As program director of North Star, an Ansonia agency serving families whose members have a range of behavioral health needs, as well as physical and developmental disabilities, Adamczyk began her work in this field as a community volunteer after one of her own children was diagnosed with autism. Over 140 families now belong to North Star — including hers.
“I consider my son, Michael, to be truly a success story,” she says. “He received interventions and supports that … helped to prevent the need for higher levels of care. My dream is to provide North Star families with the knowledge and tools needed to identify early interventions and preventive measures in their communities, which can help their children achieve the best possible outcomes.”
Before joining North Star, Adamczky previously worked at several corporations including ComSim, Inc., Oriel Corporation, United State Surgical Corporation, and AMAX, Inc. Her involvement with children’s mental health includes professional positions at the Connecticut chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Griffin Hospital; and volunteer positions at the Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Children’s Behavioral Health Advisory Council, the North Star Parent Support Group, and the Lower Naugatuck Valley System of Care Collaborative. She earned a bachelor’s degree in management and industrial relations at the University of Bridgeport.
Having worked previously in the areas of child protection and employment services at the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Mental Health Association, Barrett has been the director of the HUSKY Infoline. Since 1998, Infoline has provided information on Connecticut’s health care programs for uninsured children and youth. “I am committed to helping families obtain HUSKY health insurance and learning how to navigate the Medicaid managed care system,” she says. “All people deserve access to affordable and quality health care, and I want to see this become a priority for the nation.”
She has served on the board of the National Association of Health Assistance Partnership, which supports consumer health assistance programs and individual advocates in striving to make sure that all Americans receive quality health care. Barrett, who earned a bachelor’s degree in social work at Western Connecticut State University and a master’s degree in counseling at the University of Bridgeport, also volunteers at Peter’s Retreat and Literacy Volunteers of America and is an active member of her sorority, Delta Gamma Phi.
Tanya L. Barrett
Referring to Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great,” Bello quotes: “A leader … possesses both personal humility and an intense drive to produce long-term results.” As the Ryan White Title I Supportive Service program coordinator for Latino Community Services in Hartford, Bello is “passionate about developing an organization’s ability… to enhance the lives of people within its community.”
She notes: “The most important lesson I learned from my parents is that no job is too big for me and that I can do anything I put my mind to. The most important lesson I learned from the Army was that no job is too small, and that the devil is in the details. From my work at the Department of Public Health (DPH), I learned that when a person is challenged they can meet that challenge when supported by a team.”
Prior to working in DPH’s Office of Health Communications and Office of Affirmative Action, Bello handled communications for the 141 Medical Company Ground Ambulance unit of the Connecticut Army National Guard. She served on the board of Latinos Contra Sida, Inc., and currently volunteers at ConneCT Kids tutoring students at Hartford’s West Middle School. Bello earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in business management at Albertus Magnus College.
Yvette H. Bello
Describing himself as “deeply committed to helping reduce disparities in health care,” Digenio is currently the director for clinical research and development at Pfizer, Inc. He has a medical degree from the Universidad de la República in Montevideo, Uruguay, and a doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Cape Town in South Africa. In Uruguay, he worked to provide ambulance services for low-income com- munities. While in Johannesburg, South Africa, he served as the medical director at Milpark Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, a private hospital, and at the Johannesburg City Health Department’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center. At the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Digenio helped run a health promotion clinic and an after-hours clinic for the Hispanic community.
At Pfizer, he developed a web-based cardiovascular disease prevention program designed for the Hispanic population and is leading a collaboration with local agencies to implement it in New London’s Hispanic community. Digenio says, “… Energetic and passionate leaders can become the voices of underserved populations. …”
He has volunteered at New London’s Centro de la Comunidad and at Prohealth Rural Health Clinic in Franklin, Tenn. Currently, he serves as a mentor to Norwich Public School children through Pfizer’s Hispanic Network.
Andrés Digenio, M.D., Ph.D.
Born and raised in Bridgeport, Evans was appointed in 2004 as that city’s director of health and social services administration. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Southern Connecticut State University, teaching a course in public health and women’s studies. After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology at Swarthmore College and a medical degree at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Evans completed one residency in obstetrics/ gynecology at Bridgeport Hospital and another in anesthesiology at New York’s St. Luke’s — Roosevelt Hospital. Later she established a vascular laboratory and conducted clinical research at the Yale- Griffin Prevention Research Center.
A longtime member of Prayer Tabernacle Church of Love, she serves as the director of its health ministry program, putting into action her belief that “to be a leader you must be a servant and hold your work or … ministry up higher than your personal agenda.”
Evans has received numerous awards, including the Claven Award and the 2004 Outstanding Achievement Award from the NAACP. She sits on the board of directors of several organizations, including the United Way of Fairfield County, the Witness Project, the Ralphola Taylor Community Center, and the Yale Working Group on Research Ethics. Evans notes: “I am passionate about ministry to people in untraditional and unconventional ways.”
Marian A. Evans, M.D.
“While I am trying to perfect the art of balance, I take steps each day toward my passions that extend beyond my dedication to my current career,” says Evans, who is the public affairs manager at Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, Inc. “My attachment to writing … and dance has served as a metaphor for the way I view my life and my commitment to encouraging individuals to draw on their inner strengths. My dancing and poetry … are as important as gaining knowledge about public health in traditionally disadvantaged communities. One may not initially see this connection between metaphors, similes or dance and serving a community’s public health needs. However, for individuals in an underserved community, a … venue that offers these opportunities will provide an invitation to take risks, explore and stumble upon lessons they otherwise might not get a chance to discover.”
In addition to her work at Planned Parenthood, Evans also serves as a Vision Academic Mentoring/Rising Stars program consultant at Trinity College, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies. She is currently studying management at the University of Hartford and will graduate with a Master of Business Administration in 2007. In her free time, Evans serves on the boards of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Organization for Women and the Rosie Fund, Inc.
Shanta L. Evans
“I am deeply committed to prevention strategies and positive youth development,” says Fecteau, coordinator of the Foster Care Program at Waterford Country School, Inc. “As a family member, I volunteer in my community and at the local schools. As a professional, I collaborate with colleagues and community members to create positive opportunities for young people. I know from experience that giving young people the skills that they need to make good decisions is what keeps them healthy. While youths and families must take responsibility for the decisions that they make, they need to be empowered to make decisions about matters affecting their lives.”
Prior to joining Waterford Country School, she has served as the program development coordinator for the Stonington Institute, a residential drug and alcohol abuse treatment center; and executive director of the East Lyme Youth Services Association, Inc.; and the Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Connecticut. Fecteau, who earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and youth development at Norwich University in Vermont, also held positions at United Services, Inc., in Dayville, and Workforce One in Chaplin.
Her civic engagement varies from co-chair of the Southeast Mental Health System of Care and member of the New London County Youth Services Bureau, to treasurer of the Niantic Main Street Association and member of the Community Coalition for Children.
A lifelong resident of Pomfret Center, Grant is the executive director of Thompson Ecumenical Empowerment Group (TEEG) and has been involved in raising purebred sheep on a family farm as well as in organizations supporting youth and agriculture. Of her professional life she says, “I have worked in health care, education and social services, and in each setting, I have seen policy as the vehicle for change.”
Before joining TEEG, she served as an emergency medical technician and patient care technician at Day Kimball Hospital. She founded and operated a commercial kennel, Krystalyn Kennels, for more than 12 years. Grant, who earned a bachelor’s degree in independent studies at Charter Oak College, serves on the board of the Quinnebaug Valley Community College Foundation, and as the Connecticut director of the New England Rural Health Roundtable.
“Those affiliations allow me to help set priorities regarding children, education and health care … areas of life-long interest,” Grant says. “But setting priorities is just the first step. We must then establish the policies necessary to meet them.”
Donna M. Grant
Sue Greeno describes herself as passionate about fighting for a wide range of human rights concerns, she also takes great pride in having raised, with her husband, four children who have learned “to love and respect people of all backgrounds.”
Of her work as access to care director at Community Health Center, Inc., in Middletown, she says, “I am proud of the unique approach we have taken to improve health care access. Meeting individually with every new client, we have been able to identify needs and reduce barriers that create health disparities. However, there is much more to do in order to reduce health disparities across Connecticut and the nation. I hope to share with others around the country the access to care model that we have designed.”
In the past, she has worked in development at East Hampton Youth and Family Services and at Northern Middlesex YMCA. Greeno, who earned an associate’s degree in computer programming at Norwalk Technical School, teaches CPR, first aid and child care courses at the American Red Cross in Middletown. She also has volun- teered at the East Hampton Local Prevention Council, Girl Scouts of America in Middletown and the East Hampton Youth Center.
Sue A. Greeno
Grier, who has been the public affairs officer at CHF since February of 2005, integrated her love for arts and culture, interest in health, and experience in research, administration and communications throughout her 15-year tenure at the Institute for Community Research. “I developed a keen interest in working on ‘health literacy’ since learning about some of the serious problems associated with this issue,” she says. “Some years ago, a physician shared a story concerning a young teenager’s multiple pregnancies — even though she had been prescribed birth control pills, she did not know to take them orally. That story still haunts me. I would like to use my skills, talents and compassion to help providers and communities expand and increase health literacy in underserved populations. I also love the arts and would like to see them integrated into prevention and intervention programs, so that we use all our multiple intelligences to tackle health problems.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing at the University of Maryland in College Park, Grier worked in the marketing/communications department at the National Alliance of Business in Washington, D.C. Aside from serving as a grant reviewer for the Evelyn Preston Memorial Trust Fund in Hartford, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, and the Rhode Island Foundation, Grier has volunteered to serve on numerous boards including the Connecticut Institute for Cultural Literacy and Wellness, Ryan While Title I Planning Council, Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, Hartford Interval House, Connecticut AIDS Action Council, and the Central Area Health Education Center.
Maryland M. Grier
Hinds, a research assistant at the Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, is also a 2006 Yale University graduate. She has a bachelor’s degree in history of science and history of medicine and international studies. “Although I have always been interested in a career in medicine, I developed a fascination with the issue of health care disparities once I was exposed to some of the realities of health care in the developing world, specifically, West Africa, says Hinds.”
Her college career included a semester abroad at the University of Ghana and a variety of positions at Matrix Public Health Consultants, Yale University Press, America Counts, Yale Summer Programs, and the Yale Pathology Lab. Hinds also has served as a pediatric volunteer at Yale-New Haven Hospital and Osu Children’s Home in Ghana, and a mentor through the Youth Together program in New Haven.
Hinds hopes to pursue degrees in both medicine and public health and “work to close the gap in health care access both domestically and abroad.”
Kumba Adia Hinds
“I have been in the public health field for over 12 years, and I am still in love with what I do,” says Kornblum, a public health educator for the city of Hartford’s Department of Health and Human Services. “I was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. I then moved to the United States after college and worked as a social worker for several years until I was recruited to become a labor organizer. When I thought about another career move, a friend encouraged me to apply for a position in public health. Although I had no prior experience, the person who took a chance on me became my mentor as she introduced me to this ‘brave new world.’”
Prior to her recent position, Kornblum worked at other state agencies including DCF and the Commission on Children. She also directed a statewide pediatric AIDS program at the Connecticut Primary Care Association. Kornblum, who earned a bachelor’s degree in educational psychology at the Universidade de Mogi das Cruzes in São Paulo, currently sits on the city of Hartford’s Advisory Commission on the Environment. She also has volunteered at the Brazilian Alliance in the United States and the Community Renewal Team.
“A theme in my professional life has been the joy that I experience when individuals realize their power to transform reality,” she says. “Anyone can become an agent of change if given the proper tools and information.”
Rita L. Kornblum
“I am generally a happy person who finds life interesting and hopeful,” says Mayes, the community program coordinator for Griffin Hospital’s Women’s Health Coordination Center in Derby. “What’s important to me is using my experience, strength and wild optimism to support myself and others in removing blocks that prevent health and well-being.”
Before joining Griffin, Mayes provided personal life and wellness coaching through her Waterbury-based company, CSOLUTIONS Coaching Services. She also worked with the Ansonia Housing Authority/Curtisey Corporation providing job placement counseling. Mayes, who earned a bachelor’s degree in communications at Charter Oak State College, spends her free time serving on the community health advisory committee at Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.
“I believe that loving-kindness, respect, inclusiveness, and practical life skills are the roots that nourish the flowers of well- being and health,” she says. “I am commit- ted to learning more about living from these ‘roots,’ and sharing what I learn to free myself and others from self-loathing and fear, and step into greater awareness and empowerment.”
Keesha M. Mayes
Meliso, senior attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy, is also the lead trainer for Connecticut’s Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program. She began her legal career at the Legal Aid Society of Hartford, representing indigent clients in housing, child support, social security disability, and family law cases.
“I’ve experienced the discrimination and obstacles my clients faced as they tried to obtain the most basic necessities,” she says. “I’m proof that the cycle of poverty can be broken … if we give people a chance to help themselves. I was raised by a single mother who was forced to rely on public assistance at times. I attended college on federal financial assistance and was the first person in my family to graduate from college. The UConn School of Law took a chance on me, as did Legal Aid. Our society … has a moral duty to provide necessities such as food, shelter, and health care to its poorest members … as well as provide meaningful opportunities to escape poverty.”
Meliso earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Rhode Island College and both a law degree and master’s degree in public health from the University of Connecticut. She currently serves on the board of the Mansfield Discovery Depot and has provided her legal expertise to the Hebron Commission on Aging and the town of Hebron.
Pamela A. Meliso
“In my work as a psychologist at New Britain General Hospital, I see the suffering of humanity at its fullest,” he says. “I see how people struggle to find meaning, purpose and peace in a chaotic world. I see selfishness, abuses of power, the consequences of poverty, and misguided allocation of resources. But I also get the opportunity to see the goodness in the world by sharing deeply in the lives of my patients. I get to help them put the pieces together again, discover in themselves strengths they did not previously know and encourage them to pursue their dreams.”
Before joining New Britain General Hospital, he was the coordinator of juvenile justice programs at the Wheeler Clinic. Muro, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Bridgeport, a master’s degree in counseling at Southern Connecticut State University and a doctorate in counseling psychology at Indiana State University, completed a predoctoral internship at Danbury Hospital’s Center for Child & Adolescent Treatment and a postdoctoral residency at its Community Center for Behavioral Health. Currently, he serves as the chair of the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Committee of the Connecticut Psychological Association.
“My experiences have formed my strong belief in standing up for what is right, protecting and caring for those who are weak, investing myself in just causes, and creating positive change in the lives of those around me,” he notes.
Robert Muro, Ph.D.
“Although I grew up in a ‘children are seen and not heard’ environment,” says Murray, project coordinator and program director for the Family Focus Partnership and Waterbury Youth Service System, Inc., “I did not know my ‘place’ very well and would frequently get into trouble defending someone or something.”
Murray, who earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies from the University of Connecticut, worked at Waterbury’s YWCA as a training coordinator and child advocate/counselor for the Sexual Assault Crisis Service. She began her career in the private sector at the Bank of Boston Connecticut, where she started as an entry-level bank teller and was promoted into a management position within six years.
“I continue to be passionate about ‘doing right’ for all. That means access to medical care; children growing up in safe, loving, encouraging homes; no abuse; and valuing people for who they are — not their color, religion or gender,” she says. “Throughout my life and work I have tried to put people first and sometimes that’s gotten me in trouble. But I continue to listen, learn and teach.”
Diana Pierce Murray
As the executive director for the Connecticut League for Nursing (CLN), Proto is dedicated to educating the public about the impact the nursing shortage will have on state residents, schools, nursing programs, and the entire health care system. “We cannot continue to ‘waste’ our state dollars, we need to put this money to better use,” she says. “Connecticut must focus on keeping our health care system viable and able to provide health care to our residents.”
In addition to her duties at CLN, Proto also serves as a consultant to organizations that want to create successful teams by developing interventions designed to improve teamwork and workflow processes. Before joining CLN, she worked in development at the MidState Medical Center, served as a management trainer at Flath & Associates in New Haven and coordinated educational programs at the Connecticut Hospital Association.
Proto, who earned a bachelor’s degree in math and education at Providence College and a master’s degree in education at Springfield College, also has volunteered at The Jewish Home for the Aged and Connecticut Women in Healthcare Management.
Marcia B. Proto
Schwartzman has been involved in the field of children’s mental health for nearly three decades, currently serving as the director of Family and Children Services for Bridges, A Community Support System, Inc., in Milford, as well as maintaining a private therapy practice.
“My professional life has been carefully coordinated with my family life,” he says. “All our children are now in college or graduate school, young adults on their way to independent living. This experience has been the laboratory from which I’ve learned the realities of working parenthood. My position as the director of family and children services in a community-based mental health clinic has led me to view community supports as a potential extension of family resources when considering family needs.”
Schwartzman earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, a master’s degree in school psychology at Southern Connecticut State University and a doctorate in psychology at the University of South Carolina. Over the years, he has volunteered his time at the Orange Soccer Association, the Orange Recreation Department and Kids Count in Milford.
Marty Schwartzman, Ph.D.
Turmeque has worked in the human services field since her arrival in Connecticut from her native Colombia 18 years ago. “Every time I have a chance, I advocate for someone or help gather information to obtain resources that don’t seem available,” she says. “I don’t stop until I get results.”
Currently, she holds the position of quality improvement social work supervisor at DCF, where she has worked for nearly 12 years.
Turmeque, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Incca University in Bogota, Columbia, says the lack of bilingual mental health services for children and their families is a problem in Connecticut. “Most residential services don’t have bilingual psychotherapists or child care staff … and many parents lack the language skills to participate in their child’s treatment,” she says. “If the child has special needs, there are not enough bilingual providers to serve the family.”