Featured Speakers Biographies

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Carolyn Clancy, MD, MACP, Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks, Veterans Health Administration

Dr. Carolyn Clancy serves as the Deputy Under Secretary for Health (DUSH) for Discovery, Education & Affiliate Networks (DEAN), VHA, effective July 22, 2018. The Office of the DEAN fosters collaboration and knowledge transfer with facility-based educators, researchers, and clinicians within VA, and between VA and its affiliates. Prior to her current position, she served as the Executive in Charge, Veterans Health Administration, with the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Under Secretary for Health. As the Executive in Charge, Dr. Clancy directed a health care system with an annual budget of approximately $68 billion, overseeing the delivery of care to more than nine million enrolled Veterans. Previously, she served as the Interim Under Secretary for Health from 2014-2015. Dr. Clancy also served as the VHA Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Organizational Excellence, overseeing VHA’s performance, quality, safety, risk management, systems engineering, auditing, oversight, ethics, and accreditation programs, as well as ten years as the Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). In 2015, Dr. Clancy was selected as the Outstanding Federal Executive of the Year by Disabled American Veterans, and, in 2018, she was selected as one of the Top 50 Physician Executives by Modern Healthcare. Dr. Clancy is a highly experienced and nationally recognized physician executive. She is a general internist and health-services researcher, and a graduate of Boston College and the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She holds an academic appointment at George Washington University School of Medicine and serves as Senior Associate Editor, Health Services Research. Dr. Clancy has contributed to eight academic text books and authored, co-authored, and provided invited commentary in more than 225 scholarly journal articles. She served as member of the National Quality Forum, Board of Directors, as the Chair of the AQA Alliance and served on the Board of Governors, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. An elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Clancy was most recently presented with the 2014 Quality Champion Award, National Committee for Quality Assurance, and was also named as Honorary Fellow, American Academy of Nursing.

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Ryan Vega, MD Chief Officer, Office of Healthcare Innovation and Learning (OHIL), Veterans Health Administration

Dr. Ryan Vega is a practicing academic hospitalist and Chief Officer of the Office of Healthcare Innovation and Learning (OHIL). He formerly served as the Executive Director of VHA IE, overseeing the Innovators Network, Diffusion of Excellence, Care and Transformational Initiatives, and Fellowship and Community Engagement. Prior to that role, he served as Chief of Quality for the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center (VAMC)and as the Liaison for Institutional-Housestaff Quality and Safety Initiatives at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System. Dr. Vega received his medical degree from Louisiana State University in 2011 and completed his residency training in internal medicine at the VCU Health System in 2014. He then served as a Chief Medical Resident with the VCU Health System and as the VA Chief Resident for Quality and Safety at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VAMC from 2014 to 2015. He is a graduate of the Intermountain Advanced Training Program in Healthcare Quality and Research and completed his Master of Science in Health Administration from VCU as an A.D. Williams Scholar. Dr. Vega has led multiple quality improvement (QI) initiatives and mentored several other QI teams, including prior VA Chief Residents for Quality and Safety. He speaks regularly on the diffusion of innovation and best practices in health care, high reliability and continuous quality improvement, and the impact of communication errors on patient safety.

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Torrey Smith, CEO, Endiatx

Torrey Smith is a 14-year veteran of the med device startup industry who has been fortunate enough to participate in 3 successful exits. Before co-founding Endiatx, he worked in the areas of endometrial ablation, atherectomy, sleep apnea, therapeutic hypothermia, and vascular closure. Besides his work in med device, Torrey is the founder of an international arts collective known as Sextant, and he has had his art featured in the Smithsonian. Torrey is the CEO of Endiatx, a med device OEM dedicated to ushering in the era of microrobotics inside the human body. Their first product, PillBot™, is a swimming robotic pill camera that utilizes a patent-pending quad-pumpjet propulsion system to allow Gastroenterologists to actively steer the robot around the human stomach with a live video feed.

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Allison Amrhein, Director of Operations, VHA Innovators Network(iNET), VHA Innovation Ecosystem

As Director of Operations for iNET, Ms. Allison Amrhein keeps the lights on and engine running for the Network. She leads a team of incredible Innovation Specialists and employee innovators from VAMCs across the country on their journey to operationalize innovation. She also identifies and facilitates connections between the external innovation community and iNET. These relationships allow iNET sites and staff the opportunity to put design theory into practice, which is hugely important to the iNET mission. It brings the reality of experiential learning of innovation (with little risk—start small, fail small) into the Network. Additional areas of leadership responsibility include financial planning, development of value metrics and oversight of data collection, and management of the annual Spark-Seed-Spread Program application and review process. Allison also serves as the Communications Lead for the VHA Innovation Ecosystem (IE) at-large. She is responsible for strategic communications for all VHA IE portfolios. Prior to her role as Director of Operations, Allison served as an Innovation Coordinator, managing high-value innovation projects and contracts, as well as the Director of Executive Correspondence for the Office of the Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Maintenance during her tenure at VA. Prior to joining VA, she was a health systems researcher and technical writer for a number of non-profits. Ms. Amrhein received her Master of Public Health from the University of Kentucky and Health Administration degree from Indiana University. She is also a certified yoga instructor, dog mom, and has a four-year-old son named Charlie.

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Gina Adams, Founder and CEO of Wareologie

Gina Adams is the Founder and CEO of Ware•ologie, asocial venture that creates innovative hardware to restore levels of independence and empower people with physical challenges. Adams worked in the apparel industry in product development and merchandising for over 15 years. After witnessing the severe impacts of Parkinson’s on her stepfather, Adams was inspired to bring functional, yet stylish adaptive accessories to market to restore confidence and dignity for people with disabilities. She launched Ware•ologie in 2018, with the company’s flagship product, Buttons 2 Button Magnetic Adaptors. The company collaborates with individuals to develop, prototype and commercialize adaptive-friendly devices. They also resale assorted adaptive consumer dressing, bathing and eating aids to help people carry out vital activities of daily living and age in place. The Michigan based company sells globally, while bringing positive impact locally through job creation specifically for individuals with disabilities. Products are vetted through an inclusive design approach and her diverse team fills various roles including sales and marketing to assembly. Adams holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Wayne State University and a bachelor’s degree in Human Environment and Design from Michigan State University. In addition to her startup, Adams is active as the Founder and Executive Director of the environmental nonprofit, Peace, Love & Planet, a member of the Lawrence Tech University's Centre polis Accelerator, Michigan Recycling Coalition, and Inforum. She also sits on the planning committee of MI Arthritis Foundation and is a board member of the MI United Cerebral Palsy Foundation. Adams resides in Farmington Hills, MI. Outside of work, she loves to garden, travel and spend time with her two children, Sydney (18) and Hayden (16).

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Kathryn Beckner

Kathryn Beckner is the Innovation Program Coordinator at the Central Virginia VA Health Care System in Richmond, Virginia. In this role, she represents the Veterans Health Administration Innovators Network and the local innovation program at her medical center. Kathryn started her VA career in 2010 as a clinical specialist occupational therapist in spinal cord injury rehabilitation. She enjoys incorporating the voice of the veteran and the VHA in rehabilitation innovations, healthcare solutions, and the future of healthcare. She received her undergraduate degree and Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Virginia Commonwealth University. Kathryn is a clinical professor for the Department of Occupational Therapy at VCU. She has two young children, Hank and Caroline – she and her family enjoy cheering on VCU basketball!

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Ryan Micheletti, Head of Global Operations, Founder Institute

Ryan Micheletti is Head of Global Operations for the Founder Institute, the world’s largest pre-seed startup accelerator. Since 2009, FI has launched over 5,000 startup companies across 200 cities, with a global mentor network of over 20,000 mentors. Ryan works with startup leaders in over 90 Countries to help develop their innovation ecosystems and launch technology companies in their region. In addition to his work at Founder Institute, Ryan is the co-founder Vet-Tech, one of the leading startup accelerators for military veterans in the US. Serving as an Advisor, Managing Director and Investor, Ryan has directly launched over 500 startups through his roles at Founder Institute and Vet-Tech.

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Sergio Garcia Vergara, Ph.D., is the CTO and co-founder of RIF Robotics.

Dr. Garcia obtained his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2017. His research interests focused on technological rehabilitation, pattern recognition, and kinematic modeling. His thesis work resulted in the development of a home-based virtual reality game that can be integrated into the physical rehabilitation process for children who have cerebral palsy. After graduating, Dr. Garcia accepted a Research Engineer position at the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s (GTRI) Robotics and Autonomous Systems Division (RASD) where he focused on software and algorithm development, autonomy behavior development, and field testing multi-agent autonomous systems. Currently at RIF Robotics, Dr. Garcia and his colleagues are leveraging robotics, artificial intelligence, and automation technologies to address inefficiencies associated with hospitals’ surgical instrument supply chain. Over 48 million surgeries are performed in the United States every year, and for each surgery, nurses and technicians in the sterilization and processing services (SPS) are responsible for cleaning, disinfecting, sterilizing, and assembling the necessary instruments and supplies. During these manual and tedious processes, technicians are injured due to repetitive lifting tasks, tools are damaged or misplaced, and the entire tool supply chain must be meticulously managed to ensure that surgical case carts are assembled correctly before surgeries. To effectively develop a useful healthcare product, RIF Robotics is currently leveraging the experience and expertise of SPS professionals as participants of the VHA Innovators Network (iNET) Greenhouse initiative. Thanks to this research collaboration with the VHA, the RIF Robotics team will be able to guarantee that the end-product will meet the needs of healthcare professionals.

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Brynn Cole Government Lead: Reimagining Veteran Healthcare HCD Project, VHA Innovation Ecosystem (VHA IE)

An insatiable curiosity about potential futures and a deep love of human-centered design is Brynn’s daily fuel. Native Vermonter, lover of humans, VHA employee of over 14 years, and bearer of the most liberal of liberal arts degrees, Brynn is currently leading a pandemic-related HCD project to help inspire potential futures for VHA. Her most recent role has been as the Director of Programming for the VHA Innovators Network (iNET), where she was able to help drive design thinking and futures thinking across VHA. While she greatly misses her iNET family, she’s grateful to currently have the support and the ability to do the work, rather than lead it, for the time being. Brynn lives in an absurdly adorable cabin in the mountains of Vermont with her equally adorable partner and pups.

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John W. Boerstler Chief Veterans Experience Officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

John W. Boerstler was sworn in on February 16, 2021, as the Chief Veterans Experience Officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Prior to his current position, he served as the Chief Executive Officer of Combined Arms, a collaborative backbone organization whose purpose was to unite collaborative methodology and technology in order to more effectively connect Veterans to thousands of government and non-profit services. As Chief Veterans Experience Officer, John will provide executive oversight of the many innovative projects and programs housed within the Veterans Experience Office (VEO) and work collaboratively within VA’s leadership to help achieve greater access and outcomes for Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors. John has a distinguished career as a leader in the Veteran services field as a recipient of both the Eisenhower and Marshall Memorial Fellowships, having traveled to the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Israel, Bosnia, Hungary, and Ukraine to write comparative papers on their military transition systems. As the first Marshall Prize recipient, John recently completed a 3-year project in Ukraine to assist in the development of their Ministry of Veterans Affairs – the first of its kind in Europe. John was also honored to be selected in the inaugural cohort of Stand-To Scholars at the George W. Bush Institute’s Veteran Leadership Program in 2018.  John is a native Texan who served honorably in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1999-2007 as a non-commissioned officer and infantry unit leader, including one combat tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2005 and Operation Natural Fire in the Republic of Kenya in 2006. John has also served as the Executive Director of NextOp, a program manager with Wounded Warrior Project, the Mayor of Houston’s Office of Veterans Affairs, and as a policy and district staffer for a U.S. Representative. In 2009, John helped found the Lone Star Veterans Association which became the largest network of post-9/11 Veterans in Texas, and successfully merged with Combined Arms in March 2019.

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John G. Singer Executive Director of Blue Spoon Consulting

John is Executive Director of Blue Spoon Consulting, a leader in strategy and innovation at a system level. Blue Spoon helps businesses and government alike see and enact system change through a portfolio of services and solutions based on ‘Big Design,’ a ground-breaking methodology for strategic transformation. John brings a complete vision for a Modern Strategy from extensive experience in innovation consulting, policy and communications, digital health and technology sales, pharmaceutical brand management, alliance management, and industry thought leadership across all dimensions of the global health sector, including pharmaceutical, medical device, biotechnology, payer and provider clients. He specializes in re-configuring markets and helping clients navigate the transition space to compete on health system value. John has published new business thinking and ideas in some of the most influential media in the world, including MIT Sloan Management Review, the Wall Street Journal, the Journal of Business Strategy, and The Oxford Handbook of Innovation Management. His insights and thought leadership on the future of strategy and competition was used by the U.S. Army War College to position innovation initiatives and capability development for its Third Offset Strategy, a new doctrine by the Department of Defense to achieve broad-based innovation across the spectrum of concepts, research and development, leadership education and business practices. John introduced ‘marketing ecosystems’ as a mainstream business idea and was the first to use design thinking to solve complex market access and integration challenges in the pharmaceutical industry. John is also a guest lecturer on strategic transformation and health system innovation at leading professional organizations and business schools, including ISPOR, the Population Health Colloquium, the California Association of Physician Groups, Cambridge University, ESCP Europe, the RAND Corporation, New York University Stern School of Business, New York Medical College, Rutgers Business School, and McGill University. In his most recent role as Chief Strategy Officer, Healthcare for Cognizant Technology Solutions (NYSE: CTSH), John led industry strategy, mergers and acquisitions, market development, strategic sales, and executive engagement for new value propositions and emerging technologies across Cognizant’s $4 billion healthcare portfolio. Before joining Cognizant, John was the Global Head of Health Market Strategy, Innovation and Technology for Wipro (NYSE: WIT), a leading technology services company. Prior to Wipro, he led the U.S. Healthcare Practice at RAPP, a CRM/marketing service within Omnicom Group that helped clients deal with the emergence of a digital sixth sense. While at RAPP, John led digital strategy and consumer experience design for the launch of Solvadi, Gilead Sciences’ cure for Hepatitis C and one of the biggest-selling drugs in the history of the pharmaceutical industry. He also directed the development of patient engagement as a strategic pillar for JNJ Diabetes Solutions and was part of the launch team for Lipitor.

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Robert (Rob) M. Califf, MD, MACC, Head of Clinical Policy and Strategy for Verily and Google Health

Robert M. Califf, MD, MACC, is the Head of Clinical Policy and Strategy for Verily and Google Health for Verily and Google Health. Prior to this Dr. Califf was the vice chancellor for health data science for the Duke University School of Medicine; director of Duke Forge, Duke’s center for health data science; and the Donald F. Fortin, MD, Professor of Cardiology. He served as Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2015-2016 and as Commissioner of Food and Drugs from 2016-2017. A nationally and internationally recognized leader in cardiovascular medicine, health outcomes research, healthcare quality, and clinical research, Dr. Califf is a graduate of Duke University School of Medicine. Dr. Califf was the founding director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute and is one of the most frequently cited authors in biomedical science.

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Saurabha Bhatnagar, MD

Dr. Saurabha Bhatnagar leverages his deep knowledge of medicine, technology, human centered design, and quality to drive healthcare innovation globally. He is a software engineer turned Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation physician. Dr. Bhatnagar is Chief Health Officer at Commure. Previously he served as Chief Medical Officer, Head of Digital & Technology at UnitedHealthcare, spearheading various digital health initiatives across Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial businesses. Prior to UnitedHealthcare, he led the formulation and establishment of national healthcare policies, programs and operational initiatives in a variety of roles at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, including Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Chief Medical Information Officer for EHR Modernization and Assistant Deputy Undersecretary overseeing enterprise Quality, Safety, and Value operations. He also teaches in Global Executive Education programs at Harvard Medical School.

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Ernest Moy, MD, MPH, Executive Director, Office of Health Equity, VHA

Dr. Ernest Moy is the Executive Director of the Office of Health Equity of the VHA. This office manages and supports efforts to understand and reduce disparities in health and health care affecting Veterans, partnering with the VHA Innovation Ecosystem to identify and implement new technologies for promoting health equity. Currently, the office is coordinating analyses and messaging related to disparities in COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccination among Veterans and building tools to address structural bias, discrimination, and social determinants of health. Prior to joining VHA, he was a Medical Officer in the Office of Analysis and Epidemiology at the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At CDC, he studied rural health disparities, analyzed linked hospital-vital statistics data to identify care patterns that placed patients at high risk for opioid poisoning death, and developed new data visualizations and partnerships for disseminating health statistics. Prior to CDC, he was Director of the Division in the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) that designed and produced the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, submitted annually to Congress, and related web tools. He has also worked as a Director of Research and Assistant Vice President at the Association of American Medical Colleges, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Emergency Care Physician at the Baltimore VA Medical Center. Dr. Moy is a graduate of Harvard College, New York University School of Medicine, and Columbia University School of Public Health. Following internal medicine residency, he was a general internal medicine fellow at Columbia University and a Robert Wood Johnson Health Care Finance fellow at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Moy’s research interests include disparities in access and quality of care, particularly the application of electronic health records, machine learning, and systems science modeling to improve health care. He was selected to serve as the first Academy Health Innovator-in-Residence and on a team that won an award at the 2019 MIT DC Grand Hack.

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Jay D. Bhatt DO, MPH, MPA, FACP ,Chief Clinical Product Officer and Medical Director, Medical Home Network/MoreCare

Dr. Jay Bhatt (pronounced “bot”) currently is Chief Clinical Product Officer and Medical Director at Medical Home Network/MoreCare and an ABC News Contributor. He is Founder and Principal of JDB Strategies, a health equity and innovation consulting firm, is a faculty member at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health, a physician executive, internist, geriatrician, public health innovator, and widely quoted expert on the most pressing challenges and exciting opportunities in health care. Dr. Bhatt is recognized for thought leadership and clarity in his remarks and writings on systemic health care issues. He has spoken at South by Southwest, the National Academy of Medicine, HLTH Create Health’s Future, and the Aspen Ideas Festival.

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Dr. Freddy T. Nguyen is a Research Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Resident Physician in the Pathology Residency Program at Mount Sinai Hospital. He was most recently the Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the In Vivo Microscopy Fellow at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital (Research Advisor: Guillermo Tearney, MD, PhD) and did a post-doctoral research fellowship in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Research Advisor: Michael S. Strano, PhD). He received his PhD from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Research Advisor: Stephen A. Boppart, MD, PhD) and his MD from the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Steven Schwab CEO, Elizabeth Dole Foundation

Steve Schwab is a national leader and voice for the nation’s 5.5 million military and Veteran caregivers and their families. He has closely advised senior leaders in every sector, addressed audiences across the country, and testified before Congress about the challenges faced by America’s military caregivers and how our nation can do more to support these incredible Hidden Heroes. As CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation (EDF), Steve spearheads the country’s preeminent organization empowering, supporting, and honoring military and Veteran caregivers. Previously, as Executive Director, Steve led the EDF’s staff, programs, development, and partnerships, managing the launch of the Hidden Heroes campaign, establishing the Hidden Heroes Cities program, and successfully championing the expansion of VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers to caregivers of every war era.

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Lisa Simpson, MB, BCh, MPH, FAAP President and Chief Executive Officer, AcademyHealth

Dr. Lisa Simpson has been the President and CEO of AcademyHealth since 2011. A nationally recognized health policy researcher and pediatrician, she is a passionate advocate for the translation of research into policy and practice. Before joining AcademyHealth, Dr. Simpson spent eight years as a professor of pediatrics, first as an Endowed Chair in Child Health Policy at the University of South Florida and then as the Director of the Child Policy Research Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati.