Meet the presenters and panelists at our First Annual National Caregiving Conference, December 2 and 3, 2016, in Chicago.

Gael Chiarella Alba
Gael Chiarella Alba E-RYT 500 has been a yogi entrepreneur since 1985. Today she offers continuing education weaving discussions of death, dying and caregiving with a holistic model of selfCare, embracing some of the most significant challenges of our time.  A Certified Caregiving Consultant and professional spoken word artist teaching mindfulness practices, Gael provides services through her audio programs, books, courses, live presentations and online hub SelfCareOasis.com. Presently in the aftercare stage of giving back, she assisted her son through the trauma of a severe traumatic injury, and her parents through eldercare, hospice and death.

Geri Baumblatt
Geri has been a family caregiver for her husband and a secondary caregiver for her father and brother. She currently cares for her 84-year-old mother. She is Executive Director for Patient Engagement with Emmi Solultions.

Denise M. Brown
Denise launched Caregiving.com in 1996. Caregiving.com was the first website to add online caregiving support groups, daily caregiving chats and blogs written by family caregivers. Through its blogs posts, podcasts and video chats, Caregiving.com holds one of the largest online libraries of caregiving stories. Denise also hosts a Twitter chat for family caregivers (#carechat) on the first and third Sundays at 8 p.m. ET. In March 2011, Denise launched CareGifters, an initiative which funds caregiving solutions, one family caregiver at a time. Through CareGifters, Denise raises money to send money to family caregivers in need. Denise began working with family caregivers in 1990 and regularly speaks about the family caregiver experience. Her insights have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, US News & World Report, USA Today, SmartMoney.com, Time magazine and Chicago Tribune. Her books, including The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey and Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers, provide insights, inspirations and information to those who care for family members. She currently cares for her parents.

Claire Day
Claire Day has been on staff of the Alzheimer’s Association since 2001. She is the Senior Vice President and as such, oversees all clinical operations and service delivery throughout the Chapter’s 32 county territory. She and her highly trained staff of 22 coordinate and deliver community social services through education, support, advocacy and care management to people with dementia and their families, as well as to professional caregivers. In addition, Ms. Day oversees all public policy, research initiatives and e strategy for the Chapter. Ms. Day is a Clinical Social Worker and received her degree from Bloomsburg University in 1993. Prior to joining the Alzheimer’s Association, she worked in the long-term care field as a patient and family advocate. Ms. Day has more than twenty years of experience as a family and professional educator in dementia care, has appeared on numerous television and radio programs throughout the region. She is the author of two forwards to Alzheimer’s caregiver books: Life Lessons from a Baker’s Dozen by Kerry Luksic and Lucy’s Tears by John Rydel. She was a national Presenter at the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Annual Dementia Conferences. In 2008 she received the inaugural “Spirit of Community” Award from Stapeley in Germantown. In 2012 she assisted with a story on NBC Nightly News showcasing support services to caregivers. One of her greatest accomplishments was being selected on a National Help Team following Hurricane Katrina, traveling for two weeks to Mississippi to provide hurricane relief to people with dementia and their loved ones. She uses the lessons learned to help improve the quality of life to those she serves.

GeVonna Fassett
GeVonna is a former media personality and creative entrepreneur who has now taken on the most important job of her life, that of a full-time caregiver to her mother, Olivia, who has Alzheimer's disease. As a result, she is now an advocate for caregivers and Alzheimer's Awareness in the African American community. She also participates in and helps to organize caregiver support groups. GeVonna is the author of the book, The Healthy Caregiver (Spring 2017).

Vivian Geary
Vivian is a Certified Caregiver Consultant and Certified Caregiving Educator. As founder of Caring for Family Caregivers, she coaches family caregivers to turn their chaos into calm. Tips for organization and a fresh perspective on communication and family dynamics is what Vivian brings to the table. In addition, Vivian conducts workshops and seminars to help family caregivers gain knowledge and be the best they can be for their loved ones.  Vivian is a working family caregiver for her mom who suffered a stroke in 2005.  You can learn more about her work on her website, Caring for Family Caregivers.

Amy Goyer
Amy has been a family caregiver my entire adult life - first for her grandparents, then her parents and her sister. She has been working in the field of aging for 35 years. She has a degree in Music Therapy and worked at the local level in adult day care and nursing homes for many years, then for the Ohio Department of Aging and then for AARP in Washington, DC. She is now a consultant, author and speaker and serves as a caregiving expert for AARP and work with other clients on caregiving issues. Her book, "Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving" outlines practical tips for caregivers as well as anecdotes from her personal caregiving journey and from other family caregivers.

Adrienne Gruberg
Adrienne is a former family caregiver and founder and president of The Caregiver Space, Inc. After six years of caring for her late husband—diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005, and mother-in-law—who came to live with them after being diagnosed with lymphoma at the age of 89—she conceived of an online support community available—at no cost—to all caregivers. After graduating from Boston University’s School of Fine Arts, she married and moved to Liberia, West Africa a few years later, where she helped set up a study for The New York Blood Center to discover the cure for Hepatitis B. With the encouragement of her future husband, Steve Gruberg, she became a contestant on the popular TV game show “$20,000 Pyramid” and won the grand prize, giving her the seed money to found AY&A, an award winning graphic design, marketing and branding company in New York City. “This site grew out of my personal need to connect with other caregivers and join a community where experiences and feelings could be shared, and support could always be gotten. People become caregivers for so many reasons. Creating a site that was a place all caregivers could come to air their feelings, find valuable information and discuss personal challenges was a dream we’ve made come true. Our site’s exclusive concern is to comfort and help all caregivers.”

Matt Gurwell
Matt is a retired Ohio State Trooper and national speaker on the topic of older drivers with age-related diminished driving skills. He is founder and CEO of Keeping Us Safe, a national organization that helps drivers with diminished skills retire from driving with minimal erosion to their personal pride, dignity or independence. He also is the author of "Beyond Driving with Dignity; The workbook for the families of older drivers".

Carl Hirschman
Carl Hirschman, founder and CEO of CareTree.me, is a successful serial entrepreneur who co-founded X-Wires Broadband while graduating from University of Iowa in 2004. He took the company through a merger with private equity backed Dynamic Broadband in 2007 and successfully sold both companies in 2010. He then raised $21 million to purchase 2 companies and founded SilverFox Broadband to provide Internet and TV services to senior housing communities nationwide. In 2012, Carl’s mom was in a family caregiver situation and was having problems communicating with caregivers, managing all of the records, and then communicating out to the rest of the family. Carl used his experience in the senior housing industry to start CareTree and solve his mom’s problem, along with the 30 million American households with a family caregiver.

Erica Hornthal
Erica is CEO of Chicago Dance Therapy. A licensed clinical professional counselor and board certified dance/movement therapist, she specializes in working with individuals and families affected by movement and cognitive disorders. She has worked with over 350 individuals in the Chicagoland area since starting her company in 2011, and many more since starting her professional journey almost 10 years ago.

Debbie Howard
Debbie cared for her mom, who died from lung cancer after a 18-month battle. She's currently finishing a book about her experiences, expanding on what she learned by using her professional experience as a market researcher to help all family caregivers manage their caregiving journeys with more grace. Her book will be available November 2016.

Gail Hunt
Gail is President and Chief Executive Office of the National Alliance for Caregiving, a non-profit coalition dedicated to conducting research and developing national programs for family caregivers and the professionals who serve them. Prior to heading the Alliance, Ms. Hunt was President of her own aging services consulting firm for 14 years. She conducted corporate eldercare research for the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration, developed training for caregivers with AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association, and designed a corporate eldercare program for EAPs with the Employee Assistance Professional Association. As a national expert on family caregiving and long-term care, Ms. Hunt served on the Policy Committee for the 2005 White House Conference on Aging, as well as on the CMS Advisory Panel on Medicare Education. She was the chair of the National Center on Senior Transportation. Ms. Hunt is also a commissioner for the Center for Aging Services Technology (CAST) and on the Board of the Long-Term Quality Alliance and the National Center for Creative Aging. Ms. Hunt is a member of the Multiple Chronic Conditions Workforce Technical Expert Workgroup. She co-chairs the NQF MAP Person and Family-Centered Care task force. Additionally, Ms. Hunt is on the Governing Board of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

Colleen Kavanaugh
For a decade, Colleen cared for her parents while working full time and raising three children. Realizing how profound an experience it was, she is now a Certified Caregiving Consultant and cares for her clients. She realizes the need to establish a firm foundation in order to best stabilize family caregivers during the tumultuous years of providing care. Based in pragmatism with a sensitivity to the deeply emotional nature of caregiving, she offers a blend of realistic hope while supporting clients in the ways that best fit their circumstances. Colleen writes about caregiving on her website, TheLongestDance.com.

Deb Kelsey-Davis
After 35 years as a clinician and respected healthcare executive, Deb left corporate America to serve families caring for an aging parent. Deb cared for her my grandparents, then my mother-in-law, and now for her father, who's 90, and her mother who is 82. She holds a Masters degree in Health Services Administration from the University of St. Francis and a certificate from USC Davis School of Gerontology in the Fundamentals of Gerontology. Caring for her mother-in-law, Eva, who lost her battle with cancer, was the turning point for her. For so many years Deb focused on caring as a mechanical or clinical set of activities. In caring for Eva in her home, Deb learned first-hand that it was compassion, laughter and loving that made the real difference, and not the medical tasks of feeding, medicating and turning. So, today, through her company, Soul2Soul, Deb shares her learnings, experiences and work with family caregivers across the country to simply find a way to really make a difference.

Andrew Koch
Andrew is a Certified Caregiving Consultant and Certified Caregiving Educator. He also has been a CNA (Certified Nursing Aide) for five years. He has three years of research, development and course instruction for in-home care organization. During the past five years, he has volunteered for a number of organizations including Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s and Dementia Services of Northern Indiana, Harbor Light Hospice, and Unity Hospice. Andrew earned his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Indiana University in 2014.

Chris MacLellan
Chris is affectionately known as “The Bow Tie Guy” in many caregiving circles. Faced with his partner’s diagnosis of esophageal cancer in 2011, Chris started a caregiving blog entitled, “The Purple Jacket,” and is an ardent advocate for family caregivers and their carees through his blog and radio show, “Healing Ties™”. Chris’ Masters Degree thesis entitled, “Spiral of Silence: Caregiving, Stress and its Impact in the Workplace” was accepted by the faculty at Gonzaga University, where Chris earned a Masters degree in Leadership and Communication in 2016. Chris is the founder of the Whole Care Network and the South Florida Caregiving Coalition. The author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving?,” Chris is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), a Certified Caregiving Consultant (CCC) and a Certified Caregiving Educator. Chris presents regularly on topics that impact family caregivers and LGBT seniors.

Bruce McIntyre
Bruce, Executive Director of the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma, is the author of Thrive Anyway: 12 Lessons After 12 Years of Chronic Illness and Caregiving as well as Parkinson Positive, Graceful Transitions, and Resilient Life. Bruce shares his expert guidance and warm humor with thousands of people each year. As a caregiver for his wife for the past 12 years, Bruce understands the world of chronic illness and caregiving. He has led the Caregiver Fundamentals Project in Oklahoma City and served caregivers as a business, church, and non-profit leader. You can learn more about him at BruceMcIntyre.com.

Allyson Meche
Allyson is a 24/7 caregiver for her spouse who suffered a stroke in December of 2011. Six years prior to that event, she lost my mom to Alzheimer's after 10 years with that diagnosis. All during this time, she juggled two businesses and raised an awesome son, while dealing with his TYPE 1 DIABETES since he was age 11. He is now 28 years old, a Baylor University grad and doing great things with his life. For 35 years, she owned my own successful dance studio. She writes about her caregiving experiences on her blog, CaregivingToLiving.org.

Rajiv Mehta
Rajiv leads the nonprofit Atlas of Caregiving, which uses ethnography, technology and data to explore and inform family caregiving, making it easier and more effective now and for generations to come. He has led pioneering research on family caregiving and consumer health; convened expert meetings; consulted to government agencies, healthcare organizations and technology startups; and developed consumer health technologies. Prior to his focus on health, he led innovation efforts at Apple, Motorola, and other technology companies, and research at NASA. He is on the board of the Family Caregiver Alliance, and co-organizer of Quantified Self. He studied engineering at Princeton and Stanford, and business at Columbia.

Elizabeth Miller
Elizabeth, a full-time working mom of two, has helped care for her father, her mother-in-law and brother. She currently cares long-distance for her mother. Throughout her caregiving experience, she realized the importance of taking care of her own health so that she can better care for others. In February 2015, she created her blog called HappyHealthyCaregiver.com (formerly Savvy Sandwicher) to help other overwhelmed caregivers create balance to become happier and healthier. She writes about systems that work for me, staying positive, incorporating humor and music, asking for help, meditation, healthy and quick snack and meal options, and finding sneaky ways to fit in fitness.

Tami Neumann
Tami, Chief Operations Officer of Silver Dawn Training Institute, is passionate about creating a community that is connected and informed. Curating conferences and creating dynamic educational content that provide the community a welcoming place to learn and grow is not only important to Tami, she feels this is paramount to creating a culture shift in the aging space. Tami is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, and has spent over 20 years in the Aging Industry. Over the past three years she has hosted the Wego Award Nominated podcast, Conversations In Care. In her free time you will find her advocating for people with Type 1 Diabetes and developing her skills in improv.

Liz O’Donnell
Liz is the founder of Working Daughter, a website for women balancing career and caregiving, something she tries to do everyday. Liz runs the East Coast operations of a PR firm and cares for her 90-year-old father. She is also a working mother — she has a middle schooler and a high schooler at home — and is the author of the book Mogul, Mom & Maid: The Balancing Act of the Modern Woman.

Ashley Reid
Ashley, founder and CEO of Wellist, knows that healthcare providers have limited resources to deliver compassionate care to their patients. “As the daughter of a cancer survivor, I understood the suffering of patients and believed that if we could better support these families outside the hospital we could build a business that adds real value to those in need as well as the organizations that serve them,” she says. Wellist connects people with over 3500 companies in the Greater Boston Area that provide essential services like meal delivery, transportation, elder and child care, and even legal services. Users set up profiles that outline their specific needs, including their price range and location, and Wellist connects them to relevant service providers. Reid’s decision to enter the healthcare industry was originally inspired by her experience interning for Kristina Isakovich at Fisher Scientific while in business school. Previously, Ashley worked at Philips Healthcare, where she held various global transformation and corporate strategy roles.

Ellen Rogin, CPA, CFP®
Ellen, The New York Times bestselling author and Abundance Activist®, is a nationally-known expert on living a life of success and prosperity. Ellen shows people how to be great with money. Through over 20 years as a successful entrepreneur in the financial services industry and as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional, Ellen understands that many people have an uneasy and complicated relationship with their money. People undergo great anxiety as well as great joy in their financial lives.

Michelle Seitzer
Michelle has worked in elder care for 20 years, but her compassion for elders started even earlier -- through a foundational relationship with her maternal grandparents. After a decade of working in senior living communities and serving as a policy director for the Alzheimer's Association, she became a freelance writer and editor focusing on elder care content in 2008. In 2010, she and Denise Brown of Caregiving.com co-founded #ElderCareChat on Twitter, which Michelle currently moderates twice-monthly. She has reviewed grants for the Administration on Aging's Alzheimer's Disease Supportive Services Program and was the lead writer for the 2014 Alzheimer's Disease International report on Dementia Friendly Communities around the world. Michelle served as a long-distance caregiver for her grandfather before he died of Alzheimer's in 2009. She now cares for her daughter with special needs, and she assists in care for her grandmother, who resides in a personal care home. Michelle and her family reside in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.

Leslie Cottrell Simonds
Leslie, a Certified Caregiving Consultant, brings a variety of experiences to her work with family caregivers, including producing events for up to 20,000 people for a nationwide events company and managing boutique hotels. She also was an EMT. Leslie has trained as a death doula and has extensive experience as a family caregiver, including currently caring for her mother. She is certified with the American Alzheimer’s Association and is a Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant specializing in funerals and memorials. Leslie is the author of I Want You to Know.

Deborah Shouse
Deborah Shouse is a writer, speaker, editor, former family caregiver, and dementia advocate. Deborah and her partner Ron Zoglin raised more than $80,000 for Alzheimer’s programs by donating all proceeds from her initially self-published book, Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey, to dementia-based non-profits. Central Recovery Press has since published an updated version of Love in the Land. Deborah’s latest book, Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Creative Activities to Explore Together, features dozens of experts in the field of creativity and dementia. These innovators share ideas that engage the creative spirit so you can continue to experience meaningful moments of connecting. To learn more, visit DementiaJourney.org.

Heather Slutzky
Heather had the honor of walking next to her first husband, John, as Marfan Syndrome prompted heart surgeries, clinical trials of new fangled devices, organ transplant lists, and eventually his death in 2002. She most recently was a long-distance caregiver to her father. Her engagement with the healthcare system eventually became her career. She has worked in healthcare settings since 2003 and writes at www.HealthCareHeather.com, a website dedicated to talking about the U.S. health care system. Heather is a Certified Caregiving Consultant and Certified Caregiving Educator.

MaryAnne Sterling
MaryAnne has been a caregiver and healthcare advocate for her parents for 20 years. She is a renowned speaker and educator on family caregiver issues, a role that evolved from her experience having multiple parents struggling with dementia. She and her husband have 3-out-of-4 parents impacted by this disease. Their personal story has been featured in Kiplinger, New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. MaryAnne is Co-founder of Connected Health Resources, focused on person-centered healthcare transformation. She is also CEO of Sterling Health IT Consulting. MaryAnne serves as Patient Research Partner and Ambassador for the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), Advisory Council member for the National Alzheimer’s & Dementia Patient & Caregiver-Powered Research Network, and Consumer Ombudsman for the National Association for Trusted Exchange (NATE).

Anne Tumlinson
Anne is the founder of Daughterhood, an organization dedicated to providing content and community for women navigating the health and elder care systems on behalf of their parents. She also works with provider organizations to encourage and support innovation in how we pay for and deliver care to frail older adults. Anne has testified before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Senate Aging Committee, the Congressional Long-Term Care Commission, and the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Toula Wooten
Since 2000, Toula has worked for Community Hospice in Jacksonville, Fla., managing programs that emphasize supporting family caregivers, seniors and veterans. She created the Community Hospice Veteran’s Partnership, which reaches nearly 250,000 Veterans. Toula recently created the Caregiver Coalition of Northeast Florida to reach out and serve family caregivers. The coalition conducts and oversees around eight workshops each year as well as provides current family caregiver advice and support through its monthly e-newsletter. Toula hosts “Toula’S Tips for Caregivers,” which airs each Saturday at 11 a.m. ET on WBOB 600 AM.

Iris Waichler, MSW, LCSW
Iris has 40 years of experience as a medical social worker and patient advocate, counseling people with catastrophic illnesses and their families. She has authored hundreds of articles on healthcare topics and is a contributing author at the website, http://www.intentionalcaregiver.com/. In addition, she was caregiver for her father, which inspired her book, Role Reversal, How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents. Her website is http://iriswaichler.wpengine.com.


Registration opens August 12!

Become an Exhibitor or Sponsor

Support family caregivers and former family caregivers by sponsoring and exhibiting at the First Annual National Caregiving Conference.


We've applied for CEUs and will have more details when we open for registration on August 12.

Hotel Details

Our conference will take place on Friday, December 2, and Saturday, December 3, at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare, conveniently located minutes from O’Hare and a subway ride from downtown Chicago. The hotel offers free shuttle service to and from O'Hare. Daily hotel parking for our conference is $3.

To reserve a guest room for December 2 and/or December 3, please call the Marriott at 773-693-4444. Ask for the National Caregiving Conference special room rate of $119 per night.


Questions? Ideas? Need more information? Email Denise.

Like this article? Share on social