Administrative Staff

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.

 Zachary Herman: Program Assistant

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Zachary serves as the Program Assistant for the NYC Elder Abuse Center. He manages day-to-day administrative concerns, assists with website management, contributes editorial support for NYCEAC’s blog and oversees the Risk and Resiliency Internship Project. Zachary received a B.A. in politics from Brandeis University, where he also worked as a research analyst. To contact Zachary, click here.

Elder Abuse Multidisciplinary Teams

Peg Horan, LMSW: Elder Abuse Prevention Specialist & MDT Coordinator

PegHoranPeg is the Elder Abuse Prevention Specialist and Multdisciplinary 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.

 Medical Staff

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 ( Visit Mark’s Linkedin page here.

Veronica LoFaso, MD: MDT Geriatrician

Ronnie is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, 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.

Social Media

Talitha Guinn, Social Media Manager

Talitha GuinnTalitha serves as the Social Media Manager for the NYC Elder Abuse Center.  Talitha writes and coordinates content for the Elder Justice Dispatch: Engaging Professionals to Prevent Elder Abuse blog, conducts interviews for the Podcast series and manages social media networking. Prior to this, she was the Director of the Elder Abuse Prevention program at the Institute on Aging, while serving as the Director of the San Francisco Elder Abuse Forensic Center.  She has previously served the National Center on Elder Abuse as a consultant, generating content for their social media outreach and educational efforts. Visit Talitha’s Linkedin page here.

Debra Askanse, MBA: Digital Management Consultant

Debra%202015%20NTC%20headshot%20250x149 copyDebra 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.

Special Projects

Pam Ansell, MSW: Project Coordinator

Pam Ansell PhotoPam 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.