2016 Speakers

Laura Gasparis Vonfrolio RN, PhD

Laura_VonfrolioAn outstanding seminar leader, Dr Gasparis Vonfrolio (www.greatnurses.com) has held CCRN certification and CEN certifications for over 30 years. She has helped thousands of critical care nurses prepare for the CCRN and CEN certifications exams through her highly-aclaimed CCRN and CEN Review Courses and tapes. Laura has forty years experience as a critical care nurse and has held the positions of Assistant Professor of Nursing with tenure, staff development instructor and staff nurse. She has an Associate (1973), Bachelors (1977), Masters (1982) and a Ph.D in Nursing Education (1994).

Dr. Gasparis Vonfrolio has written extensively on critical care topics in journals such as Nursing, RN, AJH and has authored, co-authored and edited a total of 11 books. She was the organizer of the Nurses March on Washington DC, March 1995 and May 1996, and has appeared on Good Morning America and Niteline with Ted Koppel. The owner of four business, she is an educational consultant, the President of Education Enterprises, a nursing seminar company; past president of Power Publication, a nurse-owned publishing company; and the past President of the National Nurses in Business Association (NNBA)

Thaddeus Dufelmeier RN, CCWP

Thad_Dufelmeier_smallThaddeus Dufelmeier RN CCWP is a workforce and quality management expert in the Healthcare Space. Thaddeus spent 15 years at the bedside caring for patients in the Intensive Care Units of UCLA, Kaiser “Sunset”, Good Samaritan and Olympia Hospital, while maintaining a parallel career serving in clinical and strategic leadership positions for Healthcare Staffing organizations for the last 13 years. As the CEO of his consulting firm TD and Associates Thaddeus currently provides clinical oversight for over 900 temporary healthcare practitioners that include Physicians, Advance Practice RNs, Registered Nurses, Allied Personnel and Nursing Assistants.  Under the titles Clinical Liaison or Director of Nursing for 16 Healthcare Staffing organizations, Thaddeus manages relationships with clinical leaders for 500+ Healthcare facilities nationwide. Mr. Dufelmeier handles over 500 Clinical and Professional complaints annually, providing professional counseling and coaching clinicians to be safe patient care providers and productive employees.

Aaron Highfill

TravCon2015-16Aaron has been traveling in some capacity for most of his life. He realized early on that traveling is more fun when someone else is paying for it. His nursing career has taken him to approximately two dozen countries, six continents, two cruise ships, one civil war and a viral pandemic. When not traveling for work as a Flight Nurse for AMR Air Ambulance, he's probably traveling for fun. Aaron can now add co-author to his list of achievements for his work on the new Highway Hypodermics book: Travel Nursing 2017!

Landon Graham James, RN, BSN, MA, CEN, PCP

Landon JamesLandon James has had an exemplary career in nursing spanning the past 15 years. He began his career early as an ER nurse and volunteered countless hours with the St. John Ambulance brigade. He was responsible for leading the Coastal Health service delivery area through its first Trauma Association of Canada Accreditation process in 2003, an achievement that was recognized with distinction. His career has also seen him as the leader of two different emergency departments.

He has been a long-time leader in disseminating education to ER nurses throughout B.C. and the Northwest Territories in previously underserved communities. In 2004, he began volunteering with the National Emergency Nurses Affiliation (NENA) of Canada on the education subcommittee, which monitored the program of educational offerings for emergency nurses. In 2008, he became president-elect of NENA and served as its president from 2009-2011 (and one year as past president until June 30, 2012).

He has also represented Canada internationally, in the U.S. (on multiple occasions) and in Brazil. He had a leadership role with the Ministry of Health in mass casualty management in preparation for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which transitioned into a Games-time role of leading medical services for the Vancouver and Whistler athlete villages.

Cynthia Kinnas

Cynthia_KinnasCynthia Kinnas has over 20 years of experience in healthcare staffing (she started as a travel nurse recruiter) and is the former president of Randstad Healthcare, which offers nursing, allied and locum tenens including a strong focus in Travel Nursing. Kinnas co-founded Clinical One, the predecessor to Randstad Healthcare, as a travel nurse staffing firm in 1993. Cynthia also serves on the Editorial board of Healthcare Traveler, and was listed in SIA's Top 100 in Staffing in 2011-2014.

Cynthia is very passionate and knowledgeable about the travel nursing industry and speaks at a variety of healthcare conferences including several past Traveler’s Conferences. She is the former Chairman of the Health Care Section of the ASA (American Staffing Association) as well as a founding board member and former president of the National Association of Travel Healthcare Organizations and was instrumental in creating the first-ever travel nursing specific annual benchmarking report, which was launched by NATHO in partnership with SIA starting in 2013.

Cynthia holds a BA in International Relations from USIU-E.

Melissa Knybel, BSN,RN

Melissa_KnybelMelissa is the Vice President of Operations at Randstad Healthcare and responsible for the overall management of the Administration, Quality Assurance, and Housing departments. One of her biggest successes was achieving Joint Commission certification for Health Care Staffing Services in April 2005. In addition to working closely with all of the Operations managers, Melissa also coordinates technology development and improvement projects, has full accountability for all company compliance programs, works with the Legal and Risk department to investigate all medical malpractice claims, and acts as a liaison to Human Resources on all legal personnel issues.

Melissa has over 15 years of experience in the medical staffing industry and over 10 years of clinical nursing experience. Prior to joining Randstad Healthcare, Melissa was employed as a Registered Nurse working in a variety of settings including a level one trauma center, a community hospital setting, and as an instructor for an Associates Degree RN Program.  Melissa is a member of the Joint Commission Advisory Board for Health Care Staffing Services, sits on the Clinical Executive Committee of NATHO, the National Association of Traveling Healthcare Organizations, and is an active member of the Health Care Policy Council of the American Staffing Association.

Laura Latimer, OT

View More: http://latimerstudios.pass.us/laurpersonal2014Laura Latimer is the founder of Nomadicare.com as well as a traveling OT for 6 years (and counting!) She is on a mission to find the best recruiters in travel healthcare and connect them to travelers. Only 1 in 4 recruiters pass the Nomadicare test and receive the"Nomadic Stamp of Approval". She knows just how important a recruiter is in a traveler's journey and Laura is honored to be dubbed "The Recruiter Matchmaker."

You can get Laura's free guide to getting started in travel healthcare at Nomadicare.com and follow her on Facebook at Laura Nomadicare where she loves giving away resources, answering questions and running free travel healthcare webinars.

Phil Light, RN, CEN

philPhil is a working Emergency Registered Nurse Traveler, Co-Founder and President of the non-profit Professional Association of Nurse Travelers (PanTravelers.org), and a founding Board Member of the Travelers Conference. Following 12 years in the back of an ambulance as EMS Director, Phil  was one of the very first males to earn a nursing degree from Western Kentucky University. He's been working in hospitals at the bedside since 1988 and a traveler since 2004. 

Before 2005, travelers did not have an organization committed to representing their interests, nor a unified voice within the industry. PanTravelers was founded to fill that void. There was and is still an immense amount of myth and misinformation circulating among both travelers and agencies. We recognized a need for an authoritative source of accurate information available to all travelers with a goal of helping travelers avoid the common pitfalls that can affect their careers. We are growing rapidly, and with our growth we are better able to influence industry practices. PanTravelers is the only voice exclusively dedicated to traveler's interests.

Tracey Long, RN, PhD, MS, MSN, CE, CNE, CHUC, CCRN

tracey_longAs a registered nurse for 27 years, Tracey has worked in critical care, cardiology and developed Spanish programs in health education and diabetes for local hospitals in Las Vegas, Nevada where she now resides. She earned her Bachelor’s in Nursing Science and Spanish from Brigham Young University, a Masters Degree in Public Health Education at California College of Health Sciences and an MSN in Nursing Education at UNLV.

Tracey is currently a PhD student in Nursing Education. She is faculty in Nursing at the College of Southern Nevada. Her research interests are Simulation, cultural competency training, measuring effectiveness in education, and diabetes. She served on the NCSBN National Nursing Simulation Study Team. As a freelance speaker she has earned the Educator of Excellence Award, and been an invited keynote speaker for nursing school graduations, nursing career fairs, nursing webinars for Nurse.com, and genealogy seminars.

Scott Martindale, LPC

Scott_Martindale_smallScott Martindale is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Texas – working specifically to treat depression, anxiety and transition issues with adults. This devotion has provided him tremendous insight into the causes of depression, treatment modalities and methods to deal with continuous symptoms. Scott is very passionate about mental health and the intense need to shed light upon current issues regarding our healthcare employees and how proper treatment can help to improve their overall quality of life, and the patients in which they interact.

He holds a Master’s in Counseling and Human Development from Hardin Simmons University and commits time as a visiting Professor to several University Systems. Additionally, Mr. Martindale is the Chief Executive Officer of Republic Health Resources, a nationwide, Joint Commission Certified travel nursing firm based in Dallas Texas.


Terry L Merlin, CNO

terrymerlinTerry L Merlin serves as the President and Chief Nursing Officer for The Merlin Healthcare Group, Inc., a per diem and travel nurse staffing business based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mr. Merlin has held positions of increasing responsibility in both a hospital setting and in the healthcare staffing industry, meanwhile enjoying a successful career in the acquisition and business development aspects of the industries.

Mr. Merlin served as President of TeamStaff, Inc., a publicly traded Allied Health and Nursing travel organization, prior to acquiring all assets of Nurses 24/7’s Florida operations in 2007, which later became The Merlin Healthcare Group. Prior to TeamStaff Inc., Mr. Merlin held several senior leadership positions in some of the largest healthcare organizations in the country.

Mr. Merlin’s clinical experience began in Medical Surgical nursing, soon after graduating from nursing school in 1992. In addition to his staffing and hospital management experience, he has an extensive background in Critical Care Nursing and Emergency Care Nursing. In 2014, he left the bedside to focus all of his time and effort on growing and expanding the healthcare staffing business.  For more information or to contact Terry Merlin, please email terry@merlinhealth.com or call (954) 532-1481. You can also visit the organization on the web at www.merlinhealth.com


Dr_Tanya_ScottTanya Scott, DHL(hc), MHR, RN, CHTS-CP, CHTS-PW, CMUP, CPHIMS is a nationally recognized transformational nurse executive specializing clinically in Women’s Health/High-Risk Obstetrics and administratively in Nursing Informatics Healthcare Information Technology Design and Development. Based in Mississippi, she has spent the last sixteen years shaping and transforming the paradigm of patient care, nursing informatics and health information management in hospitals across the country.

Dr. Scott received a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (1992) from East Carolina University and a Masters of Human Relations with an emphasis in Multicultural Organizational Development and Business Management from the University of Oklahoma in 1998 where she was recognized as the Walter Mason Graduate Student of the Year, Graduate Student Leader and Graduate Student Service Award honoree.

She currently is a member of several nursing leadership organizations and serves as a national board member for the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Foundation, an appointed member of the AHIMA Certification Credentialing Analysis Task Force, AHIMA CHTS Certification Job Analysis Working Group and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society(HIMSS) Nurse Informatics Executive Task Force, Certification Item Writer's Task Force and is certified as a Health Technology Specialist.

Tracy Singh RN, JD

tracey_singhTracy is a Nurse-Attorney who has dedicated her practice to representing healthcare providers by protecting and defending their professional licenses against board complaints, application/renewal denials, and other disciplinary actions throughout the state of Nevada. Tracy began her career as a Registered Nurse in Las Vegas where she held many positions including caring for children with aids as a home health nurse, working as a medical-surgical staff nurse and as charge nurse, and then as the nurse manager and surgical nurse-liaison for a cardiovascular surgical practice in Southern Nevada. 

Tracy has served as President for the Nevada Nurses Association, Member of the Committee on Bylaws and delegate for The American Nurses Association, and as Board and Committee Member for several organizations involved with healthcare education. Tracy is also a member of The American Association of Nurse Attorneys, the American Bar Association, Nevada Justice Association and the Nevada Bar Association.  

As a nurse Attorney, she also participates in other nursing related initiatives, testifies to the Nevada Legislature and the Nevada State Board of Nursing on legislative and regulatory issues related to the practice of Nursing in Nevada.

Kay “Epstein LaRue” Slane, RN, BS

EpsteinThe writing world calls her “Epstein,” but reality calls her "Kay."  She has been a nurse since 1992 and was first published in 2001.  She has been involved as a speaker since the first conference, and a board member and secondary MC in more recent conferences. Highway Hypodermics: Travel Nursing 2015 is the fifth book in her travel nursing series and sports Joseph Smith as a co-author.

Highway Hypodermics: On The Road Again was a winner in the USABookNew’s awards over two other travel nursing finalists, and Highway Hypodermics:  Travel Nursing 2012 went to #1 upon release on the Amazon’s Nursing, Trends, Issues and Roles list, with Highway Hypodermics: Travel Nursing 2015 following in its' footsteps to #1 on the Medical Reference list..

Epstein recently received her Certificate of Grad-Level Management and is traveling as a house supervisor in Northern California. Her website, www.highwayhypodermics.com is a premier site for travel company information.

Daina Smith, RN, AFSP

DainaSmithDaina (pronounced Di-nah) is the creative and educational czar for TravelTax and Joseph Smith’s wife (see bio for Joseph Smith). Traveling began immediately after marriage and Daina was the non-medical spouse who picked up odd jobs at each assignment, packed every 3 months and the one who was lost in the medical shop talk with other travelers. One of those odd jobs was a stint as a seasonal tax preparer at the busiest HR Block office in the nation which was preparation for things to come. When Daina and Joseph finished traveling and settled in the Washington DC area, Daina went to nursing school at Southern Maryland College. She then worked as an ICU/PACU RN for over 16 years which included many per diem shifts in the DC area never knowing where her next shift would be and where the orientation consisted of a temporary Pyxis card handed to her upon arrival to the unit.
Upon becoming an adoptive parent, she hung up the stethoscope and now handles the marketing / web design of TravelTax, oversees client education and prepares many tax returns in their busy practice. She is also the artistic force behind the Travelers Conference.

Joseph Smith, RRT/EA/MTax

JosephSmithJoseph finished degrees in Accounting and Respiratory Therapy, and worked as a travel respiratory therapist before founding TravelTax and TravelTax Canada, a tax practice catering to the travel healthcare professional and mobile professionals in other staffing segments. TravelTax is well known in the healthcare staffing industry and serves a substantial client base of domestic and international mobile professionals, and their staffing agencies. His firm prepares US and Canadian returns and represents clients before the IRS, Canadian Revenue Agency and State Tax Agencies in audits, tax controversies and litigation support.

Joseph is a regular contributor to a number of staffing related publications/social media. He is the co-author of the 2015/2017 edition of Highway Hypodermics, serves on the Tax Compliance Committee of the National Association of Travel Healthcare Organizations (NATHO), a regular speaker at the Healthcare Staffing Summit and teaches taxation at Northeast Community College. In addition to his undergraduate degrees, Joseph holds a MS in Taxation from Golden Gate University and has completed tax courses at Athabasca University in Canada.


Melanie Theriac, RN and Joanie Reneer, RN, BSN

Image of Joanie and MelanieMelanie Theriac, RN began her career in ICU. Migrating to southern Indiana, Melanie moved into home care and eventually became a partial owner of Riverfront Home Health. After 10 years, the company was sold to American Nursing Care and Melanie joined two silent partners to open Medical Staffing Solutions, LLC in Evansville, Indiana.

Joanie Reneer, RN, BSN initially worked in hospital units including Med/Surg, Telemetry, and ICU. She transitioned into homecare where she met her future business partner, Melanie Theriac, and the two began working together. Joanie eventually left home care nursing to open a home infusion company.

In 2003, Melanie approached Joanie about becoming a business partner with Medical Staffing Solutions, LLC (MSS). Within a year, the two single mothers bought out their silent partners and became 100% Woman-Owned/100% Nurse-Owned business. Digging in her heels, the two expanded their per diem staffing services to include therapy, pharmacy, and allied health services.

Candy Treft, RN

CandyAs a travel nursing educator, Candy aka Gypsy Nurse, RN has worked in healthcare for nearly 20 years, working up the ranks from CNA to LPN to RN. For the past ten years, she’s worked as a travel nurse, allowing her to practice and live in 17 states throughout the U.S. Candy is the owner/founder of The Gypsy Nurse, a very active and popular online community dedicated to serving the needs of mobile healthcare professionals. Candy is a founding Board Member of The Travelers Conference. She regularly shares advice for those interested in travel nurse jobs on her website at: www.thegypsynurse.com.

Chad Williams, Financial Advisor

Chad_William_smallChad Williams is a licensed financial advisor with Edward Jones who serves individuals, families, and business clients throughout the country.  He attended Saint Louis University, graduating with high honors and distinction, receiving his  bachelor's and master's degree.  Chad also currently serves the firm  in many capacities, the most recent of which include training all new financial advisors in the Northern Virginia area, recruiting on behalf of the firm  as a secondary growth leader, and serving as a visiting veteran where Chad spends time at Edward Jones' headquarters to train the newest classes of financial advisors.

Chad began a career with Edward Jones to help individual investors, families, and businesses reach their financial goals. As an Edward Jones financial advisor, he believes it’s important to invest his  time to understand what you’re working toward before you invest your money.

Together, with his  branch office administrator Lisa  Sohns, Chad and Lisa bring a combined experience of 20 years in finance. For Chad and Lisa,  relationships are key and, in their view, are what helps them understand and meet their clients' unique goals and needs.  When not working with clients or serving in his  leadership roles with the firm,  Chad is often found spending time behind a camera for  which he has an avid interest in landscape photography.

For more information, please contact Lisa  Sohns or Chad Williams at
571-297-4212 or at chad.williams@edwardjones.com.