James L. Brooks, MDiv, is the Associate State Director for AARP Virginia. Previously, Brooks served for eight years as Founding Executive Director of Project Compassion, a non-profit organization in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, that creates community and provides caregiving, end of life, grief, and general support for people living with serious illness. Brooks authored the book The Unbroken Circle: A Toolkit for Congregations around Illness, End of Life and Grief. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “State Initiatives in End of Life Care” profiled Brooks as one of five Emerging Leaders in end-of-life care nationally in 2006. Prior to 2002, Brooks served as a clinical manager for Big Bend Hospice in Tallahassee, Florida, for five years and as Director of Youth, Family and Older Adult Services for Eastern Area Community Ministries in Louisville, Kentucky, for six years.
Ira Byock, MD, is Director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and a Professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. Dr. Byock has been involved in hospice and palliative care since 1978 during his residency. At that time he helped found a hospice home-care program for the indigent population served by the university hospital and county clinics of Fresno, California. During the 1990s he was a co-founder and principal investigator for the Missoula Demonstration Project, a community- based organization in Montana. From 1996 through 2006, he served as Director for Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care, a national grant program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He is a past president of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Dr. Byock has authored numerous articles on the ethics and practice of hospice, palliative, and end-of-life care. His first book, Dying Well has become a standard in the field. The Four Things That Matter Most is used as a counseling tool in both palliative care and pastoral care. Dr. Byock has been a consistent advocate for the voice and rights of dying patients and their families. His most recent book, The Best Care Possible (March 2012), tackles the crisis that surrounds serious illness in America and his quest to transform care through the end of life.
Allie Shukraft, MSW, MAT, provides palliative care social work to children and families dealing with serious illness at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. She has been in this position since completing her Master’s in Social Work at The University of North Carolina Charlotte. Shukraft is a member of the Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition of North Carolina, the National Association of Social Workers, and Social Workers in Hospice and Palliative Care Network. She started The Healing Challenge Grief Camp at YMCA Camp Greenville and is working on becoming a Certified Healing Touch provider. Before becoming a social worker, Shukraft taught middle and high school English in North Carolina, California, and Washington. Although she has worn many professional hats (raft guide, sommelier, swim coach, environmental educator), she finds pediatric palliative care to be the best fit. Shukraft is originally from Oakland, California.
Daniel Spurgeon, MD, is a physician and artist currently living in Los Angeles, California. He completed a palliative medicine fellowship at The Institute for Palliative Medicine at San Diego Hospice. He now works with the palliative care team at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, California, providing both inpatient and outpatient care. As a speaker, he has presented various palliative-care topics for medical and non-medical audiences in various locations, including Kyiv, Ukraine. He has facilitated haiku workshops at San Diego Hospice, assisted living facilities, and a correctional facility. He has been faculty poet for the Being With Dying Conferences with Joan Halifax. And he has delivered talks to medical audiences on the topic of dignity and storytelling, making interactive use of StoryCorps stories. As a writer, he is currently developing works for film and theater that explore end-of-life stories.
David G. Stevenson, SM, PhD, is an associate professor of health policy in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School. His primary research interests are aging, disability, and long-term care. Prior to joining the Department of Health Care Policy, Dr. Stevenson worked in a variety of policy and research settings, including the United States Public Health Service, the University of Washington School of Public Health, the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, and the Urban Institute. His work in these organizations focused on state long term care policy reforms, access to health care for people with disabilities, and the use of cost- effectiveness research in setting health policy priorities. Currently, he is a member of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Long-Term Care Financing Advisory Committee and Harvard University’s Standing Committee on Higher Degrees in Health Policy.
Lillian Tsai, LCSW, ACSW, is the Assistant Director of Social Work at St. LukeÊ¼s Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. She is responsible for managing the day-to-day operation of the social work department at the Roosevelt site. After 17 years of experience in hospital settings, including Coney Island Hospital, Seaview Hospital and Home and Long Island College Hospital, she has accumulated extensive knowledge in the area of aging and health care. She is also an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College School of Social Work and Columbia University School of Social Work. Since 2008, she has served on the Board of Directors of Heights and Hills, a case management agency serving older adults in Brooklyn. Prior to working in hospitals, her professional experience consisted of child welfare and victim services. For over 20 years, she was involved in the movement of crime victimsÊ¼ rights and services delivery.