Board of Directors

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, LCSW
CHAIR

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
VICE-CHAIR & SECRETARY
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.

FERN JUSTER, MD
TREASURER
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.

HELEN BUHLER, PHD
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.

WALTER FOWLER
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
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.

TRACI F. GARDNER, MD
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
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
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
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
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 VELEZ
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.

WILLIAM H. FRISHMAN, MD
EMERITUS
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.