Speaker Biographies

Elizabeth V. (Liz) Atkins, MSN, RN, TCRN

Elizabeth “Liz” Atkins serves as Executive Director of the Georgia Trauma Commission. Prior to joining the Georgia Trauma Commission, she most recently served as Executive Director of Trauma and Burn Services at Grady Memorial Hospital an ACS verified Level I trauma center and ABA verified Burn Center in Atlanta, Georgia. She has over 31 years of progressive clinical leadership experience in pediatric and adult trauma, cardiac, critical care and flight nursing. Liz earned an associate degree in nursing from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA and has practiced critical care nursing along the east coast before moving to the Atlanta area in 2005. Liz is a graduate of the Duke University master’s program in nursing and healthcare leadership. Her work at Duke has led to the development of a novel approach to statewide trauma center performance evaluation which has been put into practice within the Georgia Trauma System. She served as the 2017 Finance Fellow for the Trauma Center Association of America (TCAA) completing a chapter on trauma center programmatic staffing for the TCAA Finance Manual.

Liz is active in state and national organizations serving as Chair of the Georgia Committee for Trauma Excellence, Editorial Board member for the Journal of Trauma Nursing, Past Chair for Society of Trauma Nurses (STN) Annual Conference Committee, STN Liaison to the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma Education Pillar, TCAA Trauma Systems Committee and LifeLink Georgia Advisory Board. She serves as an accreditation site reviewer for the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation. As an active educator, Liz is a nationally recognized speaker on trauma quality improvement, trauma quality collaboratives, trauma center leadership and trauma data quality management. She is faculty and course director for Advanced Trauma Care for Nurses (ATCN) and the TCAA Trauma Medical Director Course. Liz has co-authored numerous peer-reviewed publications on a variety of trauma-related topics including trauma clinical care, trauma systems, finance, and injury prevention.

Deborah Backus, PhD, PT

Deborah Backus, PT, PhD, FACRM is a grant-funded investigator, physical therapist, and educator with 30+ years of experience in the neurorehabilitation field. Her mission is to empower patients, students and colleagues to achieve their greatest potential, and to advance rehabilitation science and care. As Director of Multiple Sclerosis Research at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Backus's research activities have a broad scope that includes facilitating pharmacologic and device-related clinical trials for multiple sclerosis (MS). Her specific research agenda focuses on investigation of models of care and rehabilitation interventions to facilitate greater function, health and quality of life in people with MS. At Shepherd she has been instrumental in facilitating clinician involvement in research activities, translation of evidence into practice, uptake of technology into clinical programs, and incorporating standardized outcome assessment into routine clinical practice.

Vicki Bennett, MSN, RN,CEN, CCRN

Vicki is currently the Executive Director, Trauma Services for Banner Health. She was a Trauma Program Manager/Director for over 25 years prior to assuming a Trauma Service Line Administrator role in a full-time capacity in 2016 and then Executive Director in February 2019. Her undergraduate degree in nursing and her master’s degree in adult critical care nursing with a focus on trauma nursing were completed from the University of Alabama. A special interest in EMS during her early career prompted completion of the EMT and Paramedic programs at the University of Alabama and led to her becoming a licensed paramedic, followed by national registry certification. Having worked in the prehospital setting and in Level I, II and pediatric trauma centers, she has a wide variety of experience spanning clinical practice, education, and leadership roles including prehospital as a paramedic and flight nurse, emergency department nurse, critical care nurse, educator, CNS, trauma program manager/director, and currently, as an executive leader for a large healthcare system.

Vicki remains active at the local, state and national levels and holds membership in many professional organizations. She currently serves on the AZ State Trauma Advisory Board. Vicki was a TCAA Finance Fellow, and currently serves on the Reimbursement Committee. She is a long standing member of STN, former Board member, and has served as a section reviewer and member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Trauma Nursing since 2001. As one of the STN/ACS COT liaisons, she holds an appointment to the ACS COT EMS subcommittee. Vicki is an EAST member and has served on the Guidelines Committee since 2010. She is currently, co-chairing the EAST-STN collaborative for guideline development. She has presented on a variety of trauma topics to local and national multidisciplinary audiences and remains an instructor, faculty and/or coordinator for TNCC, ATCN, ATLS, RTTDC and the ATS TPM course. In addition, she serves as a trauma center site reviewer for the American College of Surgeons as well as many states.

Cynthia Blank-Reid, RN, MSN, CEN

Cynthia Blank-Reid is the Trauma Clinical Nurse Specialist at a large urban Level I Trauma and Burn Center. She has published and lectured nationally and internationally on a multitude of nursing topics and frequently presents at NTI, ENA and other national conferences. She has published and presented on penetrating trauma and thoracotomies multiple times.

John J. Como, MD, MPH

John J. Como, MD, MPH is a member of the faculty of the Department of Surgery at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio and Professor of Surgery at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Dr. Como received his MD degree from the Robert Wood Johnson (Rutgers) Medical School in Piscataway NJ and completed his residency in General Surgery at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY. He then completed a fellowship in Surgical Critical Care and Surgical Traumatology at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, MD. Dr. Como also completed a Master of Public Health Degree at Case Western Reserve University. Dr Como is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a Fellow of the American College of Critical Care Medicine. He is the Associate Trauma Medical Director and Pediatric Trauma Medical Director at MetroHealth. He is currently the immediate Past President of the Cleveland Surgical Society, the President of the Ohio Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, and the Chair of the Guidelines Committee for the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma. He has authored over 70 publications in peer-reviewed journals, including many practice management guidelines about various surgical and trauma topics.

Brian Cornelius

Dr. Cornelius is a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) and clinical researcher at Ochsner LSU Health and academic faculty at and Midwestern University. He has 24 years of clinical care to include work in pre-hospital, emergency and critical care prior to beginning his practice as an anesthetist. His research interests include; management of acute trauma patients, evaluating their outcomes based upon pharmaceutical interventions and large volume transfusions and care of trauma patients in tactical and austere environments He also has special interests in emergency and pre-hospital medicine to include disaster response and air medical transport. His investigations have evaluated to evaluate outcomes after administration of tranexamic acid and calcium chloride in major trauma patients. This included subset evaluations in rates of transfusion after tranexamic acid administration. These studies found that patients receiving tranexamic acid survived in spite of high mortality injuries. Additionally, he has investigated the impact of sedative agent selection on outcomes in patients with intracranial hypertension, this revealed a significant reduction in mortality when patients received Ketamine for sedative induction.

Kathy Crystal, DNP, BSN, RN, AGNP-C

Kathy Crystal has experience working in the Emergency Room and Intensive Care Unit. For the past 4 years she has been working as a Process Improvement Nurse at a Level 1 facility and is assigned the Clinical Review for the state collaborative. She recently earned her Doctorate in Nursing Practice for Nurse Practitioner Degree at Grand Valley State University. Her passion is focusing on the geriatric trauma population and thrives being involved in trauma process improvement projects. She will be the first Geriatric Trauma APP at this level 1 trauma center starting in the Fall of 2019.

Maria Bautista Durand

Maria Bautista Durand is currently the acute care trauma nurse practitioner at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, a level 1 free standing pediatric trauma center. She has been in this position for 4 ½ years. She is a member of the pediatric surgery inpatient trauma team. Her roles are: responding to all trauma activations, independently evaluate any trauma consults, and assist with management of all admitted trauma patients. She is the Co-chair of the hospital’s Trauma Nursing Committee. Currently, she is the Chair of the Pediatric Committee for the Society of Trauma Nurses. She is also adjunct faculty for the School of Nursing at Azusa Pacific University. Her 20+ years of nursing experience has been in the setting of pediatric orthopedic trauma, pediatric surgical care, and pediatric critical care.

Jasmine Garces-King, DNP, RN, CCRN, TCRN, ACNP-BC

Dr. Garces-King has been in the nursing profession for over 16 years throughout which time she has worked across the trauma spectrum. She obtained her RN diploma from Christ Hospital School of Nursing/St. Peter’s College in 2001. She obtained her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Felician College and her Masters of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University (formerly UMDNJ) with a focus in Acute/Critical Care as an Advanced Practice Nurse in 2006 and 2008 respectively. Most recently she obtained her Doctor of Nursing Practice from Chatham University in 2015 where her capstone focused on improving delirium outcomes for the critically ill trauma patient. Additionally, she has been involved in grant-funded delirium research and project oversight for delirium prevention and management within her previous institution.

She has worked in several areas during the course of her career. Her main areas of expertise are in all adult critical care units, neurosciences/neurosurgery, GI/transplant, general surgery, palliative care, nursing leadership, inter-professional education, and trauma. Jasmine is presently the Trauam Program Director of Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, NY; a provisional Level II trauma center. In recent times she worked as a Trauma/Surgery/Critical Care Nurse Practitioner within the trauma division at New Jersey Trauma Center/University Hospital, a Level 1 trauma center, which is affiliated with Rutgers University. She is actively involved in numerous organizations including the Society of Trauma Nurses (STN), Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST), Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), American Delirium Society (ADS), and the PanAmerican Trauma Society (PTS). She serves as Co-Chair of the Leadership committee for STN, Secretary for an EAST-STN task force for Advanced Practitioners, and Chair of the Leadership committee for the Chi Zeta chapter in STTI. In addition, she is a course director for the PTS nursing course which aims to improve evidence based nursing knowledge, trauma care and outcomes. She holds several national board certifications. Of late she obtained the TCRN (Trauma Certified Registered Nurse) certification as one of the first 250 nurses in the United States to achieve this distinction as part of the Beta group. She has presented locally, regionally, nationally and internationally on a variety of trauma, global injury/global surgery, nursing, and leadership topics.

Helen Jowett

Helen has over 20 years of paediatric experience at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne which is the Paediatric Major Trauma Service for Victoria where she holds the position of, Trauma Manager. She developed and implemented a state-wide paediatric trauma education program within Victoria, delivering much needed trauma team training and education to rural doctors, nurses and paramedics involved in trauma resuscitation and management.

Helen is a state-wide Emergency Management of Severe Trauma Coordinator with the Royal College of Surgeons where she plays an integral role in ongoing trauma education both regionally and nationally. She is also a member of the Trauma Case Review Group which is a sub-committee of the State Trauma Committee at the Department of Health, Victoria. This group oversees the trauma patient journey, with a key objective to ensure the best patient outcome and adherence to the state trauma system guidelines.



Keith Kincaid, BA, MDiv

Keith Kincaid is Pastoral Services Director at North Oaks Health System. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and his Master of Divinity from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He completed a Clinical Pastoral Education residency though East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, LA. He is ordained and endorsed by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

He has worked at Mercy Hospital, New Orleans, LA., Baptist Memorial Health Care Systems, Memphis, Tn., in the heart transplant center and currently serves as Pastoral Services Director for North Oaks Health System, a level II trauma center, in Hammond LA.

Amy Koestner, MSN, RN

Amy Koestner is the Trauma Program Manager at Spectrum Health Butterworth, a level I Trauma Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Amy has a 30-year nursing career, with experience spanning the bedside in pediatric ICU, regional pediatric education, flight nursing, adult ICU bedside care, and the past 20 years in the role of trauma program manager. Amy earned her BSN from Nazareth College, and her MSN from Wayne State University.

Amy has been active in the Society of Trauma Nurses (STN) for over 15 years, serving in a variety of leadership roles, including past president in 2008. She is the appointed STN chair liaison to the Committee on Trauma, and as a nurse reviewer for ACS trauma verification committee and the State of Michigan designation process. Amy remains active as faculty for ATCN, TNCC, RTTDC, and the Optimal Trauma Center Course.

Sarah Mattocks, MSN, RN, CRNP, TCRN, NE-BC

Sarah Mattocks is the Trauma Program Manager at UPMC Hamot, a state accredited Level II Trauma Center, in Erie, Pennsylvania. Sarah earned her BSN from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, and her MSN from Gannon University. Sarah's nursing career started the emergency department and includes over 10 years in the role of trauma program coordinator/manager. Sarah is an active member of the Easter Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST) and served as the Society of Trauma Nurses – EAST Foundation Nurse Fellow in 2014. Sarah is the current treasure for the Pennsylvania Trauma Nurse Advisory Council (PATNAC) and has served on various Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation committees. Sarah has been active in the STN for over 10 years, serving in various roles. Sarah is the current president-elect of the STN board of directors.



Judy N. Mikhail, PhD, MBA, RN

Judy N. Mikhail, PhD, MBA, RN has over 30 years of progressive trauma nursing experience, including roles as Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, Trauma Program Manager and Trauma Administrator at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, MI. Dr. Mikhail is currently the Senior Program Manager for the Michigan Trauma Quality Improvement Program (MTQIP) a surgical quality improvement collaborative of 34 trauma centers in Michigan. Dr. Mikhail is also the current Editor-In-Chief for the Journal of Trauma Nursing. She received a BSN from the University of Michigan, MSN from the University of Texas Science Center Houston, MBA from Colorado State University and a PhD in Nursing from the Medical University of South Carolina. Her research interests include trauma disparities, and trauma performance improvement. Dr. Mikhail previously served as President of the Society of Trauma Nurses, President of the Michigan Trauma Coalition, and Chair of the Michigan – State Trauma Advisory Committee. She is a nationally recognized speaker in trauma care and serves as an instructor for the Optimal Trauma Center Organization & Management Course cosponsored by the ACS and STN.

Vicki Moran, PhD, RN, MPH, CNE, CDE, PHNA-BC, TNS

Vicki Moran is the coordinator of trauma research at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. Her clinical background as an intensive care unit and emergency room RN has perpetuated a wealth of knowledge to conduct trauma research. She completed her BSN in 1994, MSN/MPH in 1997, and her PhD in higher education administration in 2015. She is also an assistant professor of nursing at Saint Louis University. She has published manuscripts focusing on care of the traumatic patient with a variety of interdisciplinary providers. Her current focus in working with three other Level I trauma centers in Saint Louis, Missouri to reduce recidivism of victims exposed to violence.

Lauren Nawrocki, DNP, MS, CRNP, CCRN

Lauren Nawrocki is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Nursing who teaches full-time in the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner/Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist program. Lauren also maintains a clinical practice as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner working at both the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland and University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland. Lauren has extensive cardiac surgery clinical practice experience working within the Division of Cardiac Surgery and Center for Aortic Disease at University of Maryland Medical Center. She earned her bachelor’s degree from York College of Pennsylvania, and both her master’s and doctor of nursing practice degrees from University of Maryland, Baltimore. Lauren has also received her Teaching in Nursing and Health Professions Certificate from University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Lauren’s doctoral work involved developing clinical practice guidelines for the management of uncomplicated descending aortic dissection. This doctoral project utilized translation of the evidence involving management of artic dissection into practice with acceptance and implementation of the developed practice guidelines. The guidelines were appraised utilizing validated scales such as the AGREE II tool and the Practitioner Feedback Questionnaire to assess for guideline structure and strength of evidence, as well as provider usability. Results of the project revealed well-structured and accepted guidelines as well as ease of use on the targeted cardiac surgery service. Outcomes of the doctoral project are projected to decrease mortality, increase compliance with industry standards, and improve overall patient care.

Anna Bradford Newcomb, PhD, LCSW

Anna Newcomb, PhD, MSW, LCSW, is the Trauma Research Manager at the Inova Trauma Center in Falls Church, Virginia. Anna Newcomb received her BA from Oberlin College in Religion and a Masters in Social Work from Catholic University. She served as a trauma and emergency department clinical social worker at Inova Fairfax Hospital (1994 – 2011) and started a trauma support group in 1995 which developed into a program that included groups for orthopedic survivors, TBI, SCI, family members, parents of TBI, and provided education to trauma providers about the experience of injury and recovery. Based on this model, Ms. Newcomb partnered with the American Trauma Society to develop the Trauma Survivors Network (TSN), and then served as the ATS TSN National Coordinator to develop training materials and support TSN development nationally.

In 2012 Dr. Newcomb received a PhD in Health Services Research from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, studying under Ellen MacKenzie and the Center for Injury Research and Policy. The focus of her dissertation research was the family’s experience of trauma at the hospital and home.

Returning to Inova Fairfax Hospital as the trauma research manager, Dr. Newcomb has continued her research and program implementation to focus on interventions addressing patient and family wellbeing following trauma. These efforts have included:
  • Initiating, directing, and evaluating a communication curriculum for Inova’s Surgical Residency Program, integrating former trauma patients as simulated patients and providing ongoing practice and evaluation of surgical residents’ patient/family centered communication skills.
  • Partnering with Stanford University to facilitate their implementation of a surgical resident communication program.
  • Initiating, directing, and evaluating a communication curriculum for all trauma nurses and clinical technicians at Inova Fairfax.
Dr. Newcomb is the President Elect of the American Trauma Society Board of Directors.

Joan Pirrung, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC

Trauma Program Manager, Christiana Care Health System, Newark, DE
Joan has worked with the trauma population for the last 20 years at the bedside in the ICU followed by her current role as trauma program manager. She has been in the role for 11 years and has worked in an ACS verified Level 1 trauma center for 13 years. A major part of her role is to manage and actively participate in PI. This includes case review, co-chairing PI committee meetings and assisting in loop closure.

Kristen Ray, MSN, RN, TCRN

Kristen Ray is the Clinical Quality Nurse Leader at UF Health Jacksonville for the Trauma/ Surgical/ Neuro ICU in Jacksonville, Florida. Moving to Baltimore, MD in 2007, where she worked at R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland. Kristen earned her MSN with a Nursing Education specialization. In 2015, she moved to Newark, NJ, where she worked as the Assistant Trauma Register Coordinator for the New Jersey Trauma Center at University Hospital. Then in 2016, Kristen moved to Virginia where she was the Trauma Clinical Nurse Educator at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus’ Level 1 trauma center.



Susan Rihawi, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, CEN

Susan Rihawi is a Trauma Surgery Nurse Practitioner at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Froedtert Hospital, a level 1 Trauma Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is also part-time Nurse Faculty at nearby University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she lectures undergraduate nurses in acute and chronic conditions. Her initial experience in nursing was a busy urban community hospital emergency department, and she continued working on ED throughput, nurse handoffs, and triage effectiveness throughout graduate school. She was a Clinical Assistant Professor at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin teaching clinicals in general surgery, burns, and urology until her present position in the trauma center. She has presented and taught at the PanAmerican Trauma Society Symposium in Havana, Cuba and is involved in a violence mitigation program at her trauma center as well as in various educational and research projects.



Heather J. Timmons, RN, BSN, CCRN, TCRN

Heather graduated from Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, OR in 1992. Heather started as a new graduate nurse at Providence Medford Medical Center (PMMC), working on the Telemetry floor and floating into the ICU. After three years of Telemetry/Relief charge, she accepted a full-time position in ICU. Most of her nursing career has been in ICU with four years in the ED. She took the Trauma Coordinator position at PMMC in 2015, a Level 3 trauma center, and facilitated a full and a focused trauma survey. In June of 2018, she left PMMC after 26 years, to accept a Trauma Program Coordinator position with Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, a newly designated Level 2 trauma center, and the competitors across town. SHe is a TNCC Course Director and Instructor, a Stop the Bleed Instructor, Leadership Preceptor for the Senior nursing students and recently became a TCRN Item Writer for the BCEN.



Jill Volgraf, MSN, RN

Jill Volgraf is the Director of Trauma and Burn Operations at Temple University Hospital, a Level 1 academic hospital in Philadelphia, PA. Jill has been at Temple since 2003, beginning in the Emergency Department, and then transitioning to a Trauma Clinical Coordinator in 2010. She assumed the role of Trauma Program Manager in 2014 and developed her role even further in 2019 by taking ownership of the Burn Program as well as the surgical APP positions.