President and Founder
Health Care Without Harm
Gary Cohen is president and co-founder of Health Care Without Harm, based in Reston, Va. Health Care Without Harm was created in 1996 to help transform the health care sector to be environmentally sustainable and support the health and climate resilience of the communities they serve. Since its inception, the nonprofit has grown to lead and partner in groundbreaking initiatives in more than 72 countries.
Mr. Cohen has been a pioneer in the environmental health movement for more than 35 years. He has helped build coalitions and networks globally to address health impacts related to climate change and toxic chemical exposure
Mr. Cohen was awarded the Champion of Change Award for Climate Change and Public Health by the White House in 2013. In 2015, he received a MacArthur Fellowship and a “Genius Grant” from the MacArthur Foundation.
Nick Ragone, JD
Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Nick Ragone serves as executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for Ascension. In this role, he oversees the creation and execution of brand strategy and experience, marketing and advertising, public relations and thought leadership, social media strategy, internal communications and consumer access for Ascension and its subsidiaries. Beginning in 2016, Mr. Ragone has led the national rebranding of Ascension's local health systems and sites of care to adopt the unified Ascension name, the largest such undertaking ever in the provider space.
Since joining Ascension as senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer in 2014, Mr. Ragone has led a cross-function effort to centralize and optimize the marketing and communications strategic approach to support the Mission and the business of a highly integrated health system, with more than 2,600 sites of care and more than 160,000 associates. In addition to defining and strengthening the Ascension brand, Mr. Ragone has led the creation of a corporate social responsibility program, developed an industry-leading thought leadership platform, implemented online scheduling and transformed the marketing model into a digital and data-driven approach that creates a more personal relationship with patients.
In 2019, Mr. Ragone was appointed to the Missouri State Board of Health and Senior Services by Missouri Governor Mike Parson. The board reviews and advises on the rules and regulations promoted by the Department of Health and Senior Services; and provides comments to the director of the Department of Health and Senior Services regarding the promulgation of rules and regulations by the Department of Health, formulation of the department's proposed budget, and planning for and operation of the Department of Health and Senior Services.
In 2021, Mr. Ragone was named Healthcare Communicator of the Year by Lawrence Ragan Communications/PR Daily. Also in 2021, the St. Louis Business Journal honored Mr. Ragone with a C-Suite Award, given to executives who are making a difference in St. Louis. In 2020, he was included in Forbes magazine's list of "The World's Most Influential CMOs" (Chief Marketing Officers). In 2019, he was recognized by Forbes as one of its "50 Game-Changing Marketing Leaders." In both 2016 and 2017, Mr. Ragone was recognized by PRWeek as one of the 50 most influential marketers and communicators in healthcare. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, the Holmes Report, a leading marketing and communications trade publication, recognized Mr. Ragone on its annual "Influence 100" list, which identifies the 100 most influential marketers and communicators around the globe. The list was first published in 2017. In 2007, Mr. Ragone was named to the PRWeek inaugural "40 under 40" most influential list. He is frequently published in Modern Healthcare, Real Clear Health, Becker's Hospital Review and other publications on the topics of brand building, brand experience, quantitative marketing, consumer experience and brand storytelling.
In 2015, Mr. Ragone was instrumental in developing Your Move Chess, an after-school chess program for underserved students in the St. Louis region beginning with the Ferguson-Florissant School District, in partnership with the Saint Louis Chess Club. He is also an active fundraiser for St. Louis non-profits Marygrove and Covenant House Missouri, and serves on the board of Project Lead the Way, a leading nonprofit organization that provides transformative learning experience for PreK-12 students and teachers across the U.S. Mr. Ragone is also a Board Member of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, the American Lung Association in Missouri, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis, and First Tee of St. Louis.
A former adjunct professor at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., Mr. Ragone is the author of four books on American government and presidential leadership. Prior to joining Ascension, he was the director of the Washington, D.C., office of Ketchum, a global public relations firm, where he led operations for the 130-person office. He served as a senior strategist, counselor and media trainer to many of the agency's largest clients.
Mr. Ragone is a graduate of Rutgers University and the Eagleton Institute of Political Science (undergraduate program), and earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.
Elizabeth Schenk, Ph.D., RN, FAAN
Executive Director of Environmental Stewardship
Providence St. Joseph Health
Elizabeth "Beth" Schenk is the executive director of environmental stewardship for Providence St. Joseph Health and an assistant research professor at Washington State University. She has been a pioneer in environmental stewardship in health care for more than 25 years. In her role, Dr. Schenk partners with other cross-functional leaders to advance systemwide goals that include engaging caregivers in reducing utility costs, energy use, and waste production, while building resilience in the communities served by Providence St. Joseph Health.
Dr. Schenk is a long-time Providence leader, serving most recently at Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Mont., where she founded the award-winning Green 4 Good program for environmental stewardship. In her career, she has been concerned about the many tons of waste produced at the bedside, the constant high usage of energy, and exposures of staff and patients to toxic chemicals. She has been a determined champion of reducing environmental impacts while also reducing costs.
Dr. Schenk’s primary research interest is the environmental impacts of health care, which she has been working to reduce for over 25 years. As a nurse, she sees the many tons of waste produced at the bedside, the constant high intensity use of energy, and exposures of staff and patients to toxic chemicals.