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 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. She co-authored the Elder Justice Roadmap Report, which affirms that elder abuse is indeed a problem with solutions. Visit Risa’s Linkedin page here.

Administrative Staff

Kasey Brown: Program Generalist

kbrownKasey serves as the Program Generalist for the NYC Elder Abuse Center. She manages day-to-day administrative concerns, assists with website management, provides administrative support to NYCEAC’s MDTs, and oversees the Risk and Resiliency Internship Project. Kasey received a B.A. in Theater & Psychology from Boston College, and is currently an MSW candidate at Fordham University. To contact Kasey, click here.

Raphaelle Chassagne: MDT Administrative Assistant

Raphaelle is the Administrative Assistant for NYCEAC’s MDT expansion initiative. As the administrative backbone of the initiative, Raphaelle is a consummate multi-tasker, assisting with everything from answering phones to data collection to handling finances – and everything in-between. Raphaelle honed these skills at her previous position as Administrative Assistant at the Girl Scouts of Nassau County. Raphaelle graduated with a Bachelors in Communications and Professional Studies from Molloy College. To contact Raphaelle, click here.

Elder Abuse Multidisciplinary Teams

Peg Horan, LMSW: Elder Abuse Prevention Specialist & MDT Coordinator

PegHoranPeg is the Elder Abuse Prevention Specialist and Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) Coordinator for the NYC Elder Abuse Center (NYCEAC). She coordinates its MDTs in Manhattan and Brooklyn, consults on elder abuse cases with government and community-based agencies, and trains on elder abuse identification and intervention. Previously, she worked in the Domestic Violence Bureau of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office (Brooklyn), 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, Peg worked with older adults who were assaulted, abused, threatened and financially exploited by someone they knew or trusted. Peg also worked at YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities, where she was a field social worker for people with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities in the Bronx and Manhattan. 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.

Janell Roman: MDT Specialist

Janell is NYCEAC’s MDT Program Specialist – Brooklyn, supporting the incredible work of the Brooklyn multidisciplinary team.  Having previously worked in the field of child protection, Janell brings to this position knowledge of domestic violence and child abuse. She received a B.S. in Forensic Psychology from St. John’s University and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Work at Adelphi University. To contact Janell, click here.

Karen Webber, CPA, CFE, MDT 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.

Medical Staff

Mark Lachs, MD, MPH: Medical Director

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. He is also the co-principal investigator of the NYS Prevalence Study, funded by the NYS Family & Children’s Trust Fund. His other interests include resident-to-resident abuse in long term care, abuse committed by paid home care providers, and self-neglect in older people. 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). Visit Mark’s Linkedin page here.

Veronica LoFaso, MD: MDT 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: MDT Geropsychiatrist

rabramsRobert 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.

Special Projects

Cara Kenien, LMSW, MPA: Deputy Director of Special Projects

Cara serves as the Deputy Director of Special Projects for NYCEAC. She advances strategic initiatives and manages the day-to-day operations of NYCEAC’s special projects portfolio. Prior to this, she was the Assistant Director to the Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL) at Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC). As Assistant Director, she managed TRIPLL’s day-to-day operations and worked with the Division’s Director of Geriatric Research to oversee active research happening in the Division. Before coming to WCMC, she was an Associate Program Officer at The Brookdale Foundation Group, an organization committed to enhancing the quality of life of America’s elderly.  She has taught courses through the Certificate Program at the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging & Longevity of Hunter College, including Family Systems Perspective: Intergenerational Issues in Aging, and Understanding the Dimensions of Elder Abuse: Research, Policy & Practice. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Master’s Degrees in Social Work and Public Administration from Binghamton University, NY. To contact Cara, click here.

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. Her responsibilities include overseeing the Consortium’s annual conference.  

Laurell Haapanen, MA: Helpline Service Specialist

Laurell spent over a decade at the King County Crisis Clinic, where she answered calls, helped to train incoming volunteers, and worked with community mental health professionals. Additionally, she was one of the first virtual crisis counselors with the New York-based Crisis Text Line. By phone and text, she provided emotional support to people dealing with such issues as grief and loss, bullying, abuse, and suicidality. Most recently, Laurell worked as a community mental health counselor in Seattle after completing her Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology through Saybrook University.


Debra Askanase, MBA: Digital Management Consultant

Debra is NYCEAC’s Digital Engagement Consultant. Debra is the founder and Digital Engagement Strategist at Community Organizer 2.0, a digital and social media consulting firm to nonprofit organizations, specializing in online strategy and engagement. She is also a partner in Matterness Consulting with author and social media strategist Allison Fine. In both ventures, Debra brings a passion for digital engagement. Debra uses this passion to help stakeholders be known, heard, and valued. Debra applies her passion for digital engagement in her work for NYCEAC. Debra supervises NYCEAC’s social media strategy, oversees the work conducted by the Social Media Manager, and reviews NYCEAC’s social media footprint to analyze and develop strategies for increasing NYCEAC’s impact and outreach.

Stephanie Bain, Social Media Manager

Stephanie BainStephanie Bain is a marketing professional excelling at leveraging the power of social media to further the goals of nonprofits and mission-driven companies. Stephanie manages NYCEAC’s social media initiatives and writes the content for NYCEAC’s The Field Guide, a bi-monthly blog. Visit Stephanie’s LinkedIn page here.