Mary Jo Assi, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FNP-BC, FAAN, is the vice president of Nursing Practice and Innovation at the American Nurses Association. Areas of responsibility include Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation, Scope and Standards of Nursing Practice, and Healthy Work Environment, with an emphasis on quality care, patient and nurse health, wellness, and safety. With over 35 years of nursing experience, Dr. Assi has worked in many different nursing roles during her career including clinical nurse, nurse educator, advanced practice nurse, and nurse executive. She graduated from Pace University Family Nurse Practitioner program in 1998 and obtained her doctorate from the George Washington University DNP program in 2014. Prior to joining the American Nurses Association, Dr. Assi worked in an administrative capacity in the roles of director of Advanced Practice Nursing, and director of Professional Practice in both a community-based and urban academic medical center. She led multiple initiatives to develop advanced practice registered nurse roles and services. She also served as an ANCC magnet commissioner for six years, and as a magnet program director (MPD) in a large academic medical center. As an MPD, Dr. Assi worked with nurses at all levels of practice through nursing’s shared governance model to develop and maintain standards of nursing excellence with respect to professional nursing practice. Dr. Assi was recently inducted as a fellow to the American Academy of Nursing.
Dean Babcock, LCSW, LCAC, CTP PI, serves on a wide variety of boards and committees providing clinical and administrative expertise regarding issues related to addiction and mental health. Mr. Babcock is a member of the Marion County Indiana Heroin Roundtable and the Indiana Health, Safety, and Education Coalition. He serves in a leadership capacity in three major Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) initiatives that involve implementing SBIRT and SBIRT education with the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Indiana University, healthcare organizations, and the Indiana National Guard.
In 2014, Mr. Babcock joined the Marion County Marijuana Task Force. He participated in development and analysis of the Marion County Health Assessment, and was instrumental in the Indiana Re-Think Tobacco Steering Committee.
Recently, he joined the Great Lakes ATTC Indiana Local Advisory Board. He provides numerous testimonies in the Indiana legislature on the treatment of opioid dependence, and consults on Indiana law related to the operation of Indiana opiate treatment programs. He serves in an advisory capacity to law enforcement,
faith-based organizations, health care systems, and professional education systems related to his clinical expertise on addiction.
Jean Bennett, PhD, MSM, MSN, RN, has served since 2011 as the regional administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the HHS operating division charged with reducing the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. A sampling of the regional priorities Dr. Bennett has addressed in collaboration with a wide array of stakeholders in her Region III territory (PA, MD, DC, DE, VA and WV) include behavioral health workforce development, interdisciplinary addiction education, patient-centered outcomes research, suicide prevention, and public health priorities such as opioid overdose prevention. Since 2014, Dr. Bennett has convened the medical schools in Region III to address addiction education priorities on two dozen occasions, and advised or convened addiction-related or opioid task forces at the city, state, regional, and national levels.
Dr. Bennett’s experience includes public health emergency preparedness and response (HHS Region VI, Department of Veterans Affairs VISN 21, Children’s Hospital Boston); recruiting (Navy Recruiting Command, Atlantic Fleet Career Information Team); academia (Northeastern University School of Nursing); and clinical supervision in medical, surgical, mental health, and home health (Naval Regional Medical Centers, Sentara -Norfolk, VA). Dr. Bennett's academic preparation includes a PhD in Organization and Management from Capella University, a MS in Nursing of Children from the University of Pennsylvania, a MS in Management from Troy State University, and a BS in Nursing from the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Bennett's research has been focused on the topics of prevention, addiction, hospital evacuation, and electronic communication. She retired at the senior officer rank of Captain (0-6) after 20 years of military service as a Nurse Corps officer and seven duty station assignments.
Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, became commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in February 2015. As commissioner, she is responsible for spearheading the state's response to the opioid crisis, as well as leading the department’s implementation of health care cost containment legislation, Chapter 224, reducing health disparities, finding public health solutions for health care reform, finding innovative solutions using data and evidence-based practices, and other health care quality improvement initiatives.
Dr. Bharel is widely recognized for her dedication to health care for underserved and vulnerable populations, having previously served as the chief medical officer of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, the largest nonprofit health care organization for homeless individuals in the country.
Dr. Bharel has served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, Boston University Medical School, and Harvard School of Public Health. She was previously at Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Medical Center. She has practiced general internal medicine for 20 years in neighborhood health centers, city hospitals, the Veterans Administration, university hospitals, and nonprofit organizations.
Dr. Bharel received her Master of Public Health degree through the Commonwealth Fund/Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy. She received her medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine, and completed a residency and chief residency in internal medicine at Boston City Hospital/Boston Medical Center.
Patricia Bruckenthal, PhD, APRN-BC, FAAN, is an associate professor in the Stony Brook University School of Nursing and has worked as a nurse practitioner in pain management for over 20 years. She received her undergraduate and graduate nursing degrees at Stony Brook and her PhD at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her post doctorate traineeship was completed at the Applied Behavioral Medicine Research Institute at Stony Brook University.
Dr. Bruckenthal has presented at numerous national and international conferences on pain management issues and is a member of several clinical and research nursing and pain societies. She is a past president of the American Society for Pain Management Nursing. She has numerous peer-reviewed publications.
Dr. Bruckenthal’s research focuses on self-management of chronic pain, and pain assessment and management of older adults. She was a co-investigator on a multi-site clinical trial of Pain Coping Skills Training for patients with chronic osteoarthritis pain. This trial demonstrated the effectiveness of this treatment delivery by nurse practitioners—a major advance for improving access to this option for pain management. Currently, she is engaged in teaching health care practitioners how to incorporate self-management skills into routine care visits.
Kathryn Cates-Wessel has over 30 years of experience working in administration, medical education, grants management, and policy, investing her skills and expertise in the field of substance use disorders since her earliest working endeavors.
Throughout her career, she secured a number of successively important positions in the field. She initially began developing training materials for an Employee Assistance Program to ensure supervisors could identify substance use disorders and refer their employees to treatment resources. Thereafter, she became the director of administration for a residential treatment center for adolescents with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental disorders, where key responsibilities included overseeing human resources, facilities, JCAHO accreditation, and community relations. Working alongside Dr. David Lewis, a pioneer in the field of addictions, Mrs. Cates-Wessel worked in the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University for over 19 years as associate director of the center.
Mrs. Cates-Wessel expanded her work from administration, medical education, program development and grants management to become principal investigator on private grants as well as director of Physicians and Lawyers for National Drug Policy—a think-tank consisting of nationally recognized public health leaders, attorneys, and law experts who advocated for the prevention and treatment of those afflicted by substance use disorders interfacing with the justice system. Among such leaders were former surgeon generals of the US, assistant secretaries of Health and Human Services, deans of major medical schools, and leaders in law, including the president of National Judicial College and Federal Judicial College.
Mrs. Cates-Wessel currently serves as the executive director of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, where she is principal investigator and project director for key SAMHSA-funded initiatives including Provider’s Clinical Support System for Medication Assisted Treatment and Providers Clinical Support System for Opioid Therapies, as well as other grants focused on training and education for health professionals. These programs focus on the need for primary care and addiction-specialty professional organizations and key stakeholders to come together to provide evidence-based training and educational resources on the prevention, identification, and continuum of care for substance use disorders.
Rick Garcia, PhD, RN, CCM, has over 20 years of active nursing practice across a multitude of administrative and clinical settings. Dr. Garcia maintains an active practice in New York City at an ambulatory surgical hospital. His clinical specialty areas of practice include neonatal intensive care, post-anesthesia care unit (recovery room), neurosurgery, urology, otorhinolaryngology, case management, and ophthalmology. His experience includes serving as chair of the Education Committee and registered nurse member of the District of Columbia Board of Nursing. He has served as the executive director of the Florida Board of Nursing, focusing on regulation, licensure, and discipline of nurses and nursing programs. Most recently, he served on the New York State Board of Nursing as chair of the Practice Committee and a registered professional nurse member. Currently, Dr. Garcia is engaged in education policy work in the capacity of director of Nursing Education at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, which serves as the voice of academic nursing and represents over 790 member schools.
Marie Michele Léger, MPH, PA-C, a PA for 33 years, is director of clinical education for the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). She obtained a Bachelor of Science, Physician Assistant Program, George Washington University (GWU), Washington, D.C., in 1983, and completed her Master in Public Health, focusing on international health with a concentration in health promotion/disease prevention, from GWU in 1996.
She monitors and advises AAPA’s leadership on issues in clinical medicine and public health, coordinates activities that relate to continuous professional development, and translates best available evidence which leads to PA practice improvement. Ms. Léger is the AAPA’s liaison to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). She has published extensively including writing editorials on raising the awareness of emergency preparedness and raising the rate of adult immunization. Ms. Léger has given presentations in the United States and internationally addressing the PA profession, disparity in health care, immunization, and other infectious disease topics. Ms. Léger retains a faculty appointment at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and at the Shenandoah Physician Assistant Program.
Anne Norman, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, FAANP, is a family nurse practitioner (FNP) and the vice president of education and accreditation at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). She received her Master of Science in Nursing at the University of Alabama at Huntsville in 1994 and her Doctor of Nursing Practice at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2010. Dr. Norman has practiced in primary care and held leadership positions in various settings including a multiple disciplinary medical school health center, rural health, college health, retail health, and workplace/occupational health. At AANP, she serves as the primary organizational resource on continuing education (CE) and education-related standards, recommendations, and requirements. Her responsibilities include directing the grant, education, and accreditation activities of the association by overseeing and guiding the planning, development, and implementation of educational activities and programs to meet strategic goals.
John Renner, Jr., MD, is professor of psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, and associate chief of psychiatry for the Veterans Association (VA) Boston Healthcare System. He graduated from Yale University and Case University School of Medicine.
Since 1979, Dr. Renner has been working at the Boston VA where he currently directs their outpatient addiction treatment program. In addition, he is associate director of the Boston University Medical Center General Psychiatry Residency Program and director of their Addiction Psychiatry Residency.
Dr. Renner has written and lectured extensively on the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction. He is president of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, and vice chair of the American Psychiatric Association Council on Addiction Psychiatry. In 2010, Dr. Renner co-edited the Handbook of Office-Based Buprenorphine Treatment for the American Psychiatric Press, Inc. He is a member of the Data Safety Monitoring Board for the Clinical Trials Network of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a member of the Clinical Advisory Committee of the Physician Health Service of the Massachusetts Medical Society, a consultant to the Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, and a member of the faculty of the Harvard Medical School Division on Addictions. He is also former medical director of the SAMHSA-funded Physicians Clinical Support System-Buprenorphine.
Alexander F. Ross, ScD, is senior advisor on behavioral health in the Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), US Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to focusing on behavioral health workforce and education programs, Dr. Ross supports HRSA bureaus and offices fostering the integration of behavioral health and primary care. His work has included an emphasis on financing issues regarding behavioral health/primary care services and assuring that an appropriately trained health care workforce is available to meet the nation’s needs. Dr. Ross is the HRSA project officer on the SAMHSA/HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions. He has a Doctor of Science Degree in Health Policy from The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health.
Rich Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP (Fellow, American College of Physicians), DFASAM (Distinguished Fellow, American Society of Addiction Medicine), is a general internist (diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, DABIM) and primary care physician, an addiction medicine specialist (diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine, DABAM), chair and professor of Community Health Sciences at Boston University (BU) School of Public Health, and professor of medicine at BU School of Medicine. He chaired the Treatment and Services Review Committee for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, is editor of Evidence-Based Medicine and senior editor of Journal of Addiction Medicine, section editor and sole author of key chapters in UpToDate on unhealthy substance use, an editor of the ASAM textbook Principles of Addiction Medicine, editor emeritus of Addiction Science and Clinical Practice, and author of over 200 peer-reviewed publications.
Dr. Saitz was director of Boston Medical Center’s Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit for over a decade, has been chairman of an Institutional Review Board, associate director of clinical research for BU, president of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA), steering committee member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT), and is coordinating committee member of International Network for Brief Intervention for Alcohol and other drug problems (INEBRIA). He is on the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE) Board now as vice president. His primary areas of expertise, supported by NIH, RWJF, and SAMHSA, are screening and brief intervention, integrating substance-related and general health care, improving the quality of care for people with unhealthy substance use—particularly in general health settings—and basing care on science. He validated single-item screening questions recommended by NIDA and NIAAA.
Dr. Saitz’s awards include: Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society; Boston Jaycees Ten Outstanding Young Leaders Award; Best Doctors in America®; AMERSA’s W. Anderson Spickard, Jr. Excellence in Mentorship Award; the R. Brinkley Smithers Distinguished Scientist Award (ASAM); Research Society on Alcoholism Distinguished Researcher Award.
Stephen Strobbe, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, CARN-AP, FIAAN, is clinical associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, and the Department of Psychiatry. He is board certified in both psychiatric and addictions nursing. His professional background has included clinical care, research, administration, and education. Dr. Strobbe was the first clinical director for the University of Michigan Addictions Treatment Services (UMATS). He has authored peer-reviewed articles, position statements, book chapters, and other works related to substance use and addictions nursing. He has been an invited speaker both nationally and internationally.
In 2015, Professor Strobbe received the 25th Annual Golden Apple Award, the only student-nominated and student-selected teaching award at the University of Michigan. He is the current president of the International Nurses Society on Addictions (2016-2018), and co-chair for the Washtenaw Health Initiative Opioid Project. In October 2016, Dr. Strobbe was inducted as a fellow of the International Academy of Addictions Nursing.