Monday, June 12


Secretary Becerra is the 25th secretary of HHS and the first Latino in U.S. history to hold the office. Previously Secretary Becerra was California’s attorney general and before that served for 12 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was the first Latino to serve as a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Secretary Becerra also served as chairman of his party’s caucus and as the ranking member of both the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health and Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security.

For more than two decades in Congress, Secretary Becerra worked so that every family had the assurance of care that his family had when he was growing up. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, Secretary Becerra introduced legislation – the Medicare Savings Programs Improvement Act of 2007 – that expanded cost-sharing subsidies for low-income seniors who receive both Medicare and Medicaid benefits by increasing the amount of resources they could receive.

Secretary Becerra also championed provisions of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 that required physicians who perform imaging to be accredited and trained to ensure patient safety. And he was one of the original cosponsors of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which strengthened Medicare and lowered costs for seniors.

Born in Sacramento, Secretary Becerra is the son of working-class parents. He was the first in his family to receive a four-year degree, earning his bachelor of arts degree in economics from Stanford University. He earned his law degree from Stanford Law School.

John Pallasch, Founder and CEO, One Workforce Solutions

Photo of John PallaschJohn Pallasch is Founder and CEO of One Workforce Solutions. He was previously the Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training at the U.S. Labor Department.

Assistant Secretary Pallasch’s appointment marked his return to the Department where he previously served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management and the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

Prior to his return to DOL, Pallasch served as the Executive Director of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Office of Employment and Training where he led initiatives to improve outcomes for workforce education programs, increase accountability and performance of the unemployment insurance program, and consolidate job training and workforce development programs in a single cabinet agency.

An Illinois native, Pallasch earned a Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University and a Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University School of Law.

NABH Education and Research Foundation Workforce Panel 


Jim Shaheen, Moderator

Vice President, NABH Education and Research Foundation

CEO, New Season/Colonial Management Group, LP

Jim Shaheen is the CEO of New Season, a Medication Assisted Treatment company serving more than 32,000 patients in 88 clinics located in 20 different states. Prior to his current role,

Jim founded Shaheen Strategic Investments (SSI) in order to provide a vehicle for the Shaheen family to grow and expand its holdings in a variety of businesses. Prior to SSI, Shaheen founded a national healthcare company called Strategic Behavioral Health, a chain of private psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals across the nation.  Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., the company grew from Denovo to 13 hospitals in 8 states with revenues under $200 million.

With over 33 years of behavioral health experience, Shaheen has helped a variety of small and large companies grow and expand services in order to meet the demands of behavioral health services in many communities. Shaheen is the Chairman of the UT Health Science Center College of Medicine Board of Visitors.  Shaheen also sits on the Jason Foundation Board of Directors, as well as the JC Runyon Foundation Board. Additionally, Shaheen sits on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare’s Education and Research Foundation. Shaheen holds a master’s degree in organizational communications from Murray State University and an undergraduate degree in Therapeutic Recreation also from Murray State University.



Don Parker, Panelist

President, NABH Education and Research Foundation

President, Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic

Donald J. Parker is president of Behavioral Health Care Transformation Services/Integrative Medicine, for Hackensack Meridian Health, which includes psychiatric inpatient (542 beds). He also served as president of Carrier Clinic, which operates an acute care mental health hospital, a residential treatment center for adolescents, a fully accredited special needs school for students grades seven through 12, the Blake Recovery Center, an inpatient unit focused on addiction recovery, and The Retreat & Recovery At Ramapo Valley in Mahwah, N.J., an outpatient unit focused on addiction recovery that opened in February of this year.

Prior to joining Carrier Clinic in 2013, Parker served as the vice president for physician services and ambulatory care at St. Joseph’s Health System, Paterson, N.J. Previously, Parker also served as president/CEO of Atlantic Mental Health for 15 years and subsequently merged into the AtlantiCare Health System. At AtlantiCare, he served in multiple leadership roles, including vice president of business development and president of AtlantiCare Health Services, where he developed and provided leadership to more than 20 ambulatory businesses with 42 locations. Parker’s capstone achievement at AtlantiCare was his participation on the leadership team of the health system as it earned and was awarded the Malcolm Baldrige Award, a Presidential recognition for quality and achievement.




Mary Pawlikowski, Panelist 

Secretary, NABH Education and Research Foundation

President, Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics

Mary C. Pawlikowski is the president of Vanderbilt Behavioral Health.  She joined VUMC in 2015 after relocating from New Jersey where she was a COO for Carrier Clinic, a private behavioral health system. Pawlikowski attended Fordham University, New York graduating with a BS in psychology and sociology.  She received a Master’s in Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC and went on to pursue her doctorate at Pace University graduating with a Master’s in education and PsyD ABD.  Pawlikowski is a certified biofeedback technician and holds certification as a school psychologist in New Jersey. Pawlikowski’s career has always focused on behavioral health and improving the lives of individuals and families.  In New Jersey, Pawlikowski served as Executive Director of a state-wide neurocognitive transitional living and rehab program owned by HealthSouth.  She dedicated most of her career to Carrier Clinic whereas COO she was responsible for outpatient, inpatient, residential, detox, and joint venture/management services.  Prior to joining VBH, she was a founding partner of Concord Behavioral Health specializing in the acquisition and management of independent addiction rehab facilities nationwide.

Pawlikowski maintains service to the community through volunteering as the President of the NAMI Davidson County Board of Directors.  Currently, Pawlikowski serves on three committees for NABH, Youth Services, Education and Research, and Behavioral Health Services within General Healthcare Systems.  She has also served on the Governing Council for Psychiatric & Substance Abuse for the American Hospital Association.



Susan L. Wright, M.B.A., Panelist 

NABH Board Member; 2023 NABH Annual Meeting Program Chair

Director, Behavioral Health Operations

BayCare Behavioral Health

Susan Wright has worked in the behavioral health division of BayCare Health System (BCHS)] for 20 years. In this position, she works to build relationships across the system of care to increase access to quality behavioral health care services. She also works with the BCHS government relations team at the state and federal level on issues such as access to care, parity, and provider scope of practice.

In addition, Wright identifies the latest opportunities for improving access to care via telehealth and innovation and is responsible for recruiting and retaining behavioral healthcare providers in both ambulatory and acute-care settings.

Wright is an active member at NABH, where she serves on the Board of Trustees and on the association’s Managed Care Committee. This year Wright also chairs the Annual Meeting Program Committee.

Tuesday, June 13

Lisa Gomez, Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security, U.S. Labor Department

Lisa M. Gomez was sworn in as Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security at the U.S. Labor Department on Oct. 11, 2022. Previously, Gomez was a partner with the law firm Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP and the Chair of the firm’s Management Committee.

Assistant Secretary Gomez has deep technical and practical experience in the multifaceted field of employee benefits law and has spent almost three decades representing various Taft-Hartley and multiemployer pension and welfare plans, single employer plans, jointly administered training program trust funds, a federal employees health benefit plan, supplemental health plans, and Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association plans, or VEBAs, covering employees in a wide array of industries.

Gomez served as a co-chair of the board of senior editors of the Bloomberg BNA treatise Employee Benefits Law. She also served in various leadership positions with the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Labor and Employment Law, including as the Union Co-Chair of its Employee Benefits Committee.

She is a graduate of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law’s Leadership Development Program and served as the union co-chair for that program. She was a member of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and the AFL-CIO Union Lawyers Alliance. She was inducted as a fellow of The American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, Inc. in recognition of her more than 20 years of practice in employee benefits law and her contributions to the field, including as a frequent speaker on numerous employee benefits issues.

Gomez was also a member of the advisory board of the Peggy Browning Fund, a non-profit organization devoted to advancing law students who wish to pursue careers protecting workers’ rights. She previously served as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association as well as a volunteer mediator for the New Jersey state courts. She was also a guest lecturer for the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations on employee benefits. Lisa was named as a Super Lawyer for Employee Benefits on the Super Lawyers New York Metro Annual Lists for 2021 and 2022.

Lisa earned her law degree from the Fordham University School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Hofstra University.

Patrick J. Kennedy, Former U.S. Representative (D-R.I.) and Founder, The Kennedy Forum

During his time in Congress, Patrick J. Kennedy was the lead author of the landmark Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (federal parity law), which requires insurers to cover treatment for mental health and substance use disorders no more restrictively than treatment for illnesses of the body, such as diabetes and cancer.

In 2013, he founded The Kennedy Forum, a non-profit that unites advocates, business leaders, and government agencies to advance evidence-based practices, policies, and programming in mental health and addiction. In 2015, Kennedy co-authored the New York Times bestseller, A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction, which details a bold plan for the future of mental healthcare in America. In 2017, he was appointed to the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

Kennedy is also the founder of, an educational campaign that empowers consumers and providers to understand parity rights and connects them to essential appeals guidance and resources; co-founder of One Mind, an organization that pushes for greater global investment in brain research; co-chair of Mental Health for US, a nonpartisan initiative designed to elevate mental health and addiction in policy conversations during the 2020 election cycle; and co-chair of the Action Alliance’s Mental Health & Suicide Prevention National Response to COVID-19.

Shawn Coughlin, NABH President and CEO

Shawn Coughlin is the president and CEO at NABH. In this role, he serves as the association’s principal lobbyist, oversees the association’s advocacy work on Capitol Hill, and helps to set and implement strategic policy goals that support high-quality evidence based behavioral healthcare for Americans who live with mental and substance use disorders.

Coughlin brings more than 30 years of advocacy experience to his role. Prior to joining NABH, he served as advocacy consultant to the association on behavioral health policy during his almost 16 years with Capitol Health Group as principal and chief operating officer. He is a leading healthcare advocate and policy expert who works with diverse external stakeholder organizations, including patient and provider groups, regulators, public and private payors, and trade associations. He has extensive experience in Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance policy, as well as a broad experience with many sectors of the healthcare industry.

Coughlin began his health policy career working on Capitol Hill, handling various healthcare policy needs for members of the House Ways and Means Committee. He was a professional staff member on the prestigious House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, served as senior health policy advisor for a senior member of the Committee, and a legislative assistant.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. and a master’s degree in public management from the University of Maryland.

Aditi Mallick, M.D.

Aditi Mallick, M.D. is the chief medical officer for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS), where she leads the Center’s clinical strategy and cross-center work on health equity, social determinants of health, and innovation in whole-person care among other areas.

Before joining CMCS, Dr. Mallick led the COVID-19 Response Command Center for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), where she oversaw strategic and operational efforts around vaccination, testing, case investigation, and contact tracing statewide. A core focus of her COVID-19 work was ensuring equitable access and improving outcomes for historically marginalized populations.

Before joining NCDHHS, Dr. Mallick worked closely with a range of healthcare stakeholders across the public and private sectors – including state Medicaid agencies, provider organizations, managed care organizations, and other payors – focusing on strategy, innovation, and data-driven change implementation. Her previous federal experience includes serving as a senior medical advisor in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Office of the Administrator, where she focused on the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act implementation, value-based payment in Medicare fee-for-service, clinician engagement, and clinician burden reduction.

Dr. Mallick continues to care for patients and brings that experience to her work at CMS. She earned her bachelor’s degree with honors from Harvard College, her medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine, and completed internal medicine residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Wednesday, June 14

Mike Kelly, U.S. Representative (R-Pa.)

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly has served in Congress since 2011 and proudly represents Pennsylvania’s 16th District. He grew up in Butler, Pa, and graduated from Butler High School in 1966, after which he attended the University of Notre Dame on a football and academic scholarship. After college, Rep. Kelly moved back to Butler to work at Kelly Chevrolet-Cadillac, Inc., a company founded by his father in the early 1950s. He took over the dealership in the mid-1990s and expanded its operations to include Hyundai and KIA franchises which altogether currently employ more than 100 people from throughout the region.

Rep. Kelly previously served as a founding board member of the Hyundai “Hope on Wheels” initiative, which to date has donated more than $145 million to childhood cancer research institutions nationwide. He continues to work with the organization as a lawmaker.

Rep. Kelly currently sits on the House Ways and Means Committee and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Tax. He is the co-chairman of the House Automotive Caucus, the Childhood Cancer Caucus, the Retirement Security Caucus, the Small Brewers Caucus, and the Congressional Caucus on Korea.

Meiram Bendat, Ph.D., J.D., Founder and President, Psych Appeal

An attorney with a background in mental health, Meiram Bendat offers clients a comprehensive set of skills and knowledge unique in the field of health law. After representing children and families in the Los Angeles child welfare system and treating patients, he founded Psych-Appeal, the country’s first private mental health insurance law firm in 2011. Since then, Dr. Bendat has helped patients and providers successfully challenge denials of mental health treatment through administrative appeals and impact litigation, recovering millions of dollars in wrongly withheld benefits.