Leadership

2020 AMWA-MAC Leadership Team

Judith Orvos, ELS

President

Since 2011, Judith Orvos has been sole proprietor of Orvos Communications, a company dedicated to “making sense of science” through clear editing and writing on medical topics for clients. In addition to her membership in AMWA, she is a member of the Council of Science Editors and board-certified as an Editor in the Life Sciences by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences.

Before launching Orvos Communications, Judith had a 30-year career as a full-time editor and writer that included work in the corporate, trade publishing, public health, and nonprofit sectors. As editor of Contemporary OB/GYN, she was the recipient of four Jesse H. Neal Awards—the Pulitzer Prize of trade publishing. She has overseen the work of staff editors, freelancers, and graphic designers for a trade publisher and a government contractor supporting USAID’s Bureau for Global Health, and supervised writers, editors, designers, and hotline staff for an NIH public information clearinghouse.

Judith’s work for clients under the Orvos Communications banner has included editing federally approved HIV/AIDS medical treatment guidelines for AIDSinfo.gov on behalf of the National Library of Medicine, consulting on editorial strategy and social media for the physician magazine Contemporary OB/GYN, drafting content for CME needs assessments and programs for clients such as Medscape Education, and preparing materials for and reports from scientific advisory board meetings.

Vita Washington, MS

Immediate Past President

Vita Washington, MS has been with AMWA for 8 years previously serving in various positions such as membership recruitment and the Bethesda Network coordinator. Vita became the AMWA-MAC President in 2018.

She has a master’s degree in Science Administration and over 20 years of clinical practice guideline oversight and clinical documentation development. She also has over 10 years of experience with scientific writing and project management. She possesses a positive and professional work ethic with a proficiency to lead multiple teams and staff (e.g., leadership-level committees and Board members).

Her membership with AMWA has been very beneficial and rewarding because it has broadened her expertise in medical writing, networking and leadership.

Colleen Walacavage

Treasurer

Colleen Walacavage is a medical and technical editor with a Master’s degree in Professional Writing and Editing and three years’ experience as a pharmacy technician. For more than a decade she has written and edited for clients in the healthcare, education, and finance arenas. Since 2011, she has been the sole proprietor of her freelance business, CW Editing Service.

Rebecca Nelson

Secretary

Rebecca Nelson is a freelance technical and medical marketing writing specialist. She has 13 years of experience as a writer for clinical trials recruitment and for the Biotech industry, along with a background in Medical Copyediting.

Rebecca specializes in launch material, including print and online advertisements, websites, speeches and slide decks. She also creates documentation and user manuals for lab equipment, rebrands website copy, and develops targeted campaigns that integrate Web copy, print, video, and social media.

Gelu Dobrescu, MT, MS

Conference Committee Co-Chair

Gelu Dobrescu is a scientific writer/scientist at NIH, Vaccine Research Center. For the last 18 years, he has held various R&D positions in the biotech industry and government that involved work with protein formulations and subunit vaccines, and biodefense immunoassay development for detection of cancer biomarkers, biological threat agents, and toxins.

He has written a significant number of standard operating procedures, batch production records, experimental protocols, interim and final project technical reports for use in IND submissions and manuscript publications and has contributed to several manuscripts published in international journals.

Gelu received his master’s degree in microbiology and immunology from East Tennessee State University, and his Medical Technology degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has been a member of the American Medical Writers Association since 2018 and a member of the American Society for Clinical Pathology since 1999.

He has worked in hospital laboratories and served in Operation Desert Shield/Storm with the United States Army. Gelu’s technical and creative writing skills are excellent. He can simplify and clarify complicated scientific concepts while maintaining their accuracy and present the same concepts with brevity and elegance in writing. He enjoys classic literature, motorcycles, theater, exercise, and nature.

Marielle Fares, PharmD, BCGP

Membership & Volunteer Coordinator, Conference Committee Co-Chair

Marielle is a pharmacist and medical writer in Washington, DC. She received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the Lebanese American University in Lebanon, and her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Maryland-College Park. Marielle is a Board-Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (BCGP), a certification delivered by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties. BCGP certification reflects advanced training that aims to optimize treatment outcomes in the elderly through an understanding of medication pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics in older adults.

Marielle practiced as a pharmacist in chain drugstores for several years in the Washington, DC metro area, and later as a managed care pharmacist for a Medicare insurance plan servicing the Mid-Atlantic region.

Gradually, to satisfy her growing interest in research and writing, and to meet her desire to be independent, Marielle shifted to a medical writing career.

Marielle is the owner of Science Notes LLC and provides meeting and conference coverage as well as writing support for continuing medical education providers. Marielle writes about various medical specialties such as hematology-oncology, immunology, rare diseases, neurology, cardiovascular diseases, ophthalmology, women’s health, and others. Marielle also covers topics in healthcare policy, healthcare reform, and health economics.

Marielle feels strongly about collaborating with colleagues and believes in mutual learning from shared experiences. In her new role as membership coordinator for AMWA Mid-Atlantic, Marielle is eager to share innovative, out-of-the box ideas with fellow members, ideas that can best expand medical writers’ networks and advance the medical writing profession.
In her free time, Marielle enjoys outdoor walks and long hikes in Rock Creek National Park in Washington DC, and loves exploring the city historical and artistic landmarks with friends and family.

Vicki VanArsdale, MS

Webmaster & Social Media Specialist

Vicki VanArsdale is a senior communications specialist at NIH/National Cancer Institute’s Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology. She has more than 20 years of experience in hospitals and the media, and a Master of Science in Health Communication from Boston University (May 2017).

Vicki’s growing her freelance healthcare marketing communications business while working full-time as a government contractor. Her clients include healthcare marketing agencies, associations, and oncology-focused organizations. She’s been on the AMWA-MAC board and regional conference planning committee since 2018 and served on AMWA’s 2019 and 2020 national conference education committees.