Meet Our Steering Committee

Denise

Meet Our Steering Committee

Denise
Meet the individuals working hard to plan our Second Annual National Caregiving Conference which happens November 10 and 11 at the Chicago Marriott O'Hare.

Denise M. Brown 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.

Author Gael Chiarella Alba E-RYT, CCC is best known as a meditation teacher and yoga therapist. As founder of The Yokibics Institute, she offers Leadership Development and Self-care training for individuals and teams through SelfCareOasis.com. Gael experienced the joy of close family as a child in Brooklyn NY with her grandparents living just steps away. She also witnessed the everyday selflessness of both her Grandmother and her Mother as they cared for their beloved spouses through years of illness.

Her own path as a Crisis Intervention Therapist and Yogi brought her over and ever again to an investigation of how we care for others while maintaining our own sense of Self. Her holistic toolbox as a professional eventually became the container for managing the shock of her own needs when the emergency of traumatic injury care for her adult son upended life as she knew it, and helped her stand strong on behalf of both of her parents aging through eldercare and hospice with conscious choice. As she walked this path herself, she turned the direction of her lifelong work toward caring for caregivers. With a mind, body, spirit embrace, those who care for others are offered a framework for engaging their work with a peaceful, balanced approach.

Lille Fuller was raised in a caregiving family. Her parents each cared for their mothers and Lillie's paternal grandmother lived with them. Lillie cared for her dad who had Parkinson's and dementia. She is now the sole caregiver to her mom who is 90 and a stroke victim.Lillie joined Caregiving.com in 2009 and very active for the past three years.  She moderates the daily afternoon chat, the daily after-caregiving chat and volunteers as much as she can.  She also a graduated in the first Certified Caregiving Consultant class. Lillie attended and volunteered time at #NCC16 and is proud and excited to be a part of the Steering Committee for #NCC17.

First and foremost, Deb Kelsey-Davis, RN, MHSA, is a caregiver to her parents. She considers this to be one of the most important and challenging roles of her lifetime. An established clinician with over three decades in the business of healthcare and leadership, Deb abruptly left the corporate world in 2014, determined to directly support family caregivers, and improve the quality of life for those whom they care.

Deb launched Soul2Soul Solutions with Nourish ™, a faith-based program and workshop series for family caregivers. Later, to meet consumer and caregiver demands for credible health content housed in one location, she co-founded Sagacity.Care™.  Based on the principals of bite-sized, understandable personalized health information, Sagacity.Care delivers tools and material needed to make wise health and lifestyle decisions. Deb's an author and speaker on the joys and struggles of caring for an aging parent, passionate about addressing the emotional, practical and spiritual needs of family caregivers.  She resides in suburban Chicago, with her husband and two grown children.  In explaining what she does to her family, friends and colleagues, it's quite simply put as "I'm focusing on what really matters."

April Koontz is a clinical social worker with an entrepreneurial spirit who happens to have a passion for healthcare technology, transforming multifaceted ideas into written and graphical form, songwriting and, most importantly, advocating for family caregivers. She spent the first 15 years of her career in direct clinical practice as an individual, couples and family therapist and then as a clinical supervisor at the nation's largest behavioral health insurance company. For the last 10 years she's worked in the healthcare IT field. April is the founder of Daughters Unite, a social networking site with a mission to connect women who are currently walking the caregiving journey to those who've already walked it to those whose journey awaits them. She's also the Chief Operating Officer of ConfidentHealth, a health IT company that helps organizations drive better care outcomes and increase patient satisfaction. She was the primary caregiver of her younger brother who suffered from severe bipolar illness and polysubstance addiction and died of an unintentional overdose in 2010 and currently cares for her aunt who has a multitude of chronic medical conditions.

Linda Kunicki has had numerous positions that have allowed her to service others from children to seniors. These positions have been with health care, senior residences, schools, and other business with progressively increased career responsibilities that have encompassed management, sales, marketing, human resources, training and development. She had done numerous public trainings on health like Fall Prevention, Safety, Dementia and Pet assisted activities and other general topics. On a personal level, Kunicki, was also a family caregiver through her mother’s aging process from 1999-2015.

Kunicki has been an instrumental member of several business associations and chambers. She has shared her healthcare and event planning skills so that educational events for families, seniors or special needs groups may learn about resources. Kunicki is an active member of professional groups including Case Management Society of America (CMSA) Chicago Chapter, , Continuity of Care- Alpha and Chicago Chapters, Senior Citizen's Services Coordinating Council, Home Care Sales and Marketing Society. Kunicki is a current board member of the Chicago Chapter of CMSA and a past member of Fite- Center of Independent Living (CIL) for Elgin, IL. She is also an active member of several Aging Care Connections committees.

Her joy each day comes from truly caring for and helping people of all ages, especially seniors and children. From studying trends she knows that our senior population is growing and impacting many of the services needed in our world. This trend is also affecting the senior’s adult children who may also have youngsters putting them into the sandwich generation. All these segments are in need of care and resources that services the generations. When she saw that BrightStar Care had earned the Joint Commission Accreditation she knew then it is a premium company which is important to her; however, for her it’s also the people with BrightStar that she met or learned about who showed passion and a mission to serve the community that drew her to become part of this company.

Lisa Riggi was raised in a caregiving home since birth.  Her grandmother lived with her parents since their wedding and she witnessed them care for several family members either in their home or at a facility. They became her carees in 2006 when they moved in with Lisa and her family.

That is also the year she entered the world of self-employment for the benefit of flexibility with her time in order to care for them.  Taking her 30+ years of executive administrative/secretarial experience, Lisa opened a virtual assistant business.
Lisa's dad, who passed away on Veterans Day 2014, was a proud Air Force World War II and Korean War Veteran.  She has a passion for giving back to those who served and to the families that sacrificed to protect our country.  After helping her mom provide in-home hospice care for her dad, she found herself "lost" and wondering if there was something else she was suppose to be doing.  And then she found www.Caregiving.com and realized where and what she was to do.

With her intent to help veterans and their families in caregiving situations, Lisa completed Certified Caregiving Consultant and Certified Caregiving Educator training classes.  She has opened her caregiving consultant business, The Serene Harbor, which will offer caregivers and their families a place of peace and safety as they navigate their caregiving journey.

Besides caring for her 87-year-old mother who lives with her family, Lisa cares for her 17- year old son who has Type 1 diabetes.

Beverly Rogers is founder and owner of From Momma’s House, an organization designed to empower women who are seeking direction to balance life purpose and goals. Services provide personal development coaching, workshops and presentations focused on empowerment for purpose, passion, wellness and self-care, even when facing caregiver challenges. She has 2 publications under the From Momma’s House banner, Nurturing A New You - flipbook and journal and The Resurrection of Common Sense.

After a journey with breast cancer, Beverly’s volunteer services at Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization as hotline counselor, volunteer trainer and support group facilitator provided the opportunity to be hired as Director of Chapter Services.

When Beverly’s husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, she incorporated her management experiences to meet the challenges related to navigating the healthcare system to ensure he received quality care from a myriad of healthcare professionals, agencies and staff. Beverly and other church members at New Faith Baptist Church, Intl. organized a conference in partnership with the Chicagoland Chapter of The Alzheimer’s Association to open the conversation about dementia in the African American community. From these efforts a Caregiver Support Group was created which she still facilitates.

On behalf of the Alzheimer’s Association, Beverly served as an ambassador to Congresswoman Robin Kelly. In 2014, she was awarded “Family Caregiver of the Year” for the 4th Annual Elizabeth McGowan Caregiver Legacy Award.