Donate Life New York State’s leadership is comprised of individuals dedicated to supporting our mission to increase organ, eye, and tissue donation in New York State through collaborative advocacy, education, promotion, and research. Our goal is to ensure a transplant for every New Yorker in need.
Aisha M. Tator
Aisha M. Tator is the Executive Director of Donate Life New York State, and is responsible for leading the organization in its mission to increase organ, eye and tissue donation throughout New York State. During her tenure beginning in 2012, the organization boasts many accomplishments. Key among them are the securing the New York State contract to develop and oversee the New York State Donate Life Registry (Registry); passage of legislation lowering the minimum age of enrollment, allowing 16 and 17-year olds to enroll in the Registry; and developing expanded statewide portals for organ and tissue registration, such as the New York Health Insurance Exchange.
Before joining Donate Life New York State, Ms. Tator was the Regional Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs for the March of Dimes where she advocated before the state and local governments to adopt public policies, programs and funding to improve the health of mothers and babies. Ms. Tator received her graduate degree from University at Albany, State University of New York. She was selected to participate in a year-long post-graduate fellowship with the New York State Senate. Following her fellowship, she continued to work in the Senate as Director of Policy and Administration.
Board of Directors
John J. Flanagan
Vice President of Regional Government Affairs, Northwell Health’s Eastern Region
John J. Flanagan is Vice President of Regional Government Affairs for the Eastern Region of Northwell Health, a nonprofit integrated healthcare network serving NYC, Long Island and Westchester. Prior to his current role, he served the NYS legislature as both an Assemblymember and Senator. Between 2015 and 2019, Senator Flanagan served as the NYS Senate Majority Leader, and as Minority Leader from 2019 to 2020. As a lawmaker, Senator Flanagan advocated for both funding and legislation to improve NYS Donate Life Registry enrollment rates.
Senator Flanagan graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1983 with a B.A. in economics. He received his J.D. degree from Touro Law School in 1990 and was admitted to practice law in New York State in 1991. He was appointed to Donate Life NYS’ Board of Directors in 2021 and began serving as Board Chair in 2024.
Managing Director, The Roffe Group, P.C.
Christine Rutigliano is the recipient of a liver transplant. She currently serves as Managing Director for The Roffe Group of Robinson+Cole, a full service New York Government Relations practice uniquely suited to generating positive results for a broad spectrum of clients. Prior to joining the firm, she held the position of Deputy Comptroller in the New York Office of State Comptroller (OSC). Ms. Rutigliano spent nearly 15 years working for the New York State Legislature, spending time in both the New York State Senate and Assembly.
Ms. Rutigliano received her Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and Economics from the State University of New York at Oneonta, and her Masters’ degree, Summa Cum Laude, in Public Policy at Marist College, where she was named Outstanding Scholar in her program. She was appointed to Donate Life NYS’ Board of Directors in 2021, and began serving as Board Vice-Chair in 2024.
Bruce W. Stroever
Secretary and Treasurer
President/CEO, MTF Biologics (Retired)
Bruce W. Stroever has forty-seven years of product development and general management experience in the medical device and orthobiologics fields. He was most recently President/CEO of MTF Biologics and retired from that position in June of 2018. Mr. Stroever joined MTF in late 1988 as General Manager. In 1992, he was named President and then in 1996 President/CEO of the organization. Under Mr. Stroever’s leadership, MTF grew to be the largest tissue bank in the world with over 1100 employees and revenues in excess of $400 million per year. Prior to joining MTF, Mr. Stroever held several positions with Ethicon, Inc. a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary. He has served on several boards of directors and is currently a Member of the Board of Directors of Bone Biologics, Inc., a Massachusetts biotechnology firm. He is on the Board of Advisors for the Engineering School at Stevens Institute of Technology, and has served several terms as a member of the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) Board of Governors.
Since retiring from MTF, Mr. Stroever has become more involved in local volunteer work assisting the local food bank, and, after having earned his EMT certificate, riding with the Long Valley First Aid Squad. Mr. Stroever received his B.E. in Mechanical/Chemical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and his M.S. in Bioengineering from Columbia University. He was appointed to the Donate Life NYS’ Board of Directors in 2020, and has served as Board Secretary and Treasurer since 2021.
Executive Vice President of Donor Services, MTF Biologics (Retired)
Martha Anderson was most recently the Executive Vice President, Donor Services of MTF Biologics, a non-profit service organization dedicated to providing clinically sound, safe allograft tissue. Ms. Anderson managed and directed donor-related services provided to thirty-six tissue recovery programs. She also provided oversight to two MTF subsidiaries, the International Institute for the Advancement of Medicine (IIAM), which links non-transplantable organs and tissues to scientific researchers, and Statline, which provides donor-related software and other support services for OPOs, tissue banks and transplant centers. During her tenure at MTF Biologics, donated tissues from over 125,000 donors was provided to more than 5 million recipients.
Ms. Anderson served as Secretary and Treasurer of the Donate Life NYS Board of Directors from 2017 until 2021, and Vice Chair from 2015 until 2017.
Senior Vice President, Government and Community Relations, Westchester Medical Center
Megan Baldwin is the Senior Vice President of Government and Community Relations at Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth). In her role, Ms. Baldwin is responsible for building collaborative relationships with elected officials, government agencies and community partners, and establishing a constant presence in communities served by WMCHealth to provide the highest quality care to its patients.
Before joining WMCHealth, Ms. Baldwin served as the Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner for the New York State Department of Health, where she managed day-to-day operations and collaborated with various stakeholders at the state and local levels. Notably, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Baldwin played a crucial role as a member of the New York State Vaccine Distribution Leadership team, demonstrating her commitment to public health and emergency response coordination. Boasting over 15 years of experience in government and healthcare, Ms. Baldwin’s career has been dedicated to fostering collaborative relationships with elected officials, government agencies, and community partners to ensure the delivery of the highest quality care to patients. She was appointed to Donate Life NYS’ Board of Directors in 2024.
Executive Director, Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network
Robert Gruenenfelder is the Executive Director of Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, a not-for-profit, organ procurement organization that coordinates organ and tissue donations in New York State’s Finger Lakes, Central and Upstate regions. Mr. Gruenenfelder succeeds Rob Kochik, who retired after 13 years as the organization’s leader.
Mr. Gruenenfelder has been with Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network since October 2016 as its operations director, overseeing the organization’s clinical, hospital and family services divisions. He brings 25 years of professional experience in the areas of organ and tissue recovery and health care administration to his role. He was appointed to Donate Life NYS’ Board of Directors in 2019.
Senior Partner and Deputy, FINN Partners
Michael Heinley is a Senior Partner and Deputy of FINN Partners’ New York Health Group, recently named Healthcare PR Agency of the Year. Before joining FINN, he served as Vice President, Corporate Communication, at WebMD where he oversaw external and internal communications, including thought leadership and support for the Company’s CEO and executive team. In this role, Mr. Heinley helped establish the company’s corporate communication function, and helped strengthen and protect WebMD’s reputation as the leading provider of health information services.
Mr. Heinley is a healthcare industry veteran with 25 years of experience providing public relations, media relations, employee and executive communication, and in protecting and enhancing the reputation and managing issues for some of the world’s largest and most respected healthcare brands including Johnson & Johnson and Merck. Before joining Merck, he worked in the healthcare practices of several international public relations agencies, including Hill and Knowlton. Mr. Heinley was appointed to Donate Life NYS’ Board of Directors in 2019.
Senior Counsel, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips (Retired)
James Lytle was most recently Senior Counsel in the Albany and Boston offices of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, a national law and consulting firm. He is currently a Fellow with the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University. He helped oversee the firm’s Albany office and provides health law and governmental relations representation to a broad array of clients with interests before the New York State Legislature and the executive branch, including clients in the fields of education and cultural affairs, healthcare, human services, insurance, biomedical research, and economic development. He has been recognized by Chambers USA as a Leading Lawyer since 2011 and was included in Best Lawyers in America since 2013, where he was named Best Lawyer of the Year in Albany for Health Law in 2017 and for Government Relations Law in 2017 and 2020. He served as Assistant Counsel to Governor Mario M. Cuomo, was the founding director of the Volunteer Legal Services Project in Rochester, NY and began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan.
Mr. Lytle graduated from Princeton University in 1974 and received his JD from Harvard Law School in 1978, where he was he Director of the Harvard Legislative Research Bureau. He is the former Chair of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy (SCAA), former Chair of the College Council of SUNY Empire State College, and the former President of the his local school board. He was appointed to Donate Life NYS’ Board of Directors in 2020.
Ellen D. Melchionni
President, New York Insurance Association
Ellen D. Melchionni is president of the New York Insurance Association (NYIA), a statewide trade association that has served the property and casualty insurance industry for more than 135 years. As president she is responsible for overseeing all strategic and operational functions of the association and serves as the key spokesperson for the association. She regularly speaks as a New York insurance, legislative and regulatory expert. Ms. Melchionni has served the insurance industry for more than 25 years. Prior to being named president of NYIA, she served as vice president of the association for 13 years and for three years as legislative analyst. In addition, Ms. Melchionni serves as president of the New York Insurance Scholarship Foundation, a charitable organization that supports the educational goals of students studying the business of insurance.
Ms. Melchionni graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at Albany and held a Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation from the American Society of Association Executives for more than two decades. She is a graduate of the Empire State Society of Association Executives’ Association Leadership Academy and was past chair of the society’s board of directors. She is also a graduate of the distinguished Albany County Chamber of Commerce Capital Leadership Program. She currently serves as a Trustee of the Fort Orange Club. She serves on the board of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation Northeast Division and previously served as the organization’s treasurer. She is a former member of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) Advisory Council. She was appointed to Donate Life NYS’ Board of Directors in 2020.
John G. Schmidt, Jr.
Partner, Phillips Lytle LLP
Mr. Schmidt is the co-leader of Phillips Lytle’s Business Litigation Practice Team. He has extensive experience in complex business disputes and commercial litigation, including class actions, shareholder and partner disputes, breach of fiduciary duty claims, contract disputes, business torts and fraud matters.
Mr. Schmidt represents a variety of companies and individuals—from large corporations to closely-held businesses, professional firms, not-for-profits and individuals. He serves clients in a variety of industries and professions, including health care, energy, legal, technology, finance, education, manufacturing, municipalities, charities and religious groups. He also practices in technology litigation, computer forensics, white collar and government investigations defense, and antitrust. He has extensive litigation experience in state and federal courts, both trial and appellate. Mr. Schmidt has been appointed by several courts in complex corporate and personal disputes requiring receiverships and fraud investigations. He was appointed to the Donate Life NYS’ Board of Directors in 2024. He also serves on the boards of several other civic and charitable organizations.
Naheima Sears has been guiding companies for the last 20 years as CEO and CMO in the luxury industry. Her constant state of evolution and development, both personally and professionally, has contributed to her unique storytelling abilities that have helped people and organizations seeking to change their legacies by building values rooted in conscious capitalism, compassionate leadership, and sustainability.
Leading by example and resisting marginalization, Ms. Sears has used her talents to empower others, enabling them to learn, to lean in, and to do the work that matters to them and their greater good. She lives her convictions fully and has shared her philosophy with clients and organizations as a speaker at Google, PEMCO, the United Nations, and as a lecturer at Stanford University. A strong believer in conscious conversations, she believes it is conscious engagement that really moves the needle in businesses and organizations. When not working or writing, you will find her working somewhere in the world on a philanthropic project, or healing herself and others by the waves. She was appointed to the Donate Life NYS’ Board of Directors in 2020.
Executive Director, Center for Donation & Transplant
Michael Thibault is the Executive Director of the Center for Donation & Transplant, a federally designated non-profit organ procurement organization serving 30 counties in eastern New York and Western Vermont. Mr. Thibault is a graduate of the University of Florida with degrees in nursing and business administration. He has worked in the field of organ procurement and transplantation since 1995 and has brought extensive experience in clinical operations, hospital services and public education relating to organ and tissue donation. He was the program manager of Heart Failure/Heart Transplant at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System in Richmond. From 2002-10, he served as the director of organ procurement for LifeQuest Organ Recovery Services, a division of Shands Hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Mr. Thibault served as Chair of Donate Life NYS’s Board of Directors from 2015 until 2019, and Secretary and Treasurer from 2013 until 2015. He also completed a term as ex-officio for the UNOS Transplant Coordinator Committee, where he served as a region representative, co-chair and chair. In 2011 he was a member of the UNOS working group focused on donor family/recipient information-sharing. He has presented at national conferences addressing issues including donation after cardiac death and principles of critical care management of the organ donor.