Partners for Health Foundation Elects Board Chair and Officers for 2024-2025

Congratulations to Sara Elnakib, PhD, MPH, RDN, who has been elected Chair of the Partners for Health Foundation Board of Trustees for 2024 and 2025. She has served as a Partners for Health Trustee since 2019, and most recently was the Board’s Second Vice Chair.

Dr. Elnakib is an Educator/Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Family & Community Health Sciences at Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Her research focuses on the use of policy, systems, and environmental approaches to promote child health equity and environmental stewardship, primarily in school and community settings. Sara has received research funding from the USDA, EPA, NJDEP and Horizon Foundation to research the intersection of nutrition literacy, environmental education, and healthy eating. Her dissertation focused on food waste in the school setting and how behavioral economics can be leveraged to reduce food waste. She completed her doctoral degree in Social and Behavioral Health Science at Rutgers School of Public Health. Sara is also a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), has a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Health Education and Behavioral Sciences from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and completed her undergraduate degree in Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University.

The Foundation’s newly elected leadership also includes:  First Vice Chair:  Paula A. Gutierrez, MHA, Senior Director, Social Care and Partnerships at Cityblock Health in Brooklyn, NY; Second Vice Chair: Tekeyah Sears, EdD, MPH, MCHES, Founder/CEO of It Begins with I AM, LLC; Secretary:  Beverly M. Riddick, Chief Operations Officer at the Urban Resource Institute in New York, NY; Treasurer:  Michael P. Mazza, Managing Director, Wealth Advisor, Guy-Mazza Team at Neuberger Berman in New York, NY.

Sara Elnakib, newly elected Chair of the Partners for Health Board of Trustees, is congratulated by outgoing Chair, Doug Bauer, at the Foundation’s December 2023 Board meeting.
Sara Elnakib, newly elected Board Chair, is congratulated by outgoing Chair Doug Bauer

Toothache: The Painful Truth About Oral Health Care Inequity, a KinderSmile Documentary

KinderSmile Foundation, a nonprofit organization providing barrier-free oral health education and dental care in Bloomfield, Newark, and Trenton, New Jersey, announces the dual premiere of their documentary Toothache: The Painful Truth about Oral Health Care Inequity.

Toothache exposes the gap in access to oral health care and forges innovative solutions for a healthier future. KinderSmile Foundation Founder and CEO Dr. Nicole McGrath-Barnes stated, “We are bringing attention to the need for broad access to oral health care and education, regardless of a patient’s means or zip code, and advocating for steps we can take to bring profound change.”

Dental disease is the leading epidemic among low-income families. Research links periodontal disease to diabetes, heart disease, respiratory infections, and dementia. Dental caries inhibit your ability to eat, sleep, learn, play, and work.

Partners for Health Foundation is sponsoring Toothache’s North Jersey premiere and panel discussion on Thursday, November 9, from 7 – 9 PM at The Clairidge Theater in Montclair. Pam Scott, Executive Director of Partners for Health Foundation, shared, “We are proud to support this screening and panel discussion and to help fund the creation of this documentary. This film will raise awareness of the deep inequities in access to oral health care in New Jersey and across the nation. We hope that NJ legislators will heed this critical public service message and advance policies to provide comprehensive oral health care for all New Jerseyans.”

“We are incredibly grateful to Partners for Health Foundation for the continued support over the last 15 years, and for sharing KinderSmile Foundation’s mission of advancing health equity in New Jersey,” stated KinderSmile Foundation’s COO, Dr. Michal Herman.

There is no charge to attend the Montclair screening on November 9, thanks to sponsorship support from Partners for Health. However, tickets are limited and pre-registration is required. Click HERE to reserve your tickets.

KinderSmile Foundation will honor Dr. Sara Kalambur, DDS, a pioneer advocate for expanding access to care, KSF Board Secretary, and volunteer provider, at the Montclair screening. Dorrie Gagnon, RDH, will be honored for being a KinderSmile Foundation leader, volunteer provider, and Board member.

The Central Jersey premiere will be on Saturday, October, 21, from 5 – 9:30 PM the Social Profit Center in Hamilton, NJ. After the screening, they will host a panel conversation with local health and community experts featured in the film, followed by a cocktail party and live jazz to celebrate KinderSmile Foundation’s major milestone.

At the Hamilton screenings, KinderSmile Foundation will honor Dr. Darwin Hayes, DDS MHA FAGD, for his work to make dental care and oral health education more accessible, and a priority in New Jersey. Deborah Sands Gartenberg of The George H. and Estelle M. Sands Foundation will be honored for being the catalyst of KinderSmile Community Oral Health Center Trenton, and her continued support and guidance.

KinderSmile Foundation was founded in 2007 to provide underserved children and families with access to comprehensive dental care and educate children and their families about the importance of dental hygiene. Through their Dental Homes in Bloomfield, Newark, and Trenton, and offsite programs, they have served more than 43,000 smiles and provided more than $10 million of in-kind care.

Welcome – Yeni Friesen!

Meet Yeni Friesen, the latest addition to the Partners for Health team, who has stepped into the newly created role of Grants Coordinator. Yeni traces her roots to Mexico City; she has lived in Montclair for six years.

Yeni brings more than a decade of expertise in buying, marketing, and sales analysis. She graduated with honors from Universidad Panamericana, where she earned a BA in International Marketing and Management. Her professional journey includes collaboration with companies like Mecedes-Benz, where she contributed to the marketing department, and Grupo Axo, where she oversaw the procurement of several of Tommy Hilfiger Mexico’s product lines.

For the last two years, Yeni has also been an active volunteer in MFEE’s Navegadores Escolares program, offering support to families as they navigate the Montclair school system and fulfilling household needs.

Beyond her professional and philanthropic pursuits, Yeni cherishes family moments with her husband and two daughters, finding happiness in those connections.

Grants totaling more than $200,000 awarded in first half of 2023

The Partners for Health Foundation Board of Trustees is pleased to announce it approved grants totaling more than $200,000 in the first half of 2023, including:

  • General Operating funds to the Northeast Earth Coalition to enhance their efforts to protect the environment, and promote local sustainability and food security. Their initiatives include the Free Little Pantry Network (pictured) that is coordinated by more than 250 volunteers.
  • A grant to Montclair Local for a half-time reporter who will be devoted to health care. This reporter will address topics such as homelessness, housing, childcare, mental illness, poverty, and the climate, and ways these issues impact the health of Montclair residents.
  • Funding to the Perinatal Health Equity Initiative to provide breastfeeding support to Black mothers from West Orange, Bloomfield and Montclair. This program will help to reduce the risk of many health issues, including cardiovascular issues for mothers, NICU stays among infants, and increased risk of diabetes among both.
  • General Operating funds to New Jersey Citizens Action Education Fund (NJCAEF) to increase economic opportunities for New Jerseyans who are members of communities that have been marginalized. NJCAEF will expand its programs and services for undocumented children, immigrant parents, low and moderate-income individuals, and BIPOC communities and workers.
  • Capacity building support to Nutley Family Service Bureau (NFSB) to develop a Client Advisory Board comprised of 10-12 NFSB clients. The Client Advisory Board (CAB) will engage clients in meaningful discussion on NFSB program design, implementation, and evaluation. The CAB will lift up community voices, ensuring that services are client-centered, and creating direct lines of communication through which evolving needs can be identified and addressed.
  • Support to Montclair Gateway to Aging in Place for an architectural design competition for freestanding, practical, and reusable Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The competition will help to address the housing income challenge for seniors who want to age in place. The proposed ADU solutions will support increased housing density in suburban communities while minimizing impact on existing streetscapes and infrastructure.

Other grants were awarded to City Green in Clifton, Neighbor to Neighbor Network in Bloomfield, The Bridge in West Caldwell, and two Montclair organizations: Good Success Academies and the Salvation Army.

Caption: Jose German-Gomez holds open a little free food pantry while Third Ward Councilwoman Lori Price Abrams adds her contribution. (Photo: NORTHEAST EARTH COALITION/MONTCLAIR LOCAL)

Montclair Gateway to Aging in Place: Architecture Design Competition to encourage ADU Adoption

Montclair Gateway to Aging in Place has launched an architectural design competition for freestanding, practical, and reusable Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The competition will address the housing income challenge for seniors who want to age in place, and propose solutions for increasing density in suburban communities that will have the least impact on streetscapes and infrastructure.

The design competition is funded by a 2023 Community Challenge Grant from AARP New Jersey, and a grant from Partners for Health Foundation. The AARP grant is part of their nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which supports the efforts of cities, towns, neighborhoods, and rural areas to become great places to live for people of all ages, especially those age 50 and older.

ADUs are secondary housing units on a single-family residential lot. They are an emerging housing option to allow older residents to age in their homes and communities. Designs for the competition will be solicited from students at architecture schools in the region and will adhere to universal design standards that adapt to structural needs for aging, mobility challenges, and other disabilities.

Montclair Gateway to Aging in Place (mGAP) is a social advocacy and service organization that seeks to better the lives of seniors by providing accessible housing opportunities in addition to peer-to-peer digital technology training programs. The organization is dedicated to identifying gaps between existing services and services that are needed to sustain older citizens who want age in place in the communities they love.

mGAP has advocated for local communities to adopt ADU ordinances. As of March 2023, Montclair homeowners have the option of constructing ADUs on their single-family plots to provide new housing options suitable for aging-in-place, as well as housing people with disabilities, and accommodating small family units of one or two adults. They hope to see such ordinances replicated throughout New Jersey.

“The goal of the competition is to demonstrate to residents and town planners that ADU construction is a path to better housing options for older residents as well as other citizens,” said Ann Lippel, President of Montclair Gateway to Aging in Place. “An increased inventory of statewide accessible Accessory Dwelling Units must be part of the public policy strategy to provide more suitable housing options for all.”

To learn more ADUs, visit: ADUs… What’s in it for You?

Click here for more information about the architectural design competition.

Better Together: Stories about how our communities lift us up!

Montclair Film will present BETTER TOGETHER: A Special Evening of Storytelling sponsored by Partners for Health Foundation on Thursday, April 27, 2023. The event will feature stories about being lifted up and supported by your community when things in life don’t go as planned. This StorySlam will begin at 7:30 PM at Montclair Film’s headquarters, Cinema505, located at 505 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair.

To register as a storyteller or to purchase general admission tickets, visit Storytellers should apply by April 17.

“Partners for Health’s vision of thriving communities ensuring health for all is greatly informed by the voices of the safety net organizations that we fund through our grants, and the residents they serve. We are thrilled to be working with Montclair Film on this StorySLAM, and look forward to learning more about our communities from the perspective of the storytellers,” said Pam Scott, Executive Director of Partners for Health Foundation.

“Our monthly StorySLAM’s have been wildly popular and this upcoming collaboration with Partners for Health will be a perfect addition to the season. Montclair Film’s success has been rooted in community partnerships, so this theme is especially meaningful to our organization,” stated Montclair Film’s Director of Production and Special Projects, Jennifer Cambras.

New Trustees Join the Foundation Board!

Partners for Health Foundation is pleased to welcome five new members to its Board of Trustees.

Vikram Gupta, MD is a board-certified family medicine physician with private practices in Clifton and Paterson; he is also board-certified in Hospice and Palliative Care.  He has attending privileges at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson, Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, and St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic. He is also a clinical instructor and Assistant Professor for Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City. 

Dr. Gupta holds a Doctor of Medicine from Vinnica Medical University, Vinnica, Ukraine. He completed a Residency at Rutgers RWJ University Hospital, New Brunswick, and also holds a

Diploma in Healthcare Law from Seton Hall University. In his free time, he enjoys music, reading, and spending time with his family. He has been playing bass guitar for more than five years and is self-taught. He resides in Montville with his wife, Shibani, and their children.

David B. Harrison is a Partner of Spiro Harrison & Nelson, LLC, a Montclair-based law firm. He represents clients in both litigation and corporate matters in a broad range of industries including technology, healthcare, construction, and financial services. For the past five years he has also served as a Trustee of the YMCA of Montclair.

​Prior to joining Spiro Harrison & Nelson LLC, Mr. Harrison was a partner in a premier boutique litigation firm, and served as a judicial intern for Chief Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and a legal intern for the Office of the Bronx District Attorney.  He is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School, and also holds a BA in Political Science from Syracuse University.  He lives in Montclair with his wife, Kathleen, and their children.

Ammar Idelbi has been with Johnson & Johnson’s Technology Quality & Compliance group since 2018. He currently holds the role of Lead, Metrics and Quality Operations. In this role, he is responsible for the day-to-day governance of the Technology Quality Management System. He earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Master of Public Health (MPH) from Rutgers University. He lives in Clifton with his wife of 13 years, Hend.

Michael P. Mazza is a Managing Director and Wealth Advisor for NB Private Wealth; he joined the firm in 2003. He works closely with high-net worth individuals and families to develop and implement customized investment solutions. He previously worked as a Portfolio Specialist on a Neuberger Berman Portfolio Management Team. His focus was on marketing the portfolio, providing consistent portfolio analysis and maintaining existing relationships. Mr. Mazza also held a role in the firm’s Investment Strategy Group, where his emphasis was on asset allocation and portfolio analytics. He began his career in an analyst program at Lehman Brothers before moving to Neuberger Berman.  He holds a BS Degree from Syracuse University, and lives in Glen Ridge with his wife, Amanda, and their children.

Abdur R. Yasin, MPA is a 20-year veteran of the fire service for the West Orange Fire Department, which responds to 8,000 service calls each year. He was promoted to the rank of Fire Captain in 2014. Mr. Yasin is also a member of the New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association (NJFMBA), the largest firefighter union in New Jersey and serves as Vice President for Local #228. He is involved in public sector labor relations, and has served in a number of capacities, including executive, for the NJFMBA, at the federal, state and local levels.

Mr. Yasin earned a BA in History with honors from Rutgers-Newark in 2003. In 2014, he graduated from the Rutgers-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration with a Master of Public Administration Degree, and was inducted into the Pi Alpha Alpha National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration. He is currently a part-time lecturer and doctoral student at the Rutgers-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration, studying and teaching courses on public sector labor relations and public management.

He serves on numerous local boards and commissions, and resides in his hometown of West Orange with his wife, Begonia, their children, and their pets.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are David Harrison, Michael Mazza, Vikram Gupta, MD, Abdur Yasin, MPA, and Ammar Idelbi