VHA Innovation Ecosystem Team

Ryan Vega, MD, Executive Director, VHA Innovation Ecosystem

Ryan Vega, MD

Executive Director, VHA Innovation Ecosystem

Dr. Ryan Vega currently serves as the Executive Director of the VHA Innovation Ecosystem in the VHA Office of Discover, Education and Affiliate Networks where he oversees the management of both grassroot and strategic innovation initiatives across the Veterans Health Administration.

Dr. Vega is a graduate of the LSU School of Medicine and completed his Internal Medicine residency at the VCU Health System where serves as Chief Medicine Resident in the Department of Internal Medicine as well as the VA Chief Resident for Quality and Safety. He also gained additional training in clinical quality through the Advanced Training Program at Intermountain Health Care under the tutelage of Dr. Brett James as well as receiving his Master of Science in Healthcare Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University where he was an A.D. Williams Scholar.

Innovation Superpower: Leadership

Kristopher 'Kit' Teague, Deputy Director, VHA Innovation Ecosystem

Kristopher "Kit" Teague

Deputy Director, VHA Innovation Ecosystem

Based out of Northern California, Kristopher “Kit” Teague is the Deputy Director for VHA Innovation Ecosystem aligned under the Office of Discovery, Education, and Affiliate Networks (DEAN), in the Veterans Health Administration within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He is responsible for overseeing operations for VHA Innovation Ecosystem to include the innovation activities of four (4) distinct portfolios: Innovators Network, Diffusion of Excellence, Care and Transformational Initiatives and VHA Innovation Community. Prior to this role, he served as the Acting Director for VHA Innovation Ecosystem.

Kit has over 19 years of experience in the health care industry between his time in the private sector and VA. 16 years of this experience has been with the VA with 8 of those years incubating, evaluating, and scaling clinical and administrative innovation across the United States' largest health care system. He started his VA career in 2003 as an Auditor for the VA Office of Inspector General in Washington, DC. Since then, he sought to diversify his experience by holding positions at both the regional and local levels of VHA. He served as a Contracting Officer for VISN 21 Network Contracting Activity and Chief of Personnel Security for VA Palo Alto Health Care System prior to rejoining VA Central Office with the VHA Innovation Ecosystem. With VHA Innovation Ecosystem, he has personally managed over 18 different innovation projects to include software prototypes for various clinical specialties, production pilots of emerging technology, regional rollouts of innovative clinical treatments, multi-site equipment activations, and complex clinical data mapping and informatics. Kit earned a BA degree in History/Political Science at Arkansas Tech University and FAC-P/PM through VA Acquisition Academy.

Innovation Superpower: Persistence

Blake Henderson, Acting Director, Diffusion of Excellence

Blake Henderson

Acting Director, Diffusion of Excellence

Blake Henderson is an experienced product developer and teambuilder working as an advocate for frontline employee innovators at the Veterans Health Administration. He has been integral in the development of VA business systems, such as VA’s Light Electronic Action Framework (LEAF), and clinical platforms like the Remote Veteran Sleep Apnea Management Platform (REVAMP). He currently serves as the Acting Director for the VHA Diffusion of Excellence, which identifies, replicates, and scales promising practices throughout the largest integrated health care system in the United States.

Innovation Superpower: Imagination

Allison Amrhein, MPH, Director of Operations, VHA Innovators Network

Allison Amrhein, MPH

Director of Operations, VHA Innovators Network

As Director of Operations for the VHA Innovators Network, Allison guides a team of incredible Innovation Specialists from VHA medical centers across the country through operational day-to-day functions, as well as leads operational strategic planning for the Innovators Network. Particular areas of leadership responsibility include: financial maintenance and planning, internal VA communications and relationship building, development of value metrics and oversight of data collection, and management of the annual Investment Program application and review process. Prior to her role as Director of Operations, Allison served as an Innovation Coordinator, managing high-value innovation projects and contracts, as well as the Director of Executive Correspondence for the Office of the Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Maintenance during her tenure at VA. Prior to joining the VA, she was a health systems researcher and technical writer for a number of non-profits. Allison received her Master of Public Health from the University of Kentucky and Health Administration degree from Indiana University. She is also a certified yoga instructor, dog mom, and has a 3-year-old son named Charlie.

Innovation Superpower: Perseverance

Brynn Cole, Director of Programming, VHA Innovators Network

Brynn Cole

Director of Programming, VHA Innovators Network

A VHA employee of over 10 years, Brynn is thrilled to be currently serving as Director of Programming for the VHA Innovators Network. In this role, Brynn’s primary focus is coordinating training + events, managing alumni relationships, facilitating the annual Innovation Accelerator program, identifying + fulfilling training needs for both Innovation Specialists + Investees, and establishing external industry + academic partnerships. Previously the Innovation Specialist at the White River Junction VAMC, Brynn brings unique perspective to her current role and is energized to bring together people and ideas to act as a catalyst of positive change -and as an antidote to the "can’t do" attitude that some believe inherent to the federal government. Brynn earned her Bachelor of Arts from Johnson State College in Johnson, VT, with a focus on Gender Studies and Sociology and has recently returned to her native Vermont after years in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is obsessed with her snug cabin on 11 acres of Vermont mountainside, enjoys rambling around in the woods with her nieces and nephews, 12-year-old Golden Retriever (Angus) and two bobtailed cats, which makes for quite a scene! This winter Brynn discovered a love affair with cross-stitch and fermenting vegetables, but she promises that she’s still a lot more fun than that makes her sound.

Innovation Superpower: Foresight

Joshua Patterson, Acting Director, Care and Transformational Initiatives

Joshua Patterson

Acting Director, Care and Transformational Initiatives

Joshua Patterson is the Acting Director for Care and Transformational Initiatives in the VHA Innovation Ecosystem. Leading Care and Transformational Initiatives, he focuses driving five(5) strategic priorities in the VHA Innovation Ecosystem to include: Augmented/Virtual Reality, Precision/Personalized Medicine, 3D Printing Initiative (National Scaling), Artificial/Machine Intelligence and Veteran-facing Solutions. He aims to provide an avenue to source innovation through internal and external partners (industry, academia & other government agencies) to accelerate innovation in the VHA.

Joshua has over 19 years of experience in the government with 14 years within the VA. He started with the VA at the former Health Administration Center (now within the Office of Community Care). He worked on providing data/business analytics and strategic planning within the Office of the Director. He has currently been with VHA Innovations (formerly Innovations Program) for 8 years serving as a project manager for project from development through national deployment.

Innovation Superpower: Tenacity

Beth Ripley, MD PhD

Enterprise Lead, VHA 3D Printing Network Initiative
Chair, VHA 3D Printing Advisory Committee

Beth Ripley, MD PhD, is the Enterprise Lead for the VHA 3D Printing Network Initiative and Chair for the VHA 3D Printing Advisory Committee. Dr. Ripley collaborates with a talented and diverse group of physicians, orthotists, prosthetists, engineers, administrators and information technologists across the VA system who—together— are reimagining the meaning of individualized patient care through 3D printing. She is also the chair of the VHA 3D Printing Advisory Committee. This committee works to understand how patient-specific 3D printing can improve the safety and quality of diagnosis and interventions such as surgery and minimally invasive procedures, improve patient education, shared decision-making and informed consent, and improve how patients engage with their surroundings.

Dr. Ripley is a staff radiologist at the Seattle Division of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, and an Assistant Professor of Radiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Art History from Stanford University and her MD and PhD in Neurosciences from University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. She completed radiology residency training and a cardiovascular imaging fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and a body imaging fellowship at the University of Washington.

Innovation Superpower: Agility

Suzanne Shirley, Acting Director of VHA Innovation Community

Suzanne Shirley

VHA Entrepreneur in Residence

Suzanne Shirley serves as a national Fellow with the Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem as the Entrepreneur in Residence. In this role, she works to expand VHA’s partnerships with industry and academia across the country to promote design-thinking in solving Veteran challenges through design competitions, socializing solutions, and hackathons. Ms. Shirley is also an Innovation Specialist with a background in Clinical Social Work, Health Care Administration, and System Redesign at the McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia. With experience in process improvement and innovation, she works to empower and coach medical center employees in their paths to providing innovative clinical care to Veterans and scaling best practices throughout the enterprise. Ms. Shirley works collaboratively throughout the city of Richmond to promote human centered design in academia, health care, infrastructure and development of community spaces. Ms. Shirley volunteers with non-profits and community organizations such as Comfort Zone Camp, Bike Walk RVA and Greater Richmond Fit4Kids to promote health and healing for Richmond youth. Ms. Shirley grew up in Washington DC, received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Montana State University and her master’s degree in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Innovation Superpower: Vision

Tom Osborne, Director, National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation

Thomas Osborne, MD

Director, National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation

Thomas Osborne, MD, is the Director of the National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation (NCCHI) and Chief Medical Informatics Officer at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. He graduated from Dartmouth Medical School, and completed his diagnostic radiology residency at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA, and neuroradiology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He is board-certified in radiology and has his CAQ in neuroradiology, both from the American Board of Radiology. As Director of NCCHI, his current focus is on building collaborations to enhance and transform health care delivery. His interests include applications of artificial intelligence in medicine to advance health care. Dr. Osborne is the inaugural recipient of the Undersecretary for Health Robert L. Jesse Award for Excellence in Innovation.

Innovation Superpower: Grit

Amanda Purnell, VHA Senior Innovation Fellow, VHA Innovation Ecosystem

Amanda Purnell

VHA Senior Innovation Fellow, VHA Innovation Ecosystem

Amanda has been working as an Innovation Specialist at the Veterans Administration (VA) St Louis Health Care System within the Veterans Health Care Administration (VHA) Innovators Network part-time since October 2016, and full-time since April 2018. She loves to empower others, ignite curiosity, and wonder about what’s possible.

Prior to her work in the Innovators Network, she held leadership roles in implementing programs for prevention, integrative and complimentary care, and health behavior change at the VA. She has extensive experience and training in facilitation and advancing learning in adults. She has a PhD in Counseling Psychology from The Ohio State University.

Innovation Superpower: Presence & Perseverance

Eli Kaufman, VHA Entrepreneur in Residence, VHA Innovation Ecosystem

G. Eli Kaufman

VHA Entrepreneur in Residence, VHA Innovation Ecosystem

G. Eli Kaufman is a 2020 VHA Innovation Ecosystem Entrepreneur in Residence and co-director of Mobile OPS (Mobile Orthotic & Prosthetic Services), a home-based mobile pilot program designed to ensure access to VA prosthetic care for Veterans with limb loss that experience significant barriers to traveling to VA facilities. Mr. Kaufman is a Research Prosthetist at the VA Center for Limb Loss and MoBility (CLiMB) In Seattle , WA, where he collaborates with several teams on research and development of device-based and therapeutic solutions for individuals with limb loss and other mobility impairments. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Applied Behavioral Science from Seattle Central College and his Master of Prosthetics & Orthotics degree from University of Washington. He completed his Prosthetic and Orthotic residencies at VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, WA.

Innovation Superpower: Resourcefulness

Danielle Krakora, VHA Entrepreneur in Residence, VHA Innovation Ecosystem

Danielle Krakora

VHA Entrepreneur in Residence, VHA Innovation Ecosystem

Danielle Krakora is a community leader, Veteran advocate and innovative Health System Specialist working for the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System and is currently detailed to the Office of Information and Technology as a Salesforce Product Manager. Danielle is committed to elevating the patient experience by building strategic community relationships, modernizing systems with technology, and encouraging a principle-based approach across the organization. She has held numerous positions during her six-year tenure with the VA and is known for her innovative work across the organization. Danielle served in the U.S. Army for a total of 10 years and was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III from 2005-2006. While deployed, Danielle wrote for military and civilian publications, detailing the reality of combat through the eyes of a female soldier and medic. Danielle holds a B.S. and M.S. in health science from Cleveland State University and an Executive MBA from Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management.

Innovation Superpower: Connecting