Advancing Arts and Health Policy | Briefing Session

Recorded On: 04/07/2021

About This Session

During this session, advocates will gain an understanding about funding for creative and expressive arts therapies research, as well as the increase of access to arts-based programming for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, telehealth access, mental health services, and strengthening Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions for artists and other creative occupations. During our discussion, we will also review creative and expressive arts therapies and arts-based programming provided in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Judy Simpson, American Music Therapy Association
Randy Oostra, ProMedica
Marete Wester, Americans for the Arts
Joe Benincasa, The Actors Fund

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Joseph Benincasa

President & CEO

The Actors Fund

JOSEPH P. BENINCASA is the President and CEO of The Actors Fund, the national human services organization that helps everyone in entertainment and the performing arts; he joined The Fund in 1989.

Mr. Benincasa oversees innovative programs including comprehensive social services, health care services, employment and training, and affordable, supportive and senior housing. The Actors Fund’s headquarters are in New York City with regional offices in Los Angeles and Chicago, a nursing home in Englewood, NJ, and supportive housing residences in Manhattan, NY, West Hollywood, CA, and Brooklyn, NY. He is also President of the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation which is building affordable, supportive and senior care residences for artists in major urban centers.

He serves on the boards of directors of several organizations, including Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Career Transition for Dancers, Learning Ally, the Human Services Council, National Executive Service Corps, the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, Theatre Communications Group, Times Square Alliance, the YMCA of New York City and the Somerset Patriots, a minor league baseball team. He has been recognized with several honors, including The Actors Fund Medal of Honor, Tony Honors Award, New Jersey Legislature Excellence in Arts Award and inaugural Made in New York Award presented by Michael Bloomberg. He has served as chair of the New York Society of Association Executives,  Secretary/Treasurer of the MusiCares Foundation and has lectured on not-for-profit management at Duke University, and served on the Tony Administration and Nominating Committees, and on the Board of Directors of St. Peter's University Medical Center and Bio-Reference Laboratories.  He is a member of The Lambs and Friars' Clubs. In 2011, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Centenary College and served on the New York State Attorney General’s Leadership Committee for Nonprofit Revitalization.

Mr. Benincasa graduated from St. Joseph's University, earned a Masters from Rutgers University and attended the Graduate Business School at Fordham University. He is incredibly proud of how The Actors Fund helps everyone in the Creative Community.

Randy Oostra

CEO & President


Randy Oostra, DM, FACHE (63), is the President and Chief Executive Officer of ProMedica, a not-for-profit mission-based, integrated health and well-being organization headquartered in Toledo, Ohio. The $7 billion organization serves communities in 28 states. It offers acute and ambulatory care, an insurance company with a dental plan, and post-acute and academic business lines. The organization has more than 56,000 employees, 13 hospitals, 2,600 physicians and advanced practice providers with privileges, 900+ healthcare providers employed by ProMedica Physicians, a health plan, and more than 400 assisted living facilities, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, memory care communities, outpatient rehabilitation clinics, and hospice and home health care agencies. 

Randy has 40 years of health care and management expertise, with 22 of those years spent at ProMedica. Randy is regarded as one of the nation’s top leaders in health care and has earned a spot on several prestigious listings, which include Modern Healthcare’s 100 Most Influential People for four consecutive years and was recognized in 2020 as the 21st Most Influential person in the healthcare industry; and as Becker’s Hospital Review 100 Great Leaders to Know in Healthcare for 2019. 

ProMedica has received numerous national recognitions and accolades under Randy’s leadership. The organization is widely known as a national leader in addressing the social determinants of health and is consistently recognized by national associations and accrediting agencies for superior clinical quality, safety, and patience experience. The organization’s flagship Toledo Hospital received a 5-star rating from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and is recognized as one of the nation’s 50 best hospitals by Healthgrades. All ProMedica wholly owned, qualifying hospitals have received ratings of 3 stars and above from CMS. Additionally, ProMedica earned a spot on Forbes Magazine’s 2017 list of America’s Best Employers. 

Randy is a visionary leader who truly believes community and service are hand in hand and exemplifies that both in his professional and personal life. This strong commitment to the healthcare industry and community is demonstrated through his extensive involvement in numerous professional and civic organizations at the local, regional, and national levels. He serves on the board of trustees of the following national organizations: Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and chairperson for The Root Cause Coalition, which ProMedica founded. He serves on the board of trustees for the following organizations: Toledo Museum of Art also a member, ConnecToledo Downtown Development Corporation (past chair), Socially Determined, Kumanu, and Toledo Symphony (past chair). Randy is also a member of the Ohio and Michigan Hospital Associations and a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. 

As recognition for his strong commitment and positive contributions to the community, Randy was honored with the Jefferson Award for Public Service. He also was chosen by the Jefferson Awards Foundation to represent Toledo at the organization's national ceremony in Washington D.C. Additionally, Randy received the Ohio Hospital Association's Donald R. Newkirk Award for making a significant lifetime contribution to the healthcare industry. 

Randy holds a doctorate in management from Case Western Reserve University, a master’s degree in Health Care Administration from the University of Minnesota, a master’s degree in Management from the University of Wisconsin, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Northwestern College

Judy Simpson

Director of Government Relations

American Music Therapy Association (AMTA)

Judy Simpson, a board certified music therapist and the Director of Government Relations for the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), represents the music therapy profession with legislators and agencies on the state and federal level.  Since 2005, Judy has led AMTA’s national state recognition initiative in collaboration with the Certification Board for Music Therapists. She has presented and participated in advocacy trainings and events in 28 states and has contributed to legislative and regulatory language in 40 states. Prior to her work with AMTA, Judy’s 17 years of clinical experience involved developing music therapy programs in hospital settings, including physical rehabilitation, oncology, labor and delivery, psychiatry, ICU, and general medicine.

Marete Wester

Senior Director, Arts Policy and National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military

Americans for the Arts

Marete Wester, M.S. is Senior Director of Arts Policy and Impact at Americans for the Arts (AFTA) where she advances cross-sector policy issues and strategic alliances nationally and internationally. Her portfolio includes arts and military/Veterans issues, international engagement, as well as public health among others. She helped initiate and now directs the National Initiative for Arts and Health Across the Military (NIAHM)—a collaborate effort to advance arts and creativity as tools for health for all service members, Veterans, their families and caregivers. An experienced administrator of cross-sector collaborations, she serves as AFTA’s Project Director for the Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network, and manages major strategic alliance relationships, including stewarding two Memorandums of Agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She holds a bachelor's of music performance degree from Wilkes University, PA and a master’s of science degree in Arts Administration from Drexel University in Philadelphia. 

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