Speaker Biographies – 2022

Charles Aunger

Charles Aunger is an award-winning enterprise technology innovator and entrepreneur who has held instrumental executive roles across industries, as well as a recognized pioneer in the digital transformation of healthcare IT. An international thought leader and technology visionary, he is a highly sought-after speaker at global healthcare industry events on topics that range from innovation and data liquidity to digital transformation strategy, cybersecurity, AI, blockchain, and best practices in aligning business, technical, and operational needs at scale.

He currently serves as a Managing Director of Technology at Health2047 Inc., the Silicon Valley-based subsidiary of the American Medical Association (AMA), and is responsible for utilizing 25 years of experience in leading engineering teams, advancing digital technology, enabling strategic partnerships, and driving revenue growth to actualize innovation. He is an expert in healthcare IT, cloud and enterprise strategy, and cybersecurity. Prior to joining Health2047 Inc., Charles served as the Senior Executive Director of IT at Stanford Health Care, enabling pivotal partnerships and ensuring digital alignment for fast-evolving patient-user interactions. Previously, he was Senior Vice President at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, where he led the strategic planning and tactical execution efforts around cost balancing, business model development, and technical operations optimization. Additionally, Charles has served in executive roles at major technology-driven organizations including Mubadala, Accenture, Citrix, NHS, Numonyx, and Bupa. He is a British Computer Society Fellow, a member of the Forbes Technology Council, and highly recognized for his achievement and contribution to the IT profession. Charles holds a MSc in Information Systems Management from University of Liverpool.

Robert Blair

Rob has a background of employment and consulting which focused on opening up new hospitals and/or turning around struggling hospitals. 

Currently, Rob is the President and CEO of The Spine Hospital of Louisiana, which performs more elective spine surgery and pain management services than any other hospital on the Gulf Coast.

Prior to this role, Rob’s work include:

  • Opened and managed the Greater Baton Rouge Hospital.
  • As executive director, oversaw three LTACs in the Los Angeles area
  • CEO for a Healthsouth rehab hospital, while opening a healthsouth LTAC in New Orleans.

Rob has been on several Boards over the years.  Currently he serves on an Anesth Board, and a Healthcare Financing Board.

Various other positions, in Jacksonville FL, Morristown NJ, Hershey PA … and still to this day, provides random consulting on the side for physician groups, and hospital / ASC projects. 

Rob is and has been an enormous advocate for the Physician Owned Hospital Industry for many years. 

Adam Bruggeman, MD

Dr. Adam Bruggeman is a proven leader in the healthcare space both in the practice of medicine and its administration. He currently practices as an orthopedic spine surgeon but also serves in multiple capacities at the state and federal level, leading orthopedic efforts to protect their interests with regards to scope, insurance carriers, mental health, and the overall financial stability of private practice. Prior to pursuing a career in medicine, he obtained his masters in hospital administration and worked for HCA

Scott Caldwell

Click here to view his biography.

Steve Carbonara

Steve has over 20 years of experience in launching innovative and industry changing healthcare technologies, products and services.  Entering the market in 1999, he was on the front end of the Electronic Medical Record market launch as a leading national corporate sales executive.  Since then he has led sales, business development, marketing, operations and executive teams that have launched many ‘firsts’ in healthcare.  Operating his own consulting firm, Steve often joined early stage companies as the first outside personality, partnering with the founding team.  Steve brought a 360 degree view of the market and the energy to be a change agent. Steve helped these companies establish their voice and messaging, finalize their business model, locate capital partners, create partnerships with pilot accounts and initiate first revenue clients.  Serving as the COO for two supply chain companies, Steve developed the thesis behind Ennova Health and validated it with physician owned hospitals and surgery centers. 

Carlos Cardenas, MD

Dr. Carlos J. Cardenas has over 20 years of experience in the field of medicine and healthcare management. The study of medical practice, integrated care, and dedication to patient health is the foundation of his experience in healthcare management. Raised in McAllen, TX, Cardenas earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Austin College in Sherman, TX. Dr. Cardenas graduated from medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX and began his career as a resident at Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple, TX in 1985. Cardenas eventually made his way back to the Rio Grande Valley and co-founded South Texas Gastroenterology Associates in 1992. 

Dr. Carlos J. Cardenas was one of the original physicians who formed Day Surgery at Renaissance, LLC. Under his tenure as Chairman of the Board, Day Surgery at Renaissance grew from an outpatient facility into a 500+ bed general acute care hospital with 60 facilities, now named Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Health System. In its current state, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance provides over a billion in economic benefit to the region and employs over 5,500+ persons.  Dr. Cardenas served as the President of the Texas Medical Association from May 2017 through May 2018. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce nominated Dr. Carlos Cardenas “Man of The Year” in 2013.  He and his wife, Linda Christine, have 3 children—Adam, Simon, and Daniel.

Phillip Cates

Phillip Cates (Chief Executive Officer and President) 
Premium Choice Physicians

I have 17 years of accomplished leadership roles at the corporate executive level in the hospital & health care industry.  My career began in Imaging with a focus on MRI, CT, Ultrasound, and X-ray modalities.  I transitioned into the post-acute world helping Health South Rehabilitation Hospital (Encompass Health today) double territory volume and grow the hospital from 62 beds to 83-beds. Select Specialty Hospital (LTAC) then recruited me to their leadership team where I was the business development lead for 100 acute beds between two locations. Select Specialty’s free standing 60 bed hospital and the new 40 bed hospital division which I helped open.  Today and over the last four years Premium Choice has expanded rapidly throughout the state of Texas and launched into the Florida market this year.  

Bharat Desai, MD

Bharat M. Desai, MD is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon located in Denver. He specializes in orthopedic trauma and foot and ankle conditions. He graduated from Swarthmore College Pennsylvania and then earned his medical degree from Temple University in 1990. Dr. Desai later completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at the Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania. Due to his special interest in orthopedic trauma, Dr. Desai completed a trauma fellowship program at the esteemed Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington with a specialization in Orthopedic Trauma and Foot & Ankle Surgery. Dr. Desai became a part of the Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center team in August of 1996.

Dr. Desai was born in Kenya, but grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan Canada where both of his parents worked as physicians. From Canada, Dr. Desai moved to Wichita, Kansas and later to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to complete his high school education. In high school, Dr. Desai participated in varsity tennis, soccer, squash and was the photography editor for the Haverford School yearbook. Dr Desai spent most of his young life moving to different states and countries, feels very fortunate to have been exposed to many different and diverse cultures. Treating patients that are in need of subspecialty care takes experience, empathy, judgment, technical expertise and passion

Through his year-long specialty fellowship trauma training at Harborview Medical Center, Dr. Desai was mentored by five Orthopedic Trauma surgeons that specialized in orthopedic fracture care and elective Foot and ankle cases. Dr. Desai’s trauma specialty is focused on Pelvis / Acetabular (hip joint) fractures, and lower extremity fractures. As a foot & ankle specialist, Dr Desai provides care for traumatic injuries to the foot or ankle, foot reconstruction/ fusions, bunion surgery, tendon and ligament injury/instability and total ankle replacements.

Dr Desai is often an early adopter of the newest evidence-based medical procedures. Having cared for complex pelvic fractures, Dr. Desai developed an interest in sacroiliac disorders which cause pain in the low back. Historically, patients that experienced complex pelvic fractures can develop sacroiliac (SI) joint pain – often from arthritis or previous lumbar fusions. Today, there are new implant options for SI joint fusions that drastically improve both outcome and function for sacroiliac (SI) disorders. Dr. Desai is a specialist in this procedure, regardless of whether the SI pain is from a traumatic injury, arthritis or other degenerative conditions.

He is also a specialist in a new foot and ankle procedure to correct the root cause of bunions. This procedure is referred to as Lapiplasty and Dr Desai was one of the first surgeons in Colorado to offer this innovative approach to address and repair bunions.

Dr. Desai was drawn to Panorama Orthopedic & Spine Center’s mission and values, which are centered on being an independent orthopedic practice which emphasizes mutual accountability and patient-centered care. He feels this allows him to provide the best care for his patients. He treats trauma patients at St Anthony’s Hospital, OrthoColorado Hospital, as well as, at various surgery centers.  Dr. Desai has been the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at OrthoColorado Hospital since its inception in 2010.

Dr. Desai has many hobbies outside of his work. Growing up in Canada, Dr. Desai played ice hockey and skied which he continues to do today. Additionally, Dr. Desai has five horses, and three dogs which he enjoys with his wife and daughter. His other interests include photography, swimming, and fly fishing.

Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH

Click here to view his biography.

Brian Fowler

Originally, from Arkansas, Brian Fowler earned an Accounting degree from Arkansas State University (ASU) in 2004 and completed his MBA from the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas in 2005. Brian completed the CPA exam in 2008 and got his start in public accounting at BKD in Little Rock—where he worked exclusively with healthcare clients from 2005-2008.

Brian has worked in a variety of healthcare organizations throughout his career. 

Brian joined Arkansas Surgical Hospital (ASH) as Chief Financial Officer in 2016 and became Chief Operations Officer six months later. He was named CEO in January 2020. Brian is most proud of the disciplined focus on safety and the exceptional experience patients can expect at ASH. Arkansas Surgical Hospital remains the only double five-star hospital in Arkansas—based on quality and patient experience. In 2021, the hospital saw a record low infection rate of 0.12%.

Brian is a fellow of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), where he served as President from 2016-2017.

After hours, Brian plays a role in his church and other professional organizations as well as spending time with his wife and four children.

Jeffrey Friedman

Jeffrey Friedman became an adept leader at running a growing software company.  Having experience taking tech firms public, managing sales teams and developing software, investing in some, becoming a participant in others, he quickly learned the ins and outs of leading a team and taking a concept to creation.  Business plans, branding, general counsel, sales, technology development, he continues to drive the engine of Building Intelligence Inc.

After graduating Cardozo Law school, as an attorney for the Service Employers Association, which later merged into the Realty Advisory Board, Mr. Friedman worked on behalf of landlords and facility operators throughout the tri-state area. In New Jersey and Long Island, he represented Communication Workers’ of America, and a variety of unions learning both sides of the equation of the workforce and a variety of employment issues.   This experience gave him a solid background in traditional operations of real estate, security companies and commercial cleaning contractors.  With writing skills, fundamental understanding of people and new ideas, he soon became a leader of new projects as well as heading up implementation of new policies for these multi-national corporations. He has appeared in Information Week and has several published articles regarding technology in the real estate industry. In his capacity as CEO of Building Intelligence, Mr. Friedman supported the design of the Trusted Access Program at World Trade Center. Mr. Friedman designed and deployed the first secure loading dock software at Time Warner Center and architected the vehicle access program at Hudson Yards. Since then, the product has been launched at Columbia Presbyterian, UMass Medical and many large and small medical facilities.

Jim Hinton

Mr. Hinton is an Operating Partner on the Healthcare team, having joined Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe in 2022. Mr. Hinton has been a leader in the healthcare industry for more than 38 years. Prior to joining WCAS, Mr. Hinton was previously the Chief Executive Officer of Baylor Scott & White Health, where he strengthened the organization’s patient-safety focus, improved employee engagement and drove strong operational performance each year of his tenure. Prior to Baylor Scott & White, he spent more than three decades at Presbyterian Healthcare Services, New Mexico’s largest healthcare provider, where he was President and CEO of the system for 21 years. In 2014, Mr. Hinton served as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Hospital Association, which represents nearly 5,000 hospitals, healthcare systems, networks, and other providers of care through advocacy and public policy. He also served on the Board of Premier Healthcare Alliance and Chaired the Board of the Healthcare Institute. Among the industry honors he has received, Mr. Hinton has been named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare magazine five times, most recently in 2021.


Arizona State University – M.H.A.
The University of New Mexico – B.A.

Alyssa James

Click here to view her biography.

Ken Kaminski, MD

Dr. Ken Kaminski specializes in primary and complex hip and knee replacements, revision joint surgery, joint replacements, and hip and knee arthritis. He is Fellowship Trained and Board Certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. He performed his orthopaedic residency at John Peter Smith in Fort Worth and received his medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/Rutgers University.

Dr. Kaminski comes to Azalea from the Mayo Clinic, an internationally renowned institution known for shaping and influencing primary and revision joint replacement surgical techniques.

From 2015 to 2017, Texas Monthly Magazine recognized Dr. Kaminski as a “Rising Star.” After being selected for three consecutive years, Dr. Kaminski became eligible for the Texas Monthly “Super Doctors” award. From 2018 to 2021, Dr. Kaminski has remained a Texas Monthly “Super Doctor.” In addition to running a successful private practice, Dr. Kaminski is a board member for Azalea Orthopedics, Baylor Scott & White Texas Spine & Joint Hospital, and OrthoLoneStar. From 2020-2021, Dr. Kaminski served as the president of the Texas Orthopedic Association.

Frederic Liss, MD

Click here to view his biography.

Dan Klein

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Kim Lobato

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Marty Makary, MD, MPH

Marty Makary, MD, is a New York Times bestselling author and healthcare expert at Johns Hopkins University. He writes for The Wall Street Journal and served in leadership at the World Health Organization. Marty is the recipient of the 2020 Business Book of the Year Award for his most recent book, The Price We Pay, which has been described by Steve Forbes as “A must-read for every American”.

A public health researcher, Dr. Makary leads efforts to improve the health of populations and focuses on the “re-design of health care” to make the health care more reliable, more holistic, and more coordinated. He leads national efforts to cut the waste in the system and lower health care costs for everyday businesses and consumers.

Clinically, Dr. Makary is the chief of Islet Transplant Surgery at Johns Hopkins and is the recipient of the Nobility in Science Award from the National Pancreas Foundation. He has been a visiting professor at over 25 medical schools, has published over 250 peer-reviewed scientific articles, and has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine.  A graduate of Bucknell, Thomas Jefferson, and Harvard Universities, he completed his surgical residency at Georgetown University and his specialty training at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Mark McKinzey

Mark McKinzey (Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President) 
Premium Choice Physicians

20+ years in healthcare. Began selling IT hardware solutions to hospitals and medical practices ensuring HIPAA compliance. Then, sold EMR/EHR software for a few years with a private equity owned telecom company. In 2014 was the Director of Business Development for a private equity owned nationwide women’s imaging group. I was responsible for growth in the joint venture space with hospital systems and acquisitions of women’s imaging facilities, strengthening our position in the marketplace and increasing EBITDA. Since 2020 I have been in the post-acute space operationalizing multiple businesses as part of our corporate strategy spanning into additional states while increasing our EBITDA in markets we serve today. 

Paul Merrick, MD

Click here to view his biography.

Brett Miller, MD

Dr. Miller is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon from the Midwest.  He has been in private practice since 2004.  Dr. Miller attended KU Medical School and did his orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Kansas Hospital.  He serves as team physician for a number of local colleges and has served on the board of directors for the St. Joseph Center for Outpatient Surgery for 18 years.  Dr. Miller developed a passion for finding solutions for patient access to orthopedic specialty care after years of experiencing the medical waste and poor care delivery model in his community.  In 2017, he founded HURT!, a mobile application that provides free and immediate access to an orthopedic expert for care navigation.  After a successful launch in October of 2020, he and his team are expanding rapidly across the Midwest as well as strategic east and western markets.  His goal is to create the largest private orthopedic care network that connects consumers directly to high quality, high value orthopedic practices. 

Denise Morrisey

Denise Henry Morrisey is a founding partner of Capitol Counsel, LLC. She has been a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., for the past 30 years providing clients strategic, policy, and advocacy counsel. Morrisey brings to clients a detailed understanding of health care policy and extensive experience in dealing with House and Senate committees overseeing this policy. Morrisey has represented corporate and non-profit clients from across the health care spectrum on issues arising in virtually every major piece of health care legislation considered by Congress.

George Washington University – B.A.


  • Strategic Health Solutions, Washington, D.C. – Founder of the boutique health care advocacy and consulting firm established in 2002.
  • The Legislative Strategies Group, Washington, D.C. – Founder. Health care practice representing pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies; and trade and medical specialty associations.
  • Gold and Liebengood/Burson Marsteller, Washington, D.C. – Principal. Managed health care, insurance, taxation and pension matters for clients including The Joint Commission and a coalition of organizations addressing health care reform.

John Porcelli, MD
Click here to view his biography.

Joshua Rees

Josh Rees is a Director in the San Diego office and a senior member of HREA’s national healthcare real estate investment advisory group. Josh specializes in advising physician-owners, as well as public and private owners of healthcare real estate, including single asset and portfolio dispositions, sale/leasebacks, debt/equity recapitalizations, and tax-deferred strategies, such as the §1031 like-kind exchange and UPREIT. His transaction and advisory experience has involved all types of healthcare real estate assets, including medical office buildings, ambulatory surgery centers, short-stay hospitals, inpatient rehab facilities, and other inpatient and outpatient facilities.

Chris Stai

Christopher Stai is the leader of HREA’s national healthcare real estate practice. He has over 20 years of real estate experience advising a broad range of clients including healthcare providers, health systems, and developers with a specialization in physician-owned hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, medical office buildings, post-acute care, as well as other types of healthcare facilities throughout the U.S.

Chris has advised on over $5 billion in healthcare real estate transactions involving Sale / Leaseback transactions, Hybrid-Sale Leaseback® transactions, single-asset and portfolio dispositions, developer selection, capital sourcing for new development and expansion, as well as tax-deferred strategies. His clients include many of the nation’s largest users and investors in healthcare, including providers, real estate investment trusts (REITs), institutional investors, and real estate developers.

Prior to forming HREA, a recognized national leading advisor in healthcare real estate, Chris was the managing director of an investment bank leading the company’s national healthcare real estate capital markets platform. Previously, he was a director for a national publicly-traded healthcare REIT, acquiring more than $2 billion in healthcare real estate assets throughout the U.S.  His knowledge and expertise is a culmination of experience that includes real estate tax consulting with Ernst & Young and Deloitte. 

Chris earned his B.A. in Economics & Accounting from UC Santa Barbara and went on to receive his CPA license.

Chris lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife and their 9-month old twin girls. 

Stephanie Tarry

Stephanie Tarry is an Executive Vice President and has been a recognized leader in the surgery center industry for more than 20 years.  As a senior executive with Nuehealth, Stephanie was directly involved in the rapid growth of the company: recruiting physicians, syndicating ASC and real estate partnerships, acquiring existing ASCs and providing management to over 80 ASCs, surgical hospitals, MOBs and real estate transactions.

With her extensive background in finance, accounting, strategic growth and operations of surgical facilities, she brings a wealth of knowledge to help clients achieve continued growth and maximum monetary value.  Stephanie resides in Missouri.

Gregg Wallander

Click here to view his biography.

Amber Walsh

Amber Walsh is the former Chairwoman of the firm’s Healthcare Department, one of the largest healthcare practices in the United States. She sits on the firm’s Executive Committee and is a recognized leader in promoting the advancement of women in the private equity sector.

She founded and leads McGuireWoods’ Women in Private Equity & Finance Initiative and sits on the board of The Leverage Network.

Focusing her practice on corporate healthcare transactional work and regulatory matters, she represents healthcare providers such as hospitals, health systems, dialysis facilities, multi- and single-specialty medical practices, specialty hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and a variety of healthcare industry entrepreneurs, in sales and acquisitions, joint ventures, general corporate matters, contracting, securities, and regulatory matters.

Her work includes negotiating and drafting transaction documents and counseling clients with regard to the legal aspects of day-to-day operations, including general corporate matters; anti-kickback and Stark issues; self-referral, corporate practice of medicine and fee-splitting prohibitions; HIPAA, certificate of need and licensure requirements; and state and federal securities matters. In 2017, Amber was named to Mergers & Acquisitions magazine’s list of “The Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A.”

As one of the principal drivers behind McGuireWoods’ healthcare private equity initiatives, Amber co-chairs the firm’s annual Healthcare and Life Sciences Private Equity and Finance Conference, one of the largest private equity events in the U.S. healthcare market, which facilitates deals by connecting investors with surgery centers, dialysis facilities, physician practices and other industry players.

A recognized thought-leader in the healthcare/M&A and private equity arenas, Amber co-authors a regular Law360 column covering middle market healthcare and life sciences deals, co-writes McGuireWoods’ The Healthcare Investor blog, and is the lead author on a series which spotlights women private equity leaders.

Ryan Wheeler

Jason Winokur

Jason M Winokur is an associate of ASCs Inc. and serves as our ASC/MOB real estate expert and broker.  He has 20+ years of experience in managing complex healthcare real estate transactions and has provided expert real estate consulting services to over 150 physician-owners and medical groups nationwide.  With a focus on working with ASCs, Surgical Hospitals and medical office buildings (MOBs), he has completed over $1B in successful transactions, enabling owners of medical real estate to realize the maximum value for their real estate assets.  Additionally, by adjusting rent and EBITDA, Jason ensures that clients have the terms and agreements in place that will maximize the value of their businesses.  His combination of experience, market knowledge, exceptional marketing packages and a nationwide network of buyers ensures that ASCs Inc.’s real estate clients have the absolute best representation.

Jason holds a dual B.A. degree in English and Film and Videos Studies from the University of Michigan (1999).  He is a licensed real estate broker and a strong supporter of the Crohn’s Foundation. Jason resides in New York state.