Staff & Consultants
María Alvarez, Executive Director
María Alvarez has worked with senior citizens groups as an organizer, advocate, and director of housing and caregivers programs for over 30 years. She has designed and implemented educational, social service, and leadership programs for older adults. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Marquette University and a Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Management from the New School for Social Research where she was a Sloan Fellow.
Joan Akpan, Media/Marketing
Joan has a comprehensive background in communications with 20+ years leading client relations to integrated marketing and project execution. Her experience includes working in the Advertising industry in Seattle and New York City, managing clients such as American Standard and Disney. She also worked in Visual Merchandising for Speedo and Liz Claiborne. Joan also oversees several youth tennis initiatives developing programs focused on making tennis more accessible to all.
Sarah Askew, Outreach Counselor
Sarah Askew grew up in Oswego County and currently resides in Tompkins County. She graduated from SUNY Oswego with a degree in English literature and did graduate work in social issues. Sarah has worked in the health care and human services fields for over 10 years. She is passionate about helping people and being a force for positive change in the world.
Stefania Buta, Program Development Coordinator
Stefania is a proud resident of Central NY and attended college at SUNY Cortland. She later received her Masters in Public Health from Columbia University. She comes to StateWide with a background in research methodologies and experience with domestic and international community resilience initiatives. In her free time, Stefania enjoys spending time outdoors with her family and her rescue dog, Toby.
Tiffany Erhard, Senior Medicare Patrol Director
Tiffany resides in Western New York and attended college at Jamestown Business College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Marketing. She has a decade’s experience working with seniors one-on-one in a variety of settings. Recently she worked with Senior Life Matters honing her skills assisting seniors with healthcare and other aspects of aging. She is on the committee of Journey to Active Aging and is passionate about helping people in any situation.
Gene Dumlao, Outreach Counselor
Gene joined the staff in 2011 and provides counseling on Medicare benefits and the EPIC program to help enrollees make informed choices. He is a certified HIICAP (Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program) counselor. Prior to that, Gene assisted seniors for five years at EPIC, the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage plan for NYS. He honed his skills and knowledge on their Helpline and EPIC Outreach Field Representative. Previously, he was with IBM in Dallas, TX serving as a Customer Fulfillment Professional and Warehouse Manager for Diamond Distribution out of Laredo, TX. Gene has been solving issues and doing what is right and fair for organizations and members for over thirty years.
Marcus Harazin, Patient Advocates Program Coordinator
Marcus Harazin is implementing StateWide’s initiative on Patient Advocacy. A lifetime member of StateWide who has recently retired as Deputy Director of the NYS Office for the Aging, Marcus will be making presentations throughout the state to help seniors negotiate the health care system and collect information to inform policy makers about needed changes in the health care delivery system.
Beata Karpinska-Prehn, Outreach Counselor
Beata Karpinska-Prehn came to the U.S. in the 80’s from Poland as a political refugee. She served as an Americore national service volunteer, resettling other refugees and has worked for over 25 years at the independent living center in Syracuse, advocating for disability rights, access to benefits, transportation, healthcare, and affordable and accessible housing. Beata also coordinated the NY Connects program in the Syracuse area and serves as a Council Member on the NYS Independent Living Council.
Gail Myers, Deputy Director
Gail joined the staff of New York StateWide Senior Action Council in April 2011. In 2013 she was named Deputy Director. She is a certified HIICAP (Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program) counselor, a certified Long Term Care Ombudsman, and has served on the NYS Dept. of Health DSRIP CBO/Cultural Competency Workgroup. Gail has more than three decades experience working to improve health and human service programs and as a public relations specialist. Prior to joining the staff of StateWide, Gail was appointed by Governor Spitzer to serve as the Special Assistant for Community Affairs and Public Participation at the New York State Office for the Aging. In prior years, she was the political director for the Medical Society of the State of New York, the principal lobbyist for the New York State Nurses Association, and legislative assistant to the Chairman of the NYS Assembly Ways & Means Committee. She is currently serving as President of Bethlehem Neighbors, a neighbor helping neighbor “village” in Albany County.
Jarol Rivera, Outreach Counselor
Jarol has called “The Big Apple” home for over a decade. He graduated from CUNY Lehman College with a degree in Cultural Anthropology. He has a background in public health detailing, case management, and emerging migrant communities in NYC. He recently served as Health & Wellness Advisor, coaching people of all ages in healthy living. When not helping others, Jarol enjoys playing volleyball, travelling, and playing the piano at his local choir. “
Candy Rivera-Whitehead, Outreach Counselor
Candy is a long-time resident of the Capital Region and recently joined the StateWide Senior Action Council team in June. She is a dedicated and compassionate Outreach Counselor who has worked with the senior population for 35 years. Candy began her Outreach career in 1987 with the inception of the NYS EPIC Program where she continued to work for 27 years, educating seniors throughout New York State on the cost saving benefits of EPIC. After leaving NYS EPIC, Candy worked with a Medicare health plan for 8 yrs. where she became proficient in educating, assisting and guiding “New to Medicare” members through the basics of Medicare and selecting a plan that met their needs.
Leslie Sierra, Outreach Counselor
Leslie joined the Staff of StateWide in April 2012. She comes with over 20 years experience working with the senior population and is a certified HIICAP counselor. She started the Brooklyn Caregivers Program while a Sr. Case Manager for The Institute for Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly and was responsible for one of the first support groups for caregivers in Brooklyn. She was the first of many to recognize and honor caregivers for the unpaid work they do in the borough of Brooklyn. As a Crime Prevention Specialist, Leslie trained over 500 seniors and staff on crime prevention, elder abuse, and financial abuse for the Ft. Greene Senior Citizens Council. Leslie is also President of the Board of Directors for a 325 unit Co-op in Brooklyn and an ardent wedding and event planner.
Aaron Snyder, Outreach Counselor
Aaron lives and works in Western New York and has a Bachelor’s in Anthropology from the University of Buffalo. He has worked in healthcare for over a decade in a variety of fields, most recently as a caseworker and assessor for individuals with developmental disabilities. He is passionate about helping folks to navigate the complicated world of healthcare to ensure the best possible outcomes. In his free time he enjoys writing for tabletop roleplaying games and cooking.
In addition to our direct staff, StateWide works with consultants to provide the expertise necessary to advance our Mission.
Dr. Cynthia Rudder
Dr. Cynthia Rudder has been a longtime advocate for nursing home residents in NYS since 1979. Dr. Rudder was a Founder and Director of LTCCC (fka) Nursing Home Community Coalition of New York State from 1982 to 2012, and is continuing her advocacy work with a number of organizations fighting for a good quality of life and care for our most vulnerable citizens. She has received a number of awards for her research and advocacy, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from CMS in April, 2013; Director’s Distinguished Achievement in Aging Award for Advocacy and Protecting the Rights of the Elderly from the NYS Office for the Aging in 2010. She has been or is a member of many state and federal advisory groups and with grants from numerous foundations and governments. She has published a number of reports and articles on nursing homes and assisted living.
FEDERAL ACTION ALERT – ASK NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP TO EXPAND CANCER SCREENING FOR SENIORS THIS YEAR
Ask New York Congressional Leadership to Expand Cancer Screening for Seniors This Year. The Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act (S.2085/H.R.2407) allows for Medicare coverage of multi-cancer early-detection screening tests. Without it,...
TOPIC: New Health Insurance Option for Undocumented Immigrants Aged 65 and Older Date: Tuesday, January 30, 2024 Time: 10:00 AM—11:00 AM Speaker: Megan Gagliardi, Assistant Director, Bureau of Community Enrollment and Eligibility Processing, NYS Department of Health...