Meet Our Staff



Executive Staff

Michael R. Cohen, RPh, MS, ScD, FASHP

Michael R. Cohen, RPh, MS, ScD (hon.), DPS (hon.), 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 (2007 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 weekly blog for the Philadelphia Inquirer website, (, which also appears occasionally in the newspaper. Dr. Cohen currently serves as Vice Chair of the Patient Safety Advisory Group for the Joint Commission (which creates the National Patient Safety Goals). He also served recently as a member of the National Quality Forum’s Voluntary Consensus Standards Maintenance Committee (CSMC) on Safe Practices and serves as a consultant to the US Food and Drug Administration’s Drug Safety and Risk Management Committee. In 2005 he was recognized as a MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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 and is currently a member of the advisory board for the Maryland Patient Safety Center. He also is a clinical assistant professor at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, adjunct assistant professor at Temple University School of Pharmacy, adjunct associate professor for the Centers for Health Policy and Primary Care and Outcomes Research at Stanford University and Stanford University School of Medicine, and adjunct faculty for the Executive Patient Safety Fellowship offered through Virginia Commonwealth University. 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.

Russell H. Jenkins, MD
Medical Director

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

Matthew P. Fricker, Jr, MS, RPh, FASHP
Program Director

Prior to joining ISMP, Matt was employed in the acute care setting for over 27 years, most recently as director of pharmacy and materials management and Institutional Review Board chairman. In addition to performing onsite medication safety risk assessments and speaking about medication safety in hospitals throughout the United States, he has managed several medication safety collaboratives designed to improve safety with high alert drugs, including anticoagulants and opioids. Matt created program tools and content for the Regional Medication Safety Program for Hospitals, a collaborative program with the Health Care Improvement Foundation of the Delaware Valley Healthcare Council and ECRI Institute. He has also co-developed medication safety programs for critical access hospitals in Pennsylvania and throughout the US.   Matt received his BS in Pharmacy and MS in Hospital Pharmacy Administration from Temple University and has published numerous articles in the pharmacy and medical literature.

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 (" href="">MERP), a confidential national voluntary medication error reporting program. He also serves as the editor of the monthly ISMP Medication Safety Alert! Community/Ambulatory Edition newsletter. Dr. Gaunt is a Clinical Analyst for the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System, 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, RN, 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. 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

His responsibilities include working with healthcare practitioners and institutions to provide education about medication errors and their prevention, review medication errors that have been voluntarily submitted by practitioners to a national ISMP Medication Errors Reporting Program (MERP) as well as serving as a Manager of Medication Safety Analysis for the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (Pa-PSRS). He has extensive experience in long-term care, home care, and community pharmacy. Prior to joining ISMP, he served as a home care and long-term care pharmacy surveyor for the Joint Commission. Mr. Grissinger 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.

He is also an adjunct assistant professor for Temple University School of Pharmacy and clinical assistant professor for the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. 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.

Donna Horn, RPh, DPh
Director, Patient Safety - Community Pharmacy

Donna Horn directs ISMP’s patient safety activities in community/ambulatory practice. She has more than 25 years of experience in the retail/chain community pharmacy practice setting, most recently serving as the Privacy Officer and Manager of Regulatory Affairs for Brooks/ Eckerd Pharmacy where she wrote numerous policies and procedures to govern pharmacists working in chain pharmacy. Prior to joining ISMP, she served as President and Chairman of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy where her focus was in patient safety, primarily on reducing medication errors in community pharmacy. Ms. Horn also served 11 years on the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy as both a member and as President. During her tenure on the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy Ms. Horn was instrumental in authoring regulations, policies and best practices to help pharmacists in Massachusetts interpret, explain and supplement the pharmacy laws. Her work has focused on Continuous Quality Improvement, policies on promoting ease of access to appropriate reference materials, monitoring prescription usage in chronic disease state patients, drug recall procedures, proper staffing guidelines and incorporating strategies to optimize therapeutic outcomes. Ms. Horn received a BS in Pharmacy from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences.

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 bar-code point-of-care systems. She has participated in several state-wide medication safety collaboratives, and co-created the Rural Hospital Medication Safety Connections Program. She regularly provides educational programming 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, and at Virginia Commonwealth University in their Executive Patient Safety Fellowship Program. 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 has more than 20 years of acute care hospital pharmacy experience involving clinical practice and management.  Most recently she served as Director of Pharmacy at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown and Bethlehem, PA, where she advanced pharmaceutical care in a well-seasoned environment of computerized physician order entry, bar code medication verification, and robotic automation. During this period she served as a Consultant with the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. Prior to that time she was Pharmacy Operations Manager and then Director of Pharmacy at Doylestown Hospital, Doylestown, PA. Chris has served on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Society of Health-System Pharmacists, as a presidential officer of the Bucks-Montgomery County chapter in PA, and volunteered on several advisory boards and educated a variety of community groups as a medication safety representative.  She has presented at national, local, and state meetings, as well as local radio on advancing hospital pharmacy practice and the use of technology for safe medication use. She is a graduate of the University of the Sciences’ Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, completed an ASHP accredited residency program at Suburban General Hospital in Norristown, PA, and is designated as 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, Ann 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, developing competency programs, writing and reviewing policies and procedures, serving on various committees, presenting community outreach programs and developing numerous patient education materials.  Through the Oncology Nursing Society, Ann is trained to present the two-day ONS Chemotherapy and Biotherapy Course which educates nurses on safe chemotherapy administration practices.  Ann received both her BSN and Masters of Science in Nursing from Widener University, Chester, PA.  Ann also maintains her Advanced Oncology Certification (AOCN) through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC).

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 Fellow

Ali-Reza Shah-Mohammadi, PharmD, MS
2012-2013 ISMP Safe Medication Management Fellow
Supported by Express Scripts Foundation

Ali joins ISMP from the Harris County Hospital District (HCHD), a fully integrated healthcare system comprised of 3 hospitals, 16 community health centers, 1 dental center, 8 school based clinics, 1 dialysis center and 1 mobile clinic, located in Houston, Texas.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Biochemistry and Biology along with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from The University of Texas at Austin.  He then received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Houston College of Pharmacy (UHCOP) in 2010.  Dr. Shah-Mohammadi completed the 2 year combined MS/Residency in Health-System Pharmacy Administration at HCHD and UHCOP in 2012.  His major MS project was titled Analysis of Perceived Barriers Encountered by Management within Pharmacy Workflow Due to Intermittent Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Leave at a Governmental Teaching Hospital.  Dr. Shah-Mohammadi received a wide range of training in clinical and management experiences focusing on optimizing pharmacy workflows while promoting safe medication practices.  He currently serves as a board member and Director for the Gulf Coast Society of Health-System Pharmacists and is a member for the UHCOP Dean’s Advisory Council.

Annie Yang, PharmD
2012-2013 ISMP Safe Medication Management Fellow
Stephen R. Lewis, MD, Fellowship Program
Supported by CareFusion Foundation

Annie Yang joins ISMP from Stanford Hospital and Clinics, a 613-bed academic medical center located in Stanford, California. There, she completed her PGY1 Pharmacy Practice Residency in 2012 with a broad range of experiences in the acute care setting and interests in critical care and infectious disease. She also held various leadership roles in hospital and departmental quality and safety projects. Dr. Yang graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and a minor in Education from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006. She received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of California, San Francisco in the Health Services and Policy Research Pathway in 2011. Her professional interests include medication safety, health policy related to quality and patient safety, and global health.

Mohammed Aseeri, BS, PharmD, BCPS
2012-2013 ISMP Safe Medication Management Fellow

Mohammed Joins ISMP from King Abdulaziz Medical City (KAMC), National Guard Health Affairs, a 440-bed teaching hospital located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Mohammed graduated from the College of Pharmacy at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy in 2001. After his graduation, he worked as a hospital staff pharmacist at KAMC for 2 years. In 2006 he received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency program (PGY-1) in 2007 at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas.  Before joining ISMP, Mohammed was working as a clinical pharmacy specialist in the pediatric oncology unit at KAMC. Mohammed received his board certification in pharmacotherapy (BCPS) in 2009. In addition to his clinical practice in pediatric oncology, Mohammed was a member in the medication safety program at KAMC where he helped implement ISMP and Joint Commission International (JCI) recommendations pertaining to safe medication management.

Tingting Gao, PharmD
2012-2013 FDA/ISMP Safe Medication Management Fellow

Tingting joins ISMP from Winchester Medical Center (WMC), a 445-bed community hospital located in Winchester, Virginia, where she completed her PGY1 Pharmacy Practice Residency in 2012. She received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers University in New Jersey. During her PGY1 residency, Dr. Gao gained a wide range of acute care experiences including infectious disease, critical care, and anticoagulation. She was also involved several medication safety projects, including a quality improvement pilot project utilizing a pharmacy technician and pharmacist team for admission medication reconciliation at WMC.


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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