Our Team

MARK J. MILLER Chief Executive Officer and Owner

Mark J. Miller founded Spire Learning in January of 2009. Working with a passionate and talented group of people, Mark has seen Spire grow to a company known for its substance, quality, and innovation.

After a brief period of time working in hospital administration, Mark shifted his career in healthcare to the pharmaceutical industry. He worked for Hoffmann-La Roche in sales and marketing for 12 years before becoming a partner with Donahoe Purohit Miller, a medical communications agency. In his tenure at DPM, Mark was President of CPE Communications, a division that focused exclusively on promotional and continuing education.

In 2009 Mark founded the MJM Signature Group and created separate CME (Spire Learning) and Promotional (CPE Communications) divisions, allowing for a greater focus within each group.

Mark is also a partner in Effectus, a company focused on recruiting and retaining patients in Clinical Trials.

Since the addition of Theresa Vera, PhD, as President of Spire Learning, Mark has taken on the role of CEO. Although his career has taken him on a diverse and wide-ranging path in healthcare, Mark’s roots remain entrenched in Continuing Medical Education. He was especially excited to have Dr. Vera take on the role of President and is confident that she will maintain the character and standing that Spire has earned while taking Spire Learning to a new level.

THERESA M. VERA, PhD President

“One of my core beliefs is that education serves as a foundation for improving the human condition. I am proud to work with a group of passionate, like-minded individuals who are committed to making life better for others every day.”

As President of Spire Learning, Dr Theresa Vera is responsible for strategic oversight and operational excellence for business and educational initiatives. Theresa works with the team to set short- and mid-range goals that advance quality and innovative educational offerings for Spire.

Dr Vera has a long-held passion for blending science, education, and business. Prior to coming to Spire Learning, Dr Vera spent 12 years at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, taking on numerous roles within the medical affairs organization including Global Head, Medical Affairs Training, and Global Scientific Director. Before taking on a global assignment, Dr Vera spent 7 years in US Medical Affairs at Takeda assuming varying roles and strengthening her cross-functional knowledge of the company. Having worked in Medical Education, Publications, and Strategic Planning and Operations, Dr Vera led the US Medical Affairs team in the launch of a novel antidepressant for Major Depressive Disorder, managed neuroscience and gastroenterology healthcare professional education, and supported Medical Affairs’ efforts in gout, anemia, and cardiometabolic disease. Prior to her time with Takeda, Dr Vera gained experience in medical and promotional pharmaceutical communications during her tenure as Senior Medical Writer and ultimately Director, Clinical Communications, at a private medical communications and education agency in Chicago.

Theresa graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and received her doctorate degree in pharmacology, also from Loyola University Chicago. Dr Vera went on to complete two postdoctoral fellowships at the National Institutes of Mental Health, as a PRAT Fellow, and Northwestern University’s Institute for Neuroscience. Her time at the research bench resulted in nearly 30 peer-reviewed publications.

Theresa is an active member of her local community and invests her time in building leaders for the future and encouraging STEM education.

JEANNE PRATER Chief Operating Officer

“As United States healthcare outcomes continue to be worse than those of other developed countries, education of both healthcare providers and patients remains a key tool to advance evidence-based care and engagement of patients in their own health outcomes as part of the effort to raise overall healthcare quality.”

As Chief Operating Officer, Jeanne works closely with Spire President Theresa Vera on Spire’s strategic priorities in the advancement of education that makes a difference in people’s lives. Jeanne’s primary focus is on the identification of therapeutic areas and their attendant issues along with the instructional methods that would be most effective in improving practice quality and care. Jeanne has broad experience in the healthcare sector, starting her career in the pharmaceutical industry before moving to the medical education enterprise. Her first initiative in medical education was a comprehensive patient education program for solid organ transplant recipients. Over the past 20 years, Jeanne has led the development of many healthcare professional and patient education programs, always striving for high quality and innovation.


“Working in medical education enables me to pursue my passion as a life-long learner. I love engaging experts and leaders of groundbreaking clinical trials to craft the design and content of medical education programming for healthcare professionals that will have a meaningful and positive impact towards improving care for their patients.”

As Clinical Director, Dr Chris Washburn brings to Spire Learning 12 years of experience. Chris works closely with the business and project management teams in the design and execution of medical education programming. Chris also collaborates with medical experts across all therapeutic areas to deliver high-quality, accurate clinical content for Spire’s educational initiatives. Prior to joining Spire, Chris honed his craft as a director of medical education content at Advanced Studies in Medicine, Physicians’ Education Resource, PeerView, and most recently, Medscape.

Chris graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and received his doctorate degree in pharmacology from the University of Virginia. Chris went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at the Lab for Cancer Research at Rutgers University. His time at the research bench resulted in several peer-reviewed publications. When Chris is not exploring the world with his wife and 3 children he volunteers his time as a director of development with Rugby New Jersey and coaches several youth rugby teams in central New Jersey.

ASHTON BEGGS, PharmD, BCACP Associate Clinical Director

“High-quality medical education is vital to ensure healthcare providers are at the forefront of their fields. I strive to improve patient care by working with experts and the Spire team to intentionally create and deliver meaningful content to clinicians.”

As Associate Clinical Director, Dr Beggs ensures Spire’s medical education is evidence-based and clinically sound. She collaborates with expert faculty and members of the Spire team to produce relevant programming to improve patient care.

Ashton has demonstrated a long-standing passion for education. She pursued her Doctor of Pharmacy degree at St. Louis College of Pharmacy. Following graduation, she completed two pharmacy residencies, specializing in ambulatory care. Academia sparked her interest and she served as an adjunct faculty member during her residency. After completing residency training, Ashton accepted a position as a faculty member at a college of pharmacy. In this role, she educated graduate students completing their Doctor of Pharmacy degree. In addition to her didactic teaching responsibilities, she established clinical pharmacy services at a local clinic providing healthcare to adults experiencing homelessness. At this site, she collaborated with an interdisciplinary team and precepted pharmacy students.

In addition to teaching pharmacy students, Ashton has created and delivered numerous evidence-based continuing medical education programs to healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, social workers, and pharmacists. Her educational programs and peer-reviewed publications cover a wide range of topics, including ambulatory care, geriatrics, preventive health, medication therapy management, global and travel health, medication adherence, educational strategies, and drug reviews.

ALLISON GOLDBERG, MPA Director, Grants and Education

“I consider myself a lifelong learner and believe passionately in the power of education. It is continuing medical education that gives patients and their families hope and comfort, knowing that they have the best-educated doctors and health care professionals to care for themselves and their loved ones.”

Allison joined Spire Learning after 10 years at the #1 ranked Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, the last three years as Assistant Vice President, Professional Education. In this role, Allison provided strategic oversight and vision for continuing professional medical education. In doing so, she closely collaborated with service chiefs, education directors, clinical leaders, and faculty in developing annual and multi-year professional education strategies and implementing those strategies in the form of onsite and online continuing medical education activities. To support these activities, Allison developed critical relationships with medical device and pharmaceutical companies.

Allison is thrilled to be part of the Spire Learning team as Director, Grants and Education, where she can play a critical role in bringing significant and meaningful medical education activities to the health care professionals that need them, particularly in an ever-changing and evolving health care environment.

Allison earned her Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

CHAD THOMPSON Director, Grants and Education

“Without CME it would be impossible to effect change! The fundamental goal of healthcare professionals is to offer the best possible treatment options for patients and their families. The bridge that connects these two is through deliberate and focused CME programs. By providing healthcare professionals with the most current clinical information and real-world scenarios we will facilitate discussion and positively effect that change in how clinicians treat and communicate with their patients.”

Chad is an experienced healthcare executive with broad professional proficiencies in continuing education, grant development, and project management. As Director, Grants and Education, Chad is responsible for identifying the educational needs of our partners, matching those needs with appropriate educational formats, supervising the development of grant proposals, working with faculty to ensure content is fair and balanced, and making sure all program deliverables are implemented and executed with excellence.

SHIRLEY JONES, MBA Associate Director, Program Management

“Medical education gives us the unique opportunity to facilitate the practicing clinician’s evaluation of patients’ discomfort, economic outlook, or temperament. In many instances, the programs advance and improve our collective communities—allowing us to help others through helping communicate a novel or gold standard approach to managing disease.”

As Associate Director, Program Management, Shirley works closely with the business development and creative teams in the implementation of educational programs at Spire. She has wide and varied experience managing large-scale educational meetings and complex enduring projects. With a keen sense of how a program runs from start to finish, Shirley is a consummate medical education professional who seamlessly blends practical logistical needs with more innovative needs in support of the educational design. She is instrumental in developing relationships with partners and associations that advance Spire’s strategic goals. Shirley is also responsible for financial oversight of the program department and its operations.

DEBORAH SHARKEYSenior Educational Grants Manager

“As a person who is dedicated to making a difference through her work, working in medical education provides a real sense of purpose, as knowing that my contribution to the development and delivery of medical education initiatives results in improved patient outcomes and can make a difference in the health care landscape.”

As Senior Educational Grants Manager, Deborah applies her varied business operations experience to Spire Learning’s grant operations. She is driven by being an active contributor to organizational growth and success through the development and implementation of high-impact strategies, process improvements, and strong project management. Deborah is a graduate of Framingham State University with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Communications.

DEB COSTA Educational Grants Manager

“My career path has involved executing marketing campaigns for clients at healthcare conferences and events. Now, as a part of the Spire Learning team, I am excited to directly contribute to patients’ lives in a more direct way, through the development of medical education programs that provide valuable medical research directly to clinicians that will better patients’ lives and the lives of those that care for them.”

As Educational Grants Manager, Deb is responsible for supporting the Spire new business team in medical education grant development, writing grant proposals and entering grant submissions.

Deb comes from the exhibits and live events industry where she supported premier pharmaceutical clients, as a senior account manager and project manager who successfully executed both nationwide and global exhibition programs. This experience provided exposure and insight into planning interactive educational experiences for the healthcare professional attendee.

Deb is a graduate of Stonehill College, with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Business Administration.

MAIREAD EARLY Program Manager

As one of Spire Learning’s Program Managers, Mairead is responsible for the kick-off and execution of live and online medical education activities, working with clinical experts and healthcare providers in a variety of therapeutic areas in addition to building and maintaining relationships with outside organizations and partners. She also assists in the strategic development of tactical concepts, being responsible for driving the implementation of tactical delivery while providing premier service.

Using a variety of marketing, public relations, and communication skills, Mairead is focused on program management, operations, and social media strategy, with an emphasis on customer service delivery. She has a passion for project efficiency and streamlining processes to help Spire’s partners, the healthcare community and patients we serve. Mairead is a graduate of St Thomas Aquinas College with a degree in Communications and a minor in Social Media Marketing.

LISA COLOMBO Program Manager

“Continuing medical education elevates knowledge and will enable health care professionals to provide patients with the best overall care. I am honored to bring valuable educational programs to life.”

As a Program Manager, Lisa is responsible for executing online and live medical education programs by working closely with the business development and creative teams at Spire Learning. Lisa brings with her years of experience in medical communications, scientific communication planning, publications, health economics and outcomes research (HEOR), and medical affairs support. Lisa’s additional experience includes logistics planning and coordination for continuing education meeting programs.