The Death with Dignity National Center Board of Directors comprises
- George Eighmey, JD, President (Oregon)
- Carol Pratt, JD, Vice President (Oregon)
- Eli Stutsman, JD, Secretary (Oregon)
- Midge Levy, ACSW (Washington)
- Lisa Vigil Schattinger, MSN, RN (Ohio)
- Deborah Ziegler (California)
Following a stint in the Air Force and education in business administration and law, George practiced law for nearly 30 years, in Illinois and Oregon.
As an Oregon state representative, from 1993 to 1999, George was not only a minority whip, vice-chair of judiciary committee, and his party’s liaison to the governor’s office, but also a staunch advocate for the groundbreaking Death with Dignity Act. During the 1997 campaign George debated and blocked opponents across the state, helped block the opponents in the legislature, and cheered with all Oregonians on gaining the option to die with dignity.
After the law was implemented, George assumed a leadership role as the executive director of Compassion in Dying of Oregon, which later became Compassion & Choices of Oregon. After 12 years helping more than 1,600 terminally ill Oregonians navigate Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, George retired in 2010.
George joined the Death with Dignity National Center board in 2013. He has traveled overseas and around the U.S. on our behalf to educate legislators, opinion-makers, journalists, terminally ill patients, and others on Oregon’s unblemished record of implementing the law. Most recently, he worked with legislators in Vermont and California to pass their state’s own Death with Dignity laws.
Carol Pratt is a practicing attorney at Lee & Hayes.
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 lived in Portland, Oregon, 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 Oregon Law Review article, “Efforts to Legalize Physician Assisted Suicide in New York, Washington, and Oregon: A Contrast Between Judicial and Initiative Approaches — Who Should Decide?”.
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 Stutsman is a practicing attorney in Portland, Oregon. He was the lead author of 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, Lee v. State of Oregon, spanning 1994 to 1997.
He later prevailed against the United States Attorney General and the Drug Enforcement Administration in a second round of federal court litigation, Oregon v. Ashcroft / Gonzales v. Oregon, 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).
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.
Midge Levy has a background in medical and geriatric social work at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and social work administration at a Group Health Cooperative Home Care and Hospice program.
She worked on Initiative 119, Washington State’s Death with Dignity Campaign, which would have legalized physician-assisted dying for qualified, terminally ill patients. Levy was a consultant to the National Association of Social Workers on their End of Life Policy developed in 1993.
Lisa grew up in Oregon and attended Linfield College. After earning her B.S. in Biology she worked in an Internal Medicine Office. In the early 1990’s, she followed and supported the push for Oregon Death with Dignity legislation.
In 1993, she moved to Budapest to work as a regional financial project manager for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She moved to the greater Cleveland, Ohio area in 1997 where she attended the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University, earning an MSN. She then worked as an RN and a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner.
In 2014, Lisa’s stepfather, Dr. Jack Rowe, died peacefully using physician prescribed medication permitted by Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. This sharpened her desire to bring Death with Dignity style laws to other states. In 2015, she founded Ohio End of Life Options and serves as its executive director. Lisa has also written numerous newspaper articles on the topic and spoken widely at conferences and medical schools.
Deborah Ziegler was born in New Mexico and moved to Dallas as a small child. In Texas, Deborah graduated from Stephen F. Austin, the oldest teaching university in the state, with her MA in Education. In 1980 Deborah relocated to southern California and obtained her Masters in Science Education, continuing to teach in public and private schools until making an abrupt career change into semiconductor sales. By 1990 was the top salesperson in the United States for OKI Semiconductor. Deborah went on to start her own woman-owned engineering services firm in Los Angeles, managing up to 40 engineers.
Mothering her only child, Brittany Maynard, is without a doubt Deborah’s proudest accomplishment. When her daughter was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, Deborah was thrust into a situation where all of her child-hood teachings were brought into question. As she loved and cared for Brittany, Deborah was shocked to realize that a deep injustice prevailed in the United States where terminally-ill patients had different end of life options based solely on where they lived. Deborah (and husband Gary) moved their beloved Brittany to Oregon where she could qualify for the Death with Dignity law. The family was thrust into the public eye, when Brittany and her mother spoke in a YouTube video about her impending death.
In the year after her daughter’s death, Deborah was very involved in speaking before California legislators and with the media on behalf of the End of Life Option Act which went into effect in 2016. Deborah wrote a memoir entitled Wild and Precious Life in honor of Brittany’s brave choice to die as she had lived: thoughtfully and purposefully. As she promised Brittany she would, Deborah speaks and testifies before legislators (even when her voice shakes) for the rights of terminally-ill patients to seek a peaceful physician-assisted death.
Death with Dignity Political Fund
The Board of Directors of the Death with Dignity Political Fund, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, is nearly identical as the National Center’s, excluding Deborah Ziegler and including
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.