Why Collaborating with Advocacy and Support Organizations is Important for Research

Date: Mar 15, 2017 12:00 PM EST

Challenges with stigma in clinical research occur in many areas of the field, especially with CNS disorders. To ensure the future of cutting-edge research and finding cures for CNS disorders, the real work begins within the communities being served. Research professionals must begin to reach beyond their walls to engage the community at all levels. We strive to open dialogue between clinical research and advocacy groups to cross educate, share available resources, and ensure we are working hand in hand to protect the rights and options available to those living with mental illness.

The STARR Coalition, a nonprofit organization connecting thought-leaders within sponsors, CRO’s sites and advocacy, presented this webinar on ways we can work together across fields for positive change. We were also joined by Mental Health America Georgia and iResearch in Atlanta, who discussed their partnerships to change the attitude regarding research.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • Language is important. The language we use and the ways we engage advocacy matters.
  • Advocacy groups do not exist to recruit potential volunteers. That cannot be the foundation on which relationships are built. What are ways you can work together?
  • They have several goals from protecting rights to educating individuals with a diagnosis, their families and communities

his webinar was recorded on March 15, 2017. To watch the full webinar please click the button below.


Luke Kramer

Executive Director, STARR Coalition

Luke has worked for over 20 years assisting individuals on their road to mental health recovery. After 18 years in mental health treatment, Luke created The STARR Coalition (Stakeholders in Treatment, Advocacy, Research and Recovery) with his friend Carol Witham. The nonprofit organization brings together national thought leaders within clinical research sites, CRO’s, sponsors, treatment and advocacy with the mission to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and to promote research as an option for recovery.

Sarah Schwartz

Executive Director, Mental Health America of Georgia

Sarah Schwartz has over 22 years’ experience in the healthcare industry. Her focus area within the field is mental health, in which she’s worked as a clinician, researcher, organizational leader, and advocate.

Since 2007, Sarah has served as the Executive Director of Mental Health America (MHA) of Georgia, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the mental health of Georgians through education, outreach, and advocacy.

Heather Beitz

rior to co-founding iResearch Atlanta in 2010, Ms. Beitz has experience in both the pharmaceutical and medical device industry and more extensively the investigator site side of clinical research. At a mid-size medical device company she served as the Senior Director of Research for the US and Asia Pacific and then at a large healthcare and consumer product company, as the Director of Global Clinical Affairs. Prior to her industry experience, Ms. Beitz spent more than 10 years at a large Phase I-IV investigator site. There she held nearly every position, from clinical research coordinator, to rater, to site director and business development. Prior to her departure, she served as Vice President/COO. During her tenure, Ms. Beitz managed the 24/7, 40-bed, in-patient unit and out-patient clinic with over 75 employees.

Ms. Beitz earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Armstrong University and her Masters of Education from the University of South Carolina. She is published in the field of micro-organisms, anti-bacterials and surgical scrubs.

Zach Mitchell

Recruitment Specialist

Starting as a Market Researcher in 2014 at UWG paved the foundation for his transition to working at iResearch Atlanta, as part of the recruitment team. As a Recruitment Specialist he participates in recruiting patients, administering intakes, managing all data collection pertaining to subjects and screening outcomes, maintaining information related to all active studies, coordinate consent process, educating and providing information to patients and families pertaining to clinical trials.

Dondra Kinna

Recruitment Specialist

Began her career as an Intake Coordinator at a research site in the Atlanta area. She participated in Intake administration, managed appointments, coordinated activities and outings for patients, Responded to all calls/ messages for site specific research, educated potential subjects on all active studies. Formed and maintained relationships with the local community and Health affiliates.

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