Escape to THRIVE Leadership Conference 2023 Presenters

Welcome to the Escape to THRIVE Leadership Conference 2023 presenters’ roster.  We will be adding speakers as they are confirmed.

Past speakers have included experts in their fields, from both within and outside the cancer community, as well as alumni advocates.  We are bringing together a group of dynamic, compelling speakers for the 2023 event.

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Erin Collins, MNE RN CHPN, E-RYT |
Death & Dying and Grief & Loss

Erin is a Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse with 16 years of nursing experience in hospice and adult and pediatric oncology. She completed her masters in nursing education at Oregon Health and Science University in 2022. Trained as an End-of-Life Doula, her heart’s work is in end-of-life care. Erin is the Vice Chair of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s End-of-Life Doula Advisory Council and is a 2023 Cambia Health Foundation Sojourns Scholar.

She has practiced yoga for over 25 years. She is a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance, with additional studies in yoga for healthy aging, yoga for cancer and bedside yoga for end of life care.

She founded a non-profit, The Peaceful Presence Project, after seeing that many patients came to hospice afraid of death and largely unprepared for it. She is committed to improving grief and death literacy by educating the community at all levels, including individuals, families, students and clinicians in preparing for and talking about serious and terminal illness with compassion and tenderness. She empowers families to be present with their loved ones in the final stage of life, however long that may be, and believes that by talking about and planning for death with our loved ones, we can live better and ease much of the suffering that arises at the end of life.

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Venus Ginés |
Cultural Competence and Health Literacy for the Underserved

Ms. Venus Ginés is a 30-year breast cancer survivor, who suffered a recurrence in 2017 after 25 years of survivorship. In 2018, Venus retired as a faculty member at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, teaching cultural competence and health literacy, as well as conducting research on Latino medical mistrust to devote her time to her Latino/a advocacy work.

From her personal experience with cancer and her sister’s untimely death of cervical cancer, Venus founded Día de la Mujer Latina, Inc., (DML), in 1997 as a national non-profit organization, celebrating its signature health fiesta in 40 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, providing the medically underserved Latina community with culturally and linguistically proficient health education, early detection screening for chronic diseases, culturally-tailored preventive programs for Latino teens and patient-centered navigation.

In 2009, Venus became a State Certified Instructor of Promotores/Community Health Workers (PCHWs) with DML being the first approved bilingual Statewide Sponsored Certification Training Program for CHWs and Instructors in Texas. By March 2020, DML trained over 5820 P/CHW on Dispelling Myths about COVID-19 with subsequent training on Telehealth Community Navigation, Behavioral Health Community Navigation, and Clinical Trial Community Navigation for potential career opportunities. DML sponsored 14 CHWs Instructors to become bilingual Mental Health First Aid Instructors.

Her recent launch of the Telehealth Community Navigation Contact Center, staffed by Bilingual Promotores/CHWs, continues to successfully answer hundredths of calls, debunking misinformation and promoting health equity by incorporating the bilingual Telehealth Nurse Navigator, who is also a CHW, to provide warm transfer calls to our clinical partners. On June 30, 2022, DML was awarded Community Health Worker Apprenticeship Program under the Dept of Labor and will begin its program on September 8, 2022.

Jennifer Hatcher, PhD, MPH, MSN |
Healthcare for Underserved Minorities

In 2018, Dr. Hatcher joined the University of Arizona Cancer Center and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health as a full professor and associate director of community outreach and engagement.

Jennifer Hatcher earned her Bachelors and Masters in Nursing from West Virginia University and a Masters in Public Health and PhD in Nursing from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Hatcher worked as a staff nurse in a variety of critical care settings prior to obtaining her PhD.

After obtaining her PhD with a concentration on health disparities she worked as Assistant and Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing. While there she served as the inaugural Director of Diversity for the College in addition to starting the DREAM (Disparities Researchers Equalizing Access for Minorities) Center, dedicated to the elimination of disparities via research, training, and community engagement. She developed the DREAM Scholars program, dedicated to mentoring emerging scholars interested in health equity science. Dr. Hatcher has a sustained program of research focused on improving the health of underserved minorities, with a focus on cancer disparities. 

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Ayaka Nakaji, MSW, LCSW, CCM |
Oncology Advocacy for Diverse Communities

Ayaka is a licensed clinical social worker and certified case manager with over a decade of experience, and is proud to have served as an oncology care coordinator at Cedars-Sinai Cancer Center in Los Angeles, CA since 2019. Born and raised in Nara, Japan, Ayaka moved to Hawai’i to pursue Master’s in Social Work at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in 2009.

Since graduating in 2011, Ayaka has worked with individuals and communities of diverse backgrounds in Hawai’i and Los Angeles, including Domestic Violence survivor outreach, HIV/AIDS education and linkage to care, and intensive case management for LGBTQ identified individuals living with chronic mental and physical illnesses. Ayaka is an outgoing co-chair of Asian Pacific Islander Social Work Council, National Association of Social Workers-California Chapter, and is currently pursuing her second Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley with the goal of improving equity in health care access for vulnerable communities.

Richard Noel  |  Music Specialist

Richard Noel facilitates Creating Joy & Harmony ,Spiritual drumming workshops for large groups, as well as private individual sessions that focus on sound therapy. His objective in leading these workshops and private sessions is to release people from negative emotional distress.

He has spent the last 20 years of his lifetime using percussion as a positive modality to influence people through delivering a rhythmic experience they will never forget. He encourages community reconciliation through annual events such as “Drum up for Peace,” in collaboration with “International Day of Peace.”

His heartfelt dedication to his practice inspires his keen intuition as he applies rhythmic tones, vibrational frequencies and incantation techniques to guide individuals along a healing journey and reconnect with their authentic self.  Preview his Spirit & Soul series.

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Dr. Rogers Wilson |
Effects of Racial Discriminations on Health Outcomes & Engagement

Dr. Rodgers Wilson is the National Medical Executive for Behavioral Health at Evernorth, Inc.  He is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Forensic and Adult Psychiatry, in administration and management by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and holds a certification in Healthcare Quality Management by the American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Physicians.

Dr. Wilson is an APA Mental Health Equity Ambassador and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He is proven leader in the public and private healthcare arenas.   He is passionate about the effects of racial discriminations on health outcomes and engagement in healthcare, and has performed federal research on the consequences of misdiagnosis on health outcomes. He is an experienced expert witness on topics such sexually dangerous persons, competency, civil commitments, and workplace violence. As a psychiatrist, Dr. Wilson has a keen interest in and has worked with providers on physical and behavioral health integration within primary care.

Monica Yellowhair, Ph.D, (Diné)  |
Cancer Education & Prevention

Dr. Monica Yellowhair is the Assistant Director of Community Outreach and Engagement at The University of Arizona Cancer Center.

She is of the Towering House people (Kinyaa’áanii), born for the Red House people (Kinłichii’nii); her maternal grandfather is represented by the Manygoats clan (Tł’izílání); and lastly, her paternal grandfather is the Reed people clan (Lók’aa’ Díne’é).

Monica is originally from Kayenta, AZ and has received her Bachelors’ and Masters’ degrees at Northern Arizona University in Microbiology (2002) and Chemistry (2005) respectively.  Thereafter, she received her doctoral degree at The University of Arizona in Pharmacology & Toxicology in 2011.

Dr. Yellowhair currently works with the University of Arizona Cancer Center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement to increase cancer education and prevention across the state of Arizona. Monica’s research projects have ranged from studying the chemical effects of depleted uranium on DNA to increasing colorectal cancer screening rates among American Indians in Arizona.

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