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CEO Blog: Thank You and a Fond Farewell

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

 

Delano Man to be Honored as an Organ Donor Hero on the Donate Life Float in the 2016 Rose Parade®

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Sandra Gutierrez puts the finishing touches on the Floragraph honoring her brother, Michael Robles, as her family and Donate Life California CEO Charlene Zettel (left) look on. Michael is one of 60 organ, eye and tissue donors being honored on the 2016 Donate Life Rose Parade Float.

DELANO, Calif., Dec. 2, 2015 – Donate Life California and family of Michael Robles, a much-beloved Delano man, put the finishing touches on a floral portrait of his likeness, called a floragraph, during a special unveiling ceremony at the Delano office of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Michael’s floragraph will be placed on the Donate Life float, “Treasure Life’s Journey,” for the 2016 Rose Parade® in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

Michael became a liver and kidney donor in April 2006 after suffering a sudden heart attack. The 53-year-old was known in the town of Delano for his Harley Davidson Motorcycle, his love of flowers, and his devotion to his family. He is one of 60 organ, eye and tissue donors being honored for their gifts of life on the 2016 Donate Life float.

(left to right) Donate Life California CEO Charlene Zettel; Sandra Gutierrez; Michael Robles' family

(left to right) Donate Life California CEO Charlene Zettel; Sandra Gutierrez; Michael Robles’ family

“I’ve always been so proud of Mike – proud to be his sister. And he would be proud of us for making the decision allowing him to be a donor,” said Sandra Gutierrez, who recently retired from the Delano DMV. “Our town is largely Hispanic and, while working at the DMV, I encountered many people who were hesitant to sign up to be organ donors. I told them my brother helped others to keep living.”

The DMV is an important Donate Life California partner, with 95 percent of California’s 12.7 million registered organ, eye and tissue donors having checked “YES!” while applying for or renewing their California driver license or ID.

Sandra Gutierrez and Donate Life California CEO Charlene Zettel

Sandra Gutierrez and Donate Life California CEO Charlene Zettel

“Michael took good care of his family before his death. Now, he’s taking good care of others through organ donation,” said Charlene Zettel, Donate Life California CEO. “With his gifts of life, he leaves a legacy of kindness and generosity – something we wish for all Californians. Donate Life California is proud to sponsor Michael’s floragraph for the Donate Life Float. We hope the millions watching the Rose Parade will be inspired by his story and choose to Donate Life.”

“The act of organ and tissue donation weaves together a tapestry of donors and recipients, of hope and remembrance, and beloved family and friends who live on through the most miraculous of gifts,” adds Tom Mone, Chairman of the Donate Life float committee and CEO of OneLegacy, the nonprofit organ, eye and tissue recovery organization serving the greater Los Angeles area. “The riders, walkers, and floragraph honorees who will accompany the 13th annual Donate Life float each have an amazing story to tell.”

More than 22,000 people in California await life-saving organ transplants. Despite the vital need, only about 40 percent of adults in California are signed up to be organ, eye and tissue donors, putting California well below the national average of 50 percent. In addition to the DMV, signup on the registry is available at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org.

Each day in the U.S., 22 people die waiting because the organ they needed did not come available in time. Organs needed for transplant are heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas or intestine.

Tissue transplants, meanwhile, save and heal lives. Tissues for transplant include cornea, skin, heart valves, bone tissue, tendons, veins, ligaments and cartilage. More than a million tissue transplants are done each year, and the surgical need for tissue has been steadily rising. Corneal transplants restore sight to nearly 50,000 people each year.

Fast Facts from Donate Life California:

  • One in five on the U.S. organ transplant waiting list lives in California.
  • All major religions support or permit organ, eye and tissue donation.
  • You’re never too old or sick to be a registered organ, eye and tissue donor.

About the Donate Life Float in the 2016 Rose Parade®:

The 2016 Donate Life Rose Parade Float, “Treasure Life’s Journey,” represents the journey of new life, health and adventure that begins with every donation of organs, eyes and tissue. In their passing, deceased donors open up a world of health to grateful recipients and empower them to contribute to their families, communities and future generations. Donor families find comfort by helping life go on in a remarkable act of love and caring for people they never knew. And Living Donors heroically give of themselves to help friends, family and even strangers. Through its endless power to save, heal and enhance lives, donation is truly the journey of a lifetime. Now in its 13th year, the Donate Life Float is the world’s most visible campaign to inspire organ, eye and tissue donation.

About Donate Life California

Donate Life California is the nonprofit, state-authorized organ, eye and tissue donor registry. Individuals can add their name to the registry by checking “YES!” every time they renew/apply for their driver license or ID card at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This ensures their desire to donate life will be carried out. A pink “DONOR” dot is added to their driver license or ID as a symbol of their decision. Individuals can also sign up online at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org or www.doneVIDAcalifornia.org. As a public service, the registry ensures all personal information is kept confidential and stored in a secure database, accessible only to authorized organ and tissue recovery personnel at the time of an actual donation opportunity. The registry is administered by Donate Life California and California’s four nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organizations (OPOs): Donor Network West, Lifesharing, OneLegacy and Sierra Donor Services.

Media contact: Brianne Mundy Page, brianne@donateLIFEcalifornia.org, 858-220-8351

Additional media resources: http://bit.ly/DLCMediaKit.

Donate Life California CEO Charlene Zettel to Retire

Search Underway for Successor

SAN DIEGO, Calif., Nov. 3, 2015 – Donate Life California, the state-authorized organ, eye and tissue donor registry, today announced that Charlene Zettel, Donate Life California’s CEO, will retire on January 15, 2016. The Donate Life California board of directors has begun the search for a successor.

“Charlene has provided tremendous leadership and direction to Donate Life California,” said Cindy Siljestrom, Donate Life California board president. “Her efforts have given hope to the thousands who wait for life-healing transplants. The search for her successor will be extensive and we are committed to finding the right person to fill this very important role.”

“It has indeed been an honor to lead this organization and work side-by-side with so many compassionate individuals who help to grow the registry and who make the miracles of organ donation and transplantation possible,” said Charlene. “My retirement is bittersweet – I look forward to new adventures but my heart will remain devoted to the life-saving mission of Donate Life California, our dedicated board of directors and staff.”

Charlene joined Donate Life California as CEO October 3, 2011. Under her leadership, the registry has grown from 8.5 million registered organ, eye and tissue donors to nearly 13 million. In addition, Charlene led several successful legislative efforts including the passage of two key bills: AB 1967 (J. Pérez, 2012), Organ Donation Education, and AB 2399 (J. Pérez, 2014), eRegistration. AB 1967 ensures that the health and science education frameworks include the subject of organ procurement and tissue donation, as appropriate. The goal is to educate California students about the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation so they are able to make informed decisions about registering as organ, eye and tissue donors when asked this mandatory question on their DMV driver license/ID card application form. AB 2399, or eRegistration, is the first law in the nation to allow a Donate Life organization to securely and electronically read encrypted information from a driver license/ID card via a mobile device for the purpose of registering individuals as organ, eye and tissue donors.

Charlene will continue to serve as a gubernatorial appointee on the Board of Regents of the University of California.

Charlene began her career in public service in 1992 when she was elected to the Poway Unified School District Board of Education. In 1998, she became the first Republican Latina to be elected to the state legislature. In addition to elected state service, Charlene has served as the director of the San Diego Office of the Governor, as a public interest director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, as the director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, and as an executive board member of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

Individuals interested in the CEO position may learn more at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org/careers/.

Californians can register to be donors by checking “YES!” at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or by signing up at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org.

Fast Facts from Donate Life California:

  • One in five on the national organ transplant waiting list (122,640) lives in California.
  • More than 29,000 people in the U.S. begin new lives each year thanks to organ transplants (about 81 transplants every day).
  • 22 people die each day because the life-saving organ they needed did not become available in time.

About Donate Life California:

Donate Life California is the nonprofit, state-authorized organ, eye and tissue donor registry. Individuals can add their name to the registry by checking “YES!” every time they renew/apply for their driver license or ID card at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This ensures their desire to donate life will be carried out. A pink “DONOR” dot is added to their driver license or ID as a symbol of their decision. Individuals can also sign up online at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org or www.doneVIDAcalifornia.org. As a public service, the registry ensures all personal information is kept confidential and stored in a secure database, accessible only to authorized organ and tissue recovery personnel at the time of an actual donation opportunity. The registry is administered by Donate Life California and California’s four nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organizations (OPOs): Donor Network West, Lifesharing, OneLegacy and Sierra Donor Services.

Contact: Brianne Mundy Page, 858-220-8351, brianne@donateLIFEcalifornia.org

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