Rebecca Palpant Shimkets, M.S.

Rebecca Palpant Shimkets is the Associate Director for The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism at The Carter Center Mental Health Program in Atlanta, Georgia.  The work of the program that focuses on public policy and stigma reduction is the result of Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter’s advocacy on mental health issues for over 40 years. Ms. Palpant Shimkets develops and oversees a Journalism Fellowship program that awards stipends each year to professional journalists to produce a significant project on mental health or mental illnesses.

The fellowship program has resulted in fellows winning Emmy and Peabody awards and receiving nominations for the Pulitzer Prize among many others.  She was instrumental in developing the program in the countries of South Africa, Romania, Colombia and most recently United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Ms. Palpant Shimkets is an active participant on advisory boards and within national and international work groups related to stigma and accurate portrayals of mental illnesses in the media.  She spearheaded a special theme issue of the American Journal of Public Health on stigma reduction and social inclusion and was on the planning committee for the 7th World Psychiatric Association International Together Against Stigma Conference.

Ms. Palpant Shimkets serves as a U.S. member of the Global Alliance for Stigma Reduction.  She was appointed to serve as a member of the Committee on the Science of Changing Behavioral Health Social Norms for The National Academies that produced the report “Ending Discrimination Against People with Mental and Substance Use Disorders.”  Palpant Shimkets has published in Global Health Magazine, JAMA, MMWR, Huffington Post, and Everyday Health. Ms. Palpant Shimkets is married to Dr. Richard Shimkets and is step mother to two amazing boys Darien and Logan.

Elizabeth Cohen

Elizabeth Cohen is the award-winning, senior medical correspondent for CNN’s health, wellness and medical unit, reporting on CNN television and Her book, THE EMPOWERED PATIENT, was published in August 2010, and Elizabeth has become the nation’s patient advocate and a leading authority on the movement for improved healthcare in the United States. Elizabeth has a master’s in public health from Boston University. She’s been with CNN for 25 years and has covered stories including the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and Hurricane Katrina.

David Cox

David Cox has been a health features writer for The Guardian since 2013 covering issues ranging from the global antibiotic resistance crisis to the legacy of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. He has also worked for the BBC, Al Jazeera and the New York Times, and published multiple scientific papers while researching psychiatric disorders at Cambridge University.

Jayne O’Donnell

Jayne O’Donnell is USA TODAY’s healthcare policy reporter. She focuses on the Affordable Care Act and other policies and programs that affect consumers’ health, insurance coverage and drug costs.

She is also the co-founder of a new journalism training program for Washington, D.C. and Baltimore high school students – Urban Health Media Project – headquartered at Howard University and funded by the Kellogg Foundation.

An author, TV contributor and freelance writer, Jayne’s work has appeared in Woman’s Day. Good Housekeeping and Parents and she has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, NPR and C-Span. She has also won several public service and journalism awards for her work, most notably for her 1996 articles on the dangers air bags posed to children. That reporting prompted the government’s actions to make them safer, including the “smart” air bags and warning labels in every new vehicle.

Sarah Kliff, Vox

Matt Sloane

Matt Sloane is the president and chief creative officer of Bounce House Creative, a health, wellness and fun-focused event production firm, specializing in athletic events and experiences.

Matt spent over 10 years as a producer/project manager with CNN Medical News in Atlanta, working closely with CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on daily medical news coverage, breaking news coverage of health-related events and Fit Nation – CNN’s obesity reduction campaign, and continues to manage the Fit Nation program as an outside contractor.

As the project manager for the Fit Nation program since its inception in 2006, Matt has guided the network’s coverage of the childhood obesity and adult obesity issue, bringing celebrity newsmakers, industry experts and concerned parents together to discuss actionable solutions to the problem.  He criss-crossed the country 5 times with the CNN Fit Nation Tour, produced over 150 stories for CNN’s on-air programming related to the obesity issue, and produced several written features for

Throughout the course of this program, Matt has developed an extensive network of celebrity Fit Nation partners, including Senator Tom Harkin, California First Lady Maria Shriver, fitness expert Jillian Michaels, obesity crusader Jamie Oliver, Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton, celebrity chefs Rachael Ray and Alton Brown; and Former President Bill Clinton.

During his time at CNN, Matt also spent three and a half years following Diana Nyad’s Extreme Dream swim attempts and ultimate success, and produced an hour-long documentary on her journey. He also helped build a feature on surgical pain relief for recovering drug addicts; and the fourth CNN Fit Nation Challenge, whereby 6 CNN viewers are selected to train alongside Dr. Gupta for the Nautica Malibu Triathlon.

Matt is also an experienced breaking news field producer, having covered major historical events such as Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Sandy; the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Terri Schiavo controversy, the Virginia Tech shootings, the Atlanta tornado, and various other stories around the country.

In addition to his work with Bounce House, Matt and his wife Amanda run Benson Street Productions, a video production house based in Atlanta.  Their work with Benson Street has taken them to the jungles of Guatemala to shoot, produce and edit 6 documentary-style pieces on water and sanitation; and to Screen on the Green as the official event videographers.

Matt lives in Decatur with his wife Amanda, and their two dogs Kylie and Dexter.

Ben Harder

Ben Harder is Managing Editor and Director of Health Care Analysis at U.S. News & World Report, which publishes the annual Best Hospitals and Best Children’s Hospitals rankings. Ben oversees how U.S. News uses data to provide decision-support for health care consumers. In addition to overseeing the hospital rankings, he spearheaded the launch of Best Health Insurance Plans in 2012 and the creation of the U.S. News Doctor Finder website in 2013. Prior to joining U.S. News, he was a medical reporter at Science News magazine and contributed to the Los Angeles Times, USA TODAY, the Washington Post and other news outlets.

Peter Eisler

Peter Eisler is an investigative reporter at USA TODAY, where he’s reported on everything from lax enforcement of U.S. safe drinking water laws to poor security at Russia’s chemical weapons stockpiles. His work has helped spur new laws requiring compensation for sick nuclear weapons workers, fire protections in nursing homes, and safety testing for school lunch food. In 2013, Eisler shared the Gerald Loeb Award for online journalism, the Hillman Prize for Web-based investigative reporting, and the duPont-Columbia Award for digital journalism. His work also has been honored in the Barlett and Steele Awards for Investigative Reporting, the National Headliner Awards, the National Press Club Awards and the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He is a board member and treasurer at the Fund for Investigative Journalism, which provides reporting grants to independent journalists, and he volunteers as a high school teaching fellow for the News Literacy Project in Washington, DC.

Anna Mathews

Beth Kutscher

Beth Kutscher California Bureau Chief, Modern Healthcare Beth Kutscher is the California bureau chief for Modern Healthcare and covers healthcare innovation and digital health. She previously spent nearly four years as the publication’s Nashville bureau chief, covering healthcare finance and for-profit healthcare. In 2015, she completed the Association of Health Care Journalists’ yearlong Reporting Fellowship on Health Care Performance, with a project studying the impact that Medicaid expansion has had on hospital finances. She previously was a content editor and pharmaceutical reporter for the New York-based Mergermarket Group, a division of the Financial Times. Her work also has appeared in media outlets including Crain’s Detroit Business,, PRWeek and the Staten Island Advance. She is a graduate of Cornell University, where she was editor-in-chief of the Cornell Daily Sun.