Risa Breckman, LCSW: Executive Director
Risa has developed training materials and protocols utilized internationally, and has trained thousands of professionals across disciplines and career levels in elder abuse detection, assessment and intervention. In 1982, Risa established an elder abuse program for NYC’s (then) Victim Services Agency (now Safe Horizon), and later for the Queens DA’s office and a NYC-based hospital. She established the country’s first elder abuse victim support group and developed a conceptual framework for guiding assessment and interventions adopted internationally. Risa co-wrote the AMA guidelines on elder abuse, is the co-author of the seminal book guiding interventions, Strategies for Helping Victims of Elder Mistreatment and numerous other publications addressing this topic. A psychotherapist trained at the Albert Ellis Institute, she integrates cognitive-behavioral therapeutic approaches to assessment and interventions with elder abuse victims. Currently, she is working with the Department for Justice and others to develop a roadmap for the elder justice field utilizing concept mapping methodology. In addition to her work with NYCEAC, Risa is an Assistant Professor of Gerontological Social Work in Medicine and Director of Social Work Programs and Education in the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. Visit Risa’s Linkedin page here.
Kasey Brown: Program Assistant
Kasey serves as the Program Assistant for the NYC Elder Abuse Center. She manages day-to-day administrative concerns, assists with website management, provides administrative support to NYCEAC’s MDTs, and oversees the Risk and Resiliency Internship Project. Kasey received a B.A. in Theater, Psychology from Boston College, and is currently an MSW candidate at Fordham University. To contact Kasey, click here.
Elder Abuse Multidisciplinary Teams
Peg Horan, LMSW: Elder Abuse Prevention Specialist & MDT Coordinator
Peg is the Elder Abuse Prevention Specialist and Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) Coordinator for the New York City Elder Abuse Center (NYCEAC). She coordinates its MDTs in Manhattan and Brooklyn, consults on elder abuse cases with government and community-based agencies, and trains on elder abuse identification and intervention. Previously, she worked in the Domestic Violence Bureau of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office (Brooklyn), where she ran its flagship program for people with disabilities who were physically or sexually assaulted. Later, as the D.A.’s Elder Abuse Unit Coordinator, Peg worked with older adults who were assaulted, abused, threatened and financially exploited by someone they knew or trusted. Peg also worked at YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities, where she was a field social worker for people with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities in the Bronx and Manhattan. Peg received an M.S. from the Columbia University School of Social Work in 1998. She is an accredited field instructor for social work students. To contact Peg, click here.
Mark Lachs, MD, MPH: Medical Director
An internist and geriatrician, Mark is the Irene and Roy Psaty Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College and Co-Chief of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, and the Director of Geriatrics for the New York Presbyterian Health System. Both a clinician and researcher, Mark has conducted numerous studies of elder abuse outcomes and epidemiology, and he is principal investigator of the largest longitudinal study of elder abuse victims which was funded by the National Institutes on Aging. He is also the co-principal investigator of the NYS Prevalence Study, funded by the NYS Family & Children’s Trust Fund. His other interests include resident-to-resident abuse in long term care, abuse committed by paid home care providers, and self-neglect in older people. His many accolades and awards include a Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholarship (the country’s preeminent career development award in Geriatric Medicine), a National Institutes on Aging Academic Leadership Award and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse Rosalie Wolf Ward. A co-author of the American Medical Association’s Diagnostic and Treatment Guidelines on Elder Abuse and Neglect, he has testified before congress on matters related to aging, served as a consultant to the World Health Organization on an international screening study of elder abuse, and been a member of a congressionally mandated National Academy of Sciences Panel convened by an order of congress to address the training needs of health care professionals in domestic violence. Mark mentors junior faculty in the area of elder abuse and neglect, and maintains an active geriatric medicine practice in New York City. In September 2010, Penguin Viking published his book Treat Me, Not My Age: A Doctor’s Guide to Getting the Best Care as You or a Loved One Gets Older (www.treatmenotmyage.com). Visit Mark’s Linkedin page here.
Veronica LoFaso, MD: MDT Geriatrician
Ronnie is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital within the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. She provides geriatric medicine consultations to NYCEAC’s multidisciplinary teams, serving to help the teams evaluate and respond to the myriad medical issues that are presented to them. In addition, she has developed and conducted numerous elder abuse trainings for a variety of institutions throughout the greater New York City area and beyond. Ronnie has presented at national conferences, has conducted workshops on a broad range of topics related to elder abuse, and has managed cases of elder abuse in New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Geriatrics out-patient practice as well as in the homebound population as Former Director, Home Visit Program in the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.
Robert Abrams, MD: MDT Geropsychiatrist
Robert is a Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and attending psychiatrist in the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. He also maintains an outpatient practice in geriatric psychiatry at the Wright Center on Aging. Robert graduated from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and completed his residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He provides consultation to NYCEAC’s multidisciplinary teams on mental health and aging. His research focuses on geriatric depression, personality disorders, suicide, and elder abuse, with further investigation into the clinical significance of personality disorders as a possible future indicator of relapse for depression. A personal interest in humanities led Robert to publish several articles on the underestimated contribution of geriatric depression to Queen Victoria’s death, weaving together the seldom explored territory of psychiatry and historical studies. In 2007, Robert was awarded the nationally recognized Clinician of the Year award by the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry.
Nancy Needell, MD: MDT Geropsychiatrist
Nancy is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. After completing a residency in General Psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where she served as chief resident, she completed additional training in both forensic and geriatric psychiatry. Nancy has worked in the prison and legal systems, as well as in in-patient, out-patient, and emergency psychiatry. Presently, Nancy is Medical Director of the Weill Cornell Psychiatric Mobile Crisis Unit. She is also an active participant in the multidisciplinary teams aimed at reducing elder abuse, and in other initiatives focused on the older population. In addition, Nancy serves on the Medical Ethics Committee at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and maintains a private forensic psychiatry consulting practice.
Stephanie Bain, Social Media Manager
Debra Askanse, MBA: Digital Management Consultant
Debra is NYCEAC’s Digital Engagement Consultant. Debra is the founder and Digital Engagement Strategist at Community Organizer 2.0, a digital and social media consulting firm to nonprofit organizations, specializing in online strategy and engagement. She is also a partner in Matterness Consulting with author and social media strategist Allison Fine. In both ventures, Debra brings a passion for digital engagement. Debra uses this passion to help stakeholders be known, heard, and valued. Debra applies her passion for digital engagement in her work for NYCEAC. Debra supervises NYCEAC’s social media strategy, oversees the work conducted by the Social Media Manager, and reviews NYCEAC’s social media footprint to analyze and develop strategies for increasing NYCEAC’s impact and outreach.
Pam Ansell, MSW: Project Coordinator
Pam is the Coordinator for NYCEAC’s Pilot Project to Develop an Interview Tool for APS to Gather Information about Clients’ Decision-making Abilities. In this role, she works closely with a team of dedicated professionals to develop a standardized interview tool and train APS caseworkers and supervisors on its use. Pam has contributed to NYCEAC’s social media campaign efforts and the development of an elder abuse video clip series with elder justice experts from diverse fields and backgrounds. Within the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, Pam provides administrative and strategic planning support to the Palliative Care Consultation Service initiatives. Additionally, Pam spearheadeds the Geriatric Fellows Psychosocial Consortium, bringing together 19 NYC-area geriatric fellowship programs to strengthen psychosocial education for geriatric fellows. Her responsibilities include overseeing the Consortium’s annual conference.