ACH Board Of Directors

Cropped Profile Photo of Bronwyn Wilson
Bronwyn Wilson, MD, MS, MPH, FACH
Member at Large

University of New Mexico Senior Associate Dean Professor, Internal Medicine Albuquerque, NM

Bronwyn Wilson, MD, MSEd, MPH, is the Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Career Development at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine (UNM SOM). She is Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine. Her academic interests have been in teaching and assessing communication skills, health literacy, and faculty career development and mentorship. She joined the SOM Office of Faculty Affairs and Career Development in 2008 and has been the Senior Associate Dean of that office since July 2012. In this role she oversees all aspects of faculty life from recruitment through promotion to retirement. She also sees primary care patients at one of the University Family Health clinics and has special interest and expertise in Health Literacy, Cross-Cultural Communication and Inter-professional Education and Practice. She is fluent in Spanish. Nationally, she has been a faculty member of the Academy on Communication in Healthcare (ACH) since 2006. She facilitates workshops, participates in train-the-trainer programs, and is an active mentor for the ACH facilitator-in-training program.

Cropped Photo of Denise Davis
Denise Davis, MD, FACH
VP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

University of California, San Francisco

General Internist and Clinical Professor of Medicine San Francisco, CA

Denise L. Davis is a general internist, Clinical Professor of Medicine at University of California San Francisco and she serves as Associate Director for Faculty Development for the San Francisco VA Center of Excellence in Primary Care Education. Dr. Davis teaches faculty development workshops locally and nationally on communication skills, including ground breaking workshops for the Academy on Communication in Healthcare on opening discussions about race in clinical settings and facilitating small groups with cultural humility. She has conducted focus groups with African American patients about health and doctor-patient communication, the results of which inform her teaching. Dr. Davis consults and teaches for medical groups including Florida Hospital Orlando, Colon Rectal Surgery Associates Limited in Minneapolis, Fairview Medical Group of Minneapolis, San Mateo Medical Center, San Mateo California and Franciscan Medical Group in Tacoma Washington on topics including improving doctor-patient communication, obtaining informed consent, negotiating cultural differences in clinical relationships, disclosing medical errors and giving effective feedback. Dr. Davis is a past recipient of the prestigious Kaiser Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching for her work with students at UCSF School of Medicine and was recognized by the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators as an outstanding teacher in 2013. Dr. Davis was elected to the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators in 2015.

Cropped Profile Photo of Eman Elbanna
Eman Elbanna, MBBCH, MPH
Student/Professional Trainee Member-at-Large

Alexandria University Alexandra, Egypt

As a faculty member at Alexandria University and doing her PhD thesis in patient-centered communication (PCC), she found that this area needs to be improved among healthcare providers in her country. Therefore, being an ACH board member will allow her to build a career in teaching PCC for post-graduate students in her institute. This also will allow for better application of health communication and literacy research principles in different healthcare organizations in Egypt. Additionally, I will convey my experience in the field of health communication to my institute.

The field of health communication has become one of the most important aspects of public health. I am interested in getting experience of recent advances in health communication research methods. I believe that joining the ACH and serving as a board member would give great experience in the field.

Cropped Profile Photo of Gretchen Fuller
Gretchen Fuller, MD, FACEP, FACH

UT Austin Dell Medical School Austin, Texas

Since joining ACH in 2018, I have taken a “deep dive” into the world of health communication. Within ACH, I completed RCF training and the FIT program, recently graduating to Faculty. During this training, I have had the opportunity to co-facilitate workshops on foundational health communication and topics such as coaching and RCC for leading teams and racial equity. Outside of ACH, I have developed a healthcare communication curriculum for the pediatric emergency medicine Fellowship at Dell Medical School, teach an undergraduate course at UT on communication strategies for healthcare professionals, and teach communication skills across the UME, GME, and CME continuum. Outside of academic work, I serve as the assistant director of patient experience for an acute care contracting company and develop and disseminate communication best-practices for our >5,500 employees.

Cropped Profile Photo of Jhoanna Santos
Jhoanna Santos, MD
Member at Large

Skagit Regional Health Arlington, WA

Jhoanna Santos, MD, FACP is a practicing general internist and geriatrician for over 10 years at Skagit Regional Health in Mount Vernon, WA. She is the Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Skagit Regional Health and an adjunct clinical faculty at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, an osteopathic medical school in Yakima, WA. She is also the Division Chief for Ambulatory Medicine of the medical executive committee at Skagit Valley Hospital.

Dr. Santos participated in the RCC course at the 2019 ACH course in Pittsburgh which she found to be innovative and life-changing. Being in active outpatient practice in a community-based setting, she brings the perspective of being in the forefront of looking into ways of improving communication, patient care and physician satisfaction in their practice as well as reducing healthcare disparities. As the residency program director, she ensures diversity and inclusion in residents and faculty. She started incorporating relationship-centered communication into the residency curriculum. She hopes to spread the value of ACH to a community setting which requires resourcefulness to provide high-value care including diversity, equity and inclusion.

Cropped Profile Photo of Kirsten Isgro
Kirsten Isgro, PhD
Patient/Community Member Representative Member at Large

State University of New York Associate Professor Department of Communication Studies

University of Vermont, Core Faculty Department of Biomedical and Health Sciences Plattsburgh, NY/Burlington, VT

Kirsten Isgro, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in Communication Studies at the State University of New York in Plattsburgh and core faculty in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences,  Department of Biomedical and Health Sciences at the University of Vermont. She also teaches health communication for Champlain College’s Continuing Professional Studies Healthcare Management program.  She is committed to improving communication between providers and patients and their families, with a specific focus on disabilities and sexual minorities.

Her academic interests include gender/sexuality studies, sexual justice and health communication.  Her current research focuses on the communicative role of (end-of-life and birth) doulas and the impact on health outcomes for those who access doula services.  Much of her patient advocacy focuses on interprofessional collaboration with the explicit purpose of improving organizational systems for individuals seeking health and social services.

Profile Picture OF Laura Kirk
VP of External Education

UT Southwestern Medical Center Dallas, TX

Laura Kirk, MSPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, is the Assistant Director of Advanced Practice Providers- Ambulatory Services at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. She received her Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies in 2000 from Arcadia University in Philadelphia, PA. She has worked clinically as a PA since that time in several surgical fields: orthopaedic surgery, interventional radiology, and otolaryngology. In addition to her administrative roles, PA Kirk also has an ambulatory otology and general otolaryngology practice at UT Southwestern. Her clinical and academic interests include vestibular migraine and tinnitus.

While in clinical practice at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), PA Kirk participated in the Relationship-Centered Communication full-day course in 2015 and soon after was recruited to join the UCSF communication facilitation team. She completed the Relationship-centered Communication Facilitation program in 2016 and then enrolled in the Faculty-in-Training program, graduating in 2019. PA Kirk was a funded scholar for the RCC for Equity and Inclusion facilitator training program in 2020.

Cropped Profile Photo of Lynn O'Neill
Lynn O’Neill, MD, MS
VP of Internal Education

Emory University Atlanta, GA

Lynn O’Neill, MD, MS, is Associate Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Family & Preventive Medicine, Program Director of the Hospice & Palliative Medicine Fellowship, and Associate Director of the Palliative Care Center at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  After undergraduate work at Emory, she entered medical school at Vanderbilt and continued her training in internal medicine residency at University of Alabama, Birmingham. She then completed fellowships in palliative care and geriatric medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.  She held faculty positions at Mount Sinai and Duke University prior to joining the faculty at Emory in 2014.  Her clinical work is focused at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, and she is proud to be able to provide veterans and their families with the symptom management and support they need while living with serious illness.  In addition to a love for clinical palliative care, she gains great joy from teaching communication skills both on the wards and in formal communication courses.   She developed the communication course, GeriTalk, designed to provide fellows in geriatrics and palliative care with the essential skills necessary to discuss serious news and goals of care.  She facilitates communication skills courses nationally as a faculty member of both the Academy of Communication in Healthcare (ACH) and VitalTalk and serves as the Vice President for Internal Education of the ACH.

Cropped Profile Photo of Nick Ruffin
Nick Ruffin, , CAE
Interim Executive Director

AMR Management Services

Nick is serving as Interim Executive Director for ACH. Nick is the President & Chief Executive Officer of AMR, ACH’s association management company. 19 years of experience working with associations.

Cropped Profile Photo of Noelle Elizabeth Spencer
Noelle Elizabeth Spencer, MS
Member at Large

Magee-Womens research Institute Clinical Research Assistant Pittsburgh, PA

Noelle Elizabeth Spencer is a mixed-methods researcher pursuing her PhD in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. She earned her MSc in Gender, Policy and Inequalities at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Noelle’s research has centered around such topics as health equity, sexual and reproductive health, and substance use.

Noelle’s interests in sexual and reproductive health and health equity began in undergraduate school, where she co-founded a comprehensive sexual health education program to provide reproductive health information to students at a local middle school. This experience led her to her first academic research project which aimed to create a sexual health education smartphone application to increase ease of access to comprehensive sexual health education information for 12-17-year-old girls. Her current research interests include barriers and facilitators to menstrual product access, and diverse experiences of menstruation. She is committed to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the health sciences and believes that effective, culturally competent, and accessible communication is an incredibly important part of this pursuit. She hopes to utilize effective healthcare communication methods and tools to promote equitable health outcomes throughout her future career.

Cropped Profile Photo of Nynikka Palmer
Nynikka Palmer, DrPH, MPH
Vice President of Research

University of California, San Francisco Associate Professor San Francisco, CA

Nynikka Palmer, DrPH, MPH is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), with secondary appointments in the departments of Urology and Radiation Oncology. Her research program aims to develop actionable solutions with cultural influences to enhance delivery of high-quality prostate cancer care for African American/Black men in low resource settings, using interventions such as peer navigation, relationship-centered communication skills training, and digital communication tools for providers to improve health equity. She leads a support group for African American/Black men facing prostate cancer that will celebrate its ten-year anniversary in September 2024. Dr. Palmer is committed to mentoring early career investigators, serving as Associate Director for the Center for Aging in Diverse Communities at UCSF, where she leads the Research Education Component. She is also the Assistant Director for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility for Faculty within the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Cropped Profile Photo of Raghava Nagaraj
Raghava Nagaraj, MD, MPH

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Clemmons, NC

My journey with ACH began during a challenging period in my career, where clinical burnout was a real concern. The ACH provided me with a real lifeline of opportunity and personal growth that has since transformed not only my professional life but also my personal relationships.

Over the past nine years, I have been deeply engaged with ACH, starting as a member, then as a Faculty in Training (FIT) and finally progressing to Faculty. At ACH, I was welcomed with open arms, made to feel part of a family and found the mentorship I had never thought I needed. In addition to honing my communication skills, facilitating one on one and group learning, it became a journey of self-discovery and reflection that has become an integral part of my personal and professional growth. I have had a better understanding and a renewed passion in being active towards the pursuit for healthcare and societal equity because of this relationship as well.

Cropped Photo Of Tara Bristol Rouse
Tara Bristol Rouse, MA, CPHQ, CPXP, BCPA, CPPS
Vice President of Patient Partnership

Partnership Health Advisors

Tara Bristol Rouse is a Principal at Partnership Health Advisors, where she provides leadership and consultative services for a diverse portfolio of federally and privately funded projects focused on healthcare quality, safety, equity and patient experience. Partner organizations have included the American Hospital Association, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MedStar Health and others. Tara currently holds faculty appointments with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the National Institute for Children’s Healthcare Quality, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care Partners.

Tara is a Certified Practitioner of Human-Centered Design and is passionate about using a design thinking approach that engages the human perspective in all aspects of systems-building, organizational development, improvement and problem-solving. Tara is also a TeamSTEPPS Master and an accomplished keynote speaker.

With ACH, Tara has served as one of the inaugural Professional Patient Partners (PPPs) in an innovative program through the ACH Patient Partnership Committee to gain insight on how ACH can best integrate patient partnerships in organizational programs by having the PPPs participate in the Relationship Centered Communication Facilitation program and attend ENRICH and ICCH with the objective of offering advice and guidance on how to expand patient partnerships and involvement in the organization including its educational offerings. Tara has embraced this work and is also pursuing additional ACH training through the Faculty in Training program.

Cropped Profile Photo of Timothy Gilligan
Timothy Gilligan, MD, MS, FACH

Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute Cleveland, OH

Dr. Timothy Gilligan is an Associate Professor of Medicine and a medical oncologist specializing in urological malignancies at the Cleveland Clinic, where he also serves as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer for Graduate Medical Education. His work is divided evenly between clinical and educational responsibilities. In the educational space, he is the Vice-Chair for Education at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, and previously served as the hematology/oncology fellowship program director for ten years. At the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, he the associate director of the communication skills course for first and second year medical students and serves as the advisor for 10 students. Dr. Gilligan served on the leadership team that developed and launched the Cleveland Clinic Center for Excellence in Healthcare Communication, which has trained over 7000 clinicians in a one-day small-group experiential communication skills course. Together with Dr. Adrienne Boissy, he co-edited the book Communication the Cleveland Clinic Way. He has published numerous essays on healthcare communication in the New York Times, the Journal of Clinical Oncology and on the healthcare blog https://Cura.Space.

At Cleveland Clinic and other hospitals and at national and international conferences, he teaches communication skills, team-building, and coaching, and trains others to teach communication skills. He is now focused on developing educational interventions related to diversity, equity and inclusion, with a particular focus on allyship and microaggressions and developing an antiracist culture. He completed the Academy on Communication in Healthcare three-year faculty training program and is a member of their faculty.

Cropped Profile Photo of Veronica Victorian
Veronica Victorian, DMSc, PA-C
Research and Health Equity Member at Large

Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Texas

Veronica Victorian, DMSc, PA-C, currently serves as the Vice Chair for DEI for all of Texas Children’s Hospital, as well as the Chair of Surgery Advanced Practice Provider (APP) Diversity Council. She completed the Leading Workforce Diversity Certification Course (Rice University) in June 2022. Her experience as a trained facilitator of ACH RCC DEI has been used to facilitate others’ learning at her institution. In her role on the ACH Leadership Development Committee (LDC), Veronica has contributed to reviewing member applications. She also was integral in creating inclusive language for applications for ACH fellows. Veronica continues to make valuable contributions to the LDC team using her DEI training and skills.