Health Care Power 50 N-Z

Donna Nickitas

Heading the Rutgers University School of Nursing Camden, Nickitas brings a proven history of advocacy for equitable health care, expertise in academic nursing education, and an ability to foster a culture of cross-sector engagement. Nickitas is the editor of Nursing Economic$, a journal focused on advancing nursing leadership and innovation. She believes that nurses serve society and do public good by advancing health, driving public policy, and promoting access to quality, patient-centered care.

Frank Pallone

Now in his 16th full term in Congress, Pallone serves as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The panel’s broad remit includes health care, an issue that will place Pallone in the middle of House debates over whether to expand Medicare or bolster the Affordable Care Act. During an event in his district earlier this year, Pallone suggested that Medicare for all – the rallying cry of newly elected progressives – likely would not attract sufficient support this term. Instead, Pallone pointed to bills his committee is considering that would boost enrollment in the ACA and cut costs. He will have to draw upon his 30-plus years of congressional experience to navigate those policy waters.

Dean Paranicas

As the third president and chief executive officer of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, Paranicas oversees the trade association for the research-based biopharmaceutical and medical technology industry. HINJ serves as a unified voice for New Jersey’s life sciences industry and seeks to build awareness of this industry’s impact on New Jersey’s quality of life and economic well-being. Before joining HINJ, Paranicas was vice president, corporate secretary and public policy at Becton Dickinson and Co..

Donald Parker

Donald Parker, a licensed clinical social worker, is president and chief hospital executive of Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic, the largest nonprofit behavioral health system in New Jersey, and president of Hackensack Meridian Health Behavioral Health Care Transformation Services/Integrative Medicine. In business for more than a century, Carrier Clinic operates an acute care mental health hospital, a residential treatment center for adolescents, a fully accredited special needs school for students grades 7 through 12, and the Blake Recovery Center, an inpatient unit focused on addiction recovery. As a key opinion leader, Parker can offer unique insights into the 25 percent increase in suicide rates across the country; industry challenges, including the battle against opioid abuse; the latest industry practices; emerging urgent care services in addiction and behavioral health; hospital and mental health center mergers; and behavioral health center redesigns: a new functionality. Before joining Carrier in 2013, Parker served as the vice president for physician services and ambulatory care at St. Joseph’s Health System in Paterson.

Andrew Pecora

As chief innovation officer and vice president of cancer services at Hackensack Meridian Health, Pecora has a lot on his plate. But he is apparently up to the various tasks. HMH credits him with elevating the status of the hospital system’s Theurer Cancer Center to one of the top 50 such institutions in the U.S. On the innovation side, he helped negotiate New Jersey first bundled payment plan for breast cancer patients in commercial insurance plans and oversaw the launch of a mobile app patients can use to update their records and make appointments. Those efforts and others were recognized when Pecora was named as one of the winners in the inaugural NJBIZ Digi-Tech Innovator Awards competition.

John Poole

Poole is as the 226th president of the Medical Society of New Jersey, having served on the organization’s board of trustees since 2008. Poole is a board-certified general surgeon and fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He practices at North Jersey Surgical Specialists in Hackensack and is a member of Holy Name Medical Partners. As part of the Holy Name family, Poole is serving his second term as president of the Medical Staff at Holy Name Medical Center, after first being elected in 1997. He has previously served as chief of general surgery and director of the Department of Surgery, as well as a member of Holy Name’s board of trustees and Medical Executive Committee. He proactively worked to further expand the New Jersey Healthcare Executives Leadership Academy – a joint initiative to build leadership among physicians and executives from hospitals, post-acute providers and health plan providers, developed collaboratively by MSNJ, the New Jersey Association of Health Plans and the New Jersey Hospital Association and which is currently focusing on alleviating the opioid crisis.

Stephen Rusckowski

President and chief executive officer of Quest Diagnostics, Rusckowski is a keen conceptual thinker and his experience and knowledge of the issues facing the industry make him the ideal leader to capitalize on the opportunities that lie ahead in a dynamic health care environment. Before Quest, Rusckowski was CEO of Philips Healthcare, the largest unit of Royal Philips Electronics. During his time with Philips, revenues increased from approximately 6 billion euros in 2005 to approximately 9 billion euros in 2011, accounting for approximately 39 percent of Philips consolidated revenues, from 21 percent when he became CEO. Before joining Philips, Rusckowski held numerous management positions with the health care division of Hewlett-Packard/Agilent Technologies. He joined Philips when it acquired Agilent’s Healthcare Solutions Group in 2001.

Wardell Sanders

Sanders, a well-known expert on health care policy and a frequent speaker at national and regional events, leads the state trade association that represents the major health plans in New Jersey, including five Medicaid health plans. Before joining the New Jersey Association of Health Plans in 2006, Sanders served for 15 years in state government positions. He was the executive director of the New Jersey Individual Health Coverage Program Board and the New Jersey Small Employer Health Benefits Program Board, the two state agencies charged with regulating the individual and small group health benefits markets, which then covered about one million New Jersey residents. He began his government service as a deputy attorney general in the Division of Law. As president of the NJAHP, he was appointed by Gov. Jon Corzine to both the Mandated Health Benefits Advisory Commission and the Health Care Access Study Commission.

George Schidlovsky

Anywhere from 500 to 700 medical marijuana patients walk through the doors of Curaleaf every day. The state’s biggest alternative treatment center, located in Bellmawr, has 35 to 40 percent of the sales market of the ever-growing medical marijuana program, which currently numbers 45,800 patients. Schidlovsky recently took a national role at Curaleaf as vice president of Capital Projects, but he spent the last two years as president of Curaleaf NJ during a significant boom in the state’s cannabis industry. Though Curaleaf’s market share might decrease in the coming year as six new ATCs enter the New Jersey market, Schidlovsky isn’t worried about business. “At the pace the market is growing, and the intention of the medical program to expand, I think there’s room for everybody,” he said in a February interview with NJBIZ. Since then, an additional 4,623 patients, 48 doctors and 83 caregivers have joined the program.

Brian Strom

Strom is the first chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and the executive vice president for Health Affairs at the university. During his five years at Rutgers, Strom has spearheaded the creation of an interprofessional faculty practice group, the Rutgers Health Group; established a formal partnership with RWJBarnabas Health to create New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive academic health system; and headed a major recruitment drive to bring talented biomedical researchers and clinicians to Rutgers. Before joining the university, Strom was the executive vice dean of institutional affairs, founding chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, founding director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and founding director of the Graduate Program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to writing more than 600 papers and 13 books, he has been principal investigator for more than 275 grants, including more than $115 million in direct costs alone.

Marco Taglietti

Taglietti is the resident and chief executive officer of Jersey City-based Scynexis Inc. as well as a member of its board. He previously served as executive vice president for Research and Development and chief medical officer of Forest Laboratories Inc. and as president of the Forest Research Institute until its acquisition by Actavis in 2014. Before joining Forest in 2007, Taglietti held the position of senior vice president, head of global research and development at Stiefel Laboratories Inc., a GSK company, for three years. He joined Stiefel after 12 years at Schering-Plough, where he last held the position of vice president, Worldwide Clinical Research for Anti-Infectives, Oncology, CNS, Endocrinology and Dermatology. Over the course of his career, he has brought to market 35 different products in the U.S. and internationally. Taglietti currently serves as a director of BioNJ and Delcath Systems Inc. He received his medical degree and board certifications from the University of Pavia in Italy.

Michael Tardugno

In 2011 Tardugno, who is president and CEO of Celsion Corp., relocated the biopharmaceutical company to Lawrenceville from Maryland. He was looking to develop and commercialize life-saving chemotherapy and immunotherapy agents where he could recruit the best talent. Earlier this year Celsion received $10.6 million via the State’s Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the Department of Treasury’s Division of Taxation. Celsion is developing products targeting liver and ovarian cancer. With 40 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, Tardugno’s career has been devoted to health care. Before joining Celsion, he held senior executive positions with Mylan Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Bausch & Lomb and Abbott Laboratories.

Nicholas Scutari

Scutari, a Union County Democrat, is one of the main Senate crafters behind legislation legalizing marijuana and the now-signed bill legalizing doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. The controversial and sensitive measure includes a series of deliberately redundant layers, including consultations with medical and mental health professions, through which patients have to pass to ensure they are of sound mind and not coerced into making the decision. Patients for example have to be diagnosed with an irreversible, terminal illness with a prognosis of no more than six months to live. Proponents argue the new law provides some measure of dignity for patients who now have the option to end their own lives rather than go through potentially unsuccessful yet physically and emotionally taxing treatments. Meanwhile, the legal cannabis legislation that Scutari has sponsored and drafted, overlaps with both the medicinal marijuana bill,which he also sponsored, and another measure creating an expungement process for cannabis-related convictions. The legislative package is slated to overhaul the state’s medicinal marijuana market, first created in 2010, which services over 42,000 patients statewide.

Angelo Valente

Angelo Valente has been the executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey since its inception in 1992 and has led the organization as it conducted the largest continuous public service campaign in New Jersey’s history. The Partnership has been recognized twice by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for its programs and initiatives, first in 2010, and again in 2015. The Partnership has also been recognized by the National Association of Government Communicators for the most effective public health education campaign in the country. In addition, in 2009, Valente was appointed chief executive officer of the American Medicine Chest Challenge, a national public health initiative to raise awareness of the issue of prescription drug abuse and maintain a National Directory of Permanent Prescription Drug Collection sites. Since 2000, Valente has served as a member of the Holy See’s Delegation to the United Nations, focusing on international drug control strategy.

Joseph Vitale

As chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Vitale oversees the legislation affecting the health care industry along with his counterpart in the lower house, Assembly Health and Human Services Chair Herb Conaway. In the rocky and uncertain push to legalize marijuana in New Jersey, Vitale has been the main backer of legislation to vastly expand the state’s medicinal marijuana market. His measure, Senate Bill 10, would phase out the sales tax on medicinal marijuana, enact employee protections for patients, ensure a certain number of medical dispensaries are run by women, minorities and veterans and increase the quantity of medical marijuana a patient can possess. And the Middlesex County Democrat has his work cut out for him in the coming months. He and other lawmakers are eyeing whether to close the religious exemption for child-vaccinations and boost medical coverage for the estimated thousands of uninsured youth. On the executive side, Vitale could play an important role in the Department of Health’s probe into the allegedly questionable spending by the owners of three Hudson County hospitals, as well as the departments’ direct control over the beleaguered University Hospital in Newark.

Dennis Wilson

Wilson took over the top spot at Parsippany-based Delta Dental of New Jersey – the state’s largest dental insurer, covering 1.6 million people – in 2013 after a stint as Mid-Atlantic regional president for national managed care organization Coventry Health Care/Aetna. In January, he became chairman of DeltaUSA, the subsidiary of Delta Dental Plans Association that enables Delta Dental to centrally administer national or multistate insurance programs. Wilson served as president of Lovelace Health Plan in Albuquerque from 2007 to 2010. The company ranked as the New Mexico’s top health plan during his tenure and improved its national ranking. Wilson served as a market segment president at Cigna Healthcare in Bloomfield, Conn. from 2004 to 2007 and held top executive positions at Partners in Care Corp. in Somerset, Healthnet/Foundation Health Systems in Neptune and Shelton, and Connand Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia.

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