The U.S. Pain Foundation is pleased to share it has appointed two new members to its Board of Directors: Edward Bilsky, PhD, an academic administrator and researcher from Washington, and Jessica Begley, MFT, a licensed therapist and community leader from Texas.

They join existing members Ellen Lenox Smith, a retired teacher and medical cannabis patient advocate from Rhode Island, Marv Turner, an Emmy award-winning producer and filmmaker out of Wisconsin, and Shawn Dickens, MBA, a government defense contractor from Florida. Dickens has been tapped to serve as Chairman.

The expanded Board also voted to appoint Nicole Hemmenway as permanent CEO; Hemmenway previously served in the role in an interim capacity. (Read an introductory Q&A with her here.)

“We are thrilled to have these two wonderful advocates for the pain community join the Board,” says Hemmenway. “They each bring a unique perspective, and unique skills, to the table. But what they have in common is their dedication to fighting for change on behalf of the 50 million Americans who live with chronic pain. I look forward to working with them as we continue to strengthen and grow our programs and services, with the goal of helping more patients than ever before.”

More about Edward Bilsky

Bilsky is Provost, Chief Academic Officer, and Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences (PNWU). He began collaborating with the U.S. Pain Foundation in 2014 on a variety of projects, including promoting pain awareness, advocacy efforts, and continuing education for health care providers. In 2016, he coordinated a weekend summit for patient advocacy volunteers at the University of New England that drew over 50 participants from across the country. He has been a champion for narrative medicine projects that help educate future providers using an interprofessional approach to pain management. This includes authoring an article for U.S. Pain’s flagship publication, known as the INvisible Project. Most recently, he co-led a U.S. Pain webinar on chronic pain and COVID-19, which was offered as a CME for providers.

Bilsky received his PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Arizona Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy in 1996, with a concentration in opioid pharmacology, pain, and addiction neurobiology. He is an expert in opioid pharmacology and early-stage drug discovery and development, collaborating with scientists around the world and publishing over 85 scientific papers. His work has been recognized by numerous professional societies, including receipt of the 2014 Patient Advocacy Award from the American Academy of Pain Medicine and a 2019 Mayday Fellowship.

He and his wife have three children. He is currently overseeing the academic growth of the new graduate health programs at PNWU with a mission of preparing these practitioners for practice in rural and underserved communities of the Northwest.

“Beyond his professional expertise in the pain management field, Dr. Bilsky has long been a passionate advocate for people with pain on a personal level,” says Nicole Hemmenway, CEO of U.S. Pain Foundation. “He is truly invested in understanding the full impact of pain on an individual and making sure medical students understand the challenges patients face. We are honored to have him serve on our Board of Directors.”

More about Jessica Begley

Begley is a marriage and family therapist and a child development specialist who is in the process of earning her PhD in Psychology. She previously taught children with learning disabilities, was a school counselor for an alternative high school, and continues to offer pro bono therapy sessions. She also has an extensive background in fundraising and event planning, stemming from her 15+ years of past experience volunteering for her daughter’s elementary school PTO and her church, the Whites Chapel United Methodist Church.

Begley became involved with U.S. Pain in 2015 due to her personal experience living with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a rare neurological condition. While she is fortunate to be in remission, her youngest daughter, Madi, also lives with CRPS. Because of their personal experiences, the Begley family–including husband, Bryan, and daughter, Ashton–understand the challenges people with pain face across their lifespan, both as children and adults.

In 2016, the family was featured in the INvisible Project: Kids and Family edition (read their story here). They also are longtime supporters of the Pediatric Pain Warrior Program. Building off her first-hand knowledge and clinical expertise, Jess frequently lends time and energy to help provide hope to other families navigating the uncertainties of chronic health issues.

“Jess is an unbelievably dedicated advocate for people with pain of all ages,” says Hemmenway. “She has spent countless hours helping support the Pediatric Pain Warrior Program especially. Between her background in psychology and her fundraising and event planning expertise, she brings a unique and much-needed perspective to the Board of Directors.”