OUR TEAM

WHO WE ARE

Our team has done the incredible and wants to help you do the same.  We are a group of diverse and experienced professionals who are excited to work with you. We understand your needs and can guide you to that next level of success – whether that is your next meeting or next stage in your business.

Elizabeth Schumacher, JD

CEO and Founder

OUR FOUNDER

Elizabeth Schumacher has represented health care clients for 20 years, including international, national and state medical, academic and specialty associations. Her expertise spans; 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.

MEET THE TEAM

CLIENT SUCCESS & ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT

Cayla Marconi

Chief of Staff
Executive Director

Sarah White, CPA

VP Financial Operations

Charlotte Grill

VP Strategy and Policy,
Executive Director

Regina Legoo

Director, Meeting and Accreditation

Daniel Hawley

Director, Creative and Digital

Kelly Kraines

Director, Industry Relations

Shelley Warnock

Senior Association Manager

Becky Cira

Association Manager

Corrine Marconi

Association Manager

Affinity Solutions

Mary Baliker

Partner, Patient Engagement

Catherine Hanson, JD

Partner, Legal and Reimbursement Policy

Joseph P. Hammang, Ph.D.

Partner, Science Policy and Industry Strategy

Matthew C. Katz, MS

Partner, Revenue Strategy and Healthcare Leadership and Management

Ashley Nelson

Consultant
Mindfulness and Wellbeing

Brian J. Nemoir

Consultant
Public Relations

Melissa Sprague

Partner, Brand and Strategic Initiatives

PARTNERS

We will work with partners and organizations across a diverse spectrum of industries.  We also bring in partners who are experts in their field to help ensure we are meeting the needs of our clients.

Elizabeth
Schumacher, JD

CEO

Prior to starting Affinity Strategies, Liz was Executive Director of LUGPA, a national urology subspecialty association with over 2,400 members. As a senior legislative attorney for the Americal Medical Association, Liz managed nationwide health insurance public policy development and Affordable Care Act rulemaking. While 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, ASAE, University of Wisconsin Law School, The Department of Health and Human Services, Elevate Women’s Network; American Medical Association and other global organizations. Liz has testified before Congress and is an avid advocate for kidney and organ transplant patients. Liz is a third generation Badger and received her Bachelor’s, Law and Master of Law degrees from the University of Wisconsin. Liz enjoys cooking, baking, global travel, and reading. She values her time with her husband, Shawn and Bulldogge, Brit and being with family and friends.

Calya Marconi

Chief of Staff

Executive Director,
Association Management

Cayla Marconi joined AS in 2016. She currently serves in two roles at Affinity Strategies, including Chief of Staff for AS and Executive Director, Association Management. In her role as Chief of Staff, Caylaensures that the daily company needs are managed trains new staff and works behind the scenes to solve problems and build new best practices for AS and its clients. 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.

Amy Owens,
AM

Executive Director,
Association Management

Amy Owens, has been with the team since 2019, she brings a blended background of advocacy, association management and entrepreneurship to the Affinity tam. A self-proclaimed multi-tasker, Amy enjoys the diverse focus areas association management requires and brings a can-do attitude to every facet of the process. She has managed health care professional associations with memberships ranging from several hundred to more than 60,000, including but not limited to physicians, psychiatrists, and massage therapists. In addition to her association management expertise, Amy also supports client advocacy, policy, and government affairs needs and brings 20 years of experience in the state and federal public policy arenas. Amy enjoys creating an environment where people feel welcome and spending time with family and friends. She’s also a successful entrepreneur; founding Home Retreat, a boutique in Geneva, Illinois built on Amy’s passion for design and home decor. Amy received her Master of Arts degree in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago and her Bachelors Degree from ST. Mary’s College, Notre Dame.

Kelly Kraines

Director, Continuing
Education and
Instructional Design,
Association Management

Kelly Kraines is based in Chicago and serves as Executive Director, Association Management and Director, Continuing Education and Instructional Design. Kelly has worked with Affinity Strategies since 2017 and has over twenty years of experience working with nonprofit professional organizations. 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 educational 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. She oversees all educational development as well as online learning management, ensuring that staff members and those responsible for continuing medical education content are fully aware of and compliant with all CME/CE policies and requirements and for ensuring adherence to all regulatory guidelines. Kelly is an active member of the continuing education community, serving as the 2015-2016President 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.

Charlotte Grill, MA

VP Policy and Strategy
Executive Director, Association Management

Charlotte Grill is an Executive Director at Affinity Strategies. Charlotte received her Master of Arts from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and has over 10 years of experience working with non-profits and health care associations in the Chicago-land area. She started her career in health care policy as the Chief Legislative Aide for former Illinois State Senator, Jeff Schoenberg. Over the last 8 years, Charlotte has managed a wide variety of health care policy initiatives on both the national and state level for the American College of Surgeons and the American Massage Therapy Association. Recently, Charlotte has been working in association management overseeing client development and growth, community engagement, as well as developing strategy and leadership models. Charlotte’s experience demonstrates her ability to thrive in fast-paced environments working directly with professionals from diverse backgrounds including physicians, politicians, massage therapists to IT specialists and using their expertise to help drive an organization’s success.

Julie Newman

Executive Director,
Association Management

Julie Newman serves as Account Director for AS since 2018. 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.

Corrine
Marconi

Association Manager

Corrine Marconi joined AS, in 2018, she brings extensive experience in event planning management to the AS team. Corrine works with clients to ensure that all aspects of their events exceed expectations, including a 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. Prior to joining AS, Corrine was the Catering and Administration Manager for Eurest, where she oversaw all event administration for Kirkland and Ellis. Corrine is a strong communicator with exceptional follow-through – she understands that details matter. In her spare time, Corrine enjoys seeing life through the eyes of her toddler – and believes that the answer to most any question is – chocolate. Corrien is a graduate of Western Illinois University, where she earned her Degree in Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Management.

Shelley Warnock

Senior Association Manager

Shelley Warnock is an Association Manager at Affinity Strategies. In her role, Shelley works hand in hand with clients every day to ensure that their daily needs are met. Prior to joining Affinity Strategies, Shelley held various management roles in customer service and administration. Shelley has worked in multiple industries, including banking, nonprofit administration, local government and food and beverage. Shelley holds an Associate of Applied Science Degree from Valdosta Community College in Business Administration.

Melissa Sprague

Consultant, Brand and Strategic
Marketing Initiatives

Melissa Sprague joined AS in 2018. In her role, she works closely with founders, senior management, and their clients to establish strategic plans, lead and execute brand initiatives, develop digital engagement strategies and solve marketing priorities. Melissa is a seasoned digital marketing leader with over 20 years of experience specializing in: e-commerce, product management, brand strategy, design, insights, and acquisitions. While at Citi Melissa was recognized for effective problem solving, identifying gaps, and creating new opportunities for improved customer benefits and solutions. She has helped brands effectively optimize customer-facing communication channels and create strategic partnerships that cultivate win/win value propositions. Melissa is a collaborative partner who rapidly builds credible and trusted relationships across an organization. Prior to Affinity Strategies, Melissa held a leadership position in publishing, retail, e-commerce, and financial services. Melissa resides in New York with her husband Scott. Melissa is an avid foodie and loves to travel. she received her Degree from the University of Wisconsin.

Matthew Katz, MS

Consultant,
Revenue, Healthcare Leadership and Management

Matthew Katz serves as Consultant, Revenue, Healthcare Leadership and Management. Matt has more than 25 years of health policy and advocacy experience in nonprofit medical association executive management, health care insurance design and practice management, focusing on value-based payment models and improvements in billing, claims processing and payment.

Currently, Mr. Katz is a physician practice and provider reimbursement and claims processing consultant. He was previously the executive vice president and chief executive officer of the Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS), the state’s largest physician organization, from early 2006 until the end of 2019. He is a former director of Private Payer Advocacy and director of the Practice Management Center at the American Medical Association (AMA) from 2000 until 2006. Mr. Katz also worked in the AMA’s Private Sector Advocacy unit and health policy development division on physician reimbursement, payment formulas, and national and state-based health policy.

Mr, Katz also worked in contracting review and negotiations for Northwestern Memorial Hospital and its Physician Hospital Organization and medical groups, focusing on actuarial analysis of contracts and contract compliance by health insurers in 1997 and 1998. He also spent some time at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) helping coordinate the coding and reimbursement areas focusing on Current Procedural Terminology (CPT), International Classification of Disease (ICD), and other coding nomenclature along with the Resource-Based Relative Value Scale (RBRVS) evaluation of services and procedures provided by physicians from 1995 to 1997. Before working for medical associations and providers of health care, Mr. Katz worked for Medica and Allina Health Systems along with United Healthcare as a Medicare and Medicaid analyst, focusing on physician networking and patient access to care from 1994 to 1995.

Mr. Katz holds a bachelor’s of Science degree in History and Sociology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and earned his Master of Science in Health Services Research and Policy from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health Institute for Health Services Research and Policy. He also earned a number of certificates in management and leadership from Northwestern University and Yale University Graduate Schools. He also received various awards from the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), the American Association of Medical Society Executives (AAMSE), and from other state based and medical specialty associations, focusing on leadership, management and advocacy.

Mr. Katz previously was a board member of the Physician Advocacy Institute (PAI), a national non-profit that works to advance fair and transparent payment policies and contractual practices by payers and others in order to sustain the profession of medicine for the benefit of patients. In Connecticut, he helped establish HealthyCT, a COOP insurance entity that at its height provided insurance coverage to more than 40,000 Connecticut residents, It was one of the nation’s largest national Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) administered by physicians. In addition, Mr. Katz helped establish CTHealthlink, the Connecticut Health Information Exchange created by CSMS in partnership with Konza. He has worked with medical society foundations to solicit more than $5 million in state, federal and private grants for medical research, physician leadership and education, patient communication, and to address issues of health equity and healthcare disparities. Mr. Katz is a member of the Connecticut All-Payer Claims Database Advisory Board (Committee) and the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Medical Board, the Regional Adaptation for Payer Policy Decisions (RAPiD) Advisory Board of the Comparative Effectiveness Public Advisory Council (CEPAC) of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) and the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange (Access Health CT) Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).

Ashley Nelson

Consultant,
Mindfulness and
Wellbeing

Ashley Nelson serves as Consultant, Mindfulness and Wellness. A former senior leader at the Fossil Group, Ashley Nelson is widely recognized as a strategic thinker, team builder, compassionate and proven change managment leader with over 25 years of corporate experience.

Her responsibilities at Fossil have included identifying a strategy, new business development, country management and leading the America’s business, delivering more than $1 billion in revenues across sixteen fashion and wearable technology brands.

Ashley completed teacher training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness in the School of Medicine. Currently training at SIY Leadership Institue (launched by Google), she has also studied with some of the most widely recognized leaders in the mindfulness space and is a certified hatha yoga instructor. She serves on the board of directors for Fossil Foundation and Girls in the Game and volunteers extensively teaching mindfulness and yoga to individuals through schools, community groups, and recovery programs for incarcerated women.

Joseph P.

Consultant,
Science policy and
Industry relations

Joseph P. Hammang, Ph.D. is Consultant, Science Policy and Industry Relations. Joe provides strategic consulting services to AS clients, including health care professional associations, leading services to AS clients, including health care professional associations, leading biopharmaceutical and medical technology firms, start-up biotechnology companies, industry trade organizations as well as non-profit foundations.

In addition to working with AS, Joe is a partner with Vital Transformation, a healthcare and life sciences industry consultancy based in Washington DC. Prior to his role with AS, Joe worked with Washington DC-based government affairs firm, ML Strategies. Joe spent a decade with Pfizer Inc as Senior Director, Worldwide Science Policy. Before joining Pfizer, Joe served as Vice President for Science, Technology and Business Development at the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and as Head of Science and Technology at the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council. In that role, he served as Governor Lincoln Almonds’s Advisor for Science and Technology. Joe previously held positions at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company where he was involved in Alzheimer’s disease research and at CytoTherapeutics, Inc. in Providence, Rhode Island where he served as Director of Cell and Molecular Neuroscience and Director of the Ophthalmology Therapeutic program.

Joe holds a PH.D. in the area of Neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is the author of 65 scientific articles and invited book chapters and is inventor or co-inventor of over 35 U.S. patents. Joe and his wife, Susan, live in the District of Columbia and they have 2 adult daughters.

Daniel Hawley

Director, Design and Creative

Daniel Hawley brings a strong background in visual and digital engagement to the AS team. In his role since 2017, Daniel manages all client website, newsletter and related needs. Working with the Senior Director of Brand and Strategic Marketing Initiatives, Daniel also works closely with all of the AS graphic design, IT and content creators, ensuring that client needs and deadlines are being met. Whether he is working on logo development, event brochures, marketing materials, social media templates, or general association website updates, Daniel is ready to help his clients look and feel they are very best. Daniel loves exploring unique and creative solutions through his work, creating efficient, interactive visual systems for clients. He enjoys print, web, and UI/UX design, and is always looking for new ways to challenge himself and his design process. In his free time, Daniel enjoys rock climbing and bouldering and he is inspired by stories about underdogs. Daniel received his degree from Judson University.

Sarah White

VP Financial Operations

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.

Mary Bailker

Consultant, Patient Engagement

Mary Bailker lives in Wisconsin and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, Mary has been a healthcare advocate most of her life. Having been diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of nine, living with chronic disease, having dialysis and four kidney transplants has given her an opportunity to cherish life and given her a strong interest to help improve healthcare.

Mary’s professional work experience includes the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health, Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, Astellas Pharmaceuticals, and Long Beach Memorial Hospital. Positions that she has held include Organ Procurement Coordinator, Clinical Research Transplant Coordinator, Outreach Transplant Education Coordinator, Transplant Ambassador, and Healthcare Administration in Asthma, Pulmonary Disease, and Cancer. She also has been a patient lobbyist and been involved in legislative work. She serves on the United Network for Organ Sharing Patient Affairs committee and as a kidney Advocacy Committee member

Catherine Hanson, JD

Consultant, Legal and Payment Policy

Ms. Hanson has over 30 years of experience providing advice and counsel to physicians, medical associations and other health care related individuals and organizations. She has handled a broad array of health care and association matters, utilizing all advocacy strategies from informal discussion, to regulation, legislation and litigation. Most recently, Ms. Hanson has focused on managed care, including the impact of ACOs, new payment models and clinical integration, HIPAA, including the Privacy, Security and Transaction Rules, and evolving physician employment arrangements. Ms. Hanson is the author of numerous publications and a sought after speaker. Ms. Hanson recently served as vice-president of the American Medical Association’s state and private sector advocacy unit from July 2007 through January 2013. Under her leadership, AMA’s private sector advocacy team developed the National Managed Care Contract and database, the only complete compilation and analysis of every managed care law and regulation in the country. Ms. Hanson also directed the creation of numerous other unique resources for physicians, including how-to manuals on new payment models, ACOs and physician integration strategies. She led the development of AMA’s National Health Insurer Report Card (NHIRC), the first objective look at the claims processing activities of the nation’s largest health insurers. Ms. Hanson’s private sector advocacy team also achieved significant, nationwide physician profiling reforms and improvements in the HIPAA transaction standards necessary to enable payer transparency and physician practice automation. Ms. Hanson’s state advocacy successes included obtaining National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) support for AMA positions related to critical state ACA implementation/health insurance market reform issues, such as medical loss ratio, rate review, health insurance exchanges, and transparency of coverage facts for consumers, successes that were subsequently reflected in the federal ACA regulations. She led a successful effort that secured National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) model bills regulating rental network PPOs and calling for transparency for out-of-network services instead of a ban on balance billing. Last but certainly not least, Ms. Hanson’s team worked with medical associations throughout the country to achieve hundreds of legislative and regulatory victories to preserve medical liability reforms, ensure health insurer transparency, improve public health and safety, enact truth-in-advertising laws and protect the patient-physician relationship. Prior to her AMA work, Ms. Hanson served as vice-president and general counsel for the California Medical Association from December 1986 through June 2007. Her many CMA accomplishments included an extremely successful advocacy campaign in the courts and before the California Attorney General that resulted in nearly 100 decisions upholding MICRA and otherwise protecting physicians from unfair professional liability exposure, protecting the physician-patient relationship, increasing access to care, reigning in managed care abuses, and ensuring fair peer review, among other issues. Ms. Hanson also led the development and publication of the 4000+ page California Physicians Legal Handbook, a comprehensive health law treatise, which she published annually with her CMA Legal Center staff from 1990-2007. Prior to starting the CMA’s in-house law department, Ms. Hanson was an attorney with the law firm of Hassard Bonnington in San Francisco. Ms. Hanson is a past president of the California Society for Health Care Attorneys, a past president of the American Society of Medical Association Counsel, a member of the American Health Lawyers Association, and the American Bar Association Health Law Section. Ms. Hanson is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. She obtained her J.D. degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at University of California, Berkeley. She is a California licensed attorney admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States District Court for the Northern and Southern Districts of California. Ms. Hanson has an AV Martindale Hubbell rating. Ms. Hanson is Of Counsel to the Firm.

Regina Legoo

Director, Meeting and Accreditation

Regina Legoo is a professional with 20 plus years of meetings and program management in both the corporate and not for profit sectors. Regina uses her trademark skills of problem solving, creativity, and flexibility to produce top notch, conferences and events both domestic and international. She excels at logistics and operations, and her attention to detail means that events and meetings go smoothly from concept to completion. Excellent at wearing multiple hats, Regina is adept at responding quickly to changing circumstances. As meeting professional, she specializes in customer service that nurtures positive, productive relationships with both clients and suppliers. Regina advances her clients’ mission by making the most of their event experiences, while minimizing cost. Known for her dedication and hard work she works to achieve goals and tackles challenges with positive energy and solutions. Regina is a graduate of Northwestern University, and prior to joining Affinity, she worked with other freestanding medical associations as well as association management companies with a strong medical association portfolio.

Brian J. Nemoir

Consultant Public Relations

A twenty-plus year public affairs and communications veteran, Mr. Nemoir brings both state and federal experience as well as a depth of public relations and marketing communications experience to clients. Previously, Mr. Nemoir launched and grew a public affair and relations agency, focusing on health care, crisis management and issue advocacy efforts. After graduating from UW-Whitewater, Mr. Nemoir spent his early career working in state government, earning high-profile communication roles in both the state senate and governor’s office. Seeking broader public relations experiences, Mr. Nemoir utilized his government relations communications experiences to work at two brand-focused advertising/PR agencies, ascending to lead departmental PR efforts. Mr. Nemoir resides in Wisconsin, with his wife, two children and two very opinionated bulldogs.

Becky Cira

Association Manager

Becky Cira is an Association Manager at Affinity Strategies. Prior to joining the company she was an Operations Administrator at an asset management company. She has worked in multiple industries including finance and food and beverage. Becky has extensive experience managing various types of nonprofit fundraisers. . She enjoys spending time with her husband, 3 children, friends, 2 dogs, working out and coaching her daughter’s fast pitch softball team. She holds a BBA with a concentration in finance from Loyola University Chicago.