Speakers

Bret PicBret Jackson is the president of the non-profit Economic Alliance for Michigan (EAM). Founded in 1982, the EAM is comprised of businesses and unions working together with one clear objective, the continued growth of Michigan’s economy by creating an atmosphere that inspires job growth and maintains Michigan’s competitiveness for attracting new companies and talent. EAM’s membership provides health benefits to an estimated 900,000 lives, creating a powerful voice in the health purchaser industry.

Bret began working at the EAM in 2007 as legislative director. In 2010, he was elected vice president and became the organization’s third president in January 2011. Bret oversees all EAM activities including policy development, research, education, administration, membership, and advocacy. He developed and manages the EAM Health Purchaser Forums, Oncology Symposium, and other various health purchaser roundtables.

With the EAM as The Leapfrog Group’s Regional Leader for Michigan, Bret is a leader in advocating for patient safety in the State of Michigan and completed The Leapfrog Group’s Bruce Bradley Fellowship in 2017. He also serves as chair of the Health Policy Affinity Group for the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions.


cherylCheryl Larson is President and CEO of the non-profit Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH), an employer coalition of 125 mid, large and jumbo, self-funded, public and private companies who represent more than 4M lives. She oversees all coalition activities including advocacy, membership, administration, research projects and educational activities, working closely with MBGH’s employer-led Board of Directors to establish the strategic direction of the coalition. She also leads MBGH’s National Employer Initiative on Specialty Drugs, the first major purchaser-driven research project that supports employers in managing the higher costs of biologic and specialty drugs by helping them make critical and informed decisions.

Cheryl joined MBGH in 1983 and served as the Director of Membership Development for almost 14 years. She then spent 10 years with a population health management company, returning to MBGH in 2006 as Vice President. In 2018, she became President & CEO.

Cheryl is a nationally recognized speaker on employer best practices in managing specialty drugs, value-based benefit design, wellbeing, consumerism, engagement and benefit communications. She currently serves on multiple boards and committees representing the purchaser perspective, including the Institute of Medicine Chicago – Board of Directors and Fellow, National Alliance of Healthcare Purchasing Coalitions – Board of Governors, University of Michigan Value Based Insurance Design (VBID) – National Task Force on Low-Value Care.


Margaret RMargaret Rehayem oversees activities that bring together the talented and diverse National Alliance coalition network and other healthcare stakeholders to impact the employer community. She has over 20 years’ experience working with employers in the areas of wellbeing, organizational culture, population health, wellness, and overall healthcare strategic planning.

Margaret has led cross-functional teams that implement successful approaches in healthcare and multi-stakeholder community collaboratives focused on resolving challenges and leveraging common synergies. She is a national speaker on a number of healthcare topics including health benefits, business performance, leadership, employee engagement, community health, and the impact of health and wellbeing in organizations.

Before joining the National Alliance, she was on the leadership team for almost a decade at the Midwest Business Group on Health, a leading business coalition in Chicago. She also created and managed an award-winning employee health and wellness program for 11 years at a community college. In 2013, she was appointed to the University of Wisconsin Health and Wellness Management Program Advisory Board. She has been an adjunct faculty professor since 2008 and teaches corporate health and entrepreneurship at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


robert shepherdRob Shepherd currently is in Merck’s global pricing function as an executive director is responsible for pricing in the U.S. Region including oversight of the Merck’s Assistance Programs for patient and provider reimbursement as well as worldwide pricing duties for Merck’s Diabetes and Women’s Health Franchises. Rob assumed duties in the U.S. Region in August 2017 after a 3-year assignment in Merck Canada team in 2014 as Director of Pricing Strategy, Negotiations, and Contracting in Public, Private, and Hospital/GPO segments. Prior to returning from Canada, Rob’s most recent responsibility in the US was overseeing Merck’s national accounts in the integrated hospital system/GPO market. He has worked at Merck in the U..S for 29 years and in the broader healthcare industry for more than 35 years.

He has expertise in pharmaceutical brand marketing, managed care and customer marketing, pricing/reimbursement, and management. The last fifteen years at Merck have included leadership roles within: pricing, contracting, and payor negotiations in Canada; account team management for U.S. hospital/GPO accounts; specialty product marketing with specialty pharmacy, distributors, and GPOs; customer marketing and contracting for VYTORIN and ZETIA within the Merck Schering Plough Joint Venture; leading the U.S. brand marketing team for ZOCOR; Director of Merck’s U.S. pricing, reimbursement, and patient assistance functions.

Prior to joining Merck, Rob graduated from Albion College, Michigan, with a B.A. in economics and management. He subsequently completed his MBA from the University of Michigan. After earning his undergraduate degree, he worked in several positions in the healthcare field, including Arthur Andersen’s Healthcare Consulting Group and Oakwood Hospital in the areas of hospital reimbursement, information systems, and case management.