Biographical Sketches of Speakers

Carl H. Rush, MRP

Research Affiliate, Project on Community Health Worker Policy & Practice
University of Texas – Houston, Institute for Health Policy

Carl H. Rush, MRP has worked full time for and with community health workers (CHWs) for the past 18 years. He serves as a core team member of a new policy center on CHWs at the University of Texas – Houston School of Public Health, and has supported studies on CHW employment policy for the states of Texas and Indiana, and for Public Health Seattle/King County.  He is currently revising a national e-learning series for the CDC on policy and systems change, to promote employment of CHWs, and is working on a national study of the content of “benchmark” training curricula for CHWs as well as a textbook on supervision of CHWs.  He is co-convener of a group of national organizations and federal agencies tracking implementation of the recent Medicaid rule change on preventive services.  Carl was a lead author on the CHW National Workforce Study for the HRSA Bureau of Health Professions (2007).  He was the first Director of the New Jersey CHW Institute and ran the CHW Program at Northwest Vista College in San Antonio.  Carl has also trained CHWs, supervisors and instructors in seven other states, and has provided technical assistance to grantees of the CDC, HRSA and CMS.  He has consulted for Migrant Health Promotion, the CHW National Education Collaborative (U.S. Department of Education), the American Dental Association, the National Council for Behavioral Health, and various AHEC programs.  He has advised CHW policy initiatives in more than 15 individual states, and groups of state officials for the Milbank Memorial Fund, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association.  He is an advisor to the Transition Clinics Network and the CHW Knowledge Exchange Project at Johns Hopkins University.  He has served in leadership positions with the CHW Section of APHA since 2004, and on the APHA Governing Council, Education Board and Joint Policy Committee.

Joanne Calista, LICSW

Executive Director
Central Massachusetts AHEC, Outreach Worker Training Institute

Ms. Calista’s career has focused on designing and implementing clinical, organizational, and policy focused strategies to address health equity.  She has worked in and directed diverse interdisciplinary health care teams providing care to a range of populations, including persons with HIV/AIDS, homeless individuals, and persons with chronic conditions. She has worked as a CHW and as a CHW supervisor in acute care, outpatient, and behavioral health settings, with a focus on the role of the supervisor as an organizational and policy change agent. Her related policy work includes the design of a nationally funded CHW reintegration project for the state of Massachusetts as well as serving as the vice chair of the MA Board of Certification of CHWs—which is establishing educational, training, and certification standards for the workforce. Ms. Calista obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology and relations from Harvard College and her master’s degree in social work from Columbia University. She holds an appointment at the University of Massachusetts Medical School where her teaches a community based Population Health Clerkship for medical and graduate nursing students in end of life care.

Meredith C. Ferraro, MS

Meredith has been Executive Director of the Southwestern Area Health Education Center (AHEC) for 16 years, moving into the non-profit world after a career in Physical/Hand Therapy.  She received her BS in Physical Therapy from NYU, and her MS in Health Sciences Education from Stony Brook University.   She has practiced PT in various settings and served on several national Boards:  the American Society of Hand Therapists, the Hand Section of the American Physical Therapy Association, and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Hand Therapy.  As a founding member of the Hand Therapy Certification Commission, she participated in the development of the Hand Therapy Certification Examination.   She has had full-time academic appointments at Touro College and Housatonic Community College, and taught part-time for SUNY Buffalo, Stony Brook University and NYU PT Programs.  As a clinician, professor, and Executive Director, she continues to promote health and wellness through AHEC’s Mission:  “Opening Doors to better health for vulnerable populations through education, careers and outreach.”  We do this by enhancing access to quality primary and preventive health care in southwestern CT by linking Students to Careers, Professionals to Communities, and Communities to Better Health.

Meredith lives in Bridgeport, CT and is happily married to her husband, Robert for 35 years.  She has two sons, Paul and Gregory, 2 dogs, and a cat.  She enjoys the beach, and going to the gym.

Marghie Giuliano, R.Ph., CAE

Marghie Giuliano obtained her BS in Pharmacy at the University Of Connecticut School Of Pharmacy.  She worked briefly for a chain pharmacy and then opened her own community pharmacy where she practiced for 17 years.  After selling her business, Marghie served as the Board Administrator for the State of Connecticut Commission of Pharmacy.  There she was involved in the rewriting of pharmacy state regulations and the legislative process.  She also served on the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam Review Committee.

Since June of 1999, Marghie has been Executive Vice President of the Connecticut Pharmacists Association.  She is a seasoned leader in the pharmacy community having served as President of the state association in 1997-98 and as Past President for the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations in 2009.  Marghie served on the national advisory panel of pharmacy leaders that developed     She has served on various state and national health task forces and has participated in demonstration and research projects involving women’s heart disease, smoking cessation initiatives and most recently projects in Medication Therapy Management.

Marghie championed the creation of PharmNetEx, an innovative network of credentialed pharmacists that provide direct patient care services to patients.  She currently is the Secretary for this company.  Marghie has also presented many lectures to the pharmacy community on legislative and legal issues, and serves as a preceptor at the University Of Connecticut School Of Pharmacy and the University of Saint Joseph School of Pharmacy.

Grace Damio

Grace Damio is a public health nutritionist and Director of Research and Training at the Hispanic Health Council. Ms. Damio joined HHC in 1986 and currently oversees HHC’s community-based research and cultural competence training. She has developed and overseen many of HHC’s initiatives designed to reduce health disparities in the areas of health care access, chronic disease management, obesity prevention, nutrition education, maternal and child health and cross cultural training. Ms. Damio has been HHC’s lead on the development and evaluation of community health worker service models for health promotion and chronic disease management. HHC’s Breastfeeding: Heritage and Pride Peer Counseling Program is recognized by the CDC and IOM as an evidence-based best practice. DIALBEST, a randomized controlled trial conducted with the University of Connecticut/Yale University and Hartford Hospital, tested the use of peer counseling to improve diabetes management and glycemic control among low-income Latinos, with very positive results. Ms. Damio currently leads the peer coaching component of a CMS-funded/DSS-led smoking cessation incentive study. She has worked with a number of academic partners, including her role as deputy director of the (NIH) Center for Eliminating Health Disparities among Latinos (CEHDL) from 2005-2011. Ms. Damio has authored and co-authored many articles published in peer-reviewed journals. She serves on several local, statewide and national boards and committees related to addressing health inequities through research and policy change. Ms. Damio holds a bachelor’s degree in community nutrition from the University of Connecticut and master’s degree in public health nutrition from Columbia University.

Michelle M. Cloutier, MD

Michelle M. Cloutier, MD is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut Health Center and Director of the Asthma Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.  She also leads the Hartford Childhood Wellness Alliance and many community based projects.  She received her doctorate in medicine from the University of Wisconsin and completed her pediatric and pediatric pulmonary fellowship training at the University of Florida followed by a Critical Care fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  Dr. Cloutier has received numerous medical student teaching and pediatric resident teaching awards and has authored more than 115 journal articles and book chapters in the areas of airway epithelial transport, health services research in pediatric asthma and childhood obesity.  She reviews manuscripts for more than 15 journals and is on the Editorial Board of the international journal .   She is the creator of the evidence based, award winning Easy Breathing Program, a statewide disease management program for pediatricians that has changed medical services utilization rates for children and adults with asthma in Connecticut and the creator of Steps to Growing Up Healthy, an evidence based program that prevents obesity in young children.  Her research has been funded by many prestigious private foundations and the State of Connecticut as well as by the National Institutes of Health.

Jacqueline Ortiz Miller

Jacqueline Ortiz Miller is a Community Health Worker Consultant at the Center for Community Research at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, CT.  She works on an obesity prevention program called “Steps to Growing up Healthy” and Newman’s Own with Dr. Michelle Cloutier, the director of the Asthma Center at CCMC, and the creator of Steps to Growing up Healthy, evidence based program that prevents obesity in young children. She is currently completing her degree in Human Services at Springfield College, class of 2015.  Jacqueline is a current member of the Advisory Council of the Community Health Workers Association of Connecticut.  She is a member of the American Public Health Association’s Community Health Worker Section, and in November 2014, was named Chair of the Nominations Committee. She is also a member of the Multi-Cultural Health Network. She is a current Fellow of the Connecticut Health Foundation class of 2015.  She is also a fellow with Advisory Committee of the Community Health Worker Common Core (C3) Project. This is a National study led by Dr. Lee Rosenthal and Carl H. Rush that is looking at the Scope of Practice and Roles and Skills for CHW workforce. As part of this project, she also co-chairs a CHW Advisory Committee made up of CHW’s from across various states.  She is also a member of the New England Coalition of Community Health Workers.  Jacqueline has been a Community Health Worker for 5 years.  She is very passionate about her community, its challenges, and strives towards bridging the gaps to health within her community as a public health worker. With respect to her workforce, she advocates to bring awareness of the value and integrity of the CHW workforce. Jacqueline enjoys her work, and is guided by a quote from Pablo Picasso that says “.”

Darcy Cobbs-Lomax, MPH

“Leadership is a privilege afforded to those who often do not readily seek it but approach life with a passion that fuels them to champion concerns or tasks that are placed before them.”Growing up in Bridgeport, CT, gave Darcey Lynn Cobbs-Lomax an early exposure to health inequities across populations and generations. She saw how health insurance did not equal access to care nor did it translate into quality of care.

Cobbs-Lomax earned her bachelor’s degree in French and finance from Florida State University, an MBA from Georgia State University and her MPH at Walden University in Minnesota. While working at a small clinic in the South Bronx, NY, she had many eye-opening experiences through interaction with the poor immigrant population in that community. “Seeing the healthcare world through a patient’s eyes charted the course for my career,” she says. Darcey has worked with the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation at Harlem Hospital Center as an Administrator in their Infectious Disease Clinic where she oversaw Ryan White funded programs and as the Director of Elderly Services for the City of New Haven. Currently she is Executive Director of Project Access of New Haven, a nonprofit organization with the vision of being ‘the community champion for access to care for those most in need.’ She is a 2014 Graduate of the Connecticut Health Foundation Leadership Fellows Program and currently is serving as a Senior Fellow with the program for the 2015 class.

She serves on several community boards and volunteers at her church, but what she enjoys most is caring for and spending time with her husband and children.

Dr. Emily Wang, MD, MAS

Dr. Emily Wang, MD, MAS, is an Assistant Professor at the Yale School of Medicine and Co-Founder of the Transitions Clinic Network. Dr. Wang’s research focuses on promoting health equity for vulnerable populations, especially individuals with a history of incarceration, through both prison and community based interventions. She has developed expertise in training former prisoners to become community health workers and researchers through community based participatory research methods. She is the Co-Founder of the Transitions Clinic Network, a consortium of 13 community health centers nationwide dedicated to caring for recently released prisoners and defining best practices for the health care of individuals leaving prison. The Transitions Clinic Network was awarded the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation Award to provide care to over 2,000 high-risk, high-cost patients returning from prison and to train and employ former prisoners as community health workers.

Jerry Smart

Jerry Smart is a Community Health Worker with the Transitions Clinic in New Haven, CT, where he coordinates medical care and social service support for patients recently released from prison. The clinic is part of a national network (the Transitions Clinic Network) dedicated to caring for formerly incarcerated individuals. Jerry has a longstanding commitment to the New Haven community and since 2012 has been a Steering Committee member for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinic Scholars Program. He was also a member of the Community Leadership Program from 2013-2014. Prior to his work with Transitions Clinic, Jerry was a reentry coordinator with Project More and the Building Bridges Program, and he also acted as a client coordinator for Youth Continuum Incorporated Hosts.

Mark Schaefer, PhD

Mark Schaefer, PhD is a clinical psychologist and the Director of Healthcare Innovation for the State of Connecticut.  Dr. Schaefer previously served as the state’s Medicaid Director at the Department of Social Services, where he led the design and implementation of the Connecticut Behavioral Health Partnership, a joint initiative with the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to develop an integrated behavioral health service system for the Medicaid, HUSKY B, and Charter Oak programs.  He also developed an array of health service delivery and purchasing reforms to improve care experience and quality, while reducing costs, including the person centered medical home glide path program and the integrated care demonstration for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. In his current role, Dr. Schaefer is leading the state’s multi-payer State Innovation Model Initiative under the direction of Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman.

Kate McEvoy, JD

Kate McEvoy is the Director of the Division of Health Services at the Department of Social Services, and is responsible for administration of medical, behavioral health, pharmacy, dental and transportation benefits for over 770,000 Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries. Related, she oversees health policy aspects of Connecticut Medicaid’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Administrative Services Organization contracts and associated special projects, including the Person-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) initiative, Rewards to Quit (incentive-based tobacco cessation program) and planning in support of the Demonstration to Integrate Care for Medicare-Medicaid Enrollees. She is also responsible for oversight of diverse aspects of the Connecticut Strategic Rebalancing Plan, including the Money Follows the Person Program, State Balancing Incentive Payments Program, TEFT, nursing home diversification and workforce initiatives. In these initiatives, Kate is particularly interested in the intersection of law and medicine with respect to person-centeredness, autonomy in decision-making and dignity of risk.

Previously, Kate served in an appointment as Assistant Comptroller/Policy Director with the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC), supporting Comptroller Kevin Lembo in a policy agenda that includes achieving improved health outcomes and cost savings in the state employee and retiree health plan through value-based design, and state budget transparency.  Prior to that, she served for many years as Deputy Director of the Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut, Inc. (AASCC), as well as acting as legislative liaison for the Connecticut Association of Agencies on Aging.

Kate is a frequent lecturer on advance health care directives, conservatorship, Medicare, home and community-based services, entitlements and health policy issues. She served as the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Elder Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association from 2006-2008, and periodically teaches as an adjunct at Quinnipiac School of Law. Kate is the author of the treatise, Connecticut Elder Law (Thomson/West, 2008) as well as numerous articles.

Kate is a graduate of Oberlin College with a B.A. in Economics and English and received her law degree from the University of Connecticut, School of Law. She is admitted to practice in Connecticut.

Mehul Dalal, MD, MSc, MHS

Mehul Dalal, MD, MSc, MHS is the Chronic Disease Director for the Connecticut Department of Public Health. He earned both his medical degree and masters in community medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and completed an internal medicine residency at New York University and Bellevue Hospital. He is also a graduate of the Yale Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar Program. He has been a staff internist at the Fair Haven Community Health Center and the Medical Director of Quality Improvement for cardiovascular disease at the New York City Department of Health. Dr. Dalal joined the Department of Public Health in March 2012.

Rumana Rabbani, BA

Rumana Rabbani was born in Bangladesh where there are critical issues of healthcare delivery. The experiences she had allowed her to witness first-hand critical public health, healthcare quality and access issues, such as lack of clean drinking water, vaccinations, and preventive and primary care. These personal exposures allow her to better empathize with individuals from marginalized, socio-economic populations, and thus, has been a significant influence for her passion to work at the intersection of healthcare and public health. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, and has taken various courses at Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) with a focus in Healthcare Policy as a non-degree student. Rumana has worked at Children’s Hospital Boston (CHB) where she helped coordinate and manage internal teams with researchers and physicians at the Christopher A. Walsh Laboratory. Rumana then went on to work at the Nursing Career Lattice Program; she worked to help lessen the disparity between the populations treated and the lack of representation of these patients in the CHB work force. She has been working as a healthcare consultant at a boutique consulting firm with a focus on analyzing the effects of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) healthcare delivery programs within pharmacy and managed care networks. She has also helped develop a proposal of Federally Qualified Health Center market opportunity that took into consideration changes due to PPACA legislation. Rumana currently works as a Research Assistant for a Principal Investigator at Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at Wharton. Through this work she has built familiarity with complex policy topics and legal nuances; received exposure to the potential relationships between policy initiatives and outcomes for population health and healthcare systems; and designed data collection and coding systems to streamline policy information sharing from diverse resources. Recently, Rumana presented research work with her team members in collaboration with Southwestern Area Health Education Center and YSPH at the American Public Health Association (APHA) conference. The goal of their research was to gain insight about the employment of CHWs in healthcare reform programs and to make recommendations about sustainable payment models for this workforce from the public and private payer perspectives. Her team has also received an award for their abstract from the Public Health Education Health Promotion section of APHA. Rumana is a member of the New England Regional Health Equity Council, and active in the Leadership and Governance Committee and the CHW subcommittee. She has currently applied to various Health Policy and Management programs. Her future goal is to intern for an organization such as the Cleveland Clinic Fellowship program in order to learn how to execute programs that better achieve the PPACA goal of delivering high quality, accessible care while containing costs.  Rumana believes an important component for this goal would entail the incorporation of CHW role.

Suzanne Lagarde, MD MBA FACP

Dr. Lagarde currently serves as CEO of Fair Haven Community Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center providing comprehensive healthcare to over 15,000 residents of southern CT.  Trained as a gastroenterologist, she was a founding member of CT Gastroenterology Consultants, a large private practice in southern CT where she worked for many years prior to her current position.  She is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at Yale University and attending gastroenterologist at Yale New Haven Hospital.  She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in mathematics from Fordham University and obtained her medical degree from Cornell University.  She acquired her MBA, specializing in Healthcare, from Yale University.   She is a member of the Board of Governors of the New Haven County Medical Association and heads the Medical Advisory Board to the CT Colon Cancer Control Program.  While in private practice, she spearheaded the creation of a program that provided free screening colonoscopy to the uninsured.  Over three years (2010-2013), over 230 patients benefited from this program.

Dr. Lagarde is a founding member and immediate past president of Project Access-New Haven, a non-profit organization which provides access to specialty care for the uninsured in the greater New Haven area.  For nearly 5 years she traveled quarterly to Biloxi MS where she provided free GI services to the patients of Coastal Family Health Services, a large Community Health Center on the Gulf Coast.  She is the recipient of many awards for her community service, including Biloxi’s “Medical Volunteer of the Year” award in 2010.

Dr. Lagarde advocates for the underserved at both city and state levels.  She serves on many key committees, including the Steering Committee of CT SIMs (State Innovation Model) charged with healthcare reform in the state of CT.  She serves on the Council on Medical Assistance Program Oversight for the state of CT, the agency with direct oversight of the Medicaid Program in CT.  She chairs the Medicaid Committee of the CT State Medical Society and serves on the Board of Directors of Community Health Network (CHN), the ASO for CT Medicaid.

Mary Scully, APRN

Mary Scully is an Advance Practice Registered Nurse and the clinical director of Khmer Health Advocates torture treatment program. She holds a Master’s Degree from Goddard College in Cross-cultural Mental Health. She did an internship in cross cultural mental health at the Gallup Indian Health Center where she worked as community health worker. She also worked in a refugee camp in Thailand in a supporting role where she trained and consulted with community health workers. She is a co-founder of Khmer Health Advocates and a founding member of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs. She is the clinical director of the KHA torture treatment program which is a behavioral health home for victims of torture. In this capacity she directed the development of cross cultural multidisciplinary teams that have delivered care to more than 1500 survivors over a 10,000 square mile service. She also directed the development of a telemedicine program that includes the use of videoconferencing and a bi-lingual electronic medical record and care management system.

Theanvy Kuoch

Theanvy Kuoch is a survivor of the Cambodian holocaust and the founder of Khmer Health Advocates, the national Cambodian American health organization for survivors and their families. She has served as the Executive Director since 1982. She holds a Master’s degree in Cross cultural Family Therapy and is part of the clinical team for the torture treatment program.  Theanvy worked as a Community Health Worker in several refugee camps in Thailand and Indonesia and uses that experience for training Community Health Workers in the Khmer Health Advocates cross cultural multidisciplinary teams.

Peter(“PANO”) M. Yeracaris, MD, MPH

Pano Yeracaris, MD, MPH is a highly effective physician executive with great breadth and depth of knowledge and experience in many key sectors of health care and public health. Still actively practicing as a family physician, Dr. Yeracaris is the chief consultant for SyncHealth, which is focused on sustainability in health care transformation. Individual health depends on family and community health. Supporting community development and knowledge concerning health drivers can assist families and individuals in reducing the incidence and morbidity of multiple chronic conditions and promote sustainability. Health care costs have reached a level where there is a strong business case for all types of insurance to support the deployment of well organized and focused interventions that expand primary care, improve individual health, and build community capacity.

Pano has over 30 years of medical practice and leadership experience and most recently served for nearly nine years as Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Network Health, a Massachusetts based Managed Medicaid Organization. There he oversaw the entire Clinical Affairs Division and was the architect for its nationally recognized clinical programs including integrated care management and field based social care management and clinical community outreach teams. Based on  achievements in the Clinical Affairs Division, Network Health was also ranked as the #3 Medicaid Health Plan by NCQA for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, and in the top ten for the four years since achieving and maintaining an excellent NCQA accreditation. He also played a substantive role in supporting the MA Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Initiative for which he served on the Steering Committee and co-chaired the Shared Savings and Reporting Work Group. Care managers for the Network Health integrated care management team were also asked to establish the care management protocols for the initiative.

Prior to joining Network Health Pano served as the Chief Medical Officer of Health Services Partnership in Dorchester, MA and served as medical director for its two member health centers. There he oversaw implementation of electronic medical records and developed an expanded care management infrastructure. Pano also worked for 13 years as a physician leader at Health Care Plan in Buffalo, NY, a highly respected staff model HMO. Care delivery transformation was a strategic focus for the staff model organization. The population and individual health focus helped set the groundwork for principles guiding development of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and Patient Centered Medical Homes. Other professional engagements include Assistant Clinical Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine; consultant for the Capital University of Medical Sciences in Beijing, China; and consultant for a USAID Managed Care Project in Zimbabwe, Africa, through the Harvard School of Public Health.

Since 2001, Pano has been a member of the Board of Directors at the New England College of Optometry, where he serves on the Executive Committee and chairs the Clinical Systems Committee. He previously served on the Mass Health Drug Utilization Review Board.

Pano earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Public Health from Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, earned his medical degree at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and his family medicine residency at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is board certified in family medicine and is a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School.