Executive Staff

Michael R. Cohen, RPh, MS, ScD (hon.), DPS (hon.), FASHP
Michael R. Cohen, RPh, MS, ScD (hon.), DPS (hon.), FASHP, is president of The Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a non-profit healthcare organization that specializes in understanding the causes of medication errors and providing error-reduction strategies to the healthcare community, policy makers, and the public. He is editor of the textbook, Medication Errors (American Pharmaceutical Association) and serves as co-editor of the ISMP Medication Safety Alert! publications that reach over 2 million health  professionals and consumers in the US, as well as regulatory authorities and others in over 30 foreign countries. He is editor for the ISMP consumer website, and writes a guest column called Check-Up that appears weekly on the Philadelphia Inquirer website and occasionally in the Inquirer’s Sunday Health section. Dr. Cohen previously served as Vice Chair of the Patient Safety Advisory Group for the Joint Commission (creates the National Patient Safety Goals) and currently serves as a consultant to FDA and a member of the Non-prescription Drug Advisory Committee (NDAC). In 2005 he was recognized as a MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In 2008, The Joint Commission and National Quality Forum awarded Dr. Cohen the prestigious John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award in recognition of his life-long professional commitment to promoting safe medication use and a safe medication delivery system. In 2014 he was made an honorary member of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).
Allen J. Vaida, PharmD, FASHP
Executive Vice President
Allen Vaida previously served as director of pharmacy, assistant vice president and director of pharmacy, vice president of clinical operations, and chief operating officer at Mercy Suburban Hospital in Norristown, PA. He has served on the boards of several healthcare organizations, including as a trustee for ISMP from its incorporation as a nonprofit organization in 1994 until his employment at ISMP in 2000. Dr. Vaida served on the United States Pharmacopeia's Safe Medication Use Expert Committee from 2000 through 2005, was a member of the FDA’s Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee, and still serves as special government employee. He is a clinical assistant professor at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, adjunct assistant professor at Temple University School of Pharmacy, and adjunct associate professor for the Centers for Health Policy and Primary Care and Outcomes Research at Stanford University and Stanford University School of Medicine. He has published numerous articles and given professional presentations on hospital and pharmacy systems and management, error prevention strategies, healthcare outcomes, integrated systems and interdisciplinary collaboration. Dr. Vaida received a BS in Biology from the University of Scranton, a BS in Pharmacy from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, and a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Minnesota.
Judy Smetzer, RN, BSN
Vice President
Prior to joining ISMP, Judy Smetzer served as associate vice president at St. Luke's Quakertown Hospital in Quakertown, PA. During her 30-year career, Ms. Smetzer has advanced from a staff nurse to various management positions, increasingly focusing on quality improvement and risk management. She has served as a risk management consultant for a long-term and community-based healthcare organizations, published many articles on medication error prevention in peer-reviewed journals, and is a contributing author of the handbook Mosby’s Nursing PDQ for Medication Safety. Ms. Smetzer serves as an author and editor of ISMP’s four newsletters for acute care providers, nurses, ambulatory/community care providers, and consumers. She also is an adjunct assistant professor at Temple University School of Pharmacy, teaching a course on medication error surveillance and control planning. Ms. Smetzer received a BSN from Cedar Crest College.
Susan F. Paparella, RN, MSN
Vice President
Before joining ISMP, Susan spent over 20 years in the acute care setting, as the Director for Critical Care and Emergency Services then as the Director for Hospital-wide Quality Improvement, Risk Management, and Education. Since 2000, Susan has directed and performed onsite medication safety risk assessments and root cause analyses for hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the US and Canada. She frequently participates in the investigation of medication safety issues specific to adult populations; specifically around oncology and critical care/emergency care practice. Susan serves as part-time faculty in the Temple University School of Pharmacy, and at Virginia Commonwealth University in their Executive Patient Safety Fellowship Program. She is the immediate past chairperson of the Emergency Nurses Association’s (ENA’s) Patient Safety Committee, and their LUNAR III research group. She also is the author and section editor of Danger Zone, which is a regular column on medication safety in the Journal of Emergency Nursing. Susan graduated with honors from Villanova University, is a member of the American Association of Hospital Risk Managers (ASHRM), Sigma Theta Tau International, and the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Ronald S. Litman, D.O.
Medical Director
Dr. Ron Litman is a pediatric anesthesiologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Professor of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the Chair of the hospital’s Sedation Committee, the Vice-Chair of the Conflict of Interest Committee, and a member of the Therapeutics & Standards Committee. He became a crusader for safer medication practices after investigating a fatal medication error in a child during anesthesia. Dr. Litman attended medical school at the NY College of Osteopathic Medicine, completed a residency in pediatrics at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, OH, anesthesiology residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, and fellowship in pediatric anesthesia and critical care at CHOP. From 1991 to 2001 he was Director of Pediatric Anesthesia at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY, and returned to Philadelphia in 2001.
Russell H. Jenkins, MD
Medical Director Emeritus
Russ Jenkins was previously director of respiratory therapy at St. Luke's Quakertown Hospital in Quakertown, PA, where he also served as chairman of the pharmacy and therapeutics committee. In addition, he was affiliated with Grand View Hospital in Sellersville, PA, and the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA. In the past, Dr. Jenkins has served as clinical professor of medicine at Hahnemann Hospital and Temple University School of Medicine, clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and clinical associate professor at St. Francis de Sales University. He was president and a founding member of Quaker Pointe PHO. Dr. Jenkins received a MD from Temple University and is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Healthcare Professional Staff

Michael J. Gaunt, PharmD
Medication Safety Analyst

Editor, ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Community/Ambulatory Care Edition
Michael Gaunt coordinates ISMP's role in the ISMP Medication Errors Reporting Program (MERP), a confidential national voluntary medication error reporting program. He also serves as the editor of the monthly ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Community/Ambulatory Care Edition newsletter. Dr. Gaunt is a Clinical Analyst for the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS), a statewide adverse event and near miss reporting system. He has authored and reviewed articles for the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory and has published articles in the pharmacy literature, including regular columns in Pharmacy Times and America’s Pharmacist. Dr. Gaunt represents ISMP on the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCC MERP). He is a preceptor for Doctor of Pharmacy candidates from Temple University School of Pharmacy. Dr. Gaunt has worked in patient care positions in outpatient and inpatient settings at Madison Center and Hospital, a community mental health center in South Bend, IN. His past pharmacy experience primarily consists of work in retail community pharmacy. Dr. Gaunt received a BA in History from the University of Notre Dame and a Doctor of Pharmacy with a Certificate in Drug Safety from Temple University.
Jennifer Lynn Gold, BSN, MSN, OCN
Medication Safety Analyst 
Before coming to ISMP, Jennifer L. Gold practiced oncology nursing for 14 years at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania, a 671 bed teaching hospital in Philadelphia. Her area of specialization has been adult oncology with a primary focus on the care of patients requiring bone marrow transplantation. Ms. Gold is also an experienced educator, having served for three years as a clinical instructor at La Salle University School of Nursing in Philadelphia. Ms. Gold received her BSN from West Chester University in West Chester, PA and her MSN from La Salle University in Philadelphia, PA. She is a member of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) and maintains her Oncology Nurse Certification through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC). At ISMP Ms. Gold is responsible for development and operation of the ISMP website for consumers, She also oversees review of all consumer-generated medication error reports and analyzes all MedWatch reports received from the US Food and Drug Administration via a standing Freedom of Information Act request, under a cooperative agreement between ISMP and FDA.
Matthew Grissinger, RPh, FISMP, FASCP
Director of Error Reporting Programs
Matthew Grissinger is the Director of Error Reporting Programs at ISMP as well as the Manager of Medication Safety Analysis for the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority (Pa-PSA). He is a frequent speaker on pharmacy topics and current issues in medication safety. He has published numerous articles in the pharmacy literature, including regular columns in P&T and the PSA Patient Safety Advisory and is a journal reviewer for Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, and Annals of Internal Medicine. Mr. Grissinger serves on the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCC MERP), the National Quality Form (NQF) Common Formats Expert Panel, the Editorial Board for P&T, the Faculty Advisory Board for the Pharmacy Learning Network (PLN) and the Publications Advisory Board for Davis’s Drug Guide for Nurses. He also served on the United States Pharmacopeia’s (USP) Safe Medication Use Expert Committee from 2005-2010, the FDA Proprietary Name Review Concept Paper workshop panel in 2008 and the Naming, Labeling, and Packaging Practices to Minimize Medication Errors workshop panel in 2010. Mr. Grissinger received a BS in Pharmacy from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science and is a fellow of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices as well as the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. Prior to joining ISMP, he served as a home care and long-term care pharmacy surveyor for the Joint Commission.
Arounsavanh Khemdy
Pharmacy Technician Analyst and Research Assistant
Aroun Khemdy is the Pharmacy Technician Analyst and Research Assistant for ISMP. Ms. Khemdy works in the medication error reporting department and supports the ISMP Medication Errors Reporting Program (MERP), a confidential national voluntary medication error reporting program. She is also an analyst for the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS), a statewide adverse event and near miss reporting system. Prior to joining ISMP, Ms. Khemdy worked for PharMerica in Plymouth Meeting, PA, and has over eleven years of experience as a pharmacy technician and a coder in medical records in the long-term care and correctional pharmacy settings.
Rebecca L. Lamis, PharmD
Medication Safety Analyst
Becky came to ISMP from Wesley Medical Center, a 760-bed, acute-care, teaching hospital, located in Wichita, Kansas.  Becky completed a pharmacy practice residency at Wesley Medical Center where she gained clinical experience in adult medicine, both adult and pediatric critical care, research/grantsmanship, and medication safety.  Becky received a BA in Biology and Spanish from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, and her PharmD from the University of Iowa in May of 2008.  She completed an ISMP Safe Medication Management Fellowship in 2010.
Michelle Mandrack, RN, MSN
Director of Consulting Services

Michelle Mandrack is the Director of Consulting Services at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. Prior to joining ISMP in 2001, Michelle spent over 20 years as a nurse in acute care settings in a variety of clinical and managerial roles. She was the Director of Maternal Child Health and subsequently, the Director of Nursing at Mercy Suburban Hospital in Norristown, PA.   In her present position, Michelle manages ISMP’s consulting services as well as performs onsite medication risk-assessments and root-cause analyses for hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the US. She has frequently participated in the analysis of medication safety issues specific to the pediatric and neonatal populations. Michelle also performs medication-related technology assessments including CPOE, pharmacy, and barcode medication administration systems. She has participated in several state-wide medication safety collaboratives, and co-created the Rural Hospital Medication Safety Connections Program.  Michelle leads ISMP’s Practitioner in Residence and International Mentorship programs and regularly provides educational offerings to healthcare professionals related to medication safety risk assessment and development of error reduction strategies. Michelle serves as part-time faculty at Temple University School of Pharmacy. She received her BSN from Thomas Jefferson University and her MSN from Drexel University and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Christina Michalek, BSc Pharm, RPh, FASHP
Medication Safety Specialist
Christina Michalek is a Medication Safety Specialist at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. She works collaboratively with health-system leaders and clinical staff participating in proactive risk assessments, targeted risk assessments, root cause analysis, and failure mode and effects analysis, in order to define and improve medication safety initiatives. Under contract to the Patient Safety Authority, she is a Patient Safety Analyst for the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System, a statewide adverse event and near miss reporting system. Christina has more than 20 years of acute care hospital pharmacy experience involving clinical practice and management. She served as Director of Pharmacy at Lehigh Valley Health Network and as Director of Pharmacy at Doylestown Hospital. During this time, she also served as a Consultant with the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. Chris has volunteered on several professional and advisory boards, educated a variety of community groups, and has presented at national, local, and state meetings. She is a residency-trained graduate of the University of the Sciences’ Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and a fellow of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
Darryl S. Rich, PharmD, MBA, FASHP
Medication Safety Specialist
Prior to joining ISMP, Darryl Rich was a surveyor for The Joint Commission in the hospital, home care, and ambulatory accreditation programs. In addition, he worked for the Standards Interpretation Group serving as an internal resource for The Joint Commission related to pharmacy and medication management . Dr. Rich  served as Field Director for Surveyor Management and Development at The Joint Commission prior to becoming a surveyor.  Before starting at The Joint Commission in 1993, Dr. Rich was National Director of Pharmacy Services for Critical Care America, Inc., a national home infusion company. He previously served as Director of Pharmacy Services at Boston University Medical Center and Clinical Assistant Professor of Pharmacy at Northeastern University.  Dr. Rich is an active member and Fellow in the American Society of Health System Pharmacists and a past President of the New England Council of Health-System Pharmacists. He has received numerous awards, given over 640 invited presentations and has authored 76 publications in refereed journals, including eight books and four video series.  Dr. Rich received his Bachelor of Science from The University of California at Davis, his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of California at San Francisco and a Master’s in Business Administration in Health Care Management from Bryant University in Rhode Island.
Ann D. Shastay, RN, MSN, AOCN
Managing Editor
Ann Shastay joined the staff of ISMP in July 2008, bringing with her 20 years of oncology nursing experience in both the acute care and outpatient office/clinic settings. Prior to joining ISMP, Ms. Shastay worked for 10 years at Holy Redeemer Hospital in Meadowbrook, PA where she was the Director of the Bott Cancer Center and also managed their inpatient oncology unit. Prior to attaining that position, she worked as an inpatient Clinical Nurse Specialist educating nurses on the safe administration of chemotherapy, developing competency programs, writing and reviewing policies and procedures, serving on various committees, presenting community outreach programs, and developing numerous patient education materials. Ms. Shastay received both her BSN and Masters of Science in Nursing from Widener University, Chester, PA. She also maintains her Advanced Oncology Certification (AOCN) designation through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC). Ms. Shastay is Managing Editor of publications at ISMP and oversees the production of all 5 newsletters. She was the project lead for developing the 2012 ISMP International Medication Safety Self Assessment for Oncology. Occasionally, Ms. Shastay will participate in onsite consults and assists in other projects as needed.
Hedy G. Cohen RN, MS
Clinical Consulting Nurse
Hedy Cohen has more than 18 years clinical nursing background in critical care and nursing management. She is a frequent speaker on current issues in medication safety and has authored numerous articles on improving the medication use process. She also has co-authored a handbook on high-alert drugs; and is on the national advisory boards for Nursing Advance and Davis's Drug Guide for Nurses. She is a part-time instructor at Jefferson University School of Pharmacy. Ms. Cohen received a BSN from LaSalle University, a MS in Health Systems Administration from the Rochester Institute for Technology, and has done doctoral work in health policy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

ISMP Safe Medication Management Fellows

Ghadeer Banasser, PharmD, CPHQ
2016-2017 ISMP Safe Medication Management Fellow
Ghadeer received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from King Abdulaziz University-Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2010. She joined King Abdulaziz Medical City-Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2011 as a Pharmacy Practice resident and received her Saudi Specialty Certificate in Clinical Pharmacy Practice in 2013. Later, she was appointed as a Pharmacy Quality Management Specialist and served on the regional Medication Safety Program. She received a patient safety trainer certificate from the Patient Safety Education Program – Canada (PSEP – Canada) in 2013 and the Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) certification by the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) in 2015.
Viktoriya Ingram, PharmD
2017 - 2018 ISMP Safe Medication Management Fellow
Supported by Baxter International Inc.
Viktoriya received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 2011. She worked as a Consultant Pharmacist with Consonus Healthcare in California from 2012-2017. In her work for Consonus, she provided medication regimen reviews and medication handling audits for long term care facilities and worked with interdisciplinary teams to improve medication effectiveness and safety. She also served on Quality Assurance, Pharmaceutical Services, Infection Control, Patient Care Policies, and Antimicrobial Stewardship interdisciplinary committees. Her interests include medication and patient safety, creating educational tools, teaching, and learning about international medication safety programs.
David Valentine, PharmD
2017-2018 ISMP Safe Medication Management Fellow
Major David Valentine’s fellowship is supported by the United States Air Force (USAF). He attended University of Midwestern College of Pharmacy in Glendale, AZ where he earned his Doctorate of Pharmacy in 2011. Upon graduation, he entered active duty service in the USAF where he has worked in community and inpatient pharmacy settings. During this time, he initiated collaborative practice agreements within the medical treatment facility and helped treat patients involving hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes in an ambulatory practice setting. Additionally, he managed a tobacco cessation clinic which helps patients quit using a multidisciplinary approach. 
Barbrakaryne N. Nchinda Fobi, PharmD,MPH
ISMP International Medication Safety Management Fellow
Sponsored by Baxter International Inc.
Barbrakaryne N. Nchinda Fobi, originally from Cameroon (Central Africa), completed her pharmacy pre-requisites at Cañada College and proceeded to receive a dual PharmD/MPH degree from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Working with Baltimore City Health Department, her thesis evaluated adherence to and effectiveness of the STD identification management protocol. After graduation she worked for UPMC Pinnacle Hanover and CVS where she participated in drug utilization reviews, therapeutic drug monitoring, and patient counseling on safe medication use. In her spare time, you can find her traveling, sewing, or reading.
Vivek Brahmbhatt, PharmD
2017-2018 FDA/ISMP Safe Medication Management Fellow
Vivek Brahmbhatt received his Doctor of Pharmacy from Temple University in 2014. During his time at Temple University, he was heavily involved with the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association (PPA). Vivek served as the Fundraising co-chair for APhA, as well as Vice-President for PPA. After graduating from Temple University, he was a pharmacist at an independent pharmacy in Chicago, IL for approximately 6 months. Vivek then moved on to working as a clinical pharmacist for Kindred Hospital in Mishawaka, IN. While working at Kindred Hospital in Mishawaka, IN, he served on the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, Patient Safety and Reliability Committee, and Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee. Serving on the various committees gave him a deeper understanding of the importance of patient safety and led him to pursue a FDA/ISMP fellowship. He hopes to make a difference on a larger scale to prevent medication errors and patient harm.


Renee Brehio, MA
Public and Media Relations
Renee Brehio manages ISMP’s public relations, media and marketing activities, including the Institute’s online press room. Ms. Brehio has more than 12 years of experience in healthcare communications, including planning and implementing large-scale public education campaigns. She has worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, several healthcare nonprofit associations, and one of the world’s largest public relations agencies. Medical issues and conditions that she has helped promote better awareness of include AIDS/HIV, breast and cervical cancer, and medication errors. Ms. Brehio earned her BA and MA degrees in English and Communications from Georgetown University.
Rachel Cohen, MS, RD
Business Manager and Project Coordinator
Rachel Cohen oversees the financial and human resources operations at ISMP. She also plans, coordinates and manages various projects and educational programs such as teleconferences, educational symposia, and meetings, and works with the Institute’s Board of Trustees. Prior to joining ISMP, Ms. Cohen served as a Clinical Dietitian in the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia, PA. Her specialty was solid organ transplantation. Ms. Cohen has also served as a consultant dietitian for several home care agencies. Ms. Cohen received a BS in Liberal Studies from West Chester University and completed a coordinated undergraduate program in dietetics at Immaculata College. She received a MS in Health Education from Saint Joseph University.
Thomas J. Moore
Senior Scientist, Drug Safety and Policy
Thomas J. Moore is senior scientist, drug safety and policy, at ISMP. He has spent more than a decade as a researcher, writer and lecturer on the risks and benefits of prescription drugs. He is the author of four books about medical care, including two examining the nation's system for minimizing the dangers of prescription drugs. Deadly Medicine (Simon & Schuster, 1995) was an investigation of the nation's worst drug disaster in which tens of thousands of heart patients died from the inappropriate use of drugs for irregular heartbeats. Prescription for Disaster (Simon & Schuster, 1998) sounded the alarm about the nation's failure to take adequate measures to minimize the risks of prescription drugs. He is also author of numerous articles about medication error and drug safety for peer reviewed scientific journals as well as the magazine articles for the general public. . Prior to focusing on drug policy issues, he was a prize-winning investigative reporter in Washington, and worked on the U.S. Senate staff.
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