Idaho Family Caregiver Conference – 2024 Speaker Details

Celebrating Caregivers as Care Champions

2024 Speaker Details

Photo of Darra Wray
Darra Wray
Keynote: The Power of We
Biography: Darra Wray is a business professional, senior care consultant and software developer from Boise Darra has more than 30 years of industry business and finance experience and an MBA from UCLA. She also has over 40 years of personal experience as a family caregiver and patient advocate. She developed a true passion for family caregiving and elder care services through her personal life experiences. 
As the CFO of a large non-profit organization, Darra saw how reliant businesses have become on immediate and secure access to information. Yet, as the CEO of her family, she discovered that she often did not have the information she needed to manage and support her family in an increasingly digital world. An unexpected family medical crisis made her realize that her family was completely unprepared to manage the business of life in a digital world.
In the wake of this family crisis, Darra set out to find a tool to help bridge this digital divide, and when she couldn’t find one… she created one. In 2018, Darra became a Certified Senior Adviser (CSA) and left her role as a finance executive to launch My Care Companions. The mission of My Care Companions is to provide education, tools, resources, and information management services to caregivers so they can focus more of their time and energy caring for their loved ones. In 2019, Darra developed the My Data Diary+ family information management software solution and set out on a mission to simplify the business of life for families everywhere. In 2020, she founded LEARN – Lifelong Education and Aging Resources Network Inc, a CSA Leaders Network, with a mission to help people navigate the joys and challenges of aging and caregiving.
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Tiffany Robb
Morning Breakout Session: ADRD Program: Update on Progress in Idaho
Description: Update on Progress in Idaho: Join us as Tiffany provides an overview to what has been done since the establishment of the ADRD Program in 2021 and what is on the docket moving forward. She will then open the floor for the audience to ideas on what we could do to improve Alzheimer’s and dementia response in Idaho.
Biography: Tiffany Robb is the Health Program Manager for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) for the State of Idaho’s Division of Public Health. With over 28 years of experience in health services and public health, she has a diverse set of experiences. Having worked with persons with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in institutional settings, becoming a personal trainer and providing health education sessions to corporations, and then to her current work, building a state public health program. These experiences, coupled with living on farms and ranches in rural Nebraska and remote Idaho, she knows how to get her hands dirty and the value of working collaboratively to make available resources stretch.
Currently, Tiffany serves on the Idaho Health Equity Task Force, Idaho Caregiver Alliance Leadership Team, Idaho ADRD Steering Committee, Idaho’s Public Health Healthy Aging Representative for Region 10 Health and Human Services (HHS), and as a brain health advisory council member for the International Association for Indigenous Aging (IA2).
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Steven Millward
Morning Breakout Session: Certified Family Home
Description: Per Governor Little’s Zero-Based Regulation Order affecting all state government agencies, the Department of Health and Welfare worked with stakeholders in 2022 to draft a replacement chapter for the existing rules governing Idaho’s certified family homes. The new rule chapter is shorter, clearer, and designed to give regulatory relief to providers.
Biography: Steven Millward has worked for the State of Idaho, Department of Health & Welfare, in various licensing and certification positions since 2000. He has been a member of the Certified Family Home (CFH) Management Team since 2014, through which the department helps ensure vulnerable adults living in CFHs have a safe home environment, receive effective care, and enjoy their rights. As the state-wide program manager since 2016, Steve directs survey and investigation operations, and leads education and outreach efforts for the CFH program. He studied business management at Boise State University. Steve and his wife, Misti, live in Meridian, Idaho.
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Leslee Blanch
Morning Breakout Session: Embracing Gratitude
Biography: Leslee Blanch is a registered dietitian with a passion to promote wellness for individuals and for the community. As a Family and Consumer Sciences associate educator with University of Idaho Extension in Bonneville County, she offers a variety of wellness topics, including nutrition, fitness, and mental/emotional well-being.
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Lee Flinn
Morning Breakout Session: 988 – 24/7 Support for Caregivers
Description: In July 2022, the 3-digit number 988 became the universal mental health and suicide prevention crisis number across the nation. Idaho Crisis & Suicide Hotline responds to Idaho’s 988 calls and provides 24/7 free and confidential support to any individual experiencing emotional distress. Idahoans reach out for many reasons including suicidal feelings, mental health struggles, relationship difficulties, grief, loss, physical health difficulties, and more. Idaho Crisis & Suicide Hotline serves all Idahoans and a person can reach out for help for themselves or someone they care about. Learn more about the Hotline and how caregivers can access support any time day or night.
Biography: Lee Flinn joined the Hotline as director in May 2020. She has nearly 30 years’ experience in nonprofit operations with mission-focused organizations in Idaho. Prior to joining the Hotline, Lee served in various roles in Idaho nonprofits including policy director of Idaho Community Health Center Association, advocacy director of AARP Idaho, founding executive director of Conservation Voters for Idaho, and executive director of the Idaho Women’s Network. Lee is a long-time Idaho resident and a graduate of the Boise State University Executive MBA program.
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Pete Gonzales
Morning Breakout Session: Independent Living Skills
Description: We will discuss what a Center for Independent Living (CIL) is, how they came to be, and what services we offer. Get to know your local CIL! 
Charlye Hahn
Heidi Smith
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Jessica Gross
Morning Breakout Session: Kinship Care Panel
Biography: 
Charlye was born in Soda Springs Idaho, moved to California where she met and married her husband. They traveled the world while he served in the Military for 21 years. Charlye worked various jobs while moving around to include working with at risk families for social services in Germany, as a youth advocate with at risk juveniles in New Jersey, a lead teacher for a child development program and HeadStart, and a Resource Peer Mentor for EWU and fostering Idaho with her focus on Kinship Families. She currently works for Southwest Area 3 Agency on Aging as a Kinship Resource Coordinator to help kinship families. They have 5 children, 10 grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren. Bob and Charlye were kinship Foster family for her great niece and nephew, then age 4. Bob and Charlye then became general foster families for another 10 years. Charlye holds monthly meetings for Idaho Relatives As Parents, Kinship FIRST meetings and continues to train incoming foster parents. Charlye co-trained PRIDE and now FIRST classes for Fostering Idaho. Charlye has a passion for kinship families and loves to find resources to help them.

Heidi Smith is the Community Resource Development Specialist for 211, Navigation and Kinship with Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Heidi’s position is a statewide position created to assist the broad dynamic of Idaho’s larger area as well as rural, underserved populations. Heidi’s work is primarily completed at a community level as well as “boots on the ground” education, assistance and outreach. Heidi has a BA in Elementary Education from Boise State University and has taught in 3 rural Idaho school districts. Additionally, Heidi has 10 years of experience working with Idaho’s chronically mentally ill population in community-based intervention, crisis management and service coordination. Heidi has a graduate certificate from Western Michigan University in Kinship Care. Heidi’s goal is to advance Idaho’s Kinship programming and support to serve Idaho’s kinship families in best practice. Heidi’s background, skills and knowledge have afforded her a genuine perspective of the challenges and spirit of Idaho’s families and directed me in the support and resources important for their success.
 
Jessica Gross is the current Coordinator and Chair for Relatives As Parents Inc. Jessica has been volunteering with the group since late 2008. Jessica was in foster care briefly as a child and my paternal grandparents raised me as a teenager through guardianship. Jessica and her husband were foster parents for right around 10 years and were Pride trainers. Jessica was also an RPM specifically for Kinship and Fictive Kin families. Care for her kiddos is a mission for her family. 
Amy Yardley
 
Morning Breakout Session: Managing Big Behaviors (Kids)
Description: As a parent, big behaviors can be very difficult to understand and manage, especially when the behavior seems to happen for no apparent reason or is dangerous to self or others.  When they occur in public settings, there’s the added pressure of dealing with other people. In this session, participants will learn how to utilize a Brain-Based Approach in understanding their child’s behavior as well as learn strategies and techniques that parents can start to use immediately that will help their child feel connection and will assist in de-escalating behaviors.  Amy will also share her strategies for planning and executing outings that set everyone up for the win.  This session will be filled with real-life examples, not just theory! 
Biography: Amy Yardley is the founder of Navigate Your Healing, LLC and focuses on helping special needs parents break their chronic stress cycle by utilizing simple yet effective strategies all within a delivery model that works best for Special Needs parents. Amy also serves as an advisor to the FOCUS Academy helping practitioners understand the mindset of parents and how to better communicate with them and how to better support them as practice members. 
Prior to “life with Spencer”, Amy worked as a trainer/consultant helping agencies and organizations better understand how to serve people in poverty and crisis – aka, a context of scarcity. She traveled extensively speaking at conferences and providing technical assistance to agencies and organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Ball State University. She has worked across multiple sectors and has a keen insight into not only human behavior but also organizational behavior. She currently resides in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. 
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Alexandra Fernandez 
Photo of Sarah Tueller
Sarah Gornik
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Helen Mayberry
Morning Breakout Session: Medicare and Medicaid
Description: This panel presentation will include a brief overview of Medicaid in Idaho, including the various eligibility categories and requirements. It will also include general information about applying for coverage and the types of services and benefits available.
Biography: 
Alexandra (Ali) Fernández is the Bureau Chief for the Bureau of Long Term Care under the Division of Medicaid. She has spent her career working for programs that support individuals with disabilities and the aging population, from direct service to policy analysis and program implementation.

 

Sarah Gornik is a Boise native and has remained in the Treasure Valley where she raised her three boys. Sarah has spent the last 18 years (and counting) navigating Medicaid, health care, and special education and services in Boise and West Ada. Her son Truman was born at 26 weeks gestation and due to complications from his traumatic birth, he was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy at approximately 16 months of age, Seizure Disorder, dysphagia, uses a feeding tube for nutrition and medication delivery. Truman has had a spinal fusion from T2-pelvis to correct his scoliosis (90-degree curve) among other healthcare issues associated with the complications he has acquired over the years. Sarah continues to advocate for her children and other families with children who have special health care needs and disabilities and the professionals who serve them. 
Sarah has a passion for helping others and developing relationships that will enhance care, understanding of services, and an overall sense of community. She was also a founding member of the St. Luke’s NICU Family Advisory Committee. She also participates on Idaho’s Transition Team, representing families and students as they make the move from high school to adulthood. In addition to her work at Idaho Parents Unlimited (IPUL), Sarah was the head Cheerleading Coach at a local high school where she ran a fully inclusive cheer program for 7 years. 
Her love of life, family values and appreciation for diversity and humanity are evident in the work she does helping others. Sarah has worked in the field of education, and early childhood education for over 20 years. She graduated from Boise State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies with a minor in Family Studies. Sarah is in her 7th year at Idaho Parents Unlimited and participates on many councils, committees, and workgroups related to children with disabilities and special health care needs in Idaho.
 
Helen Mayberry has worked 9 years for the Idaho Department of Insurance as a Medicare Counselor and is an expert on Medicare’s Rules and Regulations. Prior to that she worked in the non-profit world managing a local Meals On Wheels home delivered meal program. She grew up in Colorado and has lived in Idaho for 28 years.
Karen Kouba
 
 
Morning Breakout Session: Self-Care for Caregivers: Create Your Personal Owner’s Manual
Description: The goal of this session is to define what self-care is and what it is not. We will make time to individualize a plan for each person based on their wants, needs, and capacity. Part of the session will be interactive. Those who do not want to participate are welcome to observe. 
Biography: Karen Kouba-McIver is a licensed Social Worker with the Aging Strong Programs in Boise. She graduated from Boise State in 2013. The main programs she works with are Powerful Tools for Caregivers, providing education and support for the family caregiver, the Memory Café, offering a monthly support, education, and activities for both the person diagnosed with dementia and their caregiver, and Legacy Corps, providing respite for the family caregiver while matching the care recipient with a companion. She had been a family caregiver to her veteran husband who was in hospice, her father, her grandmother, and is currently a long-distance caregiver to her 92-year-old mother. These life experiences were the motivation to go back to school for a social work degree with a focus on gerontology including the services and resources for seniors, elders, and veterans. Her self-care hobbies include patio gardening, reading, yard sales, and travel.
Anne Kenny
Darra Wray
Dee Childers
 
 
Morning Breakout Session: Winning Strategies Panel
Description: The main goal of caregiving is to reach the caregiving “finish line” with the best quality of life possible and with family relationships and resources intact. But effectively navigating family caregiving challenges takes strategy, knowledge, and skill. And challenging caregiving situations can prove difficult for professionals and overwhelming for families.  This interactive presentation uses a creative, fun, and engaging format drawing on popular family game night metaphors and analogies to explore strategies and solutions that will help you identify and navigate common family caregiving needs and challenges.
Biography: 
Dr. Anne Kenny is a geriatric physician and Founder of Together in Dementia. She is a professor emerita at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Anne is the author of Making Tough Decisions about End-of-Life Care in Dementia and has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles on issues in aging. In her work as a dementia coach and consultant, she supports families and care partners to modify their approach to dementia so that they can find joy, connection, and calm in their caregiving journey.  

 

Darra Wray is a business professional with an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA and more than 30 years of practical business and finance experience. Darra also has over 40 years of personal experience as a family caregiver and patient advocate. Darra became a Certified Senior Adviser (CSA) in 2018 and founded My Care Companions to develop resources, services, and tools for family caregivers. In 2019, she launched the My Data Diary+® family information software solution and formed LEARN – Lifelong Education and Aging Resource Network, Inc. an Idaho-based non-profit with a mission to help people navigate the joys and challenges of aging and caregiving. 
 
Dee Childers founded Life Changes Elder Care Consulting, LLC to assist those needing guidance and support on senior care issues after navigating care for her own family members. Dee earned a BS in Psychology from the University of Utah and a MS in Marriage and Family Therapy from the Phillips Graduate Institute.  Dee is a NACCM Certified Care Manager (CMC), an Advanced Professional member of the Aging Life Care Association™, a certified Elder Mediator.
Photo of Megan Brandel
Megan Brandel
Photo of Sarah Tueller
Sarah Gornik
Short Film Viewing and Discussion: Open Arms Dance Project: The Power of Movement and Music
Description: The Open Arms Dance Project film “Root-Grow-Release-Repeat” features the solo choreography of twelve intergenerational Open Arms dancers, with and without disabilities.  With a poetic audio description and stunning visuals, it won Best Idaho Screendance in 2021, competing against films from professional, non-disabled dance companies.  Learn about the creative process and all the levels of inclusion that resulted in this powerful and impactful film. 
Biography: 
Megan Brandel comes from a family of kind, creative, motorcycle riding welders.  She does with dance what her mom does with acrylic and watercolor paints – and what her grandmas did with wit, poetry, bread dough, and potato lefse.  These facts remain the best explanations for her creative tendencies and relational instincts. Megan believes everyone’s creative voice matters and she values meaningful human connections.  In 2008, she founded Open Arms Dance Project, which is an expression of all she believes in as a person and artist – everyone deserves to create, connect with others, and be seen.  All of her work is directly related to her experience watching her dad become paralyzed and losing him to ALS in 2005.  
 
Sarah Gornik is a Boise native and has remained in the Treasure Valley where she raised her three boys. Sarah has spent the last 18 years (and counting) navigating Medicaid, health care, and special education and services in Boise and West Ada. Her son Truman was born at 26 weeks gestation and due to complications from his traumatic birth, he was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy at approximately 16 months of age, Seizure Disorder, dysphagia, uses a feeding tube for nutrition and medication delivery. Truman has had a spinal fusion from T2-pelvis to correct his scoliosis (90-degree curve) among other healthcare issues associated with the complications he has acquired over the years.  Sarah continues to advocate for her children and other families with children who have special health care needs and disabilities and the professionals who serve them. 
Sarah has a passion for helping others and developing relationships that will enhance care, understanding of services, and an overall sense of community. She was also a founding member of the St. Luke’s NICU Family Advisory Committee. She also participates on Idaho’s Transition Team, representing families and students as they make the move from high school to adulthood. In addition to her work at Idaho Parents Unlimited (IPUL), Sarah was the head Cheerleading Coach at a local high school where she ran a fully inclusive cheer program for 7 years.  
Her love of life, family values and appreciation for diversity and humanity are evident in the work she does helping others. Sarah has worked in the field of education, and early childhood education for over 20 years.  She graduated from Boise State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies with a minor in Family Studies. Sarah is in her 7th year at Idaho Parents Unlimited and participates on many councils, committees, and workgroups related to children with disabilities and special health care needs in Idaho.
Photo of Jackie Frey
Jackie Frey
Megan Schomer headshot
Megan Schomer
Photo of Sarah Tueller
Sarah Gornik
Panel Discussion: Emergency Preparedness for Caregivers
Biography: 
Jacqueline Frey is a native of Idaho and has lived in the City of Buhl since birth. Jackie is married to James (44 years) and has four daughters: Angie, Stephanie, Nicole and Rebecca, two son-in-law’s Chris (Angie’s husband), Ryan (Stephanie) and four grandchildren Natalie, Noah, Theo and Gus.
Jackie has served as the Emergency Management Coordinator for Twin Falls County since April of 1997.  Jackie promotes all areas of emergency management with local agencies, citizens, industry, local government, those with functional needs, and school personnel.  Jackie’s primary responsibility is to coordinate resources for the first responding agencies during an incident or disaster in the county to promote life safety.  Currently she is accredited in the Professional Development and Applied Practice Series through FEMA and has completed over 130 classes in Emergency Management.
 
Megan Schomer was given the vision for Rays for Rare (formerly Corwyn’s Cause) in 2016 after experiencing the loss of her medically fragile son Corwyn. Her son Corwyn was born with a rare brain malformation, which had a catastrophic effect on his health. He had many complications from epilepsy to regular occurrences of pneumonia and was unable to walk, talk or eat, essentially there was a pediatric intensive care unit in her home. Megan realized during her years of caring for Corwyn how isolating the experience was, while many charitable organizations bring support to the hospital, the families with complex children do most of the cares at home. After Corwyn passed away at home, Megan decided to bring uplifting support to medically fragile children and their families. Her vision included being a non-diagnosis specific organization, showing up with practical support at the families’ homes in the form of services and building community through events. 
Megan additionally advocates for rare diseases, in which there are more than 7,000. She feels it doesn’t matter what the diagnosis is, the journey is similar. She has found this population to be the most underserved in our curative culture and has brought together a unified voice to advocate for pediatric palliative care, hospice and better policies. 
She currently serves on the Children’s Palliative Advisory Council at St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital as well as shares her message at speaking engagements to further awareness. In 2019 she ended her 15-year career as a top producer in the real estate industry to become the President and CEO of Rays for Rare. Her career in real estate and previous experience in corporate management give her a dynamic skill set to further and grow this multifaceted organization. Megan lives in Eagle Idaho with her son, she enjoys anything adventurous from travel, dining and experiences to exploring our beautiful state. 
 
Sarah Gornik is a Boise native and has remained in the Treasure Valley where she raised her three boys. Sarah has spent the last 18 years (and counting) navigating Medicaid, health care, and special education and services in Boise and West Ada. Her son Truman was born at 26 weeks gestation and due to complications from his traumatic birth, he was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy at approximately 16 months of age, Seizure Disorder, dysphagia, uses a feeding tube for nutrition and medication delivery. Truman has had a spinal fusion from T2-pelvis to correct his scoliosis (90-degree curve) among other healthcare issues associated with the complications he has acquired over the years. Sarah continues to advocate for her children and other families with children who have special health care needs and disabilities and the professionals who serve them. 
Sarah has a passion for helping others and developing relationships that will enhance care, understanding of services, and an overall sense of community. She was also a founding member of the St. Luke’s NICU Family Advisory Committee. She also participates on Idaho’s Transition Team, representing families and students as they make the move from high school to adulthood. In addition to her work at Idaho Parents Unlimited (IPUL), Sarah was the head Cheerleading Coach at a local high school where she ran a fully inclusive cheer program for 7 years.  
Her love of life, family values and appreciation for diversity and humanity are evident in the work she does helping others. Sarah has worked in the field of education, and early childhood education for over 20 years.  She graduated from Boise State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies with a minor in Family Studies. Sarah is in her 7th year at Idaho Parents Unlimited and participates on many councils, committees, and workgroups related to children with disabilities and special health care needs in Idaho.
Photo of Natalie Nathan
Natalie Nathan
Photo of Rachael Bazzett
Rachael Bazzett
Panel Discussion: Intricacies of Intimacy
Biography: 
Natalie Nathan graduated from Boise State University with her Master’s in Health Promotion and Programming and a certificate in Gerontology in December of 2013. Since 2014, she has worked with the Southwest Idaho Area Agency on Aging, advocating for seniors in Idaho working first as an Ombudsman and now serving in the role of health promotion program manager. Natalie has a passion for connecting seniors, their families, friends, and caregivers, to the information and resources necessary so that they remain healthy and safe. She recently joined the staff at ISU as an adjunct, teaching Community Health Worker training courses, where she can educate future health professionals on the importance of compassionate care.
 
Rachael Bazzett holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Massachusetts in Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies and completed her MSW at Boise State in 2015. Much of Rachael’s career has been in the field of intimate partner violence and sexual violence, and she is passionate about issues related to gender and sexuality, having earned a certificate in Sex Therapy and Sex Education from the University of Michigan in 2020. Outside of clinical work, Rachael teaches as an adjunct in the Social Work department at Boise State and consults for local organizations on issues related to trauma and sexual health. Rachael spends lots of time snuggling with her three dogs, running in the mountains, and drinking tea.
Photo of Tiffany Robb
Tiffany Robb
Afternoon Breakout Session: Idaho Dementia: A Workbook for Family Caregivers
Description: The ADRD Alliance and Program are excited to release the long-awaited workbook for family caregivers. This workbook is a revised rendition of the Washington Dementia Road Map: A Guide for Family and Care Partners. Taking a draft of this new Idaho version to family caregivers across the state helped ensure it would serve Idahoans well. Join Tiffany as she walks through the new workbook and how to use it.
Biography: Tiffany Robb is the Health Program Manager for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) for the State of Idaho’s Division of Public Health. With over 28 years of experience in health services and public health, she has a diverse set of experiences. Having worked with persons with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in institutional settings, becoming a personal trainer and providing health education sessions to corporations, and then to her current work, building a state public health program. These experiences, coupled with living on farms and ranches in rural Nebraska and remote Idaho, she knows how to get her hands dirty and the value of working collaboratively to make available resources stretch.
Currently, Tiffany serves on the Idaho Health Equity Task Force, Idaho Caregiver Alliance Leadership Team, Idaho ADRD Steering Committee, Idaho’s Public Health Healthy Aging Representative for Region 10 Health and Human Services (HHS), and as a brain health advisory council member for the International Association for Indigenous Aging (IA2).
Photo of Anne Abbott
Anne Abbott
Photo of Megan Smith
Megan Smith
 
Afternoon Breakout Session: Communities for Youth: Youth Mental Health Crisis Prevention
Description: This session will cover the work that Communities for Youth is doing on the current youth mental health crisis in Idaho. The state of our data collection, “Upstream Prevention,” and what you can do (no matter who you are) to be part of the solution will be covered. Supportive resources, as relevant, will be provided.
Biography: Dr. Anne Abbott is an Assistant Professor in BSU School of Public and Population Health. Prior to becoming faculty, Dr. Abbott worked in public health program evaluation and policy and advocacy roles for various child and youth-serving organizations and programs. Resultantly, Dr. Abbott’s research focuses on the intersection of health communication and improving youth/young adult health outcomes. She is particularly interested in mass communication interventions and messaging that can prevent interpersonal violence and self-harm; however, she applies her expertise to a wide range of topic areas.
 
Dr. Megan L. Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health & Population Science at Boise State University. Her research builds across education, human development, and public health science to investigate contextual factors that promote or thwart health outcomes particularly regarding substance abuse and mental health in adolescents. She is committed to “Upstream Prevention” and works to bring community engagement and prevention together to build the best possible communities for kids. 
Brooke Fukuoka, DMD, FSCD
 
Afternoon Breakout Session: Dental Care for Individuals with Disabilities
Description: In this session we will provide information on the Family Health Services Advanced Delivery Dental Clinic which is a unique clinic in Jerome, ID focusing exclusively on adult patients who have disabilities.  We will look at specialized products that can help caregivers and patients be more successful with dental preventative homecare and discuss ways to improve the odds of success for a dental office visit. We will then discuss how cavities form and things caregivers can do to decrease the risk of cavities even when there is limited cooperation. Dr. Brooke encourages interaction and asking questions. This session will help participants understand the process to become a patient at the FHS Advanced Delivery Dental Clinic, see different specialized products to help caregivers and patients improve home hygiene, understand risk factors for cavities and how to decrease risk even with non-cooperative individuals, and be provided with ideas of how to improve success rates at any dental office.
Biography: Dr. Brooke is a passionate speaker whose primary focus is improving oral health for adults who have disabilities. She has practiced in a diverse array of settings and has built multiple programs to help expand access to care for her patients. In her part time practice, Your Special Smiles PLLC, she practices teledentistry, limited portable dentistry, and most importantly has developed a professionally aided home hygiene program in two long-term care facilities. She also works full time with a Federally Qualified Health Center, Family Health Services of Idaho (FHS) where she has developed their Advanced Delivery Dental Clinic. With FHS she provides in-office clinical care as well as comprehensive dentistry under general anesthesia. She is active in organized dentistry, currently serving as the Idaho State Dental Association’s Vice President, Special Care Dentists of Idaho immediate Past President, Delegate representing Idaho for the American Dental Association, and a member of the board for the Special Care Dentistry Association. She strives to create a fun, yet educational, interactive environment where learners gain knowledge and experiences they can immediately implement into practice. For more details see 2023 Dr. Brooke CV.
Photo of Angela Lindig
Angela Lindig
Photo of Christine Pisani
Christine Pisani
Photo of David Lehman
David Lehman
Jeremy Maxand
Afternoon Breakout Session: Direct Care Workforce
Biography: 
Angela Lindig began her work in disability advocacy shortly after the birth of her first daughter who is diagnosed with an ultra-rare genetic condition – an HNRNPH2 gene mutation. Over the past 28 years, Angela has volunteered much of her time toward efforts to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families. She began by serving on her Regional Infant and Toddler Committee in which she gave her first testimony before the Idaho Legislature about the importance of birth-to-three programs for infants and toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays. 
She later spearheaded an effort in partnership with the City of Meridian and Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center to create the Adventure Island Playground, Idaho’s First Universally Accessible Playground, located in Meridian’s Settler’s Park and celebrating its 20th anniversary this year! Angela served on the State Independent Living Council from 2004-2010 and as Chair of the Council from 2008-2010. She began working for Idaho Parents Unlimited (IPUL) as a Parent Education Coordinator in 2009.  In 2011, Angela took over the failing nonprofit as the Executive Director. 
With their children now grown, empty-nesters Angela and her husband, Darin, live in Boise with their two puppies that keep them completely entertained.  Angela graduated from the University of Phoenix Magna Cum Laude in 2018 with Bachelors of Science in Human Services with a concentration on family and children’s services. She is the Treasure of the Consortium for Idahoans with Disabilities, and the Chair of the Idaho Anti-Trafficking Coalition Board of Directors. 

Christine started at the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities in 1996 and has been the Executive Director for the past decade. Her work at the Council presents opportunities to work directly with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, family members, and policymakers statewide. Her work includes leadership development, service system redesign, voting rights advocacy and education, and federal and state legislative policy. Christine holds a Master of Education degree in Special Education with an emphasis in public policy from the University of Idaho. She is also a graduate of the State of Idaho’s Certified Public Management program. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her two adult daughters, her Golden Retriever Hazel, time in the garden, and backpacking the beautiful areas of the Pacific northwest.
 
David Lehman is the principal and owner of Primus Policy Group and has been active in Idaho politics and public policy since 2001. Serving as a senior-level advisor at both the state and federal levels of government, David led the development and passage of several important government initiatives. As a consultant for both Idaho-based and national companies, David has advised clients on complex public policy issues since 2009. In 2006, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne appointed David as Senior Advisor to the Secretary at the U.S. Department of the Interior. David advised the Secretary on policy and budget matters ranging from energy to public land use planning to border security and law enforcement in Indian Country. Prior to joining Secretary Kempthorne at the Department of the Interior, David served as Policy Director and Senior Policy Advisor to then-Governor Kempthorne in the Idaho Statehouse. David was responsible for developing, passing, and executing the Governor’s policy agenda and management of the state’s operating budget, totaling more than $5 billion.  In this capacity, David identified and executed cost-savings measures totaling more than $200 million in response to the national recession following the September 11th attack. David is a graduate of Kalamazoo College with degrees in economics and political science. He lives in Boise, Idaho with his wife, Caroline, and two daughters. David also has two adult children who are attending college.
 
Jeremy Maxand is the Executive Director of the Living Independence Network Corporation (LINC). He grew up in a small island community in Southeast Alaska and has used a manual wheelchair since 1989. He earned undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice Administration and Sociology, and a graduate degree is Applied Historical Research from Boise State University. Jeremy holds a certificate from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy & Governance Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute, and from the University of Missouri’s College of Human & Environmental Sciences, School of Architectural Studies, ADA Coordinator Training Certification Program. Jeremy has more than twenty years of nonprofit management experience, and 10 years in executive leadership. He serves on a number of committees and boards. 
Photo of Jayne Josephson
Jayne Josephson
Afternoon Breakout Session: Healthcare Transitions
Description: In today’s healthcare environment, the consumer/caregiver’s needs and goals are the center of care. Yet during transitions of care consumer/caregiver needs and goals can become obscured, causing confusion and poor outcomes. This session will review standards for successful transitions of care, communication of critical information, and self-management of consumer/caregiver health through activation and engagement practices. The participant will leave with a “checklist” of items to review at transitions of care and tips for how the consumer/caregiver can set the stage for a smooth transition between settings or providers.
Biography: Dr. Josephsen has worked to enhance the delivery of healthcare throughout her career, working for many years in care coordination and transition management. Dr. Josephsen has also been part of a State Evaluation team analyzing the implementation of the Patient-Centered Medical Home model and the Statewide Landscape Analysis and Needs-Assessment team examining the status of services, resources, and education concerning Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD). Through these experiences, Dr. Josephsen has gained a passion for solid coordination and transition of care practices with the healthcare consumer/caregiver as the center of the team. She is especially interested in preparing nursing graduates to deliver high-quality, person-centered care and supporting healthcare consumers/caregivers to be proactive advocates to meet their care goals and needs.  
Photo of Jill Harris
Jill Harris
Afternoon Breakout Session: Just Keep Moving
Description: This session will provide information on the benefits of physical activity, how to implement physical activity into a daily routine, and recommendations for building a physical activity or exercise program.  The information provided will be supported by the latest evidence and safety guidelines. The session will be tailored to the family care partner and will include personal examples from Jill’s personal experience as a care partner. 
Biography: Dr. Jill Harris has been a physical therapist for 20+ years. Jill has worked in a variety of clinical settings and is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training at Idaho State University. Dr. Harris received her Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy for Idaho State and a Transitional Doctorate degree from Arcadia University. In addition, Jill has had a role of a primary care partner and advocate for over 20 years.   
Picture of Sheldon Forehand
Sheldon Forehand
Afternoon Breakout Session: Managing Family Dynamics
Biography: Sheldon Forehand, CPM, is a professional mediator and the owner of Forehand Mediation. He is certified by the Idaho Mediation Association and listed by the Idaho Supreme Court for Child Custody Mediation. As a mediator, he helps clients to open lines of communication, identify issues, find common ground, and ultimately reach a solution that everyone can live with. His primary objective in ALL cases is to provide a quality professional forum in which decisions are reached in a constructive process. 
Sheldon is a board member of the Idaho Mediation Association and previously worked in sales and marketing with Johnson and Johnson and Thomson Reuters. He also worked as a probation officer at the county and state level. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Boise State University, where he attended on a football scholarship.
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JoEllen Watson
Afternoon Breakout Session: Recovering from Emotional Pain of Loss
Description: This session is specifically tailored to the emotional pain, grief and loss experienced by caregivers. Participants will leave understanding the effective definition of grief, an understanding of the emotional pain from loss, tangible and intangible losses, the myths of grief, ineffective ways to deal grief, the impact of emotional pain (unresolved grief), what is not helpful to say to someone experiencing grief, what is helpful to say to someone experiencing grief, what does recovery of unresolved emotional pain look like, self-care, and the Grief Recovery Method.
Biography: Dr. Jo-Ellen Watson, a certified Wellness and Life Coach and an Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist, has dedicated her professional life to people’s physical and behavioral health needs, primarily in Washington and Idaho. Dr. Watson holds a Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of Washington. She is a licensed clinical social worker in both states and a clinical supervisor in Washington. Her practice focus has been in crisis intervention and therapeutic modalities using trauma-informed care.  Her career includes direct services, clinical supervision, professor, lobbyist, and director or administrator in the public, non-profit, and private sectors. She is a former Sociology and Social Work tenure track professor at Seattle Pacific University. Currently Dr. Watson does personal and group grief recovery and life coaching. You can hear her on live radio every Tuesday from 4:00-4:30 PM on KRBX 89.9 FM, discussing how to live your best life. 
Barbara Bisaro
Picture of Julie Torresani
Julie Torresani
Megan Schomer headshot
Megan Schomer
Afternoon Breakout Session: Respite: Where Can I Find It?

Biography: 

Barbara Bisaro, LSW, received her bachelor’s degree from Lewis-Clark State College.  Barbara worked in the mental health field as a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist and in-home caregiver before starting at the Area Agency on Aging of North Idaho (AAANI). Barbara has worked at AAANI for over 15 years starting out in case management, and has been cross trained in adult protective services and is currently working in Information and Assistance as the supervisor. Barbara enjoys the variety of programs offered by AAANI and is dedicated to serving our seniors and is committed to working with the community to provide the services needed to help keep seniors in their homes.  Barbara is passionate about working with caregivers and their families.   Barbara has recently been a first-time cat foster parent for kittens and enjoys working with her furry friends.
 
Julie Torresani is the current supervisor for Southwest Idaho Area Agency on Aging (SWIA3) Community Care and Kinship Program. SWIA3 Kinship services includes grandparents and relatives raising kinship children. The Community Care Program serves caregivers across the state of Idaho taking care of an individual with memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s Disease. 
Texas born and raised, Julie has a Bachelor of Social Work from Stephen F. Austin State University of Nacogdoches, Texas. Julie moved to Boise, Idaho in 2003 and started her career with the Agency on Aging as a case manager. With the support from SWIA3 Executive Director, Raul Enriquez, Julie’s primary focus is developing services to address caregivers’ needs. In 2018, SWIA3 piloted and implemented a consumer direct respite program with the purpose of providing respite services to caregivers. Julie’s passion is serving and advocating for seniors and caregivers. 
She has an incredibly supportive husband and two children who volunteer when asked to help support her work. Julie is on the Board of Directors for LEARN Idaho and is committed to serving seniors, caregivers, professionals, and the public in achieving and maintaining their highest level of independence. 
 

Megan Schomer was given the vision for Rays for Rare (formerly Corwyn’s Cause) in 2016 after experiencing the loss of her medically fragile son Corwyn. Her son Corwyn was born with a rare brain malformation, which had a catastrophic effect on his health. He had many complications from epilepsy to regular occurrences of pneumonia and was unable to walk, talk or eat, essentially there was a pediatric intensive care unit in her home. Megan realized during her years of caring for Corwyn how isolating the experience was, while many charitable organizations bring support to the hospital, the families with complex children do most of the cares at home. After Corwyn passed away at home, Megan decided to bring uplifting support to medically fragile children and their families. Her vision included being a non-diagnosis specific organization, showing up with practical support at the families’ homes in the form of services and building community through events. 

Megan additionally advocates for rare diseases, in which there are more than 7,000. She feels it doesn’t matter what the diagnosis is, the journey is similar. She has found this population to be the most underserved in our curative culture and has brought together a unified voice to advocate for pediatric palliative care, hospice and better policies. 

She currently serves on the Children’s Palliative Advisory Council at St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital as well as shares her message at speaking engagements to further awareness. In 2019 she ended her 15-year career as a top producer in the real estate industry to become the President and CEO of Rays for Rare. Her career in real estate and previous experience in corporate management give her a dynamic skill set to further and grow this multifaceted organization. Megan lives in Eagle Idaho with her son, she enjoys anything adventurous from travel, dining and experiences to exploring our beautiful state. 

Amy Yardley
 
Afternoon Breakout Session: Social Self and Role of Parent/Care Partner
Description: Being a Forever Parent requires us to constantly pivot and adapt.  Just when we get the hang of parenting our younger kids and understanding their challenges and how to support them, they enter puberty, and we have to learn things all over again.  And then they enter adulthood, and we pivot again!  It’s very common to see infantilization of adults with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities.  They require support for daily living, but they are walking the earth as adults who desire independence and self-determination.  How does one protect, respect and support but also allow space for independence and opportunity of risk?  The role of caregiver is CRUCIAL in attaining this balance for their loved one.  We must shift the way we view ourselves, the way we view our children and the way we view ourselves WITH our children.  Participants will receive specific strategies for helping them as caregivers, navigate the role change from parent to coach.  We will also explore how fear affects our mindset as caregivers and how to challenge our own thoughts when thinking about the future.
Biography: Amy Yardley is the founder of Navigate Your Healing, LLC and focuses on helping special needs parents break their chronic stress cycle by utilizing simple yet effective strategies all within a delivery model that works best for Special Needs parents.   Amy also serves as an advisor to the FOCUS Academy helping practitioners understand the mindset of parents and how to better communicate with them and how to better support them as practice members.  
Prior to “life with Spencer”, Amy worked as a trainer/consultant helping agencies and organizations better understand how to serve people in poverty and crisis – aka, a context of scarcity.  She traveled extensively speaking at conferences and providing technical assistance to agencies and organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Ball State University.  She has worked across multiple sectors and has a keen insight into not only human behavior but also organizational behavior. She currently resides in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Photo of Megan Brandel
Megan Brandel
Self-Care Reflection: Celebrating Champions
Description: Using our creativity and moving our bodies can transform our moods and perspectives in an instant!  Come move with us, using the signature inclusive, joyful dance making methods of Open Arms Dance Project.  This session will focus on how caregivers can lead dance experiences for themselves and those they care for – without any special training or dance space.  Leave feeling hopeful about bringing more fun, therapeutic movement into your life and the lives of those for which you care.
Biography: 
Megan Brandel comes from a family of kind, creative, motorcycle riding welders. She does with dance what her mom does with acrylic and watercolor paints – and what her grandmas did with wit, poetry, bread dough, and potato lefse. These facts remain the best explanations for her creative tendencies and relational instincts. Megan believes everyone’s creative voice matters and she values meaningful human connections. In 2008, she founded Open Arms Dance Project, which is an expression of all she believes in as a person and artist – everyone deserves to create, connect with others, and be seen.  All of her work is directly related to her experience watching her dad become paralyzed and losing him to ALS in 2005.