Just Do It: A Look Back at 2013


Nick Cavarocchi Dom Ruscio Lyle Dennis

Mark Vieth Brent Jaquet Emily Holubowich

Jennifer Leib Ellen Riker Erika Miller Nick Cavarocchi, Jr

Katie Schubert Johanna Gray Karl Van Deusen

Tiffany Kaszuba Katina Pierce Brandon McCain

Well, It’s That Time Again. The Time to Reflect on 2013, and Ask:

“Did I achieve all the goals I set at the beginning of the year?”

“In some small way have I made the world a better place?”

“Did I really need that last Caramel Macchiatio?”

Bookended by a fiscal cliff and a short outbreak of cooperation, with some high drama sprinkled in between, 2013 challenged us in many ways. So much so that we decided to document it in a letter to our readers. Don’t worry; this isn’t one of those holiday missives; you know, the Travelogue letter or the My Kids are Better Than Yours letter. This is more of a recap of our year’s journey, both professional and personal.

January began on a high note when our own Katie Schubert assumed the chair of the Friends of the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Her commitment of time and effort was on behalf of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, whose primary goal is to optimize pregnancy and perinatal outcomes. But leadership roles are nothing new to Katie who, the year before, joined the board of Women in Government Relations, where she serves on the Health and Social Policies Task Force.

For the second year in a row, Jennifer Leib was invited to present at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, which is widely considered to be the most strategic and informative investment conference in the healthcare sector. She provided the more than 4,000 investors in attendance with an overview of federal reimbursement policy for molecular and genetic tests, and gave an outlook for 2013 on the evolving regulatory and reimbursement landscape for laboratory tests.

For the fourth consecutive year in, Dom Ruscio was asked to lead a half-day session on the budget and appropriations process sponsored by the Association of Government Relations Professionals. Other expert speakers included CRD Associates’ Emily Holubowich and Richard Efford of the Aerospace Industries Association. Later in the year, Dom, who is on the AGRP Board, developed and launched a new Practitioner Lecture Series for senior-level lobbyists.

On the social front, in his capacity as president of the Pennsylvania State Society, Mark Vieth organized and hosted the state’s official Inaugural Gala in Washington, DC. And boy does he clean up well in a tux!

In February, with the specter of sequestration looming on the horizon, Emily Holubowich, Tiffany Kaszuba and Katie rallied an astounding 3,200 organizations around a letter to Congress opposing any further cuts to non-defense programs. All this was done under the aegis of NDD United—a notably un-sexy moniker for a coalition fighting to preserve national investments in health, education and infrastructure.

The month also marked the first in a series of client advocacy days, beginning with the National Hemophilia Foundation. Ellen Riker and Johanna Gray organized and scheduled meetings for over 300 patients, families and caregivers who seized the opportunity to take part in their representative government.

In March while the nation was still reeling from the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Nick Cavarocchi and Brent Jaquet worked with the American College of Preventive Medicine and the National Violence Prevention Network to build the case for fully funding the National Violent Death Reporting System. On a related note, Brent worked closely with the American Psychological Association to ensure that more psychologists are trained to address behavioral health needs.

Also in March, Karl Van Deusen began working with a company that manufactures thermal imaging infrared cameras, a tool that proved instrumental in capturing one of the Boston Marathon bombers.

Later in the month, Brent helped the Lupus Research Institute mount another successful Capitol Hill Day for 60 patients and their families. The highlight of the day’s events was a briefing for more than 70 top congressional aides, cosponsored by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg and the Congressional Lupus Caucus.

April kicked off yet another round of Capitol Hill Days. Nick Sr. and Nick Jr. led off the month by securing two top appropriations committee cardinals—Reps. Jack Kingston and Mike Simpson—to address members of the American Association for Dental Research.

It was also a busy time for Katie, marking the first of three Capitol Hill briefings she organized on children’s kidney disease and maternal and child health. (You may have detected a mother-and-child pattern here, but more about that later.) Katie’s interests led to her co-author a journal article on women’s health and the FDA, to be published in early 2014.

April also marked the start of what would soon become Johanna’s new avocation. She gave the first of 11 briefings to various health policy organizations struggling to understand how the Affordable Care would be implemented. Too bad someone at the White House hadn’t thought to call her!

In the meantime, while the rest of us were still stuck in MySpace, Tiffany was briefing the 80-plus organizations that comprise the Coalition for Health Funding on cutting-edge techniques for using social media as an advocacy tool. Tiffany was such a hit that she’s since been invited to give similar briefings to corporate organizations. #GoTiffany!

In May Karl Van Deusen put his 27-year military experience to work by promoting an important new mobile intelligence capability that allows warfighters to identify, predict and prevent terrorist activities.

If you’ve ever wondered what lobbyists really do and why, pick up a copy of Lobbyists at Work by Professor Beth Leech. The book, published in May, goes behind the scenes for in-depth interviews with 15 top lobbyists, including our own Lyle Dennis.

May also brought a smile to Brent’s face when he was chosen to be grandson Noah’s confirmation sponsor.

June marked the run-up to the US Supreme Court’s landmark decision on a case challenging the validity of gene patents, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics. Jennifer Leib worked with AMP to build support in Congress and the private sector, arguing that merely isolating genes that are found in nature does not make them patentable.

Also in June, the US Preventive Services Task Force, noting that baby boomers are 5 times more likely to carry the hepatitis C virus, recommended one-time screening for that population. Leading up to USPSTF’s decision, Lyle Dennis and Erika Miller worked with the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases to compile the most compelling scientific evidence in support of screening.

Later in the month, Mark’s advocacy on behalf of the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance paid off when the House appropriations committee included $6 million in the Defense appropriations bill to continue research on this multi-system genetic disorder. Mark also continues to guide a coalition of 60 organizations working to preserve DoD’s congressionally-directed research programs.

This month also marked Karl’s one-year anniversary with CRD Associates, highlighting our commitment to strategically penetrate the defense and energy sectors.

And June brought the newest addition to our team when Katina Pierce agreed to take on the near impossible task of office manager. Her expertise in event planning also adds a new dimension to the services we offer clients.

For July, in light of the integral role animals play in comparative medicine, food safety and public health, Erika Miller worked on behalf of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges to convince NIH to broaden eligibility for loan repayments to doctors of veterinary medicine.

In August Lyle was a presenter in a four-hour pre-course sponsored by the Society of General Internal Medicine’s Southern Regional Conference. The session was entitled “Health Care Reform 2013: What is Different About the South?”

Taking advantage of the congressional recess, our crew prepared food at Martha’s Table, which serves hot, healthy meals to more than 20,000 low-income DC residents. It was the first time anyone has asked Dom to wear a hair net…and the last time Nick Sr. volunteers to chop onions!

On the family front, we all celebrated with Katie and her husband Brian as they welcomed their third child, Teddy, into the world.

In September Mark, working on behalf of SAGE publications, teamed with the American Association for the Advancement of Science to mount an advocacy campaign in support of social and behavioral science research.

Emily continued her service on the Associates Board of the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, where this year she helped organize the 2013 Wolf Trap Ball. This year’s gala exceeded all previous records by generating $1.1 million for arts in education programs.

October put a focus on personalized medicine, a relatively new concept that entails a paradigm shift in medical practice and faces a range of challenges: the science is emerging and complex, regulatory pathways are not optimal, and health care financing and delivery create barriers to adoption. Jennifer and Katie wrote “Integrating Personalised Medicine into Health Care: Opportunities and Challenges,” where they discussed the opportunities successful implementation of health IT could bring to advance personalized medicine. Their work appeared in ICTs and the Health Sector: Towards Smarter Health and Wellness Models, published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Later in the month Brent, Tiffany and Dom organized a one-day Defense Research Workshop for Florida’s state university system. Ten research directors representing every major defense research agency briefed university leaders and on research priorities and how best to pursue collaborations.

Also in October, Karl began work for an Italian corporation that supports U.S. Navy interests in Europe. A few of us have volunteered to carry his luggage.

Aside from signaling the start of a new fiscal year, October marked Erika’s marriage to Scott Douglass at the New York Botanical Garden. We were all relieved when she opted for a honeymoon over the AMA RUC meeting.

In November, after several weeks of painstaking editing, NDD United published Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Have Made Us sicker, Poorer, and Less Secure (www.nddunited.org). Emily, Katie, Tiffany and our public policy fellow, Brandon McCain, worked hard to ensure that lawmakers understood the impact sequestration is having on the economic security, health and safety of all Americans.

When December arrived we felt that all the work that went into NDD United’s efforts contributed to the Ryan-Murray budget deal that provided some relief from sequestration. As it happened, others agreed. The Hill newspaper named NDD United’s work among the top 10 lobbying victories of 2013!

Ellen and Johanna helped the National Association of Epilepsy Centers and several partner organizations with the release of www.myseizuresknowmore.com, a tool to help people who are experiencing find specialized care.

Working on behalf of the International Myeloma Foundation, Jennifer and Johanna coordinated the efforts of the Patients Equal Access Coalition, which advocates for passage of legislation providing improved private insurance coverage of oral anticancer treatments. While a bill introduced in the House continues to gain support, Senate companion legislation was introduced December 19.

Brent managed to fulfill his commitment to kayak on the Chesapeake Bay at least once every month—despite the mid-December snowstorm!

Our team decided to break with tradition this year. In lieu of a holiday party, we made a donation to HelpHOPELive to benefit Lauren Shevchek, sister of our former colleague Jennifer.

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