SUNY Downstate President Wayne Riley, Public Policy Expert Karen Watson join the Board of Trustees 

Dr. Wayne Wiley and Ms. Karen Watson

Dr. Riley and Ms. Watson bring deep experience and leadership in the health arena to the Board of Trustees.

April 19, 2018 — The Arnold P. Gold Foundation Board Chair Richard C. Sheerr and SUNY Downstate Medical Center announced today that Wayne J. Riley, M.D., president of SUNY Downstate, and Karen Watson,  a communications and public policy expert in health and wellness, have been appointed to the Board of Trustees.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Riley and Ms. Watson, both outstanding leaders in the healthcare arena who understand so fully why this is an urgent time in history to stand up for humanism,” said Richard I. Levin, President and CEO of The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a leading nonprofit that works with organizations and clinicians around the world to support humanistic patient care. “We look forward to working with them both to help push the future of healthcare in the direction of more empathetic, compassionate care for both patients and the whole healthcare team – an absolutely critical mission in our era.”

“I am honored to join the Gold Foundation as a Trustee,” said SUNY Downstate Medical Center President Wayne J. Riley, MD. “The foundation’s work is most significant in a fast-evolving world where a greater need exists for compassion and connection with patients. I look forward to working with Ms. Watson and my fellow Trustees to sustain Arnold Gold’s legacy of this nurturing approach to patient care.”

“I’m thrilled to be engaged with the Gold Foundation,” said Ms. Watson. “In a time of radical technological change and advancement in medicine, the human connection between health professionals and patients and the mission of the foundation have never been more important.”

About The Arnold P. Gold Foundation
The Gold Foundation is a nonprofit organization that champions the human connection in healthcare. For 30 years, the foundation has worked to infuse compassion and empathy in medicine, engaging medical schools, health systems, companies and individual clinicians around the world. The foundation is perhaps best known for the now iconic White Coat Ceremony, which marks the start of training with a recognition of the importance of caring compassionately for patients, and the Gold Humanism Honor Society, which has more than 30,000 members selected for their humanistic care.

About Dr. Wayne J. Riley
Dr. Riley is the 17th president of SUNY Downstate. He also holds the faculty ranks of tenured Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, College of Medicine and tenured Professor of Health Policy & Management, School of Public Health.
From 2007-2013, Dr. Riley served as the 10th president, chief executive officer and professor of medicine at Meharry Medical College, the nation’s largest, private, independent, historically black academic health center dedicated to educating health professionals. He simultaneously was also a professor of internal medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Center at Meharry and jointly, professor of internal medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Immediately prior to joining SUNY Downstate, Dr. Riley was the 101st President of the American College of Physicians.

As president of SUNY Downstate, Dr. Riley leads the only academic medical center in Brooklyn, New York, a borough of more than 2.5 million people. Downstate includes a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative.

Dr. Riley earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University, a Master of Public Health degree from Tulane University, a Master’s in Business Administration from Rice University, and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the Morehouse School of Medicine. Read more about Dr. Riley here.

About Karen Watson
Ms. Watson is a strategic consultant whose practice centers on using market research and advertising techniques to create greater public demand for health. She established a business vertical at Nielsen to sell data, analytics and solutions to the government and public sector matching the interests of public policy entities, domestic and global, to Nielsen’s broad array of information and services. She was the primary driver behind the innovative “Drink Up” project, a national public health campaign led by former First Lady Michelle Obama to encourage Americans to drink more water.

Ms. Watson, who earned a Bachelor of Arts from Bard College, has more than 30 years of experience in public affairs, government relations, media and marketing. As head of the public policy office for Echostar, during the introduction of satellite TV, she advocated for competitive choice for consumers.  As chief communications officer for the FCC in the mid-1990s, she translated complicated communications policies during the revision of the 1930 Telecommunications Act. Ms. Watson’s early career was as a journalist for PBS, National Public Radio, and The MacNeil/Lehrer Report.

She is a board member of and an investor in Farmer’s Fridge, a board member of Wholesome Wave, and an advisory board member of several internet startups.

About SUNY Downstate Medical Center
SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively.

SUNY Downstate ranks twelfth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools. More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school. For more information, visit