LeadershipProfessional staff and board leadership alike share one thing in common: A passion for saving lives.
JAY A. FEINBERG
A 21 year transplant survivor, Jay Feinberg is Gift of Life's founder and Chief Executive Officer. Jay was diagnosed with leukemia in 1991 and told that his only hope of a cure was a bone marrow transplant. With the support of his friends and family, Jay embarked on a groundbreaking international search for a matching donor. After organizing 250 drives and testing 60,000 potential donors, Jay's match turned out to be the very last donor tested at the very last drive. He received his transplant at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington in July 1995 thanks to his bone marrow donor, Becky Faibisoff.
Jay formerly served on the Board of Directors of the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA) in the capacity of Secretary of North and South America. For years, he volunteered his time as an inspector for the WMDA's Accreditation Committee. Also, Jay is on the Editorial Board of Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide.
Jay received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Charles Bronfman Prize which recognizes dynamic leaders whose innovation and impact serve as inspiration for the future generations. Other notable honors include the National Marrow Donor Program's Allison Atlas Award and Hadassah International's Citizen of the World Award. Jay is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Yeshiva University, received along with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In 2010, Jay received the Jewish Community Hero Award from the Jewish Federations of North America, a leadership award honoring those making strides to repair the world, starting in their own communities. In 2013, Jay was recognized in the Algemeiner Jewish 100 List-the top one hundred individuals who have positively influenced and lifted the quality of Jewish life over the past year.
Also in 2013, Jay was the recipient of the Maurice N. Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award from the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). This award is the highest honor bestowed by the Reform Movement. Every two years at the URJ's Biennial, the Award is conferred for service to the world community and Reform Jewry. "It is people like Jay Feinberg who truly make our world a better place," said URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs. "Jay's tireless work has saved countless lives, and his actions follow in the footsteps of Reform social justice pioneers, such as Rabbi Eisendrath. The Talmud teaches that whoever saves a life, it is as if he has saved the entire world. Jay's work so truly embodies this teaching, and for that, we are abundantly grateful."
Jay shares this distinction with other notable luminaries including actor and Parkinsons advocate Michael J. Fox, Israeli diplomat and politician Abba Eban, former President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres OBM of Israel, former President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, United States Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg and former White House Press Secretary James Brady and businessman and philanthropist Charles R. Bronfman.
In 2011, Jay was one of three non-profit leaders in South Florida to be awarded a scholarship to the Harvard Business School's executive education program "Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management"-the flagship of the HBS Social Enterprise Program designed for top executives in the non-profit sector.
Jay has brought tremendous innovation to Gift of Life, including the use of cheek swabs for bloodless testing at donor drives, complete typing at initial recruitment, and most recently, Speed Swabbing technology. He has forged groundbreaking relationships with organizations including Hillel International, Taglit Birthright Israel, KEDMA, AEPi Fraternity, and more. He has also been responsible for negotiating partnerships with other registries, most notably the National Marrow Donor Program. His vision and subject matter expertise guides the strategic direction of the organization in conjunction with the Board of Directors.
Jay has been an invited guest at the White House during the past two presidential administrations, and travels regularly to speak on social justice and community activism, sharing his personal story and Gift of Life's grass roots efforts. Jay is proud to be an honorary brother of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi).
- May 4, 2016: Commencement Speaker, Graduation Ceremony, Saddle River Day School, Saddle River, NJ.
- February 3 and 4, 2017: Guest Speaker, Binghamton University, Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life, Binghamton, NY.
- April 22, 2017: Guest Speaker, Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem, Montreal QB.
Bill first encountered a bone marrow drive when his childhood friend, Allison Atlas, was searching for a compatible donor. He was tested as a match for her in November 1989.
Nearly five years later, in October 1994, he became more aware of the need for marrow donors when he learned that his contemporary, Jay Feinberg, was searching for a lifesaving match. Bill’s uncle, Arnie Draiman, called to tell him about Jay’s desperate need and the expansive worldwide search to find him a compatible donor.
At the age of 25, Bill traveled with Arnie to Minsk, the capital city of Belarus, both feeling it was incumbent upon them to save Jay’s life. For four weeks they searched for a genetic needle in a haystack, seeking someone of related ancestry who could possibly be Jay’s match. While there, they tested over 400 people, which at that time was still done via a blood draw using needles.
After returning from the journey, Bill continued serving Jay and at the time, “Friends of Jay.” Bill spoke frequently about his trip to Minsk, shared the story of Jay’s search and the eventual founding of Gift of Life. He also began to courier lifesaving donations of bone marrow and stems cells to patients around the world.
In 2009 Bill joined Gift of Life's Board of Directors and currently serves as Chairman of the Board.
His experience owning a disaster restoration business that cleans up after fires and floods taught him to always be prepared for the unexpected. Disaster recovery is not always needed, but when it is, he is there to provide valuable and timely experience and expertise. Those same skills serve Gift of Life.
Bill enjoys representing Gift of Life, and is an accomplished speaker about the need to increase the donor registry and diversify the donor base in order to save more lives. He speaks about Gift of Life at many events annually.
Bill enjoys visiting many donors on their day of donation, to personally thank them for giving the Gift of Life to a person in need.
MICHAEL W. SCHUSTER, MD
Dr. Michael Schuster is Gift of Life's Medical Director, as well as the Director of the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Program and Hematologic Malignancy Program of Stony Brook University Hospital in New York. Throughout this career, Dr. Schuster has facilitated more than a thousand stem cell transplants.
Dr. Schuster's research interests include new drug development in hematologic malignancies including multiple myeloma, lymphoma, myelodysplastic syndrome and leukemia; therapeutic uses of cytokines; bone marrow and blood stem cell transplantation; and the role of pro-inflammatory cytokines in geriatric and cancer cachexia, anemia, and in other disease states. He also maintains research interests in the treatment of the immunocompromised host. He is well published in these areas and lectures frequently about topics such as new drug development, transplantation and treatment of hematologic malignancies. For the past seven years, he has been named as one of the Best Doctors in New York.
Serving as the principal investigator for more than 200 clinical trials during the past 20 years, Dr. Schuster has worked extensively in the area of new drug development in oncology and stem cell transplantation. He has been involved in clinical trials that have led to the registration of breakthrough oncology drugs such as Gleevec and Velcade.
Dr. Schuster received his medical degree at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire. He completed his training in hematology/oncology at Harvard Medical School's Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and his postdoctoral fellowship in molecular biology at Harvard University.
BARBY A. PILPEL
Barby A. Pilpel joined Gift of Life in 2000. In 2003, she was promoted to Operations Manager, and from 2006 to 2012, she served as the organization's Associate Executive Director. In that capacity, Barby oversaw the daily operations and administrative functions of the organization. Today, she focuses much of her time on strategic planning and special projects with the CEO.
During her time with the organization, Barby has seen it grow from a registry of 60,000 potential donors for patients in need to over 250,000 and growing.
Having been exposed to every facet of the organization over the past 15 years, Barby has become an expert in many areas critical to its mission. She is a highly accomplished, detail-oriented visionary and decisive leader with a track record of proven success and peerless passion for her job. Barby holds certificates in Management and Accounting, as well as Human Resources from Florida Atlantic University.
Barby is originally from Toronto and now resides in West Palm Beach with her husband, Shayne, and three dogs.
BRUCE A. LENES, MD
Bruce A. Lenes, MD, is the Medical Director of Gift of Life's Donor Services Department. Over the last 35 years, he has served as the Medical Director of ONEBLOOD, Inc. (and its predecessors) and as the Senior Medical Director for Corporate Operations for Blood Systems, Inc. (the third and second largest regional blood centers in the United States respectively). Dr. Lenes trained in Internal Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville and trained in Hematology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC. He then served as a staff fellow in Transfusion Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD. Among numerous awards, he was a first round recipient of the Transfusion Medicine Academic Award (an NHLBI grant to develop educational programs in Transfusion Medicine).
Dr. Lenes has published over 40 scientific articles with special emphasis on medical education and diseases transmitted by transfusion. He has served on numerous national committees and also as Chairman of the National American Red Cross Medical Affairs Committee, from 1991 to 1994. Currently, Dr. Lenes serves as Senior Medical Director for LifeSouth Regional Blood Center in Gainesville, Florida. He was raised in Yorktown Heights, New York and went on to attend Union University in Schenectady, New York and Albany Medical College in Albany, New York.
His current academic titles include:
- Clinical Associate Professor of Pathology and Medicine,
University of Miami School of Medicine
- Clinical Professor of Medicine, Nova Southeastern School of Osteopathic Medicine - Clinical Professor of Laboratory Sciences, Florida International University
- Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University School of Medicine
MARTI FREUND, JD
Marti Freund has been on the Gift of Life team since 2010. She earned a BA from Union College in managerial economics and a JD from the University of Miami School of Law. Following graduation, Marti worked as an attorney in New York. At Gift of Life, she is responsible for event planning, community affairs, public relations, and communications. In a managerial capacity, Marti oversees the following departments: marketing and communications, recruitment, and operations & logistics.
Throughout her life, Marti has been actively involved in non-profits. In fact, she worked for the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure prior to joining the Gift of Life team. Her career focus shifted after her brother was diagnosed with leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. His donor, Ronnie, was found through the Gift of Life registry. Marti is extremely passionate about Gift of Life and devotes each day to furthering its mission.
Marti is originally from New Jersey and now resides in Boca Raton with her husband, George, and three sons, George, Eric and Patrick.
LINDSEY GREENBERG, BSN, RN
Lindsey Greenberg is Gift of Life's Director of Donor Services and has been affiliated with the organization since 2005. Lindsey is responsible for oversight of Gift of Life's Donor Services Department, overseeing key operations including donor retention, extended and confirmatory typing, workup and post-donation follow-up. Lindsey has been focused on building the department, working with the team to complete over 300 donations since coming onboard.
Before joining Gift of Life, Lindsey worked as a registered nurse in the field of orthopaedic and traumatic injuries. Lindsey holds two Bachelors of Science, one from the University of Florida and the second from Florida Atlantic University. Although she attended two different universities, Lindsey bleeds true orange and blue. And, fun fact, she also holds a teaching certification in hot yoga.
Lindsey's personal motto in life is "It is not about what you get but what you give." She has a personal connection to Gift of Life's mission, as her brother is a bone marrow transplant recipient and was transplanted at the same facility as our own Jay Feinberg. Lindsey is the proud parent of a furry Pomeranian mix named Honey Bear and a baby boy named Garan.
ROBYN MALEK, LMHC
Robyn is responsible for overseeing the Development Department at Gift of Life, including all fundraising activities. A lifelong resident of South Florida, Robyn earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Barry University in psychology and her graduate degree from Nova Southeastern University. After graduating, she began practicing as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor part time and began her work in the nonprofit field.
Robyn previously worked as the Director of Development for Miami Beach’s Hebrew Academy and was the Associate Executive Director of the Miami Beach Jewish Community Center. Robyn has been in fundraising for the past 15 years and is passionate about serving the community. When the opportunity presented itself to join the Gift of Life team, Robyn says it was as if all of her previous experiences brought her to the cause.
To save a life is to save the world. Robyn truly feels it is an honor to be able to serve Gift of Life.
Nick Hudson registered as a donor with Gift of Life as a junior at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Shortly after graduating, he received a call that would change his life forever: he was a perfect match for a 4 year-old boy suffering from leukemia. He donated bone marrow and a year later met the boy he saved, Cameron. Today, Cameron is a healthy, happy 13 year-old young man who loves dogs, video games, karate, and texting his "blood brother," Nick. He has now dedicated his life to helping cancer patients like Cameron find their own miracle match.
Prior to joining Gift of Life, Nick worked with Common Ground Community's Street to Home Initiative, which revolutionized supportive housing to Manhattan's chronic homeless population and has since been replicated nationally through the 100,000 Homes Campaign. After graduating from Emory, he was an AmeriCorps Vista Scholar in Chicago where he worked with at-risk youth in residential therapeutic housing. He earned his J.D. from St. John's University School of Law in New York and was a Public Interest Fellow in the Brooklyn criminal court system working with victims of crime.
As Gift of Life Recruitment Manager, Nick oversees all marrow donor recruitment drives, programs, campaigns, and partnerships, including managing the Community Engagement team based in Boston, New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and Israel. Nick lives in New York City with his wife Katie and loyal labradoodle, Fitz.
Rafi Freudenberger serves as Gift of Life's Director of Information Systems and has been with the organization for 18 years, first as a volunteer and then as an employee. Under Rafi's leadership, Gift of Life has developed MatchQuest, a powerful and flexible system that manages all facets of the organization's daily operations.
MatchQuest's uniquely tailored technology enables Gift of Life to ensure that transplant centers are serviced as quickly as possible. It allows them to search for a match on behalf of a patient in need while maintaining strict quality standards imposed by FDA regulations.
Rafi's dedication and drive in founding and growing Gift of Life's Information Systems department is made possible by his experience at two startup companies: Cleyal, Inc. and Digital Fuel, Inc. Rafi co-founded and served as Cleyal's VP of Engineering for eight years and later sold Cleyal's technology to Sapiens, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPNSF). Two years before joining Gift of Life, Rafi served as VP of Product Management for Digital Fuel, Inc., the leading provider of IT Financial Management SaaS Solutions. Digital Fuel was subsequently purchased by VMWare, Inc. (Nasdaq: VMW).
Rafi received his Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics & Computer Science from UCLA.
NELSON GONZALEZ, MCSE
Nelson Gonzalez serves as Gift of Life's Information Technology Director and has been affiliated with the organization for 18 years. He started as a volunteer in 1998, eventually becoming a full time team member in 2004. Prior to working at Gift of Life, Nelson worked as Network Administrator for Seta Corporation in Boca Raton, Florida. In his role here, Nelson is in charge of all computer network infrastructure and systems.
In addition to his duties overseeing Information Technology at Gift of Life, Nelson also serves as the organization's Contingency and Disaster Planning Officer. Nelson is a trained courier and periodically volunteers his time on behalf of transplant centers to transport bone marrow around the world. Nelson also periodically volunteers his time at donor recruitment drives for patients in need. "It's a pleasure to work with the Gift of Life family," he says. "I am honored to play a role in helping to save lives along with my colleagues."
Nelson earned his Associate's in Business Administration from Seminole Community College and is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, Certified Novell Administrator, and an A+ Certified PC Technician.
ELIZABETH CREWS, MT(ASCP), CTBS, CQA(ASQ)
Elizabeth serves as Gift of Life's Director of Quality and Regulatory Compliance. The Quality Department oversees quality systems and regulatory compliance for the organization and ensures that the products and services provided by Gift of Life are safe, are effective, and meet the needs of our patients.
Elizabeth earned her Bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh and began her in career Laboratory Medicine. Elizabeth has 20+ years of experience working in operations, quality assurance, and regulatory compliance at non-profit blood and tissue banks. Elizabeth is a Licensed Medical Technologist, Certified Tissue Bank Specialist (AATB), and a Certified Quality Auditor (ASQ).
Shijo Joseph has been with Gift of Life since 2010. Shijo oversees MatchQuest, the powerful and flexible system that manages all facets of the organization’s daily operations. MatchQuest’s uniquely tailored technology enables Gift of Life to ensure that transplant centers searching for a match on behalf of a patient in need are serviced as quickly as possible, while maintaining the strict quality standards imposed by FDA regulations. Shijo earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Computer Application.
Board of Directors:
William Begal, Chairman
President, Begal Enterprises
Jay Feinberg, President and CEO
Gift of Life Marrow Registry
Warren Eisenberg, Secretary, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman
Bed, Bath & Beyond, Inc
Ellen Brody, Esq, CPA, Treasurer and Partner
Roberts and Holland LLP
Edward Blumenfeld, Director, President, CEO and Founder
Blumenfeld Development Group
Martin Levion, Director and Managing Partner
Integral Investment Capital
Chaim Motzen, Director
Jason Ostheimer , Director, Co-Founder and Partner
Sam Rosen, Director, Founder and CEO
Stephen Siegel, Director and Chairman
Global Brokerage, CBRE
Ruth Spector, MD, Director and Medical Director,
Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center
Jonathan Struhl, Director, General Partner
Medical and Scientific Advisory Board:
Bruce Lenes, MD , Medical Director, Donor Services
Gift of Life Marrow Registry
Michael W. Schuster, MD , Medical Director, Gift of Life Marrow Registry; Director, Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation;Director, Hematologic Malignancies
Stony Brook Cancer Center
Hugo Fernandez, MD, Chair, Malignant Hematology and Cellular Therapy
Memorial Healthcare System
Usama Gergis, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College; Assistant Attending Physician, Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology
New York Presbyterian Hospital
Michele Donato, MD, Chief, Adult Blood and Marrow Stem Cell Transplantation Program
John Theurer Cancer Center
Ruth Koester, Ph.D, Scientist and Director
Laboratory Corporationof America
Peter Miller, MD, Medical Director
LifeSouth Community Blood Center
Jay Feinberg, President and CEO
Gift of Life Marrow Registry
Lindsey Greenberg, RN Director of Donor Services
Gift of Life Marrow Registry
Avi Karesh, of blessed memory
Honorary Board Members:
Charles R. Bronfman
Evie Goldfine, Senior Advisor
Founding Board Members:
Arlene Feinberg, of blessed memory
Jacob Feinberg, of blessed memory