Speaker Bios

Meet the speakers:

Cathy Allen is a certified therapeutic recreation specialist with more than 30 years of industry experience in teaching, training, consulting and managing health care professionals. She is passionate in leading and developing a workforce that takes pride in providing quality care and programming, which has a lasting impact on the lives of seniors, families and staff that they serve. For more than 20 years Cathy has been speaking for state and national activity professional associations and health care organizations. Cathy is co-owner of Activity Consulting and Training (ACT), which provides activity consultation for long-term care, mental health facilities and assisted living communities.

Carmen Bowman is a consultant, trainer and owner of Edu-Catering: Catering Education for Compliance and Culture Change, turning her former role of regulator into educator. Carmen was a Colorado state surveyor for nine years, a policy analyst with CMS Central Office where she taught the national Basic Surveyor Course and was the first certified activity professional to be a surveyor. As a contractor to CMS, Carmen co-developed the Artifacts of Culture Change measurement tool, authored the background papers for and facilitated both Creating Home national symposiums.

Judy Carter is an American comedian, motivational speaker, and author of four books on self-improvement and stress reduction. She’s been featured on over 100 TV shows, nominated for Atlantic City’s Entertainer of the Year and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Oprah Winfrey Show and on CNN. Judy started her career as a professional magician and went on to become one of the first women to work at the prestigious Magic Castle in Hollywood, where she created quite a stir with her “death-defying” escape from her grandmother’s girdle. She has United Airlines to thank for her transition to a standup comic–they lost her baggage with her magic tricks and she had to go onstage without them. Judy is that rare speaker who is laugh-out-loud funny and provides thought-provoking insight.

Lori Dierolf spent more than 20 years as a human resources and staff development professional in the long-term care industry. She is the author of two books, “Set the Course: Best HR Practices for Long-Term Care Leaders” and “Training Your Team for Dementia Care Excellence.” Since 2006, Lori has conducted seminars and on-site educational programs through her company, Open Door Training & Development, and she has been a favorite speaker at conferences throughout the country on the topics of leadership, team building and dementia care. Lori has a master’s degree in psychology from Millersville University, Millersville, PA.

Bill Dombi is the president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) where he serves also as the director of the Center for Health Care Law and the executive director of Home Care and Hospice Financial Managers Association. Bill specializes in legal, legislative and regulatory advocacy on behalf of patients and providers of home health and hospice care. With over 40 years of experience in health care law and policy, Bill Dombi has been involved in virtually all legislative and regulatory efforts affecting home care and hospice since 1975.

Maribeth Freland, RN, graduated from Marshalltown Community College in Marshalltown, Iowa with an associate degree in nursing in 1993. She worked as a staff nurse and in administrative positions at Community Nursing Services, a home health agency/public health agency for six years. She has been a home health facilities surveyor for the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals since 2001 and was appointed lead surveyor/Iowa OASIS education coordinator as part of her duties through the Department of Inspections and Appeals in July 2015.

August “Dutch” Geisinger is the deputy director of the Polk County Emergency Management Agency. Dutch became a member of the emergency management team in August of 2020. He has an extensive background in critical infrastructure protection, business continuity planning, training and public outreach and education. Dutch served with the United States Army and Iowa Army National Guard for 12 years before accepting a position with the Cedar Falls Police Department in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Dutch became the director of the Safeguard Iowa Partnership in 2015, which is a public/private partnership whose mission is to better prepare Iowa to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters through the collaboration of public sector agencies and private businesses.

Julie Halfpop is the director of nutrition services with Martin Brothers Foodservice Distributing, a broad line, family owned company out of Cedar Falls, Iowa. She leads the team of seven dietitians in supporting dining success in residential health care communities throughout the Midwest. Julie is an experienced speaker who has spent over 25 years working in health care communities. She is a registered and licensed dietitian and is active in professional organizations, as well as teaches the dietary manager courses through Des Moines Area Community College. In her spare time, she likes to travel, attend sporting events and tries to stay active.

Devin Henderson is a multi-talented powerhouse: an author, experienced presenter, seasoned performer and in-demand keynote speaker. Devin’s passion is using his unique talents and experiences to inspire individuals and organizations to discover their greatest potential and keep going no matter what. Devin is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), a designation conferred by the National Speakers Association. Devin began his entertainment career in 2004 as a comedy magician and soon after began using his comedy and magic to inspire audiences of professionals across the United States.

Brenda Irlbeck is the vice president of quality and clinical services for the Iowa Health Care Association. She is knowledgeable regarding issues related to quality improvement, regulatory compliance and clinical practice in post-acute care settings. Brenda is a registered nurse, certified assisted living manager, and a former director of nursing in a continuing care retirement community with many years of provider experience. Her responsibilities also include assisting IHCA members with the AHCA Quality Initiative, the AHCA Quality Awards Program and other state and national efforts, which promote improved quality and clinical practice.

Julie Johnson received her RN degree at Des Moines Area Community College. Julie has been a nurse consultant with Assisted Living Partners since June 2019. In this capacity, she completes regulatory compliance reviews, providing written reports with recommendations on improving assessments and tenant charts. Julie also goes to assisted living communities as an RN completing assessments, updating service plans and implementing new systems. Julie has worked in long-term care for many years, serving as a director of nursing and director of assisted living.

Laurie Kjar-Reiss is a certified therapeutic recreation specialist with more than 30 years of industry experience in teaching, training, consulting and managing health care professionals. For more than 20 years Laurie has been speaking for state and national activity professional associations and health care organizations. Laurie is a co-owner of Activity Consulting and Training (ACT), which provides activity consultation for long term care, mental health facilities and assisted living communities.

Louann Lawson, BA, BN, RAC-CT, CMT, has nearly 40 years of long-term and acute care experience and has been an active member in the health continuum. As a registered nurse, Louann has held multiple clinical and leadership positions that provide her with extensive experience to support and to grow clinical teams. Now, as a nurse consultant, Louann is an educator who has successfully trained hundreds of professionals regarding MDS/Medicare/Medicaid processes, clinical quality initiatives and reimbursement protocols. She conducts comprehensive survey and reimbursement audits, as well as directed plans of correction.

Annette Lee, RN, MS COS-C, HCS-D, is a registered nurse practicing since 1990, with the majority of her nursing experience in public health care, and her master’s in health care administration. In 2000 she joined the home health intermediary Cahaba GBA, where she became a sought-after instructor, providing education to home health and hospice providers on Medicare reimbursement issues and effective documentation strategies. After nearly a decade working for the intermediary, she began Provider Insights, Inc., a home health care consulting company.

Lisa Lysell is the manager of Healthcare Solutions for Hillyard, Inc., a privately owned cleaning products company. Her responsibilities include helping health care entities develop best practice surface disinfection and cleaning programs and assisting in the implementation of Hillyard’s healthcare initiatives nationwide. She has helped develop programs for health care entities such as Children Mercy, Mosaic, Redwood Senior Living, etc. She also maintains and supports national health care accounts and GPO partnerships.

Jim Mathis is a bestselling author, International Platform Certified Speaking Professional (IPCS), Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and a certified speaker and trainer with the John Maxwell Team. He has been writing, speaking and consulting internationally for over 45 years. Jim provides professional trainings for health care groups, home health agencies, health care associations, long-term care and assisted living. Jim is president of Reinvention Nation, LLC, based in St. Augustine, Florida and author of the best-selling book, “Reinvention Made Easy: Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results,” as well as, “Reinvention 101: Bold Ideas on Reinvention.”

Barb Rasmussen has been the program coordinator for the Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals (DIA) since July 2018, working with hospice, home health and community mental health centers. Prior to her position as program coordinator, Barb was a health facility surveyor for home health, hospice and community mental health centers. Her past nursing experiences include home health, assisted living, nursing home and hospital.

Christopher Ridenhour provides guidance to health care organizations on staff retention, team performance, customer care, and worker morale. Christopher is a professional speaker, trainer/educator and president and CEO of INSPIRED2RESULTS, LLC. As a professional speaker, coach and trainer, Christopher doesn’t believe in just making audiences “feel” better. Rather, he seeks to encourage and help them “do” better, both professionally and personally.

Lisa Roederer, RN, RAC-CT, QCP, ICP, is a nurse consultant and owner of Virtuous LTC Consulting Services. Lisa has 36 years of acute care and long-term care experience. She has worked as a CNA, restorative aide, LPN, RN, MDS nurse and DON, and has worked the past 13 years as a corporate nurse and as an independent nurse consultant. Lisa has extensive knowledge in a variety of areas such as, quality assurance/QAPI, MDS 3.0, clinical quality care processes and infection control and survey preparedness. Lisa provides system analysis, auditing, data review and analysis for Quality Measures and Five-Star Ratings, as well as educational in-services.

Linda Saunders, LNHA, is the founder and president of Censusolutions. Linda has been a licensed nursing home administrator for over 35 years. Linda has served as a consultant to regional and national senior living and post-acute care companies in the areas of marketing, strategy development, sales, leadership development, revenue maximization and communications. Censusolutions specializes in all facets of census optimization within the senior living and health care landscape. Linda’s programs are utilized within over 200 healthcare organizations nationwide.

Dr. Yogi Shah is the chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs for Broadlawns Medical Center. Dr. Shah joined the organization in September 2016 and served as a geriatrician in the Broadlawns Geriatric and Memory Center for his first three years with Broadlawns. Before joining the medical staff at Broadlawns, he served as the associate dean of global health at Des Moines University. He was the founding physician for the Des Moines University Memory Clinic.

Rebecca Shinn, RD, LD, is currently a leader of the nutrition and culinary team at Kohl Wholesale. Rebecca is called on to consult with various foodservice operations. In partnering with health care facilities, Rebecca strives to exceed nutrition standards, with a focus on education and creativity. Rebecca is a registered and licensed dietitian, an active member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, and a Certified Food Safety Instructor with the National Restaurant Association.

Barbara Speedling is the quality-of-life specialist for Innovations for Quality Living. Barbara provides staff education and program development designed to satisfy a broad range of special needs. Guidance is offered to community, residential and long-term care service providers in the development of programs and services to improve the care of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, mental illness, brain injury and complex psychosocial needs. Barbara began her career in long-term care in recreation therapy, later specializing in the development of environments and programs for people with dementia and mental illness.

Barbara Thomsen, CDM, CFPP, RAC-CT, ICAC spent seven years as the MDS/OASIS automation education coordinator/trainer for the State of Iowa/Telligen before starting her own consulting business, Aging Rules Healthcare Consulting, in 2019. Barbara was employed in long-term care facilities for 10+ years and has her degree as a certified dietary manager/certified food protection professional, resident assessment coordinator certified and Iowa certified assessment coordinator. She is the current spokesperson of the Iowa Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals, National ANFP Legislative Chair and currently works with ANFP as their education/regulatory consultant. Barbara is a respected trainer/educational partner for various health care associations, state ANFP chapters as well as a National ANFP speaker and American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordinators presenter.

Steve Tiezzi is a corporate chef that has over 20 years of foodservice experience with a culinary degree from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He has expertise in culinary arts as well as foodservice marketing, training, communications and administration. His work experience includes positions as a kitchen supervisor, sous chef, executive chef and foodservice business manager.

Melanie Tribe-Scott, RN, RAC-MT, RAC-MTA QCP, has over 25 years of experience in long-term care and has held a variety of positions. She currently holds the position of director of education with MDS Consultants. She is now a master teacher for both the RAC-CT and advanced courses and is a Certified QAPI Professional. Melanie has consulted for several long-term care facilities and has excellent results with improving RAI systems. She has provided educational programs on topics such as PDPM, nursing documentation, MDS coding and Quality Measures.

Ken Watkins is a lawyer and owner of the Ken Watkins Law Firm, located in Des Moines. His practice includes representation of health care providers in regulatory matters, responding to government investigations and malpractice litigation. Ken received his B.A. degree from Knox College and his J.D. degree from Drake University Law School, where he served on the Drake Law Review.

Kit Welchlin is a born public speaker, trainer, and owner of Kit Welchlin Presentations. Kit has delivered hundreds of personal development and motivational speeches, seminars and workshops to hospitals, long-term care facilities, medical groups, and their trade associations over the past two decades. Kit has a B.S. degree in speech communication, business administration and political science. He earned an M.A. degree in speech communication and business administration. In 2018, he earned the Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association.

Jo Ellen Whitney is a shareholder and lawyer with the Dentons Davis Brown Law Firm in Des Moines. She works extensively in the field of employment law and health care law, including privacy and confidentiality issues, such as HIPAA for long-term care, clinics and small practices. She has worked on medical staffing, credentialing and privileging matters, as well as consent and risk analysis. Jo Ellen also speaks frequently on HIPAA, medical records privacy, physician issues and consent matters relating to the provision of medical care.