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 conducted research to gather data about mediation’s efficacy in health care. She also trained health care professionals and attorneys in mediation skills. She also worked as an Associate and Adjunct Researcher at Columbia Law School and as 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 a consultant at public affairs firm Secular Strategies and the former Vice President of Government Relations and Policy at EmblemHealth. Her career has focused on health and mental hygiene policy and advocating on these issues with New York City, New York State and federal governments. In her previous government relations job at The Jewish Board and UJA-Federation of New York, Ms. Berkowitz represented the government relations interests respectively of the largest mental health provider in New York State and more than 100 social services that are part of the UJA-Federation network. Prior to 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. 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 partner and was a part of the founding team at Digitalis Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in healthcare technology & services and the life sciences. Before Digitalis, Amit was at Mars, Inc. in both corporate strategy and corporate innovation roles.
Most recently, he was responsible for developing the business model for a new unit focused on affordable nutrition in the developing world. Amit has also worked in rural healthcare in India at Piramal E-swasthya, a start-up leveraging telemedicine to provide last mile access to primary care. Amit began his career at GE Healthcare in corporate finance, where he held roles in finance, risk, and marketing. He received his M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and his B.A. 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.
MELYNDA BARNES, MD
Dr. Melynda Barnes is responsible for Ro’s clinical strategy, including the development of its proprietary EMR and technology, as well as the quality and patient safety initiatives on Ro’s direct-to-patient platform. She also leads Ro’s physical product innovation, supporting the
development of new health and wellness products, and Ro’s clinical research division. Since joining Ro in 2018, Dr. Barnes has held various leadership roles, helping to transform Ro from a telehealth platform focused on a single condition to a vertically integrated platform that seamlessly connects telehealth, pharmacy, diagnostics, and in-home care services nationwide. Dr. Barnes is also the President of Roman Pennsylvania Medical P.C., an affiliated, independent digital medical practice, where she oversees daily practice operations.
Dr. Barnes is a double board-certified Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon and Otolaryngologist. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor at Yale-New Haven Hospital and Yale School of Medicine and also served on the board of directors for Yale Medical Group. She earned her BAS from Stanford and her medical degree from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
BUNNY ELLERIN, MBA
Bunny is a Harvard-trained, award-winning healthcare leader, entrepreneur and influencer who has dedicated her career to driving change and innovation in healthcare. Successful across entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic settings, she is highly regarded for her industry expertise and extensive network. She has become a recognized force in leading New York City’s transformation into a thriving hub of healthcare innovation. An expert in digital health, Bunny has her pulse on — and relationships to — the companies and people defining healthcare’s future.
Bunny is co-founder and CEO of Digital Health New York (DHNY), launched in 2022 to create a connected community that shares ideas, sparks new directions and creates success across the entire digital health ecosystem. DHNY seeks to increase the visibility of New York City as a leader in healthcare innovation and showcase the companies and leaders creating the future of healthcare. DHNY Summit, its flagship event, convenes the community to facilitate an all-out sharing of content, ideas and innovations.
Bunny received a MBA from Harvard Business School and BA in Political Science from Columbia University.
BRENTON FARGNOLI, MD
Dr. Fargnoli is a General 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 practiced at Memorial Sloan Kettering and completed residency at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, earning an MD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and an MBA in Healthcare Management from the Wharton School.
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 multi-disciplinary communications strategist and advocate who has chronicled frontline environmental and human rights movements for the past two decades. She served for nine years as head of the creative & editorial team at the Rainforest Alliance and for eight years as the editor of Amnesty International, a quarterly human rights print magazine (circ. 300,000). She has also worked as a journalist for newspapers, magazines, and nationally syndicated public radio programs. Jungwon is the board chair of Peace Is Loud and a board member of the Fund for Public Health NYC. She did her undergraduate and graduate studies (B.A. Philosophy, dual M.J./M.A. in Journalism and East Asian Studies) at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was awarded the Fulbright, Foreign Language Area Studies, and Korea Foundation fellowships. She is a writer, mother, co-founder of two BIPOC-centered sanghas, and a late-blooming Rockaway surfer.
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, Ms. Williford 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, Ms. Williford takes special interest in programs and policies related to workforce development, environmental sustainability, youth development, and women’s health and safety. Ms. Williford is an active board member of the Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, the New York City Fund for Public Health, and the Central Park Conservancy. She also volunteers with Felicia’s Promise Mentoring Program for Girls and her local PTA. 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, Brooklyn with her family and two cats.