Board of Directors


Michael Brazunas


Michael has been a Registered Nurse for 20 years and a Vascular Access nurse since 1996. He started his nursing career on an oncology unit at Naval Medical Center in San Diego, CA. After learning how to place PICCs, Brazunas helped establish and run the Navy’s first outpatient infusion center. He then started teaching PICC insertion to his fellow nurses, and subsequently attended Luther Medical’s “Train the Trainer” extended class.

After finishing his service in the US Navy in 1998, he was influential in bringing the use of Modified Seldinger Technique (MST) for PICC insertion to the bedside. He has spent the past 17 years promoting “best practice” in vascular access by teaching classes, speaking at conferences and meetings, and by mentoring new Vascular Access clinicians. An active member of the Association of Vascular Access, Mike has served as Chair of the Education Committee and as Director-at-Large. He lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife Eileen and daughter Grace.

Judy Thompson
MSN Ed., RN, VA-BC™ 

Judy’s professional experience includes work as a registered nurse in oncology, telemetry, emergency, outpatient surgery, and vascular access. In 2012, she earned her MSN with an emphasis on nursing education from Grand Canyon University. She is one of the founding members and president of the San Diego Vascular Access Network (SANVAN). Judy served the past three years as a member and chair-elect for AVA’s conference development team (Dteam).

Judy is employed at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego as a Supervisor in the Emergency Department and as a vascular access specialist. She performs variety of procedures which includes placement of PICCs, arterial lines, and non-tunneled central venous access devices via the internal jugular, axillary / subclavian, and femoral veins.


Presidential Advisor
Mark Rowe

  Mark started his nursing career with the completion of his BSN in 1985 followed by his MNSc in 1992.  Mark brings over 30 years of nursing experience to AVA with special interest in providing quality education to medical professionals on all aspects of Vascular Access.  Since 2006, Mark has served on the Scientific Meeting Committee and chaired the 2009 meeting and has completed 2 terms as Director at Large before being elected to his term as President of the Board of Directors.   Mark is a founding member of ARVAN (Arkansas Vascular Access Network).  Outside of nursing, Mark enjoys performing choral music, cooking (eating!), traveling and spending time with his partner and their two rescued beagles.


Gregory Schears MD

  Dr. Schears is a pediatric Intensivist and anesthesiologist with a long standing interest in reducing patient complications and improving our approach to vascular access. He did his pediatric residency at St. Louis Children's Hospital, his anesthesia residency, pediatric anesthesia fellowship and pediatric critical care fellowship at John's Hopkins hospital. He worked at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for 5 years and was recruited to the Mayo Clinic in 2001 to head the ECMO service. There he is the physician liaison to the nurse led PICC team, Medical Director of the ECMO Service and Co-Director of the Congenital Heart Unit. He is on the editorial board for JAVA and serves on the AVA Board of Directors as a Director at Large.


Jennifer McCord

  Jennifer has been a registered nurse for 23 years with the majority being in critical care. She completed her BSN in 1993 and MSN in 1999. She has worked as a Clinical Nurse Specialist since 2003 in a suburban Cincinnati hospital that serves as a Level III trauma center. In this role, Jennifer initiates many projects and supports nursing education. She was able to gain administrative support to start the hospitals Vascular Access Team in 1996 that has since spread to the entire hospital system. Jennifer has presented poster and spoken at many regional and national meetings. She was a recipient of the 2012 AVA Foundation scholarship that supported her traveling to Amsterdam for the WOCOVA conference.
Jennifer is certificated through the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) as a Progressive Care Certified Nurse, Critical Care Certified Nurse, and a Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist. She is also VA-BC certified. Jennifer was involved in the item writing portion the VA-BC examination in 2010. Jennifer is currently enrolled as a Doctoral Student at Wright State University in Dayton Ohio and teaches as Adjunct Faculty at the University of Cincinnati in the distance learning Master’s degree program.
Jennifer boasts that the support of her husband of 25 years, Rodney, enables her to be so active with her organizations. They have three smooth fox terriers dogs and 20 registered Holstein cows.


Director-at-Large Andrea Owens
   Andrea began her nursing career in adult critical care where she practiced for nearly 15 years and attained the distinction of Certified Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN).  Following her tenure in critical care, her clinical practice has taken her through infusion therapy, clinical education, school nursing, nursing leadership and vascular access. Andrea has been an active volunteer in her personal and professional life and has held positions of leadership in multiple organizations.  She remains an active ACLS Instructor for the AHA, is a Certified Registered Nurse Infusion (CRNI), Vascular Access-Board Certified (VA-BC) and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN).  Andrea is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Marian University, Leighton School of Nursing, Indianapolis, IN.  Establishing an interdisciplinary vascular access simulation module for nursing and medical students is her visionary goal.

Andrea has been the recipient of The Gardner Foundation Award, Sharing Expertise Scholarship for CRNI Certification and The Gardner Foundation Award, Education Scholarship through the Infusion Nurses Society.  In addition, she has served as President and Presidential Advisor for the Indiana Chapter of the Infusion Nurses Society (IC-INS).

Currently active on the editorial review board for The Journal of the Association for Vascular Access, she has also been honored to participate as an Item Reviewer on the Vascular Access Certification Corporation (VACC) Item Review committee since 2010. She has presented at local and national conferences and has been the recipient of a poster presentation award.  In her role as a volunteer for AVA over the last few years she has served as a Membership Committee member, Chair-Elect, and then to the honor of chairing the Membership Committee for two years.


Anita Piano, MSN, RN, VA-BC
  Following nearly a decade in adult critical care, Anita transitioned to Interventional Radiology in 2003. After gaining 2 years of adult vascular access experience, she joined the UCLA Health System and cross-trained to the pediatric setting.  Leading UCLA’s Pediatric PICC Service, Anita expanded this program to a second hospital and became manager of the adult and pediatric team in 2011.  Recently, she assumed the role of Interim Director, Radiology at MLK, Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles.  She earned her ADN and MSN from Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles and holds a BS in Healthcare Administration from UNLV. Anita has participated in AVA task forces and committees and has presented at numerous vascular access conferences. 


Director-at-Large Russell Nassof, Esq  
  Russell is an attorney with over 25 years experience in clinical healthcare and environmental risk management advising clients worldwide on liability and risk minimization for emerging issues. He has owned and operated 3 major consulting groups (one of which was sold to a public company), and is an active presenter and educator on reducing risk and liability for vascular catheter related issues and healthcare associated infections. Russell is a consultant to the insurance industry on managing risk for outbreaks (MERS, Fungal Meningitis, Ebola, Legionnaire's Disease)and with respect to the opportunity to underwrite coverage for emerging medical technological advancements. He has been instrumental in introducing legal and risk management issues to numerous healthcare organizations including ASHRM and APIC. 


Ken Symington, MD  
  Dr. Kenneth Symington has 30 years of experience in medicine, practicing in Radiology, Diagnostic Radiology, as well as Vascular & Interventional Radiology. His practice- Inland Imaging in Spokane Washington, is a highly sub-specialized group of 55 radiologists with 7 interventional radiologists. He has been specializing in venous access methods and devices for the past 21 years and is the director of venous access for Providence Health Eastern division Washington State. He has spoken at several national and international meetings on various interventional radiology topics and has trade marked the Sweet-Spot” catheter tip assessment method.


Treasurer - Gregory Schears, MD 
Treasurer - Gregory Schears, MD 
Treasurer - Gregory Schears, MD