2017 Award Winners
Michael O. Leavitt—Keynote Speaker
Michael O. Leavitt served in the Cabinet of President George W. Bush as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and as the Secretary of Health and Human Services. He is also a three-time elected governor of Utah. He is the founder and Chairman of Leavitt Partners, where he helps clients navigate the future as they transition to new and better models of care.
Patricia Sulak, M.D.
Founder of Living WELL Aware™, is a nationally recognized practicing physician, researcher, speaker, and medical school professor. She graduated from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Medicine and was named the 2006 Distinguished Alumnus. In addition to her busy clinical practice, she presents throughout the country to businesses, organizations, schools, and healthcare institutions on disease prevention through healthy living. Dr. Sulak is author of Should I Fire My Doctor? and also comprehensive wellness program Living WELL Aware™: Eleven Essential Elements to Health and Happiness. She continues to be included in “Best Doctors in America” and “Texas Super Docs” and has been selected as an Outstanding Clinical Instructor by the Texas A&M College of Medicine medical students. Dr. Sulak was given a “Heroes for Children” award by the Texas State Board of Education and received the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology Community Service Award for her work in school health. She is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking research on management of numerous women’s health issues. Dr. Sulak’s truly unique wellness program Living WELL Aware™ encompasses all aspects of our health including nutritious food consumption, balanced fitness, emotional health, and stress reduction. (livingWELLaware.com) Her books, keynote addresses, and conferences delineate essential elements to health and happiness, empowering everyone to take ownership of their well-being and partner with their healthcare providers for optimal health.
Michael S. Fenster, MD, FACC, FSCA&I, PEMBA
Known to friends and fans simply as “Dr. Mike,” he is America’s Dean of Delicious. Mike is a board-certified interventional cardiologist and professional chef. In addition to his clinical practice, he hosts a weekly national radio show, Code Delicious with Dr. Mike on RadioMD with podcasts available there, iheart radio, and iTunes. His Food As Therapy (FAT) Initiative™ recognizes the importance of the food experience in our lives as well as the impact of the quality of the comestibles we ingest; as only a physician and chef could. This approach was highlighted in 2016 when he served as the national spokesperson for the NET Fusion Initiative sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceutical; which educated those suffering from neuroendocrine tumors (NET) and carcinoid syndrome.
Dr. Mike has appeared as an expert guest on many national radio and television programs; including The Doctors, and Fox National News; where he serves as a national contributor. He has taught and explored the relationship between food and health through international workshops, seminars, lectures and cooking demonstrations. He currently writes a regular column for Psychology Today and has authored several books; Eating Well; Living Better: A Grassroots Gourmet Guide to Good Health and Great Food (Littlefield and Roman, 2012) and The Fallacy of The Calorie: Why The Modern Western Diet is Killing Us and How to Stop It (Koehler Books, 2014). Ancient Eats: The Greeks and Vikings; Koehler Books, October 2016) is his latest endeavor.
He spends his free time between wandering the beautiful Montana mountains and the Florida Gulf; where he passively pursues his dream of a simple, pirate’s life. He can be found on Twitter @WCWD, Facebook at facebook.com/whatscookingwithdoc and at cardiochef.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Al Lewis wears multiple hats, both professionally and also to cover his bald spot. As an author, his critically acclaimed category-bestselling book on outcomes measurement, Why Nobody Believes the Numbers, chronicling and exposing the innumeracy of the health management field, was named 2012 healthcare book of the year in Forbes. Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care, released in 2013, was also a trade bestseller. His 2014 book Surviving Workplace Wellness has also received great accolades and excerpts appeared in Harvard Business Review and elsewhere.
As a validator of population health outcomes, he is the primary consultant to the Intel-GE Validation Institute.
As an executive, he is the founder of Quizzify, whose mission is to help companies teach their employees to utilize healthcare services appropriately, using a format best described as Jeopardy®-meets-health benefit education-meets-Comedy Central. Quizzify is the only vendor authorized to display the Harvard Medical School “Veritas” shield.
But he still can’t get his kids to clean up their rooms.
Dr. Martin Makary
Dr. Makary is a professor of Health Policy & Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a busy pancreas surgeon at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Makary is the New York Times bestselling author of Unaccountable, and has written for The Wall Street Journal, TIME Magazine, Newsweek. He is a frequent health commentator for CNN and FOXNews.
Ryan Picarella MS, SPHR
As President of WELCOA, Ryan works with communities and organizations around the country to ignite social movements that will improve the lives of all working people in America and around the world. With a deep interest in culture and sociology, Ryan approaches initiatives from a holistic perspective that recognizes the many paths to well-being that must be in alignment for long-term healthy lifestyle behavior change. Ryan brings immense knowledge and insight to WELCOA from his background in psychology and a career that spans human resources, organizational development and wellness program and product design. Prior to joining WELCOA, Ryan managed the award winning BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST) Well@Work employee wellness program, a 2012 C. Everett Koop honorable mention awardee. Since relocating to Nebraska, Ryan has enjoyed an active role in the community, currently serving on the Board for the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition in Omaha. Ryan has a Master of Science in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Northern Arizona University. Contact Ryan at RPicarella@WELCOA.org
Bret Romney is the founder and President of Ascend Strategies, Inc. Ascend Strategies is a company focused on helping organizations apply the principles, strategies and disciplines necessary to reach new levels of success. By using the unique “Success Orienteering” approach, Ascend’s clients are challenged to recognize the realities of their industries & businesses (the mountain), identify and define what success looks like (the trail from base camp to the summit), and then how get on with the hike toward that higher level of success.
Bret is a frequent speaker on topics specific to innovation, leadership, and challenging entrenched industry thinking. Areas of focus include vision and culture, strategic and operational planning, current market assessments, challenging conventional wisdom, niche development, leadership development, marketing & sales, consulting, goal setting & execution, project management, team building, motivation, and how to best engage employees in company vision. He teaches workshops and facilitates retreats for many companies in various industries, including those in the fast-changing health & wellness industries.
In addition to spending time with his wife Donna and their children, Bret’s other interests include fly-fishing, mountain biking, climbing, backpacking and other outdoor activities.
Doug is a Solutions Architect and consultant who serves a broad spectrum of healthcare providers including insurance companies, third-party administrators, wellness programs, hospital systems, home care services, durable medical equipment companies and workman compensation plans. He began his career in healthcare as a microbiologist and then shifted into software development, data science and consulting. He has worked for over twenty five years in positions ranging from patient care, cardiac telemetry, phlebotomy and lab technician, clinical staff manager, CIO, software engineer, database administrator, analyst and consultant. Data, critical pathways and quality assurance have played an integral part in every role. Proper curation of data workflows and assuring effective hypothesis to results delivery are passions of his along with augmenting or building teams to use technology appropriately and effectively.