CEO Blog: Thank You and a Fond Farewell

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Happy New Year!

2016 looks to be our best year yet – we are closing in on 13 million registered organ, eye and tissue donors in California – people who said “YES!” to Donate Life! When I started as CEO of Donate Life California in October 2011, we had just 8 million registered donors. What a tremendous and impressive four years it’s been, and it’s all because of the dedication and teamwork of the Donate Life California community and partners I have been so fortunate to work with.

As announced in November, I am retiring on January 15. As I enter my final days here, I am confident that the growth of the registry will continue on an upward trajectory under the leadership of a new CEO, the incredibly supportive Donate Life California Board of Directors and the talented, newly-formed Board of Advisors.

In just over four years, our partnership with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has become stronger than ever. I can’t thank DMV Director Jean Shiomoto and her entire DMV team enough for embracing the Donate Life mission amidst their many responsibilities to keep Californians safe behind the wheel.

Meanwhile, newer partnerships with the California Highway Patrol, the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation, California firefighters, the California Hospital Association, the Medical Board of California and more will continue to grow and provide new avenues for outreach and education.

Two pieces of legislation passed in 2012 and 2014 that focus on educating high school students about organ, eye and tissue donation and secure mobile, electronic registration will also ensure continued growth of the registry.

I have been humbled and inspired by the entire Donate Life community – from the volunteer Donate Life Ambassadors who share their stories as transplant recipients, donor family members and living donors, to the staff at California’s four organ procurement organizations (OPOs), Donor Network West, Lifesharing, OneLegacy and Sierra Donor Services, who we collaborate with to deliver the message that organ, eye and tissue donation saves and heals lives.

It has been such a joy to come to work each day to lead our talented and committed Donate Life California team in a mission we all embrace and love.

While I look forward to spending more time with my family and embarking on new adventures, I will continue to be involved in and supportive of the Donate Life mission as a member of the University of California Board of Regents and through my involvement with California Women Lead and San Diego Rotary Club 33.

Thanks, most of all, to each and every one of you for saying “YES!” to organ, eye and tissue donation. Together, we can and we will inspire all Californians to DONATE LIFE.

With thanks and appreciation,

Charlene electronic signature



Charlene Zettel
CEO, Donate Life California


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