A Free Virtual Community Experience
Friday, May 20th
8am - 3pm PT
If you are someone living with Autoimmune Disease or have been sick without answers, then you probably already know that the struggle is real. Or, perhaps you are an autoimmune-aware care provider seeking support and information on how to better approach your chronic patients. You're in the right place.
This virtual summit brings together autoimmune specialists, care providers, nutritionists, physicians, advocacy organizations, and autoimmune warriors from around the world. These impressive individuals offer various perspectives and expertise on topics focused on living with and managing autoimmune conditions. Sessions will be geared toward autoimmune warriors as well as physicians and care providers. If you are a physician looking for CME credits, look no further! See below for details.
Our goal is to bring awareness, come together, and provide resources to support chronic illness warriors and specialty care providers. Please join us.
Have a question about the event? Send us a message.
Friday, May 20th
8am - 3pm PT
Jenifer Tharani, MS, RD
Jenifer is as a Registered Dietitian and Aila Health anti-inflammatory nutritionist. She provides virtual nutrition coaching to help people take charge of their health from the comfort of their home. In her virtual nutrition practice, she focuses on helping clients adopt a non-restrictive, gut healing anti-inflammatory eating pattern to help with weight loss, PCOS, prevent and manage chronic illness like diabetes and autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, and IBD. Jenifer provides individualized and personalized nutrition plans for members of the Aila Health community.
Lauren Freedman is an integrative health coach and activist who lives in Los Angeles. The host of the award-winning Uninvisible Pod, she has lived with depression and anxiety since she was a teen, and was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease and sleep disorders in 2017. Her work is centered on deepening narratives about chronic illness and disability: raising awareness, inspiring inclusion, and cultivating a community for those living the Spoonie life. Lauren graduated from London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) with a BA (Hons) in Acting in 2008. Fall down seven times, stand up eight.
Hannah Olson is the Co-founder and CEO of Chronically Capable, a digital talent marketplace that connects job seekers with chronic illness and disabilities to inclusive job opportunities. Hannah’s own experience navigating her career while undergoing intensive treatment for Lyme disease sparked the idea for her company, which launched in March 2020. Today, Hannah is known globally for her disability advocacy, with recent features in Forbes, Inc Magazine, FastCompany, and more.
Mamas Facing Forward
Mariah is a writer, patient advocate, and mom of three living with rheumatoid arthritis. After learning firsthand the challenges of facing pregnancy and motherhood with a chronic illness, Mariah has become passionate about supporting women with chronic illnesses who are or want to become mothers. In 2015 she launched Mamas Facing Forward, a website and private Facebook group that now connects moms and moms-to-be with chronic illness from all over the world.
Nishi Bhopal, MD
Sleep Medicine Specialist
Dr. Nishi Bhopal is board certified in Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine. She graduated from the University College Cork School of Medicine, completed her Psychiatric residency at Henry Ford Health System, and a fellowship in Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She has additional training in Integrative Psychiatry, Ayurveda, and functional medicine. Through her training in Integrative Medicine and personal experiences with yoga and meditation, she blends the best of ancient wisdom and modern science. Dr. Bhopal is the founder of IntraBalance, an online platform teaching doctors about sleep, and Pacific Integrative Psychiatry, a private practice in San Francisco. She's on a mission to make mental wellness and the science of sleep easy to understand and accessible to all.
Lupus in Color
Racquel H. Dozier is an author, Lupus Advocate and Lupus Educator. She is the founder of Lupus In Color an online international lupus support group. She was diagnosed officially with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in 2004, but the onset of the disease started in 2002 when she was given a firm diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. With Lupus In Color she has spread lupus awareness and encouragement to lupus warriors across the globe. Her goal is to help those who are dealing with lupus and other chronic illnesses through education, inspiration, encouragement and empowerment.
Martina Ziegenbein, MD
Dr. Martina Ziegenbein is a rheumatologist by training with a special interest in fibromyalgia. Her passion for myofascial/fibromyalgia is informed in part by her personal experience with these autoimmune conditions. Dr. Ziegenbein completed her medical school training at the Pavlov Jozef Safarik University School Medicine and her residency in internal medicine at Marshfield Clinic Medical Center. She completed a fellowship at Boston Medical Center as well as a lupus fellowship with Johns Hopkins Hospital Lupus Center. Outside of her clinical practice, Dr. Ziegenbein hosts her podcast, Winning at Fibromyalgia.
Alissa Zingman, MD
Dr. Alissa Zingman is a Musculoskeletal Preventive Medicine Physician with training in both Orthopaedic Surgery and Injury Prevention. Having Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome – Hypermobility Type, she has had five orthopaedic surgeries, several herniated discs in her spine, and had to leave her orthopaedic surgery residency to pursue intensive rehabilitation for her spine and pelvis. She resumed medical training in Occupational, Environmental, and Preventive Medicine at Johns Hopkins where she focused on musculoskeletal injury prevention. She founded P.R.I.S.M. Spine & Joint: Prevention, Rehabilitation and Integrative Sports Medicine where she specializes in the multidisciplinary treatment of patients with hypermobility and related disorders.
Sarah Boyles, MD
Dr. Sarah Boyles is an expert urogynecologist (FPMRS) with more than 15 years of clinical experience. She manages her successful group practice, publishes widely in her field and creates national FPMRS quality standards. Recognizing the need for pelvic floor education in society at large, she has recently pivoted to creating quality content for women that is easy to obtain outside the doctor’s office. Her latest work
includes a virtual course, BLADDER 101. You can learn more about her at https://thewomensbladderdoctor.com/ and on Instagram @thewomensbladderdoctor
Author & Journalist
Meghan O’Rourke is the author of the books The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness and The Long Goodbye, as well as the poetry collections Sun In Days, Once, and Halflife. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, and The New York Times, and more. A former editor at The New Yorker, she has served as culture editor and literary critic for Slate as well as poetry editor for the Paris Review. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, and a Whiting Nonfiction Award, she resides in New Haven, where she teaches at Yale University and is the editor of The Yale Review.
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
Anne Kennard, DO, FACOG, ABIHM, Dipl-ABLM is triple board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Integrative Medicine, and Lifestyle Medicine. She holds a B.S. in Nutrition, and has completed additional formal training in Clinical Herbal Medicine, Contemplative Medicine, Culinary Medicine, and Ayurveda, as is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200). She currently serves as the Associate Program Director of the Obstetrics/Gynecology residency and Director of Integrative/Lifestyle Medicine at Marian Regional Medical Center, and is adjunct clinical faculty for the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. She is the author of Amazon bestseller "Nourish: An Integrative Medicine Cookbook" as well as numerous scholarly articles. She lives with her family on the California's Central Coast, where she enjoys nature, farmers' markets, and time with her family.
Kara Wada, MD
Kara Wada, MD is a board-certified allergy/immunology and lifestyle medicine physician, autoimmune patient, life coach, and medical educator. She focuses on the unique challenges pertaining to those struggling with misbehaving immune systems including autoimmune, allergic and immune deficiency related conditions. Kara earned her medical degree at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. She completed Internal Medicine-Pediatrics residency, Allergy/Immunology and Medical Education fellowships at The Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Dr. Wada lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, Dr. Akira Wada, and their three children
Chronic Illness Advocate
Jenna is a Multiple Sclerosis Advocate living outside of Boston with her rescue dog, Dixie. She was diagnosed with MS, an autoimmune disease that attacks the covering of the nerves throughout the body, in early 2016. She is a self-employed social media marketing consultant and course creator. She is working on and off social media to help change public perception of invisible illnesses as well as public policies that prevent disabled and chronically ill people from living their best lives.
The Sumaira Foundation
In the summer of 2014, Sumaira was diagnosed with sero-negative neuromyelitis optica/CRION. Shortly after, she founded The Sumaira Foundation for NMO geared towards generating global awareness and finding a cure for neuromyelitis optica. In 2015, Sumaira became the 1st Miss Bangladesh-USA advocating for equal opportunity education for the children of Bangladesh in efforts to increase tolerance and strengthen the country’s international presence, economy, and infrastructure. Prior to working in marketing/public relations, Sumaira worked as an actress/model in Bangladesh & India starring in numerous music videos, a documentary, and was the lead actress in an English-language independent film.
Women with Rheumatoid Disease
Sarah Dillingham is a rheumatoid arthritis patient on a mission to make better joint support. She started Grace & Able to make effective, comfortable braces that attracts compliments, not stares. She also runs the 25,000 member strong Women with Rheumatoid Disease community.
Cheryl Crow is an occupational therapist who’s lived with rheumatoid arthritis for nineteen years. Cheryl founded Arthritis Life with the mission of educating, empowering and supporting people with arthritis. She hosts the Arthritis Life Podcast and runs the online self-management and support group Rheum to THRIVE, where she helps people adjust to their conditions and live full and meaningful lives. Cheryl is known for her entertaining yet educational videos featuring arthritis life hacks, product demonstrations, and insights into the psychosocial aspects of life with invisible chronic illness. She is also a fierce advocate and has travelled to her state capitol as well as Washington DC to advocate for better legislation to support people with arthritis.
Emily Levy is an award-winning social impact entrepreneur, disability advocate, and public speaker. She co-founded Mighty Well based on her experience as a patient living with Lyme disease, autoimmune conditions, and vascular access devices. She has been honored by world-class entrepreneurial programs, including the Cartier Women's Initiative Awards, Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab, and MassChallenge, and is currently the youngest member of Babson College's Hall of Fame as a Rising Star. After realizing that her body can heal itself with the right tools, Emily shares her story of thriving mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually while living with chronic illness.
Erkeda DeRouen, MD
Family, Diversity, and Lifestyle Medicine Physician
Dr. Erkeda DeRouen, M.D. is a triple board-certified Family, Diversity, and Lifestyle Medicine physician. She is passionate about merging the human aspect of medicine with the field of emerging technology. Dr. DeRouen believes in putting people first. Her unique skillset includes, but is not limited to healthy equity expertise, service of underserved populations, and leadership. Dr. DeRouen hosts a pre-med and medical student geared podcast to expand the amount of people that she can mentor called The Prospective Doctor. She also is a board member for Girl Develop It, Inc, increasing the number of women and non-binary people in tech.
Kathy Stepien, MD
Physician, Coach, Educator
Dr. Stepien is a board-certified Pediatrician in active practice and the founding director of The Institute for Physician Wellness. She graduated from the University of Washington School of Medicine in 2007. She holds a graduate degree in Philosophy where she focused on applied ethics. Dr. Stepien has published in the medical literature as well as in the lay press on topics affecting physician wellness. She is a certified Physician Coach, and
has training in teaching Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) as well as Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC). An international speaker, teacher, coach, and leader, she is an authentic example of what is possible when physicians work for change.
Nitika Chopra is the founder of Chronicon, a media and events company, dedicated to elevating the lives of those living with a chronic illness. Nitika was diagnosed with psoriasis at the age of 10 and psoriatic arthritis at the age of 19 and lived over 17 years of her life being defined by her conditions. In 2010 she decided to take all of the lessons her health journey had taught her and use it to help others with the creation of her online magazine Bella Life. Since the start of her entrepreneurial journey, Nitika has hosted her own TV talk show on Z Living called Naturally Beautiful, hosted over 40 events with hundreds of guests in attendance and has created dynamic partnerships with over 150 brands in the wellness space.
Chrissy M. Thornton is the Executive Director of The Myositis Association. She's been recognized for developing professional staff training programs to revitalize departments, and implementing organizational change efforts into growing businesses. Chrissy has a twenty-year background in successful fundraising, donor and corporate relations, digital engagement, grant writing, and the seamless execution of exceptional meetings, events, training seminars, team building sessions, education conferences, fundraisers, peer-to-peer events, and more! She is also the Founder of My Girl Power Hour where she offers a discussion series empowering women to overcome obstacles and live their best lives.
Chronic Illness Advocate
Lian Ryan-Hume (Najami) is the first Arab Israeli Rhodes Scholar, an inclusion advocate, and an international public speaker. She also serves as the youngest board member of two NGOs. Using the power of storytelling, Lian has been championing an affirmative model of disability over the past decade by sharing her experiences as a patient living with a degenerative neuromuscular disease and various autoimmune conditions. Recently selected as a 2022 panel member for the Patient and Public Involvement initiative with the UK National Health Service (NHS), Lian’s advocacy work focuses on minority groups, patient advocacy and empowerment, and inclusion policies. As a Mighty Well Ambassador, Lian will explore the power of community and patient empowerment through detailing her own health journey, sharing how she overcame her health anxiety and is thriving personally and professionally while living with chronic illnesses.
Sandra Boek Werness
The Global Autoimmune Institute
As executive director, Sandy leads the Global Autoimmune Institute because she personally experienced a common story of autoimmune disease misdiagnosis – where patients are shamed, their symptoms are ignored and written off as psychological and even imaginary. The Global Autoimmune Institute is making great strides in its mission to address many aspects in need of improvement and advancement. GAI funds clinical research studies, basic scientific research, multidisciplinary practice of medicine, education, community educational events, supports and assists other organizations, holds a monthly support group, and provides free education and resources, including up to date Covid information relating to autoimmune disease.