Hortencia Armendariz has been in the labor movement for over 18 years, since she began as a grassroots community organizer for the United Farm Workers in the borderlands of the tip of Texas. She has worked with SEIU since 2005, leading statewide campaigns, operationalizing vision and programs, and developing strong leaders. In Texas, she organized public-sector workers and negotiated with school districts and public administrations at the city and county levels over worker benefits and working conditions.
In 2009, she joined SEIU-UHW in the Kaiser Permanente Division, where she worked on the labor-management partnership and led the field program through two contract negotiations. Armendariz currently leads the Healthcare Justice division of SEIU-UHW, which organizes everyday people around the mission of ensuring everyone has affordable, accessible, high-quality care provided by valued and respected caregivers. The innovative program identifies, recruits, and trains patients, healthcare consumers, and working families to advocate for themselves as leaders in their communities and to navigate the political environment to achieve healthcare justice. Armendariz is also on the board of the SEIU International Latino Caucus. She studied International Relations at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterey (ITESM) in Monterey, Mexico.
Chokri BenSaid is the hospital division director for SEIU-UHW, a member of the SEIU-UHW executive board and committee, a board member of the Healthcare Advancement Program (HCAP), and the secretary treasurer of the SEIU-UHW West and Joint Employer Education Fund. Originally a rank-and-file member of SEIU local 347, BenSaid went from member to leader to staff to the Kaiser Permanente director position at UHW, where he served for three years before becoming hospital division director in 2016.
BenSaid has negotiated contracts on behalf of thousands of private- and public-sector workers which resulted in improved standards of living for thousands of workers in California and beyond. His leadership has increased the local’s hospital-based membership by thousands and contributed to delivering raises to over 8 million low-wage workers through the minimum-wage campaign. BenSaid continues to live his dream both working to improve the lives of millions through the aggressive progressive agenda of UHW, and teaching his children to find satisfaction in helping others succeed. BenSaid has graduated from several leadership programs including Rockwood Leadership Institute and the Harvard Business School.
David M. Carlisle, MD, PhD, is the president and CEO of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU). He is a published author in health policy, quality of care, medical education diversity, and eliminating health disparities. Dr. Carlisle’s clinical work revolves around caring for the underserved, and he has served as a volunteer physician at the Venice Family Clinic for many years, where he is also a member of its foundation board.
Dr. Carlisle is the past director of the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) where he served for 11 years under Governor Gray Davis, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Governor Jerry Brown. Under his leadership, OSHPD released its first-ever Health Disparities Reports and increased scholarship and loan repayment opportunities for health providers committed to practice in underrepresented, under-resourced and underserved communities.
Dr. Carlisle is a professor in Public Health and Medicine at CDU as well as an adjunct professor in the Department of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He has consulted for the RAND/UCLA Center for Health Policy Studies, and in 2007 became a senior fellow at UCLA’s School of Public Affairs. He graduated from Wesleyan University, then earned his medical degree from Brown University, and his Master of Public Health and doctorate from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Dr. Carlisle is a former Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at UCLA.
Bechara Choucair, MD, is senior vice president and chief health officer at Kaiser Permanente, one of America’s leading integrated health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Dr. Choucair oversees the organization’s national community health efforts and philanthropic giving activities aimed at improving the health of its 12.2 million members and the 68 million people within the communities it serves.
Dr. Choucair comes to Kaiser Permanente from Trinity Health, where he served as senior vice president, Safety Net and Community Health. He worked directly with Trinity Health’s regions to improve the health of populations and impact the community-based social determinants of health. For five years prior to joining Trinity Health, Dr. Choucair was the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). There, he and his team launched Healthy Chicago, the city’s first comprehensive public health agenda.
In addition to serving on numerous boards, including the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Dr. Choucair recently joined the Diversity Leadership Committee of American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. In 2019, he was named #26 on Modern Healthcare’s list of the 50 Most Influential Health Executives in the U.S., and #68 on the publication’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare. Dr. Choucair, a family physician by training, holds an MD from the American University of Beirut and a master’s degree in health care management from the University of Texas at Dallas. He completed his family residency at the Baylor College of Medicine.
Imelda Dacones, MD, is president and CEO of Northwest Permanente, P.C., and leads more than 1,700 physicians, clinicians and administrators at the largest independent, physician-led, multi-specialty professional corporation in Oregon and southwest Washington. Together, these physicians deliver Permanente Medicine — evidence- and value-based health care with humanity — to more than 600,000 Kaiser Permanente members. Dr. Dacones is a passionate advocate for addressing the social and environmental determinants of health, and is working to transform the culture, practice, and business of medicine. Under her leadership, Northwest Permanente became the world’s first physician group certified as a B Corp – a status that underscores a strong corporate commitment to use business as a force for good.
Recently elected as chair of The Permanente Federation’s National Permanente Executive Committee, Dr. Dacones has responsibility for the people of The Permanente Federation. As a member of the board of directors of the new Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine, she looks to influence the medical education of future generations of physicians in this country, inspiring them to spread the mission of providing high-quality, affordable health care and improving the health of people and our communities.
Lily Hickman is an active leader in her communities, and has served on boards or committees for API Equality–LA, the Asian American Democratic Club, Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC), San Francisco Human Rights Commission, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Older Asian Sisters in Solidarity (OASIS), and United Educators of San Francisco. She spent 26 years as a California public school teacher.
Hickman also worked at SEIU-UHW as a leading member of the union’s Organizational Development Department, where she applied her experience in education to design and coordinate multi-day membership summits targeted at specific constituencies in the membership, such as young workers, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and Spanish speakers. She has mentored new field organizers, led teams of members at national conferences, and designed and coordinated the Justice Junction program highlighting systemic social, economic and racial injustice in the United States. Hickman earned her master’s degree in Special Education from San Francisco State University and has a Bachelor of Arts from UC Santa Barbara.
Janet Liang is executive vice president, group president and chief operating officer, care delivery, for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Hospitals. In this role, Liang directs Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California Region, which provides high-quality and affordable care and coverage for more than 4 million members. Liang also oversees Kaiser Permanente’s 21 Northern California hospitals and a large network of medical offices, continuum care and ancillary services locations.
Liang is a native San Franciscan, with 25 years of experience in the health care industry. Prior to returning to Northern California, she was the president of Kaiser Permanente Hawaii for seven years, and held executive roles over a 15-year career at Group Health Cooperative in Washington State. As an active community steward, Liang has served on numerous community boards supporting education and socio-economic development.
In 2018, she was named one of the “Top 25 Minority Healthcare Executives” by Modern Healthcare magazine and a “Game Changer” by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Liang has also repeatedly been honored by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the most influential women in Bay Area Business. Liang earned her master’s degree in Health Administration from the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston University.
Dave Regan is the president of the 95,000 member SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), and a vice president of the 2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Under Regan’s leadership, SEIU-UHW has become a leader in ensuring that all people – whether union members or not – have access to quality, affordable healthcare and a living wage. Under Regan, SEIU-UHW was one of the most active organizations in the nation in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, signing up more than 20,000 Californians in the first two years of the program.
In 2015, SEIU-UHW spearheaded a ballot initiative to gradually raise California’s minimum wage to $15. A week after it qualified for the ballot, Governor Jerry Brown credited the initiative for prompting him and the state legislature to pass a $15 minimum wage benefiting more than 5 million working people and their families. Regan also led SEIU-UHW leaders to provide startup funding for The Fairness Project, a national organization that works with state partners to file ballot initiatives improving the standard of living and access to healthcare for millions of Americans. Prior to joining SEIU-UHW, Regan served as president of SEIU District 1199, a three-state local union representing more than 34,000 members in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. Under his leadership, District 1199’s membership grew from 13,000 to more than 34,000.
Pat Thomas volunteers as a reading tutor in the Humboldt County Literacy Program, as the Secretary of the McKinleyville Lions Club promoting vision health in area schools, and with the Humboldt State University Equity Alliance to bring the diverse student body together with community members. She has had a 40-year career in SEIU focused on education, training, and leadership development. She served as the SEIU’s education director for 10 years, where she developed and directed the union-wide education program for leaders, staff, and stewards.
Following that, Thomas served in a variety of roles for the union, where she developed and led national organizing programs, ran organizing conventions, and helped set up new union locals in Colorado, Florida, and Texas. In 2011, she came to SEIU-UHW, where she developed a leadership program for the union’s 350-member executive board, staffed the vice president on budget and finance committees, and served on the election committee for officer and board elections. Throughout her career, Thomas has strived to develop and encourage leaders at every level of the union by providing them the tools and training they need to succeed in the roles. Thomas has a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.