn), she got her Master’s degree in Educational Linguistics there, and then taught English as a Second Language for five years before entering U Penn Medical School. She also has a Master of Public Health from the University of Washington. Her academic interests have been in teaching and assessing communication skills, health literacy, and faculty career development and mentorship. She joined the SOM Office of Faculty Affairs and Career Development in 2008 and has been the Senior Associate Dean of that office since July 2012. In this role she oversees all aspects of faculty life from recruitment through promotion to retirement. She also sees primary care patients at one of the University Family Health clinics and has special interest and expertise in Health Literacy, Cross-Cultural Communication and Inter-professional Education and Practice. She is fluent in Spanish. Nationally, she has been a faculty member of the Academy on Communication in Healthcare (ACH) since 2006. She facilitates workshops, participates in train-the–trainer programs, and is an active mentor for the ACH facilitator-in-training program. She lives in New Mexico with her husband Dr. Kurt Nolte, UNM SOM faculty member in Pathology, and has two grown daughters. She is a founding member of the UNM Health Sciences Center Orchestra, composed of students, staff, faculty and community members who perform 4 concerts a year.
Laura Singler, CAE; Executive Director
Academy of Communication in Healthcare
AMR Management Services
201 E. Main St., Suite 1405
Lexington, KY 40507
Laura Singler, CAE, joined ACH as Executive Director in August 2014. Laura has worked with a wide variety of associations in her career including the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, Inc. (COSLA), the Bluegrass Hospitality Association (BHA) and the Nursing Organizations Alliance (The Alliance). She began her career in the non-profit sector as a community director with the March of Dimes. Prior to her work with the March of Dimes, she worked in the public relations department at the University of Kentucky main campus and Medical Center. She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Integrated Strategic Communication. In 2012 Laura achieved the foremost certification of the association management industry, earning the Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential.
Carli Zegers, PhD, FNP-BC; Member at Large
Carli Zegers has recently joined the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Nursing and Health Sciences as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Zegers graduated with both her Ph.D. and Family Nurse Practitioner degrees at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Her Ph.D. is in nursing with an emphasis on health literacy, self-management strategies, and underserved populations. She is currently the Principle Investigator of the KC HealthTracks grant through the Office of Minority Health focused on developing a pipeline program for high school students from underrepresented and underserved backgrounds into healthcare professions. In efforts to increase diversity in the nursing field, Dr. Zegers founded the Nebraska Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses and the Diverse Nurse Federation in Nebraska. She now serves on the National Board of Directors for NAHN. Dr. Zegers is committed to improving health communication. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Academy of Communication in Healthcare. During her doctoral studies, Dr. Zegers was named an American Academy of Colleges of Nursing and Johnson & Johnson Minority Faculty Training Scholar. Most recently, she was named an American Academy of Nursing and Jonas Foundation Policy Scholar. Dr. Zegers is committed to improving the health of underserved and diverse populations and communities through practice, research, health policy, and leadership.