Katherine Bequary MPH, Executive Director
Katherine is an accomplished nonprofit fundraising and public health professional. With 15 years of nonprofit work experience she has directed an array of national and international events raising millions of dollars for humanitarian efforts throughout the world. She is a seasoned public health professional whose experience includes working in several developing nations in Latin and Central America, Asia and Africa. Katherine was the field director for NYCM’s disaster response efforts in Haiti where she successfully led relief operations from January through March.
She has a master’s degree in public health and a graduate certificate in humanitarian service administration from the University of Connecticut. Katherine’s career background includes international event production and fundraising, advocating and lobbying for children’s health issues and program development for antipoverty and health care initiatives.
Jake Dutton, Volunteer Coordinator
Originally from North Lake Tahoe, California, Jake began his career in fire and emergency medical services in 2003 adapting to the challenging work environment of the snowy Sierra Nevada’s. In 2005 he moved to New York where he currently works as a New York City Firefighter and Paramedic. An avid traveler, skier and outdoorsman, he comes from a diverse background integrating rural wilderness medicine with the everyday challenges presented to him while working in an urban emergency services setting. He has been a dedicated NYCMedics volunteer since 2013 first deploying the disaster response efforts in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan. Since then he has deployed with NYCMedics to Vanuatu in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam and to the devastating Nepal earthquakes. He also helped to develop and teach NYCMedics El Salvador Tactical First Responder Training Program. Jake earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Science from Columbia Southern University and is currently pursuing his Master of Arts degree in Emergency and Disaster Management from American Military University.
Phil Suarez, Director of Operations
Phil Suarez has been a New York City paramedic for over 20 years, working in some of New York’s most impoverished neighborhoods. In 2005, Phil co-founded NYCMedics, working extensively thereafter in Pakistan in the wake of the Southeast Asia earthquake. In January 2010, Phil worked in Haiti immediately following the devastating earthquake, and since that time has taken on the role of Director of Operation managing programming in Africa, Asia and Central America. Phil has also worked in East Africa teaching EMS to local healthcare workers, and worked with a clinic in the Highlands of Guatemala bringing healthcare to the remote villages of the Mayan population. Phil Suarez was born in France and lived throughout Europe before moving to the United States where he lives with his wife Loretta and their two children.
Timothy Tan MD MPH, Medical Director
Tim is an emergency medicine physician practicing at the Columbia University Medical Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he also completed a Fellowship in International Emergency Medicine. He has an interest in health systems development, with experience working on supply chain management and essential medicines and equipment guidelines for emergency departments in Ghana, emergency medicine development in Rwanda, and cost-effectiveness analysis for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Most recently, he deployed with NYC Medics in The Philippines as part of disaster response efforts following Typhoon Haiyan.
Tim earned his medical degree and masters degree in public health from Columbia University, and completed his residency training at the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife.
David Violante, MPH, EMT-P, Director of Disaster Preparedness & Training
David is currently the Assistant Director of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for the Arlington Fire District in Poughkeepsie, NY. He is also an adjunct at Marist College in the schools of Communications and Global and Professional Programs, and at Dutchess Community College in the School of Allied Health and Biological Sciences. He is involved from the local to the international level in the development of EMS systems through education, policy, and public health development, and in disaster medical relief. David received a bachelor degree from Marist College in Organizational Leadership and Communications, and a master degree from Columbia University in Public Health, with a concentration in Executive Health Policy and Management. David has authored several articles published in the Journal of Prehospital Care and Emergency Response. David is the recipient of several New York State Senate and Assembly Citations, the Hudson Valley Regional EMS Leadership Award, the Red Cross Hometown Hero Award and the Columbia University Gorman Public Health Humanitarian Award.
Charles Berkowitz, EMT-P, Communications and Multimedia
For the past twelve years, Charles has been a member of the Emergency Medical Services in both California and New York, ten of which have been served as a paramedic in Hell’s Kitchen, Harlem, and Brooklyn. He is a founding member of NYC Medics. He has since participated with NYCM in subsequent deployments to Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province and Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Charles is currently a reporter and documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn. He is a Kaiser Permanente Health Policy Journalism Fellow and a recent graduate of the Graduate School of Journalism, U.C. Berkeley.
Board of Directors
Steve Muth, President & Chairman of the Board
A former paramedic in New York during the late 80’s and 90’s Steve Muth co-founded and is now president of Voicethread.com, a collaborative tool used by educators around the world.
One of the original founding members of NYC Medics, he shares the organizations belief that swift and pragmatic action in a post-disaster environment can have a profound and lasting impact. Steve lives and works in Sag Harbor, NY with his wife and three sons.
Dan is a mission driven health care executive with a passion for high quality clinical service delivery, positive financial outcomes and measurable service excellence. Dan is a thoughtful communicator and a resourceful and strategic health care executive with substantial experience working at the executive and Board level. Dan’s experience includes all major facets of senior- leadership oversight including: operations and financial management; capital planning and charitable giving; medical staff and board relations; quality and performance improvement; business development; community relations and human resources management.
Dan is a Senior VP, Phelps Memorial Hospital. He earned a BA in Philosophy and MS in Healthcare Administration from New York University. He is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and Medical Group Management Association. A former NYC paramedic, Dan still actively volunteers on an ambulance in his home town in Westchester County, NY. In addition he is Chairman of the Westchester Regional EMS Council and a member of the New York State Department of Health EMS Council and State Emergency Medical Advisory Committee.
Rob Bristow, MD, MPH
Dr. Bristow is the Medical Director of Emergency Management for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and the Director of Disaster Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is a faculty member of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness in the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. He works collaboratively with The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Greater New York Hospital Association, and the New York City Office of Emergency Management.
Dr. Bristow has extensive national and international experience in emergency management and work closely with a variety of governmental and non-governmental organizations. He has provided emergency medical care in the war torn countries of El Salvador, Rwanda, Russia (Chechnya), and Kosovo. He worked in Gujarat, India after the 2001 earthquake in Bhuj; in Banda Aceh, Indonesia after the 2004 Tsunami; in the Gulf states in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina; and in Haiti in 2010 after the devastating earthquake. He is currently involved in systems development and capacity building in emergency medicine and management in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, India, and Montenegro
Peter Farnsworth, Sr., Treasurer
Peter is the former CFO and the SVP Finance and IT for AmeriCares Foundation and Deputy Executive Director – Operations and CFO for Amnesty Intl. USA. He has a long record of financial accomplishment on Wall St. and in various international assignments, and as well as a background and passion for making IT solutions work to improve organizational effectiveness. Most recently he managed Facilities, HR, IT, Finance and Legal matters for Amnesty Intl. USA in NYC and its 6 offices around the US. Peter has assisted with money movement, controls and risk management related to operations following the 2005 Tsunami, Katrina, and long term humanitarian projects in Central and South America, Africa and Asia. He holds an MBA in Finance and Accounting from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, where he was also a Teaching Assistant in International Finance. Over a long career he has visited and done business in 36 countries. His longest overseas residence was in Hong Kong where he lived for 4 years. He now resides in Connecticut with his family.
Al Kim, Secretary
Al Kim is the Executive Director of Westchester Emergency Medical Services overseeing EMS operations of four hospitals and eight townships in Northern Westchester County, New York. Al was a New York City Paramedic for over 20 years, has managed multiple facilities and was involved in the relief operations after September 2001 terrorist attacks. He holds an MBA, is National Incident Management System (NIMS) certified and has formal training in disaster management and operations. Al participated in relief efforts in Pakistan in 2005 and is a founding member of NYCMedics. He lives in North Salem, New York with his family.
Syeda Naqvi is a Phd candidate at the University of Illinois, in the field of Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology. Her areas of focus include MCH Epidemiology within disaster relief settings, as well as the public health status of children and youth in the US Child Welfare System. Syeda is currently in the process of completing her doctoral program, and holds a Masters in Public Health degree from Emory University. At present, she is employed as the Supervisor of Volunteer Court Appointed Advocates (CASAs) in Chicago, Illinois, as part of CASA of Cook County’s CITY Initiative. Together, Syeda and her team of CASA volunteers work with foster youth who are preparing to Age Out of the foster care system, in order to help them prepare for, and make, a successful transition from foster care to adulthood.
Syeda became involved with the New York City Medics during the NYCM’s second follow up trip to the earthquake affected regions of Pakistan, in 2005. While there, she served as the team’s Public Health officer.
John is in facilities management at Colgate Palmolive. He is a former Vice President of Traffic & Logistics and Director of Emergency Response at the AmeriCares Foundation. John was responsible for delivering over $2 billion worth of medical relief supplies around the world. He administered a $3.4 million grant to the World Health Organization to build 20 Rural Health Centers in Pakistan following the 2005 earthquake. He also managed the delivery, construction and equipping of portable field hospitals in China and Pakistan.
His work over his fourteen years in the emergency response field have taken him to places like Rwanda, Bosnia, Albania, Iraq, the Philippines, Honduras, Louisiana and Ground Zero. John has a bachelors degree from the Catholic University of America. He currently lives in Connecticut with his family.
Betsy Fine, MD
Dr. Betsy Fine is a Family Physician and Adolescent Medicine Specialist with 28 years of experience in full spectrum family practice and residency teaching. She is currently involved in Primary Care Behavioral Health training and Adolescent care with Army families affected by combat deployments at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, WA and is Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Betsy came to join NYCM at its inception with the first deployment in response to the Pakistan Earthquake in 2005 when an e-mail request for a physician brought to fruition a career long dream to join a humanitarian relief group. Her first global health experience had been in the Ivory Coast in 1980.The NYCM code of quick, light, and compassionate while getting to the inaccessible immediately appealed to her sense of Service and adventure. Dr. Fine’s training for amateur triathlons has enabled her to keep up with her younger counterparts on the deployments. In addition to two deployments to Pakistan, Betsy deployed to Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake.
Eric Holden PA, DHSc, EMT-P
Eric Holden has worked in the field of emergency medicine since 1987. He started as an E.R. tech, later working in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Philadelphia as a paramedic. He has been an emergency medicine P.A. since 1996 and has worked in California, Oregon, and Washington. His P.A. training was completed at Hahnemann University in Philadelphia. He has an undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Masters of P.A. studies degree from the University Of Nebraska College of Medicine with an emphasis in clinical emergency medicine.
His work experience includes positions in community facilities, level 1 and 2 trauma centers, and solo coverage of rural, critical access emergency departments. He is a member of state, federal, and international disaster medical teams. Eric completed doctoral level training in health science and global health in 2015 through Nova Southeastern University. He is a Distinguished fellow of the AAPA and a senior fellow of SEMPA. He has served on the board of the Society of Emergency Medicine PA’s and on the board of PA’s for Tomorrow. He has written numerous articles in peer reviewed journals. Eric has worked with NYC Medics since 2010.
Erik Larsen, MD, FACEP
Dr. Larsen has an extensive history of progressive leadership and administrative experience. He is board certified/residency trained in Emergency Medicine with experience in flight, disaster, and wilderness medicine. He is presently the associate medical director of White Plains Hospital Center Emergency Department and assistant professor of emergency medicine at NY Medical College. He is also the associate director of LifeNet-NY and medical director of multiple local EMS agencies, TEC rescue and SWAT teams. Most notably, Dr. Larsen was the Medical Director at the New Orleans International Airport during Hurricane Katrina as well as the Medical Director of the NDMS Rapid Needs Assessment Team during Hurricane Wilma. In addition, he travelled with the NYC Medics Response Team during the 2006 Pakistan Earthquake.
Dr. Larsen received his medical degree from Medical College of Ohio. He is a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians/ACEP-Disaster Section. Dr. larsen has been a member of the National Disaster Medical System and DMAT since 1989 and is the chief medical officer of NDMS Region 2 (NY, NJ, P.Rico, USVI). In 2006 Eric received the NY State Department of Health/Emergency Medical System Council Award for Physician of Excellence.
Laurie Nelson, JD
Laurie is a transactional attorney with over 25 years of experience working at some of the world’s largest law firms. During her career, she has managed to find spiritual fulfillment by regularly representing organizations such as NYC Medics on a pro bono basis.
A former Board member of NYC Medics, she and her firm, Ropes & Gray, LLP, assist NYC Medics with general legal representation on an as-needed basis.
Umair Shah, MD, MPH
Dr. Umair A. Shah is the Deputy Director for Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services (HCPHES) – the county health department serving the third most populous county in the United States – since 2004. Dr. Shah’s interests include global & refugee health issues; health equity work; and emergency response activities such as for Tropical Storm Allison, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike, as well as the earthquakes in Kashmir and Haiti. His global experience also includes previous work at the World Health Organization in Geneva.
He is a current member of the National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) national health equity coalition and currently chairs NACCHO’s global health workgroup. Dr. Shah has served on the National Consensus Panel on Emergency Preparedness and Cultural Diversity sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services as well as the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Establishing Crisis Standards of Care for Use in Disaster Situations. He is an adjunct faculty member at The University of Texas School of Public Health and remains on the emergency department staff at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine, remains active in clinical patient care, and serves as one of the local health authorities for Harris County, Texas.
Chris Summers, RPA-C, EMT-P
Chris is a founding member of NYC Medics and a cardiothoracic surgery and critical care physician assistant practicing on Long Island, New York. As a NYC Medics member, a New York City paramedic and former Coastguardsman he has gained extensive experience in the field of disaster response and management and has taken part in countless land and sea based catastrophes, including the TWA flight 800 disaster, the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan and the recent earthquake in Haiti.
He frequently provides disaster response training, emergency medical training and provides patient care in remote locations as a member of the Society for Hospital and Resources Exchange in Kenya, East Africa and the Pop Wuj medical clinic in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.