Meet Our Team

  • John G. Carney, MEd
  • Linda Doolin Ward
  • Tarris Rosell, DMin, PhD
  • Erika Blacksher, PhD
  • Jan Evans, CPA
  • Cindy Leyland
  • Ryan Pferdehirt, D.Bioethics, HEC-C
  • Trudi Galblum
  • Matthew Pjecha
  • Monica Delles
  • John G. Carney, MEd

    President and CEO

    (816) 979-1353

    In December 2011, John G. Carney, MEd, became the second President and CEO of the Center for Practical Bioethics, succeeding the founding director who had held the position since the organization’s inception in 1984. His previous commitment to the Center’s work was well established having served as Vice President of the organization from mid-2004 to late 2010, focusing his work primarily on improving shared decision making for patients and families and care for those in the final chapters of life.

    John’s dedication to those on the edges of life spans three decades. He devoted his early career in the 1980s-2000s to the development of hospice and palliative care in Kansas and throughout the Midwest, serving in executive positions at the provider and state association levels. His policy and advocacy work in the areas of aging, advanced illness and advance care planning includes executive leadership positions at the state and national association levels as well. His passionate voice advocating for families facing difficult healthcare decisions has been heard in rural communities, town halls and national forums from coast to coast.

    In 2008, John co-authored a report to Congress on Advance Care Planning and worked with the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health on improving end-of-life care for all Americans. During the early 2000s, he served in leadership roles at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and directed education programs for America’s Health Insurance. He has also been recognized for his leadership in executive management of small healthcare organizations. In 2017, he coordinated a years-long project examining perspectives on advance care planning, palliative care and end of life among Catholics in the U.S with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

    He holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Newman University (Wichita, KS) and a Master’s from Wichita State University.

  • Linda Doolin Ward

    Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

    Linda Ward
    (816) 979-1362

    Linda’s career includes teaching, operations, marketing, communications, training and development, strategic planning and investor relations in both for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.

    In 2001, she joined Health Midwest, then the largest healthcare system in the Kansas City region. She served as executive vice president-corporate relations and was part of the team that led Health Midwest through its sale to HCA. The sale led to creation of the Greater Kansas City Health Care Foundation and the REACH Foundation.

    Linda joined the Center staff in 2004 after serving on the board. She has responsibility for finance/audit, planning, governance, resource development including endowment and planned giving as well as operations and program funding, membership, human resources. She also works with area benefits leaders to provide corporate programs offering employee education in advance care planning as well as coaching and advocacy when dealing with advanced illness.

    She served on the board of MetroCare/NorthlandCare from inception in 2006 until 2016, a program incubated at the Center that provides specialty care for people without access to care. She served as board chair in 2013 and 2014. She is also a member of KU Med Center’s Institute for Neurological Disorders Advisory Council, the advisory board of the National Research Network of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Central Exchange. She has participated as retreat facilitator with the Frontiers Leadership Team, a regional consortium managing a $20 million CTSA – Clinical and Translational Science Award.

    She served on the board for the United Way of Greater Kansas City and chaired their Health Impact Council. She was the first woman to chair the Westminster College board of trustees, which honored her with an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2004. After 23 years on that board, she was named a life trustee in 2009. She was a director of Lawson Bank from 1999-2017.

    Linda is an active participant in the Women’s Public Service Network and co-founded the Northland Giving Circle. She is past chair of the Port Authority of Kansas City, Missouri, which focuses on development of the Riverfront and the former Richards-Gebaur air base. She served on the founding board of the Northland Community Foundation and continued on that board for 21 years, four years as chair. The fund has grown to assets of nearly $50 million.

    She is also past chair of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, the Missouri Children’s Trust Fund, The Harvest Ball Society and the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City. She is past vice-chair of the Partnership for Children and Crittenden.

    Linda has been named a Churchill Fellow of Westminster College and Central Exchange Woman of the Year. She is the recipient of the Gillis Spirit of Kansas City Award, the Ann Robb Townsend Award for Business Leadership, and Kansas City Tomorrow’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and in 2007 was honored with the Look North Award from the Clay County Economic Development Council. In 2009, she received the Pinnacle Award from the Northland Community Foundation, and in 2017 she and her husband Terry received the Volunteers of the Year award from Nonprofit Connect.

  • Tarris Rosell, DMin, PhD

    Rosemary Flanigan Chair

    Terry Rosell
    (816) 979-1361


    As Rosemary Flanigan Chair at the Center and contractually on behalf of the Center, Dr. Rosell does bioethics education and consultation at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (Chair, Department of Bioethics) and the University of Kansas Medical Center (Clinical Professor, School of Medicine). He is also, for many years, a Professor of Pastoral Theology (Ethics and Ministry Praxis) at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas.

    Dr. Rosell completed a fellowship in clinical ethics at Vanderbilt University and earned the PhD there in Ethics and Society from the graduate department of religion. His first doctorate is in Pastoral Theology from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School.

    From 2006-10, he served as co-director of Sabbaths of Hope, a grant-funded project with Mental Health America of the Heartland, which empowers faith leaders to address the stigma of depression and inequitable access to treatment. He concurrently directed another disparities initiative ultimately incorporated as MetroCARE, a referral network of volunteer healthcare providers for low-income uninsured persons.

    Dr. Rosell provides ethics consultation for the University of Kansas Health System, where he co-chairs the Hospital Ethics Committee and directs the Ethics Consultation Service. He also directs the Clendening Summer Fellowship program for the School of Medicine.

    He lectures widely, especially in the Greater Kansas City area and throughout the Midwest. He has also taught and lectured internationally, most recently in the Philippines (2009-2010), Kenya (2011), and Myanmar (2014-2017). He traveled twice to Myanmar in 2016 on an ARCUS grant addressing ethics issues of sexuality and gender in church and society. He was in rural Laos in 2017, and continues to work with medical mission colleagues there on possibilities for improving pain management, palliative and hospice care options in that developing nation.

    Dr. Rosell’s Ethics articles are found in numerous periodicals, both print and electronic. He contributed a chapter to the 2008 Cambridge University publication, Complex Ethics Consultation: Cases that Haunt Us, and another to a 2011 publication by Johns Hopkins University Press, Controversial Bodies, on the ethics of plastinated bodies exhibition. Another book chapter on a clinical ethics case is forthcoming.

    Dr. Rosell lives in the Kansas City area with his life partner, the Reverend Dr. Ruth Rosell. They have four adult children and two sons-in-law. When not engaged in ethics work, Terry makes pottery at a clay studio, both for art’s sake and for three orphaned kids in Kenya to whom all pottery proceeds are directed. He also enjoys working on a long-term rehab project on a rural Kansas lake property—to which he hopes someday to retire with Ruth, and there to live the life of a grandfather-artist.

  • Erika Blacksher, PhD

    John B. Francis Chair

    Terry Rosell
    (816) 979-1358


    Erika Blacksher was appointed the John B. Francis Chair in Bioethics on September 1, 2020. Dr. Blacksher studies ethical and policy questions raised by health inequalities in the United States. Her current work focuses on issues of justice raised by white mortality trends, related roles of early life adversity and whiteness, and deliberative democratic engagement as a tool for advancing health and social equity via developing population policy and civic connection.

    Dr. Blacksher has masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Virginia’s bioethics program, after which she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at Columbia University in New York City from 2006 to 2008. She then joined The Hastings Center as a Research Scholar, working on questions of public health ethics and policy from 2008 to 2010.

    Immediately prior to joining the Center for Practical Bioethics as the Francis Chair, Dr. Blacksher was Associate Professor (with tenure) and Director of Undergraduate studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. At UW, she created and taught two popular courses each year—Social Justice and Health and When Life Makes You Sick: Ethics and the Social Determinants of Health—and directed the Bioethics Minor. Dr. Blacksher was also a co-investigator on numerous studies funded by the National Institutes of Health, leading the development and implementation of participatory and deliberative processes to engage minority and marginalized communities on ethical questions of health research and policy. She is also a consultant to the Center for the Ethics of Indigenous Genomics Research, a NIH Center of Excellence, working with partners to translate deliberative democratic principles into practical deliberative forums that can effectively and equitably elicit the views of tribal communities on ethical questions about genomic research, biobanks, and data stewardship.

    Dr. Blacksher publishes regularly in bioethics, public health, health policy, medical, and deliberation journals, such as the American Journal of Bioethics, American Journal of Public Health, Hastings Center Report, JAMA, and Journal of Public Deliberation. Dr. Blacksher’s complete CV can be found here. She also lectures frequently and widely, giving invited talks to professional and academic entities, most recently to the National Academies of Science Committee on Rising Midlife Mortality Rates and Socioeconomic Disparities, The Hastings Center’s Project on Reconstructing Common Purpose and Civic Innovation for a Democracy in Crisis, The Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Disparities Solutions, Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science, the American College of Medical Genetics, and the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia.

    The Francis Chair brings Dr. Blacksher home to the Center for Practical Bioethics, where she served as the Deputy Director of Community-State Partnerships to Improve End-of-Life Care, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program to create a policy and civic environment conducive to good end-of-life care, and as a Center Program Associate focused on health and healthcare disparities, from 1998 to 2003. She looks forward to building this next phase of her career at the Center working with community leaders in Kansas City to address widening educational disparities and entrenched racial disparities in health using civic tools that can promote health and opportunity for all in the Heartland.

    Dr. Blacksher lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband of 20 years, Thomas Knittel, an architect who got his start in Kansas City, the city they both call home and look forward to spending more time in.

  • Jan Evans, CPA

    Jan Evans
    (816) 979-1355

    Jan joined the Center in January 2011 and serves as Accountant. In that role, she is responsible for all facets of the Center’s financial operations, including annual budget preparation, general ledger maintenance, financial report preparation, accounts payable and receivable, treasury, and preparation for and coordination of the annual audit.

    Jan has more than 30 years of varied business experience, primarily in the areas of non-profit accounting and budgeting. She has also been involved in education, teaching several high school business courses. Jan was an active member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an honorary educational sorority, and a member of the Missouri Association of Certified Public Accountants. She holds a B.A. in Business Education from Avila University and an MBA with a concentration in Accounting and Finance from Rockhurst University. She has her Certified Public Accountant certificate and is licensed to practice in the State of Missouri.

  • Cindy Leyland

    Director of Program Operations
    Cindy Leyland
    (816) 979-1357

    Cindy oversees creation, implementation and management of administrative, financial, and operational systems and processes in support of executive and program leadership needs. She also supports resource development through prospect identification and management, grant writing and management. A highly skilled project director, she is also responsible for day-to-day operations, budget oversight and grants management for the Pain Action Alliance to Implement a National Strategy (PAINS) team, and she leads the Citizen Leadership Group of PAINS-KC.

    Cindy joined the Center in 2005 as project director for the Kansas City Partnership to Advance Pediatric Palliative Care, the Center-sponsored initiative which helped to organize, strengthen and promote access to the area’s palliative care services for children, their families and health care providers. She also supported the KC4 Aging in Community initiative.

    Previously, Cindy spent five years at Community Action Partnership (CAP) of Greater St. Joseph, an agency dedicated to the elimination of poverty in four northwest Missouri counties. At CAP, she oversaw direct emergency service delivery, as well as community organizing projects focused on advocacy and policy development at the local, state and federal levels. She is a graduate of Benedictine College’s Executive MBA program, with emphasis on leadership, entrepreneurship and transformational strategic planning, and has served on the boards of Synergy Services and the American Lung Association of Western Missouri. She volunteers regularly at Safe Haven, a domestic violence shelter.

  • Ryan Pferdehirt, D.Bioethics, HEC-C

    Director of Membership and Ethics Education

    Ryan Pferdehirt
    (816) 979-1350


    Ryan joined the Center in June 2019 as the Director of Membership and Ethics Education. His work focuses on developing and growing competencies of member ethics committees, individual consultants and the general public.

    Ryan previously served as the Department Chair and Bioethicist for MultiCare Health System, a multiple hospital health system in the Seattle/Tacoma area. In that role, he oversaw all aspects of bioethics services for the South Sound region and hospitals in Spokane. In addition to directing the clinical ethics consultation service and conducting several hundred ethics consultations, he served on and chaired multiple hospital ethics committees and IRBs and championed ethics education in all aspects of patient care. Ryan also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Puget Sound in the Religious Studies and Bioethics department. He taught several classes including Clinical Bioethics, Practicum in Bioethics, and developed and managed a clinical ethics internship with the local hospital system.

    Ryan spoke frequently in the Seattle/Tacoma area, with an on-going lecture series, “Conversations in Medical Ethics,” at the University of Washington Tacoma. Topics included moral distress in clinical ethics, cultural and media depictions of medicine compared to the real world, and the limits of clinical ethics going forward. He also led a community project with Hospice Foundation of America’s “Being Mortal” Project, presented frequent lectures for the Bioethics Club at the University of Puget Sound, and trainings/grand rounds for local palliative and ethics departments and community events.

    Before moving to the Pacific Northwest, he worked for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in patient relations, as well as volunteering in the clinical ethics and palliative medicine departments. He also worked for a local bioethics startup company as the developer of ethics content, serving as the philosophical bioethics expert.

    His research areas include moral philosophy, end-of-life ethics, philosophy of language, and advance care planning ethics. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a master’s degree from Creighton University, and his doctorate from Loyola University Chicago.

  • Trudi Galblum

    Marketing, Communications & Grantwriting

    Trudi Galblum

    Galblum Communications LLC
    (913) 961-0129

    A native of Washington, D.C., Trudi began her career with the US Department of Health and Human Services, first as a research analyst in the Baltimore, Maryland, headquarters of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid supervising demonstration grants and contracts, and subsequently in the HHS Kansas City Regional Office as a project officer for a quality of care peer review organization.

    As a consultant on marketing and communications for the Center for Practical Bioethics since 2013, she develops strategy and implements tactics to build awareness and support for the Center’s work. She also provides grantwriting support.

    Since starting Galblum Communications in 1991, Trudi has helped more than 80 organizations, from small shops to large institutions, to develop community support for their missions through public relations, grantwriting, development communications and historical documentation for print, web and mobile platforms, as well as video and social media. From 1991 until joining the Center, Trudi led marketing and communications for Nonprofit Connect, which provides education, resources and networking to help nonprofits more effectively achieve their missions.

    Trudi holds a Master of Policy Sciences degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland, College Park. She earned a Nonprofit Fund Raising Certificate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Bloch School of Business and Public Administration and also has extensive nonprofit board experience.

  • Matthew Pjecha

    Program Associate

    Matthew Pjecha
    (816) 979-1366

    Matthew Pjecha, MSPP, is a Program Associate at the Center for Practical Bioethics. He has been involved at the Center since January 2016, developing programs, and providing research and technical support. He assists in coordinating the Transportable Physician Orders for Patient Preferences (TPOPP) in Missouri and Kansas, and serves as the primary point of contact for the program. He also coordinates the Kansas City Regional Healthcare Ethics Committee Consortium.

    Matthew received a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Missouri - Kansas City where he focused on bioethics and philosophy of science. He then completed an M.S. in Public Policy from the Georgia Institute of Technology focused on health policy and a certificate in science, technology, and society studies. Matthew is interested in the ethical and policy dimensions of emerging issues at the intersection of medicine, technology, and society.

  • Monica Delles

    Operations Assistant

    Monica Delles
    (816) 221-1100

    Monica joined the Center in July 2016 as the Operations Assistant. Her diverse professional background includes non-profit volunteer coordination, co-owning a store-front business, professional sales, college and corporate computer training and freelance writing. Monica has always enjoyed volunteering in her community.

    As Operations Assistant, Monica schedules and coordinates meetings, oversees the day-to-day operations of office equipment and supplies, enters and updates database information, and ships Caring Conversations orders and otherwise supports staff and board members in any way she can.

    Although she has called Kansas City home for 20 years, Monica grew up living in numerous states—mainly on the east coast—and overseas. She did stay on the Virginia Peninsula long enough to earn her BA in English with an emphasis in Professional Writing from Christopher Newport University with honors.

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