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.
Mark J. Simon
Chief Executive Officer, ConnectLife
Mark J. Simon is the President and CEO of ConnectLife (formerly known as Unyts), Western New York’s only organ, eye, tissue and community blood center. Mr. Simon has been a part of ConnectLife since 1997 when he joined the organization as the company’s Director of Finance. Less than 2 years later he was appointed President & CEO. In his 20 years at ConnectLife Mr. Simon has been integral in providing growth opportunities for the organization which have resulted in an increase of budget from $2 million to $25 million and a staff increase from 20 to 200 employees. Mr. Simon has developed collaborative relationships with the University at Buffalo School of Medicine, Kaleida Health, ECMC, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and local funeral directors and attorneys. He has helped ConnectLife receive 10 HRSA grants totaling $5.5 million to increase organ and tissue donation awareness, and under his leadership the organization increased organ and tissue donations from 250 a year to over 1200 in 2017. Mr. Simon is also credited with establishing the ConnectLife Community Blood Service, the first community blood bank in WNY, that is now supplying over 75% of the region’s hospitals. This has resulted in a savings of over $10 million to the local healthcare community.
Prior to joining ConnectLife, Mr. Simon spent 13 years working in non-profit accounting for three local hospitals and a medical association. He currently serves as Chair of Donate Life NYS’ Board of Directors and is past chair of a number of transplant related councils and organizations.
Board Vice Chair
Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Organ Recovery Systems
Matthew Copithorne is the Vice President Sales & Marketing, Americas & Pacific Rim of Organ Recovery Systems, the global market-leading provider of organ preservation products and services. Mr. Copithorne joined Organ Recovery Systems in 2006 as the company’s Field Services Manager.Mr. Copithorne leads the marketing and sales team in the Americas & Pacific Rim regions for Organ Recovery Systems’ proprietary transplant medical device technologies , LifePort Kidneys Transporter® and LifePort Liver Transporter® as well other organ preservation solutions. He is also part of an executive team assembled to provide input on the strategic direction of Organ Recovery Systems and advising the CEO on product and market needs.
Mr. Copithorne is a veteran of the medical device industry, previously working at both the New England Organ Bank and Cryolife, Inc., since 2001. He currently serves as Vice Chair of the Donate Life NYS Board of Directors.
Board Secretary and Treasurer
Executive Vice President of Donor Services, MTF Biologics
Martha Anderson is the Executive Vice President, Donor Services of MTF Biologics, a non-profit service organization dedicated to providing clinically sound, safe allograft tissue. Ms. Anderson manages and directs donor-related services provided to thirty-six tissue recovery programs. She also provides 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 have been provided to more than 5 million recipients.
Ms. Anderson has served as Secretary and Treasurer of the Donate Life NYS Board of Directors since 2017, and Vice Chair from 2015 until 2017. Additionally, Ms. Anderson is a member of the Governing Board of the Gift of Life Donor Program and the Medical Advisory Policy Boards for LifeShare of Oklahoma and LifeSource.
Board Immediate Past Chair
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.
Executive Director, Sight Society of Northeastern New York
Victoria Adler is the Executive Director of the Sight Society of Northeastern New York/Lions Eye Bank at Albany, a private non-profit organization dedicated to providing ocular tissue for transplantation, medical education and research. Ms. Adler also serves as Executive Director of the Lions Eye Bank at Rochester, which was acquired by Sight Society of Northeastern New York in 2015. Ms. Adler received her nursing degree from Ellis Hospital School of Nursing in 1996 and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 2003. Ms. Adler is a Certified Organ Procurement and Transplant coordinator (CPTC) and Certified Eye Bank Technician (CEBT) with over 20 years of organ, eye and tissue donation / transplantation experience. Ms. Adler served as Chair of Donate Life NYS’ Board of Directors from 2011-2013.
Executive Director/CEO, Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration
Patricia Dahl is the Executive Director/CEO of The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration, a private, not-for-profit organization devoted to restoring sight through eye donations and cornea transplants, as well as providing ocular tissue for research into treatment and cures for other eye diseases. The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration was established in 1944, and is the world’s first eye bank, serving New York City, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley.
Ms. Dahl has more than 35 years of experience in eye banking. She has served on the Donate Life NYS Board of Directors since the organization was formed in 2002. She is a past-Chair of the Eye Bank Association of America and has served on a variety of the association’s key committees, including the Medical Advisory Board, Accreditation Board and Certification Board. She is also a member of the European Eye Bank Association and has served on the New York State Transplant Council since 2002. Ms. Dahl holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN.
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 new 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.