NYSARH Newsletter


Working to preserve and improve health and human services in rural New York State.

NYSARH members enjoy the networking event. From left to right: Ella James, Karin Pantel, Sara Wall Bollinger

Public Health Partnership Conference Recap

This year NYSARH partnered with the NYS Public Health Association (NYSPHA), the NYS Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO), and the NYS Conference of Environmental Health Directors (NYSCEHD) to promote the 2022 Public Health Partnership Conference. The conference took place from April 27th-29th with attendees participating virtually and in-person in Niagara Falls, NY. Attendees from NYSARH included Director for Strategic Development, Sara Wall Bollinger, Communications and Development Specialist (AmeriCorps VISTA service member), Ella James, and Board members Karin Pantel and Mandy Qualls.

Welcome to the new Members of NYSARH’s Board of Directors!

Melissa Wendland 

Director, Strategic Initiatives, Common Ground Health

Melissa 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 in.

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.


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.

NYSARH Successfully Administers Legislative Appropriation for Rural Healthcare Access Hospitals and Rural Health Networks

NYSARH was notified in July 2021 that there had been a second Legislative Appropriation for Rural Healthcare Access Hospitals and Rural Health Networks.  In November we learned that there had been appropriations for both 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, totaling $2 million for distribution to 44 hospitals and 32 networks.  The NYS DOH Charles R. Cook Office of Rural Health calculated the grant amounts and facilitated contracting.

The NYSARH Board of Directors solicited proposals for the administration of the funds and selected Bowers & Co., which has been a terrific partner on this journey. The last time NYSARH administered an Appropriation, there had been a 25% advance of funds.  This time, no advance was available.  

The Board of Directors, especially Helen Evans, Ann Abdella and Claire Parde, raised short-term loans from foundations and collaboratives sufficient to cover the first round of payments, over $1 million, in just a few weeks!

‘Change moves at the speed of trust’ according to Stephen Covey.  NYSARH Members can be proud of the trust the Association has earned with our partner organizations.

Sub-awardee contracts were distributed in December.  NYSARH was ready in January but there was an issue with the contract that delayed execution until March.

During March NYSARH distributed and was reimbursed for the first half of the funds.  Sub-awardees have submitted claims for the second half of the funds which are being paid as submitted.  NYSARH will pay back the loans when the second-round payments are reimbursed by the State.  

NYSARH will produce a report to NYS DOH and the Legislature summarizing the projects made possible by this funding.

NYSARH Member Spotlight: S2AY Rural Health Network Changes its Name to Pivital Public Health Partnership

New name reflects commitment to improving the health and well-being of Finger Lakes residents.

S2AY Rural Health Network, a nonprofit leader in rural public health, has changed its name to Pivital Public Health Partnership. The organization’s Executive Director and Board of Directors joined with Public Health Directors from eight Finger Lakes counties to announce the name to its internal partners and stakeholders on April 20, 2022.

Only Pivital Public Health Partnership unites local health departments in the Finger Lakes region to collaboratively develop and promote public health best practices. Their unique partnerships help accelerate improvements across the region by leveraging resources, expertise, and energy to achieve better outcomes than any one organization can achieve on their own. “We’ve always thought of ourselves as connectors, and the pandemic has allowed us to see how we can take that to the next level by being agile and flexible to meet the changing needs of our communities” said Michele Foster, Executive Director.

Pivital Public Health Partnership board president, Fred Wille (left) and Executive Director, Michele Foster (right)

Copyright © 2022 Pivital Public Health Partnership, All rights reserved.


Support for this newsletter was provided by the WNY Rural Area Health Education Center (R-AHEC)

Phone: 585.786.6275  ❘  Email: RBHN@r-ahec.org


Anne Marie Snell, Executive Director, St. Lawrence County Health Initiative

NYSARH Mentorship Program

On May 19th, 2022, Anne Marie Snell, Executive Director at the St. Lawrence County Health Initiative led an important discussion during our mentorship meeting on the New York State Cancer Consortium, coalition building programs on cancer screening and internship opportunities in public health.

Please join us 6/23 at 5PM for a discussion with Emily Iamarino regarding her Internship experience.

The goal of NYSARH’s mentorship program is to connect students and people early in their careers who are interested in learning more with human and health service professionals. With over thirty past and present program participants from schools, such as Vassar, Upstate, St. Lawrence, Colgate, Albany, Buffalo, and Binghamton, NYSARH mentees are matched with NYSARH Mentors to develop and discuss interests in rural health. The NYSARH mentorship program also hosts yearlong activities that support diversity, equity, and inclusion.

NYSARH is Now a Healthy People 2030 Champion!

We’re excited to work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) and join the Healthy People 2030 Champion Program.

Healthy People 2030 Champions are public and private organizations that support the Healthy People 2030 vision. They’re committed to working toward Healthy People’s overarching goals and objectives, and they help improve health and well-being at the local, state, or tribal level. ODPHP recognizes and supports Champions — with information, tools, and resources — as we work to promote Healthy People 2030.

The only way to achieve Healthy People 2030’s objectives is to work together! If your organization is interested in becoming a Healthy People 2030 Champion, submit a Statement of Interest to HP2030Partners@hhs.gov today. Together, we can work to eliminate health disparities and improve the health and well-being of all people!

HRSA Town Hall Invite: LGBTQIA Behavioral Health Town Hall

You’re invited to: “LGBTQIA+ Behavioral Health Town Hall – Promising Practices from New York, Texas, and California” on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, 3:00pm to 4:30pm EST.

Central New York Area Health Education Center (CNYAHEC) Summer Opioid Webinar Series

Check out these upcoming webinar opportunities for earning CME/CE credits!

NYS Department of Health Telehealth Consumer Survey

To access the survey, visit the NYS DOH “Telehealth Consumer Survey” web page, located at: https://www.health.ny.gov/health_care/telehealth_survey/. The survey will take approximately five minutes to complete and is available in 11 languages. Whether you have used telehealth or not, please click on the link below to complete the survey, then share it with your friends and family members so they can complete it, too. The survey will close on 7/01/2022.

Special NYSARH Webinar: Introduction to Health Workforce Collaborative

Wednesday, June 8, 2022, at 1PM

Introduction to Health Workforce Collaborative

Katie Stair, MS

Vice President, Health Workforce Collaborative Board of Directors

Director of Nonprofit Services, Capital CFO

Ashleigh McGowan​, MS

Member, Health Workforce Collaborative Board of Directors

Vice President of Strategic Development, Health Workforce New York (HWNY)

Upcoming NYSARH/NERHA Webinar

Thursday, June 16, 2022, at 1PM
Intimate Relationship Violence in Rural Communities

Virginia Gold, LCSW

Director of Client Services, Women’s Support Services

Linda Ciano, MA

Director of Community Engagement, Women’s Support Services

Internship Opportunities in Rural Health Care

NYSA Public Health Intern, International Rescue Committee

2022 Summer Youth Experience Program Intern, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

Government Affairs Summer Internship, Visiting Nurse Service of New York

Internship Masters Social Work (MSW) - Hospice & Palliative care

Funding Opportunities

Reminder to Apply: NYSHealth 2022 Special Projects Fund Request for Proposals

The New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) 2022 Special Projects Fund Request for Proposals (RFP) is now available. Applicants must submit an online inquiry form to determine whether a proposed project fits the funding criteria. The deadline for the online inquiry form is June 9, 2022. Selected organizations will be invited to submit full proposals, with a deadline of August 18, 2022.

NYSHealth Special Projects Fund awards are one-time, nonrenewable funding opportunities consistent with the Foundation’s mission to improve the health of all New Yorkers but outside of its main priority areas.

Read details on the 2022 Special Projects Fund RFP and frequently asked questions.

HRSA-22-163 Rural Behavioral Health Workforce Centers - Northern Border Region - Due June 10, 2022

This program supports HRSA’s collaboration with the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) to provide career and workforce training activities within the four-state NBRC region, in order to assist individuals with behavioral health needs, particularly SUD.

HRSA-22-124 Community Health Worker Training Program (CHWTP) - Due June 14, 2022

The purpose of the CHWTP is to support projects that will increase the number of Community Health Workers (CHWs) and Health Support Workers and equip them with the skillsets needed to provide effective community outreach build trust with communities, support connections to and retention in care and support services, and other strategies to increase access to care and to assist individuals in prevention services, and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health emergencies in underserved communities. 

Faculty Loan Repayment Program - Due June 30, 2022

The program supports the recruitment and retention of health professions faculty from disadvantaged backgrounds. Applications are accepted through Thursday, June 30, 7:30 p.m. ET.

HRSA-22-166 Rural Northern Border Region Healthcare Support Program - Due July 1, 2022

The purpose of this program is to provide technical assistance to rural communities in the region of the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) in their efforts to enhance access to health (including behavioral health); improve recruitment and retention of health care providers; and assist rural hospitals and clinics in their efforts to take part in health care value efforts.

WH-AST-22-003 Reducing Maternal Deaths Due To Substance Use Disorder - Due July 11, 2022

This notice solicits applications for projects designed to strengthen perinatal (from conception to birth) and postnatal (up to 12 months after birth) support structures for patients with substance use disorder (SUD) and reduce deaths during the perinatal and postpartum time period.

WH-AST-22-004 Violence Against Women and Substance Use Prevention Initiative - Due July 13, 2022

This notice solicits applications that create a statewide pilot project to train substance use disorder (SUD) treatment providers on intimate partner violence (IPV) and address the intersection of IPV and SUD during the pregnancy and postpartum period.

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We would like to thank each member who works diligently to make NYSARH the state’s strongest proponent for rural healthcare.


Individual Members

  • Ann Abdella
  • Diane Albrecht
  • Angela Bashaw
  • Amy Carman
  • Leanna Cleveland
  • Alison Coates
  • Anthony D’Agostino
  • Marela Fiacco
  • Lisa Gugerty
  • Steven Kroll
  • Karin Pantel
  • Mandy Qualls

  • Nicole Rouhana
  • Carrie Roseamelia
  • Susan Salahshor
  • John Salo
  • Raj Sam
  • Ann Sedore
  • Jennifer Seymour
  • Courtney Shaler
  • Janice Shirley
  • Kristen Stiegler
  • Elizabeth Urbanski Farrell
  • David Yens

Student Members

  • Jennifer Bliss
  • Susan Cagir
  • Emilee Conner 
  • Stacie Corrigan
  • Tammy Ellinger
  • Theekshana Fernando
  • Grace Gugerty
  • Ella James
  • Adrienne Lamb
  • Audreanne Mills
  • Bridget Oppong-Darko
  • Frances Oquendo
  • Ruthanne Parsons
  • Elana Sitnik
  • Madaline Toliver
  • Ayden Weimann

Become a Member

We invite you to join us through advocacy and by advancing initiatives that support a commitment to improving healthcare quality and access.