Leadership

Risa Breckman, LCSW: Executive Director

Since 1982, Risa has been at the forefront of developing innovative programs, protocols, educational forums and materials on elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. She is the co-founder of the National Network of State Elder Justice Coalitions and one of the chief architects of New York’s statewide enhanced multidisciplinary elder abuse teams (EMDT) initiative, which aims to have EMDTs in every county by 2020. She also writes articles, educational materials and thought pieces on the topic, including co-authoring the seminal book guiding interventions, Strategies for Helping Victims of Elder Mistreatment and theAmerican Medical Association’s Diagnostic and Treatment Guidelines on Elder Abuse and Neglect.  She also co-authored the Elder Justice Roadmap Report, which affirms that elder abuse is indeed a problem with solutions. To contact Risa, click here.

Ariel Hosey: Finance Program Manager

Ariel Hosey is NYCEAC’s Finance Program Manager. She oversees NYCEAC’s office management, negotiates contracts, develops and modifies program budgets, prepares fiscal reports and supervises administrative staff.  In her previous roles at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Mount Sinai Hospital, Ariel gained rich experience in financial analysis, budget/contract and negotiation, data and statistical analysis, grant management, and clinical research.  In addition to her professional work, Ariel volunteers as a tax preparer in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to provide free tax services to individuals in her community. Ariel received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan and MPH in Public Health from Rutgers University. To contact Ariel, click here.

Mark Lachs, MD, MPH: Chief Medical Officer

An internist and geriatrician, Mark is the Irene and Roy Psaty Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College and Co-Chief of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, and the Director of Geriatrics for the New York Presbyterian Health System. Both a clinician and researcher, Mark has conducted numerous studies of elder abuse outcomes and epidemiology, and he is principal investigator of the largest longitudinal study of elder abuse victims which was funded by the National Institutes on Aging. His many accolades and awards include a Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholarship (the country’s preeminent career development award in Geriatric Medicine), a National Institutes on Aging Academic Leadership Award and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse Rosalie Wolf Ward. A co-author of the American Medical Association’s Diagnostic and Treatment Guidelines on Elder Abuse and Neglect, he has testified before congress on matters related to aging, served as a consultant to the World Health Organization on an international screening study of elder abuse, and been a member of a congressionally mandated National Academy of Sciences Panel convened by an order of congress to address the training needs of health care professionals in domestic violence. Mark mentors junior faculty in the area of elder abuse and neglect, and maintains an active geriatric medicine practice in New York City.  In September 2010, Penguin Viking published his book Treat Me, Not My Age: A Doctor’s Guide to Getting the Best Care as You or a Loved One Gets Older. (www.treatmenotmyage.com). To contact Mark, click here.

Lisa Rachmuth, LMSW: Deputy Director of MDTs

Lisa Rachmuth is the Deputy Director of NYCEAC’s MDTs. She manages the day-to-day operations of NYCEAC’s existing MDTs and is spearheading the expansion of the MDTs to all five boroughs. Prior to joining NYCEAC, Lisa was the Director of Clinical Initiatives and Programming for NYC’s Human Resource Administration’s Office of Domestic Violence.  Through these two positions, Lisa has worked with systems, communities and individuals affected by and dedicated to Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse. Lisa holds a Master in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania.  She has 27 years of social service experience, with a particular expertise in child abuse, intergenerational abuse, domestic violence and housing initiatives for individuals and families.  In addition to her years of clinical and administrative experience, Lisa is an experienced workshop curriculum developer and presenter. Lisa is also an Adjunct Professor at The Silberman School of Social Work and a board member for an organization called Evenfooting. To contact Lisa, click here.

Margaret Reiff, LCSW: Deputy Director of Special Projects

Margaret manages and oversees the day-to-day operation of NYCEAC’s special projects portfolio, including: expansion of the Elder Abuse Helpline for Concerned Persons;  launching the new National Elder Abuse MDT Training and Technical Assistance Center; advancing NYCEAC’s social media and website development; and leading strategic planning for other future projects. Prior to joining NYCEAC, Margaret dedicated her career to working in the field of aging services in a variety of direct service and administrative roles. She most recently served as the director of the Learning Center at the NYC Department for the Aging, where she spearheaded the enhancement and delivery of training on elder abuse detection, identification and reporting through both classroom and e-learning approaches. She has held other positions in the NYC aging services network including: Chief Operations Officer at the Carter Burden Network; Executive Director at the Jarvie Commonweal Service; and Program Officer at the Brookdale Foundation Group. Margaret gained direct service experience working with older adults experiencing abuse, exploitation and neglect very early in her career as an Adult Protective Services caseworker in West Suburban Boston. She maintained a passion for raising awareness about and addressing elder justice issues throughout her years of practice since earning her Master’s Degree in Social Work in 1994 from the Simmons School of Social Work. Margaret is also a graduate of Columbia University’s Institute for Not-for-Profit Management and was elected as a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine in 2006 and served as the Vice Chair of the Academy’s Social Work Section from 2011-2017. To contact Margaret, click here.

Administrative Staff

Asia Skerrett: Administrative Assistant

Asia Skerrett is NYCEAC’s Administrative Assistant. Asia assists NYCEAC’s programs with their operational, financial, and administrative support needs. She previously worked as a Health Educator for Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health conducting outreach efforts and working with organizations serving vulnerable populations. She also has volunteered in Muizenberg, South Africa where she assisted teachers with daily lesson plans and helped to design individual teaching methods for children with learning disabilities. Asia received a B.S. in Health Education and Promotion with a focus on Community Health from Lehman College. To contact Asia, click here.

Elder Abuse Enhanced Multidisciplinary Teams (EMDTs) Staff

Khi-Lynn Johnson, LMSW: EMDT Coordinator

Khi-Lynn Johnson, LMSW, joins NYCEAC as the new Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) Coordinator for Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. In addition to consulting on elder abuse cases, Khi-Lynn provides trainings on elder abuse identifications and interventions. Khi-Lynn gained extensive experience with high-risk elder abuse cases as a social worker for the Human Resource Administration for Adult Protective Services. Khi-Lynn also worked at Urban Resource Institute as a supervisor in their domestic violence shelter. The shelter piloted the People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) initiative program, which recognized the importance of pets as a primary source of emotional support for domestic violence survivors. Khi-Lynn is a 2013 alumna of the Yeshiva University Wurzweiler School of Social Work. To contact Khi-Lynn, click here.

Deena Schwartz, Esq: EMDT Coordinator

Deena Schwartz is the Multidisciplinary Team Coordinator for the Bronx and Brooklyn EMDTs and oversees the EMDTs’ civil legal work. She consults on elder abuse cases and assists government and community-based organizations in synthesizing information to present complex cases to the EMDTs. She facilitates these teams with the goal of generating creative solutions to complex cases that one organization could not have otherwise reached alone.  She gained experience in the field of elder abuse as a Senior Attorney with the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) for the New York City Department of Social Services, where she counseled various programs including Adult Protective Services and HIV/AIDS Services Administration.  She has extensive experience litigating Article 81 Guardianship cases in Supreme Court and motioning for Guardians ad Litem in Housing Court. As a former OLA representative on the Manhattan EMDT, she is excited to now play this larger role in supporting the multidisciplinary approach to elder abuse. She previously worked as a Fellow at the Feerick Center for Social Justice focusing on consumer debt issues facing vulnerable New Yorkers. Deena received her Juris Doctor from Fordham Law School and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Tulane University. To contact Deena, click here.

Leigh Goulbourne: EMDT Program Specialist

Leigh is NYCEAC’s MDT Program Specialist. Leigh volunteers at Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Sexual Assault Advocacy and Intervention Program where she cultivates a strong interest in supporting patients who have been abused. She continues this line of justice work at NYCEAC, where she provides administrative and clinical support for the MDT Coordinator through assisting with the planning, organization, and execution of the MDT meetings. Leigh received her B.A. in Neuroscience and Gender Studies from Dartmouth College. To contact Leigh, click here.

Phillip Kim: EMDT Program Specialist

Phillip is NYCEAC’s MDT Program Specialist. Phillip assists with the development, coordination and execution of the MDT meetings and provides administrative and clinical support to the MDT Coordinator. Phillip refined these skills previously serving as a Program Assistant for the Injury Prevention Program at the Boston University Medical Campus and as an International Justice and Human Rights Research Assistant for Sargent College. Phillip has also volunteered and partnered with non-profit organizations all around the world and has worked with many different vulnerable groups such as North Korean refugees, Native Americans, and people with intellectual disabilities. Phillip received his B.A. in Health Science from Boston University. To contact Phillip, click here.

Terrel Sykes: Data Specialist

Terrel Sykes is the Data Specialist at NYCEAC. His primary responsibilities are managing NYCEAC’s database, assisting with analyzing its data to establish trends and progress, generating reports, and making other technology-related suggestions that enhance the privacy and security of NYCEAC’s work. Terrel has previously served as the Records Access Officer for the Bronx District attorney ’s office under Darcel Clark, as well as a CUNY Service corps open data analyst at the Manhattan Borough President’s office under Gale Brewer. Terrel  graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. To contact Terrel, click here.

Ayana Mortley: Workshop Training Coordinator

Ayana Mortley is the Workshop Training Coordinator for the NYC Elder Abuse Center (NYCEAC). She collaborates with team specialists to design, facilitate, and coordinate workshops about NYCEAC’s programs, elder abuse, and geriatric medicine. She also conducts outreach to internal and external constituents to build networks in NYCEAC’s expanding catchment area. Ayana developed a passion for elder justice during her time as a social worker for the Human Resources Administration Adult Protective Services program, where she developed and facilitated intervention plans for high-risk vulnerable adults . Ayana cultivated her interest in training and education on her college campus, where she delivered workshops and facilitated campus-wide discussions on the topics of diversity, sexual assault and social justice. Ayana received her B.A. in Sociology from Wesleyan University. To contact, click here.

Karen Webber, CPA, CFE, EMDT Forensic Accountant Consultant

karen-webberKaren Webber is a forensic accountant dedicated to assisting law enforcement, attorneys, not-for-profits, government agencies, and other organizations with financial exploitation investigations. Karen participates on several Enhanced Multidisciplinary Teams (E-MDTs) across New York State, from the Finger Lakes to New York City.  She consults on cases, reviews thousands of financial documents, and reports her findings to the E-MDTs and law enforcement, providing expert testimony as required for various court proceedings. Karen consults with professionals throughout the United States and abroad to develop conference presentations and other training materials for those charged with the prevention, detection, and intervention in financial abuse cases. Karen started her practice in 2009, and earned an M.S. Forensic Accounting degree from The College at Brockport, State University of New York, in 2010. 

Case Consultation Unit

Caren Lee, LCSW, ACSW, Clinician

Caren Lee provides case consultations through NYCEAC’s Case Consultation Unit to professionals working on elder abuse, neglect, and/or financial exploitation cases.  Caren comes to NYCEAC with more than 17 years of scholarly practitioner experience working with older adults. Her skills in evaluating the needs of older adults and providing guidance on next steps were mastered through over 10,000 hours of home visit assessments and other clinical experience within NYC’s aging network. This has included conducting risk assessments and care planning, facilitating caregiver support groups and providing information at nonprofits, hospitals, state, and private agencies. Caren is an Adjunct Professor at the Silver School of Social Work at New York University. She has a Bachelor of Social Work from Delaware State University, a Master of Social Work from New York University, and a Geriatric Case Management Certificate from Hunter College, Center for Healthy Living. To contact Caren, click here.

Medical Staff

Veronica LoFaso, MD: Medical Director and Geriatrician

Ronnie is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital within the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. She provides geriatric medicine consultations to NYCEAC’s multidisciplinary teams, serving to help the teams evaluate and respond to the myriad medical issues that are presented to them. In addition, she has developed and conducted numerous elder abuse trainings for a variety of institutions throughout the greater New York City area and beyond. Ronnie has presented at national conferences, has conducted workshops on a broad range of topics related to elder abuse, and has managed cases of elder abuse in New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Geriatrics out-patient practice as well as in the homebound population as Former Director, Home Visit Program in the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Robert Abrams, MD: Geriatric Psychiatrist, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island EMDTs

rabramsBob is a Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and attending psychiatrist in the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. He also maintains an outpatient practice in geriatric psychiatry at the Wright Center on Aging. Robert graduated from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and completed his residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He provides consultation to NYCEAC’s multidisciplinary teams on mental health and aging. His research focuses on geriatric depression, personality disorders, suicide, and elder abuse, with further investigation into the clinical significance of personality disorders as a possible future indicator of relapse for depression. A personal interest in humanities led Robert to publish several articles on the underestimated contribution of geriatric depression to Queen Victoria’s death, weaving together the seldom explored territory of psychiatry and historical studies. In 2007, Robert was awarded the nationally recognized Clinician of the Year award by the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry.

Caitlin Snow, MD, MBA: Geriatric Psychiatrist, Queens EMDT

Caitlin is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine. She graduated from Weill Cornell Medicine, and completed her General Psychiatry Residency at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine, followed by her Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship at NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry. In addition, she received an Executive Master of Business Administration from Columbia University. Her academic interests include elder abuse, financial decision making in the aging brain, palliative care, medical student and resident education, and integration of mental health into primary care settings.  In addition to her work with NYCEAC, she is involved with medical student and psychiatry resident education, and maintains a private practice in New York City.

Katherine Goettsche, MD: Geriatric Psychiatrist, Bronx EMDT

Katherine is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine. She graduated from Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, completed her General Psychiatry Residency at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine, followed by fellowship in geriatric psychiatry at NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry. Her academic interests include elder abuse, geriatric depression, managing transitions in late life, and healthy aging. In addition to her work with NYCEAC, she maintains an outpatient practice in geriatric psychiatry at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Westchester Division where she is also involved in the education of fellows in geriatric psychiatry.

Special Projects Staff

Project: Elder Abuse Helpline for Concerned Persons

Peg Horan, LMSW: Clinical Program Supervisor

PegHoran

Peg is the Clinical Program Supervisor for the NYC Elder Abuse Center (NYCEAC) Helpline for Concerned Persons. She joined NYCEAC in 2015, when she coordinated its Brooklyn and Manhattan elder abuse multidisciplinary teams. Later, Peg served as NYCEAC’s Case Consultation Coordinator, then provided technical assistance to Enhanced Multidisciplinary Teams in New York State in partnership with Lifespan of Greater Rochester and NYS Office for the Aging. She has trained local and national professional audiences on elder abuse prevention, identification, and intervention. Before joining NYCEAC, Peg worked in the Domestic Violence Bureau of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, where she ran its flagship program for people with disabilities who were physically or sexually assaulted. Later, as the D.A.’s Elder Abuse Unit Coordinator, she worked with older adults who were assaulted, abused, threatened and/or financially exploited by someone they knew or trusted. Peg received an M.S. from the Columbia University School of Social Work in 1998. She is an accredited field instructor for social work students. To contact Peg, click here.

Flora Colao, LCSW: Elder Abuse Helpline Service Specialist and Clinical Supervisor

Flora is a therapist and a consultant on the detection, intervention and treatment of abuse and other trauma. She works with children, adults of all ages, and families impacted by crime utilizing trauma treatment modalities. The founder of NYC’s St. Vincent Hospital’s Rape Crisis Program, Flora has written on issues related to crime victimization and prevention, including co-authoring the seminal book, Your Children Should Know: Personal Safety Strategies for Parents to Teach Children. She conducts abuse prevention and intervention workshops in the United States and internationally. Flora received her B.S. and MSW from Adelphi University. To contact NYCEAC’s Elder Abuse Helpline, click here.

Serena Ross, MSW: Elder Abuse Helpline Service Specialist

Serena utilizes trauma-informed approaches to work with survivors of abuse and other trauma. In addition to her work with NYCEAC’s Helpline for Concerned Persons, Serena has interned at New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Victim Intervention Program where she provided trauma focused therapy and crisis intervention to individuals impacted by sexual assault, domestic violence, and other crime in the Emergency Department. Previously, Serena has worked with families of children with disabilities in Shanghai as part of her Global MSW program. Serena earned a B.A. from York University and an MSW from New York University. To contact NYCEAC’s Elder Abuse Helpline, click here.

Ariana Wolk, LMSW: Elder Abuse Helpline Service Specialist

Ariana is a therapist utilizing trauma-informed approaches to help those harmed by family and partner abuse, sexual assault, and other crimes. In addition to assisting family, friends and neighbors of elder abuse victims calling NYCEAC’s Elder Abuse Helpline, Ariana works with Steps to End Family Violence as a school-based therapist specializing in relationship abuse prevention. Previously she interned at the Crime Victims Treatment Center providing trauma-responsive therapy to survivors of violent crime and at the Bronx Psychiatric Center providing therapy to people at this in-patient hospital. Ariana earned a B.A. from Cornell University and an MSW from New York University. To contact NYCEAC’s Elder Abuse Helpline, click here.

Project: Interview for Decisional Abilities (IDA)

Pam Ansell, MSW: Project Coordinator

Pam Ansell PhotoPam is the Coordinator for NYCEAC’s Pilot Project to Develop an Interview Tool for APS to Gather Information about Clients’ Decision-making Abilities. In this role, she works closely with a team of dedicated professionals to develop a standardized interview tool and train APS caseworkers and supervisors on its use. Pam has contributed to NYCEAC’s social media campaign efforts and the development of an elder abuse video clip series with elder justice experts from diverse fields and backgrounds. Within the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, Pam provides administrative and strategic planning support to the Palliative Care Consultation Service initiatives. Additionally, Pam spearheads the Geriatric Fellows Psychosocial Consortium, bringing together 19 NYC-area geriatric fellowship programs to strengthen psychosocial education for geriatric fellows. To contact Pam, click here.

Project: National Elder Abuse MDT Training and Technical Assistance Center

Grace Cheong, LMSW: Program Manager

Grace Cheong is the Program Manager of the National Elder Abuse MDT Training and Technical Assistance Center.  She manages all aspects of programming and day-to-day operations of the Center, working with core partners of the program to provide selected Office of Victims of Crime-funded tribal and non-tribal teams with necessary training and technical assistance to support their growth and development. Prior to joining NYCEAC, Grace worked in various policy and programming roles with the Singapore Ministry of Social and Family Development across a wide range of social issues including domestic violence, child protection, youth development and juvenile rehabilitation. In her last deployment, she was involved in the setup of Singapore’s Adult Protective Service and enactment of the Vulnerable Adults Act to protect Vulnerable Adults. She has also held various teaching and curriculum development roles with the Singapore University of Social Sciences. Grace holds a MS in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work and a Master in Organizational Leadership from Monash University (Australia). To contact Grace, click here.