Matt Fisher, President
Matt Fisher joined Poyner Spruill on June 1, 2014 from the firm of Bode Hemphill, LLP. His practice focuses on the representation of health care providers, with an emphasis on Certificate of Need law. Matt's practice centers on the litigation of Certificate of Need awards and denials and assisting health care providers with the development of Certificate of Need applications. He also represents health care clients on licensure and certification issues, including appeals challenging certification and licensure survey decisions and penalties, and issues pertaining to DMA provider payment denial.
Brigitte Specht, Vice-President
Brigitte Specht is an Area Account Manager for Sunrise Senior Living, responsible for business development and general public education in the Triangle market. She joined Sunrise Senior Living in 2007. Her background in senior living started in a Continuing Care Retirement Community where she held positions as Sales and Marketing Director, Assisted Living Coordinator, Memory Care Coordinator, and Housekeeping Director before joining Sunrise. Brigitte's passion lies in educating others. She has been a Virtual Dementia facilitator since 2009 and also teaches brain fitness classes. Brigitte is an alumni of East Carolina University and a Licensed North Carolina Assisted Living Administrator. She is very active in supporting Guiding Lights Caregiver Support Center, Alzheimers North Carolina, and COPE Eldercare. Brigitte and her family live in Holly Springs and enjoy spending their free time at Lake Gaston.
Jackie Bedard, Secretary
Jackie Bedard's estate planning and elder law attorney and founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning, a practice focused on guiding clients through the complicated, often confusing, maze of balancing family protection, wealth preservation, and cherished family values in the planning process. Jackie is a member of the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and the Medicaid Planning Network. Jackie earned her Bachelor's of Science degree in Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated law school magna cum laude at the University of Richmond School of Law. Jackie resides in Cary with her husband, Dan, and their two dogs, Kylie and Nelly.
Paul Immanuel, Treasurer
Paul Immanuel is a long time resident of North Carolina who retired from IBM in 2009. During his 25 year career at IBM, he held several positions in development of networking products and workflow management systems. Prior to working for IBM, he worked for ITT in Raleigh where he developed fiber optic transmission systems for telephone companies. Paul has experience in hardware and software technologies and has presented papers extensively in North America and Europe dealing with issues related to hardware and software development. Paul is an electrical engineering graduate of North Carolina State University and has completed graduate level computer science and electrical engineering courses under an IBM program. Paul immigrated to the United States (and North Carolina) in 1964. He is married to Phyllis, a Raleigh native and they have two grown twins, Camille and Heather. Both their daughters are in the medical profession. Paul's love for helping seniors comes from his experience with helping Phyllis with taking care of her parents towards the end of their lives. Paul is active in church and community activities in Durham.
Cooper Linton serves as the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Transitions LifeCare, which was originally founded as Hospice of Wake County. In addition to his marketing work, he oversaw the design and construction of Wake County's first freestanding hospice home and end of life care campus. Cooper has worked in the healthcare industry for over 15 years with a focus on home and community based care. His experience includes successful administrator roles for two home health and hospice companies as well as several years of sales planning, sales force management and business strategy design. Additionally, Cooper has worked in quality improvement directly for healthcare providers and on contract with Medicare through the Medical Review of North Carolina. Mr. Linton holds a Masters in Healthcare Administration and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he also completed his Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. When not working, Cooper is happily busy as a father and an avid outdoorsman.
John Thoma is a graduate of Boston University where he received a B. A. degree in Spanish. He continued studies at Tufts University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Non-Profit Institute and Tufts University School of Continuing Education concentrating in Community Economic Development and Non-Profit Management. John joined Hospice of Wake County in 1991 and has served in the capacity of Finance/MIS Manager and Chief Financial Officer. He was appointed Chief Executive Officer in August 2002.
Born in Austin, Texas and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, John has been a resident of Raleigh since 1990. In addition to his role as Chief Executive Officer, John serves on the Board of Trustees for the Hospice of Wake County Foundation and is very active in promoting quality end-of-life care at the state and national levels. John served on the Board of the United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) and the NC Association for Home and Hospice Care (AHHC). Nationally, John serves as Secretary of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) Board of Directors and chairs the NHPCO Governance Committee. He has previously chaired the NHPCO Quality and Standards Committee and served on the Membership Committee.
Nicole has a passion for working with older adults and believes in the "law of plenty". She enjoys the challenge of breaking down the silos of health care organizations by creating and participating in consortiums of health care providers that actively discuss issues facing seniors they serve. The goal is to discover how this fragile population can have a better quality of life through education, resource sharing, and problem solving during meeting times and through collaboration.
Nicole has spent a major portion of her career in various capacities at the Northeast Health and the Eddy Memorial Geriatric Center in New York. Nicole served as a social worker and team leader of their Special Care Unit for individuals with dementia and as director of an Adult Day Medical Health Center (Adult Daycare). During her tenure at the Eddy, Nicole served on the Board of the Alzheimer's Association of Northeastern NY chapter and trained professionals on the up and coming techniques for dementia care nationally. When moving to North Carolina, Nicole expanded her area of expertise to the field of private duty in home care as the Community Outreach Coordinator, at Homewatch CareGivers of the Triangle and currently holds a position as Community Educator at Transitions LifeCare. Also, Nicole hosts a weekly radio show "Caring Connections" on 1360 WCHL. It focuses on educating the family caregiver about resources and what to expect in their roles. Nicole also serves as a Caregiver Correspondent for "Eye on Health" a weekly live radio show that airs on 680 WPTF.
Nicole took some time off from her professional career to raise two of her children. During that time, she experienced first-hand what it is like to be the primary caregiver, not only for children, but also for her grandfather, who she cared for in her home until he passed away.
Nicole earned an Associate in Arts degree from The Sage Colleges and a Bachelor's degree in Social Work with Advanced Standing from Siena College. She has completed some graduate work in Health Care Administration.
Corliss is a social worker and a LPN, who has worked with elderly patients in a hospital setting. She has coordinated activities in a residential senior center and implemented various ways of assisting individuals with dementia. The Guiding Lights team is directed by passionate individuals responding to the needs of those who provide significant care. I am pleased to be part of a team that is cognizant of the needs of the many caregivers that we serve.
Leigh comes to us from Elder and Adult Day Services (EADS) -- a day health non profit organization in Seattle, Washington - at which she was responsible for Public Relations and Marketing. In 2008 through 2009, the organization took on a rebranding campaign (on a shoe string budget) with the goal of attracting a wider variety of participants and funding sources. Leigh and her supervisor presented on the campaign at the 2010 National Adult Day Services Association conference here in Raleigh. Leigh and her family had moved to Raleigh in July of 2009, after which she continued working (remotely) for EADS until recently.
Martha, a N.C. native, comes to Guiding Lights as Program Coordinator. Martha has 40+ years as a R.N. with positions ranging from all aspects of inpatient rehabilitation, coordinating care for severely injured workers, to surveying adult care facilities in N.C. for licensure compliance with state rules & regulations. Many of these positions provided her the opportunity to see first hand the importance of well trained staff to care for the elderly. She strongly believes coordinating a program that prepares nurse aides to become the best they can be, will result in providing much better care for the frail elderly. Martha welcomes the exciting opportunity to be a part of this dynamic team!
Rachel David, President of T.J.A. CPA PLLC, a locally owned company in the city of Cary, NC. Mrs. David has over 10 years experience in accounting and specializes in job costing, Non-profit accounting and personal financial management for seniors with Alzheimer's and Dementia. Her passion is the advocate for those that are not able to advocate for themselves and to serve the elderly community however she can.
Pam Kane, RN Instructor
To me there is no greater reward than to watch a student grow in confidence and knowledge in the skills required for the Nurse Aide I program. I have worked alongside CNAs in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Home Health setting, therefore I am very aware how vital their role is throughout the circle of life. Teaching caregivers has become my favorite role as an RN and that is why I am grateful and excited to join the Guiding Lights "family." I share in their commitment to educate caregivers to do what they do with excellence-CARE!
I graduated from Craven Community College in New Bern, NC with an ADN and a few years later earned a Bachelor's Degree at Mt. Olive College. I have been nursing for 21 years with experience in the NICU and then Home Health nursing, as well as an instructor for the Nurse Aide I program at Pamlico Community College in Grantsboro NC. I am so looking forward to helping educate people who desire to care for others confidently and safely.
Kelley O'Brien, Grant Writing Consultant
Kelley O'Brien has over 15 years of experience as a communicator, grant writer, project manager, and administrator in higher education and nonprofits. As a grant writing consultant, she has secured more than $4.5 million in public and private grants. As an administrator, she has served on the management team of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Government and led a statewide K-12 education program. And, as a project manager and facilitator, she has led strategic planning efforts and a variety of initiatives that required broad-based buy-in and support.
Kelley has taught extensively on grant writing and communications, designing and instructing courses for graduate students and professionals on these topics. She is adjunct faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Government. She currently teaches Professional Communications and Grant Writing.
She has a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Arts in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies, Urban Studies from the University of Georgia. More recently, she has completed the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Executive Program in Innovation and Harvard Division of Continuing Education's Design Thinking Program.
Over the last fifteen years I have had a variety of experience with administrative, clerical, and customer service. I believe every experience was instrumental in my development personally and professionally. It has opened me up to the importance of how each of us needs a strong support system to be able to function to our utmost potential. While I have been constantly interacting with a diversity of people, I find an enormous amount of joy in being able to help those in need. As a young child, I was exposed to many hardships where I watched several loved ones become ill and pass away. Watching how that affected those around me in my informative years, impacted how I deal with such hardships now. It is a passion of mine to express to those in need that they are not forgotten, they are loved and they matter to me.