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Bringing together care and research in service to families in need

Summer 2013

Faculty & Staff Updates

Karen Behringer, FNP, MPH joined the FFHC Program of STAR in August 2013. She will provide prenatal care in Suite G and with the WIHS. Ms. Behringer is a public health and family nurse practitioner with more than 20 years' experience in reproductive health. She received a BS and FNP from Seattle Pacific University and an MPH from the University of Connecticut. She has expertise in direct patient care, health clinic management, clinical training and mentorship, nurse capacity building, and program development in the US as well as sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and China.

Jeffrey Birnbaum, MD, MPH, received a SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service. Dr. Birnbaum, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health, is Executive Director of the Health and Education Alternatives for Teens (HEAT) program at SUNY Downstate. HEAT offers one-stop, comprehensive care and support for HIV+ and at-risk youth aged 13 to 24. It is the only program of its kind in Brooklyn, and it has helped hundreds of teenagers and young adults since 1992. Dr. Birnbaum's work with HEAT has been recognized by several prominent health organizations entities, including the NYS Department of Health AIDS Institute which recognized his contributions with the 2012 Linda Laubenstein Award for Excellence in HIV Care. HEAT has also been recognized for its work with HIV+ youth by the Henry van Ameringen and Elton John AIDS Foundations. He is the author of several sets of clinical guidelines for clinicians who treat HIV+ teens, and regularly mentors medical and public health students serving the HIV community across Brooklyn. Dr. Birnbaum has also represented SUNY Downstate with his HIV expertise internationally, providing training sessions and consultation in Nigeria, Malawi, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Russia.

Keren H. Francois, RN, joined the STAR Program in April 2013 as Nurse Manager for the STAR Health Center. Ms. Francois earned her Associate's degree in Nursing at Kingsborough Community College. For the past 5 years, she specialized in HIV primary care nursing in Brownsville and East New York.


Dr. Jack DeHovitz and Lori Hurley at Brooklyn Pride Festival

Lori Hurley, LMSW, MPH, Manager for the STAR Health Center's (SHC) Care Coordination Project, spearheaded the SHC's participation in the Brooklyn Pride Festival on June 8, 2013 in an ongoing effort to raise awareness of the SHC's specialized LGBTQ services. Lori and the SHC team, which included Jack DeHovitz, MD, MPH, Damian Bird, MPH and Laurie Sadofsky, BA, distributed information to the public and networked with staff of other organizations to learn about services in the community that will benefit SHC clients.

Jennifer Irwin, Deputy Executive Director of the HEAT Program, graduated from New York University's Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service with a Master of Public Administration.

Don Kayembe was recently promoted to the position of Adherence Program Coordinator. Mr. Kayembe joined the STAR Health Center (SHC) in 2008 as an Adherence Counselor. He introduced the weekly peer support group intervention, a series of one-to-one trainings on HIV for patients that includes how to interpret lab results and problem solving strategies. He produced a high volume of work while working alone during 2011, which was noted in the most recent site visit report, which commended us for a well run program. He demonstrated good leadership in training and supervising peer leaders, and works well with the adherence team and other staff to achieve SHC enrollment and patient satisfaction goals.

Marian Searchwell, CAPP Coordinator of the Adolescent Education Program, graduated from Nyack College with a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership.


MichelleAnn Joseph is the latest recipient of the STAR Staff Recognition Award. Ms. Joseph has worked with the STAR program for almost 15 years as a Project Staff Assistant. She initially worked in the STAR Main Office and then transitioned to providing administrative assistance to some of our research projects including WIHS and those of Drs. Tracey Wilson and Howard Crystal. More recently she has begun to assist with patient-related activities including presenting a video at the STAR Community Advisory Board. MichelleAnn takes her responsibilities very seriously and is the person that everyone on the third floor of the BSB and beyond relies on whenever environmental or communications issues arise. MichelleAnn was nominated for the STAR Recognition Award because she goes above and beyond what is required of her and is willing to pitch in any time she is needed.

Renisha Pierre joined the Adolescent Education Program as the Prevention Specialist for the Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (CAPP). Ms. Pierre is a Macauley Honors College Social Work student at Lehman College. She is a certified facilitator for the evidence-based intervention SiHLE (Sisters, Informing, Healing, Learning & Empowering), which is part of the CDC's Diffusion of Effective Behavioral Interventions (DEBI) training curriculum. She will also be facilitating the Be Proud! Be Responsible! prevention curriculum to at-risk adolescents between the ages of 14-18.


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