2019-2021 Board of Directors
Marty Maren: President
Marty has been the President of TRIO Maryland from 2012 – 2017. Marty also served on the TRIO National Board of Directors for 2 years. Marty received a life saving liver transplant on November 2009 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Since the recovery he has been a speaking ambassador for The Living Legacy Foundation and Donate Life Maryland. Marty & Michele manage a team in the Living Legacy Fun Run called “Team Miracle”. “Team Miracle” has been a participating team since 2010. Marty is a member of Team Maryland and have been to the last 3 National Transplant Games and 1 World Transplant Games. Marty has been a volunteer at Johns Hopkins Hospital Comprehensive Transplant Center for the last 7 years. Marty is currently a mentor for transplant recipients and recently help launch a walking program called “Stepping Out” for transplant patients.
Marty & Michele have been married 20 years and enjoy traveling and spending time with family and friends. Marty retired in 2013 and enjoys managing a nonprofit organization to benefit transplant recipients and their families.
Michele Gregory-Maren: Vice President
Michele is a co-founder of TRIO Maryland along with her husband Marty Maren. Michele became actively involved in the transplant community after her husband had a miraculous liver transplant in 2009. She felt there was a true need for a transplant recipient support group in Maryland and in April 2012, the work began on establishing a TRIO chapter. Michele has been the Secretary for TRIO Maryland from the beginning and is a volunteer at Johns Hopkins Hospital, The Living Legacy Foundation and a supporter for Team Maryland. Michele also serves on the Board of the Julie Community Center and has done so for the last 4 years. During the last 8 years, Michele and Marty have helped raise donations and create awareness for organ donation by participating in the Living Legacy Fun Run with “Team Miracle”. Since Marty’s transplant in 2009, Michele’s focus has been staying involved in the transplant community, especially TRIO Maryland, in repayment for Marty’s second chance through transplantation.
Michele and Marty have been married for 20 years. They enjoy traveling and are avid sports fans enjoying both the Ravens and Orioles. They are members of the Baltimore Museum of Art and never fail to visit a museum when visiting other cities. Michele attended the 2012, 2014 and 2016 Transplant Games and the 2017 World Transplant Games in Malaga Spain along with her husband Marty who participated in all.
Mary Wiedel: Secretary
Mary Wiedel is a heart transplant recipient. She received her new heart on January 2, 2014, after only being listed for about 28 hours. Her transplant was performed at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital (UPENN). When Mary was 26, her mother became very ill and it was discovered the large family clan is widely affected by one form of the genetic heart disease known as Familial Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. Many years after the discovery, Mary began experiencing congestive heart failure and also was exhibiting an enlarged heart with very thick, rigid muscles. Her heart became a very poor pump! Mary and 2 of her first cousins have since received heart transplants. One of Mary’s cousins, Paul, actually received his new heart in the same hospital within 8 days of Mary’s transplant.
Professionally, Mary is a certified Elementary and Special Education teacher. After teaching for 28 years and having her transplant, Mary’s family life is now her full-time career and top priority! After receiving her new heart and gaining her “new life,” Mary enjoys being retired in order to spend more time with Kevin, her college sweetheart and husband of 42+ years, their three married children, their spouses and their eight beloved grandchildren. Friends, church, bible study, traveling and playing with grandchildren, fill Kevin and Mary’s days. Mary is very active in Trio Maryland as a member and she is the Secretary on the TRIO Board. Mary is an active ambassador for Living Legacy Foundation, volunteering throughout the year at a variety of events. In order to honor her donor and all donor families as well as all current transplant recipients and future transplant recipients, Mary is dedicated to encouraging people to register as organ and tissue donors!
Heidi Pullara: Treasurer
Heidi is The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland’s representative on the TRIO Maryland’s Board of Directors. Heidi is a Family Services Coordinator at LLF where she assists families in making decisions related to organ and tissue donation and supports them throughout and after the donation process. She is happy to see the transplant recipients in TRIO leading such full and productive lives! She participates in many of LLF’s community events helping to raise awareness about donation and further their mission. Heidi has been married to Vince for thirteen years and is a proud mother to three rescued fur babies. In her spare time she enjoys do it yourself projects, health/nutrition/exercise, and advocating against farm animal cruelty.
Christa Gahagan is a founding member of TRIO-Maryland and has been the Treasurer since its inception. Christa donated a kidney to her husband in July 1998. Since that time she has both been active in the transplant community volunteering with The Living Legacy Foundation and Donate Life Maryland. She is members of Team Maryland and will be competing in their 6th Transplant Games in June of 2018. Christa was married to Michael Gahagan for 35 years and has two sons—Sean and Mike. She has been employed as an Executive Assistant for EMJAY Engineering and Construction Co., Inc. in Baltimore for 23 years. She enjoys traveling (especially cruising), golfing and spending time with family and friends
Zivah Ring has been involved in the transplant community for many years. Her husband Steven had a liver transplant in October of 2007. Since the transplant, Zivah has volunteered at Johns Hopkins Hospital in various capacities. She started by volunteering at the Comprehensive Transplant Center and is now serving on several hospital councils and committees. Zivah is also a founding board member of TRIO-Maryland.
She has been married to Steven for over 30 years and has two sons and a daughter in law – Adam, Eric and Kaci. Zivah is an active Real Estate investor and the family owns Blue Point Crab House. She and her husband share their time between Maryland and Florida.
Jane Gerber has been a social worker with the University of Maryland Medical Center since 1996. Until May of this year Jane was on the liver transplant team, and then transferred to the heart/lung/VAD team. She was just appointed to the Board of TRIO Maryland in 2015. Jane is married and she and her husband enjoy spending time with their extended family members, all of whom live in Maryland.
Donna Avara Bright has been a member of TRIO since 2013 and a Board member since January 2015. Donnas’ connection to TRIO Maryland and the world of transplant is three phased.Donna started out as an OR nurse for 15 years and worked with LLF to schedule donor times for organ procurement. When Donnas’ sister in law needed a kidney transplant, her husband stepped up to be her donor 5 1/2 years ago. And finally, Donna was looking for a change in her life and when a position to be coordinator for the liver program opened up at a transplant center in Baltimore it was the opportunity Donna was looking for. It was a challenge to learn new skills and meet new people but it was exciting too. Donna began phase three of her journey in April 2013 and has loved every minute of it. Donna loves her patients and sees them all as individuals. Donna gives herself the challenge of remembering something unique about each and every one of them and with almost 250 patients, it can be challenging.
Donna is married with 5 children and 2 grand daughters. When not working and being a wife, mother and Nana, Donna is a people watcher, attending sporting events and hanging out with friends.
Vickie Lynn Avara:
My name is Vickie Lynn Avara , I received a life saving kidney transplant on February 9, 2010 during the blizzard from my brother-in-law Chris Bright who happens to be Donna Bright’s husband. I was diagnosed with full blown kidney failure in December 2007 after a long history of urinary tract infections.
After receiving my life saving kidney transplant I decided I wanted to give back to the transplant community. I became a donate life ambassador for the living legacy foundation and shared my story on how organ donation saved my life and encouraged others to become organ donors. I also volunteer at the annual family fun run, I am a TRIO member and volunteer at the annual transplant conference every year. I am also a volunteer at Johns Hopkins Hospital on the transplant unit. I love to share my story and encourage others to become organ donors and become involved pre and post transplant.
I am happily married with 2 sons Benjamin and Michelangelo (26 and 17). I work a fulltime job as an Occupational Therapist in the Howard County Public School System. I have worked on numerous committees and clubs for my profession and church community.
Erin is the Events Coordinator at The Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland where she is responsible for planning community events that celebrate the lives of donors and raise awareness about the importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation. She has been an active member of the transplant community for 5 years and joined the TRIO Board of Directors in the summer of 2017. Erin married her husband Kyle in June 2016 and they are the proud parents of two lively miniature dachshunds. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, baking, photography, and art
Gina’s nursing career began 1986 after graduating from Towson University with BS in Nursing. I came to Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1989 and started in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. This is where I was introduced to organ transplantation. I was fortunate enough to assist in the post-operative recovery of the first Heart-Lung Transplant at Hopkins. I spent 15 years working with the critical care patients, including Heart and Lung Transplant recipients. It was due to the interest of Transplantation that I moved to the outpatient setting and became one of the Lung transplant Coordinators. I have been working with Pre and Post Lung Transplant Candidates for over 16 years now and enjoy every aspect of their care. It’s a pleasure to take this opportunity to be a part of TRIO and further grow my role in the community.