• WIHD staff members

Executive Officers


Dr. Fox joined WIHD as President and CEO in 2016. She previously served as Associate Director and Clinical Assistant Professor at the Institute on Disability, University of New Hampshire, a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). In this role she managed the organization’s UCEDD and State Core grants, handled human resources and personnel matters, and led strategic planning and implementation of the IOD’s strategic plan. Dr. Fox has been successful in bridging relationships between aging and disability which resulted in the founding of the Center on Aging and Community Living at the University of New Hampshire where she served as Director.

Dr. Fox served as the state director for developmental disabilities services in New Hampshire for five years. Some of her most significant accomplishments in that role were the development of an In-Home Support waiver for children with significant developmental and medical needs; the implementation of New Hampshire’s Medicaid Buy-In program for working adults; and the development of New Hampshire’s first Olmstead Plan. She also has experience in a broad range of community settings providing supports and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, acquired brain disorders, physical disabilities, mental health, and who are aging.  Her lifelong work has been dedicated to assuring that individuals with disabilities and their families are able to realize their dreams and live full and meaningful lives in their communities.

Dr. Fox has a Master’s Degree in Education Leadership focusing on Special Education Administration from Lesley University and a second Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of New Hampshire, with an emphasis on aging and caregiving.


Dr. O’Hara joined WIHD as Associate Director in 1987 and served as Acting Director from 1993 to 1994.  He was the Chief Operating Officer from 2008 to 2015, and then acted as Interim President and CEO from February 2015 to June 2016. From 1993 to 2003, Dr. O’Hara served as the Program Director for the Assistive Technology Certificate program in the NYMC School of Health Sciences and Practice. Dr. O’Hara also served as the interim Executive Director of the Virgin Islands, UCEDD in 2004.Dr. O’Hara served on the AUCD Board of Directors for several years. He is the current co-chair of the International Committee and past chair the Interdisciplinary Council. Dr. O’Hara has been a member of UCEDD site visit teams and a consultant to the Universities of Hawaii, Maine, and the Virgin Islands in developing applications to become new UCEDD programs. From 1988-1990, he was the co-chair of the NYS Department of Health, Commissioner’s Advisory Council on Children with Special Health Care Needs. He has served as the chair of grant review panels for the Administration on Children and Families and as a grant reviewer for the MCHB.

Dr. O’Hara has a longstanding interest in the health care needs of children in foster care and was a member of a special task force created by the American Academy of Pediatrics, District II, New York State, which authored a nationally adopted set of standards for health care providers for children in foster care, Fostering Health: Health Care for Children in Foster Care. He has served as a consultant to the Government of Dubai assisting with the planning for the creation of a Center of Excellence for Individuals with Disabilities. Currently Dr. O’Hara conducts research on the health disparities of individuals with intellectual disabilities and the potential of new smart assistive technologies to create better access to more effective health care and improved outcomes. He is currently working to develop accessible models of health education to create functional health literacy for individuals with intellectual disabilities and accessible self-report surveys on patient satisfaction with their health care experience.

Dr. O’Hara has recently been selected as a Health Information Technology (HIT) Fellow by the Office of the National Coordinator of HIT at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. O’Hara was nominated by consultants from the Regional Extension Center on HIT for New York State, based on the innovative work being done at WIHD on accessible patient experience surveys, and health education and health promotion materials for use on smart technologies, such as iPads and Android devices. Dr. O’Hara is one of just 12 fellows selected for 2014-2015.


Marianne Ventrice was appointed Chief Financial Officer of Westchester Institute for Human Development (“WIHD”) upon the organization’s spin off from Westchester County Health Care Corp. in 2005. Ms. Ventrice has led WIHD through the initial phases of an independent organization and continues at the helm as the Vice President for Finance and Administration as WIHD continues to grow and develop both existing and new program initiatives. She has amassed over 25 years of experience in the accounting and finance field and obtained her Certified Public Accountancy license in 1991. Prior to her tenure with WIHD Ms. Ventrice was the Manager of Fiscal Operations for Westchester County Health Care Corp, Controller for the Home Care Division of the Catholic Medical Center of Brooklyn and Queens, and an Audit and Assurance Manager at the Big 4 accounting firm KPMG LLP. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Manhattan College.


Dr. Tricia Patrick was appointed Chief Academic Officer and Co-UCEDD Director of WIHD in 2020; she previously served as WIHD’s Director of Research since 2014. Dr. Patrick is an epidemiologist by training, having completed her MPH and DrPH at New York Medical College in 2003 and 2010, respectively. In her current and past professional positions, Dr. Patrick collaborates with faculty and staff from a variety of clinical and program areas in designing and implementing research projects as well as in writing abstracts, manuscripts and grants. In addition to identifying and guiding the organization’s research agenda, Dr. Patrick supports student engagement at WIHD and facilitates relationships with affiliated universities and colleges. As Co-UCEDD Director, her duties include developing, implementing and reporting on activities conducted under our UCEDD grant.

Board Members

The role of the Board is to ensure that WIHD acts in accordance with its mission through meaningful oversight of operations and policy guidance in a way that assures integrity and effective management without leading to board involvement in WIHD’s day-to-day activities. Board members are elected for three-year terms, with officer elections held annually. The Board meets at least every other month, with several special focus meetings during the year.


Vera Halpenny has been an advocate and supporter of individuals with various levels of ability for over 30 years. She has been actively involved with WIHD for over 12 years as an Advisory Committee member and as consumer of its services for many more.  She has served on the Community Services Board of Westchester county since 2007 advocating for services for individuals with I/DD. She was an adjunct professor at Iona College, teaching social work. As Chief Program Officer  at YAI, Ms. Halpenny spearheaded a Diversity and Inclusion process and worked with an Emerging Leadership Team to manage the succession plans for the executive level.

Monica Sganga is Director of a privately owned property management company.  A resident of Westchester since 1990, Ms. Sganga has a strong volunteer history in the community and schools in her home community of Edgemont and in neighboring Yonkers.  She is currently serving on the Edgemont School Board.  Ms. Sganga earned a BS in Business Administration from Miami University.

Dr. Juster is the Senior Associate Dean for Admissions and Chair of the Committee on Admissions at New York Medical College (NYMC). She is a senior member in the Department of Pediatrics at NYMC where she holds an academic appointment as Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics. Dr. Juster is an attending on staff at the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. As a practicing pediatrician, Dr. Juster is focused on the needs of underserved children, particularly children with chronic medical and psychiatric disorders.

Dr. Buhler has been a Professor and Program Director of the Communication Disorders Program at Mercy College since 2006 as well as serving as the college’s liaison to WIHD’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) program and advisory board.  She has been a practicing pediatric speech language pathologist for 45 years working with children with developmental disabilities, in a variety of settings, including private practice.  She has published in several journals and has presented over 40 workshops at state and national conferences. Dr. Buhler is the founding member of the Healing the Children Northeast Speech Team and serves on their board.  She has traveled on 16 global medical missions with graduate students to Peru, Columbia, India, Ethiopia, and Thailand.   Dr. Buhler is a graduate of Duquesne University, B.S. English, Long Island University, M.S. Speech Language Pathology and holds her Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Learning from Fordham University.

Walt Fowler is a lifelong resident of Westchester County, and a small business owner who has been a long-time volunteer for several non-profit organizations dedicated to individuals with disabilities. Prior to serving on the Board of Directors, he was a member of the WIHD Community Advisory Committee for approximately twelve years. When WIHD became independent in July 2005, Mr. Fowler was a founding member of the board and Treasurer during the transition to independence.

Catherine Funk retired from a career in publishing more than twenty years ago, to raise her three children.  As a life-long Westchester resident, Ms. Funk has been very involved in volunteer work in her community, including the local pre-school and public school, Girl Scouts, and her church.  She and her husband founded a not-for-profit organization, American Friends of Enlace, to improve education outcomes in Guatemala.  In addition to serving on the Board of WIHD, and American Friends of Enlace, Ms. Funk is a mentor and graduation coach in the Yonkers public school system through the organization, Yonkers Partners in Education. Ms. Funk holds a B.S. in Psychology from Tulane University.

Dr. Gardner is the agency pediatrician for two programs at The Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, NY. The first is the TRAC program which keeps minors who are awaiting immigration status decisions. The second is the SILP program which provides housing and living skills for older youth who are homeless or transitioning from Foster Care. Dr. Gardner is the District Medical Officer for the Valhalla Union Free School District in Valhalla, NY. She is also an Associate Clinical Professor at New York Medical College and a practicing Pediatrician in White Plains, NY.

Anne C. Gilmartin is Executive Director of Human Resources at Mercy College. She is responsible for the planning and overall management of various human resources disciplines at the college. She has extensive experience in areas of employee relations, employment law, diversity and affirmative action/equal opportunity. Prior to joining Mercy College in 2013, she served as Global HR Business Unit Lead at IBM Corporation in Armonk, responsible for the implementation and management of all human resource activities of IBM’s Global General Business organization. Anne is a graduate of Iona College and holds a law degree from Pace University.

Jasmine Hernandez is a private practice attorney and principal in the Law Office of Jasmine Hernandez. She holds a J.D. from the UCLA School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in communications from the University of Southern California. Hernandez, who is of Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian descent, is a Bronx native who is passionate about serving her community. Her practice focuses on family law. She has previously served as a mentor for the National Latino Bar Association, the Vice President Chair of the National Latina/o Law Students Association and on the national board of Omega Phi Beta sorority. She values community service and hosts the Collective for A Cause Yonkers Annual Coat Drive in the Fall.

Anish Nanavaty executes a variety of consulting engagements with large global corporations through his company, Free Ion Advisors, LLC. Typical engagements undertaken by Anish leverage his experience in business strategy, advanced analytics, decision sciences, digital transformation, process reengineering and automation, shared services, and outsourcing.

Anish has a bachelor’s degree in Science and Economics from the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in the New York City area with his wife and two children.

Frances Rao is an executive with nearly 20 years of experience directing privacy, compliance, and audit programs for large healthcare enterprises. Her background and education is in telecommunications and computer sciences. She has proven expertise in establishing high quality, practical and scalable compliance programs that support business strategies and operations. A collaborative and decisive leader with ability to influence all levels of organization, Rao will be a great asset to WIHD’s Board of Directors.

Aaron C. Velez is a former WIHD intern and employee working in the Child Welfare Department and later as the Institute’s Health IT Manager. Aaron is a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) graduate and has remained connected to WIHD as an advocate and fundraiser. Aaron is committed to helping the organization continue in its mission of advocacy and education. Aaron obtained a Master’s Degree from Columbia University School of Social Work and currently manages two Houlihan Lawrence Real Estate Offices in Somers and Brewster.

Dr. Frishman serves as Chairman and Professor of Medicine Emeritus at New York Medical College, and is currently a co-principal investigator of the federally-funded Women’s Health Initiative. He has served as an investigator in multiple NIH studies, and been the recipient of many national awards for excellence in teaching, as well as the Medical Humanism Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Community Advisory Committee

The WIHD Community Advisory Committee is appointed by the Board of Directors for their knowledge and dedication, and includes individuals with disabilities, family members, representatives of State protection and advocacy systems, developmental disabilities councils, state service agency directors, local agencies, private nonprofit groups concerned with providing services for persons with developmental disabilities, and other individuals with expressed interest in the field. Appointment terms are three years. Every other year, the Committee elects a Chair and Vice-Chair for a two-year term. The full Committee meets regularly at least four times per year, and the Executive Committee meets more frequently as needed.

Rich Laine, Chair
Simone Lawrence, Vice-Chair
Ken Agni
Kimberly Berg
Chris Bevilacqua

Debbie Buny
Kenny Burr
Karla Diaz
Jill Faber
Julie Keegan

Brendan Klein
Debbie Newman
Michael Orth
Angela Picardo
Jaclyn Rattner
Maria Samuels

Program Directors

Director of Community Support Network
Coordinator of Policy

Regulatory Compliance and Quality Improvement Officer

Director of LEND Program (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities)
Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator

Medical Director

Director of Philanthropy & Community Engagement

Director of Speech and Hearing

Human Resources Manager

Director of Assistive Technology

Director of Psychology Training

Director of Early Intervention

Director of Dental Services

Co-Director of Psychology Training

Director of Child Welfare Services
Director of Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)