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Meet the Staff

Medicare Rights is a close-knit team dedicated to ensuring that older adults and people with disabilities get the quality, affordable health care they need. Get to know the Medicare Rights team.

Frederic Riccardi
President
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 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.
Michael Allegretti
Director of Operations & Finance
Michael Allegretti joined the Medicare Rights Center as the Director of Operations & Finance in October 2019. He is responsible for overseeing the fiscal and administrative matters of the organization. Mr. Allegretti has worked in nonprofit management for over a decade. Most recently he served as the Chief Finance Officer of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession and the Departmental Administrator of Columbia University’s Center on Medicine as a Profession. Prior to that, Mr. Allegretti worked for the United Nations in Rome, Italy for 3 years. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Derek Ayeh
Senior Associate, Education & Policy
As Senior Associate, Education & Policy, Derek Ayeh helps develop educational materials, including many resources on integrated care for both New York and national audiences. He also writes a quarterly, policy newsletter for New York advocates and beneficiaries. Much of his work is concerned with researching and understanding the various integrated care options available to dually eligible individuals. Derek is a graduate of Columbia University with an M.S. in Bioethics and The University of Chicago with a B.A. in Religious Studies. He is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University. In his free time, Derek has published essays and hopes to publish fiction in the future.
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.
Deane Beebe
Vice President, Communications & Outreach
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 B.A. in Sociology from SUNY Buffalo.
Rachel Bennett
Senior Vice President
Rachel Bennett joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2005 as a Development Associate. As Senior Vice President, Rachel oversees Medicare Rights’ foundation relationships, federal grants, strategic planning, and educational work. She previously worked at the Youth Service Opportunities Project, initially as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, and as a consultant with the Blacksmith Institute, the National Physicians Alliance, the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance, and others.

Rachel earned a B.A. in English from Grinnell College, with highest honors and election to Phi Beta Kappa, and also studied at Trinity College Dublin through the University of Iowa and in Ecuador through the University of Minnesota. She is a poet and runner and loves being outdoors.
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.
Anand Bradley
Client Services & Education Associate
Anand Bradley joined the Medicare Rights Center as Client Services & Education Associate in 2019. He graduated from Harvard College in 2019 with a B.A. in Linguistics with a related field in Anthropology. He is interested in health policy and education and is committed to ensuring members of marginalized communities get the health care they need. Prior to working at the Medicare Rights Center, he worked in Boston to connect community members to local organizations for assistance with food, housing, insurance, and other health-related issues. In his free time, he enjoys collecting music and hosts a radio show with friends.
Julie Carter
Senior Federal Policy Associate
Julie Carter is the Senior Federal Policy Associate in the Washington, D.C. office, where she helps set and advance Medicare Rights’ advocacy agenda. Julie plays a large role in developing administrative comments and in effectively communicating the organization’s policy goals. She acts as chief liaison to multiple stakeholder coalitions, and to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Advisory Panel on Outreach and Education. Before joining Medicare Rights in 2016, Julie was a Health and Aging Policy Fellow with a placement at the Administration for Community Living as well as a fellow with Justice in Aging. 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 D.C. Julie is admitted to the California bar.
Mitchell Clark
Director of Digital Strategy & Communications
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 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
Federal Policy Director
Lindsey Copeland is the Medicare Rights Center’s Federal Policy Director. Based in the Washington, D.C. office, she is responsible for developing and implementing a health equity-driven advocacy agenda that is informed by the organization’s experience helping people with Medicare navigate emerging and systemic access, affordability, and coverage issues. She and the federal policy team elevate these challenges, and the solutions the Medicare Rights Center supports to address them, for policymakers, stakeholders, and the press. Through this work, Medicare Rights seeks to protect, strengthen, and improve the Medicare program, as well as the health and economic security of older adults, people with disabilities, caregivers, and families.

Prior to joining Medicare Rights in 2017, Lindsey 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 directors of state agencies on aging and disabilities and long-term services and supports. Lindsey holds a B.A. in English and Political Science from Hollins University and a J.D. from the University of Richmond School of Law. She is admitted to the Virginia Bar.
Shea Cours
Education Associate
Shea Cours joined the Medicare Rights Center as an Education Associate in 2020. She produces new print and e-learning content, develops educational toolkits and trainings, and implements online learning features. She works in collaboration with the Education department and legal counsel to ensure that these educational resources are both consumer-friendly and legally accurate.

Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, Shea was a public elementary school teacher in Los Angeles and worked at an EdTech startup focused on mental health. She is dedicated to equitable, empowering learning experiences and quality healthcare for all. Shea holds a B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in Education from Stanford University.
Giovanni Florez
Senior Program Coordinator
Giovanni Florez joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2015. As Program Coordinator, Giovanni leads Medicare Rights’ low-income enrollment operations, working to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries gain access to cost-saving benefit programs. Giovanni also coordinates the New York State Medicare Savings Coalition (NYSMSC), an alliance that brings government agencies and advocates together in dialogue and provides a forum to review the latest information on implementing health care programs for Medicare beneficiaries with limited incomes. Giovanni also coordinates Medicare Rights’ membership with the Community Health Advocates (CHA), a New York State network composed of community-based organizations that works to promote access to quality and affordable health insurance for all New Yorkers.

Giovanni has a B.A. from Montclair State University and an M.P.A. from John Jay College. Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, Giovanni worked in the office of the New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). On his off time, Giovanni enjoys jogging, watching and playing futbol (aka soccer), and eating.
Gianna Giordano
Client Services Associate
Gianna Giordano joined the Medicare Rights Center in September 2020. As a Client Services Associate, Gianna serves as a helpline counselor on Medicare Rights Center’s national helpline, assists with low-income benefits and enrollment work, and provides counseling and casework as a part of Medicare Rights Center’s membership in the Independent Consumer Advocacy Network (ICAN).

Gianna graduated from Duke University in 2019 with a B.A. in Public Policy. Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru, where she worked on anemia prevention and youth sexual and reproductive health education in a rural community. Gianna comes to the Medicare Rights Center with a commitment to public service and a passion for client advocacy. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, running and spending time at the beach.
Denise Grant
Executive Assistant & 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.
Jay Johnson
Director of Outreach
Jay Johnson joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2015. His professional background in business, publishing, and education combined product, business, sales, and strategic development for organizations ranging from the New York Institute of Photography and Kaplan Education to Barnes & Noble and Thompson Learning. Jay received a Master of Arts in English Education from the University of Iowa, and his passion is real estate development.
Jake McDonald
Client Services Counsel
As Client Services Counsel, Jake McDonald supervises Medicare Rights’ casework, which provides free, intensive advocacy for Medicare beneficiaries. Jake works directly with Medicare beneficiaries to overcome complex barriers to affordable healthcare. Jake supports Medicare Rights’ national helpline staff by explaining legal concepts and collaboratively developing strategies to empower callers. In New York, he directly assists people with behavioral health and long-term care needs with the Community Health Access to Addiction and Mental Healthcare Project (CHAMP) and the Independent Consumer Advocacy Network (ICAN). He also writes advocacy materials and serves as a technical expert for the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) and, in New York, the Health Insurance Information, Counseling, and Assistance Program (HIICAP). In addition, Jake supports Medicare Rights’ policy initiatives by amplifying clients’ stories, providing legislative/regulatory analysis and comments, writing reports, and advocating with state and federal agencies and across organizations, including by coordinating the Coalition to Protect the Rights of New York’s Dually Eligible (CPRNYDE).

Formerly a teacher, Jake graduated from the University of Notre Dame and New York University’s School of Law.
Claire Mendelson
Client Services Associate
Claire Mendelson joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2018. As a Client Services Associate, Claire works directly with clients to help them navigate the Medicare system, through low-income counseling and enrollment assistance as well as through casework. Claire supervises Medicare Rights’ national helpline, working with our team of volunteers to provide kind, accurate, and immediate assistance for callers. Claire also coordinates the HIICAP program, supporting New York State Medicare professionals through case assistance and training.

Claire has a B.A. from Franklin & Marshall College in Sociology and Public Health. In her free time, Claire likes to spend time with her friends and family, go running, and listen to music.
Ellen Minton
Senior Coordinator, Operations & Finance
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.
Sarah Murdoch
Director of Client Services
Sarah Murdoch joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2014. As Director of Client Services, Sarah oversees programmatic operations of the Client Services Department. This includes the national helpline; Medicare Rights Center’s participation in state ombudsman and technical assistance programs such as New York’s Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP), Community Health Access to Addiction and Mental Healthcare Project (CHAMP), the Independent Consumer Advocacy Network (ICAN), and Community Health Advocates (CHA); and Medicare Rights Center’s volunteer and intern program. Previously, Sarah served as the Helpline & Volunteer Coordinator, managing helpline counselors who work directly with beneficiaries to advocate for access to care, services, and benefits available through Medicare and Medicaid.

Sarah has a B.S. from The University of Chicago and an M.S.W. from Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, Sarah worked at Catholic Charities Senior Services in Chicago, coordinating community-based services and home care for older adults. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys baking, hiking, and sharing time with family and friends.
Rachel Nassau
Client Services Associate
Rachel Nassau joined the Medicare Rights Center in September 2019. As a Client Services Associate, Rachel advocates for Medicare beneficiaries through counseling, low-income enrollment assistance, and casework. Rachel also supervises a shift on Medicare Rights’ national helpline, supporting volunteers as they provide counseling to resolve callers’ immediate needs. Rachel also coordinates Medicare Rights’ Plan Finder project, a service that helps beneficiaries select prescription drug insurance plans. Rachel’s other projects include analyzing helpline trends to inform Medicare Rights’ policy initiatives and processing clients’ low-income benefits applications and enrollment requests.

Rachel graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2019 with a B.A. in Anthropology and Global Health. In her free time, Rachel enjoys playing guitar, doing yoga, and reading.
Jake Nusynowitz
Client Services Associate
Jake Nusynowitz joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2020 through Avodah’s Jewish Service Corps, a year-long New York City-based program focused on fighting poverty and promoting social equity. As a Client Services Associate, Jake assists with low-income benefits and enrollment work and serves as a helpline counselor on Medicare Rights Center’s national helpline.

Jake graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a B.S. in Psychobiology in 2019. Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, Jake worked in neurosurgical research, helping patients living with spinal cord injury, at UCLA’s Semel Institute. Jake comes to the Medicare Rights Center eager to learn and passionate about ensuring equal access to healthcare. In his spare time, Jake enjoys biking, discovering new music, and video games.
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.
Casey Schwarz
Senior Counsel, Education & Federal Policy
Casey Schwarz joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2011 as Client Services Counsel. Today, as Senior Counsel, Education & Federal Policy, she helps deliver accessible and accurate education materials to Medicare beneficiaries and the professionals who serve them. She also advances Medicare Rights’ policy goals through the administrative rule-making process and supports Medicare Rights’ close working relationship with legislators and their staff. When Casey is not working, she enjoys exploring in the outdoors with her children and knitting without them. She is personally and professionally committed to reducing inequity and injustice.

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 B.A. in Biomedical Ethics from Brown University. She is admitted to the Bars of New York and Maine.
Rachel Shuman
Client Services Associate
Rachel Shuman joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2018. As a Client Services Associate, Rachel works with beneficiaries in New York State who have both Medicare and Medicaid. She provides counseling on coverage options and advocates for their access to needed medical services, durable medical equipment, and home care as a part of Medicare Rights Center’s membership in the Independent Consumer Advocacy Network (ICAN), a NY state ombudsman program for people with Medicaid who need long term care. Rachel also works to ensure that beneficiaries gain access to critical benefit programs that offset the costs of their Medicare coverage.

Rachel is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) with a degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work and a B.A. from Barnard College. Prior to working at the Medicare Rights Center, she worked at YAI, a service provider for people with developmental disabilities and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI). On her off-time, she enjoys yoga, playing with her two cats, and cooking.
Beth Shyken-Rothbart
Senior Counsel, Client Services & New York Policy
Beth Shyken-Rothbart joined Medicare Rights Center in 2013. She is Senior Counsel for Client Services and New York Policy, which allows her to further her commitment to helping people navigate complex government systems as well as make efforts to improve these systems. In her Client Services role, Beth serves as a resource to Medicare Rights staff, supporting their counseling and client work assisting Medicare beneficiaries, professionals, and caregivers. Beth oversees Medicare Rights’ participation in the Independent Consumer Advocacy Network, New York’s ombudsman program for people with Medicaid managed long-term care needs. Beth also works directly with clients advocating on their behalf to ensure access to necessary health care services and prescription drugs. In her New York Policy role, Beth works to further Medicare Right’s goal to advocate for older adults, people with disabilities and people with limited incomes in New York State. Beth’s advocacy focuses on improving integrated care for New Yorkers who have both Medicare and Medicaid.

Beth received her J.D. from CUNY School of Law. She has an M.Ed. from DePaul University and is a proud graduate of University of Michigan. Go Blue! Prior to her legal career Beth was an elementary school teacher in Chicago.
Anna Szilagyi
Outreach & Program Development Associate
Anna Szilagyi joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2018. As Outreach & Program Development Associate, she writes donor and grant communications to raise funds to support the organization’s programs. Anna also counsels people with Medicare on Medicare Rights’ national helpline, coordinates community outreach presentations, and collects client stories that illustrate the organization’s work.

Anna is an M.P.H. candidate in the Community Health program at the CUNY Graduate School for Public Health and Health Policy and has a B.A. in English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from SUNY Binghamton. 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 SUNY Binghamton’s Interpersonal Violence Prevention Office. Outside of work and school, Anna enjoys creative writing, reading, and watching reality TV.
Mira Tesla
Client Services Associate
Mira Tesla graduated from Simon’s Rock College in 2018 with a B.A. in Psychology. Prior to joining Medicare Rights Center, Mira worked as an Activity Aide in a nursing home where she developed a passion for working with the elderly. As an Avodah Corps Member, Mira is dedicated to helping underserved and vulnerable communities through direct service work. In her spare time she enjoys reading, baking, and farming.
Laurie Thomashow
Senior Client Services Associate
Laurie Thomashow joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2015. As Senior Client Services Associate, she is passionate in her commitment to advocating for older adults and people with disabilities. She is a national helpline supervisor and volunteer trainer. As part of her work at the Medicare Rights Center, Laurie counsels clients on health service denials, Medicare enrollment, and programs that help lower Medicare costs. Laurie participates in the Independent Consumer Advocacy Network (ICAN), the New York State Ombudsman program for Medicaid Managed Long Term Care, advocating for beneficiaries who have Medicare and Medicaid.

Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, Laurie interned at a mental health rehabilitation facility where she counseled younger and older adults to ensure their success in accessing health, housing, and employment benefits. Laurie has a B.S. and M.Ed. in Music Education and was a music educator. She earned her M.A. in Advanced Clinical Social Work from the Columbia University School of Social Work in 2015. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, a cappella singing, and kayaking.
Samantha Weckesser
Client Services Associate
Samantha Weckesser joined the Medicare Rights Center in 2017. As a Client Services Associate, Samantha coordinates Medicare Rights’ participation in the Community Health Access to Addiction and Mental Healthcare Project (CHAMP), the New York State Ombudsman program designed to assist individuals in accessing behavioral healthcare. Samantha also participates in the Independent Consumer Advocacy Network (ICAN), the New York State Ombudsman program for Medicaid Managed Long Term Care as a caseworker and works on complex casework on behalf of beneficiaries who have Medicare and Medicaid.

Samantha earned her B.A. in Neuroscience from Drew University and M.P.H. in Health Policy from Drexel University. She is a current doctoral student in Community Health and Health Policy at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, where she studies the impacts of toxic stress, trauma, and social policies on maternal and child health. Prior to joining the Medicare Rights Center, Samantha 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 Philadelphia public schools and advocacy work on behalf of new mothers living with depression.
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.
Emily Whicheloe
Director of Education
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.
Joe Baker
President Emeritus
Joe Baker is currently the President Emeritus of the Medicare Rights Center and served as its President from June 2009 to May 2019. He served as a member of The National Quality Forum’s Measures Application Partnership Coordinating Committee after previously serving on the Dual Eligible Beneficiaries Workgroup. Mr. Baker also had 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.

Board of Directors

The Medicare Rights Center’s Board of Directors is comprised of distinguished individuals with diverse professional backgrounds and a shared commitment to ensuring that older adults and people with disabilities can access the affordable health care they need.