2020 Summer Conference Speakers

Amy Butts, PA-C, MPAS, CDE, BC-ADM

Amy Butts MPAS, CDE, BC-ADM is a physician assistant and diabetes educator that has worked in endocrinology since 2001. She attended Saint Francis University where she received her masters in physician assistant sciences in 2001. She became a certified diabetes educator in 2003. She earned her board-certified advanced diabetes management certificate (BC-ADM) in 2019. She was a certified insulin pump trainer for Medtronic diabetes and Animas Corporation for 8 years. She has been actively involved with the American Diabetes Association’s Primary Care Advisory Group since 2015. She has contributed to the publications of the yearly ADA Abridged Standards of Care for Primary Care Providers. She has also participated with this group on various publications to promote ongoing diabetes education to providers and spoke at the annual Diabetes is Primary Conference in 2018. Amy spoke at the 2016, 2018, and 2019 AAPA Conference on insulin initiation and intensification. She has been on advisory boards for Amylin/Astra Zeneca/Bristol Myers/Sanofi/Merck. She is currently on speaker bureaus for Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Novo Nordisk. She currently works as an endocrinology physician assistant for Wheeling Hospital at the Wellsburg Clinic in Wheeling, WV. Amy is passionate about educating providers and patients on managing diabetes care.

Jason Cheyney MPAS, PA-C

Bio to come.

Barb Dehn, RN, MS, NP

Barbara Dehn RN, MS, NP is a practicing Nurse Practitioner and a television health expert, who’s known as Nurse Barb. She earned her masters degree from UCSF and a BS from Boston College, is certified by the North American Menopause Society and is a Fellow in the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

She is the award-winning author of The Hot Guide to a Cool Sexy Menopause and a series of Personal Guides to Health used by over 5 million women in the US. Active in Social Media, she contributes content to HealthyWomen, Huffington Post, NurseBarb, KevinMD and her own YouTube channel. She is also active on social media with over 34,000 Twitter followers.

Over the last 2 years, she has been an active participant in Global Health Initiatives at FAME Hospital in Karatu, Tanzania.

Chetan Deshpande, MD, FACS

Chetan S. Deshpande, M.D., is Board Certified in Orthopaedic Surgery and specializes in orthopedic trauma, joint replacement, anterior hip replacement, and general orthopedics. Double majoring in Marine Biology and Secondary Education at Boston University, he then attended New York Medical College where he received his M.D. After completing his internship and residency at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, Dr. Deshpande completed a fellowship at the Georgia Orthopaedic Trauma Institute in Macon, Georgia. In May 2013, Dr. Deshpande was recognized for his work in the field with a nomination for the physician of the year. Dr. Deshpande has given lectures and presentations for various orthopedic events across the U.S. since 2006. He has also been involved in orthopedic research and has several peer-reviewed publications. In addition to his orthopedic work, Dr. Deshpande has volunteered his time as a captain, driver, lieutenant, and other positions in community fire departments.



Lori Gaylor, PA-C, MPAS, DFAAPA

Lori earned her degree in Business Administration and Psychology from Middle Georgia College and her Physician Assistant degree from Medical College of Georgia and The University of Nebraska. Lori has more than three decades of physician assistant experience in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Family Practice, Pediatrics, Hemophilia and HIV, Urgent Care, and Orthopedics. In 1999 she became Clinical Coordinator for the inaugural class of Physician Assistant students at the South University Physician Assistant Program. (It was South College back then!) and served as Clinical Coordinator for over ten years.

Lori is a Georgia native, originally from Perry, Georgia, and she graduated from Warner Robins High School. She lives in Richmond Hill, Georgia, on the Ogeechee River with her husband, Tim. She has been blessed with two incredible children, Worth and Rebecca, who are both grown and starting families of their own.

Lori has been a member of Georgia Association of Physician Assistants since she was a student over 35 years ago, she is a past GAPA president, and she spoke at the American Academy of Physician Assistants conference in Atlanta in 2010. She received the GAPA distinguished service award in 2004, and the Physician/PA partnership award in 2018. She also was a recipient of the Dylan Maples Memorial Scholarship in 2018, with her daughter Rebecca, who is a brain cancer survivor.

“I am so lucky to be a PA. I get to make a difference every time that I take care of a patient. I enjoy helping people, I enjoy the technical skills, I enjoy the satisfaction of being part of a team, and I particularly enjoy putting the pieces of a puzzle together to solve a problem and come up with a solution to help a patient. I’m part of a terrific team. It’s so much fun to teach students and new PAs and to watch that light come on when a new skill is learned, or a connection is made. The staff where I work is a joy to be with, and we all respect each other and our individual and combined skills.”

Jeff Greene, MMSc, PA-C

Bio to come.



Jeff Lefeber, PA-C

Bio to come.



Jason Lucas, PhD, PA-C

Jason Lucas completed his undergraduate degrees in Respiratory Therapy (1995) and Physician Assistant (2001) from The Medical College of Georgia, and his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Cardiovascular Physiology in 2009 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.   Jason worked in peripheral vascular and cardiovascular surgery as a Physician Assistant prior to completing his PhD. His doctorate involved studying the cellular mechanisms involved in cardiac fibrosis. Following completion of his thesis, he worked as a scientist in the medical device industry.  Jason joined the Cardiology Critical Care Service at Piedmont Heart Institute in 2010. He currently serves on the Critical Care Services staff and also as the Co-Director of the Piedmont Heart PA/NP Fellowship in Cardiovascular Critical Care Program.  

Jason currently resides in the Atlanta area.  Jason is a road cycling enthusiast in his spare time and also enjoys spending time with his wife and four children.

Caroline Pierce, MSN, ACNP-BC

Caroline Pierce is a nurse practitioner with 9 years of experience in cardiology and critical care.  She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, where she received her undergraduate and Master’s education.  Caroline worked at University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital in the Heart Transplant ICU, working with advanced heart failure, LVAD and heart transplant patient from 2011-2015 before moving to Atlanta in 2015.  Caroline currently works at Piedmont Hospital in cardiology critical care.

Allan Platt, PA-C, MMSc, DFAAPA

Allan is a 1977 graduate in Health Systems from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a 1979 graduate of the Emory PA program. He was Program Coordinator and Physician Assistant at the Georgia Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at Grady Health System for 20 years. Allan has co-authored a patient guide book on sickle cell disease and trait for the general public titled Hope and Destiny, a Patient and Parents guide to Sickle Cell Disease distributed by Hilton Publishing in its fifth edition in 2019. He is the editor of the monthly sickle cell e-newsletter that reaches over 5,000 people worldwide.

He is the author of the Hematology chapter in O’Connell and Zarbock A Comprehensive Review for the Certification and Recertification Examinations for Physician Assistants Sixth Edition Wolters Kluwer Lippincott Williams and Wilkins 3/2017 and co-author of Approach to Anemia. In Toy EC, Toy AL. Case Files Teaching Case Collection. New York: McGraw Hill, Online 2019

In 2002 Allan received the Paragon Teacher of the Year Award from the AAPA, and the SAAPA Presidents award in May 2007, Dean’s Teaching Award – Emory University School of Medicine and the GAPA – Circle of Honor Award in 2015. He is currently Assistant Professor and Director of admissions at the Emory University School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program. He teaches first-year PA students how to do medical history, hematology, pain management, and business issues.

Katie Rattray, MSN, ACNP-BC

Bio to come.



Mary Sparkes, MD

Bio to come.



Robb Taylor Head Coach Wheelchair Basketball, Auburn University

Bio to come.

Deirdre Walsh MMsc., PA-C

Deirdre Walsh grew up in Nashville, TN. She received an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and nutrition from Miami of Ohio in 2013. She earned her Physician Assistant Degree from Mercer University in 2014. After graduating from Mercer, she was accepted to an Advanced Cardiology Fellowship at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, GA, which she completed in 2016. She since joined the Cardiac Critical Care service at Piedmont where she serves as a faculty member for the Advanced Cardiology Fellowship. She is also an instructor for CSU-ALS (Cardiac Surgical Unit Advanced Life Support). Her research interests focus on the prediction of neurological recovery following a cardiac arrest.

During her free time, Deirdre loves to participate in mud-runs and triathlons. She also enjoys spending time with her family, husband, and fur-baby, Teebo.

Amynah Welji, MMSc, PA-C

Bio to come.



Brian Wingrove PA-C

Brian Wingrove graduated from the Duke PA program in 1999. He worked in primary care pediatrics in North Carolina for 3 years before moving to Atlanta, joining the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta primary care network. In 2005, he joined what was Georgia Pediatric Pulmonology Associates, but is now part of the Children’s Physician Group at Scottish Rite. Brian has also worked in the Children’s urgent care network on a PRN basis.

He is a past president of the Society for PAs in Pediatrics and currently serves as the American Academy of PAs liaison to the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is a PALS instructor, coordinates student rotations for his practice, volunteers at Camp Breathe Easy overseeing the Asthma Ambassador program, and is co-chair of the Advanced Practice Provider Practice Performance Evaluation committee. He lectures at the Georgia State Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program and the Emory PA Programs, in addition to having giving numerous presentations at conferences. In 2017, he was awarded the Advanced Practice Provider Preceptor of the Year Award at Children’s.

Workshop Speakers

Anthony Fullard, PhD

Bio to come.

Joe Gilboy, PA-C

Bio to come.

Jim Gordon, PA

Bio to come.


Bio to come.

Mary Vacala, ATC, PA-C

Practicing as a Physician Assistant and specializing in Orthopaedic sports medicine for 31 years, Mary Vacala resides in Savannah GA. Mary has extensive experience working with patients and athletes of all ages and professions. Mary started her sports medicine career in college where she was both a scholarship athlete and an athletic trainer. Mary’s philosophy is to live your life with purpose and have fun doing it.

Mary holds 2 Bachelor of Science degrees and 2 master’s degrees in Medical Science and Physician Assistant Studies.
Mary has been certified as an athletic trainer for 41 years and a Physician Assistant for the past 32 years. Mary has coordinated several athletic training, sports medicine, and PA programs and served as a department chair/program director of a Physician assistant program. She continues to mentor student PA and ATC interns, and Family Medicine Residents. Mary has been presenting guest lectures throughout the country and internationally for the past 25 years.

Mary was one of 3 medical coordinators and a Chief athletic trainer in the 1966 Atlanta Olympic games. She has worked with the USA Olympic Committee since 1993. She was selected to the USA medical Team in 2000, 2004, and 2016 where she covered the Paralympic Games in Sydney Australia, Athens Greece, and Rio, Brazil. She has been a member of 2 Gold medal America’s cup teams, 2 Silver medal World Championship team, 1 Gold medal Parapan team in 2015 and 2 Gold Medal Paralympic Teams. She continues to work with the USA Men and will be with them in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

Mary has served as a secretary and a two-term president of the Georgia Association of Physician Assistants. Mary has served as a delegate for the AAPA House of Delegates for eleven terms. She was elected by her peers as the GAPA Physician Assistant of the year in 2015.

Mary has co-authored a Chapter on the Care of the Physically Challenged Patient in the book “Physician Assistant: A Guide to Clinical Practice. She has numerous honors of which most recent include; The Hu. C Myers Award, distinguished alumni PA award at Alderson Broaddus University, The 2017 Distinguished Alumni award from Western Illinois University and the AAPA Distinguished Fellow.

She has recently partnered with two former students and an ER physician owning their Urgent Care clinic in Savannah. They wanted to give back to the community that they have collectively served for over 55 years. The clinic’s slogan is “Your family is our family”. Every patient that walks into the door is treated like family and the group prides themselves on having a diverse team of experts.


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