CEO, Transplant Recipient Honored by National Kidney Foundation

New York, NY—April 3, 2018 — Risa Simon has been selected by the National Kidney Foundation as the recipient of its 2018 Celeste Castillo Lee Patient Engagement Award. Risa Simon is a motivational speaker, mentor, author and patient advocate. She is also a preemptive kidney transplant recipient and the founder and CEO of Simon Says Seminars, Inc.; The Proactive Path; and the non-profit TransplantFirst Academy.
Simon’s personal experience with kidney disease prompted her to take initiative in her own care by proactively seeking a living donor. She now advocates for others to do the same.
“Risa Simon’s extraordinary efforts to involve kidney disease patients in their own care has helped countless people,” said Michael Choi, M.D., president and chair of the NKF Scientific Advisory Board. “Ms. Simon’s quest to help kidney patients secure a better quality of life is an inspiration to all who’ve had the privilege and pleasure of hearing her story.”
This award was established in honor of Celeste Castillo Lee, a longtime advocate for patient-centered care and empowerment. It is the highest honor given by NKF to a distinguished kidney patient who exemplifies the foundation’s mission and Lee's legacy of putting patients at the center of all aspects of healthcare through their involvement with NKF and community partners.
The award will be made to Simon at the NKF 2018 Annual Spring Meetings to be held April 11-14, in Austin, Texas.
“I’m deeply humbled by this honor.  I consider it a privilege to help kidney patients become their own best advocate and live their best life possible — the life I now live,” said Ms. Simon. “Without early patient engagement, hopes and dreams can be lost. While most healthcare providers offer education, only a very small percentage position transplantation — before dialysis is required — as the best option or provide information on how to go about it by finding potential living kidney donors,” added Simon.
Several years after her diagnosis with polycystic kidney disease, Simon resolved to redirect her three-decades long career as a management consultant and national speaker to promoting a more proactive path for kidney patients. In books and seminars, she shares anecdotes and “how to” formulas for success. Her greatest joy, she says, is hearing from patients who say they’ve been inspired to shift their fate and start championing a better quality of life.
“Patients deserve the right to learn more and do more,” Ms. Simon said. “We need to be encouraged to work towards securing a better and longer life.”
Ms. Simon currently serves as an NKF peer mentor and patient advocate. She also serves as the education coordinator for the Polycystic Kidney Foundation’s Phoenix chapter and as an ambassador advocate for the American Association of Kidney Patients. 
NKF Spring Clinical Meetings
For the past 27 years, nephrology healthcare professionals from across the country have come to NKF’s Spring Clinical Meetings to learn about the newest developments related to all aspects of nephrology practice, network with colleagues, and present their research findings. The NKF Spring Clinical Meetings are designed for meaningful change in the multidisciplinary healthcare teams’ skills, performance, and patient health outcomes.  It is the only conference of its kind that focuses on translating science into practice for the entire healthcare team.  
Kidney Disease Facts
30 million American adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and most aren’t aware of it. 1 in 3 American adults are at risk for chronic kidney disease. Risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and family history of kidney failure. People of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. African Americans are 3 times more likely than Whites, and Hispanics are nearly 1.5 times more likely than non-Hispanics to develop end-stage renal disease (kidney failure).
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive and longstanding organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease. For more information about NKF visit