How Do We Work?
G. Stone Connections, L.L.C. is a consultancy firm leveraging seasoned experts to create, enhance and implement programs centering on the patient and caregiver voice.
Leveraging Work and Real-World Experience
The consultancy model enables experts in specific areas to focus on what they do well and what they enjoy doing. Their diverse and practical experiences factor into programs and planning.
Blending Science, Patient Care and Engagement
It’s not titles but knowledge. Combined, the experience of nurses, communicators, educators, designers, writers and others fosters the creation of innovative programs meeting client objectives and patient and caregiver needs. Most of our consultants have worked in and understand the regulatory and compliance frameworks in the pharmaceuticals industry.
Being Agile. Being Practical. Being Adaptable.
Our consultants often bring years of experience and are used to quickly shifting course on a project or program as needed.
While we’ve leveraged a variety of methods to implement programs — both in-person and virtual channels such as advisory boards, forums and focus groups, workshops, surveys, polls and crowdsourcing – we always factor in the comfort-level and convenience for the audience of the method used.
Knowing it’s about the patient & caregiver, always
That means designing programs centered around their needs. Recognizing “big” things like reimbursement, working or traveling with compromised immune systems. It also means recognizing “little” things like fatigue, pain, child care and even pet care. In ‘program’ language that means things like…
- Rolling out a program that’s a car ride away from the patient, caregiver or patient organization
- Virtual workshops on easy to use platforms
- Limited – not overwhelming — information and data
- Breaks, breaks and more breaks whether in person or virtual
Who Are We?
More than a decade ago, Gloria Stone established G. Stone Connections, L.L.C. as a consultancy firm that leveraged seasoned experts to create and drive patient engagement programs. These were people with decades of real-world experience as oncology nurses, MSLs, patient advocacy professionals, media and communications professionals, writers and designers. Each brought decades of experience in industry and
healthcare, and a passion and enthusiasm for the challenges.
Our clients have included biotech and pharmaceutical companies, foundations and patient organizations.
Gloria Stone, M.S., M.B.A.
Before establishing G. Stone Connections, L.L.C., Gloria’s work was based on R&D industries. She worked in agriculture, aerospace, animal health, automotive and chemicals while at American Cyanamid Company before joining Burson-Marsteller and focusing on healthcare. In the late 1990’s she joined Novartis Oncology where she created and managed global communications, patient advocacy and external relations functions. In 2008, she left Novartis and established G. Stone Connections, L.L.C. to focus on patient engagement.
An ongoing member of the Multi-Regional Clinical Trials Center of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Clinical Research Glossary Pilot Workgroup, Gloria is included in the published outcomes of the pilot activity – Developing a consensus-driven, plain-language clinical research glossary for study participants and the clinical research community (Journal of Clinical and Translational Science)
Gloria is a member of the Drug Industry Association (DIA) patient engagement committee, the Global Health Council, Consortium of Universities for Global Health, and a former board member of the NNJ chapter of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association.
Gloria has an M.S. in Biological Sciences from Rutgers – the State University of New Jersey –an M.B.A. in Marketing from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a B.A. in Communications from American University. In addition, she has completed a certificate program from New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies in Media Management; and she has completed both DIA eLearning Certification Programs: one for Patient Engagement and one for Clinical Trials Fundamentals. Since then, she has developed a core team of consultants that works with her to create programs focused on patient and caregiver needs for pharmaceutical, biotech and patient organizations.
While we frequently enlist specific experts in medical writing, and graphic design, market research, media and public relations; there is a core group of consultants that provide ongoing account management and leadership and include the following:
Senior Advisor, Patient Engagement and Internal Communications Consultant
Bhavani’s diverse and extensive strategic communications experience covers numerous industries including more than 15 years in the healthcare/pharma sector. Specifically, Bhavani has held several leadership roles at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. Her demonstrated expertise covers organizational transformation and change management, executive branding and reputation, employee engagement and corporate communications.
An astute problem solver with a track record of success, she has led the development and implementation of audience-focused, integrated, multi-channel communications strategies across industry-leading organizations in the health care, information services, and telecommunications sectors. Prior to her most current position as the Americas Region Head of Communications for the Business Services division of Novartis, she held senior communications roles at Lucent Technologies and Dun and Bradstreet among other large, complex organizations. Over the course of her career, she has consistently led diverse, multi-functional project teams across global, regional and local geographies.
Bhavani holds an M.S. in Business & Marketing from New School University in New York and a B.A. in Economics and Statistics from the University of Kerala in India.
Senior Advisor, Communications Consultant
With more than 20 years’ experience in supporting oncology programs, Veronique is well suited to drive the strategy and implementation of projects for the cancer community. Most recently, she has been supporting European efforts for a leading oncology organization – driving external communications strategy and execution in a variety of cancer settings; connecting cross-functional activities among patient advocacy, digital and communications teams; and supporting agency management.
She also has supported internal communications activities for the company’s U.S. and Latin America regions. Prior to this, Veronique worked at leading New York City based public relations agencies, including Ruder Finn and Noonan/Russo. At Ruder Finn, she was the lead on all the agency’s Novartis Oncology product communications activities. At Noonan/Russo, she supported the agency’s market positioning and communications activities for Genta Corporation’s emerging cancer technology.
Veronique received her Masters in Business and International Law at the Assas Paris II in Paris, France. She and her husband have one daughter.
Social Media, Internal Communications and Project Management Consultant
Sheila understands the patient’s experience from a variety of perspectives: as a health writer, a nurse’s daughter and a former home health aide. She also brings the journalistic skills she developed as a daily newspaper reporter to corporate internal communications.
For the past 13 years, Sheila has managed internal news content and led employee communication initiatives in the pharmaceutical industry – first at Schering-Plough and then at Sanofi US.
With each internal news article, executive message, blog post or employee campaign, Sheila’s goal is to provide information in a way that employees will gain deeper understanding of the organization or become engaged to take the desired action.
Prior to working in the pharma industry, Sheila wrote patient-centered articles for University Hospital (Newark, NJ) and health industry news stories for New Jersey Medicine.
Sheila is a proud alumna of Rutgers University, where she double majored in journalism and political science. She and her husband have three children.
Debra L. Pirsos
Communications and Project Management Consultant
Debra brings a wealth of diverse experience to G. Stone Connections, L.L.C. – from a professional in communications, patient engagement and event planning to author, yoga and meditation instructor, coffee shop owner and entrepreneur! Debra brings more than 25 years experience in medical marketing and communications for major healthcare systems, solo medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies.
Her experience ranging from public relations and communications to branding and website design for specialty physicians (orthopedic oncologists and surgeons), dentists, education systems and adoption agencies (under her consultancy DP Communication Solutions, LLC). Most recently she worked as an in-house consultant to Novartis Oncology’s Global Patient Relations Department to facilitate funding and review processes associated with patient organizations and patient educational support.
Debra is the Owner/Operator of Bunbury’s Coffee Shop in Piermont, NY. Having defined herself as a communitarian, Debra leveraged the flavor of her local coffee shop to found Bunbury’s Books, the self-publishing arm of her coffee shop. Through Bunbury’s Books, Debra has three of her own children’s books and one memoir chapter piece. To round out her vast accomplishments, she also is a certified Yoga and Meditation Teacher – and all stemming from a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Communications
Joanne Vanak, MSN, BSN
Senior Advisor, Patient Advocacy and Engagement Consultant
Joanne has over 44 years of oncology nursing experience, with a keen, proactive focus on research, treatment modalities and patient care. She applies these skills to developing and implementing educational training programs, enhancing relationships with advocacy groups, developing patient and caretaker resources, and creating methods of promoting the value and impact of patient advocacy.
Prior to consulting, Joanne was with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) family company, leading a team of nurses and pharmacists within the Oncology Early Development Research and Development department. Prior to this role, Joanne spent 9 years as a Senior Director in Scientific Advocacy, creating the position after recognizing an unmet need in connecting with patient advocacy groups. She helped develop a web-based resource tool that identifies and promotes the advocacy groups and resources for patients, caregivers, and families in a user-friendly fashion.
Joanne is on the Cancer Care Board of Trustees, a member of Advanced Practitioner Society of Hematology and Oncology (APSHO) and the SHAPE Partner organization. Her nursing career ranges from in -patient, out-patient and hospice nursing including tenure at Georgetown and as a Clinical Nurse Specialist at 3 large comprehensive cancer centers. Joanne is also an active member of the Coast Guard Spouse Club. She holds a Master of Science in Nursing from Georgetown, University as well as a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from George Mason University.