Rebecca Bender

Rebecca Bender

Rebecca Bender

Rebecca Bender is a nationally recognized and awarded expert on domestic sex trafficking. After escaping nearly six years of both labor and sex trafficking, she emerged as a Survivor Leader, providing consulting, training and speaking with some of the largest anti-trafficking groups and government agencies in the country, including FBI, Homeland Security and former president Jimmy Carter. After writing her first book, Roadmap to Redemption, she founded the Rebecca Bender Initiative (RBI), a non-profit that provides trainings and consulting to first responders and investigators across America. Under RBI, Rebecca also created Elevate Academy: the largest and only, online program for survivors of human trafficking seeking care outside of residential treatment.

Rebecca is the recipient of multiple FBI and Congressional recognition awards, the 2015 Hero to our Generation Award, 2014 Female Overcomer Award, and the 2013 Unlikely Hero Award. She sits as on the Advisory Committee for the US Dept. of Health and Human services, is a member of the Oregon Cease Task Force and is co-chair of Oregon’s DOJ Human Trafficking Advisory Council, as well as serves on the board of Exodus Cry. She was chosen as one of the top 22 Survivor Leaders being featured in a PSA titled, “More Than a Survivor” and is a member of the Survivor Leader Institute and the National Survivor Network, and is co-founder of the Survivor Alliance. Her consulting services have assisted DA’s during trials as well as provided needed direction to the opening of seven “safe homes” around the world, including one in Iraq for Isis refugees.

Rebecca is currently finishing her master’s at Bethel University and in her free time, you can find her with her husband and their four beautiful daughters, enjoying their home in the Pacific Northwest. www.rebeccabender.org

Steve Berry, BA, NREMT-P

Steve Berry

Steve Berry, BA, NREMT-P

Steve Berry, BA, NREMT-P, has published 11 EMS related cartoon books since his escapades as a paramedic/EMS instructor began over 30 years ago. Steve pens his humor column and illustrations for EMS Magazine. A national conference speaker and a paramedic for Southwest Teller County EMS in Colorado, Steve seeks world peace along with frequent flyer mileage.

Thomas J. Cartolano

Thomas J. Cartolano

Thomas J. Cartolano, D.O.

Dr. Thomas Cartolano, D.O., is a trauma surgeon at Advocate Christ Medical Center, one of the busiest trauma centers in the Midwest. He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at University of Illinois Chicago. Dr. Cartolano is a graduate of Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his residency in General Surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey followed by a Surgical Critical Care and Trauma Surgery fellowship at Ryder Trauma Center at the University of Miami. As a former EMT, Dr. Cartolano’s interests include pre-hospital care and EMS education, along with disaster planning.

James P. Cole

James P. Cole, Jr., DO, FACS

James P. Cole, Jr., DO, FACS

Dr. Cole is board certified in Surgery and Neurocritical Care. His special interests are Trauma Surgery, Critical Care, and Emergency General Surgery. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and a member of the Eastern Society for the Surgery of Trauma. Dr. Cole is a military veteran whose 24 years of service include three tours of duty in the combat zone. His military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, and two Afghanistan Campaign Medals.

Dr. Bernard Heilicser

Dr. Bernard Heilicser

Dr. Bernard Heilicser

A familiar face at Ingalls Memorial Hospital for several decades, Dr. Heilicser practices emergency medicine at the hospital and the Flossmoor Family Care Center, heads the hospital’s Medical Ethics Team and chairs the Ethics Committee.

Dr. Heilicser is the Medical Director of the South Cook County EMS System. He also serves as the Deputy Medical Director of the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team (IMERT), and the Medical Director of the Illinois Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue Team. He has been an active volunteer fireman for over 30 years.

A renowned expert on medical relief work, Dr. Heilicser has volunteered for numerous natural disasters, including Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti. He returned to Haiti in 2011 to serve as the medical director of a PHTLS class on behalf of the United Nations

Dr. Heilicser is a member of the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physician’s Ethics Committee, and has published and lectured nationally on emergency medicine, EMS and medicl ethics issues.

Peter Lazzara, NREMT-P, BS.

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Peter Lazzara, NREMT-P, BS.

Pete is a, 32 year veteran in EMS and is a highly decorated Paramedic Field Chief with the Chicago Fire Department. As a former teacher at a large all boys’ Catholic High School, Pete brings years of classroom experience to his presentations. Pete served for six years as EMS coordinator at Children’s Memorial Hospital of Chicago where he gained outstanding experience in the field of pediatrics. He also has several years of critical care transport experiences as a flight medic with Loyola University Medical Center’s LifeStar Aeromedical Program. He is the founder and President of EMSed, an educational company specializing in EMS educational concepts. He has received several awards for his work in the area of EMS including the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Ron W. Lee, MD Memorial Award for “Excellence in Pediatric Care”, the Illinois Department of Child and Family Service’s “Program Excellence Award” and West Suburban Hospital’s “Paramedic of the Year”. In May,2010, Peter was awarded the Chicago Fire Department’s “EMS Educator of Year” award. He is a nationally recognized speaker and annually presents at EMS conferences nationwide.

Dr Jackie Medland, RN, PhD

Dr Jackie Medland, RN, PhD

Dr. Jackie Medland currently serves as the President and Chief Nursing Officer at Highlands-Cashiers Hospital in North Carolina, a critical access hospital and medical campus in the Mission Health system. Jackie’s 30-year career has included positions in direct patient care, advanced practice nursing, nursing management and hospital administration at several area hospitals, most notably the University of Chicago Medical Center, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Presence St Joseph Medical Center where she led the organization to its initial designation as a Magnet® recognized hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Dr. Medland’s “Every Nurse a Leader” philosophy instills leadership as a calling for all nurses, from the bedside to the board room, creating an organizational culture where “everyday” nursing leaders are the standard. Dr. Medland is a nationally recognized presenter and has been honored with the Power of Nursing Leadership SAGE Award, and by Sigma Theta Tau (Alpha Omicron Chapter) with the Distinguished Educator Award. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from St. Xavier University, Master of Science from University of Illinois, College of Nursing, and her Ph.D. in Organization Development from Benedictine University.

Dr Stathis Poulakidas

Dr Stathis Poulakidas

Dr Stathis Poulakidas

Chairman, Division of Burn and Wound Services
Department of Trauma – John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County

Director of Burn Services
OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center

Assistant Professor of Surgery
Department of Surgery – Rush University Medical Center

  • Fellow of the American College of Surgery Board of Surgery and Critical Care
  • Burn Surgery Fellowship at Shriners Hospital/ University of California, Davis
  • Published works in numerous journals including The Journal of Trauma and The Journal of Burn Care and Research.
  • Lectures weekly to referring hospitals, med students, and conferences and is an instructor for the American Burn Association’s ABLS course.
  • National faculty member for the American Burn Association

Dr. Geoffrey Shapiro

Dr. Geoffrey Shapiro

Dr. Geoffrey Shapiro

Geoff Shapiro is the Director, Emergency Medicine Services (EMS) and Operational Medicine Training for the George Washington University. He is also a co-founder and executive board member of the Committee for Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (C-TECC). He has been involved in EMS since 1993, and was a lead emergency medicine instructor at a premier federal law enforcement agency training center located in the Washington, DC area for 11 years. Recently, Geoff has worked with various military special operations forces providing tactical combat casualty care and emergency medicine courses, and continues to provide education and training to various fire departments, EMS agencies, law enforcement agencies, undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students at GWU. He is also an author and reviewer of EMS textbooks, and presents at local, national, and international conferences.

James Sheldon

James Sheldon

Chief James Sheldon

Chief Sheldon began his career at the Lemont Fire Protection District in 1979, in his 32 years of service he served in various roles such as EMS Coordinator, Shift Lieutenant, Training Officer, and Battalion Chief. He retired in 2011 to become the Fire Chief in Coal City, Illinois.

Jim joined the Coal City Fire Protection District in October of 2007 as a paid on call firefighter / paramedic. In November of 2011, he was hired as the Fire Chief of the Coal City Fire Protection District. The Fire District currently has two fire stations which cover 54 square miles; annual calls for service last year were 1,645. The Fire District currently employs 50 part-time / paid on call firefighter and EMS personnel, supplemented by nine full-time firefighter / paramedics. Chief Sheldon has managed several large scale incidents since becoming Fire Chief. Two tornadoes one in 2013 and another in 2015 which damaged his fire station, and several extra alarm structure fires, including a water rescue incident requiring a Dive and C.A.R.T. response. Chief Sheldon is a certified Chief Fire Officer and holds an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science. He is currently finishing up his Public Safety Management Bachelor’s Degree from Southern Illinois University.

Michael Snyders

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Michael Snyders

Michael Snyders – National Coordinator for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Assistance Program in Miami, Florida.

Michael Snyders retired as a 25-year veteran of the Illinois State Police where he successfully served as Colonel over the Division of Operations. Highlights include key roles in the creation of the first Illinois State Police intelligence fusion center, the state police command officer accountability program Commanding Operational Police Strategies (COPS) and his reputation as a “hands on” leader who wore the uniform with pride nearly every day.

Michael is recognized as an international expert in the field of police patrol supervision, active shooting response and highway drug interdiction. He has provided assistance and training to agencies at locations throughout the United States, Canada, Northern Ireland, Poland and Peru. In August of 2010, Michael was selected to serve as a coordinator for the United States Domestic Highway Enforcement strategy of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.

Colonel Michael Snyders recently received the El Paso Intelligence Center Director’s Award as well as a Lifetime Achievement award from the Federal Highway Administration. He served in a number of command roles, including that as the District 6 (Pontiac) Patrol Commander, Zone 5 (Champaign) Investigations Commander, Chief of the Intelligence Bureau, Chief of Staff in the Director’s Office, and as the statewide Operation Valkyrie (drug interdiction) Coordinator.

A 1982 graduate of Illinois State University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and the Police Executive Researcher Forum in 2008. Colonel Snyders worked as a pharmaceutical representative for Merck Pharmaceutical Company prior to his employment with the Illinois State Police. Michael is an active private pilot and serves as an officer in a local flying club. As a morning runner, he recently completed his 10th marathon.