Our Inspirational Speakers

Dianne Gray is the President of Hospice and Healthcare Communications, an international firm focused on creating and furthering advocacy projects and education/communications initiatives involving all aspects of end-of-life and palliative care.   

Dianne is a nationally recognized speaker, award winning writer/journalist, film producer, master collaborator and project director.  She is also a passionate advocate for improved communication and care for seriously ill patients, their families and the loved ones they leave behind.

Deborah Grassman, The Country's Foremost Expert on Hospice and Veteran's Affairs issues. Deborah Grassman is a Nurse Practitioner. Her career at Bay Pines VA in St. Petersburg, Florida lasted for nearly 30 years, where she was the Director of the Hospice program and personally took care of 10,000 dying veterans. She recently retired from the VA and now provides education and consultation throughout the country. Deborah’s contribution toward advancing End-of-Life care in this country is described by NHPCO.

Sarah Friebert, MD, FAAP, FAAHPM, is the director and founder of the Haslinger Family Pediatric Palliative Care Center at Akron Children’s Hospital. Dr. Friebert and the team of specialists she leads are nationally recognized for their contribution to improving life and alleviating suffering for children facing life-threatening and chronic/complex conditions and their families. She also directs the ACGME-accredited palliative care fellowship program at Akron Children’s Hospital.

Ken Ross is the son of the late Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, pioneering legend in the hospice and palliative care arena.  Elisabeth, famous for her wit and voracious appetite for life, is best known for her seminal publication, On Death and Dying. 

Dr. Gloria Horsley is the Founder and President of the Board for the Open to Hope Foundation and is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent.

Dr. Heidi Horsley is a licensed psychologist and social worker, and is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Open to Hope Foundation.  Heidi is in private practice in Manhattan (www.DrHeidiHorsley.com).

Stephen Kiernan was born in Newtonville, NY the sixth of seven children. A graduate of Middlebury College, he received a Master of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Over two-plus decades as a journalist he has won 40 awards, including the Bechner Institute's Freedom of Information Award, the Gerald Loeb Award for financial journalism (two time commentary finalist) and the George Polk Award.

Jennifer Steinman, Co-Founder of the film production company, Smush Media, has over 14 years of experience in television and filmmaking. She has established herself professionally as a creative storyteller, with a keen sense of pace and timing and the ability to tap into the heart and emotion of a story.  Steinman began her career as a Film Editor at CBS, both in New York and San Francisco.

Samira K. Beckwith, LCSW, FACHE has more than thirty year’s leadership experience in healthcare, focused on economically expanding the continuum of care, providing greater access, and shaping public policy on all levels.


Eric Ellsworth Hipple is a former professional American football player who was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fourth round of the 1980 NFL Draft. A quarterback from Utah State, Hipple played in ten NFL seasons for the Lions in the 1980's.

As a result of his fifteen-year-old son's suicide in 2000, Hipple chose to dedicate his life to educating people around the world about the dangers of depression and the potential for empowerment and mental wellness through knowledge on the topic.