Our Staff

Chelsea Kline

Executive Director


Chelsea Kline (she/her pronouns) is the Executive Director of End of Life Choices New York. Early experiences as a Jewish, queer, low-income, single teen mom formed an ethical basis for her work as an advocate for progressive reproductive rights and social justice. A graduate of both Smith College and Harvard Divinity School, Chelsea’s career is fueled by profound appreciation for protecting human dignity, autonomy, and personal values across class, race, gender, and through the lifespan.

Chelsea ran a rigorous campaign in 2018 for Massachusetts State Senate as a progressive democrat, and she now contributes a monthly column on race, gender, and privilege to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. She also serves as a community religious advisor at Smith College and an alumnae admissions ambassador for Harvard University. In her work in higher education, Chelsea created, developed, and oversaw curriculum, faculty, and assessment for multiple programs in organizational studies, arts, humanities, women’s leadership and career development for non-traditional college students.

A member of the Omega Women’s Leadership Intensive cohort of 2013, Chelsea serves on the board of directors for the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, volunteers as a fundraising ambassador for the Civil Liberties and Public Policy program at Hampshire College, and was previously appointed by the State of Massachusetts as Commissioner on the Status of Women and Girls to work to address policy to provide access, opportunity, and equality for women. In her rare moments of down time, she seeks out stellar acoustic spaces to hone her supernatural whistling skills.

David C. Leven, JD

Executive Director Emeritus and Senior Consultant


David C. Leven, JD, Executive Director Emeritus and Senior Consultant, was the Executive Director of End of Life Choices New York from 2002 until July 1, 2016. A leading advocate for patients and an expert on advance care planning, patient rights, palliative care and end-of- life issues, David has played a key role in having legislation introduced and enacted in New York to improve pain, palliative and end-of- life care, including the Palliative Care Information Act. David lectures frequently to diverse professional groups, students and citizens and is a regular guest lecturer at College of New Rochelle School of Nursing and Fordham Graduate School of Social Service. A graduate of the University of Rochester and Syracuse University College of Law, he is the recipient of numerous awards including the Public Interest Law Award of the New York State Bar Association, Public Interest Law Committee.

Judith Schwarz, PhD

Clinical Director


Judith Schwarz, PhD, Clinical Director, is an expert on ethical issues relating to patient self-determination and informed end of life decision-making. She has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed professional journals. Judith is a nationally recognized expert on the option of voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED) as a means for capacitated and suffering patients to control the circumstances and timing of death. She has spoken at local and state nursing conferences, and in 2014 she co-presented a workshop about VSED at the Management and Leadership Conference of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Program. She earned a PhD in nursing research from New York University, a MSN from Lehman College, and an RN from St. Luke’s School of Nursing.

Ayana Woods, MPH

Director of Outreach and Education


Ayana Woods, MPH, Director of Outreach and Education, has an MPH in Health Behavior and Health Education from University of North Carolina and a BA in Sociology and African American studies from Princeton University. She is a public health professional with 15 years of experience in developing health education and outreach programs to promote wellness and manage chronic illness. She served as the Director of Education for the National Hemophilia Foundation and worked with the CDC as a Principal Investigator to launch the largest online resource for people with bleeding disorders. She is passionate about addressing health disparities and creating culturally appropriate interventions for underserved communities.  She has worked with a variety of  nonprofit organizations including the Guttmacher Institute, The Wallace Foundation, Arthritis Foundation, and March of Dimes.

Constanza Prieto Figelist

Latino Outreach Coordinator


Constanza Prieto Figelist is a Chilean lawyer and feminist from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, who has lived studied and worked in Chile, France, and the United States. In Paris, France, she completed a master's degree in private international law and international trade at Pathéon-Assas University, making her thesis on Human Rights, Foreign Investment and ICSID arbitration. Subsequently, she completed an internship at the Organization of American States in Washington DC, where she became more interested in issues of gender and the rights of indigenous peoples. She currently collaborates as Ocean Rights Lead in the environmental organization called Earth Law Center, where she develops legal research in international and comparative environmental law and leads a multidisciplinary and international group that seeks the recognition of inherent rights of nature. Constanza also collaborates with other environmental, feminist and immigrant protection NGO .

Laurie Leonard

Former Executive Director


Laurie Leonard, served as the Executive Director of End of Life Choices New York from 2016 to 2019. She has an MBA with honors from the Harvard Business School and an MSW from Fordham University. Her first career was in television broadcasting, including serving for ten years as the president and general manager of an award-winning NBC-affiliated television station. She developed an interest in death and dying, which led her to doing hospice volunteer work, becoming a licensed social worker, and then working as a home care social worker for Cabrini Hospice in New York City. Laurie has served on the board of directors of many organizations, including a bank, a library, a chamber of commerce, a social services charity, a tourism bureau, and a crisis hotline. She recently served for four years as the board chair of Guest House, a Connecticut retreat and conference center.