pH Board Of Directors
MEET THE pH LABS BOARD
Proactive Health Labs (pH Labs) is governed by a board of directors that establishes the organization’s operational policies. These include professional standards, overall strategy for fulfilling pH Labs’ mission and vision, new services, financial oversight and overall management of the organization. The pH Labs Board of Directors is comprised of experts with a wealth of experience in the health, wellness, medical and legal professions.
Joy Stephenson-Laws, Chairman
Tell us a little about your professional background.
I am so proud to be the president and founder of Proactive Health Labs because I am finally able to utilize the information that I have gained as a health care professional over the past 30 years to educate consumers about their health. In addition to my day-to-day leadership role with pH Labs, I am the founding and managing partner of Stephenson, Acquisto & Colman (SAC) the health care industry’s premier litigation law firm. I also am the co-founder and president of MoJo Marketing & Media, a boutique creative agency specializing in brand development and content creation, and of The Bili Project Foundation, a nonprofit organization that creates awareness of bile duct cancer and raises funds for research relating to this cancer. I received my B.A. from Loma Linda University in 1980 and Juris Doctor from Loyola University in 1983, and was admitted to the California Bar in 1984.
Why did you found pH Labs?
I firmly believe that the better educated people are about their health, the more benefits of a healthy life they will enjoy. These include a greater sense of well-being, enhanced performance of daily activities, more energy, disease prevention, and a speedier recovery and better outcome from any medical treatment they may need. And being more educated also allows people to better partner with their health care providers in making choices about lifestyle and health care management. My passion for motivating people to be better educated about their health or, rather, be proactive about their health comes from both my professional and personal experience. In my role as a health care attorney, I have learned a great deal about sickness care and must communicate complex medical issues in such a way that a non-medical audience easily understands it. It became apparent to me that an equal focus needed to be placed on wellness care and preventive medicine in order to maintain the integrity and success of our health care system. In my personal life, I have lost loved ones, colleagues and friends to diseases which, had they been just a bit more knowledgeable about their health, could have been diagnosed earlier and treated more effectively. I realized that by being armed with the information and tools needed to proactively manage their health, people could truly lead healthier, longer lives. I know from this experience that proactive means more than simply going to an annual physical, taking vitamins or prescribed medications, eating a healthy diet or exercising more. It also means knowing how to manage one’s health, checking to make sure that all the steps someone takes are actually working and checking that their body is getting all the critical elements it needs.
How do you apply the pH Labs philosophy and approach for getting healthy and staying your healthiest in your life?
The pH philosophy focuses on empowering consumers by educating them about their health. As a consumer of health care, I have educated myself so that I can make intelligent and informed decisions. Some examples of how I incorporate this approach? If I were unable to sleep, I would not request sleeping pills from my doctor. I might first try determining whether a nutritional deficiency or stress is causing my inability to sleep. Similarly, if I had migraines, I may choose to take pain medications to ease the pain immediately, while at the same time determine whether a mineral, vitamin or other deficiency may be the cause and address the cause as well as the symptom. I never accept my doctor’s initial analysis that all my blood work came back normal. I request a copy to see whether individual tests are within the low or high end of normal so I can be proactive about addressing issues before they become abnormal. I also never accept a doctor telling me that he has run all the necessary tests without knowing from an independent source what the necessary tests are. Being proactive is knowing that if I have hypertension and I eat a lot of fish, I might want to be tested for mercury before entertaining suggestions from my doctor to start prescription drugs since mercury plays a role in hypertension. It’s also knowing that if I take antibiotics, that I may need to take probiotics later as well.
What inspires you on those mornings when you would just rather not get out of bed?
To be honest, by being proactive about my health, I do not have those mornings. I am usually well-rested and ready to tackle the world when I wake up. I usually wake up full of energy.
What is the most important thing you have learned since founding pH Labs?
Being healthy is not about how much you weigh but how much fat is in that weight. Excess fat is unhealthy and it is equally important to have an accurate device to measure fat. The traditional bathroom scale or BMI is really not a good indication of how healthy we are. Excess fat in the wrong places is a breeding ground for disease, and one simple way to be proactive is by monitoring our body fat on a regular basis. Even if we are skinny, we can have too much fat!
What is the one thing you want people to know about pH Labs and its philosophy?
Health care information can be overwhelming and we cannot afford to only leave it up to our doctors to provide us with this information. Doctors play an important role, but we have the responsibility to educate ourselves too. pH provides you with easy-to-understand information about your health so that you can be your healthiest and make better decisions about your health. It is never, ever too late to get the necessary information to start taking care of your health. And the sooner you start, the sooner you will reap the benefits.
Susan Acquisto, Board Member
What can you tell us about your professional life outside of pH Labs?
I am founder and CEO of Regulatory, Risk, Compliance Specialists, Inc., which is dedicated to quality improvement in health care in general but especially patient care. I worked more than 30 years in acute and long-term health care and in that time, I have seen first-hand the impact of what happens when patients and their families are not informed or do not understand their health condition. Perhaps they didn’t understand all of the health information they needed to obtain to make an informed decision about their care. I am a registered nurse who received a master’s degree in health care administration from California State University, Long Beach and an Executive Leadership, Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the University of San Francisco. I also am a co-founder and board member of The Bili Project Foundation.
What attracted you to pH Labs? Why did you decide to be part of the organization?
I was impressed and gratified by how pH Labs is filling an educational and advocacy void in today’s health care environment. The premise is actually very simple – the more you know about your body and your health, the better equipped you are to take a proactive role in protecting it and in being a better partner with your doctor. It was refreshing and made total sense to me that “knowing” needs to come before “doing.” I was and continue to be so impressed by how everything pH Labs does is based on solid research that has been vetted by medical experts. I also was very glad to see how pH, through their patient advocacy service, is helping give patients – and especially our seniors – and their families a true voice in making health care decisions. Things we hear from doctors and nurses can be terribly confusing and even more so for our elders, so having an organization like pH “on your side” to help you navigate the health care maze is a true gift.
What is the one thing about pH Labs that you weren’t expecting and that pleasantly surprised you?
That’s an easy question to answer. I continue to be impressed by the sophistication and innovation that pH Labs brings to the various tests and assessments that help clients really understand what is going on in their bodies and what their bodies need to be at their optimal health. These include incredibly advanced tests on the full human genome to identify possible risks that clients can address before diseases develop, as well as nutrition and mineral analysis to identify what an individual’s body may be missing, which can contribute to disease development. I also continue to be impressed by the pH team of in-house doctors, all of whom are experts in their fields, are very approachable and who take the time to explain – in terms you can understand – what you may need and what you should be doing.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working with pH Labs?
There are two particular things that are especially gratifying to me. The first is helping the nonprofit that I co-founded, The Bili Project Foundation. I am delighted to say that since its founding, this organization has made great strides with UC San Francisco and others in advancing research into this little known but very lethal cancer, including establishing a tissue bank at UCSF. The other is, naturally, spending time with my family and especially being a grandmother. That is the best job in the world!
What books are on your nightstand these days?
I love books but have recently moved from reading them to listening to them while I am driving. Books I have loaded now are “The Emperor of All Maladies,” “Ready to Be a Thought Leader?,” “Widow Clicquot, The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman who Ruled It”
Eric Laws, Board Member
Tell us a little about your career.
After high school, I immediately started my career with The Aerospace Corporation where I spent five years managing classified information. I have also had a very long career (over 20 years) with Xerox Corporation as an information technology specialist. I have taken various business management courses at West Los Angeles College and will receive my golf management degree in 2016 from The Golf Academy of America.
What attracted you to work with pH Labs and to join the organization’s board?
Throughout my life, I have witnessed firsthand the toll that the lack of health education has taken on the minority community. I have experienced this toll in my own immediate family. Diseases like Type 2 diabetes and hypertension are expected to occur in this community by the time people reach their late 30s, and there is no clear understanding on how to reduce the likelihood of these diseases occurring. We understand that we need to get health insurance and take medications but there is a lot more that we can do to reduce the incidence of these diseases as well as get better results from the medications that we take. Diet and lifestyle are only a part of the equation to being healthy. Meaningful information that explains important health issues and offers realistic and usable advice is needed. And this is exactly what pH Labs does. pH not only gives information; it also gives specific suggestions regarding what people can do to be proactive about their own health issues. Because of this, I am committed to ensuring that underserved communities have access to health information that is credible, easy-to-understand and that people can readily apply to their daily lives.
What is your role at pH Labs in addition to your board responsibilities?
As vice president of pH Labs, I am primarily responsible for community outreach and education, fundraising and compliance, information technology and purchasing. And I love every minute of it!
How has being a part of pH Labs changed your life?
I have always been a fanatic with taking care of my health through exercise and nutrition. I also always believed that since I am in great shape and feel fine, that I really am fine. What has changed through my work with pH is knowing that “feeling fine” isn’t enough. That to “be fine,” I have to know what is going on with my body and not wait for symptoms of any possible diseases. So now, I routinely check my vitamin, mineral, hormone and other markers to identify possible imbalances before they can negatively impact me. I also have done genome testing through pH to identify conditions that I may be genetically predisposed to while I can still take proactive steps to avoid or minimize them. I am more prepared for my doctor appointments and generally take the time to understand my health issues before talking to the doctor. That way, I am able to better partner with my doctor and discuss very complex issues in a meaningful way.
What is the one thing about pH Labs that you weren’t expecting and that pleasantly surprised you?
I had no clue that health care could be made this simple! You have to understand that my only familiarity with health information before pH was what my doctors told me. Many times, I nodded my head and pretended to understand what I was being told, but I now know that the information I used to receive was incomplete or not understandable. l am thrilled with pH Labs and its education-based approach to getting and staying your healthiest. I was surprised – and in a good way – about how easy it is to understand all of the educational materials that pH Labs makes available for its clients and the public. A great example is the thrice-weekly blog. They are interesting, relevant to the health issues we all face and presented in a way that makes them easy-to-understand, quick to read and, more importantly, easy to apply to my daily life.
What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
That’s easy! Two things actually. I am an avid dog lover and for some reason, dogs love me too. They are instrumental in keeping me active and in shape. I am also an avid golfer, a sport that keeps me moving and proactive about my health.
Richard Lovich, Board Member
Tell us about your professional background.
I am managing litigation attorney and partner of Stephenson, Acquisto & Colman, the health care industry’s premier litigation law firm. I joined the firm in 2005 as senior trial counsel. We ensure that health care providers and consumers are properly reimbursed for medically necessary services. Prior to joining the firm, I spent some 15 years as the chief trial lawyer and managing attorney for the Los Angeles law offices of two of the country’s largest insurance companies. I received a B.A. degree from California State University, Northridge, in 1980 and was awarded the Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School in 1983. I was admitted to the California Bar in 1984.
Anything about your career you’re especially proud of?
Yes. I am honored to have held a Preeminent A-V rating, the highest possible, granted by Martindale-Hubbell, since 1995, and to have been named a "Southern California Super Lawyer" since 2011. As a Certified National Institute of Trial Advocates (NITA) instructor, I have been responsible for the development, implementation, and presentation of national trial advocacy training programs. I also am very proud to have the opportunity to support pH Labs in achieving its mission of making sure people have the information and tools they need to get and stay their healthiest. This is a natural extension of my work at SAC where we are committed to supporting and ensuring the financial health of our health care system.
How do you apply the pH Labs philosophy and approach for getting and staying your healthiest in your life?
One of the most important things about pH Labs that I apply to my daily life, and which is a key part of the pH Labs approach and what makes it unique in the market, is working to identify the root causes of any health issues I may have rather than just addressing the symptoms of a problem. Attempting to solve problems by treating symptoms is like turning up the car radio so you don’t hear the nasty noise your engine is making. So now, rather than just “taking something” to get rid of a symptom, I now try to find out what is causing it in the first place and then take care of that. It definitely has changed how I look at taking care of myself and my family. And pH makes it very easy to do.
What is the one thing about pH Labs that you weren’t expecting and that pleasantly surprised you?
I would have to say hands down how easy it is to understand and, just as importantly, to use the information pH provides. One of the challenges we have as health care attorneys is to explain complex medical problems to a judge or jury who have very little understanding of the disease at issue. It is not an easy task. I always read the pH blogs and they are great at taking complex medical issues and explaining them in such a way that a seventh-grader can understand. They also provide advice that I can actually use and incorporate into my daily life. That was a pleasant surprise. It’s also very convenient to schedule a time to speak with a doctor. And the doctors always take the time to really listen and talk to you about your personal health concerns.
What is the most important thing you have learned since joining pH Labs?
I’ve learned that education really needs to be the starting point and foundation of any health and wellness program for it to be successful. In fact, education is at the core of pH Labs and where everything they do begins. As pH likes to tell people, you need to “test, not guess.” pH Labs has been a pioneer in shattering myths and destroying long-held beliefs about what is and what is not important to establishing and maintaining a healthy life. The organization has provided me with the ability to challenge traditional thinking and look for new, innovative and medically sound ways to live a healthy life. To go back to my car analogy, you would never just start tweaking or repairing things without first knowing what is really going on “under the hood.” I now know not to do the same with my body and to let pH be my guide.
How many things are still on your bucket list and what are they?
I am a total sports fanatic and especially about all things Dodgers. So it’s probably not a surprise to anyone that both of my bucket list things revolve around that team. The first, and I know I probably need to get in line for this one, is to meet Sandy Koufax. The second, which may be a little trickier, is to play centerfield for the Dodgers, even if for only one inning – or one pitch! I am still waiting for them to call, unfortunately.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Probably that I don’t only keep up with medical and legal literature, but that I also am a history buff. I try to read all I can about historical events and I especially like to read differing points-of-view about the same event. Great examples of this are the JFK and Lincoln assassinations, which people are still analyzing and debating to this day. Another is a little-known but fascinating murder mystery that occurred in 1921.Never solved, it involved a famous movie director named William Desmond Taylor who was shot in his bungalow in Los Angeles and many famous people of the day were suspects.