Kristina Breen works in the global payments industry, partnering with digital and core product teams to develop global product strategy while managing key risk factors. Being part of a large global company has allowed her to engage in work promoting diversity & inclusion in the workplace, and she has previously served as a co-chair of the employee resource group focusing on advocating for the rights of employees with disabilities and their families.
As a woman in pain, Kristina has continued to explore ways of living with chronic illness, having been diagnosed with CRPS and fibromyalgia in 2006. Through her own efforts to find healing, Kristina has in turn developed her own healing skills – she holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Health, is a trained Reiki II practitioner, as well as a Reverend with Sacred Foundations, Inc. Kristina has pursued extensive studies in women’s spirituality, and is currently working on her Masters in Theology. Kristina has also presented at local and national conferences in an effort to inspire others living with chronic illness to live a fully enriched life, producing her first short documentary in 2010, Pleasure and Pain, outlining her own personal healing journey.
Kristina is currently a Senior Director in the Products and Innovation Risk group at Visa Inc.
David Bresler, PhD, LAc is the President and Co-Founder, Academy for Guided Imagery, and Executive Director of The Bresler Center in Los Angeles. He is the former Founder and Executive Director of the UCLA Pain Control Unit and Associate Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine; Former White House Commissioner on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy; Author of Free Yourself From Pain, Break Your Smoking Habit With Guided Imagery, and numerous other books, workbooks, articles, and scientific publications.
Beth Darnall, PhD is an Associate Clinical Professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and is a pain psychologist at the Stanford Pain Management Center. Prior to Stanford she was the 2012 President of the Pain Society of Oregon. She has delivered pain psychology services at the Comprehensive Pain Center at Oregon Health & Science University and at The Johns Hopkins University hospital and affiliated hospitals. She specializes in the treatment of women with chronic pain and in helping all people with pain reduce reliance on opioid painkillers by optimizing mind-body techniques.
She is also a scientist whose research topics include the medical and psychological risks and consequences of long term opioid use in women, sex/gender differences in chronic pain, self-care in chronic pain, and investigating the immune system as a mind-body mechanism that links stress and pain.
Her research and clinical opinion has been featured on national and international TV news and online and print media. She serves as a pain psychology consultant for industry and internet treatment programs. She has been featured as a pain expert for WebMD, QuantiaMD, and on KATU TV morning talk show on the topics of opioid prescribing patterns and pain psychology in women. More information may be found at http://www.bethdarnall.com
Gary E. Erickson serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Erickson Group founded in 1988. The Erickson Group provides consulting services to the non-profit community in strategic planning, program development, board development, marketing and all aspects of fundraising.
Mr. Erickson has over 30 years experience in working with community-based non-profit organizations. From 1980 to 1984, he served as Executive Vice President for the United Way of Los Angeles where he supervised all planning, public relations and fund-raising activities for the five-region Los Angeles United Way.
The diversity and complexity of the Los Angeles area provided a unique opportunity for Mr. Erickson to develop an understanding of community needs and the success factors required to organize the creation of the California Medical Center Foundation located in downtown Los Angeles. From 1984-1988 while at California Medical Center Foundation, annual gifts increased from under $500,000 in 1984 to an average of over $4.5 million annually between 1985 and 1988.
Liz Figueroa was a California State Senator who as a Democrat represented the 10th District until she termed out in November 2006. Prior to being a Senator, Liz served two terms in the California State Assembly. She was the first Northern California Latina to be elected to the Legislature.
Senator Figueroa served on a variety of committees and was Chair of the Senate Committee on Business and Professions, the Joint Legislative Sunset Review Committee, the Senate Select Committee on International Trade Policy and State Legislation and the Senate Select Committee on Technological Crime and the Consumer. In her first year with the Assembly, Figueroa delivered nine bills to the Governor’s desk, all of which were signed into law—the highest percentage of any freshman legislator. She has been a leader in the high profile fight to reform managed care in California. Figeroa has been named Legislator of the Year by numerous organizations, including the March of Dimes, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Association of Retarded Citizens, Leadership California and the California National Organization for Women.
Dick Freed has an extensive background in magazine publishing and film producing. In the 1970s, he was associate producer of two feature films starring Zero Mostel: The Great Bank Robbery for Warner Brothers and Mastermind for ABC Films. He also produced a four-hour mini-series called The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald for ABC Television. In the 1990s, his company produced two movies of the week for Lifetime Television, both of which won major awards and were the highest-rated films in Lifetime’s history. From 1953 to 1965, Freed was editor and co-owner of Media Agencies Clients, an advertising trade journal that is now called Ad Week. He then co-founded Freed Crown Lee Publishing, which operated five business publications covering the advertising, automotive, travel, motorcycle and bicycle industries. That company was founded in 1966 and Freed remained active in it until its sale in 1989.
John Garrett serves as Director at For Grace and was instrumental in launching the organization in April 2002 along with his partner Cynthia Toussaint, who has suffered with CRPS (and later other over-lapping auto-immune conditions) for 35 years. Garrett has been partner and caregiver to Toussaint for 37 years. He has done extensive research about the gender disparity toward women in pain, compiling a comprehensive library on that issue along with specific chronic pain conditions.
Garrett has assisted Toussaint in all aspects of media relations and advocacy regarding CRPS awareness and the pain gender divide. His work focuses on speech presentation, grant writing, research, media outreach and the development of branding strategies. Garrett has also advised California’s Department of Managed Health Care and other state agencies regarding pain management practices in the HMO industry.
Commenting on her long-term partnership with Garrett, Toussaint said, “My story as a woman in pain is also a love story because John’s support has been total and unwavering. Without his loving presence in my life, I wouldn’t be here.”
Garrett made numerous writing contributions, reflecting on his role as a caregiver, witness and partner, in Toussaint’s memoir, Battle for Grace: A Memoir of Pain, Redemption and Impossible Love. Also, Garrett continues to make public speaking and media appearances that share the virtues and challenges of the caregiving experience.
Jane Goodall PhD, DBE, Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace began her landmark study of chimpanzees in Tanzania in June 1960, under the mentorship of anthropologist and paleontologist Dr. Louis Leakey. Her work at Gombe Stream would become the foundation of future primatological research and redefine the relationship between humans and animals.
In 1977, Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), which continues the Gombe research and is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. The Institute is widely recognized for establishing innovative, community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa, and the Roots & Shoots education program which has more than 8,000 groups in nearly 100 countries.
Dr. Goodall travels an average 300 days per year, speaking about the threats facing chimpanzees, other environmental crises, and her reasons for hope that humankind will solve the problems it has imposed on our planet. She continually urges her audiences to recognize their personal responsibility and ability to effect change through consumer action, lifestyle change and activism.
In April 2002, Secretary-General Kofi Annan named Dr. Goodall a United Nations “Messenger of Peace.” In 2004, in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, Dr. Goodall was invested as a Dame of the British Empire, the female equivalent of knighthood.
She has been the subject of numerous television documentaries and is featured in the large-screen format film, Jane Goodall’s Wild Chimpanzees (2002). In 2004 she was featured in two Discovery Channel Animal Planet specials—Jane Goodall’s Return to Gombe and Jane Goodall’s State of the Great Ape.
Bio Soon to Come…
Susan Nyanzi, DrPH, MCHES, ACSM, FRSPH is a public health professional with a specialty in Chronic Disease Management through integrated lifestyle counseling in nutrition, physical activity, stress and addictive behaviors for the prevention and management of chronic degenerative disorders. She presents at local and national conferences and writes on prevention and public health in local and national magazines.
Dr. Nyanzi currently serves as a Professor at Walden University.
Steven Richeimer, MD is the Chief of the Division of Pain Medicine and the Director of the Palliative Medicine CARE Team at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.
Dr. Richeimer received a Bachelor’s Degree with Distinction from Stanford University, then moved 40 miles north to attend the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. Since receiving his medical degree in 1982, Dr. Richeimer went on to UCLA to complete residency training in psychiatry and in anesthesiology—and became board certified in both fields. He then traveled to Boston for Pain Fellowship training at Harvard University’s Beth Israel Hospital.
In 1995, Dr. Richeimer accepted a position as the Director of Pain Medicine at the University of California, Davis. In 1998, he returned to his hometown of Los Angeles, and in 2001 was recruited to be Chief of the Division of Pain Medicine and an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California. At USC, Dr. Richeimer launched the Palliative Medicine CARE Team to help relieve the suffering of patients at the USC/Norris Cancer Center. He also started the USC Pain Fellowship Training Program.
Dr. Richeimer has co-authored three books and 37 articles, abstracts and chapters, and is webmaster of helpforpain.com. He has focused his clinical practice on cancer pain and neuropathic pain.
Jessica St. John began working in women’s health at the Los Angeles County Commission for Women in 1997 where she coordinated the first L.A. County Women’s Health Policy Summit, attended by 250 women’s health care leaders. St. John subsequently wrote a 203 page report on the Summit for the County Board of Supervisors, presenting the 101 recommendations on ways to improve women’s health in the County. In response, the Office of Women’s Health was created by the Board of Supervisors in October 1998.
St. John became OWH’s Special Projects Manager and, ultimately, Senior Policy Analyst, taking a leadership role in promoting women’s health issues and maintaining partnerships with other Public Health units, community coalitions, and state and federal health care stakeholders. In 2007, St. John was honored as Public Health’s Most Outstanding Employee.
Upon her retirement from the County in December 2013, Jessica received a scroll from the Board of Supervisors highlighting her contributions to improving low-income women’s health. A clinical hypnotherapist since 1997, St. John has a private practice in Santa Monica.
Born in Missoula, Montana, her family moved to the warmer climate of Southern California after her young mother developed crippling rheumatoid arthritis. Her mother’s struggle remains the impetus for Jessica wanting to make a difference in women’s health care and the lives of women in pain.
Cynthia Toussaint serves as Spokesperson at For Grace and has had Complex Regional Pain Syndrome for 35 years. She later developed Fibromylagia and other over-lapping, auto-immune conditions. Cynthia founded For Grace in 2002 to raise awareness about CRPS and five years later expanded the organization’s mission to include all women in pain. Before becoming ill, she was an accomplished ballerina and worked professionally as a dancer, actor and singer.
Since 1997, she has been a leading advocate for women in pain, raising awareness through local, national and worldwide media as well as public speaking. Toussaint championed and gave key testimony at two California Senate informational hearings. The first, in May 2001, was dedicated to CRPS awareness. The second took place in February 2004 and explored the chronic under treatment of and gender bias toward women in pain. Both of these efforts were the first of their kind in the nation.
In 2006, Toussaint ran for the California State Assembly to bring attention to her CRPS Education Bill that Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed after she got it to his desk in its first year. Her next bill, a seven year effort, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2015. This Step Therapy legislation reformed an unethical prescription practice used by the health insurance industry to save money in a way that increased the suffering of California pain patients.
Toussaint was the first CRPS sufferer to be featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and on the Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio. She is a consultant for The Discovery Channel, ABC News, FOX News, the National Pain Report and PainPathways, the official magazine of the World Institute of Pain. Also, she is a guide and guest contributor for Maria Shriver’s Architects of Change website.
Her many speaking engagements include the National Institutes of Health and Capitol Hill.
She is the author of Battle for Grace: A Memoir of Pain, Redemption and Impossible Love. Also, Toussaint is experiencing her first-ever partial CRPS remission largely due to the narrative therapy of writing this book.
Toussaint continues to be a leading advocate for health care reform in California. She was instrumental in changing public opinion which sparked sweeping HMO reform legislation that was signed by Governor Gray Davis in 1999. Her focus has now shifted to creating a single-payer, universal health care plan in California that would provide a model for the rest of the country.