We rely on a staff of dedicated volunteers to provide counseling and support to patients and their families, to educate the community, and to advocate for improved end-of-life care and end-of-life choice. We are fortunate to have a Leadership Council and Advisory Council who represent various disciplines and provide direction to the Northern California region.
Robert Brody, M.D.
Dr. Brody is Clinical Professor of Medicine and Family & Community Medicine at University of California at San Francisco, and serves as Chief of the Pain Consultation Clinic, and Chair of the Ethics Committee at San Francisco General Hospital. A former hospice medical director, Dr. Brody teaches end-of-life care to students and medical residents. He is also Medical Director for Health at Home, the home care agency of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Recent professional articles include “You Promised Me I Wouldn’t Die Like This” with Dr. Tim Quill, Archives of Internal Medicine, and the chapter on pain management in the textbook “Hospital Medicine”. He served as an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the Bergman v. Chin lawsuit, which brought national attention to the concept of accountability for failure to treat pain. He received the 2006 Award of Excellence in Pain Management from the Southern California Cancer Pain Initiative for his efforts to seek accountability from physicians and relieve the pain and suffering of cancer patients.
Pat graduated from UC Berkeley in 1967. In 1976 she completed a Master's Degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Gerontology. From 1976 to 1989, Pat worked as professional staff for the Select Committee on Aging, in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. In 1989 she moved to San Francisco and was the Director of Casework for Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, now Speaker of the House of Representatives. Since retiring from the Congress, Pat has worked on a number of issues and political campaigns, including: state funding for stem cell research, state funding for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the election of our current Secretary of State, and she is currently trying to get an initiative on the November ballot to resolve California's budget crisis.
Fran Moreland Johns is a freelance writer and the author of “Dying Unafraid”, a storyteller's book about facing mortality and loss which is often used to open conversations or to help people in difficult times. Fran serves on the board of the San Francisco Interfaith Council and on the steering committee of the Bay Area Network for End of Life Care, of which she is a founding member. She holds a BA in Art from Randolph-Macon Woman's College and an MFA in short fiction from the University of San Francisco. Fran is a frequent speaker and writer on end-of-life issues.
Robert Liner, M.D.
Dr. Liner graduated from Stanford University in 1966 with Honors in Humanities. He earned his M.D. degree from the University of Rochester in New York. He has been board certified in obstetrics and gynecology for nearly thirty years. Since 1989, he has been in private practice sub-specializing in diagnostic ultrasound and genetic amniocentesis. Dr. Liner’s experiences with terminally-ill patients, motivated him to become active with Compassion & Choices of Northern California. He has long been involved in social justice causes, including Planned Parenthood, and balances his activism with a focus on learning to play the piano.
Jordan Posamentier, Esq.
Jordan Posamentier currently serves as the legislative counsel to the California Judges Association. Jordan has an ongoing interest in health law and policy. He graduated from the University of Houston Law Center where he held the position of Chief Notes and Comments Editor of the Houston Journal of Health Law & Policy. He also interned through the University's health law clinic as an ethicist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's Clinical Ethics Service. Before joining the Judges Association, Jordan practiced law at a small law firm in Oakland, with Kaiser Permanente as its main client. In addition to his law degree, Jordan has a Masters in Education with a specialization in music from Queens College in New York City, and a BA in human ecology from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Sue Steele, M.F.T.
Sue Steele is a psychotherapist in private practice in San Francisco and Mill Valley. Her work as a clinical supervisor and trainer at California Pacific Medical Center, Marin General, and Novato Community Hospitals for the Institute for Health and Healing, prompted her interest in advocating for critically-ill patients. In addition, Sue is a supervisor for the Community Institute for Psychotherapy. She is past president of the board of the Community Church of Mill Valley and is on the Mill Valley Community Emergency Response Team. Sue is a mother, grandmother, and active community volunteer.
Carole van Aelstyn, B.S.N.
Carole van Aelstyn has been a nurse for more than 24 years, including ten years as a hospice nurse. She served two years in the Peace Corps after developing services for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers in Sonoma County. A founding member of the End-of-Life Care Alliance of Sonoma County, Carole is former board chair for Compassion in Dying of Northern California and has served for many years as a case manager. Carole recently retired as the Client Support Coordinator for Compassion & Choices.
Merla Zellerbach was recently editor of the Nob Hill Gazette, a position she held for 12 years. She has been active in Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the American Friends Service Committee, and the Red Cross, was a founder of the Singles Organization and the San Francisco Sponsors, and a longtime trustee of the Leukemia Society. Her "My Fair City” was a featured column in the San Francisco Chronicle for 23 years, and she was a four-year panelist with June Lockhart on ABC-TV’s game show, “Oh My Word.” Articles under her byline have appeared in Prevention, Cosmopolitan, Travel & Leisure, Reader’s Digest, and Town & Country. Merla’s written 16 published books including 11 novels and 5 medical books.
Reverend John Brooke
John Brooke is a retired United Church of Christ minister who served for many years as President of Americans for Death with Dignity, the organization which sponsored Death with Dignity proposals in the California legislature in 1992 and 1999. John was a founding member of the original Northern California affiliate of Compassion in Dying in 1994. John was a leader in the campaign for the California Compassionate Choices Act, particularly in gathering support among members of the clergy of all faiths.
Alan Carpenter, M.D.
Dr. Carpenter is a graduate of Reed College and Harvard Medical School, with a long and distinguished career in the practice of General Internal Medicine (now retired) and adjunct teaching on Family Medicine, Advance Health Care Planning, and Ethical Decision-making for end-of-life. He is a member and past chairman of the Medical Ethics Committee of El Camino Hospital and has served on several other significant ethics groups. He has served as a client support volunteer for Compassion & Choices since its inception.
Betsy Carpenter is widely recognized as a counselor and lecturer on advance directives, having taught and spoken regularly to both lay and medical professional groups. She serves as Instructor for Advance Directives at Stanford Medical Center, a post she has held for over a decade, and offers seminars on advance directives to hospitals, senior centers, churches, and other groups. Retired from 21-years’ service on the National Ski Patrol and ten years as a KARA counselor, Betsy is on a number of ethics and professional practices committees. She was honored as Outstanding Senior Advocate by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys’ Northern California Chapter in 2003.
Mary Dodge is a community volunteer with extensive experience in the areas of fundraising, public affairs, and board development. During the past thirty years, she has served on boards and committees of Planned Parenthood Federation of America at national, regional, and local levels. She is a former member of the Advisory Board of KARA, a peninsula nonprofit agency concerned with grief counseling. She received a BA in psychology from Wellesley College, and an EdM in Guidance from Harvard University.
Jon Eisenberg, J.D.
Jon Eisenberg is an appellate lawyer practicing in Oakland, California and teaches at University of California Hastings Law School in San Francisco. He litigates on a variety of civil rights and business issues including free speech, the right to die, reproductive choice, mediation, ethics, and corporate fraud. He was one of the attorneys for Michael Schiavo in the Terri Schiavo litigation and is the author of “Using Terri: The Religious Right’s Conspiracy to Take Away Our Rights”.
Stewart Florsheim is the Director of Social Media at Kenandy, Inc., a company that produces cloud-based software for manufacturing companies. He was the editor of “Ghosts of the Holocaust”, an anthology of poetry by children of Holocaust survivors. He is the author of “The Short Fall From Grace”, a collection of poetry published by Blue Light Press in 2006 and winner of the 2005 Blue Light Book Award. His most recent collection is "A Split Second of Light," published by Blue Light Press in 2011, and winner of an Honorable Mention at the San Francisco Book Festival. For more information, please visit www.stewartflorsheim.com. He received a BA in Journalism and Philosophy from Syracuse University, and an MA in English from San Francisco State University.
Steve Heilig is a San Francisco-based author, editor, epidemiologist, lecturer, and researcher specializing in health, ecological, and ethical issues. Director of Public Health and Education for the San Francisco Medical Society and director of its Community Service Foundation, he is founding co-editor of the international professional journal Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. He is co-founder and director of the Bay Area Network of Ethics Committees and a Senior Research Associate with Commonweal, where he is founding co-director of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. In addition to awards received for his work on women’s health, AIDS, and drug abuse issues, he was the 2003 recipient of the California Medical Association’s annual Robert Sparks MD Leadership Award for lifetime contributions to public health and the community.
Patricia Knight, J.D.
Patricia Knight is an attorney specializing in employment law. Prior to becoming an attorney, she was a registered nurse and faculty member of the University of California at San Francisco School of Nursing. She served as member and chair of the joint committee of the San Francisco Bar Association and the San Francisco Medical Society. An active volunteer, she is a longstanding member and past president of the Hospitals Auxiliary for UCSF. She currently volunteers with the SPCA and SHIP (a program using dog training to reach at risk children of domestic violence or child abuse). She has a BS from the Ohio State University, MS from the University of California San Francisco, and a JD from the University of California Davis. She is a member of the State Bar of California.
Senator Mark Leno
Senator Leno, elected to the California Senate in 2008, has a long record of outstanding political and community service, including California State Assembly and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. One of the first openly gay men ever elected to the Assembly, he has led the battle for equal rights for LGBT couples and their families; he has also authored successful legislation in areas of solar power, initiative reform, domestic violence, and other critical concerns. The owner of Budget Signs, Inc., a small business he founded in 1978 with his life partner Douglas Jackson, he redoubled his community service efforts after Doug’s death from complications of HIV/AIDS in 1990. Mark has been honored with many awards for public service, including the 1995 Hormel Community Service Award from the Human Rights Campaign and the 1995 Small Business Owner of the Year Award from the Small Business Network.
Elinor Mills graduated with a Master's degree in journalism in 1990 and has worked at numerous media outlets, including the Associated Press, IDG, and Reuters where she worked as a foreign correspondent in Lisbon, Portugal. She is currently a senior writer at CNET News.com where she covers online search, advertising, and internet technologies and trends. She has volunteered with organizations such as Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly, the San Francisco Animal Care & Control and she recently worked on the California Humane Farms ballot petition campaign.
Helen Wang Nicely, Ph.D.
Helen Nicely grew up in the United Kingdom, receiving a B.S. in Microbiology and a Ph.D. in Cancer Immunology from the University of London before making a career move to the Bay Area in 1990. Most of her post-doctoral years were spent in neuroscience, researching ALS at California Pacific Medical Center. Her research positions have led to discoveries of new drug therapies approved to treat cancer and arthritis. Helen is recognized for her writings on medical and pharmaceutical issues.
Frances Phillips is a senior program officer for the arts at the Walter and Elise Haas Fund in San Francisco and director of the Creative Work Fund, which supports new works by Bay Area artists. She chairs the San Francisco Arts Education Funders Collaborative and co-edits the Grantmakers in the Arts’ READER. Prior to becoming a grantmaker, Phillips was executive director of Intersection for the Arts (1986-94) and director of the Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives at San Francisco State University (1983-86). She is the author of three small press books of poetry and co-author of “The Nonprofit Kit for Dummies”. She serves on the boards of the California Alliance for Arts Education, Grantmakers in the Arts, and Kelsey Street Press.
Rabbi Suzanne Singer
Rabbi Singer is Director of the Introduction to Judaism Program for the Pacific Southwest Council of the Union for Reform Judaism and Project Director of a Hebrew Union College interfaith program. She was a rabbi at Temple Sinai in Oakland, California from 2003-2006. She was ordained at Hebrew Union College and also holds three masters degrees. Prior to attending HUC, Rabbi Singer spent twenty years as a television producer and programming executive, primarily for national public television and primarily in news and public affairs. As executive producer of a national documentary series, POV, she won two national Emmy awards. She also co-created and produced a national preschool series, "The Puzzle Place", designed to help children respect and appreciate diversity.
Bishop William Swing
Bishop William Swing is the President and Founder of the United Religions Initiative (URI). Bishop Swing had the original vision of URI in 1993 in response to an invitation from the United Nations which asked him to host an interfaith service honoring the 50th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter. Bishop Swing served as the Episcopal Bishop of California from 1980 until his retirement in 2006. In that capacity, he was a national and international leader in response to the AIDS crisis, co-founded Episcopal Community Services to address San Francisco’s homeless problem, and co-founded Community Bank of the Bay to support local businesses and the economy.