Our Team

The Patient and Family Advisory Council for Quality (PFACQ) comprises approximately 20 patient, family, and caregiver advisors, and several MSK employees.

Leadership

Frank Licciardi, PFACQ Co-Chair

Why did you join PFACQ?
I felt I could help more patients by integrating the collective patient perspective into MSK more broadly — and that was precisely what PFACQ offered! The people at MSK acknowledge that it is critical to hear the patient voice to drive change and the PFACQ takes that responsibility seriously.

What project has felt particularly meaningful to you?
We are focused on assessing how patients currently feel about the end of active treatment — a process many described as anticlimactic and confusing, as they look to establish a “new normal” in their lives. I’ve found it very meaningful to assess how patients feel broadly and then take those learnings to help us create a better transition process.


Alex Zimmer, PFACQ Co-Chair

What PFACQ project has been the most rewarding?
I found it very rewarding to help create our new patient video. It was truly gratifying to work with many different departments and talented MSK people in order to produce a video that reflects new patients’ fears and hopes with sensitivity and authenticity. With the video, we want people to know they are not alone at MSK and that other patients who have traveled the same road are here to help.


Johanna Schoen, PFACQ Co-Chair

What have you learned about MSK as a result of this PFACQ experience?
I am a medical historian, so I have a keen professional interest in the ways patients and health professionals interact and the parameters in which healthcare unfolds. I have been impressed with the complexity of MSK and the fact that so many different units and people work to provide the very best in cancer care. It is one thing to know this abstractly, but it is another to experience this from inside PFACQ.

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Kate Niehaus

Why did you join PFACQ?
It’s incredibly satisfying to find ways to make the patient and family experience better. I remember how difficult and frightening it was when I was first diagnosed. The work of the PFACQ is so important because we provide an expertise that few others at the institution possess: We know what it is like to be a patient or a family caregiver.

What has been the most rewarding part of joining PFACQ?
I have loved getting to know the other PFACQ members and staff members at MSK, and seeing our projects develop from just ideas into actual institutional changes. A small group of committed individuals can make a big difference.

I’ve also written several articles about the importance of the patient voice in cancer care.

What has been the most surprising part of your PFACQ experience and why?
MSK has really devoted time and resources to make sure that it delivers patient-centered care and clearly sees our advisors as vital tools for identifying what that care looks like.


Nancy Steinfeld

What is the best part of your experience with PFACQ?
I love the support and respect we are shown by every single person — from the front line staff to the highest level administrators. There is a sense that we are all working toward the same goal, and we all have an important role in achieving success.


Jennifer Rogers Carlock

What project has been the most rewarding?
I’ve been part of the working group looking at the transition from active treatment to monitoring. For many survivors who have been through treatment, those first months and years after you are “done” can be a mental marathon. I, for one, was grateful to be alive but crippled with anxiety about the future. Our group has been working with MSK on how to make the process easier. Through this project and others I’ve assisted on, the most rewarding part has been meeting so many people who really care about their patients and the institution.


Mike Castellano

What experience do you have that is valuable to your work as a PFACQ member?
At work, I am a sales and project executive. This entails listening and working with clients on complex business issues, and then delivering solutions to address their needs. As a member of PFACQ, I am always listening to the concerns of hospital administrators and then working with staff and other PFACQ members to develop plans and improve the way care is delivered to patients. There are similarities between the two: both require listening, creative thinking, and collaboration. On a more personal note, I have three sons, and my youngest is a nurse in the Urgent Care Center

Read more about Mike


Tom Chiusano

What has been the best part about being a member of the PFACQ?
I am a survivor of stage IV melanoma for 19 years (and counting) and am a patient of Daniel Coit and Paul Chapman. In my eight years as a volunteer, I’ve found it extremely gratifying to participate on several quality-assurance committees and to become a regular speaker at MSK’s new employee orientation.


Bryan Ettinger

What has been the most surprising part of your PFACQ experience and why?
I have been surprised to see the willingness of other patients and caregivers to lay out their experiences and feelings in an honest and vulnerable way to help drive better experiences and outcomes for the patients walking through the doors of MSK for the first time.


Mike Foley

What special training, interests, hobbies, or experiences do you have that are valuable to your work as a PFACQ member?
I have worked in business as a CPA and business advisor for more than 35 years. This means that I understand big organizations like MSK. I can bring those skills and my experience as a patient to the table. It’s a great blend for being on PFACQ.

What has been the most surprising part of your PFACQ experience and why?
I was initially a little bit skeptical about the degree of MSK’s commitment to improving the patient experience. It has been a very pleasant surprise to learn how serious MSK is about this effort, starting at the very top of the organization and as evidenced by the amount of time that senior leaders have given to the effort.


Naomi Gross

What have you learned about MSK as a result of this PFACQ experience?
While I have always been aware that everyone at MSK cares deeply about patients and their caregivers, participating as a member of the PFACQ highlighted this level of caring and commitment many times over.

What interests or experiences do you have that you feel are valuable to your work as a PFACQ member?
I have been able to tap into the experience from my role as a caregiver and my career in higher education. To give just one example, I have participated in the summer internship program for the Strategy & Innovation group. Working with these creative and passionate people has been exhilarating and inspiring.


Sally Joyce

Why is PFACQ work important to you?
I am forever grateful to the MSK doctors, nurses, and staff members who helped me through my cancer journey. I hope that by sharing my story, all doctors will continue to treat future patients as I was treated: as a person and not as a diagnosis.

What about PFACQ has been the most rewarding?
I sit in monthly quality-control meetings of the Department of Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine, and always leave more energized than when arrived. I have no medical background — only the education that was forced upon me when I became a cancer patient — but my opinion is respected and my voice is heard.


Melissa Thompson

What have you learned about MSK as a result of this PFACQ experience?
I learned that all institutions need patient and caregiver input to truly care for their patients and families. The importance MSK places on the patient voice has reinforced that we are “expert patients,” and our input is valuable and often implemented. In that capacity, PFACQ has made me more confident and outspoken in other areas outside MSK. Recently, I wrote a bill in Connecticut to require insurance coverage for fertility preservation for people diagnosed with cancer. MSK was supportive in this effort and provided access to the knowledge of our fertility navigators and legislative specialist. Throughout the legislative journey of my bill, I narrated the issue, solution, cost, and benefit — just as I would as an MSK PFACQ member introducing a patient-led solution. The bill passed unanimously through all houses to become Melissa’s Law for Fertility Preservation.

What has been the most surprising part of your PFACQ experience and why?
My intention in joining PFACQ was to give back to MSK. One surprising outcome has been the healing that the experience has provided to me. Though I was not looking for support as I transitioned to survivorship, PFACQ provided the connections I didn’t realize how much I actually needed. Seeing PFACQ’s contributions elicit change, as well as the supportive relationships I have formed with the other patient and caregiver advisors, has been yet another layer of care and healing facilitated by MSK.


Jeff Tomczek

What have you learned about MSK as a result of this PFACQ experience?
I have learned that MSK is the rare form of organization in which everyone has a voice and the best solution can come from any source. I’ve seen a willingness to improve across the whole center and to recognize that there are new challenges to solve every day.

What project is the most rewarding?
Our goal is provide patients and caregivers with a way to understand what’s ahead and recommendations on how to prepare accordingly. This goes beyond treatment too — it’s focused on the patient as a human with a variety of needs that go beyond medical care.


Eliza Weber

What project has been the most rewarding?
I have been involved in many of the pediatric initiatives, and have seen that the medical and administrative staff is open to caregiver input and feedback. They are self-reflective, analytical, and action-oriented, and are willing to pursue change to improve the way the institution serves its patients.


Wendy Bonilla, Patient Volunteer Program Coordinator

Why did you join PFACQ?
I have been a PFACQ member since 2016. I find it rewarding to be part of a team that supports the mission of the Patient and Caregiver Volunteer Program to provide meaningful support throughout the patient and caregiver continuum of care at MSK.


Jennifer Tota, Director, Ambulatory Care

Why did you join PFACQ?
It is an absolute honor for me to be a member of PFACQ. Having the opportunity to work alongside incredible individuals who bring their perspective from their experiences as patients and caregivers is both humbling and invigorating. I believe PFACQ is one of our most powerful tools in our quest to create an excellent patient experience at MSK.


Jennifer Wang, Patient & Caregiver Education Manager

Why did you join PFACQ?
It’s an absolute privilege to work with PFACQ. They are a dedicated group of people who use their personal experiences as patients and caregivers to help MSK strive towards continued excellence in patient care. Their time and commitment to enhancing the experience for all patients and caregivers is valuable and truly appreciated.


Rori Salvaggio, Nursing Director, Ambulatory Services

Why did you join PFACQ?
Being a member of PFACQ has been a rewarding experience. Hearing and understanding the perspectives and experiences of both patients and caregivers provides an incredible opportunity to provide excellent patient- and family-centered care at MSK. PFACQ is a valuable tool for the institution, and I am honored to work alongside these individuals.

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Elizabeth Krug, PFACQ Project Coordinator

Why did you join PFACQ?
I’m honored and excited to be working with PFACQ as a project coordinator. The passion and dedication that PFACQ members demonstrate is inspiring, and I’ve witnessed the positive impact the patient and caregiver voice can have on processes and initiatives within the institution.


Diane Reidy Lagunes, Medical Oncologist and PFACQ Physician Champion

Why did you join PFACQ?
Being “Physician Champion of PFACQ” has been one of my greatest honors in medicine. I work with extraordinary patients and their family members who provide insight, knowledge, and the patient perspective. Our PFACQ members help me identify my blind spots and those of the institution when addressing the patient experience. As MSK continues to evolve, PFACQ remains an integral part of that change.