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 22 years. She has designed and implemented educational, social service, and leadership programs for older adults. She is a certified HIICAP (Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program) counselor. 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 the Retail Industry in Visual Merchandising for companies such as Speedo, Liz Claiborne and NEXT. As the President of the Knickerbocker Tennis Foundation, Joan oversees several youth tennis initiatives and develops programming that teaches children ages 5 to 18 tennis skills with an emphasis on making tennis more accessible to all.
Emily Akpan, Community Outreach & Digital Organizer
Emily Akpan is the Community Outreach and Digital Organizer for NY StateWide’s Central New York Health Task Force Initiative. She comes with experience as a nonprofit consultant, helping organizations grow their impact through digital outreach and communications. As the Community Outreach and Digital Organizer of the CNY Health Task Force, Emily will be building healthcare advocacy groups in all eight Central NY counties. These health task forces will address healthcare priorities in their community through civic engagement, education and advocacy with elected and administrative officials.
Sarah Jane Blake, Outreach Counselor
Sarah Jane Blake joined StateWide in 2011 as Tompkins County Outreach Counselor. She counsels older New Yorkers about Medicare options and rights as health care consumers; coordinates educational events in Central and Northern New York communities; and supports – with great pleasure – the newly organized Tompkins County StateWide Chapter.
She previously worked as Retirement Services Coordinator at Lifelong (Tompkins County Senior Citizen Council) in Ithaca, NY and later became the Tompkins County Health Insurance Information Counseling Assistance Program (HIICAP) Coordinator. She is a certified HIICAP (Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program) counselor in New York State.
She grew up in Maine and received her B.A. in English from the University of Maine. She received her J.D. from Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, New Hampshire.
Sarah Jane thoroughly enjoys long distance bicycling; will never be without a cat; and is delighted to have made the career change from law to working with older adults. Older is indeed Bolder!
Gene Dumlao, Outreach Counselor
Gene joined the staff in February, 2011 and is one of the staff experts that responds to the Patients Rights Hotline calls. He 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 New York State. He honed his skills and knowledge on their Helpline then served his last four years there as an EPIC Outreach Field Representative. Previously, he was with IBM in Dallas, TX serving as a Customer Fulfillment Professional. Gene also was the Distribution 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, Coordinator Patient Advocates Program
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.
Gail Myers, Deputy Director
Gail joined the staff of New York StateWide Senior Action Council in April 2011, with the title of Special Projects Developer. 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, serves as a liaison to the Capital District Senior Issues Forum and serves on the NYS DOH 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.
Bethann Nelson, Director, NYS Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP)
Beth joined StateWide in July 2018 as an Outreach Counselor and was promoted to the Director of the Senior Medicare Patrol Program in October 2019. Beth Has numerous years of experience in working with the Senior Population, specifically as a Service Coordinator in HUD subsidized housing. Beth also worked for Erie County Department of Senior Services in their cluster offices in South Buffalo and Amherst. Beth serves as a mentor for the WNY Service Coordinator Association, and is a member of the Council of Elder Abuse in both Niagara County and Erie County.
Leslie Sierra, Outreach Counselor
Leslie joined the Staff of State Wide Senior Action Council in April 2012. She comes with over 20 years experience working with the senior population. She started the Brooklyn Caregivers Program while a Sr. Case Manger for The Institute for Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly. She was responsible for and facilitated one of the first support groups for caregivers in Brooklyn, N.Y. She was the first of many to recognize and honor caregivers for the unpaid work they do in the borough of Brooklyn. She trained and educated over 500 seniors and staff on crime prevention, elder abuse, and financial abuse for the Ft. Greene Senior Citizens Council as a Crime Prevention Specialist/ Case Manager. She is a certified HIICAP (Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program) counselor. Leslie Sierra is President of the Board of Directors for a 325 unit Co-op in the borough of Brooklyn and she is also an ardent wedding and event planner. Keeping seniors and communities educated, informed, and empowered is key to seniors aging in place.
In addition to our direct staff, StateWide works with consultants to provide the expertise necessary to advance our Mission.
Eric Hausman is an Independent Consultant specializing in Medicare Education and Training. He has conducted hundreds of Medicare presentations since 1998 on all aspects of Medicare and related insurance, both to groups of people with Medicare and to professionals. Over the last ten years, he has served as the Lead Trainer for the HIICAP program in New York State, providing training and technical assistance to Medicare counselors throughout the state. He previously worked in the Medicare operations of Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield (Wellpoint). Eric holds both his BBA and MBA degrees from Baruch College in Manhattan. He loves to talk to people about Medicare.
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