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PHRF Board of Directors

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Bijan Safai, M.D., D. Sc.

President

An internationally recognized and award winning dermatologist, Dr. Safai is the Professor and Chairman of the Department of Dermatology at New York Medical College, and the Chief of Dermatology at NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan. Renowned for his expertise and the research he has conducted in association with skin cancers, sarcoma and lymphomas of the skin, he served as Chief of Dermatology Service and Director of the service’s research program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) for almost two decades. Dr. Safai received his medical degree from the Tehran University School of Medicine in Tehran, Iran. He trained in internal medicine and dermatology at New York University Medical School, and completed a fellowship in immunology at MSKCC. His research work in immunology earned him a Doctor of Medical Sciences degree (D.Sc.) from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

“This just might be the most challenging time to be involved in the delivery of public healthcare. But it also is a tremendously rewarding endeavor. It’s not a job; it’s a calling.”

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Diana Goell Voigt, Esq.

Secretary

Diana is a strategic partner in managing the legal affairs of PAGNY and serves as the legal advisor to the Board of Directors as General Counsel.

Diana has practiced law for over twenty years. Her extensive experience includes representing employers in civil rights, labor and employment administrative/agency proceedings and actions in state and federal court. Prior to joining PAGNY, Diana was a Senior Attorney in the Law Department for Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. where she worked closely with senior management on employment related matters. Earlier in her career, Diana was a Senior Counsel in the Labor and Employment Law Division in the New York City Law Department. She joined the City’s Law Department in 2001 following several years in private practice. For almost nine years, she supervised a team of attorneys while continuing to provide strategic legal advice to various City agencies and Health + Hospitals, on complex matters.

Diana earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College and her Juris Doctor degree from Vermont Law School. She has been a speaker on employment law topics, and was a Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia University School of Law, teaching a seminar on the role of attorneys in government.

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Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Ph.D.

Director

Dr. Lilliam Barrios-Paoli has several decades of experience in New York City government and the not-for-profit sector. In successive posts during the Koch and Giuliani administrations, she headed four city agencies: the Departments of Employment, Personnel, and Housing Preservation and Development, and the Human Resources Administration. Mayor Bloomberg named her Commissioner of the Department for the Aging, and during Mayor de Blasio’s first term, she was Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services.

In the not-for-profit sector, Dr. Barrios-Paoli was President and CEO of Safe Space NYC Inc., an organization that serves more than 25,000 children and their families. Prior to that, she was Senior Vice President and Chief Executive for Agency Services at United Way of New York City. She was also Executive Director of Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx, and subsequently chaired the Board of NYC Health + Hospitals, the country’s largest municipal healthcare system.

She is currently the Senior Advisor to Hunter President Jennifer J. Raab, with a focus on special projects and community partnerships, and serves on the Boards of Good Shepherd Services, whose programs help youth and families in struggling neighborhoods, and SEEDCO, which promotes economic opportunity for people, businesses, and communities in need.

Dr. Barrios-Paoli graduated from the School of Anthropology of Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from The New School, where she is a former Trustee.

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Joseph T. English, M.D.

Director

Dr. English is the Sidney E. Frank Distinguished Professorship of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at New York Medical College (NYMC). Prior to this distinction, he served as the chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences from 1998 to 2014 at NYMC. Dr. English was the chair of psychiatry at Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers from 1973-1979, as well as being appointed professor of psychiatry and associate dean of the College for St. Vincent.

Dr. English’s list of prestigious affiliations includes membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, commissioner serving on the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and lifetime membership in the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Dr. English’s colorful past includes serving as chief psychiatrist of the U.S. Peace Corps; Director for Health Affairs, Office of Economic Opportunity, Executive Office of the President of the United States under John F. Kennedy; and Administrator of the Health and Services and Mental Health Administration. Dr. English is a nationally recognized leader in his field, having served as first president of the NYC Health + Hospitals System, the APA, and as Senior Delegate of the APA in the AMA House of Delegates.

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Rosa M. Gil, D.S.W.

Director

Dr. Gil is the Founder, President and CEO of Comunilife, Inc. a non-profit organization founded in 1989 that assists New Yorkers in need, including persons living with HIV/AIDS and mental illness.

During her distinguished career she served as Health Policy Advisor to the Mayor and Health Administrator of NYC. She is the former Chairperson of the NYC Health + Hospitals System. She held positions within the NYC hospital system as Hospital Executive Director; Network SVP and SVP Mental Hygiene Services. Formerly, Dr. Gil was the Executive Deputy Commissioner for Families and Children Services at the NYC Human Resources Administration, and University Dean for Health Sciences at the City University of New York.

Dr. Gil is a member of the NYC Board of Health; NYS Governor’s Interagency Council on Homelessness and the President Carter Center Mental Health Task Force. Dr. Gil was appointed to multiple agencies including the NYS Governor’s Adult Home and the Mentally Ill Persons Task Force, and the Planning Board of the Surgeon General Report on Mental Health. She is one of the founders of the Urban Institute for Behavioral Health of NYC, Latino Commission on AIDS, the Association of Hispanic Mental Health Professionals and 100 Hispanic Women.

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Balavenkatesh Kanna, M.D., MPH, FACP

Director

Dr. Kanna has served the South Bronx Community at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln for over 23 years in many capacities include the current roles of Associate Chief Medical Officer, Patient Safety Officer, and Director of Research. In 2008 at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln he established the Lincoln Center for Clinical and Community Research which works with several community based organizational (CBO) partners and academic centers on service and research projects.

Dr. Kanna is also the affiliate campus Assistant Dean for Lincoln Weill Cornell Medical College. He promotes community based participatory research targeting health disparities to enhance public health in minority populations. Dr. Kanna is the lead investigator in obesity, hypertension, critical illness and colo-rectal cancer studies among minority populations. He has published extensively in peer reviewed literature and presented at national forums.

With a Master of Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dr. Kanna clearly understands the role of community and CBO participation in community based participatory research to enhance translational biomedical research targeting health disparities and enhanced public health of minority populations including Asian Americans. 

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Andrew Wiznia, M.D.

Director

Dr. Wiznia is the Director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology, the Director of both the Pediatric and Adult HIV services, and the Medical Director of the Division of Research at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, and a Professor of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Dr. Wiznia received his Bachelor of Art in biology from Brandeis University, and his medical degree from College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University.  He completed his pediatric residency at Bronx Municipal Hospital Center and Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center, followed by a Fellowship in pediatric allergy and immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Wiznia has been in practice for more than 20 years.

Dr. Wiznia has participated in New York State and US Public Health Services Pediatric HIV Guideline committees and lectured extensively domestically and internationally. He has held numerous leadership roles in NIH funded Networks to define the evolving pediatric HIV epidemic, develop effective therapy, explore complications attributed to these treatments or HIV-associated co-morbidities, investigate the underlying immunodeficiency and HIV specific immune responses in these populations and evaluate psychiatric disorders and behavior outcomes in HIV infected and exposed adolescents.