Psychological Tools to Support Complex Patient Care Speaker Bios

Understanding and Addressing Mental Health Disparities and Stigma in Serious Illness


James Gerhart, PhD (he/him)

Associate Professor & Director of Clinical Training, Psychology

Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI

The 5 Keys to Caregiver Survival: Clinicians are Caregivers Too

Dr. Cheryl Woodson taught and practiced Geriatrics for almost forty years while raising a family and caring for a parent with dementia. With board certifications in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, she coordinated the fellowship program at Pritzker School of Medicine - University of Chicago and directed all geriatrics training at Feinberg School of Medicine – Northwestern University. In “retirement,” Dr. Woodson is a board member of the National Council on Aging. She also consults and teaches nationally to prepare clinicians and other professionals to realize the benefits and embrace the challenges of working with older adults. Dr. Woodson dedicates herself to ensuring that everyone who interacts with older people and their caregivers will serve seniors successfully and that all women will LIVE OUT LOUD and AGE EXCELLENTLY!

Loss in an ICU – How Healthcare Providers Can Support Grieving Family Members

Jared Greenberg_headshot

Jared A. Greenberg, MD

Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine

Assistant Director, Medical Intensive Care Unit
RUSH Medical College Admissions Executive Committee Member

Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

Jared Greenberg MD, MSc is an Associate Professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL. He spends most of his clinical time providing care to patients in the medical Intensive Care Unit (ICU). His research interests involve exploring novel ways to communicate with families of critically ill patients in ways that help them make informed decisions for their loved ones. He is also interested in improving the ability of clinicians to identify families who are experiencing emotional distress during and after an ICU stay and to provide support that is individualized to their needs.


Laura Fosler, RN, MS, FNP-BC, ACHPN

Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

Laura Fosler has been a palliative care NP for more than 10 years. She works at Rush University Medical Center, specializing in inpatient palliative medicine. She is active in interdisciplinary palliative care education, and has been a local and national speaker. She is currently studying Spanish, and has renewed appreciation for the joys and challenges of being an adult learner. Prior to becoming an advanced practice nurse, Laura practiced for 10 years as an RN in various settings, including the ICU and pediatric ED. 

Identifying and Responding to Psychological Distress during Patient Encounters: Applying Patient-centered Communication Strategies


Yasmin Asvat, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences | Rush University Medical Center

Clinical Psychologist, Supportive Oncology| Rush Cancer Center

Yasmin Asvat, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a clinical psychologist in the Supportive Oncology Program at Rush University Medical Center. She completed her doctoral degree in clinical psychology at the University of South Florida, internship at University of Chicago Medical Center, and fellowship in psychosocial oncology at Rush University Medical Center. She specializes in the psychological care of cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers. She is bilingual and committed to improving equity in access to psychosocial support in cancer care. Dr. Asvat’s research examines quality of life and resilience in cancer patients and survivors. Additionally, her work evaluates interventions that aim to improve physical and psychological well-being in oncology and includes mindfulness-based and technology-facilitated interventions for smoking cessation. 

Yoon_Esther_headshot 2024

Esther Yoon, Ph.D., MPH

Rush University Medical Center

Dr. Yoon is a postdoctoral fellow with the Supportive Oncology team at Rush University's Cancer Center. She received her bachelor's degree at the University of Michigan and doctorate degree in clinical psychology at Northwestern Feinberg, specializing in health psychology and behavioral medicine. Her research focuses on the intersections of digital health, health behaviors, and chronic illness management. She has a special interest in working with older adults and patients with chronic illness, focusing on how to optimize psychosocial well-being along a patient's care continuum. In her spare time, she enjoys golfing and rooting for the Michigan Wolverines during the college football season (go blue!). 

Supporting Patients with Death Anxiety: Case-based Discussion

JWMintz photo

Judith Wood Mintz, LCSW

Director of Support Services

Unity Hospice and Palliative Care of Chicagoland

Judith Wood Mintz, MSW, LCSW is the Director of Support Services for Unity Hospice and Palliative Care of Chicagoland.  She is Core Faculty and Head of the Social Work Division for the Coleman Palliative Medicine Training Program, an interdisciplinary, city-wide endeavor training health care professionals in the provision of quality primary and specialty level palliative care. Judith has a key leadership role in a fast-growing urban hospice. She is the author of a chapter in the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Social Work 2nd edition, addressing the role of social work with ALS patients. Her specific areas of expertise are the treatment of ALS patients in palliative and hospice care and in the provision of quality end-of-life and palliative care to an underserved, marginalized, urban population.

Provider’s Moral Distress: Recognizing it and Managing It

Annie Vernon-Cwik

Annie Vernon-Cwik, LCSW, ASW-G

Geriatric Social Worker III

UChicago Medicine

Annie Vernon-Cwik, LCSW, ASW-G is currently a geriatric social worker at the University of Chicago South Shore Senior Center, where she has been since March of 2020. Previously, she was a program manager at a community mental health agency and an adult protective services supervisor and case worker. In her current role, Annie provides therapeutic support for older adults and their families, connections to community resources, assists with advance care planning, and supports patients in their pursuit to achieve their goals and desires. Annie graduated with a Bachelors degree from Knox College in 2007 and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Southern California in 2014. She has dedicated her career to older adults; ensuring quality care, access to support and resources and finds older adults to be resilient and a valuable asset.

Challenging Cases: Managing Serious Illness for Patients with Co-Existing Psychiatric Diagnoses


Josh Kaplan-Lyman, AM, LCSW

Social Worker

Section of Palliative Medicine, Rush University Medical Center

Joshua Kaplan-Lyman, AM, LCSW, is social worker specializing in hospice and palliative care, oncology, and dementia, with nearly a decade of experience in clinical social work. Currently serving as a Palliative Care Social Worker at Rush University Medical Center, Joshua provides compassionate support to patients and families facing life-limiting illnesses. Prior to joining Rush, Joshua led the social work team at JourneyCare Hospice, where he implemented innovative approaches to intervention design and community outreach. In addition to his professional pursuits, Joshua spends his free time losing arguments to his 7-year-old son and attempting to avoid getting injured while playing basketball.


Lauren Z. Rynar, Ph.D.

Section Chief and Director, Supportive Oncology

Rush University Cancer Center

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine

Rush University Medical Center


Dr. Rynar is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Department of Internal Medicine at Rush University Medical Center, and the Director of Supportive Oncology at the RUSH University Cancer Center. She also serves as a clinical psychologist for our patients and caregivers. Supportive Oncology is growing Prior to joining RUSH, she completed her fellowship in psychosocial oncology and solid organ transplant at Loyola University Medical Center. Dr. Rynar is a staunch advocate not only for cancer patients but also for survivors, families and caregivers. Under her direction, Supportive Oncology has grown to meet the needs of the growing RUSH cancer system via new, innovative programs. Her research interests include cancer-related distress and distress screening, coping style and models of supportive care delivery across the cancer care continuum. 

Mental Health for Young Adults and Youth Living with Trauma


Sonya Mathies Dinizulu, PhD (she/her/hers)

Associate Professor

Director, University of Chicago Stress, Trauma, & Resilience (U-STAR) Program

Co-Director, Recovery & Empowerment After Community Trauma Clinic (REACT Clinic)

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience

University of Chicago Medicine

(773) 834-5916 | 

Dr. Sonya Mathies Dinizulu is a licensed clinical psychologist within the section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. Dr. Dinizulu provides evidence-based individual and family interventions for youth from diverse racial/ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds presenting with depression, anxiety, and disruptive behaviors. Dr. Dinizulu specializes in the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents exposed to traumatic experiences, ranging from natural disasters to violence in the home or community. Dr. Dinizulu’s research is an extension of her clinical interests, which emphasizes developing and implementing community-based service delivery models to promote mental health and positive youth development for urban children and adolescents exposed to violence.

Healers: A Job? A Career? A Calling?

Jaime Lewis Headshot 2

Jaime K. Lewis, MD

Hospice Medical Director

Loyola Medicine Homecare & Hospice

Dr. Jaime Lewis is a triple board physician in hospice and palliative medicine, lifestyle medicine, and internal medicine, with over ten years of academic medicine experience managing complex cancer pain and chronic non-malignant pain and counseling on self-management skills for patients with chronic diseases. In August 2022, she joined Loyola Home Care and Hospice as their full-time hospice medical director after practicing at Rush University Medical Center as a palliative medical consultant for 9 years. At Rush she became a dedicated provider to the cancer center, with a focus in outpatient supportive oncology and sickle cell pain management and served on faculty with the medical college teaching and advising residents and medical students. She briefly served as associate program director for the CCHHS/Rush fellowship program. As a certified yoga therapist and lifestyle consultant, she established Jaime K Lewis, LLC in 2023 to support individuals who are living with chronic pain conditions. 

Melissa Perrin Headshot

Melissa Perrin, Psy.D.

Owner/President of Perrin Psychological, Training and Consultation Services, Inc.

Adjunct Professor, The Chicago School

Dr. Melissa Perrin is a licensed clinical psychologist with a therapeutic and consulting practice in Evanston, Illinois. She received her doctorate from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and is a member of the Illinois Psychological Association, the American Psychological Association and EMDRIA. With over 35 years of experience in the field of psychology, Dr. Perrin has served as a consultant to many private practitioners as well as institutions including Hazelden Chicago, North Shore Physicians Network and religious leaders. She serves as adjunct faculty for the Chicago School of Professional Psychology [the Chicago School]. Dr. Perrin was on the faculty at the Academy of Advanced Training Professionals which closed in 2019. A gifted educator, Dr. Perrin is called upon regularly to discuss difficult and intricate topics with groups of varying backgrounds and experience. She is a member of the storytelling community in Chicago, teaching classes such as “From Trauma to Tales” and “Lily pads and Landmines: crafting resilience.”