Who We Are

West Health is an independent,
one-of-a-kind initiative whose mission is to lower health care costs by creating innovative, patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time.

Solely funded by pioneering philanthropists Gary and Mary West, it consists of four entities: the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator.

Discover more about West Health (pdf)

West Health and its four entities are solely funded by pioneering philanthropists Gary and Mary West.

The West Health Institute and West Health Policy Center are established with 501(c)(3) designations and are supported through the Gary and Mary West Foundation, while the West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator are established as for-profit entities, with financial returns from their investments used to fund medical research and charitable activities.

 

About Gary & Mary West

Operating Committee

Chief Executive

Nicholas J. Valeriani
Nicholas J. Valeriani

Chief Executive

In his role as chief executive of the collective West Health effort, Nicholas J. Valeriani brings valuable expertise in engineering, operations, medical devices and diagnostics, entrepreneurship and non-profit leadership that make him uniquely qualified to advance the mission to lower health care costs through the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator. All of these entities focus on lowering costs by creating innovative, patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time. Valeriani is the CEO of the Institute, the flagship organization of West Health, and the chair of the Executive Committee, the coordinated leadership team of West Health.

Valeriani established himself as a visionary health care leader over a 34-year career with Johnson & Johnson where he led several corporate functions and was a member of the corporation’s executive committee as corporate vice president of human resources; worldwide chairman of medical devices & diagnostics; and as vice president of the Office of Strategy & Growth. He was instrumental in identifying the global health care trends that led to the creation of a new wellness and prevention business platform and pioneering opportunities in the area of digital health.

He currently serves on the board of directors for the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

Valeriani has an M.B.A. from Rutgers University, Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from Rutgers University, College of Engineering.

Chief Medical Officer, Chief Science Officer

Joseph M. Smith, MD, PhD, FACC
Joseph M. Smith, MD, PhD, FACC

Chief Medical Officer, Chief Science Officer

In his role as chief medical and science officer of West Health, Dr. Joseph M. Smith brings strategic, engineering and clinical expertise to advance West Health's unique, one-of-a-kind initiative’s mission to lower health care costs through the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator. All of these entities focus on lowering costs by creating innovative, patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time. Dr. Smith’s role encompasses directing the West Health Institute’s medical and clinical research and is a co-manager of West Health Investment Fund.
 
Dr. Smith has an extensive career at the intersection of clinical medicine and engineering. Prior to joining the Institute, he was vice president of emerging technologies for Johnson & Johnson in their corporate office of science and technology. He also served as senior vp and chief medical officer of Guidant/Boston Scientific’s Cardiac Rhythm Management. Before accepting leadership roles in the industry, Dr. Smith was a practicing cardiologist for almost two decades, starting at the Brigham and Women's hospital in Boston, with sub-specialty training in clinical cardiac electrophysiology. Dr. Smith also established the Arrhythmia Institute in Fairfax, VA, which specializes in interventional cardiac electrophysiology and clinical research.
 
Dr. Smith was named one of "20 People Who Make Healthcare Better" by HealthLeaders Magazine in 2010. He serves as faculty at the University of Southern California and advisor to Johns Hopkins Biomedical Engineering, the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology, the Wellcome Trust, and a number of innovative health care and technology start-up companies. He has testified before Congress on the value of health care technology and the potential of wireless health technology to lower health care costs. He's also a member of the Food and Drug Administration Safety Innovation Act (FDASIA) workgroup, providing expert input on topics identified by the FDA, ONC and FCC concerning the regulation of health information technology. Dr. Smith holds a B.E.S from The Johns Hopkins University; a Ph.D. in medical engineering and medical physics from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology; and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Chief Operating Officer

Shelley Lyford, MA
Shelley Lyford, MA

Chief Operating Officer

As chief operating officer of the collective West Health effort, Shelley Lyford works with the executive leadership team to advance the unique, one-of-a-kind initiative’s mission of lowering health care costs through the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator. All of these entities focus on lowering costs by creating innovative, patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time.

In addition to leading operational efforts, Lyford serves as the primary legal liaison for West Health and works directly with the West Health Institute’s board of directors. In this position, she advises management on implementing strategic initiatives, objectives and policies.  She creates collaborations with health care entities, and educates the industry and various constituencies on the value, efficacy and cost-savings of health care technologies and innovations. Lyford also has a leadership role in the West Health Investment Fund.

Lyford also serves as President of the Gary and Mary West Foundation, where she brings expertise in nonprofit tax and compliance issues, as well as in creating impactful, action-oriented partnerships and identifying technology that enables seniors to be independent and age in place.

Prior to her work with Gary and Mary West, Lyford was a director at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Joan Kroc Institute at the University of San Diego. While with the United Nations and the International Executive Service Corps, she gained experience in assessing the viability of opportunities in emerging markets. Lyford currently sits on the Governance Committee of Grantmakers in Aging. She graduated from the University of San Diego Summa Cum Laude with a M.A. in international relations and political-economy.

Chief Financial Officer

Michael M. Caponetto, MBA
Michael M. Caponetto, MBA

Chief Financial Officer

In his role as Chief Financial Officer of West Health, Mike Caponetto brings strategic financial, operating and administrative expertise to advance the unique, one-of-a-kind initiative’s mission to lower health care costs through the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator.  All of these entities focus on lowering costs by creating innovative, patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time.  

As a member of the executive leadership team, Caponetto oversees investments, long-term financial strategies and day-to-day financial and administrative operations of the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator.  In this role, he maximizes West Health’s resources for achieving its mission, working closely with the other members of management team to help ensure the entities are focused on opportunities with the greatest cost-savings potential.  He also helps lead investments for the West Health Investment Fund.

Caponetto has extensive experience providing strategic, financial and operational leadership to a number of successful companies in the healthcare sector and various industries. Prior to joining West Health, he was Chief Financial Officer, Director of M&A, and a senior member of the management team for two Goldman Sachs-backed companies, via the firm's Special Situations Group.  His roles included financial and accounting operations, administration, human resources, and M&A, financing and growth strategies for Business Records Management LLC, an information management services company, and NorthStar Nuclear Medicine, LLC, a multidisciplinary radiopharmaceutical company he helped found and obtain financing.

Previously, Caponetto was Senior Principal and Managing Director at Triple Tree, LLC and Vine Street Partners/Century Capital Group, respectively, where he was responsible for the origination and execution of transactions involving mergers, acquisitions and venture capital, private equity and debt financings.  He has advised companies across numerous healthcare sectors, including without limitation medical devices, healthcare information technology, medical equipment, managed care, and institutional pharmacies. Caponetto earned an MBA with concentrations in finance and accounting from the University of Chicago (Booth) Graduate School of Business.

Chief Strategy Officer and EVP, Business Development

Richard Dakers
Richard Dakers

Chief Strategy Officer and EVP, Business Development

In his role as chief strategy officer and executive vice president of business development, Richard Dakers oversees the strategic planning process, all business development, technology transfer and licensing activities, clinical systems innovation collaborations and the interoperability initiative. He also evaluates existing and new strategic areas of interest to advance West Health’s mission of lowering health care costs through the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator. All of these entities focus on lowering costs by creating innovative, patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time.

As a member of the operating committee and co-manager of the West Health Investment Fund, Dakers brings 33 years of experience to his position with an extensive career in business development and recognition as a subject matter expert in the broader medical technology industry. Most recently, he was vice president, business development and worldwide strategy for Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, a Johnson & Johnson company. He began his career at Johnson & Johnson in 1979, spending the first 10 years in positions of increasing responsibility in sales, marketing and general management in Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East. In 1991, Dakers joined Ethicon Endo-Surgery as director of marketing helping to create and establish the minimally-invasive surgery market. He then assumed business development and strategic planning roles, eventually overseeing these functions for the Medical Device & Diagnostics segment of Johnson & Johnson. In this role, he was responsible for coordinating the mergers and acquisition process, as well as leading key acquisitions for the company. 

Dakers has a Bachelor of Science degree, with honors, in science and social science from Edinburgh Napier University in the United Kingdom.

General Counsel

Chris Costa, MBA, JD
Chris Costa, MBA, JD

General Counsel

In his role as general counsel of West Health, Chris Costa brings expertise in legal and business affairs to advance the West Health entities’ unique mission of lowering health care costs.

Costa oversees legal affairs, including those in connection with West Health’s contracting, intellectual property, investment and development activities.

Costa brings extensive law firm and in-house legal experience to his role of general counsel. Most recently, he was the director of legal affairs and corporate business development at Synthetic Genomics, Inc., a leader in advancing the commercialization of synthetic biology. Previously, Costa was the general counsel at La Jolla Cove Investors, Inc., an investment fund focusing on public equity investments.

Costa was an associate at leading international law firms, including Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Gunderson Dettmer and Brobeck Phleger & Harrison, where he represented a wide variety of life sciences and emerging growth clients. His practice included significant venture-backed and public equity transactions, as well as representing clients in a variety of intellectual property, commercial contracting and regulatory contexts.

Costa earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of California at Davis, as well as his M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley.

Executive Vice President, Technology-Enabled Care Coordination

Scott E. Cassidy, MBA
Scott E. Cassidy, MBA

Executive Vice President, Technology-Enabled Care Coordination

As Executive Vice President of Technology Enabled Care Coordination for the West Health Institute, Scott E. Cassidy leads the Institute’s Technology-Enabled Care Coordination (TECC) initiative, which is helping to advance a more cost-saving model of healthcare in the US. TECC is a systematic-ecosystem, patient-centric approach that all healthcare stakeholders can use to deliver the right care, at the right place at the right time for the lowest possible cost without sacrificing access, quality and outcomes. He serves as a member of the executive leadership team that drives the activities of West Health through the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator.

Cassidy is an accomplished business leader with more than 25 years of diverse leadership experience in the military and health care sectors. He has led sales, marketing and professional education teams in the medical device, diagnostic, pharmaceutical and consumer products businesses for Johnson & Johnson, the largest healthcare products and services company in the world and most recently served as the Executive Director of New Markets/Specialty Solutions for Johnson & Johnson’s Wellness and Prevention unit. He started his healthcare career as a US Army Medical Service Corps officer with a focus on Airborne mobility, Field Hospital Logistics and Rapid Deployment Operations. Throughout his career, he has been a driven creator of high-performance environments and has innovated in the fields of minimally invasive surgery, surgical simulation, integrated product/procedure portfolio solutions and human capital development.
 
Cassidy has an MBA with honors and BBA from the University of Notre Dame, and did additional graduate study in the fields of Health Care Administration, Public Health and International Business from Xavier University and the University of Phoenix.
EVP, Government Affairs and EVP, West Health Policy Center
Rodger Currie, JD
Rodger Currie, JD
EVP, Government Affairs and EVP, West Health Policy Center

In his role as executive vice president, government affairs and executive vice president, West Health Policy Center, Rodger Currie brings expertise in governmental affairs and legislative policy to advance the initiative’s unique, one-of-a-kind mission to lower health care costs through the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator.  All of these entities focus on lowering costs by creating innovative, patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time. As a member of the executive leadership team, Currie focuses on the implementation of non-partisan policy solutions to lower the cost of health care.

Currie brings extensive health care-related experience to West Health, most recently as a partner in the Health Care and Government Strategies Practice Groups at Foley Hoag LLP, where he advised biotechnology companies, medical device firms, other health care providers, and trade associations on federal legislative and regulatory issues in health care and the life sciences.

Previously, Currie served as senior vice president for the renowned health care inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen, founder of DEKA Research & Development.  Prior to that he served for six years as vice president for global government affairs at Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, where he led the strategic planning and execution of legislative initiatives ranging from Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for cancer, dialysis, arthritis and osteoporosis treatments to FDA regulatory issues, intellectual property matters and various tax priorities.

Currie also served for six years as senior vice president for Law & Federal Affairs for the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), where he led the trade association’s highly successful advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and with the Administration, including the development and enactment of the landmark 2003 Medicare prescription drug benefit legislation.

Before joining the private sector, he served in several positions on Capitol Hill, including majority counsel to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce where he advised the committee chairman as well as House leadership on federal health care programs and legislation, with particular responsibility for matters relating to the FDA, CMS, and NIH.  Currie was counsel of record for the historic FDA Modernization Act as well as for the Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance provisions of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

He earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from Georgetown University and volunteers as a Reserve Police Officer with the DC Metropolitan Police Department.

Executive Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs

Stephanie Fagan
Stephanie Fagan

Executive Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs

In her role as executive vice president of communications and public affairs, Stephanie Fagan brings extensive communications expertise to advance the West Health entities' unique mission of lowering health care costs.
 
As a member of the operating committee, Fagan oversees all internal and external communications for West Health and directs public affairs programming.
 
Fagan’s diverse background includes a range of communications experience in the pharmaceutical, medical device, biotechnology and consumer health care industries.
 
Fagan joins West Health from Johnson & Johnson, where she most recently served as the vice president of communications for the Global Medical Solutions Group, a portfolio of companies in the diabetes, vision care, infection prevention and diagnostics health care markets.
 
Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, Fagan led the global communications function at Allergan, including all corporate, financial and public relations activities, as well as directing award-winning marketing communications programs for major brands. Before joining Allergan, she worked at Pharmacia developing successful category-creating campaigns for the COX-2 portfolio. Early in her career, she worked in corporate and marketing communications roles for Boston Scientific Corporation.
 
Fagan earned a master of science in communications from Boston University and a bachelor of arts in English from Wheaton College. In 2011, she was awarded the Tribute to Industry and Women award by the YWCA of central New Jersey, a nationally-recognized honor for women who have made significant contributions in their field.

Vice President, Research, Development and Engineering

Freeman Rose
Freeman Rose

Vice President, Research, Development and Engineering

In his role as vice president of research, development and engineering for the West Health Institute, Freeman Rose brings more than 40 years of experience in health care industry research to advance the unique, one-of-a-kind initiative's mission to lower health care costs through the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator. All of these entities focus on lowering costs by creating innovative, patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time.

As a member of the operating committee, he is responsible for the research, development and engineering teams to drive the effective development of innovative solutions in service of our mission and strategic priorities.

Previously, Rose served as vice president of engineering and CEO of Medstone International, a public medical technology company that provided savings in health care by replacing kidney stone surgeries with extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy. He also founded and served as CTO and CEO of MagneVu, an innovative private company that designed and marketed a portablemagnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system costing less than a tenth that of conventional MRI.

Freeman Rose joined the West Health Institute in October 2011 as director of research and development. Since that time, he has successfully contributed to the Institute’s innovation process and provided leadership for all aspects of research, technical support and technology transfers. His broad background in many technical disciplines, medical and non-medical, provide West Health with proven capabilities and experience in reducing the cost of health care through the use of innovative, disruptive technologies.

Rose received both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology, and holds multiple U.S. and foreign patents in the fields of precision instrumentation, in vivo ultrasound localization and MRI.

Vice President, Human Resources

Mary Ellen Ciafardini
Mary Ellen Ciafardini

Vice President, Human Resources

In her role as director of human resources, Mary Ellen Ciafardini brings more than 30 years of experience in human resources and talent management to advance the unique, one-of-a-kind initiative’s mission to lower health care costs through the West Health Institute, West Health Policy Center, West Health Investment Fund and West Health Incubator. All of these entities focus on lowering costs by creating innovative, patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time.

As a member of the operating committee, she is responsible for organizational development, performance management and talent acquisition.

Ciafardini has a strong history of creating high-performing cultures within professional services firms. She worked most recently as the Talent Director for Deloitte LLP in New York, where she managed the overall delivery of strategic and consultative HR services to its 10,000 person northeast region, with prior experience at other organizations including Dewey Ballantine, LLP and Andersen LLP.

Ciafardini earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Fairfield University. She earned her C.P.A. certification and has also completed her SPHR certification in Human Resources.