Speaker Bios

Lauren Bloom
Lauren Bloom graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Indiana University in 2004. She continued her education at Hofstra University where she received a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration in 2007 and then continued her training to become a Certified Diabetes Educator. After starting her career in New York at The Parker Jewish Institute and New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center she transitioned to her current position as the Transplant Dietitian at RWJBH Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, NJ. Lauren has been counseling renal and pancreas transplant patients since 2008. She counsels and is available to patients throughout the transplant process with a focus on, but not limited to, renal nutrition, diabetes and obesity. Lauren’s mission is to help her clients attain an optimal nutritional lifestyle through the power of knowledge, positive mind and attitude. She believes that the foundation for a healthy lifestyle involves self-empowerment and focuses on individual counseling so that each client can make their own realistic choices that will lead to a long and healthy life. Lauren strives to provide her clients with the tools, strategies and education needed to achieve their goals.

Toros Kapoian, MD, FACP
Dr. Kapoian is the Medical Director, DCI North Brunswick and an Associate Professor of Medicine, UMDNJ - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.  He has served on many physician and hospital committees, nationally and locally, including the Network 3 Medical Review Board (MRB) and the Board of Directors (BOD), Chairman of MRB 1999 to 2003 and BOD 2006-present, a reviewer for Kidney International and Clinical Nephrology and on many quality, leadership and administrative committees. He has written many articles, abstracts and book chapters, narrative reports of research, teaching and clinical contributions, belongs to several professional societies, and has provided many educational and teaching presentations.

Rebecca Kurnik Seshasai, MD
Dr. Rebecca Kurnik Seshasai received her Bachelors of Science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She completed medical school and internal medicine residency at Tufts University in Boston, MA and her Nephrology fellowship as well as Masters in Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.  She joined the faculty at Drexel University School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor in 2015, where she serves as Director of Home Dialysis Services.  Her clinical and research focus is in increasing utilization of home dialysis in the United States. 

Tom Lepetich, MSW
Tom Lepetich was born in New Jersey and has lived in Boulder, Colorado and Seattle, Washington.  He has two adult children and one grandchild. Tom received his MSW for the University of Washington in 1981.  He has been a dialysis social worker for over 30 years. Tom has presented at the National Kidney Foundation’s Clinical Meetings numerous times.  He has also presented at a various ESRD Network Meetings and for the American Nephrology Nurses Association Meeting, The American Kidney Fund and at local CNSW Chapter Meetings. He is currently the NJ-Council of Nephrology Social Worker Chapter’s Chairperson and is the National CNSW Region I and V Representative and a member of the CNSW Executive Council.

Jennifer Payton, MHCA, BSN, RN, CNN
Jennifer Payton has been a nephrology nurse for the past 18 years.  Her experience includes hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, home hemodialysis, administration, and education.  She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with her Bachelors of Science degree in Nursing.  Jennifer has also attended Bellevue University for her Masters in Healthcare Administration and is a Certified Nephrology Nurse.  She is active in the American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA) and is currently serving as the National Secretary and a member of the Board of Directors.  She has presented on numerous topics to include:  conflict resolution, anemia management, vitamin D, management skills, and transitions in care.  Jennifer is also a published author on conflict in the dialysis clinic for the Nephrology Nursing Journal.
Sharon R. Schatz, MS,RD,CSR,CDE
Sharon Schatz is a registered dietitian and Certified Specialist in Renal Nutrition.  More than twenty years ago while employed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, she was motivated to become a Certified Diabetes Educator when the hospital staff's prescient management combined diabetes teaching service admissions with those on the dialysis floor, a move that preceded today's proliferation of dialysis programs and diabesity epidemic. Since her return to New Jersey sixteen years ago, she has been a renal dietitian with DaVita Healthcare.  She obtained a B.S. degree from Cornell University and a M.S. degree in Health Sciences Education and Evaluation from State University of New York at Buffalo and also completed a clinical internship at the Royal Victoria Hospital, an affiliate of McGill University in Montreal.

Recent publication activities include co-author of the diabetes chapter in A Clinical Guide to Nutrition Care in Kidney Disease, published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and newsletter theme editor for On the Cutting Edge's "Overcoming the Nutritional and Educational Challenges of Chronic Kidney Disease and Diabetes" 4 CEU issue.  She has been active in professional activities throughout her career and is the current Professional Development Chairperson for the Tri-State Renal Dietitians Association.

Jennifer St. Clair-Russell, MSEd, MCHES
Jennifer St. Clair-Russell is a Master Level Health Education Specialist with a PhD in Philosophy, Social and Behavioral Science from Virginia Commonwealth University.  She has worked for the Coalition for Supportive Care of Kidney Patients as the Director since 2015.  Ms. Russell has also worked for the American Kidney Fund as the Director of Public and Professional Education. She was also the Principal Investigator and Director of the Peer to Peer Project for the Mid- Atlantic Renal Coalition.   She has also published a variety of articles in peer reviewed journals as well as been a speaker at various national healthcare conferences.