For more than 35 years, James Firman, Ed.D., has been a leading force for innovation in services, programs, and public policies for older adults. As president and CEO of the National Council on Aging for 25 years and CEO of the United Seniors Health Cooperative for 10 years, Firman has been a national leader in consumer education, benefits access, economic security, evidence-based healthy aging programs, and public policy for older adults. Firman envisioned and led the creation of NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp, the nation’s first consumer-facing expert system for older adults. He also co-created NCOA’s Aging Mastery Program®, a ground-breaking effort to develop new expectations, norms, and pathways for people to maximize their gift of longevity.
Joseph Schneier is a successful entrepreneur and the founder of Trusty.care, a firm centered on healthcare navigation and price transparency. His previous ventures include co-founding Cognotion, a company solving the talent shortage of healthcare workers. Schneier is a sought-after speaker, sharing his ideas with audiences at TedMed, Lake Nona, and JP Morgan Healthcare. He is a mentor at New York University, Wharton, Cornell, CUNY, and Columbia. Schneier sits on the board of directors for Superbia Credit Union, an LGBTQ credit union, and the advisory board of Stonewall Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit focused on LGBTQ senior housing.
Marlene Schneider spent 20 years as vice president of decision support services for the National Council on Aging. During her tenure, Schneider managed the BenefitsCheckUp® program, a highly successful web-based service that screens seniors for eligibility for benefit programs. She supervised the content and technology staff and led development of the BenefitsCheckUp® database and program eligibility screening technology. As vice president, Schneider managed technology for the suite of decision support services, including BenefitsCheckUp®, EconomicCheckUp, and additional decision support tools built on the BenefitsCheckUp® platform.
With 25 years in digital product technology and analytics, Stephen Engels strategically guides software engineers and programmers to build cutting edge solutions through website software development and system planning. He stays on top of the latest development languages and product platforms to identify the best options for meeting specific business needs. Engels’s professional portfolio includes serving as president of Leviathan Group, Inc., which pioneered decision support apps for the web, and leading the backend creation of BenefitsCheckUp.org as a senior consultant.
Prabhjot Singh, MD, Ph.D., is an associate professor of medicine, health system design and global health at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine. He also serves as special advisor for strategy and design at the Peterson Center on Healthcare. Singh is the author of “Dying and Living in the Neighborhood” (John Hopkins University Press, 2016) and is
passionate about a future defined by home and community care that is advanced, affordable, and available to all in the shared aging journey.
Gerry Carey is an executive-level product leader and technologist with a demonstrated track record of conceptualizing, developing and delivering technology and media
products in high pressure situations with tight timelines. He is considered a top expert in building the brains, i.e., intelligence, for healthtech and e-learning products. Carey’s greatest strength is identifying customer and market needs and bringing together the best platform, technology and media to address those needs. This unique talent is further distinguished by Carey’s ability to simultaneously manage relationships with diverse sets of business and product stakeholders.
Tasha Straszewski, Ph.D., MA, is an applied social psychologist with a background in integrating social scientific theory and design processes to develop and evaluate
evidence-based health behavior change interventions. In addition to advancing her research on the application of savoring to increase help-seeking for depression, she served as a statistics lecturer at a local university. Straszewski collaborated on health and well-being research and measurement at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Population Health and is a faculty member at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
Harlem Gunness, Ph.D., MPH, directs the public health program at St. John’s University: an expert in public health emergency preparedness, a seasoned administrator in infectious disease surveillance, a lecturer, and a program evaluator. Gunness was previously a senior officer with the U.S. Public Health Service, stationed at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He managed operations of the Ebola entry screening program at the CDC’s quarantine station located in New York’s JFK Airport.
Nancy Cocozza led the Medicare division of Aetna, Inc. until retiring in 2018. While at Aetna, she advanced Coventry Health Care’s Medicare Advantage program to become a
top five performer, launched a Part D business, and grew Aetna’s Medicare practice (after the company’s acquisition of Coventry) from $14B to more than $23B in annual revenue with strong profitability. Today Cocozza sits on various healthcare boards, advises startups, and is active in private investing.