Our Team

Elizabeth Schumacher, JD
Elizabeth Schumacher has represented health care clients for 20 years, including international, national and state medical and specialty associations, regional and national academic medical and hospital systems, health insurers, long-term care, and the pharmaceutical industry. Liz has a unique ability to authentically engage strategic stakeholders and build comprehensive alliances and audiences, which is supported by her executive experience managing legislative and public relations, legal affairs, business planning, clinical research and health policy. Prior to Affinity Strategies, Liz was Executive Director of LUGPA, a national urology subspecialty association with over 2400 members. As senior legislative attorney for the American Medical Association, Liz managed nationwide health insurance public policy development and Affordable Care Act rulemaking. While at Pfizer, Liz developed and implemented strategic stakeholder engagement on key issues, including specialty tiers, access to medications, biologics, Medicare. Liz began her career at age 26 at the University of Wisconsin, where she was responsible for the third largest academic medical research budget in the United States. Recent speaking engagements include the American Association of Medical Society Executives, University of Wisconsin Law School, Chicago-Kent Law School, Federal Executives Institute, Ellevate, American Medical Association, Coalition of State Rheumatology Organizations, URO GPO, American Society of Anesthesiologists and International Society of Musculoskeletal Imaging in Rheumatology. Liz is a third generation Badger and received her Law and Bachelors degrees at the University of Wisconsin. Liz enjoys cooking, baking, time with family and friends and walking her Olde English Bulldogge, Brit, in the woods.

Melissa Sprague
Senior Director of Brand and Strategic Market Initiatives

Melissa Sprague joins Affinity Strategies as Senior Director, Brand and Strategic Market Initiatives. Melissa is a seasoned digital marketing leader with over 20 years of experience specializing in: e-commerce, digital product management, brand strategy, insights and acquisitions. She has helped brands effectively optimize and support all customer facing communication channels. In her role, Melissa helps Affinity Strategies and its partners in developing new new business development and digital engagement strategies.Melissa is a collaborative partner who rapidly builds credible and trusted relationships across an organization and she can be counted on to deliver results. She works closely with founders, senior management, external agencies and side-by-side with clients  to establish, lead and execute brand, marketing and revenue priorities. While at Citi Melissa was recognized for effective problem solving, identifying gaps, and creating new opportunities for improved customer benefits and solutions. While at Aerosoles Melissa created strategic partnerships to cultivate win/win value propositions.

Melissa resides in Brooklyn, New York with her husband Scott. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and travel. She received her degree from the University of Wisconsin.

Cayla Marconi
Chief of Staff, Executive Director
Cayla Marconi is an Executive Director with Affinity Strategies. She joined the team in 2016, and currently manages Affinity Strategies' orthopedic and health care fraternity clients. In addition to her association client work, Cayla also oversees training for all Account Directors and Client Coordinators, ensuring that every new member of our team understands the fundamentals of association management and how we do it the Affinity Strategies way. Cayla's sense of humor, hard work ethic and positive attitude bring great assets to the Affinity team and its clients. Prior to joining Affinity, Cayla was an Account Manager with a global logistics firm, where she managed global shipping, logistics and business development. Cayla received her degree from Western Illinois University. In her spare time, she helps foster rescue dogs and enjoys exercise and socializing with her friends and family.
Tina Naleway
Manager, Accounting
Tina Naleway joined Affinity Strategies in 2014 and is the firm's Financial Director. In her role, Tina oversees all client bookkeeping and works closely with client Treasurers, Boards and Executive Directors to oversee all budget and financial management for each of our individual associations. Tina also works hand in hand with our external Certified Public Accountants firm, DHJJ, to oversee external financial reviews, audits, and all tax preparation matters. Tina can be counted on for her positive attitude, attention to detail and excellent customer service. Prior to joining Affinity, Tina was an Accounting Manager for two other Chicago area companies. In her free time, Tina enjoys time with her family and Church.
Corinne Marconi
Director, Meetings
Corinne Marconi is a Meetings Coordinator at Affinity Strategies. Corinne joins the Affinity Strategies team with extensive experience in event planning and management. Prior to joining Affinity, Corinne was a Catering and Administration Manager for Kirkland and Ellis law firm, downtown Chicago. Corinne works with clients to ensure that their events exceed their expectations, including selection of food and beverage, meeting locations, event budgeting, forecasting, sales, and on site event management. She has expertise in corporate and nonprofit events, and has worked in catering and event management since 2012. Corinne is a graduate of Western Illinois University, where she received her degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.
Amy Owens, A.M.
Executive Director
Amy Owens, A.M., joined Affinity Strategies in 2018 as Executive Director. Amy has an extensive background in advocacy and association management having represented state and national medical and allied health care associations for over a decade. While at the Illinois State Medical Society, Amy served as Legislative Director for six medical specialty state associations. She also simultaneously served as Executive Director for the 300-physician member Illinois Dermatological Society as well as the 1,300-physician member Illinois Psychiatric Society working directly with the Board of Directors within both societies to advance their respective strategic goals. In 2005, Amy joined the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) as Government Relations Manager where she organized a national grassroots advocacy effort on behalf of AMTA’s more than 60,000 members for the passage and preservation of massage therapy professional licensures in all fifty states. Amy provided leadership, counsel and training on all legal, regulatory and grievance matters of importance to the association. Amy is an entrepreneur as well. In 2017 she founded Home Retreat, an artisan and Fair Trade home décor and accessory gift shop located in Geneva, Illinois. Amy received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Spanish from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. She earned her Master of Arts degree in Social Service Administration with a concentration in Health Care Policy and Administration from the School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago. Amy lives in Geneva with her husband, their two wonderful children and dog Bailey. Amy enjoys reading, volunteering and spending time with her family.
Sarah White, CPA
Sarah serves as Controller for AS. She has held a CPA certificate since 1999 and has experience in public accounting and working within both the public and private sector. In her role, Sarah works directly with clients on their financial needs, oversees all accounting functions, and supports AS operations. She is particularly proficient with budgeting and analytics, and has a strong working knowledge of QuickBooks and related tools used by many small organizations. Sarah enjoys time with her husband, children, and family, Loyola sports and cooking. Sarah received her BBA from Loyola University Chicago.
Kelly Kraines
Executive Director and Director, Continuing Education and Design
Kelly Kraines has over twenty years experience in the medical education arena in both corporate and non-profit settings. She has worked to create live and enduring activities over a broad range of therapeutic categories and also has strong experience with CME/CE guidelines, educational tools, and instructional design. Her expertise is with live CME/CE meeting/events and enduring web-based activities that create new, interactive educational offerings that engage learners in many different ways by using adult learning principles. Currently, she is responsible for establishing Learning Management Systems, ensuring that staff members and those responsible for continuing medical education content are fully aware of and compliant with all CME/CE department policies and requirements and for ensuring adherence to all regulatory guidelines. Kelly is an active member of the continuing education community, serving as the 2015-2016 President for the Illinois Alliance for CME (IACME), was an ACEhp mentor, served on the membership taskforce for the ACEhp and volunteers as an ACCME surveyor. Kelly enjoys time with her children, including traveling around the country for her daughter's traveling league baseball. Kelly is a graduate of the University of Iowa.
Andrea Kahle
Client Coordinator
Andrea Kahle is an Client Coordinator at Affinity Strategies. Andrea works with our membership associations every day, ensuring that their questions are answered and daily needs are met.
Sandra Garest
Director, Governance Strategy and Leadership
Sandra Garest serves as Director, Leadership and Governance Strategy. Sandra is passionately dedicated to helping people and organizations become the-best-version-of-themselves. In her role, she works with boards and clients to provide leadership training and governance strategy. We are pleased to partner with Sandra and Floyd Consulting to help our clients meet their goals and reach their vision. Sandra and her team work with Affinity Strategies clients to make the process as fun and engaging for as many people as possible, by delivering world-class training and creating cultures that lead to thriving businesses that are profitable, scalable, and sustainable. Sandra can customize Coaching, Training and Workshops to best support your organization. Common areas of focus include: Team Building, Leadership Development, Succession Strategy, Culture, Goal Setting and Work/Life Balance. Executive Coaching focuses on what systemically drives performance, on helping you achieve measurable results and sustainable change - not only for yourself, but also for your team and entire organization. Sandra loves seeing and bringing out the best in others, empowering them to live an extraordinary life by design. Her professional background includes over 25 years of experience in the areas of training, human resources, leadership development, speaking and executive coaching in companies ranging from startups to large, global organizations, and in industries such as retail, healthcare, government, engineering, insurance and financial services. She holds a B.S. degree from Illinois State University, with a double major in human resources management and business administration. Sandra partners with leaders to articulate their vision and better engage their teams. Her goal is to build high-trust, long-lasting relationships that allow for immediate wins as well as being a trusted partner that supports greater levels of personal and professional satisfaction.

Julie Naskrent
Account Director

Julie is an Account Director with Affinity Strategies. She is also a Registered and Certified Clinical Medical Assistant with over 5 years of administrative and healthcare experience. In her role as Account Director, Julie supports our clients with daily management needs, event coordination and governance support. Prior to joining Affinity, Julie worked in a medical clinic, where she served as a Clinic Manager as well as a direct health care provider. In addition to her administrative and clinical expertise, Julie is also a licensed esthetician. Julie shines every day with her positive attitude, attention to detail, great customer service and excellent organizational skills. Julie loves spending time with her family, friends, and pets as much as possible. Her favorite things include Starbucks, reading great books, and taking her dog, Sadie everywhere.

Daniel Hawley
Manager, Creative and Digital

Daniel is a Digital Marketing and Creative Coordinator with Affinity. Daniel has worked with the Affinity team since June, 2017, and is a graduate of Judson University. In his role, Daniel supports digital and graphic design projects. Whether it be logo development, event brochures and marketing materials, social media templates, or general association website updates, Daniel is ready to help his clients visual and digital engagement needs.   Daniel resides in Iowa, and loves exploring unique and creative solutions through his work, creating visual systems for users to interact with. He enjoys print, web and UI/UX design, and is always looking for new ways to challenge himself and his design process.

Julie Newman
Account Director
Julie Newman serves as Account Director for AS. In her role, she supports our PT and PA clients in their daily administrative needs. She also helps support our PT clients with their technical reimbursement CEU Locker needs. Julie joins AS as a PT Assistant and seasoned former volunteer board member for state PT associations. Prior to joining AS, Julie served as Office Manager and Therapy Operations Director for multiple independent PT practices. Julie began her career in PT in 1992. Julie is also a Clinical Instructor for multiple PT programs, and a CAPTE On-Site Reviewer. In her free time, Julie enjoys time with her family and spending time on her boat during the warm months. Julie received her PTA from Washburn University and her BA in Human Resources Management from Friends University.


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