Category Archives: CEO Blog

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


Message from the CEO

Greetings from Donate Life California!

We are just about two months into 2015 and cannot believe how many people have signed up to be organ, eye and tissue donors so far this year – more than 220,000! That’s 50,000 more than during the same period last year. We are going to have no trouble reaching the 12 million mark by Donate Life Month in April! Thank you!

Who else do we have to thank? Our partnership with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Since 2006, the DMV has played an integral role in giving Californians the opportunity to save and heal lives through organ, eye and tissue donation. The vast majority of signups to our registry, 95% in fact, have come through the DMV. And now, they are serving even more people in our state with the implementation of AB 60, a law that allows anyone who can prove their identity and California residence to apply for a driver license. We have no doubt that new law is going to help us achieve our biggest year yet!

Now, because we are seeing such HUGE growth in our registry, I want to take this opportunity to assure you that we will not only honor your decision to give the gift of life, as we are legally and morally obligated to do, should the opportunity arise, but that the information you provided when you signed up is secure and confidential and will never be shared or sold. Period.

I also want to make you aware of other organizations that claim to sign up or register organ, eye and tissue donors. While they may be well-intentioned, the only legally binding way to declare your decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor in the state of California is with the Donate Life California Organ & Tissue Donor Registry. And we only sign people up in these four ways:

  • Through the DMV when you apply for or renew your California driver license or ID card. (Please be sure to check “YES!” every time!)
  • On our website at
  • eRegistration: This is a brand new program we are rolling out in which trained Donate Life Ambassadors and staff use mobile devices to scan a California driver license or ID to input donor information into our donor registry. Stay tuned for details!
  • Paper registration forms that are filled out by you and returned to a Donate Life Ambassador and/or staff member.

Please note: Donate Life Ambassadors and staff operate on behalf of Donate Life California and the state’s four organ procurement organizations (OPOs). The four OPOs are: Donor Network West , Lifesharing, OneLegacy and Sierra Donor Services.

If someone “signs up” or “registers” in any other way, through any other organization, it is a declaration of intent only and is not legally binding in California. In addition, we caution that the information provided to other organizations may not be confidential or secure and could be shared with, or sold to, outside parties and organizations.

Your decision to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor is very important to us, to the more than 22,000 Californians waiting for life-saving organ transplants, and to the countless others whose lives can be enhanced with tissue or corneal transplants.

Thank you from all of us here at Donate Life California. Together we have the POWER to Donate Life!

If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact us at 866-797-2366 or

Charlene Zettel
Donate Life California CEO

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