New York State Health Foundation

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NYSHealth 10-Year Anniversary Event Speaker Biographies

Ellen Rautenberg
Board Chair
New York State Health Foundation

Ellen Rautenberg is the Chair of the New York State Health Foundation's Board of Directors. She is also the former President of Public Health Solutions (PHS), which is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of New Yorkers. One of the City's largest nonprofits, PHS runs service delivery programs and research projects in areas as diverse as reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and health insurance navigation. 

Before joining PHS, Ms. Rautenberg was executive director for special population projects at the New York Academy of Medicine as well as an independent consultant in health policy, program development, and strategic planning. From 1981–1990 she worked at the New York City Department of Health as Assistant Commissioner for Planning, Evaluation and Grants and Assistant Commissioner for AIDS Program Services.

Ms. Rautenberg is a member of the Public Health and Health Planning Council of NYS and a member of the boards of the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) and the Guttmacher Institute. She is past chair of NNPHI and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. She has an MHS in health planning and administration from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

David Sandman
President and CEO
New York State Health Foundation

David Sandman, Ph.D., is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth), a private foundation dedicated to improving the health of all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable. Since 2006, NYSHealth has invested more than $100 million in initiatives to improve health care and the public health system in New York State. Equally important, the Foundation is committed to sharing the results and lessons of its grantmaking; informing policy and practice through timely, credible analysis and commentary; and serving as a neutral convener of health care leaders and stakeholders throughout New York State.

Dr. Sandman was named President and CEO in 2016, after serving as NYSHealth’s Senior Vice President. Previously, Dr. Sandman was appointed by the Governor of New York as Executive Director of the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, also known as the “Berger Commission.” The Commission was a nonpartisan, broad-based panel charged with evaluating and reforming the State’s health care delivery and financing systems. It developed recommendations to reconfigure the supply of hospitals and nursing homes to best respond to community needs for high-quality, affordable, and accessible care.

After serving as Executive Director of the Berger Commission, Dr. Sandman became a Managing Director of Manatt Health Solutions, where he advised health care providers, foundations, payers, associations, government, and companies regarding development of new health care programs, services, and restructuring plans. Earlier, he was a Vice President at Harris Interactive, a global research and consulting firm. Prior to joining Harris Interactive, Dr. Sandman served as Assistant Vice President at the Commonwealth Fund, where he was responsible for projects related to health care coverage and access, health care in New York City, Medicare, and quality of care issues. He also served as a policy analyst with the City of New York Department of Health; at a number of community-based HIV/AIDS organizations; and as a researcher at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Sandman received his Bachelor of Arts degree, Phi Beta Kappa, from Haverford College, and his Master of Public Administration degree and Ph.D. from New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.

James R. Knickman
Robert Derzon Chair in Health and Public Service
New York University

James R. Knickman, Ph.D., is a professor of population health at NYU Langone Medical Center and the Robert Derzon Chair in Health and Public Service at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Dr. Knickman leads the Health Evaluation and Analytics Lab (HEAL) at NYU, which conducts analysis and program evaluation of health service delivery, population health, and health and social policy innovations. Among other resources, HEAL maintains patient-level New York State Medicaid fee-for-service claims and managed care encounter data, allowing rapid-cycle evaluations and analyses of Medicaid and other program interventions by providers and public agencies.

Prior to arriving at NYU, Dr. Knickman served for 10 years as president and chief executive officer of the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth). Under Dr. Knickman’s leadership, NYSHealth invested more than $100 million since 2006 in initiatives to improve health care and the public health system in New York State. Prior to NYSHealth, Dr. Knickman was the Vice President of Research and Evaluation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton.

Between 1976 and 1992, he served on the faculty of NYU Wagner, where he was active in community service directed at improving health care delivery to vulnerable populations. Earlier, he worked at the New York City Office of Management and Budget, and he has been a visiting professor at the University of Rochester, U.C. Berkeley, and Princeton University.

He has published extensive research on issues related to the financing of health care and long-term care and improving services for frail elders, homeless families, and individuals with HIV. In recent years, Dr. Knickman has focused more attention on population health issues; he is a member of the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Population Health. Dr. Knickman is the co-author of a widely used textbook on health policy and management.

Kai Wright
Features Editor
The Nation

Kai Wright is features editor of The Nation. His reporting and writing has focused on racial justice, economic inequity, health care, and sexuality. He is the host of the podcast “The United States of Anxiety,” a partnership of The Nation and WNYC Studios. The podcast explores America’s debate over its national identity against the backdrop of the 2016 election, profiling supporters of Donald Trump and their immigrant neighbors in the suburbs of Long Island. Kai was also host of the podcast “There Goes the Neighborhood,” which explored gentrification in Brooklyn. He is the former editorial director of Colorlines and a longtime fellow of the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute.

Risa Wilkerson
Executive Director
Active Living by Design

Risa Wilkerson is the Executive Director of Active Living By Design (ALBD). She provides overarching leadership and strategic vision to fulfill the organization’s mission of creating community-led change by working with local, state, and national partners to build a culture of active living and healthy eating. Ms. Wilkerson has been connected to ALBD since 2002, when she was a grantee of the organization. She joined the team in 2008 as a senior project officer and provided coaching, technical assistance, and grant oversight to multidisciplinary community-based partnerships across the country, with a focus on improving health through policy, systems, and environmental change strategies.

Ms. Wilkerson brings wide-ranging experience in coalition building, community assessment, public health program planning and implementation, grant writing, and nonprofit management. She provides leadership to the field by serving as the Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s board chair, as a sector chair to the National Physical Activity Plan, and as a member of the Prescription for Activity Task Force.

Before moving to North Carolina, Ms. Wilkerson was the vice president of active communities for the Michigan Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports, where she led project teams in a statewide effort to create active communities. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Communication from Michigan State University.

James Johnson-Piett
Principal and CEO
Urbane Development

James Johnson-Piett is responsible for the overall management of operations and strategic vision for Urbane Development, a community development venture based in New York City. His work focuses on strengthening small businesses operating in underserved communities through market intelligence, technical assistance, and access to capital.   Under his leadership, Urbane has worked with more than 1,000 small businesses; attracted or retained more than 1.1 million square feet of commercial/community facility space, including 400,000 square feet of national retail; and helped raise more than $50 million in capital in more than 20 communities throughout North America.  Urbane Development also acts as a co-developer of commercial and mixed-use real estate in underserved markets in New York and Detroit.

Some of Mr. Johnson-Piett’s current projects include the Collaborative for Neighborhood Financial Health, a partnership with New York City’s Office of Financial Empowerment and Bed-Stuy Restoration Corporation, to develop a set of strategies, policies, programs, and financial products that allow residents and businesses of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood to build assets and increase their wealth. Another project is Flatbush Caton Market, an existing 50-vendor, indoor Caribbean flea market in Brooklyn that will be repositioned within a new mixed-use facility that will include commercial space, community facility (business incubator and product fabrication labs), and more than 250 units of affordable housing.  He and his team are also involved with the Green Grocer Project, a comprehensive grocery attraction and financing program, managed by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, to stimulate fresh food retail development in the city of Detroit. 

Other clients include: New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, New York City Department of Small Business Services, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Yale University, Toronto Public Health, and hundreds of independent, small business clients throughout North America.

Mr. Johnson-Piett also serves as vice chair of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, a national nonprofit promoting growth for local, sustainable businesses, and as a board director for Community Solutions Inc., a national nonprofit targeting homelessness prevention.  He was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture by Brooklyn Magazine in spring 2016.  He is a co-convener of the National Healthy Corner Stores Network and sits on the advisory board of American Communities Trust, a Baltimore-based social impact developer. Mr. Johnson-Piett is an alumnus of Swarthmore College and attended the MIT Center for Real Estate’s Professional Development Institute in summer 2007.

Lisa Tucker
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Field & Fork Network

Lisa Tucker French is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Field & Fork Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a thriving regional food system in Western New York. Field & Fork Network has spearheaded many efforts to increase the region’s access to fresh local food, including the establishment of the Western NY Food Hub that serves small and mid-size growers and a nutrition incentive program, Double Up Food Bucks, that currently operates at more than 75 farmers markets and mobile market sites across 11 counties in Western New York and the Finger Lakes region.
Through her work with the nonprofit organization, Ms. Tucker French has been involved in various regional initiatives, including the agriculture workgroups for the Regional Economic Development Councils and the Western New York Regional Sustainability Plan, as well as sat on the Food Access and Justice Working Team for the One Region Forward initiative. She currently sits on the advisory board for the City of Lackawanna Brownfield Opportunity Area’s stage-three development initiative. She is a founding member and co-chair of the Healthy Foods Healthy People workgroup, a member of the Creating a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative, and a member of the John R. Oishei Foundation leadership program.

Ms. Tucker French first began her foray into the world of food back in 2007 (after a long career in finance) when she secured the rights to publish Edible Buffalo magazine. During the six years that followed, she immersed herself in the world of local food, communicating thorough the magazine many untold stories of local growers, food artisans, chefs, and local food advocates. Ms. Tucker French credits this work with providing her a solid background in and understanding of the region’s agricultural assets and what she deems endless possibilities for the local food system to thrive.

Erin Barnes
Co-Founder and Executive Director

Erin Barnes is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of ioby, a nonprofit crowdfunding platform for positive neighborhood change. Using ioby’s online platform and offline services, citizen leaders have raised more than $2.5 million in small donations to make neighborhoods stronger and more sustainable. Prior to founding ioby, Ms. Barnes covered climate change and other environmental issues as a journalist and editor, and was a community organizer on wild salmon and natural resources in the Pacific Northwest.

Ms. Barnes holds a Master of Arts degree in Environmental Management from Yale University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and American Studies from the University of Virginia. She serves on the board of EcoDistricts and the steering committee for EPIP-NYC. She was the recipient of The Rockefeller Foundation’s 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal for New Technology and Innovation.

Charles Ornstein
Senior Reporter

Charles Ornstein is a senior reporter at ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization in New York. Prior to joining ProPublica in 2008, he was a member of the metro investigative projects team at the Los Angeles Times. In 2004, he was a lead author on a series on Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, a troubled hospital in South Los Angeles. The articles won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service. In 2009, he co-authored a series of stories that detailed serious failures in oversight by the California Board of Registered Nursing and nursing boards across the country. The work was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. He previously worked at the Dallas Morning News, where he covered health care on the business desk and worked in the Washington bureau.

Mr. Ornstein is a past president of the Association of Health Care Journalists and an adjunct journalism professor at Columbia University. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.

Catherine DesRoches
Executive Director

Catherine M. (Cait) DesRoches, Dr.P.H., is the Executive Director of OpenNotes at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She is a distinguished health services researcher with expertise in emerging trends in health care delivery.

Dr. DesRoches comes to OpenNotes from Mathematica Policy Research, a national firm with extensive expertise in social policy research, where she was a senior fellow studying the use of electronic health records by hospitals and physicians, the effect of health care organizations on physician clinical practice, physician capacity to provide coordinated patient-centered care, and primary care workforce issues. Dr. DesRoches also has extensive experience leading and managing interdisciplinary research aimed at improving health system performance and quality of care.

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, School of Public Health, and the Joseph P. Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University where she received her doctoral degree, Dr. DesRoches has worked as research scientist and project director for the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She has held faculty positions at Vanderbilt University, Simmons College School of Social Work, and Harvard Medical School. Much of her work has focused on electronic health record adoption and organizational change.

Donna Cryer, J.D.
President and CEO
Global Liver Institute

Donna R. Cryer, J.D., has channeled her personal experience as an inflammatory bowel disease and liver transplant patient into professional advocacy as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Liver Institute, the innovation and collaboration platform for the liver community.

Mrs. Cryer was the first patient to lead the American Liver Foundation in its 36-year history, serving as chair and chief executive officer. Previously, for almost a decade, she led CryerHealth, a health care consulting firm providing strategic counsel to top biopharmaceutical companies, patient advocacy organizations, and emerging technology firms on patient engagement in health information technology, drug discovery, and clinical decision-making.

Mrs. Cryer has been appointed to the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Technical Expert Panel on Viral Hepatitis by the U.S. Government Accountability Office to serve as the patient and consumer representative on the Health Information Policy Committee. She is also appointed to the federal advisory body to the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and is serving her second five-year term with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In addition, Mrs. Cryer serves on the Executive Committee of the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research, the boards of directors of the Society for Participatory Medicine and the Personalized Medicine Coalition, and as a merit reviewer for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. She is a member of the stakeholder advisory group to the National Institutes of Health’s Learning Health System Research Collaboratory, the American Society of Clinical Oncology Guidelines Committee, and the American Board of Internal Medicine Gastroenterology specialty board.

A frequent speaker on transformational patient advocacy and health innovation, Mrs. Cryer received an undergraduate degree from Harvard/Radcliffe Colleges and a Juris Doctorate degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Alan Manning
Executive Vice President

Alan Manning is the Executive Vice President at Planetree, Inc., a mission-based nonprofit dedicated to pioneering methods for personalizing, humanizing, and demystifying the health care experience. Within his role, Mr. Manning speaks worldwide on topics such as patient-centered care, leadership, and innovation. He also facilitates a variety of leadership development and management training sessions for organizations, as well as physician retreats that reconnect purpose with practice. Like so many of his Planetree colleagues, Mr. Manning has facilitated countless patient and staff focus groups across the continuum of care, providing him unique insights into the vital perspectives of those on the frontlines of health care.

Beyond his work with Planetree, Mr. Manning is the co-founder and vice president of Kisses from Katie, Inc., an organization dedicated to providing resources to critically ill children, their families, and the people who are dedicated to caring for them. Mr. Manning is also the board president of the Connecticut Center for Patient Safety.

Chuck Bell
Programs Director
Consumers Union

Chuck Bell is Programs Director for Consumers Union, the policy and action division of Consumer Reports, a national nonprofit organization based in Yonkers, New York. Mr. Bell works closely with Consumers Union’s advocacy offices in California, New York, Texas, and Washington, D.C., on a wide range of consumer policy issues, including health insurance reform, patient safety, and prescription drugs. Over his 26 years at Consumers Union, he has worked on diverse partnerships and grant-funded projects to expand health information for consumers on issues such as preventive services, nursing homes, Medicare supplement insurance, external grievance programs, prescription drugs, and dietary supplements. 

Mr. Bell also engages in direct advocacy in New York and other northeastern states for Consumers Union’s advocacy campaigns. As part of this work, he helped pass New York State’s new protections against surprise out-of-network bills in 2014, and is currently working to enact similar legislation in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. From 1995 to 2005, Mr. Bell served as the New York staff person for Consumers Union’s Charitable Health Assets Project, which worked to provide public oversight of conversions of nonprofit health corporations to for-profit companies, as well as to hold nonprofit health insurers and hospitals accountable to their social missions.

Mr. Bell currently serves as chair of the board of directors of Nonprofit Quarterly, a nonprofit journal and online news service based in Boston. He also serves on the boards of Fair Health and NYSERDA (New York’s energy research and development agency) and on the steering committees of Health Care for All New York and New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage. Mr. Bell is co-author of Covering the Health of Local Nursing Homes, published by the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism in 2009.

Jean-Luc Neptune
Blueprint Health

Jean-Luc (JL) Neptune is a licensed physician, entrepreneur, and investor who is currently a partner at Blueprint Health, a leading digital health accelerator. Founded in 2011, Blueprint Health has invested in 77 digital health companies of which 85% are still currently operating. Blueprint Health portfolio companies have collectively raised $100m in funding and in total have an aggregate value of $500m.

Prior to joining Blueprint Health, Dr. Neptune was senior vice president at Health 2.0 and director of the Health 2.0 Catalyst program. Through the Catalyst program, Health 2.0 has run more than 75 innovation competitions and offered more than $7m in funding to a network of thousands of developers, designers, and technologists. The Catalyst program was the engine behind the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s Investing in Innovation initiative, and has also powered competitions for private sector clients such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Novartis, Allscripts, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Prior to joining Health 2.0, Dr. Neptune co-founded two digital health startups, Healogica, an online clinical trials matching platform (acquired by the Michael J. Fox Foundation), and ExpertConsensus, a virtual second opinion service.

Dr. Neptune earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia College at Columbia University, a Doctor of Medicine degree from the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, focusing on health care and entrepreneurial management and graduating with honors. He completed a residency in internal medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, passed the American Board of Internal Medicine board examination, and is licensed to practice medicine in the state of New York.