Board of Directors

As a corporately driven organization, the MedTech Board of Directors is comprised of senior officers of our member companies. 

Sarah Oliker, Chair

Sarah Oliker, Chair

Assistant General Counsel and Assistant Secretary, CONMED Corporation

Sarah Oliker is the assistant general counsel and assistant secretary at CONMED Corporation. In this role, she advises on international and domestic distribution matters, health care provider arrangements and provides strategic counsel on day-to-day matters affecting CONMED’s business. Oliker has more than 15 years of healthcare experience. Prior to CONMED, she served as senior counsel for ProCure Treatment Centers, Inc., where she structured complex physician arrangements and hospital joint ventures, provided health care regulatory and reimbursement counsel, as well as overseeing the Corporate Compliance Program. Prior to ProCure, Oliker spent five years with Epstein Becker & Green in its Health Care & Life Sciences group based in Washington, D.C., where her practice consisted of health regulatory and transactional matters, representing clients from all verticals of the health care industry. She is currently admitted to practice in Washington, D.C. and New York and is a member of the American Health Lawyers Association. She also serves as president of the Syracuse University Law Alumni Association. Oliker holds a bachelor’s from Colgate University and earned her JD at Syracuse University College of Law.  

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Jeff Champagne, MBA, Vice Chair

Jeff Champagne, MBA

Champagne Strategic Advisors, LLC

Jeff joined Kohler Co. in Sept of 2020 as the General Manager of Emerging Categories, coming from MPR Associates, Inc., where he was the Director of Business Development.  Jeff oversees Smart Home and MedTech solutions as part of the Emerging Category portfolio. He brings 13 years of experience in medical device R&D innovation and 20 years of sales and marketing leadership in healthcare and innovative ecosystems.  Jeff brings solid experiences in both well-established and start-up organizations, with strong bias for growth.  He developed relationships with business leaders and coached his clients to improve their productivity and profitability by defining roadmaps, navigating obstacles, and reaching objectives to speed up commercialization efforts.   

Jeff is Board Vice Chair at MedTech Association, Syracuse, NY, Board Advisor at M2D2 Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center at UMass-Lowell, Lowell, MA, and is on the Life Science Screening Committee for Boston Harbor Angels, Boston, MA.  

Jeff earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration, Visual Communication Design degree from the University of Hartford Art School and an MBA in Marketing, Entrepreneurial Studies from the University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT.

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Jim Leggett, Treasurer

Jim Leggett

Plant Controller, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

Jim Leggett is a plant controller for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. In this role, he has financial responsibility for the Rensselaer Industrial Operations and Product Supply Group. Prior to Regeneron, Leggett was the global controller for the coated fabrics division of Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, a publicly-traded French multinational building products company. With more than 20 years of experience in finance and accounting, including 6 years in public accounting as an auditor, his specialties include telecommunications, manufacturing and biopharmaceuticals manufacturing. Leggett graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a bachelor's degree in Accounting. He has also held a Certified Public Accounting license since 1995.

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Kathi Durdon, Secretary

Kathi Durdon

Executive Director, CNY Biotech Accelerator

Kathi is Executive Director of the Central New York Biotech Accelerator (CNYBAC), a 50,000+ square foot state-of-the-art biotech commercialization and education facility located in Syracuse, NY. CNYBAC is operated by Upstate Medical University and is a NYS Certified Business Incubator licensing laboratory space to for-profit start-up companies. 

Kathi manages facility operations, develops programming to assist for-profit biotech innovators, serves as a mentor and is responsible for generating economic business development and collaborative innovation networking and educational partnerships.  

In addition to her position on the MedTech Board of Directors, she also serves on the Board of BIANYS, the Business Incubator Association of NYS. Previously, Kathi was the Clinical Affairs Manager at Welch Allyn, a medical device manufacturer, and Director of Clinical Trials at SUNY Upstate Medical University. Kathi serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Upstate Medical University and has presented to professional organizations on the topics of Human Factors Usability Validation, FDA Regulations, Clinical Research Good Clinical Practice process, and Medical Device Innovation. She is the NYS Chapter Chair as well as Medical Device Annual Conference Chair for the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA). Kathi holds Bachelor’s degrees in English and Anthropology and a Master’s degree in Business.  

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Directors

Ben Burton

Ben Burton

President & CEO, iuvo BioScience

Prior to co-founding iuvo BioScience and taking on the roles of President and CEO, Ben was Vice President of Quality for the Pharmaceutical, Solutions and External Manufacturing organizations of Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Prior to the acquisition of Bausch + Lomb by Valeant, Ben served as Global VP of Quality for the Pharmaceutical Business Unit, and was a member of the B+L Global Leadership Team.

Earlier in his career, he held the position of Director, Quality and Technical Services for Norwich Pharmaceuticals, responsible for driving new business development and revenue and leading the technical services organization in delivering customer projects, as well as heading up the site quality organization. Ben began his career with Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals as a Process Engineer, moving up to roles of increasing responsibility in Product Development, OTC Engineering (Cayey, PR) and Global Clinical Supplies.

Ben holds a BS from Carnegie Mellon University with a double major in Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, and a dual MS/MAT in Chemistry and Education from Binghamton University.

Elisabeth Cain

Elisabeth Cain

Director for Business Development, Center for Advanced Materials Processing, Clarkson University

Elisabeth Cain joined Clarkson’s Center for Advanced Materials Processing (CAMP) in May 2015. Before joining Clarkson University, she was Advancement Officer for Corporate Relations at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, and Director of Programs at the World Affairs Council in Hartford, CT. She also served as a corporate liaison officer for the Austrian Trade Commission in New York, NY supporting Austrian businesses exploring the US market for over a decade.

In her capacity as Director for Business Development at CAMP, Elisabeth Cain facilitates and establishes research collaborations between Clarkson University science and engineering faculty and New York State industry, particularly startups and small to medium-sized manufacturers who are looking for technical assistance with product development and innovation. CAMP is one of New York State’s Centers of Advanced Technology (CATs) and focuses on advanced materials science and materials processing. Working closely with other CATs and NYS MEP partners, CAMP promotes technology-led economic development and workforce development, significantly lowering the cost of corporate R&D goals for New York State industry. Over the last decade, CAMP reported $245 million in economic impact and created or helped retain 382 jobs through research collaborations with industry.

Elisabeth lived and traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East. She graduated with a Master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from New York University and continued to pursue a PhD in Central Asian Studies before embarking on a successful and fulfilling career in higher education and fundraising.

Chris Cassan

Chris Cassan

Director of Sales and Marketing, CO-AX Technology

Chris Cassan has been involved with sales leadership roles in Electronic Distribution industry with Arrow Electronics , Avnet Inc. , and its acquisitions since 1981 in the region .

His current position is to expand CO-AX's design and electronic contract manufacturing awareness and solutions in the United States. This initiative is to leverage the on-shoring resurgence for design, automation, and cost competitiveness using our North American supply chain.

Chris received his BSBA from Ohio University in Athens.

Saleem Cheeks

Saleem Cheeks

Vice President, Communications, AngioDynamics

Saleem M. Cheeks was named AngioDynamics’ Director of Communications in February 2018 bringing with him more than 16 years of private and public-sector experience in communications, community relations and politics. Prior to joining AngioDynamics, Mr. Cheeks served as a key member of the Mower public affairs practice, where he advised global corporations and non-profits, and developed award-winning communications strategies for major economic development projects. Prior to his role at Mower, Mr. Cheeks served in several key roles for a New York Governor including deputy director for legislative affairs and deputy press secretary. In addition, Mr. Cheeks provided communications support for several United States presidential candidates and served as a professional volunteer for the White House. Mr. Cheeks holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the State University of New York at Oswego.

Joe Chiapperi

Joe Chiapperi

Head of Assay, R&D, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics

Joe Chiapperi has been with Ortho Clinical Diagnostics for over 27 years and is currently Head of R&D for Clinical Labs Menu.  Prior to this he was Head of R&D for Transfusion Medicine.  Joe has extensive experience in new product development, program management, portfolio management, and strategic partnerships.  Joe has led numerous programs across Ortho’s business including in Immunohematology, Chemistry, Immunoassay, Lab Automation, and Commercial Excellence.  He is a certified process excellence black belt and holds several patents.  Joe is an alumnus of the University of Rochester where he earned an MBA from the Simon School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in Optics.

Dave Dinolfo

Dave Dinolfo

CPA/Principal, The Bonadio Group

Dave is a principal in the firm’s Commercial division.  Dave works closely with a wide array of clients including manufacturers, high tech companies, service providers, software companies, private equity firms, contractors, real estate/property management companies, and employee benefit plans.

Dave’s responsibilities include the overall coordination and management of financial statement audits and other attest services including financial statement reviews, compilations and agreed-upon procedures engagements.   In addition to performing attest services, Dave also has considerable experience in merger & acquisition due diligence, consulting, and transaction-based projects.

Dave received both his B.S. degree in Accounting and his M.B.A. from St. Bonaventure University. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. 

Zachary Forward

Zachary Forward

Partner, Barclay Damon

With an MBA and BS in business, working as a business attorney is a natural extension of Zach's passion for collaborating with visionary leaders. Zach has served businesses ranging from sole proprietorships and start-ups to multinational corporations, helping them navigate legal issues from formation through growth to eventual exit. He routinely provides business and corporate advice and drafts and negotiates agreements; manages mergers and acquisitions, reorganizations, restructurings, and dissolutions; and handles diverse corporate transactions, entity formations, and general corporate entity maintenance for both privately and publicly held companies. While providing legal counsel for various mergers and acquisitions, Zach acts as a liaison between his clients and the firm's tax, real estate, environmental, regulatory, and labor and employment attorneys to provide comprehensive advice. Zach also represents both growing and established businesses in a number of regulated industries, including energy, health care, and cannabis. In addition to his own practice, Zach serves as a member of the firm's Diversity Partner Committee.

Brian Gerling

Brian Gerling

Executive Director, Innovation Law Center, Syracuse University

College of Law alumnus Brian J. Gerling is the new executive director of the Innovation Law Center (ILC). Gerling, who brings nearly two decades of intellectual property and commercial litigation experience to the role, takes the helm from M. Jack Rudnick L’73, who will remain engaged with the ILC as senior advisor.

Gerling most recently served the College of Law as an adjunct professor, teaching innovation law and technology law courses. In his new role, he will continue to teach as a member of the College of Law faculty. He also will retain his Of Counsel affiliation with Syracuse-based law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC, where his practice focuses on IP, data privacy, emerging technology and economic development.

Gerling serves on the Board of the Central New York International Business Alliance and on the Technology Council of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, and he holds other ex officio board positions. In addition to his J.D., cum laude, from the College of Law, Gerling holds a B.S. in biology from the State University of New York at Binghamton.

James Grabowski, PhD, MBA

James Grabowski, PhD, MBA

Vice President - Portfolio and Sourcing, Curia Global

James Grabowski, Ph.D., MBA, is Vice President - Portfolio and Sourcing at Curia Global in Albany, NY.  James has held a number of roles of increasing responsibility with experience managing diverse, international teams within AMRI since joining the company in 2006.  His current role includes, but is not limited to, the development of business, product strategies, the management of cost savings initiatives, and leading API operations in India for AMRI. Dr. Grabowski received a MBA from the University at Albany, State University of New York in 2015, a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Brandeis University in 2006 and a B.A. in Chemistry from the College of the Holy Cross in 2001.

Jennifer Hurst

Jennifer Hurst

Sr. Director of PR and Content, MasterControl

Jennifer is the Sr. Director of PR and Content at MasterControl, headquartered in Salt Lake City. She has been developing effective marketing, PR and content plans for over 25 years and has worked in industries including hospitality, real estate development, technology and life sciences. At MasterControl, Jennifer is responsible for all PR activities including media placement, news releases and corporate publicity and messaging. Additionally, she oversees a team of content writers to develop content strategy and materials that help both prospects and customers understand the value of MasterControl products.

Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and holds a B.S. in Journalism. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Utah First Credit Union. 

Theresa Mazzullo

Theresa Mazzullo

CEO, Excell Partners, Inc.

Theresa Mazzullo has been the CEO of Excell Partners since 2006.  She has a 30-year track record in business, finance and entrepreneurship.  Having owned and sold a small business, she brings firsthand knowledge, unique skills, and proven experience to the seed stage investment arena.  In her role as CEO, her duties include governance, compliance, reporting, community integration, finance and fundraising. Her fundraising ability has resulted in bringing over $60 million into the upstate ecosystem for investments in high tech startups.   Prior to joining Excell, Theresa spent six years as President & Principal of EPIC Advisors, Inc a 401(k) retirement plan company with $1.5 billion in retirement plan assets. In her capacity as President, she built an infrastructure that supported annual revenue growth of 20%.  She also directed business planning process regarding business strategy and tactics in the areas of finance, sales, marketing, administration, operations and information technology to ensure increased profitability and the achievement of the company vision.  Ultimately, she led the team to a successful exit in 2005.

Gerry Murak

Gerry Murak

Board Chair, SoPark Corporation

Gerry Murak, MS, MBA, is Chairman of the Board of SoPark Corporation, Western NY's largest contract electronics manufacturing service provider. SoPark is Certified ISO 9001, ISO 13485 (Medical Device) and AS 9100D (Space & Defense) serving customers in several states and shipping to several countries. SoPark is a recipient of Niagara University’s “Business Vision Award”.

Gerry is also currently a member of the University at Buffalo (UB) School of Management (SOM) Dean’s Advisory Council and has served in that capacity for 4 different Deans over the last 20 years, and a Director and a past-President of the UB SOM Alumni Board.

He also serves on the Bank on Buffalo Advisory Board and a Vice President for Habitat for Humanity Buffalo Board of Directors. He is a past President of Turnaround Management Association (TMA) for Upstate NY, past Director TMA International Board, a past Leadership Buffalo Board Member, and a past Chair of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Alumni Association (CELAA). Gerry has been a volunteer CEL mentor and reactor for a variety of family businesses and entrepreneurs for over twenty-five years.

Gerry has served as Adjunct Faculty for the UB School of Management in Buffalo and in China, Cornell University School of Industrial & Labor Relations, Canisius College, Daemen College and Hilbert College.

Norma Nowak, Ph.D

Norma Nowak, Ph.D

Executive Director, NYS Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences, University at Buffalo

Norma Jean Nowak, Ph.D., is recognized as a leader in the field of human genomics. Her research contributed directly to the Human Genome Project, as well as to genomic based approaches to understanding heritable disorders and cancer. In 2015, Dr. Nowak was named executive director for the University at Buffalo New York State Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, and holds the rank of Professor of Biochemistry. In addition, Dr. Nowak is the founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Empire Genomics LLC, a molecular diagnostics firm focused on enabling personalized medicine. Dr. Nowak was appointed to the Empire State Stem Cell Board in 2014 as well as the New York State Life Science Advisory Board in 2018.

She previously served as the director of science and technology for UB’s New York State Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences from 2003-2015, as well as director of the UB/RPCI Genomics Facility from 1999-2012, a collaborative research lab shared by UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Prior to that, she was involved for 14 years in research at RPCI developing physical clone resources for cloning disease genes and mapping the human genome.

Dr. Nowak's efforts were instrumental in obtaining more than $70 million in funding for research and infrastructure and she has authored or co-authored over 150 research articles in leading scientific journals. She also has served on the editorial board of Cytogenetics and Genome Research as well as an Associate Editor of Physiological Genomics.

Bill Rader

Bill Rader

CEO, Efferent Labs, Inc.

Bill Rader is the CEO of Efferent Labs, Inc., a pre-clinical stage company focused on biosensor systems for life science. A serial entrepreneur, Rader sold his first company at age 18. To date he has launched five ventures, including the most recent Efferent Labs and orchestrated multiple mergers and acquisitions. In October 2014, Efferent Labs was a winner in the world’s largest business contest, 43North. Rader started in the engineering sector of the U.S. Navy as a nuclear engineering member of the Submarine Fleet and is a member of many industry organizations. He is a past contributing writer for Forbes and Inc., where he wrote on entrepreneurship and business. Rader holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and is a graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Management. He is also a member of Harvard Business School, Business Innovations in Global Healthcare class of 2015.

John Simmins

John Simmins

Associate Provost for Research & Economic Development, Alfred University

Dr. John J. Simmins is Associate Provost for Research and Economic Development at Alfred University. In this position, he oversees approximately 50 research faculty and 200 graduate students. In addition, he directs the efforts of the NYS Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT) as Executive Director. Simmins is also partially responsible for bringing jobs and opportunities to western NY and in particular Allegany County, one of the most underserved counties in NY State. Dr. Simmins has expertise in the intersection of augmented reality, artificial intelligence and geospatial information systems developed while he was at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) where he was employed for the 10 years before becoming Associate Provost.

Lisa L. Smith

Lisa L. Smith

Partner, Phillips Lytle LLP

From her days as a biology major in college to her many years serving as national science counsel to global pharmaceutical companies, Lisa Smith has had a decades-long focus on how science, and scientific innovation, can improve people’s lives. Smith is a partner at Phillips Lytle LLP, where she co-chairs the firm’s Life Science & Health Effects team, as well as the Class Action, and Products Liability and Mass Torts teams. Smith is also a member of Law360 Life Sciences Editorial Advisory Board. She has decades of experience in regulatory approval and compliance, product labeling, risk management, and defending high-stakes product liability claims.

In addition to her experience in representing global pharma companies, Smith also represents emerging medical technology companies, research hospitals, and hospital systems. Prior to Phillips Lytle, Smith spent four years with Crowell and Moring in its Washington, D.C. office. She is admitted to practice in New York and Washington, D.C. She also serves as Vice President of the Boards of Trustees of the Charter School for Applied Technologies and the Irish Classical Theatre Company, as well as serving as Vice President of The Pink Pillow Project, Inc., a breast cancer charity she co-founded. Smith holds a Bachelor’s of Science from Grove City College and earned her J.D. at Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Dr. Jonathan J. Stone

Dr. Jonathan J. Stone

Founder, CEO, Simulated Inanimate Models

Jonathan J. Stone, MD, MSe is a faculty member in the Departments of Neurosurgery, Neurology & Biomedical Engineering and the Director of Surgical Innovation at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He is also Founder and CEO of Simulated Inanimate Models. He has published over 30 articles, received 9 awards, received a Master's in Biomedical Engineering, and has been granted 4 patents. Dr. Stone's experience with simulation began during his residency. After winning 1st place for video abstracts of his lifelike simulations 3 years in a row (2015-2017) at the largest annual AUA national meeting, he founded a company to develop and manufacture these surgical phantoms. Dr. Stone earned his M.D. from the University of Buffalo, completed his residency program at the University of Rochester and then continued his education to complete a fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in Peripheral Nerve Surgery. He also performs advanced surgical planning and rehearsal using 3D printing at the Institute for Innovative Education.

Lou Walcer

Lou Walcer

Director, The Kevin M. McGovern Family Center for Venture Development in the Life Sciences, Cornell University

Lou Walcer was appointed in June 2011 as the first Director of the Kevin M. McGovern Family Center for Venture Development in the Life Sciences at Cornell University. Lou’s career spans 40 years in drug, medical device, vaccine, and diagnostic product development as Entrepreneur, Consultant, Manager, Director, Company Officer and President. 

From 2006-2011, Lou had served as Consultant to, then Senior Commercialization Executive for New Ventures at Cleveland Clinic Innovations where he managed a portfolio of 30 startups, and planned, created and obtained initial investment funding for 10, which eventually netted two licenses, one IPO, and 3 exits by sale for that institution.

Lou earned a B.A. degree from Cornell University, and his M.B.A. from New York University. He has served as Director, Vice Chair, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Business Incubator Association of New York State.

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