Board of Directors

Meet the members of the NCOA Board of Directors:

James Knickman, Chair

James Knickman

James Knickman has spent four decades splitting his time between academe and the philanthropic sector. His work focuses on health policy and he has played many roles both as a researcher and a leader in philanthropy to advance the use of public policy to improve the American health care system. He was a vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and President of the New York State Health Foundation.

Currently, Knickman is the Derzon Chair in Public and Health Affairs at NYU with joint appointments at the NYU Wagner School and at NYU Langone’s Department of Population Health. He has published over 50 scholarly articles, a popular textbook (Health Care Delivery in the United States), and is the co-editor of 16 other books focused on a range of topics related to health policy. He has a PhD in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Pennsylvania and did his undergraduate work at Fordham University.

Knickman’s research and philanthropy roles have included work to advance policies such as Participant Directed Long-Term Care, Public-Private Long-Term Care Insurance, and various reimbursement policies related to paying for long-term care and chronic care services.

In addition to his service at NCOA, he serves on the boards at two other non-profit organizations and on a range of advisory committees. In the past, he has served on six boards including as Chair of the Robert Wood Johnson Health System in New Jersey.

Sunder Joshi, Secretary & Treasurer

Sunder Joshi

Sunder Joshi held numerous positions at the American Heart Association before retiring as Chief Administrative Officer/CFO. In this role he was responsible for Finance, Business Technology, Human Resources, Diversity, Support Services, Legal, Internal Audit, and Bequest Administration. His previous roles included Director of Internal Audit and Chief Operating Officer, Business Operations of the Western States Affiliate.

Prior to joining the American Heart Association, Joshi worked in public accounting in the UK for Thomson McLintock & Co and in the International Audit Division of Continental Illinois Bank in London and Chicago. He has served on committees of several nonprofit organizations, including the Independent Sector’s Ethics and Accountability Committee, the Wise Giving Alliance’s Effectiveness Panel, and the Partnership for Prevention’s Audit Committee.

Joshi holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from University of Bombay, is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, and received his CPA certification from the Colorado Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Carol Zernial, Immediate Past-Chair

Carol Zernial

Carol Zernial holds a master’s degree in social gerontology and has been involved in the field of aging for over 20 years. Her background includes work for the 1995 White House Conference on Aging and the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. She is past chair of the National Institute on Community-based Long-Term Care.

Zernial currently serves as executive director of the WellMed Charitable Foundation and vice president of community relations for WellMed Medical Management. Before joining WellMed, Zernial was director of the Bexar County Area Agency on Aging in San Antonio, TX, and vice president of the Texas Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

She received the 2008 Outstanding Professional in Aging Award in Texas for her contributions to the field of aging.


Heather Dupré

Heather Dupré

Heather Dupré has more than 30 years of experience creating and growing the world’s strongest brands. As a founder and former President & CEO of Egg Strategy, Inc., Dupré led an 80-person global marketing consultancy with focus on world-class Fortune 500 clients, including Nestlé, Coke, Kraft, Kellogg, Estée Lauder, J&J, and Google.

In a previous position for Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dupré created and launched the award-winning Viactiv Active Nutrition for women, the first “by women for women” brand that won best new product of the year from Business Week.

She also led all marketing functions for the U.S. division of the Japanese consumer products leader Kao, where she launched the award-winning Bioré skincare product in the U.S., restaged the firm’s flagship Jergen’s to regain market prominence, and acquired and expanded the Curèl brand. Other award winning new products of her creation include Lowfat Granola while at Kellogg’s and Ciroc Vodka and Tanqueray 10 while leading Global Innovation at Diageo.

Dupré earned her MBA from Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management. She teaches adjunct classes at the University of Colorado Leeds Graduate School of Business in Marketing and Innovation.

Julie Goonewardene

Julie Goonewardene, NCOA Board
Julie Goonewardene is the associate vice chancellor for innovation and strategic investment for the University of Texas System. In this role she serves as the strategic leader and advisor for the UT System and UT institutions in all areas related to commercialization, growth and expansion of innovation and entrepreneurship including the UT Horizon Fund. She is also responsible for the development of sustainable academic-industry partnerships.
In addition to being recognized as an expert in bringing groups together across the health care spectrum to develop solutions to medical issues, Goonewardene is an experienced entrepreneur. She co-founded and served as president of a venture-backed software company, which she sold in 2004.

Goonewardene is a frequent speaker both nationally and internationally on entrepreneurship and an author on innovation.

Goonewardene holds a Bachelor of Science with honors in general management and a Masters of Science in health communication both from Purdue University.

Kathy Greenlee

Kathy Greenlee is Vice President of Aging and Health Policy at the Center for Practical Bioethics. With nearly 20 years of experience overseeing and advocating for programs like the Older Americans Act, Meals on Wheels, long-term care, and Medicaid, Greenlee has been a profound figure in aging policy. She served as Assistant Secretary of Aging for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 2009-2016.

Lynn Fields Harris

LynnFieldsHarris_boardUntil June 2018, Lynn Fields Harris served for 15 years as Executive Director of Center in the Park (CIP). Founded in 1968, CIP is a nationally accredited senior community center and social services agency in Northwest Philadelphia primarily focused on the needs of adults, 55+. Through her leadership, the Center became recognized as a model for implementation of evidence-based health and wellness programming and development of community-based/academic participatory research initiatives.

Harris is Founder/President of Commonwealth Consultants, Inc., a government/community relations firm with expertise in aging services, non-profit leadership and resolving bureaucratic logjams and regulatory issues and/or advocating for passage of legislation at the state and local levels of government

Harris is a versatile, results-oriented executive with extensive experience in government and community relations, intergovernmental affairs, as well as public relations and marketing communications in public, private and non-profit sectors. She holds a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Elementary Education from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

DeDe Priest

DeDe Priest is a food executive with more than 30 years of experience in delivering significant competitive edge growth creation and exceeding diverse customer needs/expectations. She has deep expertise background in retail, consumer packaged goods and private brands. Priest led every food business at Walmart since 2003. Consistently selected to lead turn-around and fast-growth businesses, she achieved sustained growth in top and bottom line results, and brought about transformational changes through a focus on innovation at all levels, a relentless pursuit of simplicity in execution, a deep understanding of customer needs and ever-increasing demand for quality, transparency and freshness.
Before joining Walmart in 2003, Priest held senior leadership roles at Safeway, Inc., Torbitt & Castleman, and Dole Packaged Foods.  
A strong leader in professional and civic organizations, Priest joined Feeding America Board of Directors in 2010. Additional board work includes Susan G. Komen-Ozark Affiliate and The Network for Executive Women. 
A graduate of Ohio University, Priest completed the Global 2020 Executive Program at Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth, in 2008.

W. June Simmons

JuneSimmons_boardJune Simmons is President and CEO of Partners in Care Foundation. Over the past two decades, June has pioneered the development and scaling of innovative, evidence-based interventions for management of medications at home, self-management of chronic conditions, coordinated care to improve health outcomes, and care transitions.

Throughout her distinguished career, she has been instrumental in envisioning, creating, funding, and operating forward-looking health and social service programs that meet the mutual needs of patient populations, health care delivery networks and health plans. Her priority is sustainable, cost-effective, patient-driven integration of care across settings, from primary care and hospital to home and community in the 21st century.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld is Senior Associate Dean for Leadership Studies Lester Crown Professor in the Practice of Management at Yale School of Management, where he has taught since 1999. Before joining Yale, he was a professor at the Harvard Business School and a professor at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. Sonnenfeld is the founder of the Chief Executive Leadership Institute, a nonprofit educational and research institute focused on CEO leadership and corporate governance, and the world’s first school for chief executives.

Somava “Soma” Stout, MD, MS

Somava “Soma” Stout, MD, MS has dedicated her career to improving health, wellbeing and equity through the development of thriving people, organizations and communities. She has worked as a primary care internist and pediatrician in the safety net and a global public health practitioner for over 20 years. She currently serves as vice president at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and as Executive Lead of 100 Million Healthier Lives, which brings together 1800+ partners in 30+ countries to achieve transformation in health, wellbeing and equity, with an audacious aim: 100 million people thriving globally by 2020. She serves as the co-principal innovator for the SCALE initiative, which supports communities around the country to accelerate their journey toward a Culture of Health through the development of Community of Solutions skills, behaviors and systems.

Previously, Stout served as vice president for Patient Centered Medical Home Development at Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), where she led a whole-system transformation of leadership, care delivery, workforce, and finances that garnered numerous national awards and achieved breakthrough results in health outcomes and cost for a safety net population. She also served as co-director of Leadership Development at the Harvard Medical School (HMS) Center for Primary Care, developing a cadre of change leaders across the system. She continues as faculty at both CHA and HMS.

In 2012, Stout was recognized as one of ten inaugural Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Young Leaders for her contributions to improving the health of the nation. In 2016 she was elected as a Leading Causes of Life Global Fellow. She has consulted with leaders from across the world, including Guyana, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia, Tunisia, Denmark and Brazil.

Connie Weaver

Connie Weaver is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Tracker Group, a strategic management consulting firm comprised of accomplished entrepreneurial executives with demonstrated success leading change across a variety of industries.

Offering a well-rounded background in global marketing, brand awareness, business transformation, and investor relations, Weaver is focused on recruiting a team of visionary, trailblazing executives to deliver world-class solutions to a growing client base.

Prior to Tracker Group, Weaver was the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at TIAA, and built a dynamic expertise across a variety of complex, highly regulated industries.

During her 7-year tenure at TIAA, Weaver led the re-imagination of the Fortune 100 company’s brand, identity, customer experience, and digital presence, which significantly increased the company’s unaided brand awareness, customer engagement and business results. Her efforts culminated in 2016 with the re-introduction of the company as TIAA.

Weaver has a track record of building sophisticated marketing capabilities, following her self-built “playbook” to drive major brand and digital transformation for TIAA, AT&T, BearingPoint, The Hartford and MCI. At AT&T, Weaver transformed an iconic consumer brand into a global, business-to-business brand. At BearingPoint, she repositioned and differentiated the brand, and aligned it with the company’s strategy to achieve business goals.

In the non-profit sector, Weaver is on the national board of Make-A-Wish America, as well as the boards for Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts and Connecticut Public Broadcasting. She serves on educational institution boards, including The University of Connecticut Foundation, the University of Maryland’s Smith School, University of Saint Joseph and Hartford Hospital. She was also a board member for Yale University’s Center for Customer Insights from 2011 to 2015.

Weaver holds a B.S. with honors in Textile Science and Marketing from the University of Maryland. She completed the executive financial management program at Stanford University and the global strategic management program at IMEDE (Switzerland).

She also completed programs in finance, marketing and strategic planning at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.

Cass Wheeler

Cass Wheeler

Cass Wheeler launched his consulting practice after a distinguished career with the American Heart Association, serving as its CEO from 1997-2008. Under his leadership, the association merged its 56 state and metropolitan affiliates into eight regions and adopted a single corporate structure. During this same period, revenue grew from $400 million to $650 million.

Under his leadership, the association also launched several new initiatives, including the award-winning Go Red for Women Campaign to raise awareness about heart disease in women, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (with the William J. Clinton Foundation) to fight childhood obesity, Get With the Guidelines to improve hospital care and outcomes, and the Power to End Stroke targeted to African-Americans. The association also approved a far-reaching health-impact goal calling for a 25% reduction of coronary heart disease, stroke, and risk by 2010.

Wheeler was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the Commission on Improving Economic Opportunity in Communities Dependent on Tobacco Production While Protecting Public Health. He also served on the boards of the National Human Services Assembly, Partnership for Prevention, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Independent Sector, and Research!America. Wheeler currently serves on the boards of the American Legacy Foundation and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

Wheeler is the author of You’ve Gotta Have Heart: Achieving Purpose Beyond Profit in the Social Sector, a book he wrote with a goal to further increase the effectiveness of the nonprofit sector.

Peter Ziebelman

Peter ZiebelmanPeter Ziebelman started his career as a venture capitalist 25 years ago.

He co-founded Palo Alto Venture Partners in 1996, after starting the US Information Technology Operations of the UK venture capital firm, Thompson Clive & Partners, in 1988. Ziebelman has served on the boards of early stage companies that ultimately became public companies, such as AvantGo (AVGO), Persistence (PRSW), and Vicinity (VCNT).

Ziebelman has also served on the boards of dozens of privately held high technology companies across a range of sectors from cloud based computing (DemandForce) to online car insurance (esurance) to computer security (PostX). He is an independent director to a select number of privately held companies. Ziebelman was named to AlwaysOn’s Venture Capital 100 – the top 100 VC’s for 2012.

He enjoys teaching students as a Lecturer in Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business for the course “Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital” and as a visiting lecturer for several other business schools including the University of Sydney EMBA program. He has advised Fortune 500 companies on how to be more entrepreneurial within the context of a larger organization.

Ziebelman is on the Stanford Graduate School of Business MSx Advisory Board and the advisory board of the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford and was formerly on the executive board of the Pacific Skyline Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is a past president of the Yale Club of Silicon Valley.

Ziebelman graduated with a Master’s degree in Management from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and Bachelor of Science degree in Combined Sciences with honors and distinction in the major from Yale University.

Ziebelman and his wife, Cindy, live in Palo Alto, California, and have three sons.