“Sometimes you need to walk away from who you are to find who you are to become. That’s where I am.” — Lisa Schaffner in 2009 about her choice to leave broadcast journalism after over two decades as a news anchor for a position with UNOS.
When joining WRIC Channel 8 news in Richmond, VA, Schaffner became the city’s first female newscaster to anchor a 6 o’clock news broadcast in March 1991.
On October 1, 2009, she left one career behind to begin another as the director of public relations and marketing for the United Network for Organ Sharing, known as UNOS, a national nonprofit based in the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park. She embodied the phrase she coined, “Team UNOS,” and took pride in creating life-changing relationships through organ donation
At the time, Walter Graham, then UNOS executive director shared this statement, “We created it [the position] for her because we saw the opportunity. She has the ability to bring focus and attention to UNOS and its mission, particularly in the Richmond area, and to help us expand into new areas.
Schaffner was well known in the philanthropic community where she once served as local chairwoman of the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer annual walk, supported the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, worked with the March of Dimes, and advocated for numerous other charitable causes.
Schaffner’s untimely death in 2021 shocked and saddened her family and friends in her local community and people with whom she had built relationships throughout the country. Described as a community advocate, adoring mother, beloved wife, and friend to all, she was considered a legend and one of Richmond’s greatest treasures.
On Monday, June 27, 2022, during UNOS annual award ceremony, she was honored posthumously for her work of increasing awareness about the need for organ and tissue donation.
Each year since 2010, a recipient who advocates for organ donation has received the coveted National Donor Memorial Award for Excellence awarded by UNOS. This year, the organization renamed the award to the Lisa Schaffner Community Advocate Award — which was founded by Schaffner herself.
“During her time serving as the organization’s marketing director, Schaffner was closely involved with advocating for its cause, UNOS’ Chief Executive Officer Brian Shepard said at Monday’s event,” which was reported by MSN online.
Upon her passing in August 2021, UNOS released this statement, “On Thursday, August 19, we lost a dear friend, a colleague, and a beloved Richmonder. As many of you know, Lisa Schaffner has passed away. It’s so hard to reconcile this news with the vibrant, warm, and giving person who supported and elevated our lifesaving mission during her nearly 15 years at UNOS. Lisa’s pride in this work was on display in everything she did and all that she accomplished.”
Schaffner’s family started a hashtag in her honor. It’s one that many embrace, #LiveLikeLisa.
Anyone can register to become an organ donor at RegisterMe.org. Living donors and organ recipients can contact National Foundation for Transplants when they need help raising funds for out-of-pocket transplant-related expenses. We exist to help transplant patients through their most difficult times get to their most wonderful times. You can support their transplant journey with a financial gift.