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Meet the Team

Joe Baker
President

Joe Baker

Joe Baker has been President of the Medicare Rights Center since June 2009. Mr. Baker is a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Board on Health Care Services and Committee on Geographic Variation in Health Care Spending and Promotion of High-Value Care. He also serves on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Advisory Panel on Outreach and Education. He is an adjunct professor at the New York University School of Law, where he teaches a class on implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Previously, he was the deputy secretary for health and human services in New York State under Governor David A. Paterson, where he was instrumental in developing Medicaid reforms and a proposal to extend health coverage to younger New Yorkers. Mr. Baker served as assistant deputy secretary for health and human services under Governor Eliot Spitzer, after having directed the Health Care Bureau under Spitzer when he was attorney general of New York. Mr. Baker was executive vice president of Medicare Rights from 1994 to 2001, and prior to that was associate director of legal services for Gay Men’s Health Crisis. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law.

 

Emily Balkan
Client Services Associate
Emily Balkan graduated from New York University with a Bachelors of Social Work and a minor in American Sign Language. Ms. Balkan has experience working with Deaf individuals with mental illness and aided them in their efforts to acquire work, independence, and acceptance into their communities. For five summers Emily volunteered at different week-long camps in upstate New York for individuals with developmental/physical disabilities and also inner city youth. She gained additional experience working with inner city youth during her time at NYU, during which she taught different health classes in NYC public schools. Ms. Balkan is eager to start her work with the Medicare Rights Center, and she hopes to gain a lot of experience working with older adults and to further her experience helping those with disabilities.
Marcin Bednarz
Director of Information Technology
Marcin Bednarz graduated from the College of Staten Island (CUNY) with a B.S. in Computer Science, and previously worked as an administrative assistant and a web store administrator. Mr. Bednarz was born and raised in Poland.
Rachel Bennett
Vice President, Program and Product Development
Rachel Bennett joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2003. Ms. Bennett has helped develop and secure funding for programs of the Youth Service Opportunities Project, the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance, the Blacksmith Institute, and the National Physicians Alliance. Prior to coming to New York, she studied literature and writing in Ireland and health and economics in Ecuador, where she also worked in a nursing home. She writes and publishes poetry, and has a B.A. in English from Grinnell College.
Jillian Berkman
Client Services Associate
Jillian Berkman graduated from Bowdoin College in 2012. She worked at Vanderbilt University Medical Center last year as a research assistant on a study concerning the communication between patients and physicians during clinical visits. She is very interested in helping to improve effective communication between healthcare providers and patients. Jillian is the current AVODAH fellow and hopes to pursue a career in healthcare.
Delores Bowman
Senior Client Services Associate
Delores Bowman works on appeals cases involving health service denials, and also counsels professionals who have Medicare questions. Ms. Bowman retired from Chase Bank in 1999 after 30 years of service as a Certified Billing and Coding Specialist. She joined the Medicare Rights Center as a volunteer in September 1999.
Mitchell Clark
Senior Communications Associate
Mitchell Clark is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a B.A. in Political Science and a Minor in Philosophy. Mr. Clark is a former volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club of America in Athens, GA, and is passionate about public service.
Michael Conte
Information Technology Associate
Michael Conte is currently a student at Pace University where he studies Computer Science. He previously interned at the Medicare Rights Center in 2013 as an IT Associate, and he is now working part time assisting the Director of Information Technology with various projects.
Allison Cook
Education Associate
Allison Cook is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she completed both her undergraduate degree in Community Health and her master’s in Public Health. She has previously worked in a variety of capacities with the Medicare population, including volunteering in nursing and assisted living homes, working as a home health aide, interning in the Senior Care Department at Care.com, and consulting for the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care.
Katherine Fitzpatrick
Education Coordinator
Katherine Fitzpatrick is responsible for the development of the Medicare education website, Medicare Interactive. At Medicare Rights, Katherine also creates and presents trainings to Medicare beneficiaries and the professionals who serve the Medicare population. Before coming to Medicare Rights, Katherine did constituent work for Democratic Congressmembers Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey. Katherine has a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College in Political Science and English and is currently obtaining her Masters Degree in Public Administration from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service.
Kim Glaun
Senior Policy Counsel
Kim Glaun works to ensure that the voice of the health care consumer is heard by the various branches of the federal government, and concentrates her efforts on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid. Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, she served as an attorney with the National Senior Citizens Law Center, where she specialized in health care issues. Ms. Glaun has also practiced law with the Legal Services to the Elderly Program of the Baltimore Bar Association. Ms. Glaun is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Maryland School of Law.
Denise Grant
Executive Assistant and Event Coordinator
Denise Grant was formerly the Administrative Assistant/Educational Coordinator in the Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development at Mount Sinai Medical Center, where she organized and coordinated the fourth-year medical student program.
Krystal Knight
New York State Policy Director
Most recently, Ms. Knight worked in federal affairs at the National Association of Community Health Centers in Washington, D.C. Ms. Knight has years of experience in aging services, specifically in home- and community-based services for dual-eligible populations. Ms. Knight interned for two years at both an Area Agency on Aging and a skilled nursing facility, and she holds a B.A. and an M.P.H. from the University of Florida.
Jane Levin
Client Services ReServist
Prior to joining Medicare Rights, Ms. Levin has had a long career advising individuals on various matters, as an attorney in private practice, as an Administrative Law Judge for the NYS Department of Health, and as the Advisor for Faculty Relocation at McGill University. She is a graduate of Smith College and Brooklyn Law School.
Rebecca Masutani
Senior Education Associate
Rebecca Masutani is a graduate of New York University, where she received a B.A. in Social & Cultural Analysis and a minor in Chemistry. In addition to her work with the Medicare population, Rebecca has worked on a variety of research projects, including one that investigated the shortage of primary care practitioners in her home state of Hawai’i. As part of the Education Department at the Medicare Rights Center, Rebecca enjoys distilling complex information into understandable terms and following best health literacy practices when developing educational materials for professionals, caregivers and people with Medicare.
Cathy McElroy
Director of Operations
Before joining Medicare Rights, Ms. McElroy was the Office Manager of John Bauers Music Productions. She worked in the Dublin and London branch offices of USIT, an Irish Student Travel organization., before moving from her native Ireland to become Manager of their New York Office, where she administered a cultural work-exchange program for Irish students traveling to the U.S. She served for several years as a Volunteer Coordinator at the Elysian Charter School of Hoboken. She is a graduate of University College Dublin with a B.A. in Psychology and Politics.

Ellen Minton
Operations and Client Services Associate
Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, Ellen Minton was an Account Executive at Alcatel-Lucent, where she was responsible for the marketing and sales of telecommunications equipment. She joined Medicare Rights as a volunteer in March 2011. She has a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from New York University.
Samantha Morales
Helpline and Volunteer Coordinator
Samantha Morales graduated from the New School University for Social Research with a master’s in Political Science. She is fluent in both Spanish and English, and has extensive field experience working with vulnerable communities in projects that focus on education and health care issues. Having spent two semesters abroad in Salamanca, Spain and Santiago, Chile, Ms. Morales has traveled extensively throughout Latin America and Europe. She comes to the Medicare Rights Center with a commitment to assist members of the Medicare-eligible community to obtain affordable, quality health care.
Emily Nash
Client Services Associate
Emily Nash graduated from the University of Rochester with a B.A. in Psychology and is currently serving as an AVODAH service corps member. During her time at the University of Rochester, she gained experience working with older adults who suffer from visual impairments due to cortical brain damage. Emily studied abroad in Israel, and while there, volunteered with Magen David Adom, Israel’s national medical emergency response service. Emily is passionate about providing patients with support and empathy, and she is excited for the opportunity to help older adults and people with disabilities access affordable health care.
Frederic Riccardi
Director of Client Services
Mr. Riccardi is dedicated to helping older adults and people with disabilities access affordable health care. His consumer advocacy and counseling work was featured in “Doggedly Persistent: Helping the Elderly Untie Medicare Knots” in The New York Times in 2007. He has trained professionals in the human services field on Medicare issues, and given presentations to hundreds of consumers throughout New York City. Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, he worked for SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) as the Office Administrator. He has an M.S.W. degree from the Hunter College School of Social Work, with a special focus on Aging and professional leadership.
Stacy Sanders
Federal Policy Director

Stacy Sanders was formerly Director of National Neighbors Silver at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC). Prior to joining NCRC, she was Director of the Elder Economic Security Initiative (Elder Initiative) at Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), where she worked with state- and community-based organizations across the country to promote the use of an economic security framework and tools in senior programs and policies. She has also served as a National Advisory Panel member on the Social Work Leadership Institute’s Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education.

Sanders has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan and is the recipient of a McGregor Geriatric Fellowship award. She is also a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and serves on the National Commission for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Consumer Advisory Board and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) Center for Benefits Access Advisory Board. Additionally, she is a past Executive Fellow of the Center for Progressive Leadership, and a co-chair of the Health Committee of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations.

Sailendra Nath Sarker
Administrative Assistant
Sailendra Nath Sarker has been an Administrative Assistant at the Medicare Rights Center since December 1997. Prior to this position he worked for Asiatic American Technologies for one year as an Administrative Assistant and worked as a designer and news composer for a newspaper for three years. He graduated from Monroe College with a B.B.A. in Computer Information Systems.
Josh Schultz
Client Services Associate
While he was earning his B.A. in Politics from Willamette University in Salem, Ore., Josh built a health insurance consumer advocacy business. In this capacity, he helped patients around the United States navigate the fragmented health care delivery and insurance system, access needed medical care, and get their insurance claims paid. Josh is passionate about health care policy, and he views patient advocacy work at the Medicare Rights Center as a critical component to informing policymakers and ensuring good health policy outcomes.
Casey Schwarz
Policy and Client Services Counsel
Prior to holding this position, Casey served as a court attorney for the Honorable Marcy Friedman of New York County Supreme Court. She is a graduate of Brown University and New York University School of Law. She is admitted to the New York State Bar.
Mika Schwartz
Client Services Associate
Mika Schwartz is committed to providing compassionate service to people in need. Before coming to the Medicare Rights Center, Ms. Schwartz worked as a case manager in New York City’s foster care system. She has also worked as a legal assistant assisting people with Social Security disability benefits appeals. Ms. Schwartz graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in History.
Ariel Seiersen
Program Development Associate
Ariel Seiersen is a graduate of Boston University, where she received her B.A. in Biology. Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, Ariel spent several years volunteering at Assisted Living, Rehabilitation, and Nursing facilities, where she engaged directly with older adults and developed a passion for working with them to ensure their access to quality, affordable health care.
Beth Shyken
Client Services Counsel
Beth Shyken is committed to helping individuals navigate government systems and programs as well as ensuring that individuals receive the rights to which they are entitled.  Ms. Shyken graduated with a J.D. from City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, and during her Health Concentration program she worked on setting up the New York State Health Benefit Exchange. Prior to law school Beth was a teacher in Chicago. She has a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.Ed. from DePaul University.
Gina Verraster
Client Services Associate
Gina Verraster completed her undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley where she majored in Political Science and Ethnic Studies. Before joining the Medicare Rights Center, Ms. Verraster interned in Washington DC at the Washington Office on Latin America and the United Nations Foundation. While at the UN Foundation, she supported the work of the mHealth Alliance, which promotes the integration of mobile technology and health care, especially in low and middle-income countries. Ms. Verraster is dedicated to empowering individuals through knowledge about health care.
Scarlet Watts
Director of Marketing and Outreach
Ms. Watts has a B.S. in Biology from Hofstra University. She is committed to working toward health care access for all, and is passionate about protecting the natural beauty and wildlife on the planet. Ms. Watts currently volunteers time to support marine conservation issues, and works with friends to organize fundraising events for various nonprofit organizations.
Norman Weintraub
Enrollment Specialist
Norman Weintraub is an Enrollment Specialist for both the Extra Help and Medicare Savings Programs. He is a member of ReServe, a program that connects experienced retired professionals with public service opportunities. He joined the Medicare Rights Center in December 2005 after employment with the Department for the Aging in New York City. Born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, he is a true native New Yorker.