The Bili Project Foundation was founded by Sue Acquisto, the wife of Vince Acquisto, and his business partner Joy Stephenson after Vince was diagnosed and later passed from bile duct cancer. Inspired by Vince’s passion for education, Sue and Joy partnered with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) medical research team and other institutions to assess how better to stop this quick and silent killer.
Ms. Acquisto’s experiential background includes: senior management, operations, performance improvement, corporate compliance, risk management and teaching for acute hospitals and long term care facilities. She is President of Regulatory, Risk Compliance Specialists, Inc. (R.R.C.S. Inc.) which provides services nationally to health care facilities. The firm’s services include: accreditation, regulatory survey preparedness, corporate compliance, quality management program design, expert testimony and educational seminars. She has conducted many seminars and classes on Accreditation and Regulatory Preparedness, Corporate Compliance, Risk Management and Continuous Quality Improvement.
Ms. Acquisto received her Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration from California State University, Long Beach in 1990 and her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree from the University of San Francisco in 2012. Her Board Certification is in Nursing Administration Advanced from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and she is also certified in Health Care Compliance.
Joy Stephenson-Laws received her B.A. from Loma Linda University in 1980 and Juris Doctor from Loyola University in 1983. She started her own law firm in August, 1989, specializing in healthcare litigation. Extensive pre-legal training in the area of healthcare law served as a conduit for her pursuit of a career in the area of healthcare litigation. Many of her litigated cases established precedent in healthcare areas; she is one of a few legal experts in the State of California in government and commercial reimbursement issues. Prior to starting her own firm, Ms. Stephenson worked as a supervising attorney at Inland Counties Legal Services (1984-1986) where she specialized in healthcare litigation and as a staff attorney (1986-1988) with the Department of Health and Human Services. Professional organizations include the American Bar Association, Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles, California State Bar Association, U.S. District Court-Central/Eastern, and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Joy Stephenson-Laws is also the founder of Proactive Health Labs (pH), a revolutionary non-profit health care company that provides consumers with the information and tools they need to achieve optimal health. Ms. Stephenson-Laws, who brings more than three decades of health care experience to her role with pH, believes that the better educated people are about how to proactively protect their health, the more benefits of a healthy life they will enjoy. These include a greater sense of well-being, enhanced performance of daily activities, more energy, disease prevention, and a speedier recovery and better outcome from any medical treatment they may need. Being more educated also allows people to better partner with their health care providers in making choices about lifestyle and health care management.
“Over the course my career as a health care attorney, I must have reviewed more than 50,000 medical records,” commented Ms. Stephenson-Laws. “One thing that struck me was that had most patients known how to stay well, or had their diseases been diagnosed and treated before symptoms occurred, they could have enjoyed much better treatment outcomes.” For this reason, pH focuses on educating the public about the cause of a symptom or disease with the goal of helping to prevent them in the first place or, in the case of chronic diseases, more effectively managing them.
Ms. Stephenson-Law’s interest and commitment to enhancing consumer health and positively impacting the health care industry is not new and goes beyond her work as a health care attorney. In fact, both her professional and personal lives have been dedicated to improving health care in the United States, from consumer education to being an advocate for the health care providers, and from founding a health care-related philanthropy to encouraging others to get involved in their communities.
Her passion for motivating people to proactively protect their health comes from her personal experience of losing loved ones, colleagues and friends to diseases which, had they been diagnosed early enough and treated more effectively, could either have been controlled or cured. She poignantly realized that by being armed with the information and tools needed to proactively manage their health, people could truly lead healthier, longer lives. She also realized that being proactive meant more than simply going to an annual physical, taking vitamins or prescribed medications, eating a healthy diet or exercising more. It also meant knowing how to manage one’s health, checking to make sure that all the steps someone takes are actually working, and checking that their body is getting all the critical elements it needs.
She is co-founder and president of MoJo Marketing & Media, a company dedicated to developing ways for individuals and companies to give back to their communities through sports and entertainment. Ms. Stephenson-Laws also co-founded The Bili Project Foundation, a nonprofit organization that is driving funding and research for identifying markers for biliary cancer so that this leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States can be more effectively diagnosed and treated.