We’re proud to have a Board made up of leaders in healthcare, public health, social justice, law, and more. Our Board members are committed to helping FPHNYC be as successful as possible in improving the lives of 8.5 million New Yorkers.
ASHWIN VASAN, MD, PhDBoard President and Chair
Dr. Ashwin Vasan is the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. Vasan is a primary care physician, epidemiologist and public health expert with nearly 20 years of experience working to improve physical and mental health, social welfare and public policy for marginalized populations here in New York City, nationally and globally. Since 2014 he has served on the faculty at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and he continues to see patients as a primary care internist in the Division of General Medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Dr. Vasan most recently served as the President and CEO of Fountain House, a national nonprofit fighting to improve health, increase opportunity, and end social and economic isolation for people most impacted by mental illness. During his tenure, he grew the organization from a New York-based community mental health organization to a national network across eight markets, and grew the budget by nearly $20 million annually. He helped navigate the organization through COVID-19 by driving new telehealth and digital mental health programs while its physical locations closed, as well as developing new community-based outreach and accompaniment programs. Further, Dr. Vasan led the creation of a national policy office in Washington, D.C., working to change national mental health policy on the issues of crisis response services and funding for and quality of community-based mental health services.
From 2016 to 2019, Dr. Vasan served as the founding Executive Director of the Health Access Equity Unit at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which focused on the intersection of clinical and social services for the care of people involved in the justice system and other vulnerable populations — a first-of-its-kind government program in the nation. Under his leadership the team launched the NYC Health Justice Network — an innovative partnership between community-based primary care providers, criminal legal system reentry organizations, the Health Department and the Fund for Public Health — to embed tech-enabled, peer community health workers to promote health and wellness of people reentering the community from incarceration, and their families. The program is currently under evaluation through the CDC Prevention Research Center grant to NYU and CUNY.
Early in his career, Dr. Vasan spent nearly a decade at the intersection of global health, HIV and primary care, working with the nonprofit Partners In Health (PIH) in Rwanda, Lesotho and Boston, and at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Uganda and Geneva. At PIH, he led efforts to improve integrated primary care and HIV care delivery using WHO Integrated Management guidelines and training. Dr. Vasan worked as a Technical Officer under Dr. Jim Yong Kim on the WHO/UNAIDS “3by5 Initiative” to expand HIV treatment access in the developing world, focusing on pricing and access to HIV medications, and on health worker training and education, and he then supported the Ugandan government in the scale-up and quality improvement of HIV treatment in the southwest of the country, among the first areas in sub-Saharan Africa to attempt front-line government HIV treatment.
CHRIS STERN HYMAN, JDBoard Vice Chair
After practicing for 22 years as a health care lawyer for state regulatory agencies in Massachusetts and New York, Ms. Hyman founded Medical Mediation Group, LLC in NYC to resolve health care disputes. In addition to serving as a health care mediator, she conducts research to gather data about mediation’s efficacy in health care and training health care professionals and about attorneys in mediation skills. She has also worked as an Associate and Adjunct Researcher at Columbia Law School and is a Special Master mediating appeals pending before the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department.
Ms. Hyman’s community involvement includes serving on the boards of Citizens’ Committee for Children in New York, Women in Need, and The Writing Revolution. She earned her JD from Brooklyn Law School and her BA from the University of Chicago.
CARA BERKOWITZ, JDBoard Secretary
Cara Berkowitz is the Vice President of Government Relations and Policy at EmblemHealth, where she advocates for insurance-related policy issues on the New York City, New York State and federal levels. In her previous government relations job at The Jewish Board Ms. Berkowitz has raised more than $3 million dollars during her tenure at Jewish Board, and she represented the government relations interests of more than 100 social services agencies during her prior role at UJA-Federation of New York. Prior Before working at UJA, Ms. Berkowitz represented the Bloomberg administration on behalf of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to advocate for City Hall’s public health and mental hygiene priorities. A published author, Ms. Berkowitz has written several articles on health care topics including intellectual property of government-sponsored pharmaceutical research and Medicare regulations surrounding palliative care. Ms. Berkowitz is a 2016 92nd Street Y Women in Power Fellow and a 2012 recipient of the New York City and State “40 under 40” award for her city advocacy efforts. She received her BA from Washington University in St. Louis and a JD from American University, Washington College of Law.
AMIT BANSAL, MBABoard Treasurer
Amit Bansal is a principal and a part of the founding team at Digitalis, a venture capital firm that invests in solutions to complex problems in animal and human health. His current investments include The Mighty, Aunt Bertha, and NuPerfect. Amit is also a member of the NYU Innovation Fund’s Healthcare Advisory Board.
Prior to Digitalis, Amit was at Mars, Inc. in both strategy and innovation roles. He has also worked at a healthcare start-up leveraging telemedicine to provide last mile access to primary care in rural India. Amit began his career at GE Healthcare in corporate finance, where he held a number of roles in finance, risk, and marketing. He received his MBA. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and his BA from Boston College.
AARON ANDERSON, MPA, MSEx Officio
Aaron Anderson is CFO and Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He has spent his career in New York City government working on public health. Most recently, Aaron served as Chief Financial and Risk Officer and Assistant Vice President with the NYC Health + Hospitals’ Division of Correctional Health Services (CHS), where he worked since 2016 and was responsible for finance, budget, contracts, grants, policy coordination, patient relations, medical records, litigation management, and central pharmacy operations. He helped CHS advance its role as a pivotal partner in the city’s criminal legal system reform efforts by growing the budget and facilitating the implementation and design of newly funded initiatives to improve quality of and access to care for people in the system, from pre-arraignment through reentry into the community.
Before that, Aaron served for six years at the NYC Office of Management and Budget, where his team led budget oversight of expense, revenue, and capital for DOHMH and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and where he developed a deep understanding of and appreciation for the complexities of funding the agency’s critical public health work.
Aaron holds a master’s in public administration from the Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, an MS in Education from the University of Rochester’s Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education, and a BA from the University of Rochester.
FATIMA ASHRAF, MPH
Fatima Ashraf is a grantmaker, policymaker, organizer, and educator. Fatima studied biology and medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and public health and public policy at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. From 2006-2012 Fatima worked in NYC government, first in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and then in the Mayor’s Office. Fatima helped to launch the Health Literacy Fellowship for physicians, the We Are New York television series for English language learners, the City’s Youth Violence Prevention Project, the Plain Language Project, and the Young Men’s Initiative. Fatima also worked on several executive orders including ones on language access (EO 120); consideration of criminal convictions in hiring (EO 151); and access to government-issued identification (EO 150).
After leaving the Mayor’s Office in 2012, Fatima joined the Obama re-election campaign in Virginia and organized college students across the state to GOTV. After the election, she returned to New York to serve as Director of Special Projects at Literacy Partners, a non-profit committed to advancing adult and childhood literacy. In 2013, Fatima was the field director for Talking Transition, a city-wide project to inform the mayoral transition. Most recently, Fatima served as a special adviser at Open Society Foundations where she oversaw crisis funding, global advocacy, and political philanthropy. Currently, she is a professor of public policy at City College of New York helping her students learn about dismantling oppressive systems. Fatima lives in New York with her husband and 3 sons.
MELYNDA BARNES, MD
Dr. Melynda Barnes Oussayef is SVP of Medical Affairs and Research at Ro, a digital health platform that provides telehealth and telepharmacy services. Dr. Barnes is also a double board-certified Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon and Otolaryngologist.
Dr. Barnes earned her undergraduate degree from Stanford University where she double majored in Biology and Spanish and graduated with distinction. She attended Mount Sinai School of Medicine where she was a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellow after which she completed Otolaryngology residency at Stanford University Hospital and Clinics. She then completed her Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship at Oregon Health and Science University. She joined the faculty at Yale School of Medicine where she was an Assistant Professor of Surgery-Otolaryngology and served on Yale Medical Group’s Board of Directors. She worked in private practice in New York City prior to joining Ro.
Dr. Barnes is committed to fighting for racial justice and equality especially in healthcare and education. She participates in medical missions, serves as a volunteer with the Junior League and mentors underrepresented minorities who are interested in careers in medicine and healthcare technology. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
BUNNY ELLERIN, MBA
Bunny Ellerin is a highly-experienced healthcare leader who has dedicated her career to driving change and innovation in healthcare. With more than 20 years’ experience in academic, corporate and entrepreneurial environments, Bunny has helped transform New York City into a center of healthcare innovation and excellence. As Director of the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program at Columbia Business School, Bunny has oversight of a variety of strategic, curricular, and industry outreach initiatives, working with students, faculty and alumni to build a world-class program. Her work has helped to create a new generation of healthcare leaders who are as passionate about healthcare as Bunny.
Bunny also serves as the co-founder and president of NYC Health Business Leaders (NYCHBL), a professional community of 3.000 senior executives, dedicated to building a healthcare ecosystem in the New York region. The organization fosters collaboration across sectors and brings together the best minds to discuss important issues and spur innovation. Under Bunny’s leadership, NYCHBL has flourished into a diverse network of leaders from all sides of the healthcare ecosystem whose networking events, thought leadership and publications are industry-renowned. With a BA in Political Science from Columbia University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, Bunny founded the Harvard Business School Healthcare Alumni Association, which she built into one of the largest alumni organizations at HBS. The Ellerin Alumni Achievement Award was created to commemorate Bunny’s role in forming and leading the organization and is given to an outstanding leader annually at the HBSHAA Annual Conference.
BRENTON FARGNOLI, MD
Dr. Fargnoli is a Partner at AlleyCorp, a venture capital firm focused on entrepreneurship in New York City. He leads the firm’s healthcare investments and incubations. Prior to AlleyCorp, Dr. Fargnoli was a Senior Medical Director at Flatiron Health. He previously worked at J.P. Morgan and Blue Cross & Blue Shield. Board certified in Internal Medicine, Dr. Fargnoli is also a practicing physician.
Dr. Fargnoli completed his residency at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, earning his MD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and an MBA in Healthcare Management from the Wharton School.
MICHAEL GARGANO, JD
Michael Gargano is Managing Director at Argent Ventures LLC. He is responsible for structuring and financing new acquisitions and for overseeing development, leasing, and management of the firm’s properties. Prior to joining Argent, Mr. Gargano was a real estate attorney with the law firm of Shearman & Sterling, where he represented institutional and government clients on major real estate development and financing transactions. He is on the board of AcuamarkDx, a colon cancer diagnostics company, and BlinkBio, Inc., a cancer therapeutics company. Mr. Gargano is a member of the Board of Directors of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance. He holds a BA from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a JD from Boston University.
Jungwon Kim is a communications leader and former journalist who has worked across print, radio, television/video, and digital media for 20+ years. Since 2012 she has led the Creative & Editorial team at the Rainforest Alliance, an international organization that advances natural climate solutions––rainforest conservation, sustainable/regenerative agriculture, and rural prosperity––in some of the world’s most threatened landscapes. Prior to joining the Rainforest Alliance, she served for 10 years as the managing editor of Amnesty International magazine, a human rights quarterly that published work by award-winning journalists, authors, and documentary photographers.
Before moving into NGO communications, Jungwon worked on staff and as a freelance journalist for many news organizations, including Public Radio International, CNBC Asia, Newsday, Colorlines, the Nation, and Vibe. She did her graduate studies (Journalism and East Asian Studies) at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, a Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship, and a Korea Foundation Fellowship.
She has lived in Brooklyn, New York, since 1997 and has two daughters.
TOYA WILLIFORD, MS
Toya Williford serves as the founding Executive Director of The AC & JC Foundation, Inc., a private family foundation based in New York City. Ms. Williford brings more than 20 years of experience in philanthropic services, program and organizational development, fundraising, and community organizing. Prior to joining the Foundation, Ms. Williford was the Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City where she oversaw the overall management of the Mayor’s Fund and led the effort to foster public-private partnerships between City agencies, the private sector and the philanthropic community. Ms. Williford joined the de Blasio Administration as the Director of Programs and Policy and helped to launch and sustain the Center for Youth Employment, a multi-million dollar initiative created to improve the quality and scale of publicly funded youth employment programs.
Prior to joining the Mayor’s Fund, Toya served as the Program Director at the Brooklyn Community Foundation, the first and only foundation solely dedicated to Brooklyn’s charitable community. Committed to the advancement of her community, Toya takes special interest in programs and policies related to education and youth development, environmental sustainability, economic development, health and human services, and workforce development. Toya is a member of the Brooklyn Workforce Innovations Board of Directors and the New York City Youth Funders Network Steering Committee. She is a certified vinyasa yoga and prenatal yoga instructor. She received a Master’s degree in Urban Studies from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Rural Sociology from Cornell University. She currently lives in Bedford Stuyvesant with her husband and four children.