Byron is recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts in Aging Life Care, derived from over 30 years in the social work field. His writings and interviews on geriatrics, dementia and caregiving have been published nationally. He received his Masters in Social Work from the Worden School of Social Services at Our Lady of the Lake University and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Oklahoma State University. Byron is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Texas and holds certifications in Social Work Case Management as well as Care Management. He served as an Assistant Professor at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, is a Fellow of the Leadership Academy of the Aging Life Care Association and is a member of the National Association of Social Workers. He served as the 2012 President of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is a Past-President for the South Central Chapter. In 2018, Byron was appointed to a five-year term on the Texas Council on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders by the Texas Speaker of the House. He currently serves as the President of the Board for the National Academy of Certified Care Managers; Chair of the Board of Directors for the South Texas Adult Protective Services Community Board, and Chair of the Board of Directors for the San Antonio & South Texas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Byron enjoys traveling and watching movies with his wife and their daughter.
Dr. Jullie Gray combines over three decades of experience in health care and aging, is an award-winning care manager, and is the Past President of the Aging Life Care Association.
She attended the University of Southern California where she completed her doctorate in social work. She also earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work with a specialization in health care, and a certificate in geriatric mental health at the University of Washington. Dr. Gray is a clinical instructor for the University of Washington’s School of Social Work. She also teaches at Southern New Hampshire University (Human Services) and Walden University (MSW program). She participates in local community advisory groups focused on aging, dementia, and elder abuse.
Stephanie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and an Advanced Professional/Fellow Member of the Aging Life Care Association®. In 2003, Stephanie founded Elder Options, Inc. after working as a Professional Geriatric Care Manager since 1995. Stephanie served on the Board of the Aging Life Care Association for 6 years and has also served as the President of the Aging Life Care Association Florida Chapter.
Venus Allen, MS, MSW, LCASA, CMC
Community Provider Coalition
Venus Allen is a macro social worker with twenty-five years of behavioral health experience. Venus founded Community Provider Coalition (a 501c3 non-profit) in 2013 that provides coaching, counseling, and consulting to small businesses. Her organization’s network helps healthcare agencies access community support and resources necessary to deliver great healthcare outcomes for patients served. Venus has a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from The University of West Alabama and a Master Social Work degree from The University of North Carolina in Charlotte. Venus is also a licensed addiction professional and Certified Care Manager through NACCM.
Linda M. Distlerath, PhD, JD – Public Member
Linda Distlerath is a senior executive in the health care industry with over three decades of experience in the global biopharmaceutical sector, bringing substantial expertise in public affairs and building favorable policy environments for business success in markets around the world. Highly regarded as an international leader in forging innovative and strategic alliances and partnerships, Linda excels in engaging a diverse range of stakeholders to impact market access, regulatory and legal policies across highly-regulated health and technology industries.
Linda most recently served as the Deputy Vice President of Advocacy and Strategic Alliances for the Pharmaceutical and Research Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) which represents the leading global biopharmaceutical companies. With a portfolio spanning China, India, South East Asia, Mexico and Canada, Linda led numerous multi-stakeholder partnerships and alliances, raising public awareness and securing government action on counterfeit medicines, chronic disease, intellectual property protection, health technology assessment, and drug pricing & reimbursement.
Previously, Linda led the global health practice at APCO Worldwide, a public affairs consultancy, as the primary business counselor and advisor to organizations in the health care, biopharmaceutical, food & beverage, and animal health sectors. Linda spent most of her career as a senior executive and corporate officer at Merck & Co., Inc., a Fortune100 global biopharmaceutical firm, where she led corporate public affairs and global health policy and served as president of the Merck Foundation.
Linda is an elected member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., a board member of the National Academy of Certified Care Managers, and on the advisory boards for the Aging Life Care Association, the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, the Indian Alliance of Patient Groups. She holds a B.S. in Medical Technology from the University of Michigan, a Ph.D. in Environment Health/Toxicology from the University of Cincinnati, a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Biochemistry from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and a J.D. from Rutgers University Law School.
Leisa R. Easom, PhD, RN
Associate Dean of Health Sciences, College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Georgia Southwestern State University
Dr. Easom has been a Registered Nurse for over 30 years and devoted much of her nursing practice to addressing the mental and physical health needs of the older adult population. She served as the Executive Director of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) and Pope Eminent Scholar at Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) from 2010-2018. Dr. Easom was a Professor of Nursing and served as the Chair in the GSW School of Nursing from 2007-2010. Prior to this, she served as the Program Coordinator of the RN-BSN program at Macon State College in Macon, Georgia. She has served as an adjunct professor for the Clinical Nurse Leader graduate program at the Medical College of Georgia.
Dr. Easom has published multiple peer-reviewed publications focusing on translational science and the implementation of evidence-based programs including Reach II, BRI Care Consultation, and Operation Family Caregiver. She completed her doctoral degree in nursing at the Medical College of Georgia in 2003. Post-doctoral education included end-of-life training. Certified in gerontology, Dr. Easom serves as an academic partner with the Aging Life Care Association.
Shantel Garcia, DSW, MPA, CMC
Los Angeles, CA
Dr. Shantel Garcia has over 20 years of experience in disability services. She has spent much of her career promoting advocacy and self-determination for individuals with developmental disabilities. Most recently focusing on how to reduce social isolation for underrepresented individuals with developmental disabilities. Dr. Garcia is a certified Person-Centered Thinking Trainer. She is also certified in Care Management from the National Academy of Certified Care Managers since 2021. Additionally, Dr. Garcia has served as an adjunct professor in the business division at El Camino College in California.
Dr. Garcia is a graduate of the University of Southern California where she received her doctorate in Social Work. She has a master’s degree in public administration from the California State University Dominguez Hills and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Dr. Garcia values her connection to her community and her culture. She has been an active as an alumnus at the various educational institutions she has attended. Additionally, she has volunteered in her community, spearheading events such as a back-to-school backpack giveaway and yearly diamond recognition program for the aged and ailing. Dr. Garcia is currently an alumna member of the Phi Alpha Honor Society, member of the Association of Black Social Workers Los Angeles and currently serves on the board of the Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival.
Deirdre Garrett-Scott, MPA, CDP, CMC
Atria Senior Living
Deirdre is the Assistant Executive Director at Atria Riverdale Senior Living. She is responsible for assisting with the day to day operations and ensuring the residents are provided with the highest quality of service.
She is a graduate of Metropolitan College of New York where she received her Master’s in Public Administration & Public Affairs. She received her Bachelor of Psychology degree from the College of New Rochelle. She is a Certified Dementia Practitioner from the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners since 2019. She is also certified in Care Management from the National Academy of Certified Care Managers since 2019.
Deirdre is a Charter Member and Executive Board Member for the National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC), Bronx Chapter since 2022. She is a former board member of the National Association of Local Long Term Care Ombudsmen serving two terms from 2018-2021. She serves as a Panel Member (Advocate) for the New York State Justice Center or the Protection of People with Special Needs since 2021.
Dr. Harriette Grooh is a Clinical Psychologist who received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Palo Alto University and her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Lone Mountain College, now University of San Francisco. In 1983 she established her private, for-profit interdisciplinary consultation and care management firm which serves the behavioral, bio-psycho-social needs of older adults and disabled beneficiaries of individual trusts and family offices in San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area.
She is a founding director and past-president of the Western Chapter of the Aging Life Care Association, and past board member of the ALCA, formerly known as National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. She is an Advanced Professional member of the ALCA and a certified care manager through the auspices of the National Academy of Certified Care Managers.
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