NAHSE Educational Conference


Dr. Jennifer Avegno is a New Orleans native who received her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Arts in Sociology from Tulane University and her MD from LSU School of Medicine – New Orleans. She completed her residency at LSU/Charity Hospital Emergency Medicine and joined the faculty at both LSU and Tulane shortly after graduation. As an academic faculty member, Dr. Avegno worked in medical education and established the Division of Social Emergency Medicine at LSU to facilitate innovative programming, interdisciplinary partnerships, and improved population health outcomes. In 2018, she was appointed as the Director of the Health Department for the City of New Orleans, where she manages a dedicated team of public health professionals in addressing critical health needs for the community. Dr. Avegno currently leads the City’s public health response to COVID-19 and developed successful local community based testing and vaccination strategies and programs, with intentional core focus on equity and access.

Miles is an influential startup business leader and investor, previously an investment analyst, senior product manager, author, research advocate and entrepreneur with over 20 companies to his credit. He holds a degree in Audio Electrical Engineering from the University of Miami and served as a visiting researcher at the University of Rochester through funding by the National Science Foundation. Throughout his career he led technology development as a software engineer and product manager, creating frameworks for repeatable innovation within Private Equity managed assets. He now focuses on designing sustainable ecosystems that forge technology creation through new ventures, alternative funding models, corporate innovation engagement and applied frontier R&D.

Gary Frazier, the founder and CEO of two revolutionary healthcare entities, Worksite Labs, a diagnostic laboratory company specializing in innovative, efficient, and consumer centric testing (e.g., COVID-19), and OM Healthcare, the country’s first direct-to-consumer health coverage plan, has spent his career disrupting the healthcare space.

With 23 years of business development experience and 18 years of hospital and health system strategy expertise, Gary’s thought leadership in the new frontier of healthcare strategy, technology and innovation has increased access and leveled the playing field for receiving quality care. His leadership and expertise provide a valuable resource for strategic business planning, public relations, growth strategy, marketing, integrated delivery systems, program development, mergers, acquisitions, physician networks and alignment strategy.

Frazier served as an executive leader in U.S. health systems, overseeing strategic business development, integrated delivery systems and physician alignment. A native of Southern California, Frazier earned his undergraduate degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills and his MBA from University of California Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business. In addition, He regularly lectures for the MHA program at USC’s School of Public Policy and has taught as an adjunct professor at Cal State Fullerton. Frazier, a long-standing, active member of NAHSE who currently serves as the President of the NAHSE Southern California chapter is a champion for its mission to promote the advancement of Black health care executives and aims to elevate the quality of health care for underserved communities.

Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA, serves as president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and executive vice president at Mass General Brigham, roles he assumed in December 2021. A distinguished academic and clinical physician with a long track record of collaborative leadership, Dr. Higgins joined the Brigham from John Hopkins, where he led the Department of Surgery as Surgeon-in-Chief and the William Stewart Halsted Professor of Surgery.

Dr. Higgins obtained his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and his medical degree from the Yale School of Medicine, followed by a master’s degree in health services administration at Virginia Commonwealth University. He completed a residency in general surgery at the University Hospitals of Pittsburgh. He was a Winchester Scholar and fellow in cardiothoracic surgery at the Yale School of Medicine and served as a senior registrar in transplantation at the renowned Papworth Hospital in the U.K. He has served in numerous national professional leadership roles, including the President of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the President of the American College of Surgeons Society of Surgical Chairs, and the President of the United Network for Organ Sharing. He has authored more than 200 scientific articles and book chapters.

Dr. Higgins is a proven innovator with the ability to manage complex, multidisciplinary services at world-class organizations, and a passionate advocate for research with a life-long commitment to training the next generation of exceptional people in healthcare.

Administrator Edward "Ted" James was appointed by President Joe Biden to serve as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Regional Administrator for Region 6 South Central Region in December of 2021. In this position, Ted will oversee the administration of SBA products and services in ten district offices; with one each located in Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas and six located in Texas.

Ted’s passion for leadership is driven by a deeply held desire to impact the lives of others while transforming the community he simply calls “his village.” The Baton Rouge native was taught at an early age the value of service, the strength of community, the importance of a quality education, and the principles of social justice.

Upon being admitted to the Louisiana Bar, Ted began his career working in the Office of Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco where he was actively engaged in policy reform efforts targeted at establishing affordable housing solutions across the state of Louisiana. As the Governor’s policy advisor on housing and community development Ted assisted in securing a $25 million investment into the Louisiana Housing Trust Fund. Ted later served on the Louisiana Commission on Housing and Community Development, where he continued his dedication to establish affordable housing solutions for the people of Louisiana. Under the leadership of Governor Blanco, he dedicated himself to the revitalization and rebuilding of Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Upon completing his service in the Blanco administration, Ted worked as a staff attorney with the Louisiana House of Representatives. His tenure as a staff attorney helped to provide him with the unique perspective and insight, he used during his decade long service in the legislature. In 2009, Ted was appointed to serve as Confidential Assistant to the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue where he was charged with developing the Department’s legislative strategy. His leadership led to an appointment by Governor Bobby Jindal to serve on the Louisiana Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations where he effectively managed relationships with other governmental agencies to further the well-being of the people of Louisiana.

Elected in November of 2011, Ted served as a Louisiana State Representative for over a decade rising to leadership as Chairman of the Administration of Criminal Justice Committee and Chairman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus. Ted is known across the state and country as a champion for working people, the disenfranchised, and an unapologetic and proud fighter for the voiceless. He worked with Governor John Bel Edwards to reach across the aisle and pass historic criminal justice reform. He authored over 160 pieces of legislation and 56 bills that became law. He was one of the legislature’s most trusted and forward-thinking members, spearheading programs like LA Wallet, a digital driver’s license app that has expanded to include COVID vaccination status, the expansion of the state’s Medical Marijuana program and police reform.

Ted’s professional work extended to his role as an attorney with Doran & Cawthorne PPLC, an adjunct law professor, and Director of the Baton Rouge office of the Urban League of Louisiana. He enjoys partnering with various not-for-profit organizations where he is dedicated to giving back to the community by committing countless hours to mentoring students in Baton Rouge schools and sharing his acquired wisdom and knowledge by way of public speaking throughout the state of Louisiana.

Ted has received several honors and awards for his work and service. Most notably, he is the recipient of the Baton Rouge Business Report’s “Forty Under 40” award and the National Chapter of the NAACP’s “Top 40 Power Players under 40” award.

He was also named to the National Bar Association’s 2013 Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40. Ted earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Southern University A & M College and went on to obtain his Juris Doctorate with honors from the Southern University Law Center where he also served as the President of the Student Bar Association. He is a member of Beacon Light Baptist Church and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. He is the proud father of his daughter, Harper Ryan James.

Thomas A. LaVeist, Ph.D. was appointed dean of the Tulane University, School of Public Health
and Tropical Medicine in July 2018. Previous to that he served as chairman of the Department of
Health Policy and Management at the George Washington University (GWU), Milken Institute
School of Public Health. He joined GWU after 25 years on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where he was the William & Nancy Richardson Professor inHealth Policy and Founding Director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, his doctorate degree from the University of Michigan and completed postdoctoral studies in gerontology and Health Management & Policy at the Michigan School of Public Health.

Dr. LaVeist’s research focuses on health equity, having conducted major studies of cultural competency in healthcare, social determinants of health, and health policy analysis. In addition to his extensive record of publication in scientific journals, he has written for NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE, BALTIMORE SUN, and other mass media outlets. He has authored or edited six books, and is executive producer, and narrator for THE SKIN YOU’RE IN, a documentary series about racial inequalities in health that is currently in production. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, Center for Disease Control, Department of Defense, Commonwealth Fund, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Sage Foundation and the Agency for Healthcare Research. He is the recipient of the “Innovation Award” from the National Institutes of Health, and the “Knowledge Award” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health. In 2013 he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine.

Kedar Mate, MD, is the President and Chief Executive Officer at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), President of the Lucian Leape Institute, and a member of the faculty at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Mate’s scholarly work has focused on health system design, health care quality, strategies for achieving large-scale change, and approaches to improving value. Previously Dr. Mate worked at Partners In Health, the World Health Organization, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and served as IHI’s Chief Innovation and Education Officer. Dr. Mate has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and white papers and has received multiple honors including serving as a Soros Fellow, Fulbright Specialist, Zetema Panelist, and an Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellow. He graduated from Brown University with a degree in American History and from Harvard Medical School with a medical degree. You can follow him on twitter at @KedarMate

Derrick is Founder/Chief Executive Officer at CourMed® In addition, Mr. Miles is Chairman + Founder of TMB Equity Partners (executive team are former healthcare executives with 15+ years of experience); a boutique firm focused on investing/developing innovative healthcare solutions that achieve a liquidity event within five years. Derrick is also a multiple patented inventor. Mr. Miles received both an MSHA (#1 Program in the country) and MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He also holds a BS in Medical Technology (minor in Chemistry) from Bethune-Cookman University. Mr. Miles received a certificate in Lean Healthcare from the University of Michigan and is enrolled at Stanford University working towards a professional certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Derrick is married with two sons; his family lives in Collin County, TX and Dade County, FL.

As Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, Dr. Courtney N. Phillips leads the state’s largest agency with a budget of $19 billion and a team of 6,500 people responsible for delivering services to millions of Louisianans. LDH protects and promotes health for Louisiana residents through services provided by Medicaid and the Offices of Public Health, Behavioral Health, Citizens with Developmental Disabilities, Aging and Adult Services, and Emergency Preparedness. These programs work to ensure access to medical, preventative, and rehabilitative services for Louisiana’s most vulnerable residents.

Prior to her role as the LDH Secretary, Dr. Phillips led two state health and human services agencies in Nebraska and Texas. Dr. Phillips has made an impact in each of her roles, regularly guiding large teams in setting and reaching clear goals for improvement. As CEO of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), she developed and launched the agency’s first business plan, which outlined the major priorities for the year. Her work transformed the agency into a more accountable, transparent entity.

As executive commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) System, Dr. Phillips developed the agency’s inaugural business plan. Dr. Phillips’ plan helped HHS, which runs on a $78.5 billion budget and includes more than 220 programs, deliver services more efficiently and effectively. Her guidance led to statewide improvements in key areas like mental health services, women’s health, and family planning services. 

Dr. Phillips returned to Louisiana in April 2020, beginning her leadership of LDH amid a global pandemic. Under her leadership, the Department has received national recognition for innovative strategies in responding to the pandemic. She has also developed and implemented a comprehensive and forward-thinking business plan to improve an array of LDH services for residents. The business plan includes clearly defined goals ranging from improved maternal and behavioral health services to more sustainable public water systems to measures to advance health equity throughout LDH programs and services.

Dr. Phillips holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a Master of Public Administration from Louisiana State University, and a Ph.D. in public policy from Southern University. She has earned an Executive Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Tracy L. Prigmore is an award winning executive and the Founder of TLTsolutions, a real estate investment and development firm that provides unparalleled access and insight to alternative investments. Tracy’s mission is to empower people to build generational wealth, and through TLTsolutions she creates opportunities for individuals, families and entities to obtain passive income by investing in residential, multifamily and hotel projects.

As the sponsor for real estate investments, Tracy works with property management to maximize the value of each asset. She has a sterling record of bringing real estate ventures to life and maximizing their financial performance through sound asset management, as well as disciplined investment and renovation strategies. Currently, TLTsolutions has multi-million dollar portfolio of real estate assets under management in four states. With the firm’s launch of its first Fund focused on hotel properties; TLTsolutions is actively pursuing acquisitions that will more than double its portfolio.

Chosen as Person of the Year by LODGING in 2021, recognized by International Hospitality Institute (IHI) as one of the most influential leaders in US hospitality, as well as an Influential woman in hospitality by Hotel Management; Tracy is the creator of She Has a Deal, a platform that creates new pathways to commercial real estate ownership and development for women by providing education, networking and investing opportunities. She Has a Deal’s renowned Hotel Investment Pitch Competition, SHaDPitch is creating a pipeline of women owners and developers by preparing them to become sponsors and lead hotel investment projects. TLTsolutions recently established SHaD Prosperity Fund I and is raising capital to fund the women led projects originating from the pitch competition.

Prior to entering real estate development, Tracy spent 25 years as a healthcare executive and held senior leadership roles in strategic planning, business development and operations for three of the nation’s largest healthcare systems.

Tracy serves on the non-profit boards of Castell Project and the Association of Black Estate Planning Professionals (ABEPP). She resides in northern Virginia with her husband Derrick and their 9-year old son Noah.

Warner Thomas is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Ochsner Health, one of the nation’s leading health systems and Louisiana’s largest clinically integrated, non-profit academic health system. Mr. Thomas has directed Ochsner’s growth and leadership in value-based care and delivery system innovation, providing a comprehensive range of services through its network of 40 hospitals and nearly 300 total sites of care throughout Louisiana and Mississippi. Ochsner offers a wide array of nationally ranked services with its 4,500 affiliated physicians, including more than 1,900 employed physicians practicing in over 90 specialties and subspecialties; and 34,000 employees, serving more than one million individual patients each year from all 50 states and more than 70 countries.

Under Thomas’ leadership, Ochsner has expanded access to care in Louisiana and the Gulf South and has also become a national and global destination for healthcare. Some of this has been accomplished in partnership with other strong healthcare organizations and provides the opportunity for Ochsner to scale patient-centered technology and other solutions to bring advanced care closer to home. More recently, Ochsner has launched a major initiative to raise Louisiana’s overall health ranking among U.S. states from 49th to 40th by 2030. In collaboration with leaders and organizations across the state, this strategy includes major investments designed to eliminate barriers to healthcare in underserved urban and rural communities; utilize technology and innovation to improve outcomes; collaborate with academic partners to research and better understand health disparities; and expand educational programs and scholarships to develop Louisiana’s next generation of healthcare providers.

Thomas’s work has also enabled Ochsner to develop national award-winning programs that empower patients to effectively manage chronic conditions while also maintaining focus on preventive measures, health screenings and education to help people stay well and avoid preventable disease. Further, he envisioned and launched innovationOchsner in 2015, an innovation lab designed to create health advancements to address national issues including chronic disease, as well as to support and partner with companies working to revolutionize patient-centered care. Internally, Thomas spearheaded the creation of the Ochsner Learning Institute as well as other professional education programs, providing Ochsner leaders with the tools and opportunities to confront challenges, seek opportunity and ignite enthusiasm around best practices in healthcare.

Mr. Thomas is a board member of the American Hospital Association and a member of Baylor Scott & White Holdings Board of Trustees. He is a former member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, served as Chairman of the American Hospital Association Section for Health Systems Governing Council and is a past member of the Board of the American Medical Group Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges Advisory Panel for Health Care and Council of Teaching Hospitals. He is also a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and a former Louisiana Hospital Association board member.

 Thomas received an undergraduate degree in accounting and computer information systems from New Hampshire College in Manchester, N.H., and his Master of Business Administration degree in 1994 from Boston University Graduate School of Management. He is also a certified public accountant. Thomas is a recipient of the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award and the Anti-Defamation League 2018 A.I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Award. He was named one of the Glassdoor Top CEOs in 2018 recognized as one of Modern Healthcare’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare for 2019.

Régine Villain is the Senior VP of Supply Chain Network & Chief Supply Chain Officer at Ochsner Health. Her vision is to impact clinical care variations across the continuum of care by strategically elevating the Supply Chain into an integrated resource network .

Régine’s healthcare career began in Purchasing in 1995. Through the span of four healthcare organizations, she advanced in her career as a notable Supply Chain Leader with an amplified portfolio of services, milestones, and significant achievements prior to joining Ochsner Health in 2019.

Régine holds a B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Florida, a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University, and a certificate in Business Studies from the Wharton School of Business.