Digital Advisory Board Archives
Melissa Adams VanHouten is a former university political science instructor and corporate trainer who holds a B.S. in Political Science from St. Joseph’s College and an M.A. in Political Science from Indiana State University. After being diagnosed with gastroparesis in February of 2014, she became a passionate advocate for those in her community who feel voiceless and ignored.
Currently, as the Association of Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders (AGMD) Patient Education and Advocacy Specialist, International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) Patient Advisory Committee member, co-author of the book, “Real Life Diaries: Living with Gastroparesis,” and creator and administrator of several online patient support and advocacy groups, she spends her days advancing the cause of those who struggle with the sometimes devastating and life-altering effects of gastroparesis and other chronic illnesses. It is her fondest desire to empower others to advocate for awareness, better treatments, and, ultimately, cures.
A Stanford Medicine X e-Patient scholar, Marie Ennis O’Connor is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, writer, and consultant on global trends in patient engagement, digital health and participatory medicine. A board member of the Patient Empowerment Foundation, a network of people, foundations, organizations and medical institutions dedicated to empowering patients worldwide, Marie’s work is informed by her passion for embedding the patient voice at the heart of healthcare values. She writes about the experience of transitioning from breast cancer patient to advocate on her award-winning blog Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer.
Christina Lizaso, known on Twitter as @btrfly12, is a community engagement professional who utilizes her background in nonprofit and volunteer management to empower patients and strengthen the patient voice. Her passion for this is driven by her own strong family history of cancer. Christina is co-founder and co-moderator of the #gyncsm community for gynecologic cancer. Christina is also a digital ambassador for the National Society of Genetic Counselors, helping raise awareness about the important role of genetic counselors. Christina serves on the Patient Advisory Board for Clara Health, a clinical trials company striving to be the simplest, fastest, most patient-friendly way to connect patients to the newest treatment options. Christina’s professional services include tailoring health information for specific audiences on Twitter, Facebook and other digital media and bringing people together around carefully framed topics to foster enlightening discussion.
Casey Quinlan covered her share of medical stories as a TV news field producer, and used healthcare as part of her standup comedy set. When she got a cancer diagnosis five days before Christmas, she used her research, communication, and comedy skills to navigate treatment, and wrote “Cancer for Christmas: Making the Most of a Daunting Gift” about managing medical care, and the importance of health literate self-advocacy. She writes, she speaks, she facilitates the Festivus Airing of Grievances in healthcare. Her favorite people to work with are those who want to fix the system, not serve the status quo.
Jennifer Lessinger is a professional writer and editor who learned the value of patient empowerment during her struggle with a hard-to-diagnose and complex endocrine disorder.
Ray is President of RJP Communications LLC, developing and implementing public affairs strategies and plans to achieve clients’ communications, stakeholder engagement and business objectives. Ray has more than 25 years’ experience in public affairs, including responsibility for advising seven presidents/CEOs at AstraZeneca and Freddie Mac, with proven capabilities in executive communications, speechwriting, media strategies and training, marketing communications, employee communications, change management, advocacy relations and crisis communications.
While at AstraZeneca, Ray led communications for an unprecedented nine cancer medicine launches within 12 months and developed the communications strategy and plan for the largest restructuring in the company’s history. He served five years as Vice President, Corporate Communications, for the company’s US business. While at Freddie Mac, he led executive and employee communications, including overseeing crisis communication strategies and plans following the 9/11 attacks and during federal investigations.
Before leading corporate and marketing communications teams at AstraZeneca and Freddie Mac, he worked for several newspapers, including The Washington Times and The Virginian Pilot, as an editor and reporter. He began his career as a financial analyst for General Electric and Lotus Development.
Ray holds a bachelor’s in Economics and History from the College of William and Mary and a master’s in Journalism from Northwestern University. He has served on the boards of the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware and the AstraZeneca Healthcare Foundation.
Sujata is an accomplished engineer and management professional with experience in strategic long-range planning, resource allocation and capacity building. Sujata holds a BA in Economics, a MSc in International Fashion Marketing, and a MS in Engineering Management. In a career spanning over 20 years, Sujata has lived and worked in Asia, Europe, and North America. Working across Hospitality, Retail, Consumer Goods and Healthcare, Sujata believes no matter the size or type of business, team, or country – three things are most important – building relations, continuous learning, and teamwork.
Giving back to the community has been an integral part of her life. Sujata has been volunteering for several years for underprivileged children and the elderly in India, supported Oxfam and the British Heart Foundation when she lived in the UK and for the Chance Foundation and Mayo clinic in the US. She served as an advisory member in the enrollment and capacity management committee at the Osseo School District from 2016-2019. When Sujata was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in December of 2019, she shifted her passion for volunteering towards cancer and cancer patients. Sujata is on a mission to ‘normalize’ cancer by providing strength, encouragement, and empowerment to cancer patients and caregivers. Through social media outlets, Sujata lends her ears, voice, and support to patients and caregivers from across the globe. She shares her experience with newly diagnosed patients and talks about the power of positivity, one ‘bold’ step at a time.
Sujata lives in Minnesota with her loving husband and two gorgeous boys. She enjoys traveling and watching baking shows in her free time. Sujata is immensely passionate about mixed media painting. She combines her passion for painting and community-giving by donating her paintings to raise funds for her favorite charities.
Learn More About Sujata:
Andrea Marquez is a Mexican-American with 8+ years of professional experience in production, digital marketing, administration and communications strategies. She currently works at Amazon as a Podcast Host and Producer for Amazon’s first official podcast with the goal of helping small business owners.
Her past roles at the Hispanic Communications Network and Cien+ involved managing clients/projects, timelines, metrics and reporting. With a background in journalism and communications strategy, Andrea curated and executed high-impact campaigns that were distributed through La Red Hispana and developed LatinEQUIS, an English-language brand seeking to motivate Millennial and Gen Z audiences to get involved with the Latinx community.
Andrea’s previous experience includes working for singer and producer Marc Anthony’s company, developing a rebranding strategy, improving communications, and engaging Marc’s fanbase. She also worked at A&E Networks, the parent company of AE Network, the History Channel, and Lifetime — as a digital editor and marketing manager. During her time at A&E, Andrea led production teams for in-house productions, was in charge of History Channel’s YouTube content and served as a key part of the team that initiated a corporate diversity program within the company. While finishing her Master’s degree Andrea was a freelance writer and event organizer in Texas and Mexico City, working with the Secretariat of Agriculture of Mexico, the Penguin Random House Publishing Company, and various production companies.
Andrea holds a B.A. in Political Science and Theatre Directing from Columbia University in New York City and a Master’s in Journalism and Legal Studies from Harvard University. During her free time, she enjoys reading (she reviews books for Penguin Random House), building Legos, or doing anything that involves being creative.
Listen to Andrea share her and her family’s inspiring story of patient empowerment on Rosa es Rojo’s SuperVive podcast, here.