StaffMedicare Rights Center
Fred Riccardi serves as the president of the Medicare Rights Center. As vice president of client services, Mr. Riccardi oversaw all of Medicare Rights’ client programming, including its National Consumer Helpline—which handles around 20,000 questions each year—and developed and implemented a variety of successful programs with diverse partners, including two new ombudsman programs for New Yorkers with specific health care needs. For over a decade, he has been a lead Medicare advocate nationally, helping Medicare beneficiaries and families access and afford their care and advising professionals on how to better serve their clients. He has collaborated with an array of stakeholders to help inform federal and state health care policy and is a frequent spokesperson on Medicare issues in major media outlets. Mr. Riccardi is also a lecturer at the Columbia University School of Social Work.
Derek Ayeh is a graduate of Columbia University with a M.S. in Bioethics and The University of Chicago with a B.A. in Religious Studies. Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, Derek worked as a research assistant at The University of Chicago Hospitals. His main project focused on the effect of a patient’s religious beliefs on the end-of-life care recommendations given by physicians. He has since focused his academic efforts on issues of end-of-life, palliative care, and hospice.
Joe Baker is currently the President Emeritus of the Medicare Rights Center and served as its President from June 2009 to May 2019. He is a member of The National Quality Forum’s Measures Application Partnership Coordinating Committee after previously serving on the Dual Eligible Beneficiaries Workgroup. Mr. Baker served two terms as a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Board on Health Care Services and 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 taught 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. Mr. Baker graduated from the University of Virginia’s School of Law.
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.
Deane Beebe joined the Medicare Rights Center as Vice President of Communications & Outreach in December 2015. Previously, she was the Director of Public Education & Media Relations at PHI (Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute), where she worked to improve the quality of long-term care by improving the quality of direct-care jobs, and helped wage a successful campaign to extend federal labor protections to home care workers. She was also the editor of a biweekly newsletter on the direct-care workforce.
Ms. Beebe first served as the Communications Director at the Medicare Rights Center from 1999 to 2008, when the Medicare drug benefit was being developed and implemented. She has held communications positions at several nonprofit organizations and government agencies dedicated to aging, disability, health, and/or health access issues, including the Visiting Nurse Service of New York’s Center for Home Care Policy & Research; International Longevity Center; American Federation of Aging Research; and the Massachusetts Departments of Public Health and Public Welfare.
Prior to working in communications, Ms. Beebe was a geriatric social worker in Boston, Massachusetts. She holds a master’s degree in mass communications from Emerson College and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from SUNY Buffalo.
Rachel Bennett joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2003. She previously worked at the Youth Service Opportunities Project in New York City and as a consultant with the Blacksmith Institute, the National Physicians Alliance, the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance, and others. With 15 years’ experience in the nonprofit sector, Ms. Bennett is passionate about program development, project management, staff cultivation, partnership-building, transparency, and strategic planning. She studied at Trinity College Dublin through the University of Iowa and earned a B.A. in English and election to Phi Beta Kappa at Grinnell College. She writes and publishes poetry, her most recent chapbook available through dancing girl press.
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.
Julie Carter joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2016 as a Federal Policy Associate in the Washington DC office. She had just completed a year as a Health and Aging Policy Fellow with a placement at the Administration for Community Living where she was able to explore the use of data in policymaking. She has also been a fellow with Justice in Aging, focusing on person-centered planning and Medicaid Long-Term Services and Supports, and was vice-president of a manufacturing firm in Appalachian Ohio. She has a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in English and History, and a J.D. from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. She is a passionate fan of baseball, reading, data, poetry, and good Mexican food, which is nearly impossible to find in DC.
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 graduated from Pace University in 2015 with a B.S. in Computer Science. He previously interned at the Medicare Rights Center in 2013 as an IT Associate. Much of his work includes development and maintenance of various Medicare Rights web pages as well as the development of specialized web tools.
Lindsey Copeland joined the Medicare Rights Center as Federal Policy Director in 2017. Based in the Washington, DC office, Lindsey is responsible for formulating, directing, and implementing Medicare Rights’ federal policy and advocacy agenda. She informs policymakers, stakeholders, and the press about the challenges facing people with Medicare, as well as the administrative and legislative policies the Medicare Rights Center supports to address these issues.
Prior to joining Medicare Rights, she oversaw federal advocacy and governmental affairs for several national nonprofits that focus on health and aging policy, including one of the nation’s largest networks of health and human services providers and the association representing state agencies on aging and disabilities and long-term services and supports directors.
Lindsey holds a B.A. in English and Political Science from Hollins University and a J.D. from the University of Richmond. She is admitted to the Virginia bar.
Giovanni Florez has dedicated his academic and professional careers towards public service. He has a B.A from Montclair State University and an M.P.A from John Jay College. While he was a graduate student he worked in the office of the New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy, Giovanni joined FEMA in 2012 and worked to ensure that hundreds of Sandy victims received financial assistance so that they could rebuild their homes. Giovanni is eager to utilize his public service experience in order to help older adults navigate the complex Medicare system and also hopes to gain extensive knowledge about health care policy.
Talia Gal-Osher graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2016 with a B.A. in Anthropology and Global Health. Prior to joining Medicare Rights Center, Talia worked as a Project Manager at a healthcare software company where she became fascinated by the intricacies of health care delivery and access in the United States. As an Avodah Corps Member, Talia is dedicated to helping underserved and vulnerable communities through direct service work. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, rock climbing, and spending time with her dog.
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.
Before Medicare Rights, Jay was a licensed School Director for two adult distance learning schools—the New York Institute of Photography and the New York Institute of Art and Design—and he’s held senior management positions with a variety of technology and publishing companies. He received his Masters of Arts in English Education from the University of Iowa, and his leisure-time passions include home renovation and blogging.
Jake is dedicated to creating social change through advocacy on behalf of those in need. Most recently, he served as the Carr Center Fellow at A Better Balance. His introduction to health coverage issues came while an intern at ABC for Health, located in his native state of Wisconsin. Jake graduated from Notre Dame with a B.A. and NYU with a J.D. Previously, he taught high school in New Orleans.
Claire Mendelson graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in 2018 with a B.A. in Sociology and Public Health. Claire is passionate about working to eliminate health disparities, specifically in more vulnerable communities. She appreciates the opportunity to learn more through working in client services. In her spare time, Claire sings a cappella.
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.
Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, Sarah Murdoch worked in Chicago coordinating community based services to older adults which included assistance with benefits, long-term care counseling, and non-medical homecare. There she also supervised a team of Senior Medicare Patrol volunteers in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. Ms. Murdoch has extensive experience working with older adults including work with an Area Agency on Aging, in Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and over five years of volunteer work in low-income senior housing on Chicago’s north side. Ms. Murdoch earned her M.S.W. from Washington University in St. Louis, with a focus on gerontology and policy, and earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Chicago.
Alice Murphy graduated from Williams College in 2016 with a B.A. in Political Science, concentrating in comparative politics. Alice is interested in understanding the barriers that older adults and people with disabilities face in accessing healthcare. She appreciates the opportunity to use insights gained from working with clients to craft useful and accessible educational materials. In her free time, Alice performs stand up and improv comedy.
Beth is committed to helping individuals navigate government systems and programs as well as ensuring that individuals receive the rights to which they are entitled. She 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.
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.
Casey joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2011 as Client Services Counsel. Today, she focuses on education and federal policy, helping deliver accessible and accurate education materials to Medicare beneficiaries and the professionals who serve them. Casey regularly gives presentations on current developments in Medicare. She also advances the policy goals of the Medicare Rights Center through the administrative rule-making process and supports Medicare Rights’ close working relationship with legislators and their staff.
Casey earned her law degree, magna cum laude, from New York University School of Law, where she was elected to Order of the Coif. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Ethics from Brown University. She is admitted to the bars of New York and Maine.
Rachel Shuman graduated from the Columbia University School with a Masters in Social Work and Barnard College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. Prior to joining Medicare Rights Center, Rachel worked to promote access to healthcare for undocumented and uninsured immigrant New Yorkers. She also previously worked with individuals with disabilities, facilitating social and educational opportunities and advocating for their access to public programs and services. Rachel is committed to advocating for the rights of older adults and people with disabilities. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, cycling and trying new cheeses.
Anna Szilagyi graduated from Binghamton University, State University of New York with a B.A. in English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Before coming to the Medicare Rights Center, she worked as an editor at a health care communications agency and held internships at Family Planning of South Central New York and Binghamton University’s Interpersonal Violence Prevention Office. She joined Medicare Rights as an Outreach Associate to pursue her interest in public health and focus her work on health care accessibility. Anna also writes creatively and publishes her poetry and essays.
Laurie Thomashow is a graduate of Columbia School of Social Work, where she received her MSW in Advanced Clinical Social Work. Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, Laurie interned at a mental health rehabilitation facility where she engaged directly with younger and older adults to counsel and empower them to ensure their success in accessing health, housing, and employment benefits. Laurie has a passion for working with the underserved populations both locally and nationally.
Samantha Weckesser graduated from the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University with a Master of Public Health degree and Drew University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Neuroscience. Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, she worked on research and policy projects relating to mental health and trauma in Pennsylvania, including an evaluation of the Mental Health First Aid program in selected Philadelphia public schools and advocacy work on behalf of new mothers living with depression. In addition to this work, Samantha has also worked on behalf of the American Public Health Association to create policy statement on the health Impacts of discrimination on transgender individuals. She has a strong passion for social justice and working with traditionally underserved populations.
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.
Emily Whicheloe graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in Anthropology and a correlate in Spanish. She previously worked as a reading specialist at a middle school in Brooklyn, and joined the Medicare Rights Center in May 2015 to pursue interests in adult education and non-profit work. As an education associate, Emily leads content creation for a national Medicare counselor training curriculum and writes a bi-weekly newsletter for consumers. She uses her social science background to understand topics from different perspectives and understand issues in multiple ways. Emily comes to the Medicare Rights Center with a passion for social justice and the belief that everyone should have access to healthcare. In her free time she enjoys taking photographs and playing the ukulele.