Mary Ann LoFrumento, M.D. – President
Mary Ann is a pediatrician who after two decades in private practice became an author and specialist in newborn care. Currently she is the Medical Director of the Newborn Nursery at Morristown Medical Center and the Director of the Global Child Health Program for Atlantic Health Systems. A graduate of Barnard College and the University of Pennsylvania where she received her medical degree, she is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. She is one of HUFH's co-founders and currently serves as President of the Board. She created the Global Health Education Program for the organization and is dedicated to introducing medical students and residents to the challenges of working in Haiti.
Allison Platt, M.D., FAAP – Vice President
Allison is a pediatrician in full-time practice for more than ten years in Mount Kisco, New York. After graduating from Barnard College in 1998, she received her Medical Degree from New York University School of Medicine in 2002 and completed her training at New York University Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital Center. She has been on faculty at New York Medical College since 2006, a clinical preceptor to first-year medical students. Allison became interested in Global Health through Hands Up for Haiti. Since October 2011, she has been a trip leader, active in providing medical care at Haitian Clinics, implementing the malnutrition program, improving access to clean water and educating Haitian doctors, nurses and healthcare workers. Through her work for Hands Up for Haiti, Allison continues her commitment to improving the lives of the Haitian people. She resides in Westchester, New York with her husband and their two young children.
Wendy Marx, M.D. – Secretary
Wendy is a pediatrician who until recently was in private practice in Mount Kisco, New York. She graduated from Cornell University and received her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College (now known as Weill Cornell Medical College). She did her pediatric training at Mount Sinai Medical Center, where she also served as a Clinical Instructor before moving to Katonah, New York. After almost 20 years in private practice, Wendy decided to pursue more personally fulfilling interests, which led her to her first medical mission with Hands Up for Haiti in January 2013. Since that time, she has become a trip leader and a member of the Medical Committee, and looks forward to continuing the critically important work of the organization.
John Partenza – Treasurer
John has over 39 years of healthcare finance experience. Currently, he is the Senior Vice President & Treasurer of Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH) in Mount Kisco, New York, a position he has held since 1989. John’s administrative expertise includes the development and oversight of NWH’s financial operations, budgeting process, and fiscal administration of a multi-million dollar organizational budget. In addition to supervising 185 employees, John is responsible for overseeing the departments of Patient Financial Services, Fiscal Services, Health Information Management, Laboratory, Radiology, and Information Technology, and he has been responsible for securing financing for capital projects. John is a graduate of Pace University and earned his Fellowship in the Healthcare Financial Management Association. He also teaches and lectures in the financial healthcare management field. John is married and has one son and two grandchildren.
Jill Ratner, M.D. – President Emeritus
Jill, HUFH's co-founder and a key driving force, has been in full time pediatric practice for over three decades in Mount Kisco, New York. She has served as Chief of Pediatrics and on leadership committees at Northern Westchester Hospital and she is Chief of the Pediatric Department at CareMount Medical. Jill graduated as a Durant Scholar from Wellesley College, attended medical school at Boston University, and completed her training at Children’s Hospital of New York, then known as Babies Hospital of Columbia Presbyterian. After raising two children with her husband of thirty-three years, she has committed to improving the global health of children through her work in Haiti. The work and people she has met through this work has been life changing. Her initiatives include visits to Haiti each year, bringing new volunteers with her, and working for the organization while at home. She is head of the Medical Committee for Hands Up for Haiti, a role that has allowed her to be instrumental in the creation and ongoing work of our malnutrition program, the delivery of medical education in Haiti, including championing Helping Babies Breathe and Essential Newborn Care, and guiding HUFH’s involvement in the battle to eradicate cervical cancer in Haiti.
Judy McAvoy, R.N.
Judy is a registered nurse with more than 40 years experience in pediatric and maternal-child nursing. She holds certifications in childbirth education, maternal newborn nursing, perinatal bereavement counseling, and is an internationally board certified lactation consultant, currently working as the nurse manager in a busy pediatric practice. Judy has been involved in many community and professional organizations in a volunteer capacity for many years and has been with Hands Up for Haiti since its inception, leading and participating in several missions each year. Global Health has always been an interest of hers and she is passionate about infant and child nutrition, breastfeeding, and sexual assault and domestic violence prevention issues.
Amy Parkin, A.N.P., G.N.P., R.N.
Amy is an adult nurse practitioner for Mount Kisco Medical Group, currently working as a hospitalist at Northern Westchester Hospital. She received her Master's degree as a NP from Hunter College. Amy has always had a strong desire to work in underserved populations. She jumped at the first opportunity to go to Haiti, and was on the first Hands Up For Haiti Medical Mission in March 2010, shortly after the earthquake. Amy is excited to continue helping the people of Haiti through working with Hands Up For Haiti.
Hope Bechard, R.N.
Hope is a registered nurse from Ontario, Canada. She provides care to a wide variety of patients and has worked throughout the west coast of Canada in rural areas. Her passions are education of nursing students and emergency nursing. Hope took her first trip to Haiti in 2010 after the earthquake inspired her to want to help, and has returned many times since with a variety of organizations. She started volunteering with Hands up for Haiti in 2012 and has been actively involved ever since, focusing on expanding HUFH's global health program for nurses and specifically partnering with Lambton College’s BScN program.
Allen has been a principal with Contaxt Solutions Inc., a small consulting firm that provides software solutions, services and project management in various finance disciplines, for the past three and a half years. After spending the first six years of his career in the audit division of Arthur Andersen, Allen joined the Thomson Corporation (subsequently Thomson Reuters through acquisition). Over his eighteen years with Thomson Reuters, Allen held various executive positions spanning finance and technology functions. These roles included global financial reporting, controllership, global shared services, SAP general ledger implementation, sourcing and procurement and technology finance. Allen enjoys tennis, golf, problem solving, home projects and running the occasional half marathon. Allen resides in Hopewell Junction, NY with his wife and two daughters.
Ted Birkhahn is president and partner of Peppercomm, a leading marketing and communications agency with offices in New York, San Francisco and London. Ted is in charge of client services and managing agency operations for the 100+ person firm. He is also an adjunct professor at Yeshiva University in New York where he teaches a course in digital communications and serves on the College of Charleston’s Department of Communication Advisory Council. He has the pleasure of serving as a member of the board for Hands up for Haiti where he counsels the organization on brand and communications matters.
Stephanie is a Registered Nurse, currently working at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in pediatrics. After graduating from Barnard College in 1998 and while attending Bank Street College of Education (2000), she taught at The Brearley School for five years. After ten years at home raising her children, Stephanie decided to become a nurse, and graduated from Pace University with a Bachelors of Nursing in 2014. She became interested in Global Health through Hands Up For Haiti in 2012 and has been on multiple pediatric missions. Stephanie is now working on the Hypertension Program, hoping to provide long-term care for adult Haitian patients. She feels passionately about her work in Haiti and is committed to helping the Northern Haitian community.
MANAGEMENT TEAM – US
Karen Akst Schecter – Executive Director
Karen has had a varied career in both law and business. After law school, she clerked for a federal judge, practiced civil law, served as school board president during a difficult time in her community, and opened and operated her own business, a fine art and crafts gallery. She has always been a passionate volunteer and life-long social justice advocate. Prior to being appointed its Executive Director, Karen served as the Director of Programs and Operations for Hands Up for Haiti for the past three years. Giving back, fighting for a cause, standing up for others…..it’s part of who she, and every member of her family, is.
LaMar Parkin – Chief Financial Officer
LaMar is a finance professional at IBM. He has worked in many capacities in both finance and accounting at IBM, spending most of his career in IBM's Global Technology Services business. He now works in IBM's Corporate Treasury responsible for coordinating and reporting all of IBM's Accounts Receivables and Inventory world-wide. He graduated cum laude with his degree in accounting from BYU’s Marriott School of Management in 2002. Over the years he has worked as a volunteer with many service organizations including Big Brother/Big Sisters, YMCA, as well as various soup kitchens, hospitals & schools. He has served as an assistant Scoutmaster for a local troop of the Boy Scouts of America for over 6 years. He became involved with Hands Up for Haiti through his wife Amy, a Nurse Practitioner, who is a founding member, and led the organization's growth as its Executive Director for the last three years.
MANAGEMENT TEAM – HAITI
Manol Isac, M.D. – Executive Director in Haiti
Manol is a physician and a public health professional. After earning his medical degree at the Université Notre-Damed’Haïti, Manol earned a Certificate in Humanitarian Action from the Learning Center of the United Nations, and a Certificate of Master in Global Health from the Global Health Learning Center, jointly run by Johns Hopkins University and USAID. Manol has used his talents and experience to help improve the public health system in Haiti: he served as Medical Officer for World Vision International, as a local coordinator for Clectiva Mujer y Salud, and as a volunteer consultant for Health for All, among others, before becoming the in-country Executive Director for HUFH.
Dieula Toussaint, M.D. – Medical Director, Open Door & Limonade
Dieula earned her medical degree in 2011. A general practitioner eager to learn from and teach her counterparts in the US and Canada, Dieula’s focus is on pediatrics, perinatal care, and the “golden minute” after birth: that period of time when a newborn’s life and health are at stake. To that end, Dieula is a master instructor in Essential Newborn Care-Helping Babies Survive, teaching matrones (traditional birth attendants) the technique and training doctors and nurses as teachers. She also helps run and supervise HUFH’s malnutrition programs, and delivers direct patient care.
Thermitus Jean – Haiti Village Health Site Administrator and HUFH Pharmacy Director
Thermitus is a trained pharmacist, and holds diplomas in this field. He is also an accomplished interpretor, speaking Haitian Creole, French, English and Spanish. Before being appointed Haiti Village Health Site Administrator and HUFH Pharmacy Director, Thermitus worked for HUFH as a translator, pharmacist, and volunteer coordinator. Thermitus manages the guesthouse and clinic at our Global Health training site. He has organized the community to clean large areas of the beach, polluted from offshore, stressing the connection between the environment and heath. He is very dedicated to the people in his home village of Labadee, where he has set up community projects for youth. He is a talented artist and musician.
Miguel-Ange Michel – Malnutrition Program & Shada Site Director
Miguel-Ange first began working at the Shada clinic in 2008 as a volunteer. He began to work for HVH, now merged into HUFH, in 2011, and for HUFH in 2012. He is currently studying Administration of ONG and accounting at AHEC School in Cap-Haitian. Previously, he studied political science at the Police Academy in Port-au-prince and information technology at Dominicano Haitiano Centro Tecnologico in Cap-Haitian. About his new role as the Shada site and Malnutrition Program, director, Miguel-Ange says: “In my new role, I hope to make the program go better. I'll work to improve it but I need your help to do so.”
Youselene Pierre-Louis – Chief Nurse, Clinic Sante Pou Yo
Youselene is a licensed nurse who manages our programs at the Haiti Village Health Site, including maternal and child health, family planning and malnutrition. A graduate of Ecole des Infirmières Notre Dame in Cap-Haitien (EINDS), Youselene has continued her training with courses in counseling, Helping Babies Breathe, massage for babies, and most recently, in Helping Babies Survive. She has worked at several hospitals in and around Cap Haitien, including Justinien, and she worked with Doctors Without Borders at the the Cholera Treatment Center during the epidemic from 2010-11. She began to work for HVH, now merged into HUFH, in 2011.