Plenary Speakers

Newt Gingrich
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Advocates for Opioid Recovery Founding Advisor
Newt Gingrich is widely recognized for his commitment to a better system of health for all Americans.  His leadership as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives helped save Medicare from bankruptcy, prompted FDA reform to help the seriously ill and initiated a new focus on research, prevention, and wellness. His contributions have been so great that the American Diabetes Association awarded him their highest non-medical award and the March of Dimes named him their 1995 Citizen of the Year. Time Magazine honored him as 1995 Man of the Year and said, “Leaders make things possible. Exceptional leaders make them inevitable. Newt Gingrich belongs in the category of the exceptional.” To foster a modern health system that provides better outcomes at lower cost, Newt wrote Saving Lives and Saving Money and launched the Center for Health Transformation in 2003. He continued there in a leadership role until he stepped down in 2011 to seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States.  Today, Newt Gingrich is a Fox News contributor and the author of twenty-seven books, including 14 fiction and nonfiction New York Times best-sellers. He is a Senior Advisor at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, as well as a Senior Scientist at Gallup. Newt and his wife, Callista, host and produce historical and public policy documentaries. Recent films include The First American and Nine Days that Changed the World.
Patrick Kennedy
Former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
Advocates for Opioid Recovery Founding Advisor
The Honorable Patrick J. Kennedy is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the nation’s leading political voice on mental illness, addiction, and other brain diseases. During his 16-year career representing Rhode Island in Congress, he fought a national battle to end medical and societal discrimination against these illnesses, highlighted by his lead sponsorship of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 -- and his brave openness about his own health challenges. He is the founder of The Kennedy Forum and co-founder of One Mind, a global leader in open science collaboration for brain research. Kennedy is also the co-author of A Common Struggle, which outlines a bold plan for the future of mental health and addiction in America.
Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA
United States Surgeon General
Vice Admiral (VADM) Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA, was nominated by President Barack Obama in November 2013 and confirmed on December 15, 2014 as the 19th United States Surgeon General. As America’s Doctor, Dr. Murthy is responsible for communicating the best available scientific information to the public regarding ways to improve personal health and the health of the nation. He also oversees the operations of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, comprised of approximately 6,700 uniformed health officers who serve in locations around the world to promote, protect, and advance the health and safety of our nation.
 
Dr. Murthy has devoted himself to improving public health through the lens of service, clinical care, research, education, and entrepreneurship. The son of immigrants from India, Dr. Murthy discovered a love for the art of healing early in his childhood while spending time in his father’s medical clinic in Miami, Florida. After attending Miami Palmetto Senior High School, he received his Bachelor’s degree from Harvard, and his M.D. and M.B.A. degrees from Yale. He completed his residency training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School where he later joined the faculty as an internal medicine physician and instructor. As a clinician-educator, Dr. Murthy has cared for thousands of patients and trained hundreds of residents and medical students. He regards caring for patients as the greatest privilege of his life. 
 
In addition to clinical practice, Dr. Murthy has two decades of experience and perspective improving health in communities across the country and around the world. He co-founded VISIONS, an HIV/AIDS education program in India and the United States, which he led for eight years. As its president, he established ten chapters with hundreds of volunteers in both countries and grew the organization’s education programs to reach more than 45,000 youth. Dr. Murthy also co-founded the Swasthya project (“health and wellbeing” in Sanskrit), a community health partnership in rural India, to train women to be health providers and educators. During his five-year tenure with the organization, he established seed funding and helped expand research and direct care programs that reached tens of thousands of rural residents.
 
As a research scientist, Dr. Murthy has conducted laboratory research on vaccine development and studied the participation of women and minorities in clinical trials. His research findings have been published in Science, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Murthy is also a healthcare entrepreneur and innovator. He co-founded and chaired a successful software technology company, TrialNetworks, which improves research collaboration and enhances the efficiency of clinical trials around the world. In seven years, Dr. Murthy and his team took the company from conception to an international enterprise that powers dozens of clinical trials for over 50,000 patients in more than 75 countries. Dr. Murthy has also served as the president of Doctors for America, a non-profit organization with more than 16,000 physicians and medical students in all 50 states who work with patients and policymakers to build a high quality, affordable health system for all.
 
Seen by many as a proven leader who can use 21st century approaches and technology to modernize the role of Surgeon General, Dr. Murthy will focus his efforts on building cross-sector partnerships in communities to address the epidemics of obesity and tobacco-related disease, to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, to improve vaccination rates, and to make prevention and health promotion the backbone of our communities. Dr. Murthy firmly believes that our nation's greatest strength has always come from its people. Improving the health of our people means strengthening our communities and our country. That will be Dr. Murthy’s highest priority as Surgeon General.
Sam Quinones
Los Angeles-based freelance journalist and author
 
Sam Quinones is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist and author of three books of narrative nonfiction. His latest book is Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic (Bloomsbury, 2015), for which he traveled across the United States.  
 
Dreamland recounts twin stories of drug marketing in the 21st Century: A pharmaceutical corporation flogs its legal new opiate prescription painkiller as nonaddictive. Meanwhile, immigrants from a small town in Nayarit, Mexico devise a method for retailing black-tar heroin like pizza in the US, and take that system nationwide, riding a wave of addiction to prescription pills from coast to coast. The collision of those two forces has led to America's deadliest drug scourge in modern times.
 
Dreamland was selected as one of the Best books of 2015 by Amazon.com, Slate.com, the Daily Beast, Buzzfeed, Seattle Times, Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Entertainment Weekly, Audible, and in the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Business by Nobel economics laureate, Prof. Angus Deaton, of Princeton University.
 
Quinones’ previous two highly acclaimed books grew from his 10 years living and working as a freelance writer in Mexico (1994-2004).
 
True Tales From Another Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino and the Bronx was released in 2001. It is a cult classic of a book from Mexico’s vital margins – stories of drag queens and Oaxacan Indian basketball players, popsicle makers and telenovela stars, migrants, farm workers, a narcosaint, a slain drug balladeer, a slum boss, and a doomed tough guy.
 
In 2007, he came out with Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration. In it, Quinones narrates the saga of the Henry Ford of Velvet Painting, and of how an opera scene emerged in Tijuana, and how a Zacatecan taco empire formed in Chicago. He tells the tale of the Tomato King, of a high-school soccer season in Kansas, and of Mexican corruption in a small LA County town. Threading through the book are three tales of a modern Mexican Huck Finn. Quinones ends the collection in a chapter called "Leaving Mexico" with his harrowing tangle with the Narco-Mennonites of Chihuahua. 
 
Sam Quinones is formerly a reporter with the L.A. Times, where he worked for 10 years (2004-2014).  He is a veteran reporter on immigration, gangs, drug trafficking, the border.
 
Contact him at www.samquinones.com.