Part of the DWA network of independent agencies, we started out of the spare room of our founder’s home almost 30 years ago. In those early years, CME was foundational to the DWA business, and we eventually grew into an independent branded entity, CME Enterprise, in 2002. A small but mighty team, CME Enterprise executed an array of activities across numerous therapeutic areas.
In 2015, CME Enterprise rebranded as Forefront Collaborative with a new mission: break the mold of static CME and find new ways to educate HCP learners. With that renewed focus, Forefront Collaborative became one of the first CME companies to develop TED Talks-style presentations. We also launched RheumAcademy and, in 2019, became the first CME company to deploy the Microsoft HoloLens in an educational initiative. For that effort, in 2020, Forefront Collaborative received the Pioneer Award for Breaking New Ground from the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions.
And that’s just the beginning.
Experiential learning and immersive experiences will guide the future of CME, and we look forward to working with our partners to continue raising the bar and defining what’s possible in continuing medical education.
Deborah Wood, MFA, Founder and Chairman, DWA Healthcare Communications Group
With more than 20 years of experience in healthcare marketing, education, and communications preceded by 10 years in senior management with Fortune 500 companies, Deborah is highly recognized in the industry for her visionary leadership and innovation and the success of her entrepreneurial endeavors. PharmaVOICE magazine readers named Deborah one of the 100 Most Inspiring People in the Life-Sciences Industry. Deborah serves as a member of the United Way Women’s Leadership Council. She is Past President of the Board of Directors for St. Vincent Carmel Hospital, a member of the Board of Directors for the Diversity Alliance for Science, Inc. (DA4S), and a board member for The Alliance—A Forum of Indiana Business Leaders. She is also a member of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. In 2014, Deborah received the Starkey Entrepreneurial Woman Award, which recognizes women business leaders who exemplify the spirit of success, teamwork, and leadership.
Arun Divakaruni, PhD, Chief Executive Officer
Arun was named Chief Executive Officer of Forefront Collaborative’s parent company in early 2022. Since joining DWA in 2019 as Chief Science Officer, Arun helped deliver breakthrough solutions for the biopharmaceutical companies that DWA and its network of agencies support. In September 2020, Arun was promoted to CEO of Avant Healthcare, DWA’s medical and marketing communications agency. Arun has diverse experience supporting a number of products across several therapeutic areas, in addition to responsibilities over scientific reputation management and corporate positioning. A recipient of two Clio Awards, Dr. Divakaruni was named one of PRWeek’s 40 Under 40 in 2016. Arun earned his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was recognized for his achievements in scientific research in antibiotic target research and classroom instruction. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in molecular, cell, and developmental biology from the same institution.
Ro Brual, RPh, Senior Vice President and General Manager
Ro plays a critical leadership role in delivering top-quality independent healthcare education. He incorporates patient, payer, and healthcare professional insights into his daily work, bringing more than 30 years of sales, marketing, and medical education experience with a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company, more than 15 years of that time spent in continuing medical education. Ro, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy, is a registered pharmacist.
Christine Tebben, Director of Operations
Chris manages the operations of the organization. She also leads the program managers who help with the planning and budgeting of grant development along with execution of those awarded grants. Chris and her team partner closely with the content team to ensure flawless execution on budget and on time. She has completed extensive Project Management Institute training and is a certified Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt. Chris has been with DWA Healthcare Communication Group for almost 20 years, 14 of those years being in CME. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications and Advertising from Purdue University.
Leah Johnson, Director of CME
Leah utilizes her background in project management to oversee our grant development and submission processes. She develops and fosters relationships with key grantors, helping identify opportunities that align with Forefront’s strategic priorities. In addition, she manages the execution of select CME activities and supports the team’s compliance efforts, ensuring alignment with the ACCME standards. Leah brings over 8 years of CME industry experience with her to this role. She is a graduate of Franklin College and holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism.
Marianna Shershneva, MD, PhD, Senior Director, Educational Development and Research
Dr. Shershneva is Senior Director of Educational Development and Research with Forefront Collaborative; and CPD Evaluation and Assessment Specialist, University of Wisconsin Office of Continuing Professional Development in Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Shershneva works on educational projects in multiple clinical areas and has extensive experience collaborating with professional societies and academic and community partners. Trained as a rheumatologist in Russia, Dr. Shershneva acquired additional expertise as an educational researcher and medical educator through her participation in Ukrainian medical education reform and graduate study in adult education in the US. She has authored and co-authored more than 20 papers devoted to medical education, educational measurement, program evaluation, and the improvement of clinical practice.
Valerie Siclari, PhD, Senior Medical Education Director
Valerie brings to Forefront almost 10 years of experience in creating medical education that is high-quality, engaging, and strategically designed to cause practice change. She leads content across a variety of therapeutic areas, including psychiatry and oncology. Valerie earned her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics from the University of Virginia and conducted her postdoctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania. She is an author on 7 peer-reviewed research publications, 2 review articles, and 2 book chapters.
Megan Ragan, Senior Educational Projects Manager
Megan assists with developing medical education grant proposals and managing funded educational projects. She works closely with the cross-functional team and our partners to keep projects within scope, budget, and on time. She spent almost 6 years at an advertising agency supporting many clients as a Senior Project Manager and Account Supervisor overseeing creative deliverables. Megan also has a background in media buying and planning/strategy from over 6 years working for media agencies in Chicago. She is a graduate of Indiana University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Business with a major in Marketing and a minor in Sociology.