Clinical Ethics department team

Meet the leaders and team members 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!’

Asma Fazal

Dr. Asma Fazal, MD, MRCPI (Pediatrics), MHSc, Clinical Ethics Fellow

Dr. Asma Fazal completed her medical degree from Hamdard College of Medicine, Karachi, Pakistan. After completing her specialist pediatric training in Ireland, she received membership of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in 2011. Over nine years, and after working in different parts of the world, Dr. Fazal has gained extensive clinical experience in general and subspecialty pediatrics.

Due to her growing interest in ethical issues in pediatric patient care, Dr. Fazal joined the University of Toronto and completed MHSc in Bioethics in 2019. As her capstone project, she developed an e-learn on “Introductory Concepts of Pediatric Bioethics for Healthcare Professionals”. Her bioethics education and training opened a new career pathway for her, and she joined Children’s Minnesota Hospital as a Clinical Ethics Fellow in September 2020.

Besides providing ethics consultations, Dr. Fazal is passionate about ethics education, policy-making, and academic research. Her research interests are substitute decision making, the best interest of a child, consent and capacity, patient confidentiality, moral distress among healthcare professionals, ethical issues involving refugees and migrants, and organ transplantation.

Dr. Fazal lives with her husband, Syed, and two lovely daughters. She loves cooking, gardening and exploring new places.

Sirin Yilmaz

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

Hamdi Sahal, Sr. 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 the metro area with her husband Keith, their 3 children, and their dog Winston.


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

Dr. Vora 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
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
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
University of Minnesota