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Meet The Team

WCG Avoca is comprised of industry veterans, quality experts, and leaders in their field.

 

Leadership Team

Patricia Leuchten

Patricia Leuchten

Founder WCG Avoca; Chief Change Officer, WCG

Patricia Leuchten is Founder of WCG Avoca and Chief Change Officer at WCG. She has more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and is a leading authority on global clinical outsourcing, strategic alliances and driving change in clinical trial execution through collaboration.

In 1999, she founded The Avoca Group, a consulting and research firm focused on the elevation of quality in clinical trial execution. The Avoca Group has played an important role in the industry as the first consulting firm to track trends in clinical research and clinical outsourcing and to measure the health of relationships between sponsors and CROs. In 2011, Patricia launched the Avoca Quality Consortium a member-based, pre-competitive collaborative comprised of clinical operations, quality, and outsourcing professionals from pharma, biotech, CROs, and clinical service providers. Since its inception, the rapidly growing Avoca Quality Consortium is transforming clinical development by driving efficiency, improving quality, and mitigating risk in clinical trial execution.

Patricia is a frequent speaker and writer on topics surrounding clinical outsourcing, strategic alliances, quality management and relationship management in the pharmaceutical industry. She has a dual role leading WCG Avoca and serving as Chief Change Officer, supporting WCG’s mission to drive efficiency and quality, at scale, in clinical trial execution.

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Christine Albano

Christine Albano, MBA

General Manager

Christine Albano leads WCG Avoca’s company operations. She has over 25 years of business experience with deep roots in finance, strategy, alliance management and client consulting.

Prior to joining Avoca, Christine served as a COO for a small CRO. Additionally she has worked in large pharma through integrations, giving her a deep understanding of change management during her roles in alliance management, R&D finance and Industrial Operations Her prior experiences include holding an executive position in a manufacturing company and various positions in a prominent consumer goods business.

Christine earned a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting with a minor in Philosophy and an MBA in Finance from Rider University. She has received her CPA.

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Cristin MacDonald

Cristin MacDonald, PhD

Vice President, Client Delivery

As the leader of WCG Avoca’s integrated consulting and research solutions Cristin MacDonald provides consulting services to top pharmaceutical, biotech, and contract research organizations, and oversees client deliverables, systems, and processes across Avoca.

Crissy has over 12 years of pharmaceutical industry experience with expertise in clinical research, process development, and strategic management. Her previous professional roles have touched every stage of the clinical trials process, from pre-clinical research through late-stage clinical development.

Crissy earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Drexel University and a bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College.

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Michelle Webb

Michelle Webb

Vice President, Avoca Quality Consortium

Michelle Webb has more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical, biotech, CRO industries, as well as Academia. As the Vice President of the Avoca Quality Consortium, Michelle drives strategy for the AQC, focusing on building strong client relationships, guiding content creation, and expanding client knowledge of WCG Avoca solutions.

Prior to joining Avoca, Michelle held professional roles in diverse areas in pharmaceutical development including leadership roles in Quality Assurance and Quality Management Oversight. Michelle has also co-authored several scientific journal articles. She received her bachelor’s degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

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Linda Sullivan

Linda Sullivan

Senior Advisor, Metrics & Performance Management

Ms. Sullivan is the Co-Founder of the Metrics Champion Consortium (MCC), which has been integrated with the Avoca Quality Consortium.  As Senior Advisor with WCG Avoca, she serves as a metrics subject matter expert with a focus on utilization of standardized metrics and benchmarks to drive performance improvement. She has more than 30 years of experience working in the Healthcare and Clinical Research industries helping organizations improve processes to improve financial and quality outcomes. She has been a featured speaker at Performance Metrics, Risk-Based Monitoring, Quality Management & Clinical Trial Oversight industry meetings, published articles in leading journals and served on industry advisory boards such as the NIH-NCATS Methods and Process Domain Task Force and the ACRP CRA Competency Steering Committee.

Ms. Sullivan received a B.S. in Biology from Trinity College and a M.B.A. from Dartmouth College where she was named a Tuck Scholar.

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Core Team

Dawn R. Auerbach

Dawn R. Auerbach

Executive Director, Client Development

Dawn Auerbach is the Executive Director of Avoca’s Client Development team. She is responsible for WCG Avoca’s sales processes and for driving new business within the organization. Dawn leads activities to develop proposals and deliver presentations. She is also actively engaged in contract assessment and developing new services based on discovered market opportunities in order to meet the needs of our prospective clients. Dawn and her team partner with other Avoca team members to build strong relationships with existing Avoca Quality Consortium Members and Avoca clients.

Dawn brings to Avoca over 25 years of experience in product development, relationship management, contract negotiations, strategic positioning, and clinical market research. She earned her Master of Public Administration in Healthcare and Finance from New York University and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the State University College at Oneonta.

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Kristen Jonathan Bennett

Kristen Jonathan Bennett

Director, Client Delivery

A member of WCG Avoca’s integrated consulting and Avoca Quality Consortium workstreams, Kristen Bennett provides consulting services to top pharmaceutical, biotech, and contract research organizations, and oversees client deliverables, systems, and processes across Avoca.

Kristen has 12 years of clinical trial experience with expertise in clinical trial execution, process development, and strategic management. Her previous professional roles include project, data, and site management.

Kristen’s clinical research career began as a clinical research coordinator at a large academic oncology institution where she was responsible for the recruitment, intervention, data collection, laboratory, and data analysis for studies across multiple therapeutic areas. Kristen transitioned into a research supervisory role with the primary responsibility of developing and providing education, orientation, and continuing education programs relative to conducting research protocols. Kristen has also co-authored several scientific abstracts/poster presentations.

As project manager at various CROs, Kristen ensured operational excellence within the project management group across a portfolio of studies. She participated on the Steering Committee of each study to analyze trial progress and mitigate newly identified trial risks. She also developed and evaluated study performance metrics against agreed-upon budget deliverables and timelines. Additionally, Kristen managed and coordinated the efforts of cross-functional project teams to support milestone achievement while implementing continuous improvement activities for internal and external risk mitigation.

Kristen holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.

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Michael Cruz

Michael Cruz

Executive Director, Technology & Business Administration

Michael has played a pivotal role implementing technologies and establishing processes and policies to enable Avoca’s growth since 2006. He oversees Avoca’s technology infrastructure, ensures organizational efficiency and security, and contributes to contract and administration processes across business areas. He has an integral role in technical execution and planning for Avoca Summits.

Michael has over 35 years of experience as an IT professional in the Telecommunications, Biotech, and Consulting industries.

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Terry Holland

Terry Holland

Membership Director

Teresa “Terry” Holland joins WCG Avoca from the Metrics Champions Consortium where she was the Membership Director. Terry has extensive experience in membership retention, business development and engagement with the metrics membership community. She will continue to leverage that experience as WCG Avoca as a Member Engagement Specialist with a focus on meetings and initiatives related to metrics.

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Caryn Laermer

Caryn Laermer, MBA

Head, Member Engagement

Caryn Laermer is Head of Member Engagement for WCG Avoca. She oversees strategies, initiatives, and communications; manages member engagement and recruitment; and plays an integral role in organizing Avoca Summits and AQC Member meetings.

Prior to joining Avoca in 2006, Caryn served as Vice President, Derivatives Group at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (now Credit Suisse), where she specialized in the sales and trading of stock options, foreign currency derivatives, and futures.

Ms. Laermer graduated from Tufts University with a BA in Economics. She is a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon, Economics Honor Society and holds an MBA in Finance from New York University.

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Ann Linder

Ann Linder

Sales Manager

Ann Linder is a Sales Manager on Avoca’s Client Development team. Ann provides leadership and support in maintaining healthy client relationships with AQC Members and consulting clients.

Ann’s previous experience includes providing life science consulting services and managing inside sales teams. She received her BA in Communication Arts from Washburn University.

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Beth Listhaus

Beth Listhaus, PhD

Senior Manager, Client Development

Beth Listhaus is responsible for maintaining healthy client relationships and cultivating new business opportunities at WCG Avoca. She also conducts client research. Prior to joining Avoca, Beth served as Associate Professor of Psychology at Dominican College where she chaired the Psychology Department.

Beth holds a PhD from Fordham University and a Bachelor’s degree from State University of NY at StonyBrook.

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Jenn Loaiza

Jenn Loaiza

Senior Manager, Marketing

Jenn Loaiza joined WCG Avoca in 2005 and is responsible for coordinating communications and engagement with Avoca’s clients and Avoca Quality Consortium Members. Jenn also assists with client deliverables related to the company’s Research and Consulting services.

She is currently working toward an MBA from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a BSBA with a dual major in Marketing and Management, and holds an Associate’s degree in Visual Communications from Lehigh Valley College.

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Lisa McKay

Lisa McKay, MBA

Head, Member Services

Lisa McKay is Head of Member Services for WCG Avoca. She oversees the Survey Research project management team and works with AQC Members in a Client Engagement role.

Before joining Avoca, Lisa held executive level roles in Marketing and Business Planning both as an employee of entrepreneurial companies and as an independent consultant and mentor to early stage technology companies.

Lisa earned a BS in Biology from Bowling Green State University and holds an MBA from the University of Connecticut.

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Consultants

Denise Calaprice

Denise Calaprice, PhD

Senior Consultant

After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Harvard University and her MS and PhD from Princeton, Dr. Denise Calaprice entered the world of clinical research as an NIH fellow at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1994. Over the subsequent decades, she acquired extensive experience in directing clinical research programs and in creating innovative development and operational strategies in a variety of settings, including academia, government, a CRO, a large global pharmaceutical company, and a small biotechnology company.

In her 14 years with WCG Avoca, Denise has provided support to pharmaceutical companies, clinical service providers, university investigators, industry consortia, and government agencies engaged in clinical research, with a focus on partnering strategies, relationship management, metric development, protocol quality, patient engagement, risk management, “lean” development strategies, and business data analysis. Among her many accomplishments, Denise has developed a novel quality metrics taxonomy that has been adopted by top pharma organizations, and led development of the Avoca Patient Engagement Playbook.

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Keith Dorricott

Keith Dorricott

Metrics SME

Keith is a Senior Consultant with WCG Avoca. He facilitates and provides thought leadership for AQC Metrics Champion work groups such as Centralized Monitoring, eCOA and Vendor Oversight. As a qualified Master Black Belt since 2007 and Black Belt since 2002, Keith has a solid background in the practical use of process improvement, business process re-engineering and metrics in clinical trials. He is known for helping to make the complex understandable. He a wealth of experience across processes in clinical trials. A co-founder of the DIGR-ACT® solution – critical thinking and root cause analysis in clinical trials. Keith is a frequent speaker at conferences such as SCOPE and the MCC Summit. Provides consultancy on process improvement, process re-engineering and metrics.

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Brigid Flanagan

Brigid Flanagan, BA, RN, CCRC, MSB

Senior Consultant

Brigid Flanagan is a research professional with 20+ years in clinical operations. In her role as Senior Consultant for WCG Avoca, Brigid provides input on operational plans, vendor qualification, and oversight for pharmaceutical clients conducting trials in the US and EU. She is passionate about research and the benefits it offers to participants.

Brigid has been an active member of ACRP since 1998 and most recently was Vice Chair of their Professional Ethics Committee.

She has an undergraduate degree in Sociology, trained as an RN in the UK, and completed a Masters in Bioethics at Union Graduate College/Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, NY.

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Janis Hall

Janis Hall, MBA

Senior Consultant

Janis Hall has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry with leadership roles in pharmaceutical, biotechnology, CRO, and medical diagnostic companies. While at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development (J&JPRD), she was responsible for R&D sourcing, contracting, and supplier alliance management.

As Senior Consultant with WCG Avoca, Janis developed many of the quality oversight tools within the Avoca Quality Consortium Knowledge Center. She is the mastermind behind the Oversight Capability and Maturity Model (OCMM) and Provider Qualification work streams.

Janis has been a chair, invited speaker, and panelist at numerous conferences. She holds an MBA from the University of Delaware and a BS in Chemistry from Towson University.

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Irene Catherine Michas

Irene Catherine Michas, BA, MSc, PhD

Senior Consultant

Dr. Irene Michas acts as a subject matter expert for the Avoca Quality Consortium and as a consultant on pharmaceutical quality. With a background in the pharmaceutical, biotech, and CRO industries, she brings extensive experience to diverse pharmaceutical development activities, including regulated business process development, business process and systems training, audits and regulatory inspections, product licensing agreements, clinical research and development, data management, personnel and contractor recruitment and onboarding, and the management and implementation of global projects and initiatives. Until March 2017, Irene was a senior leader within Pfizer’s pharmacovigilance organization, where she held the role of Regional Safety Lead.

Irene holds a PhD in Psychology and an MSc in Research Methods in Psychology from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, as well as a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Steven Whittaker

Steven Whittaker

Senior Consultant; Executive Director, the Avoca Quality Consortium, 2011-2018

Steve Whittaker is a Senior Consultant with WCG Avoca and former Executive Director of the Avoca Quality Consortium. He is also a lead consultant for the pharmaceutical, biotech, and CRO industries providing expertise in project management, pharmaceutical development, clinical development, outsourcing strategies, and execution plans. His experience through years of drug development leadership roles, combined with his established professional network across these industries, provides unique and valuable insights for organizational leaders.

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