Staff

Joe Baker
President

Joe Andress
Health Advocacy Part D Appeals Associate

Carol Arnold
Operations Manager

Walter Bach
Medicare Assistance Hotline Counselor

Natalie Barragan
Health Advocacy Enrollment Associate

Heather Bates
Director of Enrollment for Low-Income Programs

Sue Batkin
Director of Casework

Marcin Bednarz
Information Technology Manager

Rachel Bennett
Program Development Director

Delores Bowman
Senior Health Advocate

Flo Brodley
Deputy Director, Seniors Out Speaking on Medicare (SOS Medicare) in Westchester

Kristin Brown
Marketing AmeriCorps VISTA

Mitchell Clark
Health Advocacy Enrollment Associate

Courtney Cohen
Program Development AmeriCorps VISTA

Scott Dershowitz
Coordinator of Enrollment and State Policy Initiatives

Jenny Edelman
Education Associate

Mindy Feldman
Health Advocacy Fellow

Jessica Foster
Volunteer Support and Education AmeriCorps VISTA

Laura Frischer
Enrollment Services AmeriCorps VISTA

Kim Glaun
Senior Policy Counsel

Doug Goggin-Callahan
Legal Fellow

Denise Grant
Administrative Associate and Special Events Coordinator

Nathan Heggem
Communications AmeriCorps VISTA

Michelle Matthews
Education AmeriCorps VISTA

Cathy McElroy
Director of Operations

Jessica Means
Health Advocacy Harvard Fellow

Chinwe Nwosu
Health Advocacy Training and Casework Associate

Hannah Oakland
Health Advocacy Professional Services Associate

Lisa Okamoto
Health Care Advocate

Jenny Pena
Enrollment Counselor

Rebecca Porper
Appeals Counselor

Paul Precht
Director of Policy and Communications

Frederic Riccardi
Enrollment Outreach Coordinator

Sailendra Nath Sarker
Administrative Assistant

Lois Steinberg
Westchester Program Director

Akiko Takano
Deputy Director of Communications

Scarlet Watts
Director of Marketing

Norman Weintraub
Enrollment Specialist, Extra Help and Medicare Savings Programs

Dina Wizmur
Deputy General Counsel

James Wong
Volunteer Support Services AmeriCorps VISTA



Staff

joe baker

Joe Baker is President of the Medicare Rights Center. He was most recently the deputy secretary for health and human services in New York State under Governor David A. Paterson, where he was instrumental in developing Medicaid reforms and in developing a proposal to extend health coverage to younger New Yorkers. Mr. Baker served as assistant deputy secretary for health and human services under Governor Eliot Spitzer after directing the Health Care Bureau under Spitzer when he was attorney general of New York. Mr. Baker is not new to Medicare Rights; he was executive vice president from 1994 to 2001, and prior to that, he was associate director of legal services for Gay Men’s Health Crisis. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law.

Joe Andress is a Health Advocacy Part D Appeals Associate at the Medicare Rights Center. He is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University with a bachelor’s of science degree in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. Before coming to the Medicare Rights Center, Mr. Andress worked with children and adults with mental disorders and disabilities.

Carol Arnold, Operations Manager, joined the Medicare Rights Center staff after having spent two years as a volunteer, counseling clients who called the hotline, writing articles on Medicare issues and creating and maintaining the Communications department’s press database. Ms. Arnold spent much of her career in the private sector, most recently as Vice President of Sales for a large designer fashion accessories company. She has worked as the Finance Director of a political campaign and has served on the boards of several community organizations. Ms. Arnold holds a B.S. and an M.P.A. from Baruch College.

Walter Bach, Medicare Assistance Hotline Counselor, is a veritable Medicare dictionary. He began his career in human services more than 30 years ago as the director of a rehabilitative residential home for men in Brooklyn, a facility of the Industrial Home for the Blind (IHB), where he oversaw 35 residents who were blind to deaf-blind. He worked at IHB (now the Helen Keller Services for the Blind) until 1991. Mr. Bach has a love for life and entertains the Medicare Rights Center staff with colorful stories of his deep-sea fishing expeditions and his wonderful sense of humor.

Natalie Barragan, Health Advocacy Enrollment Associate, is a graduate of Boston University with a degree in International Relations and Public Health. While in college, she did research on nutrition and mental development as part of the Barbados Nutrition Study. During her summers, she worked with orphans affected by AIDS in Zambia and volunteered at a clinic in Colombia. Ms. Barragan is passionate about immigrants’ rights and expanding access to quality health care in the United States and abroad.

Heather Bates is the Director of Enrollment for Low-Income Programs. Ms. Bates has 15 years of experience in the field of aging. Most recently she was the Senior Education and Training Associate at the Health Assistance Partnership, a project of Families USA, in Washington D.C. Prior to working in Washington, she spent several years at the New York City Department for the Aging, providing education and advocacy support for people with Medicare, Medicaid and private long-term care insurance. Ms. Bates obtained her B.A. from Ohio University and her M.S.W. from Hunter College.

Sue Batkin is Director of Casework at the Medicare Rights Center. Before joining Medicare Rights, Ms. Batkin worked as the Director of Social Work at the Urban Justice Center's Mental Health Project, where she advocated for the rights of people with psychiatric disabilities. She received her master's degree in Social Work from the Hunter College School of Social Work in 1991. Ms. Batkin is also a licensed acupuncturist.

Marcin Bednarz is the Medicare Rights Center's Information Technology Manager. Mr. Bednarz graduated from the College of Staten Island (CUNY) with a B.S. in Computer Science, and previously worked as an administrative assistant and a web store administrator. Outside of work, he plays guitar in a band in his parish, where he often volunteers. Mr. Bednarz was born and raised in Poland.

Rachel Bennett, Program Development Director, joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2003. Ms. Bennett has helped develop and secure funding for programs of the Youth Service Opportunities Project, the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance, the Blacksmith Institute, and the National Physicians Alliance. Prior to coming to New York, she studied literature and writing in Ireland and health and economics in Ecuador, where she also worked in a nursing home. She writes and publishes poetry, and has a B.A. in English from Grinnell College.

Delores Bowman is a Senior Health Advocate at the Medicare Rights Center. She works on appeals cases involving health service denials, and also counsels professionals who have Medicare questions. Ms. Bowman retired from Chase Bank in 1999 after 30 years of service as a Certified Billing and Coding Specialist. She joined the Medicare Rights Center as a volunteer in September 1999.

Flo Brodley, Deputy Director of the Seniors Out Speaking on Medicare (SOS Medicare) program in Westchester, began as a volunteer, then served as Coordinator for senior center programs throughout northern Westchester County. Before retirement, she served at the New York City Board of Education as the Administrator of Health and Physical Education, Dance Education and Wellness Programs for 1200 schools. Earlier, she taught classes K-8 in the Bronx and Manhattan, and earned borough, citywide and master's awards for her work with students and teachers. Ms. Brodley has a B.S. in Nutrition from Brooklyn College, a M.A. in Education from Hunter-Lehman College and a P.D. in Administration and Supervision from Fordham University.

Mitchell Clark, Health Advocacy Enrollment Associate, is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a B.A. in Political Science and a Minor in Philosophy. Mr. Clark is a former volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club of America in Athens, GA, and is passionate about public service.

Scott Dershowitz, Coordinator of Enrollment and State Policy Initiatives, joined the Medicare Rights Center in June 2007. Prior to working here, he was the Enriched Housing Director of Arthur B. Brown and William Brown Gardens, a New York State Department of Health–sponsored housing facility for low-income older adults operated by the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens. Mr. Dershowitz obtained his M.S.W. from the Columbia University School of Social Work and his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Vermont. He has been working with older adults since 2001.

Jenny Edelman, Education Associate, is a recent graduate of Brandeis University, where she majored in Health: Science, Society and Policy. She joins the Medicare Rights Center because she has a passion for social justice and helping people navigate the health care system. At Brandeis, she served as Editor in Chief of the Archon yearbook, and she greatly enjoys photography.

Mindy Feldman is a Health Advocacy Fellow through AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. She recently graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in History. During her time at Columbia, she volunteered with Student Health Outreach as a community health advocate and also tutored an Iraqi refugee family. She joins the Medicare Rights team because of her passion for advocating for the health and rights of individuals in low-income communities. Upon completion of her year at Medicare Rights, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in public health, with a focus on the intersection of poverty and health.

Kim Glaun, Senior Policy Counsel, works to ensure that the voice of the health care consumer is heard by the various branches of the federal government, and concentrates her efforts on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid. Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, she served as an attorney with the National Senior Citizens Law Center, where she specialized in health care issues. Ms. Glaun has also practiced law with the Legal Services to the Elderly Program of the Baltimore Bar Association. Ms. Glaun is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Maryland School of Law.

Doug Goggin-Callahan, comes to the Medicare Rights Center as a Legal Fellow from Ropes & Gray LLP. As an attorney at Ropes & Gray, Mr. Goggin-Callahan worked on antitrust and securities matters. He also assisted on political asylum applications and drafted a “how-to” guide for forming a nonprofit in Maryland. Prior to joining Ropes & Gray he interned at the International Institute of New Jersey, where he worked on applications for citizenship, adjustment of status and political asylum. Mr. Goggin-Callahan received his law degree from Fordham Law School, and his B.A. from New York University. He is admitted to the New York State Bar.

Denise Grant is the Administrative Associate and Special Events Coordinator at the Medicare Rights Center. She was formerly the Administrative Assistant/Educational Coordinator in the Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development at Mount Sinai Medical Center, where she organized and coordinated the fourth-year medical student program.

Cathy McElroy Cathy McElroy is the Director of Operations at the Medicare Rights Center. Before joining Medicare Rights, she was the Office Manager of John Bauers Music Productions. She worked in the Dublin and London branch offices of USIT, an Irish Student Travel organization., before moving from her native Ireland to become Manager of their New York Office, where she administered a cultural work-exchange program for Irish students traveling to the U.S. She served for several years as a Volunteer Coordinator at the Elysian Charter School of Hoboken. She is a graduate of University College Dublin with a B.A. in Psychology and Politics.

Jessica Means is a Health Advocacy Harvard Fellow at the Medicare Rights Center. Upon graduating from Harvard with a degree in Biology, she accepted a fellowship through Harvard’s Center for Public Interest Careers (CPIC) to explore her passion for public service and the field of health care. Ms. Means is also an avid classical and musical theatre pianist, and is looking forward to exploring New York City’s rich performing arts culture.

Chinwe Nwosu, Health Advocacy Training and Casework Associate, is a graduate of Harvard University with a B.A. in Biological Anthropology. She joined the Medicare Rights Center through a fellowship offered by Harvard's Center for Public Interest Careers (CPIC). While in college she worked in Harvard Law School's alumni office and volunteered with local Head Start programs. She has worked as a research assistant at the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies at the New York Academy of Medicine.

Hannah Oakland, Health Advocacy Professional Services Associate, graduated from Yale University with a degree in Religious Studies. She joined the Medicare Rights Center because of her passion for finding solutions to the fiscal problems that face low-income Americans and her interest in medicine and its administration. She has worked at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research and advocacy organization that studies fiscal policy and financial programs that affect low-income families and individuals. At Yale, she was also a varsity sailor and freshman counselor.

Lisa Okamoto, Health Care Advocate, is a second-generation Japanese American, and is fluent in both Japanese and English. She is a graduate of Pitzer College, with a degree in Linguistics and a minor in Spanish. As a Fulbright fellow, Ms. Okamoto lived in Madrid, and taught English at a public secondary school. She worked for two and a half years as a Case Manager and Service Coordinator for the Little Tokyo Service Center in Los Angeles, providing resources and advocacy for monolingual non-English-speaking older adults in public housing settings. She is passionate about health care and language accessibility, as well as health care policy.

Jenny Pena, an Enrollment Counselor, is a graduate of the City College of New York with a B.A. in Business Management. Prior to joining Medicare Rights, she assisted a City College professor with research regarding the enhancement of primary care physicians’ capacity to improve cancer patients’ access to therapeutic clinical trials. This experience in the health care field, along with her passion for assisting others, led her to join the Medicare Rights team. Her interests include world travel and the study of languages. Her native language is Spanish, and she is fluent in English. She is also proficient in Brazilian Portuguese and conversational in French.

Rebecca Porper, Appeals Counselor, is a member of ReServe, a program that connects experienced retired professionals with nonprofit and public agencies. She began volunteering at the Medicare Rights Center in 2006 while still working as a union activist. She is passionate about the need for universal health care and immigrant rights, and believes that change can come through citizens working together.

Paul Precht, Director of Policy and Communications, is based in the Medicare Rights Center's Washington, D.C., office. Before joining the Medicare Rights Center, he served as editor of Inside CMS, an independent policy newsletter covering Medicare and Medicaid policy. Mr. Precht was a journalist for 13 years. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Frederic Riccardi is the Enrollment Outreach Coordinator at the Medicare Rights Center. He is dedicated to helping older adults and people with disabilities access affordable health care. His consumer advocacy and counseling work was featured in “Doggedly Persistent: Helping the Elderly Untie Medicare Knots” in The New York Times in 2007. He has trained professionals in the human services field on Medicare issues, and given presentations to hundreds of consumers throughout New York City. Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, he worked for SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) as the Office Administrator. Presently, he is earning an M.S.W. degree from the Hunter College School of Social Work, with a special focus on Aging and professional leadership.

Sailendra Nath Sarker has been an Administrative Assistant at the Medicare Rights Center since December 1997. Prior to this position he worked for Asiatic American Technologies for one year as an Administrative Assistant and worked as a designer and news composer for a newspaper for three years. He graduated from Monroe College with a B.B.A. in Computer Information Systems.

Lois Steinberg is the Westchester Program Director for the Medicare Rights Center. She conducts the award-winning Seniors Out Speaking on Medicare (SOS Medicare) program. Dr. Steinberg holds two degrees in sociology, an M.A. from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from Fordham University, and earned a M.P.S. from the Health Advocacy Program at Sarah Lawrence College. Prior to becoming a health advocate, she conducted research on the impact of educational advocacy organizations and marketing research. For her pioneering work in health advocacy, she was named a 2006 Purpose Prize Fellow by Civic Ventures, as part of its national initiative to recognize Americans over 60 who are leading a new age of social innovation and tackling the toughest problems in their own communities.

Akiko Takano, Deputy Director of Communications, was in the book publishing industry for many years. She has also been a project manager of art exhibitions, organized programs for journalists on various genetics-related issues and worked at a magazine for cancer patients and their caregivers. Outside of work, she volunteers with a literacy organization. Ms. Takano is a graduate of Amherst College and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Scarlet Watts, Director of Marketing, has a B.S. in Biology from Hofstra University. She is committed to working toward health care access for all, and is passionate about protecting the natural beauty and wildlife on the planet. Ms. Watts currently volunteers with several marine conservation groups, and is a board member of The Found Project, a New York nonprofit that holds fundraiser events for a wide variety of charities.

Norman Weintraub is an Enrollment Specialist for both the Extra Help and Medicare Savings Programs. He is a member of ReServe, a program that connects experienced retired professionals with public service opportunities. He joined the Medicare Rights Center in December 2005 after employment with the Department for the Aging in New York City. Born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, he is a true native New Yorker.

Dina Wizmur, an attorney and former Health Advocacy Fellow, returned to the Medicare Rights Center as Deputy General Counsel after graduating from Rutgers University School of Law in Camden. While at Rutgers, she worked in the Elder Law Project at Community Legal Services and interned for the Honorable Marjorie Rendell on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Ms. Wizmur received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, while also working at the National Liberty Museum and interning in the Charitable Services Department of Goldman Sachs.



AmeriCorps VISTA Members

Kristin Brown is an AmeriCorps VISTA in the Marketing Department at the Medicare Rights Center. She recently graduated from New York University with a B.A. in Biology and Politics. While in college, she enjoyed volunteering at a local ER and working as a tutor in New York City public schools. She plans to attend medical school following her year with the Medicare Rights Center and to continue serving in low-income communities.

Courtney Cohen is the Program Development AmeriCorps VISTA at the Medicare Rights Center. She is a recent graduate of the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, where she majored in Television, Radio and Film, and English and Textual Studies. While at Syracuse, she volunteered as a Peer Trainer for the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program, served as the Philanthropy Director for the Syracuse University Panhellenic Association, and was an active member of the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority. She enjoys traveling and snowboarding, and is excited to be working in her favorite city, Manhattan.

Jessica Foster is a Volunteer Support and Education AmeriCorps VISTA at the Medicare Rights Center. Ms. Foster grew up just outside Columbia, South Carolina, and graduated from the University of South Carolina Honors College in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Print Journalism and a minor in Spanish. After graduating, she spent three years as a staff reporter at the (Myrtle Beach) Sun News, covering education and business issues.

Laura Frischer, Enrollment Services AmeriCorps VISTA, is a recent graduate of Pomona College, with a B.A. in Neuroscience. She developed her passion for public health as Health Program Coordinator for Compassion Net, where she brought health education events to underserved communities surrounding Los Angeles. She also spearheaded a project in patient advocacy at Downey Regional Medical Center, determining how the hospital could better meet patients’ needs, and she worked in Buenos Aires with Fundación Huésped, providing support for those with HIV/AIDS. She plans to attend medical school and continue her public service as a patient advocate.

Nathan Heggem, AmeriCorps VISTA in Communications, is a recent graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College with a B.A. in Biology. Academically, he fancies himself a “liberal artist” and at various times has focused on neuroscience, English, Spanish, Quechua, linguistics and GLBT identity in Peru. Having spent the better part of his four years in college effecting change through social justice theatre, he comes to the Medicare Rights Center with a passion for ending social injustice of all kinds.

Michelle Matthews is an AmeriCorps VISTA in the Education Department. She joined the Medicare Rights Center immediately after graduating from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, where she received a B.A. in English and Global Gender Studies. While in Buffalo, she worked as a writing tutor for her peers, an editor for her campus magazine, and as a freelance arts and culture writer for local publications. Michelle also has an extensive volunteer background, and has worked as an editor for an undergraduate research publication for University of Buffalo’s Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender, as a hotline operator for sexual assault crisis centers, as a counselor for LGBTQ youth, as well as a board member and referee for Buffalo’s all-female roller derby league, the Queen City Roller Girls. She plans to attend law school and to continue a career in advocacy.

James Wong is a Volunteer Support Services AmeriCorps VISTA at the Medicare Rights Center. He recently graduated from Duke University with a B.S. degree in Environmental Sciences and a minor in Chemistry. He was a percussionist in Duke's wind symphony, and was a member of the service organization Alpha Phi Omega. He enjoys volunteering and hopes to become more involved in global health in the future. He plans to attend medical school after his year at the Medicare Rights Center.