NVHR Steering Committee Nominee Bios
The NVHR Steering Committee election is now open. Please review the nominees’ qualifications below. Please use the link below to select 5 out of the 10 nominees to serve as NVHR Steering Committee Members. We can accept only one ballot from each voting organization, if more than one person in your organization is on the NVHR mailing list, please discuss your organization’s vote internally. http://www.surveymk.com/s/2012NVHRelectionballot
Glenn Backes, MPH
Glenn Backes is a longtime viral hepatitis, drug policy, and harm reduction advocate. He is California Hepatitis Alliance's public policy consultant and plays a major role in developing and advancing CalHEP's statewide advocacy agenda. He was a leader in the successful effort to pass historic pharmacy syringe access legislation in the state in 2010. Glenn would bring significant policy analysis and strategy skills and experience to the Steering Committee. He would also bring the voice of over 100 viral hepatitis organizations in California.
I am the Executive Director and Founder of MoHepC since 1999, a former president of the NHCAC, member of the Hepatitis planning Group and a former NVHR steering committee member, I have been a member of NVHR since 2002 and am currently on the membership committee. I am also the co-chair of the state Community Planning Group for Missouri. I was diagnosed in 1989 and after 5 rounds of treatment, I have been cured of my HCV since 1999. MoHepC provides free testing, peer counseling, referral to providers and support to people at risk for or infected with HCV. We have implemented a program that provided 1,796 free tests and found 294 people positive for HCV. i also gave 117 educational presentations across the state. I want to return to the steering committee so that I may be more active in the national affairs around viral hepatitis. I feel that my background with grass roots organizations and collaboration, as well as my experience in making hill visits; I will be an asset to the roundtable and the community as a whole.
I am seeking a second term on the Steering Committee. I currently serve on the Executive Committee as the NVHR Secretary. In the past three years, I have taken a leadership role in NVHR public policy advocacy, community, and organizational development. In 2010, I helped plan and execute our success viral hepatitis rally at the U.S. Capitol. This year, I am overseeing NVHR's election year project, surveying Congressional candidates about their positions on viral hepatitis legislative and funding issues. If elected, I will continue to bring my public policy, coalition-building, and grassroots organizing skills and experience to further our mission and agenda.
Robert G. Gish, MD
Dr. Gish began his medical training in 1974 when he was enrolled into the Pharmacy School at the University of Kansas. Dr. Gish transferred to the University of Kansas Medical School in 1977 and completed his medical degree in 1980. Dr. Gish went on to complete a 3-year residency in internal medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and a 4-year fellowship in gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of California Los Angeles, during which time he was awarded the NIH Physician Scientist Award to study calcium signaling in liver cells. After completing his training, Dr. Gish moved to San Francisco and took a position at the California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), formerly known as Pacific Presbyterian Hospital. He became the co-medical director of the Liver Transplant Program in 1988 and then the Medical Director of the Liver Transplant Program in 1994. In that role he developed an outreach program with 14 clinics that eventually served more than 35,000 patients in the Northern California and Nevada regions, and made the CPMC a leading liver transplant center in the US. Dr. Gish has had and continues to have an active research program in viral hepatitis, liver transplant, liver cancer, bioartificial liver, and public policy, especially related to liver cancer, liver transplantation, and viral hepatitis. Although his primary research focus is clinical research, he frequently collaborates with basic scientists in his research activities. He has published more than 500 original articles, review articles, abstracts, and book chapters and more than 100 peer review publications. Dr. Gish is also actively involved in numerous professional societies, including the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the American Society of Transplant Physicians. He is a fellow of both the American College of Physicians and a long-term member of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Dr. Gish has served on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Gastroenterology, Journal of Hepatology, Digestive Diseases and Sciences, Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Liver Transplantation and Surgery, and Journal of Viral Hepatitis. In December 2010, Dr. Gish moved to San Diego to join the faculty of University of California San Diego as a Clinical Professor of Medicine, Section Chief of Hepatology, and Director of the Center for Hepatobiliary Disease and Abdominal Transplantation (C.H.A.T.). Activities in the HBV Free San Francisco and San Diego have led to the screening of over 4000 people for viral hepatitis. Dr Gish has had a major interest in Viet Nam and has help co-author a public health policy for liver heath in that country and is assisting with health care policy in the Philippines and Armenia.
Mathew Ignacio, MSSW
Matt rejoined the NNAAPC staff this year as a Capacity Building Liaison. He previously worked at NNAAPC in 2009 as the Director of Training and Development, managing a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - Minority AIDS Initiative, HIV/AIDS training program. Prior to NNAAPC, Matt worked in the Michael Palm Center for AIDS Care and Support at Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC). GMHC is the world's first and largest AIDS service organization located in New York City. Matt developed, implemented and evaluated GMHC’s first sterile syringe access program under New York State’s Expanded Syringe Access Program (ESAP). His responsibilities also included: providing harm reduction-based alcohol and drug counseling, providing individual-level psychotherapy for HIV-positive clients and facilitating psycho-educational and supportive group counseling. Prior to GMHC, Matt worked at the Harm Reduction Coalition’s (HRC) New York City office as the Harm Reduction Training Institute’s National Training Coordinator. Matt received his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2000, and in 2008, received his Masters of Science in Social Work from Columbia University. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Center for Progressive Leadership Fellowship Program - Colorado State office. Lastly, Matt is a current member of the Harm Reduction Action Center’s Syringe Exchange Advisory Board, as well as the Chinook Fund’s Grantmaking Committee. As a member of the Tohono O' odham tribe of Arizona, he has long advocated for Native American involvement in policies that impact Native communities, such as injection drug use and the corresponding risk for HIV and HCV. Matt will bring an informed and articulate Native voice to the table.
Kim Nguyen, MSW
Kim Nguyen has been the Program Manager for the Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington (HBCW) at WithinReach since 2006. She has also worked in public policy on oral health and HIV/AIDS issues, and previously directed the adult employment programs at the YWCA. Her interest and experiences are in organizing and mobilizing on health disparities, civil rights, and social justice issues, particularly for the Asian Pacific Islander community. She was a past District 7 Commissioner on the King County Civil Rights Commission, most recent Board President of OCA-Greater Seattle, an advocacy organization for the Chinese and Asian Pacific American community, and is currently on the Advisory Committee of the CARE project (Community Action Research and Empowerment) at the Vietnamese Friendship Association and on the Board of the International Community Health Services Foundation. She obtained her BA degree in Sociology from Whitman College in 1995, and Masters in Social Work from the University of Washington in 2000. Although she was born in Vietnam and has lived in WA since 1997, she still calls Hawaii home.
Michael Ninburg, MPA
Since 2001, Michael Ninburg has been Executive Director of the Hepatitis Education Project (HEP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting hepatitis patients. At HEP, Michael works with local, state and federal legislators and agencies to advocate on behalf of hepatitis patients; operates one of the only walk-in resource centers for hepatitis patients in the country; offers free hepatitis C testing and vaccination for hepatitis A and B; maintains a national support hotline; works with support group leaders; publishes a newsletter, HEPNews; and conducts educational programs for numerous groups, including medical providers, public health workers and prisoners. Michael is a former hepatitis patient himself, and currently serves as Vice Chair of the NVHR Steering Committee. He has partnered on hepatitis-related issues with the World Health Organization, the US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC and numerous state and local health departments. Michael's breadth and depth of experience, both professional and personal, make him ideally suited to represent the patient community on the NVHR Steering Committee. Michael studied Philosophy at UCLA and has a Master's Degree in Public Administration from the University of Washington.
I have served on NVHR's Steering Committee for several years, currently as Chair. I've been extremely proud to help contribute to NVHR's growth, development and leadership in viral hepatitis, and it would be an honor to continue to serve NVHR and the viral hepatitis community. I came to viral hepatitis advocacy nearly a decade ago through my work in harm reduction and syringe exchange; as the Policy Director for the Harm Reduction Coalition, hepatitis C is a major part of my work, my organization's mission and policy agenda, and the advocacy, training and education, and capacity-building work of our staff. I have witnessed and participated in the success of NVHR’s efforts to make viral hepatitis a national priority and demand the leadership and resources necessary to end the hepatitis B and hepatitis C epidemics. But we still have so much more work to do – we still have too many preventable deaths and too many needless new infections. Inadequate access to services and care drives persistent health disparities. This is a pivotal time for NVHR and the viral hepatitis community: we can finally envision transforming the national response to viral hepatitis, but there are as many risks as opportunities ahead. I would like the opportunity to continue contributing my policy and advocacy experience and my leadership and management skills to NVHR through serving on the Steering Committee. I believe I can help NVHR and our communities grow even stronger and become a powerful force to end the viral hepatitis epidemic.
Mary Sylla, JD, MPH
I am the Director of C.Change, a member of NVHR. C.Change empowers, educates and advocates for improved hepatitis C testing and treatment in jails and prisons. I am the Founding Director – and most recently the Director of Policy – of the Center for Health Justice, a HIV/prisoner health organization. I have worked as a lawyer and policy advocate on infectious disease and prisoner health for 15 years, and also worked at the ACLU of Southern California, UCSF and Centerforce. A graduate of Brown U. (Public Policy, 1989), I received a law degree from UNC Chapel Hill (1995, with honors) and a master’s degree in Public Health from UC Berkeley (Epidemiology, 2004). Resources and Talents. As a lawyer and an MPH, I have advocated for prisoners and people living with HIV, and designed and implemented ground-breaking programs to address the epidemic behind bars. I have published many articles and presented at national conferences on the same. Interest in NVHR Leadership. With remarkable treatment progress and an emerging social safety net of health insurance, I believe the NVHR is perfectly-positioned to lead policy advocacy that will save tens of thousands of lives. Many of these lives will be of people with a history of incarceration, those C.Change is dedicated to serving. I will be part of the California effort for HCV treatment to be part of our “essential health benefits” package. I want to help lead NVHR to ensure that other advocates around the country can do the same.
Andi Thomas, HealthPro's founder, brings a practical knowledge and helping spirit to viral hepatitis advocacy. Andi’s nonprofit is a 501(c)3 founded in June 2011 as the successor to her first organization; ALERT Health/Hep-C ALERT (1997-2011). Andi was on the founding NVHR Steering Committee and served in leadership positions for the National Hepatitis C Advocacy Council and Broward Viral Hepatitis Council, and remains a member of both NVHR and the Florida Viral Hepatitis Council. Between 1998 and 2006, her focus was exclusively on Hepatitis C and HIV. In 2006, she expanded her former agency's roster of preventive health services to integrate viral hepatitis, HIV, STDs, and adult vaccination. Currently, she is the Managing Partner for The Support Partnership’s 877-HELP-4-HEP helpline and recently launched HealthPro’s Hepatitis C Interactive Referral Resource Maps. Andi has sixteen years hand-on experience as both a frontline provider and patient advocate. She will prove a valuable addition to today’s NVHR Steering Committee.