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, M.S.

Immediate Past President

Vita Washington, M.S. 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.

Dr. Ealena Callender

Conference Committee Co-Chair

Dr. Ealena Callender is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist. In practice for 14 years, Dr. Callender received her Medical Degree from The University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and completed her residency training at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. One of her priorities is empowering patients with information that allows them to take an active role in their care.

She graduated from Howard University with an undergraduate degree in Print Journalism. In her journalism career, Dr. Callender worked at the Philanthropy Journal of North Carolina and the Los Angeles Times. As a physician, she continues to use her journalism experience by writing articles for local journals and appearing on local television and radio programs to discuss current topics in OB/GYN. Currently a candidate for a master’s degree at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, she hopes to continue making an impact on improving women’s health on a national and international scale.

Grace Ostera, M.S., Ph.D.

Conference Committee Co-Chair

Grace Ostera, M.S., Ph.D., is an accomplished life scientist with over 20 years of professional experience. Trained in infectious diseases and global health, Grace provides high-quality scientific analysis and medical writing.
Previously, Grace worked for public, private, and non-profit organizations. She led initiatives on global migration, public health, and genetically modified organisms to control human diseases at Georgetown University, where she is an Adjunct Assistant Professor.

Grace received a Ph.D. from Georgetown University and trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), NIH. Grace became an AMWA member in January 2020 and completed the Essential Skills Certificate Program in March 2020.

Marielle Fares, PharmD, BCGP

Membership & Volunteer Coordinator

Marielle is a pharmacist and medical writer in Washington, D.C. 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, D.C. 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 D.C., and loves exploring the city historical and artistic landmarks with friends and family.

Vicki VanArsdale, M.S.

Webmaster & Social Media Specialist

Vicki VanArsdale is the Biotech Marketing and Outreach Manager for NIH’s Small Business Education and Entreprenurial Development (SEED) program. She has more than 20 years of experience in various marketing communications and journalism roles, and she has a Master of Science in Health Communication from Boston University.

Vicki has served on the AMWA-MAC board and regional conference planning committee since 2018 and served on AMWA’s 2019 and 2020 national conference education committees.