Keynote Speakers

Guests will have the opportunity to hear from and interact with a panel of experts from our Supportive and Palliative Care team, as well as spiritual care leaders. Guests will gain a better understanding of how and when these professionals can best be integrated into the health care teams caring for our loved ones.

Marc L. Boom, MD, MBA, FACP, FACHE, is president and CEO of Houston Methodist, a hospital system in Houston with almost 2,200 beds and 22,000 employees. Dr. Boom holds a BS in Biology with High Honors from the University of Texas at Austin, an MD with High Honors from Baylor College of Medicine, and an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is board certified in internal medicine and geriatric medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

Sarah Grudier, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker with more than five years of practice at Houston Methodist Hospital. Sarah holds a BS in Sociology and a MSW with a specialization in Gerontology from the University of Houston. In her current role as the palliative care social worker for the Supportive and Palliative Care service, she specializes in supportive counseling, grief, bereavement and psychosocial issues at end of life.

BJ Hightower, DMin, received her MDiv from Southern Methodist University and her DMin from Wesley Theological Seminary. She completed the Clinical Pastoral Education program at Houston Methodist performing both her internship and residency at Houston Methodist. BJ has worked for Houston Methodist for 27 years including a 16 year tenure in nursing and 11 years in spiritual care. She is now a senior chaplain at Houston Methodist with a focus in medical intensive care, general medical and urology.

Karina Ramirez, MD, graduated from University of Texas El Paso and attended medical school at Boston University School of Medicine in 2003. In 2007, she completed a dual residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. Dr. Ramirez completed her Palliative Fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2013. She is now practicing as a Palliative Medicine physician with an interest in pain management and oncology.