Our Board of Directors
President-Curtis Eschels, MAC, EAMP
Curt Eschels has been a member of WEAMA (and its predecessor name sakes) since he was a student at NIAOM. After graduating in 2000, he began a practice in Olympia, WA, the state capital. In an earlier career, he worked for legislators and the governor's office on energy policy, and he has put his knowledge of that process to work by interacting with legislators, policy makers, and state regulators to advance the East Asian medicine profession. Curt is also a member of the AAAOM and the South Sound Acupuncture Association. His goals for WEAMA are to offer more services, raise member involvement, and promote the profession. Curt is WEAMA’s president.
Vice President-Lisa VanHaagen, MS, EAMP, LMP
Lisa vanHaagen is a 2002 Bastyr University graduate with an MS in acupuncture. She has a BA/BS in pre-med, health education, and botanical medicine from The Evergreen State College, and is also an LMP and doula. Her business, Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine, is based in Skagit county with two locations: Anacortes and Sedro-Woolley. Lisa utilizes East Asian medicine, massage therapy, health education, and therapeutic nutrition to optimize patient health. Prior to attending Bastyr University Lisa's work experience includes being a licensed clinical assistant, a health assistant for Head Start/ECEAP, and legislative assistant for the Office of Program Research at the WA State House of Representatives. While at Bastyr Lisa interned at Evergreen Treatment Services in Seattle where she received her NADA certification, which she keeps active. Lisa's hobbies include raising a back yard flock of chickens, gardening, hiking, biking, fiber arts, reading, and boating with her husband and two dogs.
Currently Lisa is WEAMA’s vice-president, co-chair of the legislative committee, and chair of WEAMA’s insurance committee. She brings to the board the benefit of her past legislative assistant experience, community involvement, and ongoing clinical experience. Issues she looks forward to continue working on while on the board include gaining L&I coverage for acupuncture/East Asian medicine treatment, maintaining/increasing insurance coverage for acupuncture and East Asian medicine, and supporting colleagues and members through WEAMA. Lisa takes a collaborative approach to problem solving and appreciates hearing from members, colleagues, and the public.
Secretary-Melissa Yaden, EAMP, LMP, AWC
After completing her formal training in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (Herbology) from Bastyr University in 2010, Melissa furthered her understanding of East Asian medicine by studying Ayurveda, massage, traditional Nepalese sound healing, and Acutonics®. Melissa's passion resides in empowering clients to accept and embellish their own innate healing capability for health and spiritual growth.
Melissa says she was first drawn to Chinese medicine because it reminded her to live a more fluid and dynamic life, one that harmonizes body, mind, and spirit with nature and with an individual’s unique environment. She is passionate about sharing this wisdom in both intimate and community settings, working with individuals and groups to achieve greater understanding and cohesiveness within all forms of medicine and alternative health care. It is with this expanded perspective on health and life that she is able inspire and empower her patients to take control of their own health, healing, and well-being. When designing personalized treatment plans Melissa utilizes her comprehensive understanding of East Asian medicine and how it correlates to Western medicine.
In addition to serving on WEAMA’s board as secretary, Melissa is a volunteer groomer at PAWS, and has studied/volunteered in a variety of specialized clinics.
Iman Majd, MD, EAMP, Dipl. Ac NCCAOM, DABMA
Dr. Majd is a board certified Famly Physician, a Diplomate of the American Board of Medical Acupuncture and an NCCAOM certified acupuncturist. Dr. Majd completed his residency in Family Medicine at the University of Washington and lectures extensively on integrated treatments for pain, immune wellness and longevity.
Desiree Merulli, MAC, EAMP, Dipl. Ac NCCAOM, LMP
Desiree Merulli is nationally board certified by the NCCAOM, licensed by the state of Washington for both Acupuncture/East Asian Medicine and Massage therapy, and holds additional certification in Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture and Reiki. Desiree has practiced acupuncture since 2001 and massage therapy since 1998.
As a holistic health provider, Desiree supports the collaboration of Eastern and Western medicine and works closely with other practitioners to provide her patients with optimum wellness.
Maya Vajra, MAC, EAMP, Dipl. Ac NCCAOM
Maya Vajra graduated with her Master of Acupuncture degree from NIAOM in 2002 and is NCCAOM board certified. In addition to several years experience in western medical support and patient care positions, Maya has been an energy worker and an off and on energy work teacher for over 25 years. She is proud to have been the first acupuncturist to contribute to tribal health at the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Reservation (for 2 years) and feels just as passionate about our medicine today as ever. Maya continues to practice out of her office in the Eastlake neighborhood of Seattle specializing in digestive disorders, treatment of pain, nervous system challenges, repetitive strain injuries and personal transitions with a particular interest in promoting the use of acupuncture in post-operative recovery
Our AdvisorsLobbyist Leslie Emerick, MPA
My name is Leslie Emerick, MPA, and I have been working in the legislative arena for 17 years. I have represented WEAMA (formerly WAOMA) since 2007. I have been tracking legislation and agency rulemaking associated with the practice of acupuncture and have testified at numerous hearings on behalf of acupuncturists, preventing any infringement on their current scope of practice and protecting the “Every Category Provider” clause in state insurance statutes. I have been very proactive in assisting WEAMA in setting up meetings with DOH to discuss disciplinary issues as well as issues regarding our recent Sunrise Review and upcoming legislation.
During the summer of 2008 we began working on legislation for updating the scope of practice for acupuncturists. There were six stakeholder meetings around Washington State and four membership meetings that I assisted with by facilitating the event and preparing notes from these meetings. During the fall of 2008, we worked with stakeholders to incorporate their feedback and refine the bill draft for introduction during the 2009 Legislative Session. WEAMA did an outstanding job representing their constituents in this process. The bill evolved to changing the name for the profession, establishing an Acupuncture Advisory Committee and updating referral references in statute. The bill passed both the House and Senate Health Care Committees, but did not make it to the floor of the House for a final vote due to the concerns around the term Oriental, which has been banned from statute in Washington State when referring to individuals by a prior bill.
During the past year, we requested that an Acupuncture Sunrise Review be done by DOH to update the current scope of practice to reflect current education and training. I gained sponsorship by Senator Karen Keiser to request the Sunrise Review and the process began in the summer of 2009. It was an extensive review of additional modalities to be added to the scope of practice for acupuncturists. This fall we received a very positive response from DOH for the Acupuncture Sunrise Review and have integrated those recommendations into a bill draft that will be submitted for the 2010 Legislative Session. If the bill passes, we will be working on agency rulemaking to further define the scope of practice throughout the summer of 2010.
WEAMA met with DOH staff in December to discuss educational opportunities for practitioners regarding disciplinary actions, providing education to department staff on the appropriate standards of care for acupuncturists and adding additional review by licensed acupuncturists when a case involving an acupuncturist comes up for investigation to assure that the profession has better representation.
Prior to working with WEAMA, I was an elected County Commissioner in Douglas County for four years from 1997-2000. As a county commissioner, the three person board was in charge of the overall administration of the Douglas County $23 million budget. I worked cooperatively with cities, other county governments, and state and federal agencies on a broad range of issues such as land use under the Growth Management Act, salmon habitat, solid waste facilities, water quality, inert landfills and more. During this time I was also on the Chelan-Douglas Board of Health, Link Transit System Board, Area Agency on Aging, Behavioral Health Board and others.
I was a legislative liaison for the Washington State Department of Agriculture for five years and worked on environmental, food safety, agricultural marketing, animal disease related issues such as avian influenza and “Mad Cow” disease and other agriculture related issues. I worked for the Department of Health for a little less than one year as the Assistant Director of Legislative and Constituent Relations. At DOH I worked on environmental health issues for the agency such as the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and the radiation program, toxins in the environment, waste water and sewage, shellfish monitoring, state drinking water supplies, pesticides and many more issues related to the environment.
I started my own business as a lobbyist in the fall of 2006 based on my extensive working experience with the legislature and the political connections gained while I was a publicly-elected official. I have five health care related clients. I enjoy representing acupuncturists and believe in the benefits of Acupuncture and/or East Asian medicine. I have been personally receiving acupuncture treatments by licensed practitioners for over 12 years and have found it to be successful for a number of health related issues. For more information on my business, please go to my website at http://www.lesemerick.com.
I have a Master of Public Administration degree from The Evergreen State College (2007), a BA in Speech Communication and a second BA in Secondary Education and a minor in Political Science from Western Washington University (1981). In my years as a county commissioner, as an agency legislative liaison and as a lobbyist, I have learned that there are two sides to every story and that working in a cooperative and respectful manner is the most successful way to problem solve and building alliances. I will continue to work hard for your profession and assist legislators and agency staff in understanding the unique service that you provide.
Attorney John Conniff
For the past four years, John Conniff has been advising WEAMA on revisions to the state law governing East Asian medicine. He has helped guide WEAMA through the state review process and brings his deep experience in legislative and regulatory matters to the Association as it moves toward an historic modernization of laws governing East Asian medicine.
John Conniff is a practicing attorney and owner of John S. Conniff, PLLC a law firm located in Tacoma, Washington. He is also an owner/partner in the health care and regulatory compliance firm of Compliance Solutions, LLC specializing in advice, training, and development of strategies to respond to health care reform.
He graduated from Seattle University in 1978 with a B.A. in political science and with a law degree from Seattle University Law School in 1986.
He is admitted to practice in Oregon and Washington and is a member of the American Health Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association and the American Society of Media Photographers.
From 1986 until 1993, he served as attorney to the Washington State House of Representatives advising on Insurance, Banking, and Health Care.
In 1993, he was appointed Deputy Insurance Commissioner for Health Care. During his seven years with the Office of Insurance Commissioner, he worked extensively on managed health care issues, insurance regulatory compliance, and health care policy.
From 1994 - 1998, he served as chairman of various committees for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners developing new model laws on managed care, health care reform and privacy. He has served on national task forces developing laws for managed health care and health insurance reform. He has written extensively on privacy, insurance and managed health care issues.
John provides consulting and legal services to employers, insurers, health care practitioners, trade associations and health plans. His company, Compliance Solutions, develops and creates online learning solutions for businesses and health care practitioners and through a partnership with the Arista Point Institute in Kirkland, Washington provides live training and professional education.
Attorney John C. Peick
John C. Peick is a principal in the firm of Peick Law Group, P.S. He is a graduate of the University of Washington with a B.A. Political Science in 1972. He attended the University of Iowa School of Law in Iowa City, Iowa, transferred to the UW Law School in 1973, and graduated in 1975. He is a member of the Washington State Bar Association (1975), U.S. District Court, Western District, Washington (1975), U.S. Tax Court (1976) and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (1998). He is a member of the American Bar Association, American Health Lawyers Association, Washington State Attorneys for Justice (1984-Present), American Association for Justice, and National Association of Chiropractic Attorneys. He served for many years on the Board of Governors for the Washington State Association for Justice. He has been Legal Counsel to the Washington State Chiropractic Association since 1991 and has worked on joint projects with other healthcare provider groups. He is an author, taught law courses on the community college level, and been a frequent speaker at various healthcare provider seminars and meetings.