Speakers Bureau

Laurel Pickering, MPH
President & CEO

Laurel Pickering, MPH is a nationally recognized authority on trends and innovations in the health benefits marketplace.

Since becoming Executive Director of the New York Business Group on Health in 1996, Ms. Pickering has led the New York area business community drive to improve healthcare access, quality and value. Under her leadership, the NYBGH launched “One Voice,” the New York Metro Mental Health Collaborative; “HealthPass,” the health insurance exchange which has brought affordable health coverage options to thousands of small businesses in the region; eValu8, which is bringing information and accountability to the marketplace for health plans; and several other groundbreaking initiatives.

Ms. Pickering has served at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and conducted research for Columbia and Emory Universities. She currently serves on the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s Standards Committee, the Board of Directors of The Leapfrog Group, CDC’s Business and Labor Responds to AIDS Board of Business and Labor Partners, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Advisory Council, the Board of Directors of New York Clinical Information Exchange, and the Community Advisory Committee of the New York State Health Foundation.

Laurel received her BA from SUNY Albany, a Masters in Public Health from Emory University, and has been recognized as one of New York’s rising stars by Crains.

Frequent speaking topics: The role or employers in public health and delivery system reform; employee health benefits; healthcare quality; small business healthcare, health promotion and wellness.


Janaera J. Gastón, MPA
Director of Programs

Janaera Gastón manages NYBGH’s educational arm and all related strategic partnerships. She staffs the organization’s Education Committee, Eldercare Task Force and the Total Health Management Pharmacy Purchasing Coalition.

Prior to joining NYBGH, Ms. Gastón was the acting director of development for the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of Greater New York, and held positions at Coler-Goldwater Memorial Hospital and Kings County Hospital Center.

With a BA from Syracuse University and her MPA from the City University of New York, Baruch College of Public Affairs, Ms. Gastón has represented NYBGH on advisory boards and guest lectured at local colleges on the employers’ role in health care.

Frequent speaking topics: The role of employers in health care


Minalkumar Patel, MD, MPH
Medical Advisor

Dr. Minalkumar (Minal) Patel is a practicing physician and pioneer in applying business processes to medical management. Dr. Patel’s served as Executive Medical Director for Quality Management and Clinical Innovations for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, where he was responsible for building Horizon’s comprehensive care management programs and leading the plan through the complex accreditation processes with NCQA and URAC. He also served as President and COO of Horizon Healthcare of New York, a 200,000 member subsidiary of Horizon BCBSNJ.

In 2006, Dr. Patel founded Care Management International, an innovative care management company that delivers utilization management, case management, disease management, pharmacy management, and data analysis services to healthcare companies. He also serves as a consultant with McKinsey and Company providing corporate strategy counsel to pharmaceutical and other health care clients.

Dr. Patel received his BA, and MD from Boston University and completed his medical residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He joined the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University and the medical staff at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 1998.

Frequent speaking topics: Innovations in care management; Containing costs and improving clinical quality; How health insurance can create value in the world of health reform; Physicians in business roles


Jeremy J. Nobel, MD, MPH
Medical Advisor

Dr. Nobel designs health care management and delivery systems that focus on cost and quality concerns. Working with employers, government, and other purchasers, as well as health plans and providers, he develops and evaluates computer based information technology applications that coordinate critical aspects of healthcare delivery, support optimal practice patterns, and improve patient satisfaction. His contributions to this field span twenty years, and include providing health policy insight to the landmark Institute of Medicine of 1991 study addressing the automated patient record, which helped launch the Electronic Health Record (EHR) movement.

Nobel’s work specifically encompasses the use of technologies to better coordinate information flow between patients, providers, payers and purchasers, including electronic health records, personal health records, interactive web-sites, remote physiologic monitoring, hand-held devices, “smart” registries, and related software applications.

Dr. Nobel is Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine with Master’s Degrees in Epidemiology and Health Policy from the Harvard School of Public Health. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University within the Science and Human Affairs program. He received his medical education at the University of Pennsylvania and completed his internal medicine residency at the Beth Israel Hospital, Boston.

Frequent speaking topics: Use of technology in healthcare management


Shawn Nowicki, MPH
Director, Health Policy

As Director of Health Policy for both NEBGH and HealthPass, Mr. Nowicki oversees the monitoring and analysis of local, state, and federal legislative and regulatory developments affecting health insurance exchanges and employee health benefits. He also assists in the development of the organizations’ legislative agendas and policy positions, with a focus on enhancing value in the health care delivery system. Recently, he has been advising HealthPass and NYBGH members on federal health reform and helped lead initiatives to boost the value that employers receive from hospital-associated care. Mr. Nowicki has been quoted in such publications as USA Today, HR Executive, Business Insurance, and AIS’s Health Plan Week.

Mr. Nowicki earned his Bachelor of Science from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY and his Master of Public Health in health policy from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

Frequent speaking topics: Health insurance exchanges; health reform’s effects on large and small employers; employer-sponsored health insurance; and health savings accounts.