Clinical ethics department team

Meet the leaders and team members of the Clinical Ethics team at Children’s Minnesota:

Nneka Sederstrom - Clinical Ethics

Dr. Nneka Sederstrom, PhD, MPH, MA, FCCP, FCCM, Director

Dr. Nneka Sederstrom, originally from Florence Alabama, received her BA in Philosophy from the George Washington University in 2001. She began her career as a volunteer in the Center for Ethics at Medstar Washington Hospital Center that summer. She continued her academic career while working at the Center and received her MA in Philosophy in 2003. After beginning her PhD studies she was made Director of the Center for Ethics and Director of the Spiritual Care Department. She proceeded to hold these positions until she left to join Children’s Minnesota in March 2016. Her academic credentials include a PhD in Medical Sociology and MPH in Global Health Management.

She is a member of several professional societies and holds a leadership position in ACCP, SCCM, ASBH, and ASCO. She is a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians and a Fellow of the American College of Critical Care Medicine. She is widely published in the field of Clinical Ethics and speaks regularly at national and international meetings.

Nneka is married to Charlie Sederstrom (also at Children’s Minnesota) and they have a little boy named Grayson. She loves to bake, knit, and yell ‘Roll Tide!’

Joan Henriksen smiling

Dr. Joan Henriksen, PhD, RN, Senior Staff Ethicist

Joan Henriksen started her career 25 years ago in pediatrics at the University of Iowa.  She served as a nurse in the cardiology and pulmonary unit and later did infusion therapy and clinical nursing education.  She earned a Ph.D. in Religious Studies at Iowa and focused her work on virtues of acute care teams.

Most recently, as a clinical ethicist, Joan grew the clinical ethics practice from an average of 30 consults to over 250 per year at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  She finds the work of clinical ethics very meaningful, particularly partnering with people as they face intensely challenging moral decisions, bearing witness to what are often tragic circumstances, and supporting patients, their families, and teams as they navigate ethical uncertainty.

Joan’s research interests include truthtelling, conflicts of conscience in clinical practice, and identifying risk factors that may indicate looming ethical problems.  Her hopes for her work at Children’s include continuing efforts at “normalizing” ethics into everyday practice.  Clinical work of all sorts is fundamentally a moral endeavor.  Recognizing and honoring the values people bring to clinical relationships can both build trust and reduce conflict.

Besides individual case consultation, Joan is passionate about teaching and learning.  She will be building curriculum for those interested in ethics consultation and mentoring the Ethics Fellow and other learners in the Ethics Department.  Please reach out if you would like to share any feedback, ideas, or to introduce yourself.  I look forward to getting to know you.

Fun fact:  Joan’s longest daily crossword streak was 112 days.

Sirin Yilmaz, Clinical Ethics Fellow

Sirin Yilmaz, MA, Clinical Ethics Fellow

Sirin has received her BA (Honors) and MA in Philosophy from Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey in 2006 and in 2010, respectively. She started her doctoral work in Philosophy at Villanova University in 2010 where she received an MA in Philosophy in 2014. Sirin also taught philosophy courses at Villanova University as an adjunct faculty. Sirin’s field of study within philosophy dealt with virtue and ethics.

After her growing interest in ethical issues arising from advances in medicine, Sirin transferred to NYU and received an MA in Bioethics in 2018. She worked in the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Center as a graduate researcher on the ethical and legal implications of microbiome research. Her thesis explored the ethical issues emerging from elective C-section practices as a result of altering the infant microbiome and causing risk for long term future health.

Sirin joined Children’s Minnesota Hospital as an Ethics Intern in March 2018 and is currently a Clinical Ethics Fellow since January 2019. In addition to her clinical ethics training, she contributes as an ethics policy reviewer and IRB member at Children’s Minnesota, and she has also been an IRB member at Northwell Health since March 2018. Sirin’s research interests lie mainly in end of life issues, cultural-religious bioethics, pediatric ethics and reproductive ethics.

Support staff

India Medaris, Administrative Assistant

Hamdi Sahal, Administrative Assistant

Ethics committee leadership

Image of Maggie Cavanaugh - RN, BSN, CCRN, Ethics Committee Co-Chair

Maggie Cavanaugh, RN, BSN, CCRN, Ethics Committee Co- Chair

Maggie currently holds the co-chair position of the Ethics Committee. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from St. Catherine University. Her nursing career has been dedicated to pediatrics, almost entirely in critical care. She joined Children’s MN in 2010 as a staff nurse in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit and became the Patient Care Supervisor in 2013. She has always had an interest in clinical ethics and joined the Ethics Committee later that year. In 2017, she completed the Certificate Program through Children’s Mercy Center for Bioethics.
Maggie lives in metro area with her husband Keith, their 3 children, and their dog Winston.

Children's Minnesota Samreen Vora

Samreen Vora, MD, MHAM, Ethics Committee Co-Chair

Samreen currently holds the co-chair position of the Ethics Committee. Dr. Vora has joined Children’s as our New Medical Director of Simulation in January 2017. After receiving her medical degree from Chicago Medical School, Dr. Vora completed her Emergency Medicine Residency at University of Illinois Peoria/OSF St. Francis Medical Center. During medical school, Dr. Vora also completed a Masters in Health Care Administration and Management from Rosalind Franklin University. After completing residency, as well as working clinically as an emergency physician, Dr. Vora completed a two year fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education incorporating a Masters in Health Professions Education at University of Illinois at Chicago Dr Vora’s particularly interested in utilizing simulation education strategies in the ethics arena. Simulation can be used for formal training of ethicists as well as training all health care professionals on ‘everyday ethics’ skills. Dr. Vora recently published her research in using Standardized Participants to teach and assess resident skills in breaking bad news and disclosing medical errors.

Ethics committee members

Rev. Abby Davis, Chaplain
M.Div., Board Certified Chaplain
Spiritual Care
Children’s Minnesota

Adam Sterman, MD
Pain and Palliative Care
Children’s Minnesota

Adriene Thornton
RN Infection Preventionist
Children’s Minnesota

Andre Nelson, MD
Retired Pediatrician
Children’s Minnesota

Beth Johnson, PNP
Transplant Department, Cardiac Care Center
Children’s Minnesota

Carolyn Serie, LICSW
Social Work Manager
Children’s Minnesota

Cherie McGraw, RN
Cath Lab
Children’s Minnesota

Chris Beckman, M.Div, BCC
Spiritual Care Manager
Children’s Minnesota

Christine Roberts, RN, BAN
Patient Care Supervisor, PICU
Children’s Minnesota

Colleen Wherley
Genetic Counselor
Children’s Minnesota

Elisabeth Groutwells, MSW, LICSW
Clinical Social Worker
Children’s Minnesota

Greg Coon
Community Member

Hal Weldin, Chaplain
M.Div., Board Certified Chaplain
Spiritual Care
Children’s Minnesota

Heidi Kamrath, MD
Neonatologist
Children’s Minnesota

Jo Crosby, MSN, RNC, NNP, NE-BC
NICU Patient Care Manager
Children’s Minnesota

Joan Liaschenko, RN, PhD
Professor, Center for Bioethics and School of Nursing
University of Minnesota

Jodi Davis
Community Member

Kris Catrine, MD
Pain and Palliative Care
Children’s Minnesota

Lisa Skjefte
American Indian Community Liason
Children’s Minnesota

Lynn Liberman, Rabbi
Community Chaplain
Jewish Family Services of St. Paul

Meghan Youngerberg, RN, MSN, CCRN
PICU Clinical Educator
Children’s Minnesota

Melanie Brown, MD
Associate Medical Director, Pain and Palliative Care Children’s Minnesota

Nadria Cesar
Risk and Compliance Analyst
Children’s Minnesota

Nikki Helland, MSW, LICSW
Clinical Social Worker
Children’s Minnesota

Paige Schram, Parent
Community Advocate

Sheldon Berkowitz, MD
General Pediatric Physician
Children’s Minnesota

Siman Nuurali
Case Management
Children’s Minnesota

Stacey Jenkins
Parent, Community Advocate

Susan Grefe, RN
NICU
Children’s Minnesota

Tessa Billman
Patient-Family Centered Care Coordinator
Children’s Minnesota

Theresa Huntley, MSW, LICSW
Social Worker, Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Program
Children’s Minnesota

Trisha Paul
Resident
University of Minnesota