Board of Directors election
Board members named
Members of the national organ donation and transplantation community have elected 22 people to the UNOS Board of Directors, including a new president, vice president/president-elect, vice president for patient and donor affairs, and secretary.
All board members are volunteers and serve terms ranging from one to three years, depending on the office to which they are elected. Their terms of service begin July 1.
Board of Directors election was Jan. 22 – Feb. 5, 2020.
How are nominees selected for the Board of Directors?
Anyone who wishes to serve on the Board of Directors must first apply by completing a Biography Form each cycle they wish to be considered. Once your form is submitted, there are three ways to become a nominee to the Board:
- Through the Board’s Nominating Committee: The Board Nominating Committee selects nominees for Officer, At Large and Patient & Donor Affairs positions. These nominees compete in the national election on contested ballot positions.
- Through your Regional Nominating Committee: Each OPTN Region’s Nominating Committee selects nominees to participate in a regional election for Associate Regional Councillor/Regional Councillor-Elect. Associate Councillors serve a two-year term to the MPSC before participating in the national membership election on a non-contested ballot position for Regional Councillor to the Board of Directors.
- Via a Medical/Scientific Society: Five professional transplantation societies select nominees from their membership to participate in the national election on non-contested ballot positions.
- The American Society of Transplantation (AST)
- The American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS)
- The Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO)
- The American Society for Histocompatibility & Immunogenetics (ASHI) or The College of American Pathologists (CAP)
The Board slate is developed in alignment with the Nominating Committee’s annual needs assessment, identifying the key skill sets, expertise, and perspectives most needed in the coming year. Membership on the Board of Directors is open to transplant professionals and members of the general public alike.
For more information about the Board of Directors, visit https://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/members/get-involved/.
Who may cast a vote in the election?
Only designated voting representatives of OPTN members with voting privileges and member electors may cast a vote in the annual Board election.
Membership categories with voting privileges are:
- Transplant hospital members (one vote per hospital)
- OPO members (one vote per OPO)
- Histocompatibility laboratory members (one vote per independent laboratory)
- Medical/scientific members (one vote per member)
- Public organization members (No more than 12, cast by public organization member electors)
- Individual members (No more than 12, cast by public organization member electors)
David Mulligan, M.D., FACS
Professor of surgery, Yale University
Chief of Transplantation Surgery and Immunology, Yale New Haven Health System
Biography and personal statement
David C. Mulligan, MD, FACS, is a professor of surgery at Yale University and chief of Transplantation Surgery and Immunology at Yale New Haven Health System in New Haven, Connecticut. His career in abdominal organ transplantation has spanned over 20 years, including roles at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Yale New Haven Health System.
Dr. Mulligan served as the Region 5 Councillor on the Board of Directors. He also participated on its Committee Governance Workgroup. He chaired the OPTN Liver and Intestinal Organ Transplantation Committee, served as the Liver and Intestinal Transplantation representative to the OPTN Policy Oversight Committee, and vice chaired the Membership and Professional Standards Committee (MPSC). His service on the MPSC spanned over 7 years total.
Additionally, he served on the Board of Directors for Donor Network of Arizona, chaired the Training & Workforce Committee of the American Society of Transplantation (AST), and serves as a member of the Medical Advisory Committee for New England Donor Services. He served as a councillor for the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) and currently serves as their Chair for the Business Practice Services Committee. He also recently served as Chair of the Advisory Council on Transplantation (ACOT) to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Dr. Mulligan received his medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine.
As a leader in two different transplant institutions over the past 20 years with extensive experiences in the multiple organizations surrounding the field of transplantation, I have been intimately involved in the many diverse aspects of leading, collaborating and developing the field with a continued focus on what is best for patients across the nation.
The OPTN has always been a fundamental organization in which I have cherished a rich participation and hope to continue my career growing my involvement. The vision and goals of the OPTN resonate within me as a professional and as a physician. I feel responsible to maintain a fair and balanced perspective centered on the needs of our patients who we serve to remain enthusiastically involved in the most critical organization that governs our performance, creates our policies and sets opportunities for our future.
Matthew Cooper, M.D.
Professor of Surgery, Georgetown University School of Medicine
Director of Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation, Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute
Biography and personal statement
Matthew Cooper is a Professor of Surgery at Georgetown University School of Medicine and the Director of Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation at the Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute.
Upon receipt of a medical degree from the Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1994, Dr Cooper completed his general surgery training at the Medical College of Wisconsin followed by a fellowship in multi-organ abdominal transplantation in 2002 at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. He joined the transplant faculty at Hopkins upon completion of his training and was appointed Surgical Director of Kidney Transplantation and Clinical Research in 2003. Dr. Cooper joined the University of Maryland in 2005 directing the kidney transplant and clinical research program until 2012 following which he assumed his current role in Washington, DC.
Dr. Cooper trained with the pioneers of the laparoscopic donor nephrectomy procedure and seeks new opportunities for living donation through innovation and removing disincentives for those considering donation while promoting the safety and long-term care of live organ donors. His clinical interests include kidney and pancreas transplantation; particularly the use of marginal organs. He co-chaired an NKF sponsored Task Force to decrease kidney allograft discards which led to several changes in organ allocation and collaborations with CMS to initiate a Learning Collaborative to share best practices and bring more patients an opportunity for kidney transplantation. He has recently co-chaired an OPTN sponsored Systems Performance Improvement Workgroup, a national representative group of surgeons, physicians, OPOs, and community thought leaders to identify and implement interventions to improve donation and transplant delivery systems to increase organs transplanted, eliminate punitive metrics, and decrease disparities and discards.
Dr. Cooper is involved in transplantation activities both locally and on a national/international basis. He has served as the chairman of the OPTN Living Donor Committee and recently acted as the Councillor for OPTN Region 2 providing a second opportunity to serve on its Board of Directors. He has also served on the OPTN KPD subcommittee, the Policy Oversight Committee, and is currently serving a second term on the MPSC. He is a member of the National and DC Board of Directors for the NKF and a member of the NKF’s National Transplant Task Force and Public Policy Committee. He is a current councillor for the American Society of Transplant Surgeons and on the Executive Committee for the AST KP Community of Practice. He is a current board member for the National Kidney Registry, the American Foundation for Donation and Transplantation, the International Pancreas and Islet Cell Transplant Association, Donate Life America and the local OPO – Washington Regional Transplant Community. Dr. Cooper has served as Chair of the American Transplant Congress (ATC) and is a member of the planning committee for upcoming International Congress of the Transplantation Society (TTS) in Seoul.
I am grateful for the nomination for President Elect/Vice President and would request your consideration. I have been an active clinical transplant surgeon since completing my fellowship at Johns Hopkins in 2002. I currently serve as the Director of a large volume Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program and the Physician Director of Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. My primary research interest is in the field of ischemia/reperfusion in kidney transplantation and interventions for DGF.
I have been involved with the OPTN immediately following the completion of training attending and actively participating in regional meetings. In 2004 I was selected as the Region 2 Representative to the OPTN Living Donor Committee followed by 4 years as its Vice Chair and Chair. During this period, I contributed to the formation of the current Joint Society’s Workgroup structure to allow for earlier deliberation among the transplant societies regarding OPTN policies potentially impacting clinical care. I was then invited to participate as a committee member for the inaugural Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) subcommittee followed by my first 2-year period of elected service on the Board as an ad hoc member in 2012. In 2015 I was elected an Associate Regional Councilor providing an opportunity to serve on both the Policy Oversight Committee and the Membership and Professional Affairs Committee followed by 2 years as the Region 2 Councilor and representing the region on the Board. I currently serve on the MPSC following my role as co-chair of a successful Ad hoc Systems Performance Improvement Workgroup that brought together patients, donors and professionals across the entire transplant landscape to build a framework for improved collaboration and cooperation to increase donation and transplantation.
I have served on the ATC planning committee for 6 years including the privilege of acting as Chair in 2018. I hold current leadership activities with IPITA, NKF, NKR, DLA and the AFDT. I am confident I have been either elected or chosen for these leadership positions due to my genuine interest in inclusivity and an ability to organize large diverse groups, appreciate the complex dynamics of interdependent professionals and to listen carefully to both personal requests and the overall climate of the transplant community.
Most recently I organized and chaired a successful Consensus Conference to Decrease Kidney Discards which included representation from HRSA, OPTN, CMS, NIH, private payers, and patients. Both the immediate and ongoing enthusiasm for bringing this long-anticipated event to fruition has been rapidly followed with several ongoing initiatives including projects analyzing the value of kidney allograft biopsies, the OPTN facilitated kidney allocation for high KDPI organs, and substantive dialogue with CMS to promote innovation and reduce risk aversion. The opportunities and like initiatives across all organs, no longer an ideal, now appear meaningful and real.
I have valued my last decade and a half of experience in service to the OPTN. I would like to introduce the diverse opportunities of the organization to even a broader, more diverse audience. My primary location alone in the District will permit my presence for the issues and collaborations that demand an immediate audience with Congress and regulatory bodies. I truly believe I am well positioned to address the needs of the OPTN, its members and to be its voice when called upon. I will not take my responsibility or this position for granted. As such, I would be honored if you would consider me as your next Vice President/President Elect.
Vice President for Patient and Donor Affairs
Mindy Dison, RN, B.S.N., CPTC (Recipient)
Transplant Procurement Coordinator, Mayo Clinic Florida
Biography and personal statement
Mindy Dison, RN, BSN, CPTC is a Transplant Procurement Coordinator for Mayo Clinic Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She started her career as a pediatric trauma nurse and after two successful kidney transplants she transitioned into the world of organ transplant 18 years ago. She previously worked as an organ procurement coordinator for LifeQuest Organ Recovery Services and was then recruited to Mayo Clinic Florida 13 years ago and has served on multiple national boards and committees during her career. She previously served as patient representative on the OPTN Board of Directors, Member at large for the OPTN MPSC Committee, the OPTN Liver Committee and remains active within Region 3 meetings and activities. Other committee activities include past treasurer of the North East Florida International Transplant nurses society and she has spoken at many conferences on a national level.
As a transplant recipient and transplant professional, I have a very unique perspective and understanding of organ donation and transplant and the OPTN. I have not only had two successful living related kidney transplants and unfortunately more recently became a deceased donor family member, I also have been working in the field of organ donation and transplant for 18 years. I not only understand professionally the many aspects of organ donation and transplant, but also can relate and help grow the OPTN from a patient and donor family perspective. I look forward to the opportunity to use not only my past professional experience on the Board of Directors and MPSC, but also bring a voice of patient and donor families as the Board of Directors Vice President of Patient and Donor affairs.
Lisa Stocks, RN, MSN, FNP
Executive Director, LifeSharing
Biography and personal statement
Lisa Stocks has been privileged to serve as the Executive Director of an OPO for more than 15 years, capping a 30-year career dedicated to Organ Transplantation, and Procurement.
Currently, she is honored to serve as Chair of the MPSC and has extensive experience working with and serving on Non-Profit Boards and OPTN Committees.
As the elected Associate Regional Conciliar running our Regional Meetings, Lisa also has had the great experience of being a member of the Membership and Professional Standards Committee (MPSC) and then OPTN Regional Board member.
As a Board member I will speak for what is best for the national system of organ donation and transplantation. It is imperative that our voice as a Board address what is fair and equitable and takes into account the needs of transplant recipients and those people waiting desperately for a transplant throughout the nation.
I will continue to build on the strong foundations set by our community to develop inclusive, balanced, and transparent ways to address the challenges in organ donation and transplantation we face now as well as in the future.
It is vital for members of the transplant community to participate in the OPTN to continuously improve the organ donation and transplant process through thoughtful policy development, process improvement, and public engagement and I will encourage other members of our community to participate in the discussion. I have the clinical and leadership experience to effectively contribute to helping the OPTN achieve its strategic goals.
I bring a depth of professional experience and background in organ donation and transplantation combined with extensive knowledge and experiences gained while working on OPTN Committees including as Chair of MPSC, the OPO Committee, and as Co-Chair of The Systems Improvement Committee.
Lastly, I bring a belief in the importance of working together across divergent perspectives in the service of improving the transplant system.
Immediate Past President
Maryl Johnson, M.D.
Transplant cardiologist, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics
Professor of medicine, heart failure and heart transplantation, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics
Biography and personal statement
Maryl R. Johnson, MD, FACC, is a transplant cardiologist and professor of medicine, heart failure and heart transplantation at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, WI.
Dr. Johnson is the current President of the Board of Directors, chaired the OPTN Data Advisory Committee, and has served on her regional heart review board. She was also on the OPTN Committee Governance Workgroup. She previously served as secretary of the OPTN Board of Directors and on its Executive and Nominating Committees. Other committee experience includes chairing the OPTN Thoracic Organ Transplantation Committee and membership on the Policy Oversight Committee. She is past president of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) and the American Society of Transplantation (AST).
Dr. Johnson earned her medical degree from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in Iowa City, Iowa and her bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.
From my earliest involvement in the field of cardiac transplantation, I have understood that transplants are not possible without organ donors, and my passion for transplantation extends to the field of organ donation and optimizing the opportunities for providing the gift of life to as many transplant candidates as possible. As evidenced by my being a previous faculty member of the Organ Donation and Transplantation Collaboratives and Past-President of the American Society of Transplantation, my transplant involvement extends beyond cardiac transplantation, and I believe these previous experiences helped prepare me to be a better leader of the OPTN. I welcome the opportunity to further the field of transplantation and organ donation by serving as the Immediate Past President of the Board of Directors.
Keith Wille, M.D., M.S.P.H.
Professor of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham
I am Keith Wille and truly honored to be considered for the position on the Board of Directors, representing Region 3. I am currently a Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of the Lung Transplant and Advanced Lung Diseases Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). I have worked as a transplant pulmonologist since 2002 and remain active in the daily care and management of cardiothoracic transplant candidates and recipients. I received my medical education at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans and training in Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Lung Transplantation at UAB. I later received a Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) degree from UAB in Clinical and Translational Science, Epidemiology (2011), studying organ allocation before and after introduction of the lung allocation score.
I have been active with transplant-related scientific and educational activities in professional societies, serving as a member of the Transplant Steering Committee of the American College of Chest Physicians over the last few years. In this capacity, I serve as a co-investigator in a Network-initiated prospective study examining donor lung quality, with UAB as the study’s coordinating center. I have been active with the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT), including past work with the Quality of Life committee and the Scientific Program Committee. My primary academic interests include lung transplant disparities, clinical outcomes, extracorporeal support, and organ allocation practices. I am presently working with local and national collaborators on transplant-related clinical and translational projects as site principal investigator of the Lung Transplant Outcomes Group, an NIH-funded collaboration examining primary graft dysfunction and other transplant outcomes.
My previous service with the OPTN has included the National Lung Review Board (2011-2014), where I served as Committee Member and later Chair. I was also a member-at-large on the Membership and Professional Standards Committee (2014-2016), and worked actively with the Performance Analysis and Improvement Subcommittee. Through these experiences, I have learned to work effectively with and lead collaborative groups to achieve common goals and finish complex projects. I serve as the current Region 3 Associate Councilor and am thankful for the chance to work closely with the Board of Directors. In this role, I hope to continue to advocate for our region at the national level in matters pertaining to organ donation, allocation, and transplantation, and actively participate in the development, refinement, and review of policies that oversee the practice of transplantation.
Jeffrey Orlowski, M.S., CPTC
President and Chief Executive Officer, LifeShare Transplant Donor Services of Oklahoma
I am profoundly honored to be a candidate to represent Region 4 on the Board. Now in my 33rd year in the field of donation and transplantation, I have a passionate commitment to saving lives through the generous gifts our donors and donor families provide.
For over three decades, I have actively engaged in national service on behalf of our community. I have served the OPTN in a variety of roles including one previous term on the Board, terms as Chair of both the OPO Committee and MPSC, and terms of service on numerous OPTN Committees, Subcommittees, and Task Forces. Years of volunteering with the OPTN have provided the opportunity to develop a comprehensive understanding of the organization and to be thoroughly prepared to serve as Region 4 Councilor.
As the donation and transplant community continues to address the opportunities and challenging issues immediately before us, it is essential that we continue to lead and speak with a strong, clear, and united voice. I would be extremely grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to that effort as Councilor for Region 4.
Patrick Healey M.D.
Division Chief, Pediatric Transplantation, Seattle Children’s Hospital
Patient & Donor Affairs Representative — Living Donor
President and CEO, Oahu Economic Development Board
Biography and personal statement
Pono Shim has earned a local and national reputation for being an influential thought leader as well as a respected executive of a multimillion dollar nonprofit organization. Pono has a deep understanding of cultural, economic and historical issues facing Native Hawaiians and other under-served and marginalized communities and his work includes advancing cultural knowledge as a means of solving the problems of today. Pragmatic yet visionary, Mr. Shim brings extensive experience working with policies, programs and institutions and the ability to collaborate and communicate effectively. His expertise in storytelling, building community, and facilitating difficult conversations led him to establish the Higher Skills Academy that shifts traditional thinking and thought processes to help reframe challenges and more effectively address problems. Pono mentors both established and emerging leaders to guide them in finding the greater leader within. He is considered by many to be a master storyteller and is often asked to advise and participate in Local, National, and International Issues.
Pono was asked to take the leadership of the Oahu Economic Development Board (OEDB) in 2009 when the Board considered the option of closing the doors of the organization. Ten years later, OEDB remains under Pono’s leadership and is recognized as one of the premiere leadership hubs in Hawaii. In 2012, Pono successfully led the efforts of the New Market Tax Credits Application and was awarded a $40 million allocation for Economic Development in Low Income Communities for Hawaii. In 2016, his team was awarded a second allocation of $55 million, and in 2018 an additional allocation of $40 million was awarded, bringing the total awarded amount to $135 million to date. The allocations have been deployed into several projects throughout the state of Hawaii including: construction of a new campus of the West Hawaii Community Health Center; a clean energy project on Oahu; and an additional health care clinic currently under construction on the Waianae Coast of Oahu. His knowledge and skills have been sought by every sector of Hawaii’s economy and he continues to serve on various boards. Pono was appointed to the Organ Procurement Transplant Network Living Donor Committee, the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii, Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative Advisory Board, Hawaii Green Growth Executive Committee, and was appointed to the Selection Committee for the appointment of the Federal Magistrate Judge in 2015. Pono also continues to serve as a member of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority where he served as Chairman for four years. He is also the Advisor and Coach for the Center for Diverse Leadership in Science at UCLA and a member of the External Advisory Board for the Institute for Sustainability and Resilience at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In 2018, he was the closing speaker of the Earth Day Summit sponsored by the Elemental Excelerator and Emerson Collective.
As a living organ donor, Pono connects his personal donor stories throughout his work. Pono along with Malcolm Lutu, have publicly shared their story as a donor/recipient and have been highlighted in Hawaii media and featured as part of a 3-part (?) series on the ABC news affiliate in Hawaii. Pono attended Kamehameha Schools on Oahu and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Kamehameha Schools was founded by the will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha the Great and serves over 6,900 students of Hawaiian ancestry on O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i island. Pono and Dawn have been married for 32 years and they have one daughter Chantele.
The experience of giving my kidney to my friend was one of the toughest and most rewarding times of my life. The stories and revelations are a gift that keeps giving. In September a friend who was suffering thru Chronic Kidney Failure for years was given a kidney from his best friend as a result of my journey.
As a deeply loved, strong willed, eldest son, and Government Policy Attorney he told his family and friends that he wouldn’t accept a kidney from them and wouldn’t entertain any discussion on the matter. Growing up he admired my kidney recipient and I like older brothers. When he learned of our transplant surgery he was overjoyed for Malcolm (my recipient) and me but for himself his affairs were in order and his life’s journey with kidney failure would be his end. After hearing about his stance from his family I called him and shared that most people have no idea what he was going thru and could never understand. That he wanted to live but couldn’t transfer the risk of his life for another. Because of that perspective he could never and ask and accept the gift. Since I knew Malcolm held that same feeling I trained hard to earn his confidence that I could be his donor and I would come thru strong and I shared that it’s a huge risk but surely a risk, knowing what I now know; I would take again if I could. I shared that Malcom and I would help him get off the waitlist because we would ask for him and I would work with his donor to aspire to have the same outcome as me. He cried and said “okay.” It was 5 longs years to have both the donor and recipient qualify to have the surgery and today I know that his donor and I have a unique perspective that few know. The gratitude to do what we did is beyond words. I have had the amazing gift of helping others to navigate the same struggle for the past 6 years.
I have many technical skills to serve on Boards at all levels and do. For example at Hawaii Public Housing Authority we have an annual budget of $140 mm but can get those technical skills from many and if technical skills are the primary scope for this Board seat I would rather decline. As an organ donor I want to help more people to experience a healthier life and be a part of an organization that does hard work, makes tough decisions, and struggles to fulfill that mandate.
Patient & Donor Affairs Representative — Transplant Recipient
Earnest Davis, M.H.A., FACHE
Biography and personal statement
Earnest Davis, FACHE has diligently served communities throughout the Midwestern United States. Having been educated at the University of Cincinnati (BS) and Xavier University (MHSA) he left Cincinnati to complete a fellowship at Yale Saint Raphael Hospital. Since then Mr. Davis has led healthcare delivery functions at renown provider organizations in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois most recently as the Regional Chief Ambulatory Officer for a Chicago healthcare system. As a professor, Earnest’s passion for healthcare is applied by shaping future leaders in the fields of health policy, healthcare operations management and professionalism. His spare time is also predominated by a spirit of service having volunteered with many healthcare and higher education causes. He has served on the board of addiction medicine provider Gateway Foundation, advisory boards for health administration graduate programs and completed a three-year term as President of the non-profit organization Chicago Health Executives Forum.
As fate would have it, genetics intervened in Mr. Davis’ promising career. In 2016 he was diagnosed with ESRD, an illness that had quietly devastated his maternal lineage for generations. Within days of being diagnosed Earnest went from overseeing a dialysis center to a two-year regimen of dialysis treatments, surgeries and medication that far too many Americans will experience. Even with extensive knowledge of healthcare he struggled to battle the disease within and navigate the complexities of care plans, insurance, and transplant policies. After two years on the transplant list Earnest was gifted a kidney by a close friend and now lives a healthy life with his wife and son. Rather than returning to his previous career and becoming another silent statistic, he decided to become an advocate for chronic kidney disease. Mr. Davis attends kidney recipient/donor events and has served on the Donor Management Leadership Council of the Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance. He continues to teach healthcare policy and management while seeking his PhD in Community Psychology (est. 2022). His goal is to marry an in-depth knowledge of healthcare delivery and health policy with the research and community-level action needed to improve prevention, diagnosis, treatment and transplantation statistics for Americans.
Service is not something that is politically or professionally advantageous for me but rather an internal compass that confirms my True North in life. This calling has manifested through mentorship of young men and women whom were searching for a model in their own likeness to light a path to the future. It is demonstrated in my board service to health, community improvement, and arts organizations. It is apparent through the early seeds my wife and I plant in our monthly Black history program at the local library. It is my honor to serve whenever and wherever I can make a difference.
A family friend aware of my struggle with End Stage Renal Disease and subsequent living donor transplantation suggested that I consider the board as a likely progression to my history of service. I wasn’t fully aware of the national hierarchy of the transplant network, but I was looking for a way to become more involved in solid organ politics after a less than optimal personal transplantation experience. I would like to further understand the disparities in wait lists across regions, the divergent patient experiences depending on transplant center, and how policy can affect survival rates for patients.
During my preliminary interview for the Patient & Donor Affairs position, I asked what the intended function of the role was. I was assured that my experience as a patient was a factor in my selection, but my professional background was also a characteristic deemed critical to success as board member. I have had years of experience collaborating with physicians and clinicians, interacting with service organizations and supporting the diverse professionals that currently constitute the board. I have an advanced knowledge of health policy and the dynamics of system-level change. However, I am a CKD survivor first. It is this duality of lived experience that allows me to bring diversity, informed opinion and critical processing to the team.
Patient & Donor Affairs Representative — Donor Family
Merry Smith, M.B.A.
Biography and personal statement
Merry Smith had her first exposure to transplantation in the late 1980’s working as a technician in an outpatient hemodialysis unit. In the summer of 1992 while attending a family reunion in Milwaukee Wisconsin, Merry’s husband and 2-year-old son were killed by a drunk driver. Although unfamiliar with the diagnosis of brain death at the time, Merry knew if her young son was not going to live, she wanted him to be able to help others. John Talbot’s liver and kidneys were recovered for transplant the following day saving the lives of two children.
Merry decided shortly after the accident she would not become bitter feeling not only had not only had the donation saved the lives of John’s recipients, but in a sense John’s donation saved her life as well giving her something positive to focus on amid such tragedy. Merry became an active volunteer for Mid-America Transplant sharing her story on a regular basis to a variety of audiences. Merry followed her passion for promoting donation and was fortunate to join the staff of Mid-America Transplant in February of 2000. Over the next sixteen years, Merry dedicated her life to promoting donation and serving as an advocate for donor families. She was invited to participate with Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson on a committee to review donation curriculum for schools and served on the AOPO Donor Family Council from 2004-2016, chairing the Council from 2009-2010. She helped to create and coordinate Second Chance St. Louis, an altruistic living donor program, as well as serve as the project manager for the Mid-America Transplant Family House for Transplant Recipients.
In 2016 Merry left Mid-America to pursue a new passion of working to improve access to health care for the greater St. Louis Community. Utilizing the process improvement skills, she learned at Mid-America Transplant, she was employed with St. Louis University Physician Group for 2 ½ years focusing on quality, changing reimbursement models and implementing process improvements for the operations of the outpatient psychiatry clinic. She also began teaching undergraduate Healthcare Management Courses at a local university expanding her knowledge and keeping up to date with the quickly changing landscape of healthcare in the twenty first century. In the Fall of 2016, Merry was invited by Diane Brockmeier to serve as a donor family member on the Medical Advisory Board of Mid-America Transplant. In this role, she continues to focus on her passion of advocating for donor families. In October 2018 Merry accepted a position at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis as the Practice Manager for Maternal Fetal Medicine and the Fetal Care Center where she continues to pursue her commitment to promote access to quality, cost effective healthcare.
It is my honor to be nominated to serve as the Patient and Donor Affairs representative on the Board of Directors. I am committed to fulfilling the responsibilities of the role of the Patient and Donor Affairs representative as listed in the Board of Directors Member Position Description. I have a passion for saving lives through organ procurement and transplantation and have personal and professional experience with the facilitation of this life saving gift. Not only does the gift of organ donation save the life of the recipient who receives the gift, but also provides a gift of hope to the donor family. Instead of focusing on the tragic loss of my loved one, donation and transplantation provided the opportunity for hope for the future.
In the Summer of 1992, my life changed forever. The hopes and dreams for a future with my husband of four years and two-year-old son abruptly came to an end. Because of the choice of an individual to drink and drive, my family was ripped apart and I was left at 26 as a young widow and childless mother. Through the heartache and struggles of trying to rebuild my shattered life, I realized the only thing I could control amid the tragedy was to provide hope to a waiting recipient. A recipient who was the son or daughter of a parent who had watched their child suffer from chronic illness, be placed on a transplant waiting list and ultimately wait for the call from the transplant program to inform them an organ had become available as the only hope to save their child. My son’s donation gave me hope and a positive focus for my future.
In the years following the accident I made a commitment to advocate for donor families. This commitment led to sixteen years of employment at Mid-America Transplant. I served as a member of the Donor Family Council of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations and worked with colleagues around the country to create a standard of practice for bereavement care and follow up for donor families. I learned about the facilitation of the donation process and was often asked for my input from the donor family perspective. I learned the discipline of listening when conflicting opinions are expressed and working with a diverse group of individuals to creatively problem solve. I worked closely not only with the organ procurement community but also with the four local transplant centers in St. Louis as a manager of Team Transplant St. Louis, as well as the project manager for the creation of the Mid-America Transplant Family House.
Donation and transplantation will always be one of my life’s passions. I have seen the miracle of life given to a recipient and the miracle of hope given to a donor family through the gift of donation. I understand the donation and transplant community and believe my personal and professional experience make me an excellent candidate for the Patient and Donor Affairs representative on the Board of Directors.
At-Large Non-MD — Transplant Administrator
Pamela Gillette, B.A., M.P.H., RN
Guidry and East
Biography and personal statement
Pam Gillette, MPH, RN, Pam Gillette, MPH, RN, FACHE, has served as Transplant Administrator at Tulane University Hospital, Mayo Clinic Arizona, Medical City Dallas, Oklahoma University Medical Center, Keck Hospital of the University of Southern California and Vidant Medical Center. She is currently the Chief Clinical Officer of Guidry & East, Transplant Consultants. Her intellectual interest and passion for Organ Transplantation led her to volunteer for the Board of Directors for Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency, for the Southwest Transplant Alliance, for the Arizona Coalition for Transplant, and for the Advisory Board of OneLegacy. Ms. Gillette has also served on the following OPTN Committees: Transplant Administrators, Finance Committee, Pancreas Committee, Living Donor Committee and volunteered for 19 OPTN Peer Reviews. During her leadership position at Mayo Clinic, she was an Instructor at the Mayo College of Medicine, Nursing Division.
Ms. Gillette has presented nationally at the American Transplant Congress, HRSA National Learning Congress, NATCO, the Transplant Management Forum, the Transplant Financial Coordinators Workshop and the American Nephrology Nurses Association. She has conducted clinical research in Phase 3 and 4 trials and has published in nursing journals.
I have been privileged to be employed in many states during my transplant work journey. These varied experiences have led me to have the highest respect for the work of the OPTN and the dedication of staff and volunteers. Each of my Committee assignments further reinforced this belief. The grand variety of how transplant centers elect to fulfill their compliance responsibilities always amazes me. And I have yet to meet a staffer who did not demonstrate care and creativity in providing guidance, education and support to the Transplant Centers.
My participation in both Ethics Committees and Diversity groups have uniquely prepared me to serve in a cooperative and collegial group such as represented by the Board of Directors. If I am elected, I pledge to uphold the standard of respectful application of the Policies and Bylaws as directed by the Board.
At Large MD — Surgery
Linda Cendales, M.D.
Duke Health Scholar, Duke University Medical Center
Director of the Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation, Duke University Medical Center
Biography and personal statement
Dr. Cendales, the only person in the United States to have completed formal fellowship training in both Hand and Microsurgery and Transplant Surgery, is a Duke Health Scholar and the Director of the Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation at Duke University Medical Center. Vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA) is the transplantation of multiple tissues such as skin, muscle, bone, nerves, and tendons as a functional unit (e.g. hand). Dr. Cendales helped organize the first VCA team in the U.S. and participated in the country’s first two hand transplants. She was subsequently the first surgeon accepted into the Transplant Surgery and Immunobiology Fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). During her time at the NIH, Dr. Cendales established and published a model of VCA in nonhuman primates and has one of the largest experiences in VCA in non-human primates reported in the scientific literature. She organized the first international symposium on VCA histopathology at the International Banff Conferences on Allograft Pathology leading to the published classification system now used as a standard for clinical reporting of rejection worldwide. Prior to joining Duke, Dr. Cendales established the VCA program at Emory University and led the multi-disciplinary team that performed Georgia’s first hand transplant in March 2011. While at Duke, she established the VCA program and led the multi-disciplinary team that performed North Carolina’s first unilateral and the first bilateral hand transplants in May 2016 and in November 2018 respectively. Dr. Cendales is the Principal Investigator of clinical and translational studies in VCA funded by the Department of Defense. Dr. Cendales is a Past-President of the International Society of Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation Society (ISVCA), the Chair of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) Vascularized Composite Allograft (VCA) Committee, the Co-Chair of the American Transplant Congress, the Chair of the American Society of Transplantation VCA Advisory Council, and an Associate Editor for AJT and for Clinical Transplantation. She has co-authored numerous scientific manuscripts, abstracts, and invited publications. Similarly, Dr. Cendales has made countless presentations at national and international meetings.
I am a hand transplant surgeon, with formal training in transplant surgery (NIH), hand surgery (Louisville), and microsurgery (Louisville). I have been in practice in university-based programs my entire career and intimately involved with the evolution and the practice of vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA). I have a strong interest in serving on the Board of Directors to also facilitate the integration of these new types of transplants within the OPTN processes. I bring unique skills in practice, training, and leadership within the field of transplantation and VCA in particular.
I participated in the first meeting at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in Rockville, MD in 2008, when VCA was in need of public recognition and definition as a new field. I participated in discussions regarding the definition of this new type of transplant. Was this considered a tissue or an allograft? It made a difference regarding what federal oversight would apply; clearly, the similarities with transplanted organs was far greater than that of applied tissues. Following that meeting, I helped organize and authored position papers by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons on the subject supporting the inclusion of VCA under the definition of organ transplant in the HRSA Final Rule. I have established collaborative relationships with investigators worldwide and led the first international classification scheme for VCA pathology. I served as the ASTS inaugural chair of the VCA committee, I am the principal investigator of the first VCA consortium in the U.S, the chair of the AST Advisory Council, and I am Past- President of the International Society of VCA. Importantly for this position, I have consistently an uninterruptedly served the OPTN as a member of the inaugural VCA Committee, then as vice-chair, and currently as the Chair of that committee. All of these positions have required an ability to manage, organize, gain consensus, and put into action matters routinely faced by the OPTN. If selected, I will continue my contributions to the transplantation community in a positive and productive manner. I will continue to foster collaborations to ensure that we continue saving and improving lives through organ procurement and transplantation.
At Large MD — Surgery
R. Patrick Wood, M.D.
Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Director, LifeGift Organ Donation Center
Biography and personal statement
Robert Patrick “Pat” Wood, MD, Went to college at Colby College and graduated magna cum laude. Medical school at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and graduated Alpha Omega Alpha. Did a 5-year surgical residency at New York University Medical Center in New York City and served as the executive chief resident during the fifth year of residency. Completed a one-year transplant fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. Was recruited with Dr. Byers “Bud” Shaw to the University of Nebraska in Omaha, Nebraska to develop a liver and kidney transplant program. After 5 and a half years in Nebraska as an associate professor of surgery, was recruited to the University of Texas in Houston to head the liver transplant program. Promoted to Professor of surgery and established 4 liver transplant programs in Houston, adult programs at Hermann Hospital and St Luke’s Hospital and pediatric programs at Hermann Hospital and Texas Children’s hospital. Left the University of Texas after about 8 years and established a private practice liver transplant program at St. Luke’s Hospital. After over 30 years of performing liver transplants, formed a general surgery practice in Houston.
Served as an associate medical director for NORS, the OPO in Nebraska, for over 5 years and served as a medical director for LifeGift, the OPO in Houston since 1991. Eventually became the associate chief medical officer for LifeGift and 5 years ago became the chief medical officer. Stopped operating when developed back problems and required a major fusion of the spine and transitioned to be the full time chief medical officer for LifeGift about 3 years ago. Presently serves as the chief medical officer and executive vice president at LifeGift.
Career in surgery began in 1984 after completing residency and I have had privileges at well over 25 different hospitals and have been a part of or chief of multiple transplant programs in Pittsburgh, Omaha, and Houston. I have served on numerous hospital committees gaining extensive knowledge of hospital politics and the impact of a transplant program on a hospital. As one of the early leaders in transplantation have been a part of the development of the transplantation network and have participated on numerous OPTN committees most recently a three-year term on the DTAC committee. Have served as the president of the Texas Transplant Society and recently served as the medical director for AOPO. Memberships in societies related to transplantation include AOPO, American Society of Transplant Surgeon, the Transplantation Society, the Texas Transplant Society. Have published over a hundred articles and have done innumerable presentations at national meetings. With a passion for education I average 3 to 4 presentations per month on donation and transplantation to anyone who will listen including but not limited to grand rounds, physicians and nurses in donor and transplant hospitals, medical and nursing students and the lay public (this week it was a presentation to the chaplains and resident chaplains in training at Memorial Herman Hospital in the Texas Medical Center). With years of experience in both transplantation and as an OPO medical director and as a full-time medical director with the time to participate on the board and with a desire to support the present effort to revise allocation policies seems to be a good candidate to be an at large member of the board.
Having begun my career in transplantation in 1984, I have personally witnessed virtually all of the major developments in the field of transplantation and organ donation. The most amazing transition I have witnessed over my long career is the change our expectations for transplant recipients. When I started in 1984 in Pittsburgh, we were happy if anyone survived the operation and perioperative period (due to the complexity of the operation, limited options for preservation of the liver and toxic but largely ineffective immunosuppression). And now we are devastated if anyone dies after their transplant and the risk of death is higher on the waiting list than after the transplant. I have witnessed the original “good old boy “network of organ allocation, to the first regional systems for allocation, and the birth of federal regulations and the OPTN. I have been a part of all of the various allocation schemes over the years, along with the development of the concept of brain death, the improvement of preservation solutions and immunosuppressive medications, the concept of DSA, the development of OPTN regions and the many and varied controversies that have swirled around organ donation and transplantation. I have always been involved in the donation side of the transplant process as demonstrated by my long-term commitment to being an OPO medical director. I am a passionate advocate for the patients on the waiting list, for the donors and their families and for all of the many and varied individuals, doctors, nurses, transplant and procurement coordinators, and administrators of the many and varied entries who make the process work. I believe I am in a unique position as a former transplant surgeon and now a full-time medical director at an OPO, to understand and appreciate the various views and opinions regarding the policies and procedures involved in this highly complex field. The highest compliment I recently received was when our local transplant surgeons was giving me all of the reasons that we should schedule the donor operating room to accommodate their schedule. After listening to his soliloquy, I informed him that I was simply not “buying” his explanation about why we should adjust to his request and he sighed and said I forgot you, based on your years of experience, can tell when you are getting fed a line of “BS”.
I am extremely fortunate to have been able to continue to follow my passion for transplantation and organ donation after I was forced to give up operating by becoming even more involved in the donation side of things as a full-time medical director for LifeGift. I feel honored to work with these donors and their courageous families and strive at all times to provide the best quality organs for the waiting recipients and to “maximize the gift” from each donor. I am frustrated that too many organs are being discarded and hope to work to help to develop a system of allocation that gets the right organ to the right patient in the right amount of time. I am committed to improving the present allocation systems to maximize the use of all organs and to minimize the discarding of organs while recognizing the need to be sensitive to the various opinions and concerns of the transplant programs. I look forward to the challenges that the board is and will be facing regarding allocation issues and in dealing with other issues like machine preservation and donor research protocols. I admit that I am very concerned about the transplant community’s unwillingness to come together to solve our issues rather than playing them out in the lay press and predict that is we do not come together that the federal government will take it upon themselves to “legislate” allocation and other policies thus taking it out of the hands of the transplant community. We must not let this happen!
At Large MD — Medicine
Amishi Desai, D.O.
Associate Professor of Medicine, Loyola University Medical Center
Division Chief of Transplant Nephrology
Medical Director, Kidney Transplant Program, Pancreas Transplant Program, and Transplant floor
Biography and personal statement
Dr. Amishi Desai is currently an Associate Professor of Medicine at Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC). She is the Division Chief of Transplant Nephrology and Medical Director of both the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Programs. In addition, Dr. Desai is the Medical Director of LUMC’s Transplant floor that cares for recipients of kidney, pancreas, liver and/or lung transplant recipients as well as living donors.
Dr. Desai received her medical school training at the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and residency training at the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University Evanston campus. She received her nephrology and transplant training at the University of Chicago. She remained at University of Chicago as a clinical instructor establishing her own clinical niche in renal management of solid organ transplant recipients. As Assistant Professor at University of Illinois Chicago for approximately 3 years, she served as the Transplant Fellowship Director. In 2015, Dr. Desai took on the role of Medical Director at LUMC where she again has taken on the renal management of all solid organ recipients with her team. In addition, she has rejuvenated the program and along with her surgical colleague making this year a record-breaking one in kidney transplantation for LUMC. She has proven to be a true leader in transplant medicine, actively serving on the Transplant Executive Committee at LUMC and collaborating with her solid organ colleagues in the overall management and care of organ recipients.
In addition to her clinical and administrative leadership roles, Dr. Desai spends a large portion of her time volunteering. She has served as the Chair for the Trainee and Young Faculty Community of Practice as part of the American Society of Transplantation. She presently serves in both the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois (NKFI) and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). On the Executive Committee of the NKFI, she actively participates in event and mission planning. She served diligently on the OPTN Minority Affairs Committee (MAC) as the Region 7 representative, completing her term this past year. She continues to lead policy change for MAC as the project lead for the socio-economic disparities work group based on her idea to overcome the disparities facing underserved kidney transplant candidates. Dr. Desai participates on every conference call and makes time for her volunteer commitments. She attends every regional meeting and actively votes on behalf of her organ transplant center. In addition, Dr. Desai volunteers her time actively educating in the community and at LUMC on renal disease, transplantation and blood pressure monitoring. She routinely educates fellows, house staff and the nursing team on her medical ward in the aforementioned.
Dr. Desai’s passion includes renal disease in all solid organ transplantation. Her team is pursuing research and presented on renal disease in heart and lung transplantation specifically looking for patterns and assessment tools to better define renal disease and glomerular filtration rates in this sub-population. In addition, Dr. Desai has actively participated in research and published on immune recall response in renal transplant recipients, access preservation in chronic kidney disease and transplant recipients,
education on sun protection for Hispanic transplant recipients and steroid withdrawal in the African American patient population. Her passion for transplant research began while she was in residency training when she analyzed the incidence of fracture rates in solid organ recipients on glucocorticoid-sparing immunosuppressive regimens.
Dr. Desai is now pursuing the role of Member at Large on the Board of Directors. Her years of experience in leadership, administration and on OPTN committees qualifies her for this next step in her career.
“I am already tethered to oxygen. I can’t bear the thought of being tethered to dialysis as well.” This analogy of tethering from a lung transplant candidate resonates with me and describes best the current state of health of many solid organ transplant candidates. Many of my patients are tethered. Tethered to oxygen, inotropes, dialysis, insulin…the list goes on and on. Transplantation breaks these chains and provides a freedom from the constraints of chronic end-stage organ disease. My passion for transplantation stems from this health benefit my patients attain, which provides a chance for patients to feel normal again. It is why I encourage them to celebrate all their milestones from post-operative day 1 to every anniversary. Transplantation is something to celebrate, a true miracle of modern of medicine.
However, something as unique as transplantation requires regulatory oversight. It can easily fall into a slippery slope of unregulated medicine. As a Transplant Nephrologist, I am governed by oversight beyond my institution. Oversight is necessary to assure equity and equality in transplantation. I have spent my career actively volunteering my time in renal disease management and transplantation. Presently, I serve on the Executive Committee for the Illinois branch of the National Kidney Foundation and I am coming off my time as the Region 7 Representative on the Minority Affairs Committee (MAC) for the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). I pursued a position on MAC given my firm belief that transplantation should be an equitable option for all patients. I lead our MAC project on socio-economic status and the effects it has on access to transplantation and transplantation rates in order to advocate for equity and fairness in organ allocation. To better understand the decision-making processes behind the regulations that provide oversight to my transplant practice and patient’s access, I am running to become a Member at Large on the Board of Directors. I hope to foster positive change with this knowledge to improve upon equity and equality in transplantation.
To the Board, I would bring my own experience as a leader in transplantation. I am presently the Division Director of Transplant Nephrology and Medical Director of both the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant programs at Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC). In addition, I am the Medical Director of my institutions transplant floor and serve on our Transplant Executive Committee. Every role comes with its challenges and levels of regulation. Each opportunity has helped me to be a better leader and administrator to create an extremely successful transplant program for LUMC.
The aforementioned opportunities for leadership and administration in both my institution and community have provided me with the foundation to be an active and engaged participant on the Board of Directors. I am honored to be nominated for this position in transplantation and I am hopeful to serve diligently for my transplant community and patient populations. I thank you sincerely for your time and consideration of me for this opportunity.
At Large MD — Medicine
Celeste Williams, M.D., FACC, M.S.
Transplant cardiologist, Henry Ford Hospital
Associate Professor of Medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine
Biography and personal statement
Dr. Celeste T. Williams is an experienced transplant cardiologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. She has an appointment at Wayne State University School of Medicine as an Associate Professor of Medicine. She is driven by improving access to care and the quality of care to all patients. She is known for educating, collaborating and developing strategic alliances to improve patient care outcomes. As the medical director of cardiac transplant, Dr. Williams has been afforded the opportunity to develop, implement and provide on-going assessment of the heart transplant clinical practice guidelines with the emphasis of meeting the needs of the population being served. In addition to being medical director of cardiac transplant, Dr. Williams is the Director of Quality of the Heart and Vascular Institute at Henry Ford. In that role, her goal is to reduce clinical variation, share best-practices system-wide and reduce waste within the Cardiology service line.
Celeste completed her undergraduate work at the University of Iowa where she received a BA in Chemistry. She then went to Chicago and completed medical school at the Chicago Medical School; Internal Medicine Residency at Loyola University in Maywood, Illinois. She had a passion for healing hearts; she completed her Cardiology Fellowship at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit where she won the Frances Fernandez outstanding fellow award. She continued at the Cleveland Clinic completing her training in advanced HF/cardiac transplantation in 2005.
Dr. Williams has a passion for quality and ensuring all providers have the appropriate tools to provide excellent care and all patients have access to quality care. The committees she is involved in are aligned with her goals. She is currently serving on the American College of Cardiology Curriculum Design committee whose purpose is to identify the educational gaps of the college and then develop teaching strategies and delivery methods to address the gaps. Also, she has also served on OPTN (Region 10 rep) minority affairs committee as well the operation and safety committee. Celeste’s board experience includes memberships on the Michigan Eye-Bank Board of Directors and the Henry Ford Medical Group’s Board of Governors. Dr. Williams has many awards; including in 2017 she was recognized by the Michigan Chronicle as a “Woman of Excellence”.
Dr. Williams is an educator, clinician, and administrator who is committed to quality. Thank you for considering her candidacy to the Board of Directors.
Hello, thank you for considering my candidacy to the Board of Directors. As the Medical Director of the Cardiac Transplant program at Henry Ford Hospital, I have worked as a clinician, researcher, administrator and educator developing an infrastructure that provides a platform for collaboration, on-going education and quality improvement for our transplant patients. I am driven by improving access to care and the quality of care to all transplant patients keeping in mind we must look at the specific needs of the population we are serving. I believe my personal goals are aligned with the OPTN’s strategic goals. I believe all should have access to transplant and that the policies developed should reflect this important consideration.
I have served on various boards/committees both nationally and locally with the focus of improving quality either with education/competencies, policy development and implementation and/or collaboration. My board and committee work have given me the opportunity to see implementation of best-practices which results in improvement in processes/outcomes on a larger scale. I am passionate about quality. I am committed to improving the care of transplant recipients not only for patients to have better clinical outcomes but also to have a better quality of life. I would be honored to serve on the Board of Directors- to be a dutiful board member and to share my perspective and experiences. Thank you for your consideration.
At Large MD — Medicine
Leway Chen, M.D., M.P.H., FACC, FACP
Professor of Medicine, University of Rochester
Medical Director, Advanced Heart Failure Program, University of Rochester Medical Center
Biography and personal statement
Dr. Leway Chen is Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester. He began the Advanced Heart Failure Program at the University of Rochester Medical Center in 2000 and he has been the Medical Director of the program since the inception. His clinical duties include management of heart failure, transplant, and mechanical assist device patients. Dr. Chen has a Master’s of Public Health degree from the University of Washington and a BA and MD from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, a Fellow of the American Heart Association, a Fellow of the Heart Failure Society of America, and a member of the International Society for Heart & Lung Transplantation and a member of the American Society of Transplantation.
Dr. Chen came to the University of Rochester in 1999, after completing his cardiology fellowship and Masters in Public Health at the University of Washington and a Health Services Research & Development fellowship at the VA Puget Sound Health Care Center (Seattle VAMC). He completed his internal medicine residency at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1994, and then spent one year doing cardiovascular research at the Framingham Heart Study.
Dr. Chen is a past Upstate Governor of the New York Chapter of the American College of Cardiology. He has served as the OPTN Thoracic Committee Region 9 representative. He has been on the Region 9 Thoracic Review Board since his transplant program inception. He is a founding member of the New York Cardiothoraic Transplant Consortium. He has served on the advisory board for the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network (organ procurement organization) since 2007.
I have been a part of the transplant community for 20 years. Along with my Surgical Director partner, we started the advanced heart failure, heart transplantation, and mechanical circulatory support program at the University of Rochester Medical Center in 2000. When we did our first heart transplant in February 2001, there were only three other individuals that had ever been a part of a heart transplant program: the surgeon, our transplant nurse practitioner, and a cardiac anesthesiologist. That first night, our surgeon slept on an ICU bed next door to the patient. I slept down the hall on an air mattress on my office floor.
Nearly 19 years later, I am still amazed at the gift of life that transplantation can offer. I have remained very involved locally in our transplant community, with our local OPO, the Solid Organ Transplant Program, transplant administration, and transplant quality council. I have been our Region 9 representative to the OPTN Thoracic Committee, as well as served on the Region 9 Heart Review Board. I am a founding member of the New York State Cardiothoracic Consortium—made up of currently 7 heart transplant and 3 lung transplant programs in New York State.
I have a very strong desire to continue to work for the transplant community. I would like to represent the heart transplant community at the national level. I would advocate for smaller transplant programs (such as ours), but recognizing the ever increasing geographically diverse
and expanding scope of our connections. I look forward to the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors.
Stacee Lerret, Ph.D., RN, CPNP, FAAN
Associate Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin
It is an honor to be considered as a candidate for the Board of Directors. I am an Associate Professor at Medical College of Wisconsin where I have worked as the Liver Transplant Nurse Practitioner for the last 17 years. I am currently the President of NATCO, The Organization for Transplant Professionals. I would be honored to serve on the board and work collaboratively to advance donation and transplantation.
Joseph Ferreira, M.B.A., CPTC, CPHQ
Nevada Donor Network
The donation and transplantation field today is in the midst of great challenge and even greater opportunity. As a candidate for the Board of Directors I intend to bring my 22 years of knowledge and experience in this vital mission we treasure to honor the heroic donors, their courageous families and the brave recipients we serve. By maintaining an open mind with maximum inclusion and diversity of thought during my potential tenure, I look forward to building on the successes of the past by those who came before me while doing my small part to pave the way for the future on behalf of those we fight for. Thank you for your consideration of my candidacy.
Marian Michaels, M.D., M.P.H. UPMC
Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Alan Langnas, D.O.
Professor of Surgery, Chief, Organ Transplant Program, University of Nebraska Medical Center
Histocompatibility Representative (ASHI)
William Hildebrand, Ph.D. (ASHI nominee)
HLA Typing Laboratory at Oklahoma University Medical Center
Biography and personal statement
Dr. Hildebrand is a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Director of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center High-Resolution HLA Typing Laboratory. He is the scientific founder and Chief Scientist at the Pure MHC and Pure Protein biotech companies. Dr. Hildebrand received his MS and PhD in Microbiology & Immunology from the University of Southern Illinois and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in HLA Immunogenetics at Stanford University. Dr. Hildebrand completed his training in Clinical Histocompatibility Testing in Oklahoma where he founded a high-resolution HLA typing laboratory. He maintains board certification with American Board of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics.
Dr. Hildebrand participates in teaching Medical Students and Graduate Students at the OUHSC School of Medicine as well as teaching students at the University of Oklahoma undergraduate campus. He founded and directs the graduate course Immuno-Oncology. Dr. Hildebrand’s research laboratory characterizes HLA molecules and their interaction with alloantibodies, how HLA molecules distinguish cancerous cells to facilitate the immune recognition of tumors, and the role of HLA molecules in autoimmune responses. Dr. Hildebrand is actively involved in ASHI (American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics) having attended the ASHI annual meeting for more than 25 years, regularly reviewing meeting abstracts, serving as faculty for the ASHI regional workshops, serving on the ASHI Program planning, chairing the ASHI partnering committee, and serving on the ASHI Board of Directors. Dr. Hildebrand is now ASHI President Elect.
In order to unite and strengthen the donation and transplant community to save lives, the Board of Directors will be strengthened by volunteers with (A) leadership experience and (B) extensive knowledge of transplantation. In regards to knowledge of transplantation, I began studying the scientific basis of transplant rejection in mice in 1985 as a graduate student. I next joined Dr. Parham’s group at Stanford University as a postdoc to study human transplantation. Once I started a lab of my own in 1993, I continued to study transplantation and to teach this subject: I taught for a decade at the Histocompatibility Specialist Course, served on numerous American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI) committees, lectured at ASHI regional workshops, and I teach immunology to Medical Students and Graduate students. My continued efforts in the field of transplantation have led me to become President-Elect for ASHI. ASHI asked me to serve as President because of this transplant experience and because (B) I have developed a number of leadership skills along the way. I direct an HLA lab that completes HLA sequence-based typing for clinical transplantation and for research studies of cancer and infectious disease; (2) I direct a research laboratory that characterizes the peptide ligands presented by the HLA of cancerous and infected cells; and (3) I started and I am Chief Scientist at the biotech companies Pure Protein, Pure Transplant, and Pure MHC. In summary, my laboratory has continued to advance its knowledge of HLA and transplantation for the past 24 years such that the team in my lab is now contributing to the optimal matching of transplant patients with their recipients and to the design of HLA-mediated cancer vaccines. I believe that I can use my knowledge of transplantation and my leadership experience to help UNOS achieve their mission of uniting and strengthening organ donation and in helping the transplant community to save lives.
2020 nominee roster
|Officers Nominees are selected by the Board of Directors Nominating Committee.|
|President (vote for one)||David Mulligan, M.D., FACS Yale New Haven Hospital|
|Vice President/President-Elect (vote for one)||Matthew Cooper, M.D., FACS MedStar Georgetown University Hospital|
Peter Stock, M.D., Ph.D.UCSF Medical Center
|Vice President for Patient and Donor Affairs (vote for one)||Mindy Dison, RN, B.S.N., CPTC Mayo Clinic Florida (recipient)|
Joseph Hillenburg WiTronix, LLC (recipient parent)
|Secretary (vote for one)||Kevin O’Connor, M.S., PA LifeCenter Northwest|
Lisa Stocks, RN, M.S.N., FNPLifeSharing
|Immediate Past President||Maryl Johnson, M.D. University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics|
|Regional Councillors (vote for three) The below nominees participated in a competitive election at the regional level for a two year term as Regional Associate Councillor/Councillor-Elect. Regional Associate Councillors then advance to a non-contested ballot for Regional Councillor to the Board.|
|Region 3||Keith Wille, M.D., M.S.P.H. University of Alabama Hospital|
|Region 4||Jeffrey Orlowski, M.S., CPTC LifeShare Transplant Donor Services of Oklahoma|
|Region 6||Patrick Healey M.D. Seattle Children’s Hospital|
|Medical/Scientific Society Representatives Representatives are nominated by their respective societies as indicated.|
|Transplant Coordinator Representative – NATCO (vote for one)||Stacee Lerret, Ph.D., RN, CPNP, FAAN Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin|
|OPO Representative – AOPO (vote for one)||Joseph Ferreira, MBA, CPTC, CPHQ Nevada Donor Network|
|At Large Medical/Scientific Organization Representatives – AST (vote for one)||Marian Michaels, M.D., M.P.H.UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh|
|At Large Medical/Scientific Organization Representatives – AST (vote for one)||Alan Langnas, D.O. The Nebraska Medical Center|
|Histocompatibility Representative – CAP or ASHI (vote for one)||Manish Gandhi, M.D. Tissue Typing Laboratory at Mayo Clinic (CAP Nominee)|
William Hildebrand, Ph.D. HLA Typing Laboratory at Oklahoma University Medical Center (ASHI Nominee)
|At-Large Representative At-large representative nominees are selected by the Board of Directors Nominating Committee.|
|Patient & Donor Affairs Representative – Living Donor (vote for one)||Cynthia Forland, Ph.D. Forland Consulting|
Pono Shim, Oahu Economic Development Board
|Patient & Donor Affairs Representative – Transplant Recipient (vote for one)||Earnest Davis, M.H.S.A. FACHE, Health Administration Professor|
Omar Garriott, M.B.A. Salesforce
|Patient & Donor Affairs Representative – Donor Family (vote for one)||Precious McCowan, M.S.|
Merry Smith, M.B.A. Washington University Medical School
|At-Large Non-MD – Transplant Administrator (vote for one)||Pamela Gillette, B.A., M.P.H., RN Guidry and East|
James Pittman, RN, M.S.N. HCA Healthcare
|At Large MD – Surgery (vote for one)||Linda Cendales, M.D. Duke University Hospital|
Manuel Rodriguez-Davalos, M.D. Primary Children’s Hospital
|At Large MD – Surgery (vote for one)||James Eason, M.D., FACS Methodist University Hospital|
Robert Patrick (Pat) Wood, M.D. LifeGift Organ Donation Center
|At Large MD – Medicine (vote for one)||Sylvia Rosas, M.D., M.S.C.E. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center|
Amishi Desai, D.O. Loyola University Medical Center
|At Large MD – Medicine (vote for one)||Monica Grafals, M.D., M.P.H. University of Colorado Hospital|
Celeste Williams, M.D., FACC, M.S. Henry Ford Hospital
|At Large MD – Medicine (vote for one)||Leway Chen, M.D., M.P.H., FACC, FACP Strong Memorial Hospital|
Gregory Ewald, M.D., FACC Barnes-Jewish Hospital