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Death with Dignity National Center Board & Staff
Board of Directors
Steve Telfer, President – Steve Telfer is a long-time lobbyist working on state and national levels and participating in a variety of state and local government task forces. Telfer has served as Chair of the Oregon Public Employees' Retirement System and Vice Chairman of the Oregon Investment Council. He was also a member of the Oregon Workers' Compensation Management Labor Advisory Committee. Telfer joined the healthcare field in 1987 as Vice President of Good Samaritan Hospital and Health Center in Portland. He also played a prominent role in the creation of Legacy Health System.
David J. Mayo, PhD, Vice President – David Mayo was Professor of Philosophy and Faculty Associate of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. He also served on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Suicidology and co-authored Suicide: The Philosophical Issues. He received his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Reed College, and his PhD in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. He began teaching at the University of Minnesota in 1966 and became interested in bioethics in 1974, when he participated in a six week summer seminar in bioethics sponsored by the Council for Philosophical Studies. In 1985 he was a Visiting Exxon Fellow in Clinical Medical Ethics at the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. During leaves from his position at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, Professor Mayo has taught at Macalester College in St. Paul, and at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and held Visiting Scholar appointments at both Macalester College and the School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University. He has served on the boards of directors of the American Association of Suicidology, the Midwest Chapter of the Hemlock Society, and the Death with Dignity Political Action Fund. His work in bioethics has focused largely on issues related to death and dying, privacy, and AIDS. Mayo is widely published on the subjects of death and dying.
Carol Pratt, PhD, JD, Treasurer – Carol Pratt is a practicing attorney in the Portland office of an international law firm, K&L Gates LLP. Carol’s legal practice focuses on FDA law, health law and bioethics. Before becoming a lawyer, Carol was a neuroscientist and conducted research focusing on spinal cord function for about 20 years at the National Institutes of Health, Purdue University and the Dow Neurological Sciences Institute. Carol was living in Portland, OR in 1994 when Oregon passed by ballot initiative the nation’s first, pioneering Death With Dignity law. The Death with Dignity campaign and subsequent legal challenges to Oregon’s law inspired her to become a lawyer, which she did in 1998. Carol is the author of the article, Efforts to Legalize Physician Assisted Suicide in New York, Washington, and Oregon: A Contrast Between Judicial and Initiative Approaches — Who Should Decide? 77 (4), Oregon Law Review, 1027-1124 (1998). She joined the board of the Oregon Death with Dignity Legal Defense and Education Center in 2000 and has continued since then as a board member of the Death with Dignity National Center.
Eli D. Stutsman, JD, Secretary – Eli Stutsman is a practicing attorney in Portland, Oregon. He co-authored the Oregon Death with Dignity Act in 1993 and served as the lead political and legal strategist during the 1994 campaign to pass the law and again during the 1997 campaign to defeat its repeal by the State Legislature. Stutsman successfully defended the Death with Dignity law in the first federal court challenge spanning 1994 to 1997. See Lee v. State of Oregon,107 F.3d 1382 (9th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 927 (1997). He later prevailed against the United States Attorney General and the Drug Enforcement Administration in a second round of federal court litigation spanning 2001-2006, in which he won an injunction against the United States Attorney General on behalf of a physician and a pharmacist, both threatened with criminal sanctions. On January 17, 2006, the United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the physician, pharmacist, and the State of Oregon. See Oregon v. Ashcroft, 192 F.Supp.2d 1077 (D.Or. 2002), 368 F.3d 1118 (9th Cir. 2004), Gonzales v. Oregon, 126 S.Ct. 904 (2006). Stutsman co-founded Oregon Right to Die in 1993, the political action committee that passed the Oregon Death with Dignity Act into law. He was the founding president of the Oregon Death with Dignity Legal Defense and Education Center in 1995 (which later merged with the Death with Dignity National Center), as well as the Oregon Death with Dignity Political Action Fund, founded in 2001. In 2007, Stutsman authored the Washington Death with Dignity Act, passed into law by Washington voters on November 4, 2008.
George Eighmey, JD, Officer – George was an Oregon state legislator in 1997 when opponents to the Death with Dignity Act were working to dismantle the citizen's initiative passed in 1994 and was instrumental in blocking the opponents in the legislature. After the law was implemented, George took up a leadership role as the executive director of Compassion in Dying of Oregon which later became Compassion & Choices of Oregon. After 12 years helping terminally ill patients navigate Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, George retired in 2010.
Edward Lowenstein, MD, Officer – Edward Lowenstein is the Henry Isaiah Dorr Professor of Anaesthesia and Professor of Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School and Provost of the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care at Massachusetts General Hospital. He led the formation of the world's first academic cardiac anesthesia group and provided anesthetic management of patients undergoing heart surgery for over three decades. In 1997-98, Lowenstein undertook a senior fellowship in the Harvard Division of Medical Ethics, concentrating his research on the drawbacks of depending on the doctrine of double effect to justify relieving suffering by hastening death at end of life. Since then, he has taught medical students end-of-life care, ethics and professionalism. Among his recent publications is (with S. Wanzer) the widely cited 2002 New England Journal of Medicine article, "The US Attorney General's intrusion into medical practice." He has lectured widely on end-of-life care and assisted dying, including the 2003 Peter and Eva Safar Lecture in the Medical Humanities entitled "Ethics, Physicians and Relief of Intolerable Suffering: Lessons from the Oregon Death with Dignity Act." He was the physician, along with three philosophers and two lawyers, who wrote the Philosopher's Amicus Curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Gonzales v Oregon. He serves on the Board of the Greater Boston Chapter of Compassion and Choices. Dr. Lowenstein received the 2005 Silen Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award at Harvard Medical School.
Peg Sandeen, PhD, MSW, Executive Director – Peg Sandeen is the Executive Director of the Death with Dignity National Center (DDNC) and a native Iowan. She earned her PhD in Social Work and Social Research from Portland State University and her master's degree in Social Work from the University of Iowa. Sandeen is an experienced direct practice social worker, specializing in issues related to terminal illness and end-of-life processes. She has an extensive background in policy analysis and strategic leadership for policy reform efforts through both ballot initiative and legislative means. Prior to her engagement with DDNC, she was the Executive Director of the AIDS Project of Central Iowa. As a result of her exploration of complex ethical, legal and medical issues related to social work, Sandeen was named a Price Fellow in HIV Prevention Leadership by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her scholarly and professional efforts focus on health-related ethical concerns, particularly end-of-life decision-making, and the impact of public opinion on policy reform. Sandeen joined DDNC in March 2005.
Terry Miley, Director of Finance & Operations – Terry Miley graduated from Portland State University with a Master's degree in Public Administration. Her BA is from George Fox University where she majored in Human Resources Management. Terry's particular area of study and interest has been nonprofit administration where she has dedicated her career for the past fifteen years. For the last seven years, she held the position of Fiscal Director for a large homeless organization. Terry's father passed away from a terminal illness in January 2004. Terry became one of his support persons during his six months in a hospice program and was by his side when he passed away. Terry's other interests and passions include her three children, volunteering at local school districts, continuing professional education and spending time with her friends and extended family. Terry joined the DDNC in October 2004.
Melissa Barber, Electronic Communications Specialist – A native Idahoan, Melissa has called Oregon home for over half her life. She joins the DDNC team after ten years of volunteering and working for the local nonprofit Friends of Trees, with a two-year break serving as a Health Education volunteer with the Peace Corps in the West African nation of Mali. Prior to the Peace Corps, Melissa worked as the operations manager and in-house techie for Arcadia Investment Advisors. Throughout her career she has striven to find new ways to connect people, build community, and use technology to heighten the awareness of important causes like DDNC. She graduated with a BS in Biology from Pacific University. Melissa joined DDNC in May 2010.
DeVida Johnson, Development Manager – DeVida relocated to Portland from the Burlington, Vermont area. She is a graduate of Wellesley College with a degree in French. She comes to DDNC from the Humane Society of Chittenden County (HSCC) where she worked for 9 years in their fundraising and public relations department. It was her passion and love for animals that inspired her to first volunteer and then become a staff member. At HSCC she worked to increase the community's awareness of animal welfare issues and to fulfill HSCC's Mission of teaching compassion and respect for all living beings, reducing animal suffering, and encouraging responsible care for companion animals. It's there that she developed her fundraising skills through event planning, annual appeals, and collaborating with the media. In January 1996, she lost her mother to lung cancer. Witnessing her mother's struggle with such a debilitating disease spurred her support of an individual's right to die a good and dignified death. Upon moving to Portland she pursued the opportunity to work at DDNC in support of this right and joined us in March 2008. In her free time DeVida bikes, hikes, bakes, studies West African Dance, spoils the animals in her life, and enjoys discovering all that Oregon has to offer.
Pete Hybertsen, Outreach Supervisor – Pete grew up in New Jersey, though his family has been in Oregon for decades, and he moved to Portland after a year in London studying modernist literature. Having seen relatives struggle needlessly at the end of their lives, he quickly identified with Death with Dignity. Pete earned a BA in English from Pomona College and enjoys baseball, music, and putting words on blank pages.
Shaun Fairlee, Outreach Coordinator – Originally from Colorado, Shaun was attracted to Portland's unique culture after stints in many other American cities. He began working for Death with Dignity due to his strong belief in personal choice, and is the organization's longest-tenured employee. In his spare time, Shaun paints, writes, and practices yoga.
Defend dignity. Take action.
You are the key to ensuring well-crafted Death with Dignity laws for all Americans. With your financial and volunteer help, the Death with Dignity National Center, a 501(c)(3), non-partisan, non-profit organization, has been the leading advocate in the death with dignity movement. Member contributions helped us pass a new Death with Dignity law in Washington, defend the Oregon law, and provide education and outreach programs for the vitality of the death with dignity movement.