Quality Institute Staff
Linda Schwimmer is the President and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. The Quality Institute is a non-profit focused on improving the quality and affordability of health care in New Jersey. Ms. Schwimmer is also a member of the board of the Leapfrog Group, a national hospital safety advocacy group that issues the Hospital Safety Score. She serves on the board of the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement and sits on the Consensus Standards Approval as well as Palliative and End-of-Life Care Standing Committees for the National Quality Forum. She also serves on the Quality Improvement Advisory Committee for the Department of Health.
Prior to joining the Quality Institute, Ms. Schwimmer was Director of Strategic Relations & External Affairs at Horizon Healthcare Innovations, a subsidiary of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. There, Schwimmer was on the leadership team that brought Accountable Care Organizations and the largest Patient Centered Medical Home program to New Jersey.
Ms. Schwimmer also served in State Government as Director of Legislation and Policy for the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, where she represented the Department’s position before the State Legislature and worked with State and federal officials on priority legislative initiatives impacting the Insurance, Banking and Real Estate industries. Ms. Schwimmer’s experience in State government also includes policy and counsel positions with the Senate Majority Office, where she staffed the Judiciary and Commerce Committees.
She also has experience in the federal government, having clerked for a U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge and worked as an attorney at the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. For over a decade, she was a lawyer in private practice, specializing in bankruptcy and commercial law.
Ms. Schwimmer received a B.A. with honors from the University of California, Berkeley and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. Linda lives in Princeton with her husband and two sons. She has been a Princeton resident since 1994.Downloadable version
Amanda Melillo joined the Quality Institute as a Policy Associate in May, 2013 and has since advanced to be the Quality Institute's Chief of Staff. Ms. Melillo works primarily with the QI Collaborative, the Quality Institute's learning network for redesigning New Jersey's health care system using new payment models, delivery system reforms, and community-based partnerships. She also leads the Quality Institute's Leapfrog programming, engaging NJ hospitals, helping them complete the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Survey, and communicating with press around various patient safety initiatives, including the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Score. She engages with our ACO leadership and membership, researches policy issues, recruits new stakeholders, and coordinates meetings and programs. She also works on a number of timely policy issues ranging from out-of-network policy to Medicaid reform and innovations to clinical quality improvement. Prior to formally joining the Quality Institute, Ms. Melillo served as a policy intern at the Quality Institute for a year.
Ms. Melillo earned a B.A. from The College of New Jersey graduating summa cum laude with a degree in Public Health.
Tyla Housman joined the Quality Institute in January of 2016 as Senior Director. Prior to working here, she served as the Director of Government Relations and Policy for the New Jersey Hospital Association, lobbying members of the state legislature and advocating on behalf of New Jersey’s health care providers. There she worked on several major policy issues including hospital and nursing home staff ratios, out of network, and earned sick leave. Prior to her role with NJHA, she served as Chief of Staff to New Jersey State Assemblyman Troy Singleton and as campaign manager in his successful bid for the legislature in 2011. She began her career in politics after graduating from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Political Science and History.
Jacqueline Agogliati joined the Quality Institute in the Fall of 2016 as Manager of Operations. Jackie organizes and oversees the Quality Institute's administrative and operational functions. She offers a wealth of valuable experience. A graduate of Hartwick College with a B.A. in management and an emphasis in accounting, Jackie has gained years of experience in many industries, including private wealth management and health care. In the past, she has served as executive assistant to financial institution and hedge fund CEOs. Her previous compliance experience in investor relations has prepared her for her responsibilities ensuring the Institute's compliance with laws, regulations, company policies, and contracts. Her previous experience in operations management has provided her with the skills to manage and increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the organization's support services (e.g. HR, IT and Finance), as well as the coordination and communication between support and business functions.
Jackie resides in West Windsor, NJ with her husband and two incredible children.
Crystal McDonald joined the NJ Health Care Quality Institute in March 2016 as the Program Manager on the Medicaid 2.0 project. During the last eight years, Crystal worked closely with community leaders, health advocates, providers and policy makers to improve the health care system to promote quality, access, and efficiency with a heavy focus on social determinants and disparities. A large focus of this work was directed toward protection, expansion and improving health literacy of the NJ Medicaid program.
Prior to this role, she served as the Director of Operations in addition to leading health policy initiatives at Faith in New Jersey. In this role she helped lead community efforts to improve the NJ Medicaid transportation program via the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) contract, which led to improvements in quality, accountability, and stakeholder engagement. Additionally, she managed several grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Nicholson Foundation, which focused on community engagement in the Medicaid ACO Demonstration projects and improving health policies that impact low-income communities of color.
She began her career in health policy at NJ Citizen Action. During this time, she built a coalition of over 600 small business owners to support the Affordable Care Act, facilitated a coalition of 65 health advocacy organizations to improve health quality and access, and convened multi-stakeholder health policy conferences to foster collaboration in efforts to improve New Jersey’s health care system.
Crystal graduated from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in 2006 with a B.A. in Political Science. She is a proud fellow of the NJ Chapter of the New Leaders Council. She lives in Howell with her husband and very active toddler son. In true Jersey fashion, she has an intense love of the beach and Monmouth Mall.
Deborah Levine joined the Quality Institute in March 2016 as a Community Health Associate, and has since advanced to be the Quality Institute's Director of Community Health. In this role, Ms. Levine directs the Mayors Wellness Campaign, serving as a resource for mayors who wish to promote health and wellness initiatives in their towns. Ms. Levine runs Conversation of Your Life, a program aimed at engaging mayors, physicians, community leaders, and residents in conversations about advance care planning. She also runs Healthy Communities create Healthy Citizens, a program that works with Jersey City, Trenton, and Cumberland County to develop sustainable programs that address common challenges identified in the three communities’ Community Health Needs Assessments.
Prior to joining the Quality Institute, Ms. Levine served as a Program Associate at the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS). Ms. Levine earned a master’s in public health and a certificate in health policy analysis from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and a bachelor’s degree in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from Brandeis University.
Tabiya Ahmed joined the Quality Institute in the Fall of 2015 as a Community Health Intern working primarily on the Mayors Wellness Campaign. She recently stepped into the role of Program Coordinator for the QI collaborative. Tabiya works closely with the Senior Director of the QI Collaborative to support projects related to health care delivery, payment reform and quality improvement.
Prior to interning at the Quality Institute, Tabiya also interned at Hyacinth AIDS Foundation and the Treatment Research Institute and through both her work and her studies, developed a passion to improve access to healthcare through health policy. Tabiya earned a B.A. from The College of New Jersey with a major in Sociology and minors in Economics, Public Health, and Women and Gender Studies.
Stacey joined the Quality Institute in 2013. She has worked in a variety of office settings and looks forward to greeting Quality Institute members and assisting the team where needed to support and engage members. Stacey received an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies from Bucks County Community College.
Stacey comes from a traditional large Italian family and is the proud mother of 3 wonderful children.
Patricia is the former State Associate Director for AARP New Jersey and a longtime New Jersey health care policy expert. Prior to joining the Quality Institute, Patricia consulted with nonprofits working primarily in the area of patient safety and worked nationally with Consumers Union on issues of affordability, transparency and access. In 2013 she also facilitated the launch of a patient safety public-private partnership in Connecticut. As AARP New Jersey's Associate State Director, she advocated for health care reform, long term care, financial security and consumer protection for Garden State seniors. Kelmar served on the New Jersey Department of Health's Quality Improvement Advisory Council which advises the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services and she was appointed to Governor Chris Christie's transition team for health issues, serving with team chairman David Knowlton.
Richard Van Wagner is the Government Affairs Advisor to the Quality Institute. He is the principal member of Van Wagner Government Affairs, LLC and a member of the law firm, Eckert, Seamans, Cherin and Melott located in Princeton, New Jersey. He focuses his practice in the areas of legislative affairs, administrative litigation and regulatory counseling and has a unique understanding of the law with an appreciation of the legislative and regulatory processes. As a registered Government Affairs Agent, Richard lobbies on behalf of insurers, financial institutions, transportation-related entities, racetracks and casinos, higher education institutions and post-secondary educational institutions. Richard also has extensive experience in corporate and regulatory affairs and has practiced extensively before the Departments of Banking and Insurance, Health and Senior Services, Human Services, Transportation, Labor, Community Affairs, the Casino Control Commission, the New Jersey Racing Commission, the Divisions of Taxation, Purchase and Property, the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and Consumer Affairs.
Carol Ann Campbell is the Public Relations Advisor for the Quality Institute. She works to advance the mission of the institute through traditional and social media as well as through direct communication with stakeholders. She is founder and president of Campbell Media, a communications firm working with health-related organizations. Earlier in her career, Carol Ann was an award winning medical journalist at The Star-Ledger and The (Bergen) Record. She is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Catrina Sparacio, JD, RN graduated from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) where she was first inspired to pursue a career in legal advocacy for nurses. Catrina is currently Founder and President of AmbroseFin, LLC, a health law consultancy specializing in nurse malpractice and promotion of quality care transparency. "Jersey grown", Catrina earned her B.S.N. from TCNJ and law degree from Rutgers University School of Law - Camden. She is licensed to practice law in New Jersey and licensed by NJ's Board of Nursing.
Catrina served as clerk for Judge Laura LeWinn Presiding Judge over Mercer County Superior Court, Family Division. In addition to practicing family law, she represented clients in disciplinary actions against licensure boards and federal agencies. Since 2000, Catrina has practiced nursing including specialties in medical-surgical, perioperative, and ambulatory care.
For 15 consecutive semesters, she has taught various courses to nearly 500 students at her alma mater including her innovative health law class. In 2012, Catrina was elected to the Board of New York Metropolitan's chapter of The American Association of Nurse Attorneys. She is an active member of the American Society of Legal Medical Ethics as well as teaches, speaks and mentors on behalf of Guillian-Barre Syndrome Foundation International. Most recently, Catrina was inducted by TCNJ faculty into Sigma Theta Tau International as Nurse Leader.
Kevin O’Brien has served as a leader and key executive in Accountable Care initiatives for over 20 years. He has successfully implemented provider driven quality improvement programs for physician organizations, health plans, employers, and Taft-Hartley plan sponsors. Mr. O’Brien was responsible for developing and implementing a diabetic program for 8,000 NJ State Health Benefit Plan beneficiaries, the purpose of which was to improve care, reduce costs and improve outcomes for patients through appropriate care coordination and chronic disease management. He has successfully managed percent of premium and pay for performance contracts with major insurers and helped champion the patient centered medical home movement in Central New Jersey. Mr. O’Brien is an expert in the application of healthcare data to collaboratively solve healthcare quality and cost challenges across purchaser, payer/insurer, provider, and patient domains.
Currently the Founder and CEO of Strategic Business Alternatives, LLC, Mr. O’Brien is working with organizations focused on realizing the promise of the Triple Aim, Value Based Health, and the goals of the National Quality Strategy, especially in Accountable Care, Community Health Improvement, and their connection to local Community Economic Development. He is known for blending strategic, financial, informatics, and clinical disciplines into value propositions for clients. Mr. O’Brien also serves as a Senior Fellow for the NJ Healthcare Quality Institute, teaches a course in Healthcare Quality for the Rutgers Center for Management, and serves as a member of the NJ Department of Health’s Quality Improvement Advisory Committee.
Previously a member of the Partners In Care, Corp. (PIC) Board of Directors, Mr. O’Brien served PIC since its inception in 1995. He began with PIC in 1994 by leading the team that formed the company, served in various capacities, including President and CEO for eight years, and served as a Consultant to the Chairman. Prior to joining Partners In Care, he served as Director of Strategic Planning and Marketing at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ and before that as a Unit Manager for Saint Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. During his time at Saint Peter’s, Mr. O’Brien served as staff on various Governance Committees, including the Hospital’s Quality Assurance Committee.
Working with the Quality Assurance Department and Senior Executive Management in the early 1990’s, Mr. O’Brien developed database analytical techniques that allowed for internal analysis of physician quality, utilization, and cost performance using UB92 data with integration into the Hospital’s Physician Credentialing procedures. This work was later applied in the economic and quality credentialing processes pioneered by PIC during its startup as NJ’s first “closed” physician/hospital organization. PIC’s credentialing process was widely regarded as a key contributing success factor to the unprecedented success in risk contract management PIC experienced in the 1990’s, a forerunner to today’s Accountable Care initiatives.
Mr. O’Brien served as a member of the Leadership Committee of the New Jersey Healthcare Quality Institute, a member of the CIGNA National Health Care Advisory Council, and a co-chair of New Jersey’s Regional Action Coalition Nursing Initiatives Taskforce Data Workgroup. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Health Value Innovation, a member of the Newark Covenant House Vocational Board, and a past member of the Board of Directors of the ARC of Monmouth, now serving on the ARC of Monmouth’s Investment Committee. Mr. O’Brien holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology/Psychology from Columbia College, Columbia University and a Masters in Business Administration with a specialization in Healthcare Administration from the University of Miami.
Ruth Antoniades is an expert in the health care payer arena. She currently supports projects with international and local unions, funds and coalitions across the country through a nonprofit organization, the Center for Health Care Initiatives. Ms Antoniades worked as a Special Program Coordinator with the 1199/SEIU National Benefit and Pension Fund, was involved in the development of health care delivery options, cost containment analysis, preventive services and acted as a liaison to external groups. In the 1990s she served as the contracted administrator of a St Louis Multi-employer Fund which grew throughout the Southwest Region. As administrator of the Sidney Hillman Health Center, an ambulatory care center of a New York Trust Fund, she led a restructuring project in 1985 to develop an early model of primary care. On the international staff of the Amalgamated Clothing and TextileWorkersUnion (now Workers United) Ms Antoniades worked with local unions on health and welfare needs of active and retired members.
Ms Antoniades was elected a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance in 2000, and continues to be a member of the International Foundation of Employee Benefits and on the Board of the National Labor Alliance of Health Care Coalitions. Active in health care reform, she is on the Boards of the Metro Chapter of the Physicians for a National Health Program and the Steering Committee of Rekindling Reform. Ms Antoniades is a graduate of St Olaf College, matriculated at the University of Oslo, and holds a master of science in community organization and social planning from Columbia University.
Matthew D’Oria is the Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) leading the Quality Institute’s Medicaid 2.0 initiative. In his role as CTO, Matt is overseeing the Quality Institute’s Medicaid 2.0 grant which will provide a policy blueprint for the NJ Medicaid program. Prior to this, Matt provided consulting services to NJ hospitals, long-term care providers and insurers. From March 2006 June 2010 he was Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health where he was responsible for the regulation of health care institutions, hospital and long-term care financing, and health care policy and research. Prior to his time as Deputy Commissioner he served for 13 years in various leadership roles in the NJ Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services which operates the NJ Medicaid and FamilyCare programs. He holds a B.A. in Public Administration from the College of New Jersey and an M.B.A. from Rider University.
Jim Dieterle recently-retired as State Director for AARP in New Jersey, and as such was AARP's top staff person in the state. Jim provided leadership and worked collaboratively with AARP New Jersey’s over 1,500 volunteers, as well as with various external organizations including NJHCQI to help achieve collectively advocacy and community outreach results that helped meet AARP’s mission of enhancing the quality of life for all as we age. Jim led positive social change through advocacy and community outreach at AARP for almost 17 years. His work focused on numerous financial security and health care issues on behalf of AARP’s 1.3 million 50-plus NJ members and for all generations of NJ residents.
Jim’s career has been rooted in consumer advocacy and outreach. A Rutgers University graduate with a degree in economics, Jim worked for Public Service Electric & Gas Company, PSE&G, for over 30 years. He advanced through numerous senior managerial positions, leading work to improve customer service through innovative programs for PSE&G's almost 2 million customers. While at PSE&G, Jim led the development and implementation of numerous customer assistance and outreach programs, many of which focused on vulnerable older adults and working low/moderate-income families. Following retirement from PSE&G, Jim established Business/Advocacy Resources, a consulting firm providing professional services to non-profit organizations and government agencies, again focusing on helping those most in-need, before joining AARP.
During his career Jim established numerous win-win collaborations between industry, state government, and consumer groups, all designed to improve the quality of life for New Jersey families. Over the years he led collaborations that have brought many tens of millions of dollars in additional federal and state government assistance to New Jersey’s working poor families including co-founding several non-profit organizations to help families who cannot pay their electric, gas, or telephone bills. These included the NJ Energy and Aging Consortium, the NJ Low Income Energy Network, and NJ SHARES, an ongoing statewide non-profit organization working through over 235 agencies with over 300 sites throughout NJ plus in other states. Over the past 15 years, NJ SHARES has helped over 170,000 moderate-income NJ families who were ineligible for government assistance. They have received over $75 million in grants to help keep their lights and heat on during times of temporary financial crisis.
Jim previously served on numerous industry committees including a term as President of the NY Metropolitan Chapter of The Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Business. He helped establish and remains active in The Partnership Team, a church-based international collaborative which provides scholarships and operates a health clinic serving thousands of very poor villagers in rural Kenya. Jim is married to Dr. Maura C. Ryan, a Gerontologist, a Nurse Practitioner, a retired professor, and a recipient of the Seton Hall School of Nursing’s “Distinguished Alumnus Award”. Together they have 6 children, 12 grandchildren, and reside in South Brunswick, New Jersey.
William A. Zeruld, MBA is a digital health strategist, senior healthcare executive, and consultant dedicated to transforming healthcare through strategic innovation. He leads Zeruld Healthcare Consulting LLC where he builds on his 20 years of broad healthcare industry experience to provide strategy and business planning advisory services to digital health companies. In addition, Mr. Zeruld serves on the leadership team of the Philadelphia Health IT Circle, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to energizing the digital health innovation ecosystem, and is a member of the Digital Health Advisory Board of the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT).
Mr. Zeruld’s career includes extensive direct experience with: hospitals and health systems; payers; pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers; digital health and health IT companies; consulting organizations; and government agencies. In senior leadership roles with Nuvon (a medical device data integration company), Premier (a healthcare performance improvement alliance), and U.S. Pharmacopeia (a not-for-profit standards-setting body for pharmaceuticals), he demonstrated expertise in strategy and execution, corporate and business development, marketing strategy and sales, performance measurement, and operations and P&L management.
He also previously served in a variety of healthcare consulting, marketing, and planning positions for the Advisory Board Company (Washington, D.C.), the MEDSTAT Group Inc. (Ann Arbor, Mich.), Abington Memorial Hospital (Abington, Pa.), and Aetna Health Plans (Wayne, Pa).
Mr. Zeruld holds a master of business administration (MBA) degree from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, with a dual concentration in health care management and finance. He also received his bachelor of arts in economics, cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania.