Julie Blitzer, PhD
Julie Blitzer is the Outreach and Prevention Psychologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s School-Based Health Center, 7 article 28 primary care clinics that serve approximately 8000 public school students in upper Manhattan and the Bronx. She is also an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry) at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC).
Dr. Blitzer has been a part of the NYP School-Based team since 2012 where she began as a mental health provider at the program’s largest site serving 7 schools at the John F. Kennedy Campus. After five years in a clinical role and a brief leave, she returned to the program to assume a newly established role dedicated to universal mental health interventions and outreach in 2019. Dr. Blitzer works with school staff, parents and students to increase access to mental health and wellness education, resources and program services through workshops, health messaging and consultation.
Scott Bloom, LCSW
Scott Bloom, LCSW, will be advising the BH program and providing training and technical assistance as our subject matter expert. Our NYC members know Scott as the founding Director of School Mental Health Services for the New York City Department of Education where he served for 15 years, facilitating partnerships with non-profit organizations and implementing mental health initiatives in over 1,800 city schools.
Mr. Bloom has spent his 31-year career at the intersection of mental health, communities, and schools working to improve access to social-emotional services and resources by integrating these programs, creating opportunities for children and youth to overcome emotional and behavioral barriers to academic achievement.
Kelly Celony, Ph.D., LCSW, MPH
Kelly Celony has over 30 years working in the fields of social work and public health. Her areas of expertise include adolescents, mental health, and reproductive health in SBHCs. Prior to joining the NYC DOHMH she worked for 20 years at Mount Sinai’s Adolescent Health Center as a social worker, program manager, and in her last several years the Director of Mental & Behavioral Health. She has worked for almost 15 years at the NYC DOHMH Office of School Health, where she is currently the Director of Training & Special Initiatives within the Adolescent Unit. In this role she has spearheaded the introduction of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) training for both NYC School Based Health Center Staff as well as a 3 year funded project in partnership with the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) to increase access to EMDR to youth in NYC’s Child Welfare system.
Susan Converse, PMHNP-BC, FNP-C
Susan Converse has provided health care to children in multiple settings for over 33 years. She has a strong public health background and serves on the Professional Advisory Committee for Chenango County Department of Public Health, Chenango County Substance Abuse Prevention Board and Opportunities for Chenango Health Advisory Board. Susan has been participating in medical mission trips to Africa for more than 10 years and now runs a medical mission group called ACT (Achieving Care Together). Susan is an ardent advocate of all immunization and never misses an opportunity to educate adults and youth on the importance of vaccines. Susan and her therapy dog Sully work at the Unadilla Valley School-Based Health Center.
Joseph Domachowske, MD
Dr. Joseph Domachowske is a Pediatric infectious Disease Specialist, Professor of Pediatrics, and Professor of Microbiology, and Immunology at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. As a subspecialty consultant, his clinical duties involve the evaluation and treatment of children who develop unusual or unusually severe infections. His research focuses primarily on the epidemiology, prevention and treatment of childhood respiratory infections. With research sites in the U.S. and in Ecuador, Dr. Domachowske directs several surveillance and epidemiologic studies focused on respiratory syncytial virus infections in young children along with the impact of climate, air quality and altitude on RSV disease severity. He has been involved with active and passive immunization studies for the prevention of RSV infection for more than 20 years.
Currently, he serves as the Principal Investigator for advanced phase studies designed to evaluate the efficacy of an investigational extended half-life RSV-F monoclonal antibody for the prevention of RSV disease in different at-risk populations including pre-term infants, healthy term infants, and children less than 2 years of age who are immunocompromised, have chronic lung disease of prematurity, and/or are born with hemodynamically significant congenital heart disease. Dr. Domachowske has published 3 textbooks and more than 160 original scientific papers in his field of expertise in such high impact journals as the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet Pediatrics, Journals of Immunology, Pediatric Infectious Disease, Medicine, Pediatrics, Vaccine and the Journal of Pediatric Infectious Disease Society, among others. He is a highly regarded educator who enjoys sharing his clinical experiences and research updates with his colleagues, and as an invited speaker at a number of regional, national and international venues. As an immunization advocate, Dr. Domachowske was appointed to the NYS Immunization Advisory Council in 2009, where he served as the Chair from 2018 to 2021. The council’s work with New York State legislators focuses on improving vaccine confidence as one of the many ways to further reduce morbidity and mortality associated with disease outbreaks.
Kathryn S. Doughty, MD
Kate Doughty (she/her) is a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon who loves to collaborate and enlighten colleagues on the wonders of the musculoskeletal system. She has a long teaching history, from pre-med Organic Chemistry at Harvard to establishing the MSK curriculum for a brand-new medical school in Washington State.
She currently serves as the Director of Musculoskeletal Education for the Bassett Healthcare Network.
Margaret Dowd, MD
Dr. Dowd is an Attending Physician at Bassett Medical Center, specializing in Dermatology. She graduated from Columbia University, New York, NY, served an Internship at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Elmhurst, NY, Pediatrics and completed her residency in dermatology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York, where she also received fellowship training in Mohs Micrographic Surgery & Cutaneous Oncology. Dr. Dowd is certified by the American Board of Dermatology and American College of Mohs Surgeons.
Heather C. Forkey, MD
Heather C. Forkey, MD, is a Professor of Pediatrics and at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, and Director of the Foster Children Evaluation Service (FaCES) of the UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. She also serves as the Medical Director of Lifeline4Kids at University of Massachusetts Medical School. She received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and medical degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. She completed her pediatric residency and chief residency at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Forkey has been the recipient of local and federal grants to address issues of children in foster care and to translate promising practices to address physical and mental health needs of children who have been traumatized. She has published and presents nationally and internationally on the topics, and serves in leadership roles for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the American Academy of Pediatrics on issues related to foster care, mental health and child trauma. She recently coauthored the book Childhood Trauma and Resilience: A Practical Guide, available from AAP Press.
Michael B. Grosso, MD, FAAP
Dr. Michael Grosso recently concluded a 22 year term as Chief Medical Officer at Huntington Hospital, a part of Northwell Health, the region’s largest health network. Prior to this, he practiced general ambulatory pediatrics on Long Island for 16 years. For the last 2 decades he has served also as the Chief of Pediatrics at Huntington Hospital, where he heads a Pediatric Hospital Medicine program in which he continues to see patients on a part time basis. In 2019, Dr Grosso convened an HPV Task Force, seeking to create a hospital-community partnership to increase awareness of HPV and its prevention, and the under-utilized strategy of immunization against this preventable cause of cancers. Though testimony at the County Legislature, radio appearances, editorials and public lectures, he and his Task Force members achieved new visibility of this problem in the community. Unfortunately, a pandemic put a temporary halt to these efforts.
Dr. Grosso has also served as Chair of his hospital’s Bioethics Committee for more than 2 decades and is a faculty member in Northwell’s Division of Medical Ethics. He is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine, where his educational interests include Ethics, Medical Communication and the Medical Humanities. He was graduated from Georgetown University and the Weill-Cornell College of Medicine. He took his residency training in Pediatrics at The New York Hospital (currently New York Presbyterian Medical Center – Cornell campus).
Dr. Viju Jacob currently serves as the VP of Medical Affairs/Medical Director at a large FQHC, Urban Health Plan, in Bronx, NY. His day-to-day responsibilities include providing oversight for 12 School Based Health Practices, 2 Family Practice sites and shares responsibilities in managing 6 School Based Dental Practices among other institutional responsibilities in the realms of regulatory affairs, policy and external affairs. Urban Health Plan (UHP) is a network of Federally Qualified Health Centers that has been offering access to affordable, high quality, health care to the South Bronx for almost 50 years and more recently to serving communities in Corona, Queens and East Harlem in Manhattan.
Interestingly, as a new immigrant to the Bronx, Dr. Jacob was also a user of a School Based Health Center; he received some of his earliest dental care from the School Based Dental Clinic located in PS 8 in the North Bronx. He completed his bachelor’s from the Sophie Davis School for Biomedical Education at The City University of New York, where he had the pleasure of being a student of Dr. Jack Geiger, one of the founders of the Community Health Center movement. He received his MD from State University of New York-Health Science Center Brooklyn. He completed his Pediatric Residency and Chief Residency from the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at The Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York.
Matt Kleinmaier, MD
Dr. Kleinmaier is Chief of Emergency & Trauma Services at Bassett Medical Center. He received his medical degree from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, and also completed his residency there. Dr. Kleinmaier is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine.
Suanne Kowal-Connelly, MD, F.A.A.P
Dr. Suanne Kowal-Connelly, MD, F.A.A.P, is a board-certified pediatrician who has spent over thirty years serving children and their families, beginning in private practice, but serendipitously receiving the opportunity to join Harmony Healthcare Long Island where her overarching devotion to serving communities was able to thrive. She is grateful to be able to contribute to the efforts of raising the bar on healthcare for the underserved and vulnerable communities of Nassau County as the Director of Pediatric Clinical Quality over the past 8 years.
It was a shining moment in her career when she became an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) author, publishing her first book in September of 2018, Parenting Through Puberty: Mood Swings, Acne and Growing Pains. This work addresses the difficult period of adolescence and young adulthood and was written to help parents and adolescents cope with the varied challenges that exist. Her work at the AAP continues as she serves on several Councils and Sections, including the Section on Obesity, the Council on School Health, the Council on Communication and Media, and the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. She is especially proud to have been named as an Official Spokesperson for the AAP.
Rachael Kuch-Cecconi, MD
Rachael Kuch-Cecconi, MD, originally from Cooperstown, NY, graduated magna cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with a BS Biology and a minor in Psychology. She then attended medical school, psychiatry residency, and child & adolescent psychiatry fellowship at SUNY Upstate Medical University. During her psychiatry residency training, Dr. Kuch served as a chief resident and was a resident member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society.
Currently, Dr. Kuch serves as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Associate Director for the Psychiatry Clerkship. Clinically, she works as a child and adolescent psychiatrist providing both therapy and medication management in the Psychiatry High Risk Program.
Grayce is the Director of Talent Management for Bassett Healthcare Network. She specializes in organizational development; the practice of growing the performance of a group of people as a whole. She particularly enjoys helping teams discover collective breakthroughs and supporting front-line leadership through real-life strategies and tools to make their jobs easier. In her free time, Grayce is an ultra-distance runner and race director always finding excuses to go running in the woods.
April Lee, MD
April C. Lee, M.D. is the Director of the Division of Adolescent Medicine for the Department of Pediatrics at Staten Island University Hospital/ Northwell Health, and Medical Director of the Division, School Based Health Centers. She is also Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/ Northwell. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and a member in the Section of Adolescent Health, Council on School Health and New York Chapter 2 & 3 School Health Committee. She is also a Fellow of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM).
Over the last several years, Dr. Lee has led the successful and expansive growth of the Division of Adolescent Medicine, which coordinates several grant-funded programs including the NYSDOH Family Grant Program and the NYSDOH Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program. These programs provide opportunities to increase the reach of existing clinical services to reduce health disparities, improve overall health and disseminate prevention and education services to adolescent and young adult patients in the community. In addition to her role as director, she continues to be a dedicated clinician, educator, and researcher in the field of Adolescent Medicine. Dr. Lee earned her bachelor’s degree from City University of New York at Queens College and her medical degree from New York University School of Medicine. She completed her Pediatric Residency at NYU Langone Health. She continued her fellowship training in Adolescent Medicine at Brookdale Hospital Medical Center.
Ryan Levy, MA
Ryan Levy leads systems implementation, data management, and quality improvement initiatives for New York-Presbyterian (NYP) Hospital’s community-based programming, including its School-Based Health Center (SBHC) program. NYP operates seven Article 28 primary care clinics that serve approximately 8000 public school students in upper Manhattan and the Bronx.
Mr. Levy has worked in the field of community health for 9+ years and has been with NYP since 2018. He completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology and is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University at Albany – SUNY.
Ann Marie has been in the Mental Health field for 35 years. She has worked with numerous populations, adults, substance abuse, Developmentally Disabled and chronically mentally ill. However, in 2011, she returned to her roots, Joining Bassett, SBHC, working with children and families: especially seeing the benefits of being in the school setting, “where the kids are”. Ann Marie has a background in art therapy in addition to more traditional cognitive and behavioral therapeutic approaches. Being a resource for children and families, while helping to destigmatize the use of mental health support and treatment, has been a great reward over the past 12 years. In addition, Ms. Mills continues to teach at the State University of Oneonta, in the Sociology and Criminal Justice department, and maintains a small private practice.
Patience is an Evaluator at Apex where she leads the Data Hub Project in New York. She also works across several other health and education projects, building on her prior experience in the nonprofit and public sectors. She has a MS in Global Health Policy and Management from the Heller School at Brandeis University, but she continues to learn more about the field of healthcare through her colleagues and her work on two school-based health center projects.
Michelle Nieves, RN III, CMSRN
Michelle Nieves joined the Bassett School-Based Health Center team in 2021. Previously, she worked for three years at Bassett Medical Center on the Medical Surgical unit, and twelve years at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on a Women’s Health Inpatient Unit caring for breast and GYN cancer patients. Her experience caring for women battling cervical cancer has provided a new perspective on the need to promote the HPV vaccine. Witnessing cancer in teens as young as 19 years old has left an impression on what cervical cancer treatment is all about, and Michelle strives to send this message to younger adolescents utilizing School-Based Health Centers. Promoting education for teens and parents across our nation that prevention is key, rather than treatment related to cancer, is her goal.
Laura O’Shea, RD, CNM, MSN
Dr. O’Shea is a Certified Midwife and serves as Director of Midwifery, Dept of Women’s Health at Bassett Medical Center. She received her undergraduate degree at Syracuse University and graduate degree at Yale University. O’Shea served internships at North Central Bronx Medical Center and Park City Hospital, Yale-New Haven Medical Center, and her residency was at Strong Memorial Hospital, University of Rochester. O’Shea is certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives, is Certified in Adult Weight Management and is a Registered Dietitian, American Dietetic Association.
Ms. Perry is a consultant with extensive executive experience in health care performance improvement. Her work focuses on data-driven innovation in patient services and operations.
As Principal of Morningside Health Strategies, recent engagements include fund development and project management for multiple programs of the New York School-Based Health Foundation; FQHC operational assessment; team-based care optimization; software evaluation &; data strategy design.
Jaya Sarin Pradhan, DMD, MPH
Dr. Jaya Sarin Pradhan started her career in medicine when she was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania’s Bio-dental program in high school. She embraced the opportunity to become a doctor who could help increase access to oral health and thereby decrease health disparities in a racially diverse community in west Philadelphia. While completing her Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree, she specifically became interested in learning about the ways the mouth relates to the rest of the body and therefore focused her efforts on studying the oral complications of systemic disease and cancer therapy.
To further develop her interests in integrating oral health with general health at the population level and to learn about the impact of nutrition on health, she pursued a Masters in Public Health from Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Her early clinical and research work inspired her to pursue a broader and deeper knowledge base for pathology and physiology to better frame the pathological basis of disease. She then completed a unique program at Columbia University Medical Center (CUIMC)- the integrated Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery with Pathology residency in which she completed medical school at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and trained in Anatomic Pathology and Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology at CUIMC. During her residency and in her research fellowship she studied ethnically diverse populations looking at the role of the immune system in the pathogenesis of head and neck, GI and breast cancers and developed an expertise in advanced digital pathology platforms to help direct clinical care.
Dr. Sarin Pradhan’s prevailing professional ambition is to help eliminate health disparities through clinical care, leadership, and education. She continues to provide high quality clinical care, promote equity, and reduce health disparities through direct clinical care and telehealth at Bassett Health Network, a Columbia University Rural Health site in NY State with a clinical focus in the management of oral and maxillofacial diseases as well as the management of oral manifestations of systemic disease. She is currently an attending doctor at Bassett Health Network and Columbia University Medical Center and is transitioning to a leadership role in her department. She looks forward to increasing access to care by expanding telehealth capabilities and reducing nutritional health disparities through education.
Donya Vergine Rhett, PhD
Donya Rhett is a New York State licensed clinical psychologist. She is the psychology program manager for the New York-Presbyterian School-Based Health Center Program and Assistant Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry) at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Dr. Rhett completed her undergraduate studies in psychology at Yale University and doctorate in clinical psychology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Dr. Rhett has dedicated the past 20+ years of her career to serving adolescents in Washington Heights and Harlem in the School-Based Health Centers setting. She has had additional training and certification in a range of evidence-based interventions focused on pediatric sleep health, mind-body interventions and trauma, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy. Dr. Rhett is a current member of APA, EMDR International Association and maintains a small private practice.
Carlos Romero, MBA
As chief evangelist for Apex’s approach to evaluation, Carlos Romero leads a passionate pursuit of Apex’ vision: Evaluation that works. He cultivates and nurtures new and existing relationships with organizations that are addressing barriers to academic, health, and social success for vulnerable children, youth, and their families.
Carlos spends a significant amount of energy ensuring the Apex team has the capacity and support to carry out this mission. He founded Apex in 1999. Other than a brief post-collegiate attempt at trying to be a race car driver, grantsmanship and program evaluation are all he’s ever done. He has over 25 years of experience in program planning, evaluation, and facilitation. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a Master of Business Administration. Carlos is Vice President of Finance for New Mexico Evaluators and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Con Alma Health Foundation. He can make almost any conversation about IndyCar racing, including those that involve evaluation, and still dreams of being the oldest rookie ever at the Indy 500.
Deb Schlesinger, MSW, LCSWR
Deb has been in the mental health field since 1987. She has been with School Based Health for 17 years and worked in all but two of the Bassett SBHC sites. Deb is also a trained movement therapist, yoga teacher and has trained in EMDR. She brings the benefits and healing nature of these modalities to her work with children, teens and families.
Carolyn Wolf-Gould, MD
Carolyn Wolf-Gould is the founder of The Gender Wellness Center at Susquehanna Family Practice, a center that has been growing rapidly to meet the needs of patients in upstate, NY. She attended Hamilton College and Yale University School of Medicine. She has been a family physician in Oneonta, NY since 1994, and practicing transgender medicine as part of general primary care since 2007. She and her team of providers were the recipients of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Grant from 2016 –2019 to create a rural based Center of Excellence in Transgender Health for upstate, NY.
She is a member of The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). Dr. Wolf-Gould is committed to training health care professionals on how to include transgender health services as a part of primary care.
William Zangwill, Ph.D.
William M. Zangwill, Ph.D. is a highly regarded EMDR trainer, who worked extensively with Dr. Francine Shapiro, the originator of EMDR. A preeminent EMDRIA-certified EMDR Trainer, he has led trainings across the US as well as in Europe, Asia and the Middle East during his 20+ years as an EMDR Trainer. He has written extensively on EMDR and presented at several national conferences. He also specializes in combining EMDR and Meditation and in using EMDR with Schema Therapy. Currently, he practices in New York where he specializes in the treatment of PTSD and of sexual, marital and family problems.
William M. Zangwill, Ph.D., SW CPE, MHC CPE, PSY CPE is recognized by the NY State Education Departments State Boards for Social Work, Psychologists and Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers (#SW-0113), licensed psychologists (#PSY-0035) and licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0148).
Stephanie Sheehan, Health Program Administrator at New York State Department of Health NYSDOH Speaker (luncheon)