Our Team

Terry Wilcox

Co-Founder & Executive Director

Terry Wilcox helps patients find their voice and become advocates for their health care.As co-founder and executive director of Patients Rising, Terry manages the organization’s day-to-day operations to help every patient gain access to the right treatment. An expert in multimedia storytelling, Terry uses her background in entertainment to present powerful personal patient narratives. She has a track record of building coalitions with survivors, caregivers and medical professionals. A regular opinion writer on health policy and how it affects patients, she has been published in Fortune, the Boston Globe, The Hill, Morning Consult, Crains NY, Real Clear Health, American Thinker, Inside Sources and more.

Terry’s career in patient advocacy was inspired by her mentor Selma Schimmel, considered by many as the “original” young adult survivor advocate. As executive director for Vital Options International, Terry advanced Selma’s legacy at the nonprofit cancer communication, education and advocacy organization. From 2008 to 2014, Terry worked alongside Selma as creative director at Vital Options International and supervising producer for The Group Room.

Terry lives in Vienna, Virginia with her husband, Jonathan, and twin boys, Jackson and James. Recently, they refinished her basement to house her mother-in-law and a puppy named Harlow, making their home truly intergenerational.


Joe Keenan

Director of  Digital Product Development & Marketing

Joe directs the digital strategy, operations and marketing for Patients Rising.  He is responsible for developing and enhancing the organization’s digital assets, applications, and online content across its web properties, mobile, and social channels.  Joe has been working in healthcare marketing, communications and content development for 20 years, specifically in the areas of cancer, substance abuse, chronic illness, and patient advocacy.

Jim Sliney Jr.

Director of Patient Outreach 

As Director of Patient Content at Patients Rising, Jim works very closely with the people who have healthcare war stories to tell. As a Columbia University trained writing consultant Jim has worked closely with writers of all levels of skill to help them find and refine their voices. Jim is a writer, editor, author and medical assistant with over 20 years of experience in healthcare. He’s spent over two decades in clinical care and research at some of New York’s biggest health institutions doing hands-on nursing, education and advocacy for rare disease patients. He has worked with several non-profit patient support organizations doing outreach, advocacy and creating educational content. He lives in New York City with his wife and their cats…sooo many cats.

Joelle Sokolic

Director of Patient Advocacy

Joelle is Director of Patient Advocacy at Patients Rising and is passionate about helping people fight for their right to healthcare. She has spent the beginning of her career in the Public Policy sector and gaining experience in advocacy and education. While advocating is her primary function by day, Joelle also loves spending time with her five older sisters and 10 nieces and nephews!


Kate Pecora


Kate Pecora is an impassioned advocate for rare and chronic disease, disability justice, and healthcare policy. She is diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type III, and is lives in Boston, Massachusetts. Kate is currently (e)traveling across the country in search of the most compelling stories of patient access, affordability, and quality. Want to share your story and join the Patient’s Rising Community? Reach out to Kate for opportunities to join her weekly blog posts and interviews on the Patients Rising Podcast.   

Samantha Smith

Patient Navigator, Patients Rising Concierge 

Samantha is an advocate, health & wellness coach, and the President of G-PACT, a non profit patient support group for gastroparesis. She lives with a handful of chronic illnesses while working to help others with theirs. Advocating has become part of her passion and purpose in life. She lives in upstate New York, where she enjoys running in the warmer weather and complains when she has to run in the cold. She’s organized fundraisers, lobbied congress, spoken at conferences, and been a part of many awareness campaigns for chronic illnesses. 



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