how we work

The NYSARH Board of Directors serves on a voluntary basis and is made up of a group of individuals committed to improving the health status of rural New Yorkers.  A committee structure comprised of active volunteers supports achieving the goals of the organization.

2021-2022 NYSARH Board of Directors

OFFICERS

President: Helen Evans

Associate Director, Ardent Solutions

Helen is the Associate Director at Ardent Solutions, joining the organization in 2005. Prior, Helen was employed as a Public Health Educator at the local health department. Helen’s professional interests are health literacy, community needs assessments, and fostering collaborations to address health disparities. Certified in CDCynergy Social Marketing, she is passionate about motivating community leaders to explore methods for improving the healthcare service delivery system and inspiring community members to achieve improved personal health. She is responsible for program development, oversight and evaluation; as well as agency marketing. She currently is working with organizations across the Finger Lakes PPS as an Operation Specialist assisting organizations to help operationalize Health Literacy and Cultural Competence. She is the current President of the New York State Association for Rural Health Board of Directors working to strengthen health services for rural NYS residents. Helen earned her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education at SUNY Fredonia and is a graduate of the Health Leadership Fellows Program through the Health Foundation for Western New York.

Vice President: Jack Salo

Recently retired, Jack Salo is the former Executive Director of the Rural Health Network for South Central New York and continues to be a rural advocate. He has worked in South Central New York State for the past 30 years. Jack’s experience includes leading health, human service, and youth development organizations. As a rural health advocate, he works with a wide range of partners to address the root causes of health issues and health disparities. Central to this effort has been providing leadership to develop collaborative, regional projects, including Mobility Management of S.C.N.Y; Rural Health Services Corps (AmeriCorps and VISTA services) and; The Food & Health Network of S.C.N.Y. Jack currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Care Compass Network and Healthlink NY. Jack is a past board member of the Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship; South Central New York Resource Conservation & Development, Southern Tier East Regional Planning Board, and the Chenango County Planning Board. Jack received his BA degree in Geography and his MS degree in education from SUNY Oneonta.

Treasurer: Ann Morse Abdella

President, A2 Rural Health, LLC

Ann Abdella is a rural community health builder and currently President of A2 Associates, LLC. Prior to starting her consultancy, Ms. Abdella served as the executive director for a Rural Health Network collaborative of providers and community based organizations in upstate New York. While there, she led the establishment of an FQHC, facilitated the clinical integration of a rural independent practice association, and organized one of the first rural Medicare Shared Savings Accountable Care Organizations. Experiences leading up to that included serving as the founding corporate wellness director for the Virginia Farm Bureau, director for a Success By 6 initiative, and public health planner for both a County Health Department and the Seneca Nation of Indians. Having been the Project Director for several FORHP grants, she understands firsthand the myriad challenges Rural Health Networks face trying to leverage limited resources and pull together a variety of fragmented clinical and community-based services into more cohesive systems of care. She is active in rural health advocacy, currently serving as Treasurer for the NYS Association for Rural Health and a member of her community’s Opioid Response Planning Consortium.

Secretary: Alison Coates

Adjunct Instructor, Physician Assistant Studies, Clarkson University

Alison Coates has been a NYSARH Board Member since 2019, and has served on a number of committees during her tenure. She was the co-chair of the 2020 NYSARH Conference which embraced a new, virtual format during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ali holds the office of Secretary, is currently the Chair of the Education Committee, and is the co-Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Membership subcommittee.

Ali was selected as one of sixteen National Rural Health Association Rural Health Fellows for 2021-22. In this program, Ali is participating in constructing a policy paper setting out a national agenda for rural health workforce strengthening.

In her current pursuit of a PhD in Management, in the Health Systems specialization, at University of Ottawa, Ali’s work focuses on community assets and engagement in rural health systems planning. Ali holds a BSc (Honours) degree from Mount Allison University, a MBA in Healthcare Management and a MS in Healthcare Data Analytics from Clarkson University and has held a variety of healthcare leadership roles in clinical research and hospital administration during her career. While completing her MBA and MS degrees, Ali chose to focus on the rural context to understand how core management principles apply in rural health systems.

directors

Tammy L. Austin-Ketch

Dean and Professor, State University of New York Upstate Medical University College of Nursing

As Dean and Professor at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University College of Nursing, Tammy Austin-Ketch’s background includes a distinguished history of volunteer experience, research, scholarship, and service. She has served in many roles in academia, from program faculty through leadership at the level of Dean. As a nurse practitioner for more than 25 years, Austin-Ketch has spent the majority of her clinical practice career working with vulnerable and underserved primary care populations, including her current clinical practice within a Native American clinic and health center devoted solely to caring for people with developmental disabilities. Austin-Ketch’s research has focused on the unmet needs of cancer survivors and the use of telehealth to reach patients who otherwise may not have access to healthcare.

Ann Battaglia

Chief Executive Officer, Healthy Community Alliance

Ann has over 20 years of executive leadership experience in non-profit health and human services. She is currently leading the work of the NYSDOH Community Based Organization Planning Grant for upstate New York. Under this grant, Healthy Community Alliance is creating a CBO Consortium across upstate New York and developing a capacity building platform where CBO Consortium members can learn and share best practices and innovative strategies to better position their organization for engagement in New York’s healthcare system transformation. Prior to her work with Healthy Community Alliance, she led the start-up operations of Total Senior Care, a full capitation managed care model and the only rural Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) in NYS. Ann serves on various boards and committees that work to advance the quality of healthcare in rural communities and also serves in an advisory capacity with the Standards for Excellence©, a national program which promotes best practices in ethics and accountability in non-profit management and governance.

Anthony D’Agostino

Law Enforcement Liaison, NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, New York State Sheriffs’ Association

As a 25-year veteran of the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office, Anthony D’Agostino has come to understand rural law enforcement issues from both the police and civilian perspectives. Over the last 5 years, he has served as a Law Enforcement Liaison (LEL) for the NYS Sheriffs’ Association assigned to the NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. Through this work, he has developed a strong appreciation for highway safety and would like to help rural road users be safe on the roads.

Scott Emery

Partner, M.S. Hall & Associates, LLC

Scott is responsible for providing guidance on the ever-growing healthcare issues developing at both the Federal and NYS level. His focus is having a working understanding of both the “big picture” and the details of the evolving healthcare landscape. Turning research into manageable projects occurs when the pieces of the puzzle – finance, data, and clinical operations – coalesce from fragmented siloes into interconnected wholes. This is Scott’s aim with every project he undertakes.

Scott has extensive knowledge and experience with the NYS DSRIP program. An extended amount of research from the onset of DSRIP has allowed him to provide expertise and guidance as a PPS Advisor. In addition, he currently serves as Interim Chief Operating Officer for a diverse and complex PPS in New York. From this role he has gained expertise in developing organizational structure and governance of the PPS, leading operational focus within the PPS at large, formulating of strategic contracts, project management and Workforce needs, and providing in-depth understanding of DSRIP goals and trajectories. Scott has brought a lexicon of understanding to this PPS and, as a result, has been able to assist in application writing, overarching framework development, educational content creation, and a myriad of other developmental and operational functionalities.

Prior to joining M.S. Hall & Associates, Scott spent 9 years in public education, also earning both an B.A. and an M.A. Scott knows and imbibes the required preparation, thoroughness, and particularity needed to reap the greatest benefit for clients. Research has been at the core of these endeavors, specifically equipping Scott with the needed skills for this position.

Nancy McGraw

Public Health Director, Sullivan County Public Health Services

Nancy McGraw is the Public Health Director in rural Sullivan County in the Catskill Mountains. She has served in many capacities at the county health department level for 18 years, and has experience in strategic planning, community health assessment, and coalition building. Nancy is a Board Member of the New York State Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO) and has presented at several local, state, and national events on important mental health and public health issues, including the opioid epidemic, mental health parity laws, and on Tobacco 21 policy.

Evelyn Garzetta

Executive Director, Grace Latino/Immigrant Outreach (GLO/GIO)

Mrs. Garzetta is the Executive Director of Grace Latino/Immigrant Outreach (GLO/GIO) Engaging People In Change (EPIC) through Grace Episcopal Church Millbrook, in Dutchess County, NY since 2008.  She works with immigrants living in the Northeast part of Dutchess County helping them to live healthy and productive lives in their community.  As part of this effort, she also chairs the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation Latino/Immigrant Outreach Roundtable Advisory Committee. Through her GLO/GIO labors there are ESL classes in Dover, Millbrook, Millerton, Pine Plains, Pleasant Valley, and Pawling. In 2014 she was one of the honorees at LA VOZ Ten Year Anniversary ‘Fiesta Celebration’.  In 2018 she was an Honoree for the Hispanic Heritage Community Service Award. 

Evelyn is a parishioner at Grace Episcopal Church Millbrook, NY where she is on the  Vestry.  She was the Coordinator of the ‘Food of Life/Comida de Vida Food Pantry’ through its inception and for its first three years in operation. 

Prior to her career retirement in 2008, she was a Facilities Director in charge of fourteen offices throughout the country for a trade magazine publishing firm and, as such, was a member of International Facilities Managers Association (IFMA).

A devoted grandmother of ten, Evelyn and her husband, Joe, are longtime residents of Millerton, New York.

Gertrude O'Sullivan

Director of Communications & Special Programs, Foundation for Community Health

Gertrude O’Sullivan has been with the Foundation for Community Health since January of 2006. Prior to that, she had worked in public relations, publicity, business administration and film and video production for all of her professional life. She began as the Administrator of Advertising for Pepsi Cola International where she was also the Comptroller for all of the international marketing departments.

After moving to Connecticut in 1979, she decided to bring this experience to the non-profit world. As a consultant for over 20 years, Ms. O’Sullivan was very effective in assisting non-profits to achieve their goals via event and project management, particularly through the development and production of educational and promotional videos. As a video producer, she is a Northeast Regional Emmy nominee, and a recipient of a Telly and an Aurora Award, in the category of education for the film Exposed: The Continuing Story of AIDS. A film that was represented by Films for the Humanities & Sciences for distribution to U. S. schools and colleges. Ms. O’Sullivan also takes pride in the fact that three of her needs assessment projects, which were focused on seniors, resulted in the establishment of a senior center in one community, a community center in another and the purchase of a multi-passenger town vehicle.

An active volunteer in her community, Ms. O’Sullivan has served on the boards and advisory councils of numerous organizations including the Special Olympics, CT AIDS Bike Tour, Northwest CT Transit, and the Western CT Area Agency on Aging. She continues to serve on various boards and advisory councils including the NY State Association of Rural Health and the New England Rural Health Association where she served as President in 2019. Some of her recent awards include the 2020 Community Star Award from the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, the Outstanding Rural Health Program Award from the New York State Association for Rural Health for her contribution with the initiation and development of the program Scrubs Club: Pathways to Health Careers and she is a 2013 Athena Award Honoree.

Karin Pantel

Retired, Hudson Valley Alzheimer’s Educator

Karin Pantel is a retired Registered Nurse of 54 years. Pantel was also an Academic Nurse Educator of Public and Community Health at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Within her community, Pantel co-created OATS (Older Adult Transitional Support) designed to promote health care literacy and behaviors to increase the positive healthcare outcomes for older adults.

Claire Parde

Executive Director, The Healthcare Consortium

Claire Parde is Executive Director of the Healthcare Consortium. She is a member of the Columbia County Community Services Board and Chair of its Alcohol and Substance Abuse Subcommittee, a member of the Columbia Greene Addiction Coalition, a member of Assemblymember Didi Barrett’s Human Services Advisory Council, a member of the Community Advisory Council of the NYSHealth Foundation, a Trustee of Columbia Memorial Hospital, and a Board Member for the Catskill Hudson Area Health Education Center, Twin County Recovery Services, and the New York State Association for Rural Health.
Prior to joining the Healthcare Consortium in 2011, Claire coordinated Community Health and Wellness Programs in Greene and Columbia Counties, and she has worked on issues of poverty, justice, food, and farm system policy. Claire has an undergraduate degree from Rutgers University in Natural Resource Management and a graduate degree from Hunter College in Applied Social Research.

Paul Pettit

Public Health Director, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

Paul Pettit has spent his entire life living and working in rural areas.  In his professional career, he has worked for two rural local health departments over the past 21 years.  Mr. Pettit currently serves as the Director of Public Health for Genesee and Orleans County. The Public Health Department is a full-service health department providing all the core public health services, including environmental health which plays a significant role in rural populations.  

Mr. Pettit has also been privileged to serve on several other boards such as the New York Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO) and the Lake Plains Community Care Network board. This organization is a rural health network and covers Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming County.  

Michael Pease

CEO, The Chautauqua Center

Michael Pease is the CEO of The Chautauqua Center a Federally Qualified Health Center located in Chautauqua County, NY. He has both his Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Healthcare Administration and is a nurse as well. During the past 20 years he has worked at various organizations in both clinical and supervisory roles.
Throughout his career he has been responsible for developing, implementing and evaluating a full array of services. He enjoys change management as it is a key aspect of ensuring organizations not only survive but thrive in the ever fluctuating high pressure healthcare sector. Mike has been a long time resident of Chautauqua County and is very active in the community and participates on a number of local, regional and national Boards of Directors.

Mandy Qualls

Health Promotion Coordinator, Binghamton University

Mandy Qualls recently began in her position as the Health Promotion Coordinator at Binghamton University. Prior to this position, she served as the Center Director for the Central New York Area Health Education Center and the head of the Communications Department at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department.

Ms. Qualls received her bachelor’s degree in Health Education from East Central University (Ada, OK) and her master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Health Promotion from the University of Oklahoma.

Ms. Qualls is an active member in several working groups and consortiums in Upstate New York concerning telehealth and the healthcare workforce. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist, a lifetime member of the Beta Beta Biological Society, and a member of several state and national public health and health-related organizations.

Victoria Reid

Executive Director, Ellenville Regional Rural Health Network

Victoria Reid joined the Ellenville Regional Hospital team in 2018 as the Executive Director of the Rural Health Network. Ms. Reid earned a Master’s degree in Social Work with a Concentration in Community Organization and Policy Development from the University of Southern California, and a Bachelors in Sociology from Moravian University. With extensive experience in health promotion and education, population health, assessing health disparities, innovative planning activities and clinical quality improvement and reporting, Ms. Reid is responsible for leading the Population Health Department, overseeing collaborative community health programing.

Ms. Reid is a licensed Social Worker, and is a certified Screening, Brief Intervention. Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Trainer, Certified Mental Health First Aid Trainer, and a Naloxone Train the Trainer.

Janice Shirley

Assistant Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology

Shirley is an experienced Clinical Research Senior Executive, Emergency Medicine Physician Assistant and Sub-Investigator. Additionally, she is a budding Health Researcher with broad expertise in Clinical Medicine and the methodological and regulatory aspects of clinical trials.

Melissa Wendland

Director, Strategic Initiatives, Common Ground Health

Ms. Wendland facilitates multi-stakeholder commissions that address systemic challenges in the health care workforce, long-term care, and health inequities among the rural poor. She is a legislative advocate highlighting opportunities at the NYS Department of Health, Department of Education and Assembly. 

Past successes include coordinating a community-wide grant submission that awarded $26.6M to the Finger Lakes region from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation as part of the Affordable Care Act Center for Innovation, facilitating a $3.2M community-wide award to improve care transitions for high-risk Medicare beneficiaries, and designing a neighborhood-based health screening and education clinic.

Melissa’s accomplished facilitation and interpersonal skills distinguish her as an effective leader as she develops trust and collaborative relationships among community partners.

Melissa has presented at the European Association for Communication in Healthcare, the American Association for Communication in Healthcare, the Annual Academy Health Research meeting, and conducted webinars for IPRO and Dorland Health. Her qualitative research is published in the Journal of Academic Medicine, “The Impact of a Program in Mindful Communication on Primary Care Physicians.

Shari Weiss

Executive Director, Cayuga Community Health Network

Shari Weiss is the current Executive Director of Cayuga Community Health Network. Weiss has almost two decades of public and behavioral health experience along with a Ph.D. in Public Health and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Her background includes working in the field of Substance Use treatment, HIV Prevention and Housing. Shari is also a college professor, an educator, a public speaker, an actor, and a peer reviewer for the National Journal of American Medicine. Recently she was accepted into Cohort 10 of the Health Leadership Fellows.

Mary Zelazny

CEO, Finger Lakes Community Health

Mary Zelazny is the CEO of Finger Lakes Community Health, FQHC, started in 1989 as a provider of health care for agricultural workers. It now provides comprehensive health care for everyone with health centers in Sodus, Port Byron, Geneva, Penn Yan, Bath, Ovid, Dundee and King Ferry. She has been on the NYSARH Board of Directors since 2013 and is an Immediate Past President of the CHCANYS Board of Directors.

Mission

The mission of the New York State Association of Rural Health (NYSARH)  is to improve the health and well-being of rural New Yorkers and their communities.

NYSARH functions as the “voice for rural health.” It is a statewide organization advocating for the health of rural New Yorkers. NYSARH advocates at the national and state levels on behalf of its membership.

Goals

  • Operate based on principles of collaboration, coordination, best practices, and leadership development.

  • Identify factors that impact and influence the health status of rural communities.

  • Raise public awareness of rural health issues.

  • Advocate for, and develop, rural health resources.

  • Promote communication and collaboration among health care providers, government agencies, and other organizations.

  • Provide information and analysis regarding the rural perspective to legislators, lawmakers, and rural health providers.

  • Provide meaningful educational programs and events.

  • Develop, organize, and sustain the organizational infrastructure of NYSARH.

Membership

If the mission and goals of NYSARH are consistent with your own, or are just attractive to you, we would be happy to have you join our organization and to help it grow.

In numbers there is strength.  Please help the voice for rural health to be heard, join today.

2021 Annual Report

2020 Annual Report

TESTIMONIALS

What people say about us

Thank you for being a voice for rural hospitals and rural communities

Kara Kane

Bertrand Chaffee Hospital

NYSARH is a worthy organization – worthy of my membership

Karin Pantel

Hudson Valley Alzheimer's Educator