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Board of Advocates

An important group of individuals known as the board of advocates provides guidance and direction to the School of Health Professions' leadership.

The board of advocates provides guidance to the dean of the University of Kansas School of Health Professions. The board's presence serves to complement, advocate and strengthen the school's mission-based activities: "To serve the citizens of Kansas, the region, the nation and to develop tomorrow's leaders through exemplary education, research and service."

Purpose, Bylaws, Roles and Meetings


The primary mission of the University of Kansas School of Health Professions board of advocates is to provide a means for active participation of friends and alumni of the School of Health Professions who are committed to the continuing development and recognition of the school. The experience, advocacy, counsel, and participation of the board, individually and collectively, will play a significant role in helping the school achieve its set goals.

The board serves the school through many activities:

  • Advocate for the school in fulfilling its mission to serve the citizens of Kansas, the region, and the nation, and to develop tomorrow's leaders through exemplary education, research and service.
  • Support the mission-based activities of the school.
  • Advocate and create opportunities for effective interaction between the school and the communities it serves.
  • Be ambassadors in the community to educate the public on the roles of other health care professionals, other than physicians and nurses, in the delivery of top-quality health care services.
  • Seek and inform the dean of the school of pertinent community interests related to health and health care.


Membership on the board of advocates is open to people who are in recognized leadership positions. Invitation to join the board is decided by the dean based upon the recommendations of the executive committee of the board and/or the school's administrative council. The principal criteria for recommendation for membership are demonstrated support for the school and/or expertise that would support the school’s mission of education, research and service. The maximum size of the board will be 25 members.

Membership on the board is for three years with a maximum of two consecutive terms. An appointment to a second term is made by the dean in consultation with the chair of the board. After the two terms of service, individuals may be reappointed to the board again after a one-year time period and at the invitation of the dean in consultation with the chair of the board.

Emeritus status will be conferred upon board members having completed one or more terms of board membership. Emeritus members are encouraged to attend board meetings and will receive invitations to all School of Health Professions public events.

While not members of the board, some executives of the KU Medical Center, including the executive vice chancellor, will be invited when necessary to attend and participate in some of the meetings.


The board of advocates will be administered by an executive committee consisting of the dean of the School of Health Professions, a chair of the board and a secretary of the board.

Executive Committee

The dean, in discussion with board members, will designate a chair and a secretary of the board of advocates. The chair and secretary will serve two-year terms.

The executive committee will meet approximately two times a year to assist the dean in identifying ways the board can fulfill its mission and to assist in the identification of new board members.

The executive committee shall appoint ad-hoc committees as necessary or desirable to further the mission of the board.

The executive committee may recommend to the dean the removal of a board member for cause.


In addition to serving on the executive committee, the officers shall perform the following duties:

  • The chair will assist the dean in creating the agenda and conduct board meetings.
  • The secretary will be responsible for the implementation of any official correspondence of the board and will work with the Office of the Dean staff in maintaining the minutes of the board and executive committee meetings. The secretary will also maintain a roster of members’ names, addresses, and communication preferences, e.g. email, fax, and postal address.


The board of advocates will hold a one-day meeting in the fall semester of every year on the KU Medical Center campus located at 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Kansas City, Kansas. Two short 45-minute teleconference meetings will also be held each year. The first teleconference will be early in the spring semester and the second will be early in the summer semester.

All members of the board shall have voting privileges.

An agenda for each meeting will be established by the dean of the school in collaboration with the chair of the board and circulated before the meeting.

Benefits Accruing to Members of the Board

Benefits and opportunities to members of the board of advocates include the following:

  • Advise and guide the school in areas of specific interest.
  • Interact with KU Medical Center and School of Health Professions administrators, students, faculty, and staff.
  • Interact and network with an outstanding group of business and professional leaders as colleagues in support of the school and medical center.
  • Participate in all of the school's special events, public events, lectureships, and student events.
  • Receive communications from the school and medical center, including KU Medical Center publications such as annual reports and magazines, KU Endowment Association publications, and School of Health Professions publications.
  • Receive School of Health Professions public relations information and participate in the school’s social media channels.
  1. Advocate for the School of Health Professions in fulfilling its mission to serve the citizens of Kansas, the region, the nation, and to develop tomorrow's leaders through exemplary education, research and service.
  2. Support the mission-based activities of the School of Health Professions.
  3. Advocate and create opportunities for effective interaction between the school and the communities it serves.
  4. Be ambassadors in the community to educate the public on the roles of other health care professionals, other than physicians and nurses, in the delivery of top-quality health care services.
  5. Seek and inform the dean of the school of pertinent community interests related to health and health care.


Katie Brown, Ed.D., RDN
Senior Vice President of Scientific Affairs & Outreach, National Dairy Council

Katie Brown, Ed.D., RDN, has a passion for connecting agriculture, food, nutrition and health as relevant, meaningful and actionable. In her role as senior vice president scientific affairs and outreach at the National Dairy Council, she manages strategic partner engagement and thought leader outreach about the benefits of dairy consumption in health promotion, disease prevention and consumer wellness.

Brown is a registered dietitian nutritionist and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nutrition and a doctorate degree in education. She has presented at more than 120 national and international professional conferences, has been an author on more than 30 articles published in peer reviewed journals and is a frequent contributor to popular and trade media.

Rick Couldry, Pharm.D., RpH, FASHP
Vice President, Pharmacy and Health Professions, The University of Kansas Health System

Rick Couldry, Pharm.D., RpH, FASHP, is vice president, pharmacy and health professions, at The University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas. During his leadership career, the pharmacy department maintained an integrated, patient-centered practice model and received two Best Practice Awards from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Couldry received his bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and completed a combined residency and master's degree in hospital pharmacy at the University of Kansas.

A fellow of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Couldry has served in several of the society's section advisory groups including chair of manager development as well as director-at-large and chair for the section of pharmacy practice management. He has held leadership positions on the state and national levels, including as district director for the Kansas Council of Health-System Pharmacists.

Couldry received the School of Pharmacy Alumni Service Award for Health System Pharmacy from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2011 and the Harold N. Godwin Leadership Legacy Award in 2014.

Teresa Gerard, MBA
Chief Executive Officer, Guardian Group, LLC

Teresa Gerard, MBA, is chief executive officer of Guardian Group, LLC, and currently works as an independent health care consultant. She specializes in, among other areas, corporate strategy, product development, revenue cycle management, behavioral health, health information technology, health informatics and telehealth. Gerard earned her bachelor’s degrees in business administration and personnel administration (1979) and a master's degree in business administration (1981), all from the University of Kansas. She holds CPA certification in Kansas and Missouri.

Gerard started her career in banking with now Bank of America in Dallas and later with the FDIC in Phoenix. She has experience leading program management offices for large technology projects in the banking and insurance industries and financial transactions for national health care organizations for Deloitte Consulting. Most recently, she was a senior executive for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and a member of BCBS Association workgroups. Gerard has supported efforts in areas such as health policy, health/community information exchanges, and the interoperability of clinical, social services and administrative information.

Gerard remains active at KU. She currently presents guest lectures for the school's bachelor's degree program in health information management and the master's degree program in health informatics at KU Medical Center. She also serves on the advisory board for the KU Department of Health Information Management.

Kelly Hutton-Gordon
Owner and CEO, Dynamos Anesthesia Services, LLC

Kelly R. Gordon is chief executive officer of Dynamos Anesthesia Services, LLC and chief anesthesia executive officer of Ethos Anesthesia, LLC. Since 2009, her companies have offered professional services of nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and anesthesiologists to ambulatory surgery centers, physician offices, and hospitals in our region.

Hutton-Gordon graduated from Johnson County Community College in 1988 with an associate degree in nursing. She obtained a bachelor's degree in nursing from Webster University in 1995, and in 2000 completed a master's degree in biology/nurse anesthesia at the University of Missouri Kansas City and Truman Medical Center School of Nurse Anesthesia.

Upon completing her associate degree, Hutton-Gordon worked at Children's Mercy Hospital in the neonatal intensive care unit, followed by a position in the surgical intensive care unit/cardiothoracic intensive care until at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She entered U.S. military service in 1997 as a second lieutenant and served until an honorable separation in 2003 at the rank of captain.

Hutton-Gordon has been a full-time practitioner within her own practice, including service on staff as a PRN clinical instructor for the KU School of Health Professions nurse anesthesia program since 2009. She previously held clinical positions at the Truman Medical Center School of Nurse Anesthesia from 2000 until 2019. She is active in the Kansas Association of Nurse Anesthetists and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

Theresa Jackson, RHIA
Director of Medical Records, The University of Kansas Health System

For more than 35 years now, Theresa Jackson, RHIA has been closely involved with the University of Kansas. After earning a bachelor's degree in health information management from KU in 1983, she was hired as director of health information management for The University of Kansas Hospital – a position she continues to hold today.

Jackson's extensive experience and connections at KU Medical Center has greatly benefitted the School of Health Professions. Her hospital department and the school's academic program enjoy a strong partnership that benefits both institutions, and the hospital has hired many graduates of the school's health information management program over the years. She also serves as a member of the academic program's advisory board.

With both daughters employed by The University of Kansas Health System, Jackson's roots run strong here with a family of proud Jayhawks.

Sandra Keener, Au.D., CCC-A
Assistant Director of Audiology, Children's Mercy Hospital

Sandra Keener, Au.D., CCC-A, held a faculty position in the KU Department of Hearing and Speech as clinical assistant professor of audiology and worked at the University of Kansas Medical Center for 28 years providing classroom and clinical instruction. Prior to joining the KU faculty in 1988, Keener was a clinical fellow in the department. She received master's and doctoral degrees in audiology from the University of Kansas.

Currently, Keener serves as assistant director of audiology at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. She is responsible for program development and overseeing clinical functions across six locations with a staff of 23 audiologists. She was instrumental in starting the cochlear implant program at Children's Mercy in the fall of 2017. Her primary clinical interests include cochlear implants and auditory brainstem response.

Keener has served on several committees and advisory boards including the Kansas Sound Beginnings Newborn Hearing Screening Program executive committee, the Hartley Family Center advisory board, and the KU HealthPartners board of directors. She was the state co-coordinator for the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program for many years.

Keener was named 2006 Kansas Audiologist of the Year and received a Commitment to Excellence Award from the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City in 2014.

Talal Khan, M.D., MBA
Associate Professor and Chair, KU Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

Talal W. Khan M.D., MBA, is professor and chair of the KU Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at KU Medical Center. He also serves as director of the Chronic and Interventional Pain Clinic of The University of Kansas Health System. Dr. Khan is also active in resident, fellow and continuing professional education and administration of the Department of Anesthesiology, which is one of the largest clinical departments on campus.

Dr. Khan completed medical school at King Edward Medical College, Pakistan, followed by an internship at the University of Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida. He performed his residency in anesthesiology at Jackson Memorial, as well. He also earned a master degree in business administration from Rockhurst University, Kansas City, Mo.

Research interests for Dr. Khan include pre-emptive analgesia, perioperative pain management, spinal diagnostics and treatment, management of neuropathic pain, cancer pain management, implantable therapies for intractable pain, and the role of gene therapy in pain management.

A Diplomate of the American Board of Pain Medicine and the American Board of Anesthesiology, Dr. Khan is very active within his profession at state and national levels. He serves as chair of the Expert Panel of the Kansas Partnership for Pain Management; this group seeks to create educational materials and disseminate best practices across the state of Kansas for the management of chronic pain states.

Anthony Kovac, Jr., M.D.
Professor, KU Anesthesiology, Pain and Perioperative Medicine

Anthony L. Kovac, M.D., is a professor in the departments of Anesthesiology and Nurse Anesthesia Education at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. He also holds a joint appointment as an affiliate professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine. Dr. Kovac’s passions include research in muscle relaxant reversal and burn care as well as efforts to promote global health education.

Dr. Kovac earned his medical degree from the University of Kansas and interned at Mercy Medical Center in Denver, Colo., before returning to KU Medical Center for his anesthesiology residency training. He also completed an externship in family practice at Gardner Community Hospital in Gardner, Kansas. He has been on staff at the University of Kansas Medical Center since 1981.

The principal investigator or subinvestigator for more than 50 clinical trials, Dr. Kovac has published an extensive number of articles and presented at numerous national and international meetings. In 2021, through the KU Endowment Association, Dr Kovac initiated the Kovac Diversity Student Support Fund for the KU schools of Health Professions, Medicine and Nursing.

Scott Mattivi
Chief Operations Officer, PathologyWatch

Scott Mattivi is chief operations officer for PathologyWatch, a health care technology provider for dermatologists. Prior to joining PathologyWatch, he served as president of Eurofins Viracor BioPharma Services. A graduate of the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in medical technology, Mattivi also earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas.

In 2009, Mattivi joined Viracor Eurofins where he has held positions as laboratory operations director and vice president of operations before rising to the position of president. During his successful tenure at Viracor, he moved the lab operations from a single day shift to a 24x7 operation and led the company to multiple years of record growth in revenues and earnings.

Mattivi also led the successful implementation of a quality management system plan resulting in College of American Pathologists accreditation for Viracor Eurofins.

Prior to joining Viracor Eurofins, Mattivi served as a laboratory manager at Quest Diagnostics.

Ike Nwabuonwu
Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Alpha Energy and Electric, Inc.

Ike Nwabuonwu is chairman and chief executive officer of Alpha Energy and Electric, Inc., an engineering, procurement and construction company with more than a half century of experience.

Alpha Energy offers a broad range of services for commercial, institutional, government, and industrial construction. The company has been part of the region’s highest-profile construction projects including the Kansas City downtown streetcar, Iatan Power Plant, Kansas City Police Department East Patrol Campus/Crime Lab Project, Saint Luke’s Hospital, and Cerner Trails Campus Project, among many others.

Nwabuonwu has more than thirty years of broad professional experience in leadership positions. He is responsible for steering the company’s overall strategic goals and vision toward a culture of high ethics and profitability.

In August 2014, Nwabuonwu was among a select group of CEOs from United States and African countries invited by the President of the United States to join the U.S.–Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington, D.C.

Nwabuonwu was inducted into the Black Achievers Society of Kansas City in 1998. He was appointed to and currently serves on the District Export Council of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

In addition to serving on the board of several organizations, Nwabuonwu has received many citations and awards. His recognitions include a proclamation from the Governor of Missouri as an "Achiever in Business and Industry."

Learn more about Ike Nwabuonwu at Alpha Energy’s website.

Sam Porritt, MBA
Founder and Chair, Falling Forward Foundation

Sam Porritt is the founder and chair of Falling Forward Foundation which makes grants to pay for patients’ extended rehabilitation after insurance benefits run out. Sam saw the need for such support and launched the Foundation after his own personal injury experience.

In 2011, Sam suffered a spinal cord injury that resulted from an accident while he was on vacation in Italy. Initially, Sam was paralyzed from the waist down. His recovery from such a catastrophic injury would be a long one. Thankfully, Sam learned that, unlike most medical insurance, his policy placed no limit on rehabilitation. Sam's insurance covered nearly two years of intensive physical therapy. With the skill and support of many rehabilitation professionals, Sam recovered. He's now able to walk with a cane, drive a car, work part-time and live a productive life.

During his more than two years in rehabilitation, Sam saw the impact of therapy insurance limits first-hand. Sam met hundreds of patients whose recoveries were cut short when their insurance benefits stopped and they were unable to pay out of their own pockets. In August of 2013, Sam launched the Foundation to give other patients the same opportunity that he had – to continue medical rehabilitation and to recover to their full potential.

Prior to his accident, Sam spent more than 25 years in marketing and advertising, building some of America's largest brands. While working for Payless ShoeSource, Sam's responsibilities included managing the company's communication, foundation and philanthropic activity. Sam earned master's degree in business administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

To learn more about how rehabilitation made the difference in Sam's recovery, view this video produced by The University of Kansas Health System where Sam did his inpatient rehabilitation.

Karen Schell, DHSc, RRT

From 2015 until May 2022, Karen Schell, D.H.Sc., RRT-NPS, RRT-SDS, RPFT, RPSGT, AE-C, CTTS, served as a classroom and clinical instructor in KU's bachelor’s degree program in respiratory care. She has more than 40 years of experience in patient advocacy, education, management, best practices, and public relations in the field of respiratory therapy. 

Schell completed her bachelor's degree in respiratory care at the KU Medical Center in 1992. While continuing to work as a therapist and educator, she completed her master’s degree and a doctorate in health sciences from Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Schell served as president of the American Association of Respiratory Care in 2019 and 2020, an organization of more than 40,000 members. Schell was instrumental in developing a respiratory therapy education program in Ghana, Africa – the first such program created in the country. She has made more than 15 trips to Ghana, providing clinics, education, and community service over the last decade. 

Toni Shields
Director of Pharmacy, Queen's Price Choppers

Toni Shields currently is director of pharmacy for Queen's Price Choppers. She earned her pharmacy degree in 1988 from the KU School of Pharmacy.

Will Shields

Born on the Fort Riley U.S. Army military base in Kansas, Will Shields attended high school in Lawton Oklahoma. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska where he excelled at football and vocal music while connecting to a passion for volunteerism and community advocacy. He credits his time under Nebraska football coaching legend Tom Osborne for learning about being a role model and positive influence on others.

During a 14-year career with the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League, Shields was not only a 12-time Pro Bowl selection but was also recognized as the 2003 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. Remarkably, he played every game of his illustrious career and is considered to be one of the finest offensive linemen to ever play the game at its highest level in the NFL. In 2015, Shields was honored with his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He currently works for the NFL and also serves on multiple boards.

Timothy Steele, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Associated Audiologists, Inc.

A KU alumnus, Timothy Steele, Ph.D., is president and chief executive officer of Associated Audiologists, Inc., a private audiology practice with clinics in the northeast region of Kansas and northwest region of Missouri, including the Kansas City metro area. His interests and passion are in the areas of hearing loss rehabilitation and hearing aids.

Steele has taught coursework in the KU Intercampus Program in Communicative Disorders at the University of Kansas Medical Center and provides clinical supervision at KU and for other audiology programs in the area.

He earned his master's degree in audiology and his doctorate of philosophy in audiology degree from the University of Kansas. Steele has been on the board of directors of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology and is president of the board of directors of the Overland Park Rotary Foundation.

He co-authored a book chapter with Jack Katz, Ph.D., titled "Introduction to Aural Rehabilitation" for the textbook Handbook for Clinical Audiology, third edition, by Raymond Hull. Ingram's Magazine named Steele a 2017 Hero in Healthcare.

Francie Stoner
Chair, Board of Advocates; Founder and President, The LAUGHH Foundation

Francie Stoner received bachelor's degrees in microbiology and medical technology from the University of Kansas and remains an avid Jayhawks fan today. Currently she is president and founder of the LAUGHH Foundation and serves as a clinical assistant professor in the school's Department of Health Information Management. An acronym for "Live Abundantly Using Guided Helping Hands," LAUGHH was created by Stoner to help people obtain education that helps them master life skills and to improve physical and mental health. She also served as an executive at Cerner Corporation for 29 years.

For more than 50 years, Stoner has been deeply involved in a variety of charitable causes and served on the board of directors for many organizations including the Weston Chamber of Commerce, Weston Historical Museum, and Weston Christian Church. She has a passion for helping others. Among her numerous efforts: providing financial support for the KU Women for KU Women Fund to help KU college seniors and graduate students overcome an obstacle holding them back from reaching their goals.

In 2011, Stoner was awarded the Soul of First Hand Award – only the second recipient of this award – for her dedication to changing the lives of children. Also that year she received the University of Kansas School of Health Professions Distinguished Alumni Award for her work in changing health care around the world.

Col. Roy Swift, Ph.D. (Ret.)
Executive Director, Workcred, Washington, D.C.

Col. Roy A. Swift, Ph.D. (ret.) is currently the executive director of Workcred, an affiliate of the American National Standards Institute. Prior to his current position, he was the senior director of personnel credentialing accreditation programs at ANSI. From 1993-1998 he was executive director of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. This appointment followed a 28-year career in the United States Army Medical Department.

In his last position, he was Chief of the Army Medical Specialist Corps in the Army Surgeon General’s Office with policy responsibility for Army occupational therapists, physical therapists, dietitians, and physician assistants throughout the world. He has served on many national committees including recent work on a planning committee of the National Academy of Sciences to examine the elements constituting a quality undergraduate education.

Paula Woolworth, OTR/L, ARM
Secretary, Board of Advocates

Paula Woolworth, OTR/L, ARM, currently serves as mayor protem in the Dallas suburb of Shady Shores, Texas, and is in her third term of elected office. She began her career as a proud graduate of KU’s occupational therapy program in 1979. In addition, she pursued her master’s degree in health services administration at KU.

Prior to serving in city government, Woolworth enjoyed a successful four-decade career in diverse settings managing health care from all three sides of the third-party payor system in the U.S.

Starting with positions at Bethany Rehabilitation and Medical Center, Woolworth has held many clinical positions in occupational therapy and physical rehabilitation including program manager and assistant director. She served on the start-up executive team to open Mid-America Rehabilitation Hospital and as assistant administrator lead the clinical programs in occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech pathology and recreational therapy. She also was involved with case management, social work, admissions, and marketing for the hospital.

Woolworth entered the payor side of health care at The St. Paul Insurance Co. and Intracorp with positions directing adjuster payments to support rehabilitation of patients with work-related catastrophic injuries for a six-state region. She joined GAB Robins at its New York City headquarters and was responsible for national accounts management and the company’s managed care subsidiary “MedInsights.” She retired as senior vice president at GAB and Gallagher Bassett, the company's new owner.

David S. Zamierowski, M.D., FACS
Plastic Surgeon (retired) and Philanthropist, Overland Park, Kansas

After graduating from Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1968, David S. Zamierowski, M.D., FACS completed a surgery internship at the University of Pittsburgh. His academic career was interrupted by military service in Vietnam. After the war, he returned to KU to finish his residency in plastic surgery in 1976.

During his 25 years of medical practice in Kansas City, he founded the Wound Care Centers of Kansas City. It was work there that led him to invent surface dressings and surgical wound devices. He holds more than 50 patents is among the very few physician inventors having more than one commercially successful product. The V.A.C. external wound dressing has now been used to treat more than six million wounds including to stabilize traumatic wounds in the military.

Dr. Zamierowski retired from active practice in 2003 and has since devoted himself to health care education and philanthropic support of simulation. This culminated in the establishment of the Zamierowski Institute of Experiential Learning (ZIEL) at KU Medical Center in 2015. The institute is an innovative venture, in collaboration with The University of Kansas Health System, to optimize the education and training for health care professionals. The advanced simulation technology and dynamic facilities located in KU Medical Center's Health Education Building provide the resources necessary to create immersive training experiences for health care professionals and trainees from all disciplines.

KU School of Health Professions

KU School of Health Professions
KU Medical Center
3901 Rainbow Blvd
Mailstop 2007
Kansas City, KS 66160
913-588-5235 • 711 TTY