Virtual Series Events

Event Description

Join us for a panel presentation to learn about innovative approaches to connecting older adults to technology. Our speakers from across the region will share how to develop collaborative partnerships and programs addressing digital inclusion, literacy, education, and providing devices to rural older adults. Find out how technology can be leveraged to improve financial stability, health, social isolation, communication, access to information, and increased civic participation.



The Digital Program
The Slides
The Chat File
The Panel Contact Sheet


Panelists Include

Susan Corbett

Director of the National Digital Equity Center

Ms. Corbett is a preeminent authority and advocate for digital equity and digital inclusion, and works closely with economic development and rural organizations to promote broadband adoption.
In the fall of 2017, Ms. Corbett founded and launched the National Digital Equity Center, collaborating with local and global change makers, relentlessly driving disruptive strategies to close the digital divide in Maine and across the United States. Ms. Corbett is the Director of the National Digital Equity Center.

Ms. Corbett is the former Chief Executive Officer of Axiom Technologies, a provider and advocate of fast, affordable, and reliable broadband services for rural communities. In 2005, Ms. Corbett joined Axiom Technologies as Chief Financial Officer. Under her leadership, the telecommunications company designed and constructed more than 100 access points connecting more than 2,500 square miles in one of America’s roughest terrains — rural Maine. She has written and managed numerous grants for broadband development and adoption.

Ms. Corbett is a public speaker, educator, and advocate who is dedicated to providing broadband access, digital equity and digital inclusion to rural communities everywhere.



Timothy M. Hesselton

Research Project Manager at the Dartmouth Centers for Health and Aging

Timothy M. Hesselton's prior experience includes direct care with adults with severe and persistent mental illness, as well as working to transition older adults and adults with mental illness from long term nursing home and hospital care to independent living in the community. Mr. Hesselton specializes in implementation, both in the science of implementation as well as implementing evidence based practices and programs in community and primary care settings, particularly in rural and remote locations. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.


Arlene Lugo, ATP 

Program Director for the CT Tech Act Project


Assistive Technology Consultant for the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services

 Arlene Lugo, ATP, is the Program Director for the CT Tech Act Project and Assistive Technology Consultant for the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services. She received Degrees in Deaf Studies and Interpreting from Northwestern Connecticut State University, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from the University of Albany, NY and received her Master of Science in Professional Counseling, Vocational Rehabilitation from Central Connecticut State University in 2003. 

Ms. Lugo began her career as a sign language interpreter prior to becoming a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitation Services. In 2006, she was promoted to Education Consultant for the Bureau and became the Program Director for the Connecticut Tech ActProject, where she helps individuals with disabilities access the Assistive Technology (AT) for all areas of life including education, employment and the community. As a certified Assistive Technology Practitioner, Ms. Lugo offers training, technical assistance and consultation on Assistive Technology devices and services. She oversees several grants, in addition to providing direct services to individuals with disabilities and older adults.


Patricia Richardson

Statewide Aging and Disability Resource Coordinator for the Department of Aging and Disability Services, State Unit on Aging

Patricia Richardson is currently serving as the Statewide Aging and Disability Resource Coordinator for the Department of Aging and Disability Services, State Unit on Aging.  Patricia has been involved in the state’s development of the No Wrong Door system through the Administration for Community Living No Wrong Door grants.  

Ms. Richardson was awarded a competitive Business Case grant from the Administration for Community in 2019 to demonstrate the value of the existing Veteran-Directed Care program and a new pilot program offering case management services to Veterans seeking community-based services.  In addition to this work, Ms. Richardson piloted a Benefits Enrollment Center within three prison settings to assist older adults and persons with disabilities connect to their Medicare benefits upon release.  Ms. Richardson serves as the State lead on the National Center on Person-Centered Practices and Systems technical assistance project.  She previously served as the State’s Health Insurance Program Director (SHIP) for two years.



Event Description

Join us for a facilitated panel discussion with our Federal partners. Including: HRSA, ACL, OASH, OCR, FORHP, CDC, CMS, & SAMHSA. This is a great opportunity to hear from our regional representatives about their current priorities and new initiatives. We will finish with informal breakout discussions with panelists and representatives from other regional projects that are federally funded.



Recording and Materials

Recording Link

Chat Link

Digital Program Link

Contact Sheet



Panelists Include

Marcia Brand - Moderator


DentaQuest Foundation



Marcia K. Brand, Ph.D. is a Senior Advisor to the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement and a consultant and advisor on matters related to access to oral and rural health care.  From 2009 until 2015, Dr. Brand was the Deputy Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an Agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services that works to fill in the gaps for people who live outside the economic and medical mainstream.  The Agency uses its $10 billion annual budget to expand access to quality health care in partnership with health care providers and health professions training programs.

From 2007-2009, Brand was associate administrator of HRSA’s Bureau of Health Professions, where she provided national leadership in the development, distribution and retention of a diverse, culturally competent health workforce that provides high-quality care. From 2001-2007, Brand was director and associate administrator of HRSA’s Office of Rural Health Policy.  In that position, she was responsible for health policy, research and grant activities that promote better health care services in rural America.

In previous federal appointments, she leads efforts to plan and implement the State Planning Grant Program, which helped states explore options for providing health care coverage for uninsured residents, and coordinated HRSA’s efforts to implement the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  As senior advisor to the deputy assistant secretary for health, Brand worked on the Secretary’s Initiative on the Future of Academic Health Centers.

Brand worked in the US Senate as a legislative assistant and held academic appointments in the dental hygiene departments at Thomas Jefferson University and Old Dominion University. Brand earned a doctoral degree in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania, and a master and bachelor of science degrees in dental hygiene from Old Dominion University.


Christopher Bersani

HRSA ORO Region 1 Deputy Regional Administrator


Captain Christopher Bersani is a Clinical Health Psychologist and Neuropsychologist by training and currently serves a Deputy Regional Administrator and the National Lead for Behavioral Health for the Office of Regional Operations of the Health Resources Services Administration.

Prior to taking his current assignment, Captain Bersani worked for 7 years for the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons as Head of the Health Psychology Department at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, MA. Captain Bersani also served over 6 years as a commissioned officer in the United States Navy (Medical Service Corps).

Captain Bersani has spent the last 15 years working for HRSA’s Office of Regional Operations where, in addition to providing regional oversight for HRSA grants and programs, he has been the regional and national leader for behavioral health activities and programs for HRSA’s regional offices.


Betsy Rosenfeld

HHS/OASH Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Regional Health Administrator

Betsy Rosenfeld is the Regional Health Administrator (RHA) for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) for the six New England states. As the chief regional public health official for HHS, she and her team are responsible for a broad portfolio of public health work organized around health equity, including opioid dependence, community health worker (CHW) policy, women’s health, health equity, environmental health and infectious disease. Ms. Rosenfeld serves as the primary liaison for state and local public health officials as they interact with OASH, and her team regularly partners with community based organizations, academic centers and healthcare providers to improve systems of clinical and community care.

Ms. Rosenfeld was one of the founding members of the New England Public Health/Managed Care Collaborative and the New England Asthma Regional Council, both of which were models for integrating public health interventions into the mainstream reimbursement system. She has worked in partnership with public and private payers to encourage coverage of upstream preventive interventions as a mechanism for improving quality of care, reducing health care expenditures, improving workplace/school attendance, and strengthening community health outcomes. In addition, her office hosts the only regional network of CHW organizations and stakeholders in the nation.

Prior to federal service, Ms. Rosenfeld worked as a health care lawyer at Ropes & Gray in Boston, representing teaching hospitals and other healthcare providers. She also worked as a clinical legal services apprentice while in law school, representing low-income clients on healthcare matters. Ms. Rosenfeld graduated from Harvard College and from Harvard Law School and has served on numerous non-profit boards and committees.

Michael Fallahkhair


Michael Fallahkhair, MPH, is the Principal Advisor for Impact and Planning for the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) in the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  In this role, Mr. Fallahkhair helps to lead the work of FORHP, which is charged with advising the Secretary of HHS on rural health issues and improving the delivery of rural health care.  Mr. Fallahkhair previously served as the Executive Officer in the HHS Immediate Office of the Secretary and as Deputy Director of the Community-Based Division in FORHP.  Mr. Fallahkhair has past work experience in the Office of Budget of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources at HHS and the Office of Management and Budget.  Mr. Fallahkhair has an undergraduate degree in Neurobiology and Physiology from the University of Maryland at College Park and a Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy from George Washington University.


Taylor Bryan Turner

Assistant Regional Administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Taylor serves as part of SAMHSA’s leadership team and works to advance SAMHSA’s mission in the six New England States (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI & VT). In this role, she develops, supports and leads collaborative initiatives and supports other federal agencies to assure behavioral health is a priority throughout the nation. She engages stakeholders through technical assistance, promoting program development, policy innovation, and system transformation. 

Taylor joined the HHS team in March 2020 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD), Regional Administrators office where she served as a Management Analyst. There, she was responsible for implementing housing initiatives that focused on ending homelessness, promoting affordable housing, health and wellness, and sustainability. She has over 20 years of experience cultivating diverse relationships among stakeholders, elected officials, and private and non-profit organizations to implement policy. In 2019, she was one of ten individuals recognized nationally in Washington D.C. for outstanding customer relationship management. In 2018, Taylor completed the Presidential Management Council Fellows leadership program where she served as the first-ever regional outreach strategist on opioids within HHS’s Intergovernmental and External Affairs office. Taylor studied Business Management at Johnson and Wales University and is currently a Manresa Scholar Leader at the Woods College of Advancing Studies at Boston College. 


Susan Pezzullo Rhodes

Regional Manager for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights, New England

Susan has worked in civil rights and public service for over 20 years and has been with OCR since 2002 in various investigative, leadership, and management positions. Prior to joining OCR, her portfolio included Civil Rights Analyst for City of Seattle, Researcher for MA Fair Housing Study, and private practice.  Susan provides leadership, sets regional priorities, coordinates, and directs all of the regional office’s enforcement, outreach and public education activities throughout the six New England states to ensure compliance with our nation’s civil rights, conscience and religious freedom, and health information privacy and security laws. 


Jennifer Throwe

Regional Administrator for Region I (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT) for the US Administration for Community Living, Boston Regional Office

In this role Jennifer serves as the regional representative for the services, supports, and programs ACL provides and funds across aging and disability to carry out the mission of ACL.  Prior to Federal employment Jennifer worked in State Government with responsibilities including SHIP Director, Aging & Disability Resource Center Director, and served as a Governor appointed member of the Developmental Disabilities Council.  She earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Connecticut with a Certificate in Aging.



Diane M. Hall

Senior Scientist for Policy and Strategy in CDC’s Office of the Associate Director for Policy and Strategy (OADPS)

Dr. Diane Hall leads the office’s work on translating science for policy use, policy research and analyses, and developing policy-relevant trainings. Diane also serves as CDC’s coordinator and point of contact for rural health work. Diane led the development of the office’s policy portal, POLARIS (Policy Analysis and Research Information System). Previously, Diane held several positions in CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention, where she worked on research related to the prevention of teen dating violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and youth violence. She also served as lead of several translation products on Veto Violence. Diane earned her B.A. in Psychology from Hollins College and earned her MSEd in psychological services and her PhD in school, community, and child clinical psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Tim Pappalardo

Regional Lead for Physician and Provider Relations at Boston for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services & CMS Regional Rural Health Coordinator


Tim is a Clinical Social Worker and holds the rank of Commander in the United States Public Health Service. He works in Boston for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Office of the Regional Administrator as the Regional Lead for Physician and Provider Relations. Tim also serves as the CMS Regional Rural Health Coordinator. He has been with CMS for 7 years and prior to this assignment; he has worked for the Health Resources and Services Administration, Federal Occupational Health, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and he served 5 years as a Navy Medical Service Corps Officer. Tim volunteers each week providing mental health services for Military Personnel at the Hanscom Air Force Base Clinic in Bedford, MA. Tim received his Bachelor’s Degree from Bridgewater State University and his Masters in Social Work from the University of New England.



Registration is now closed.



About Captain Christopher Bersani:


Captain Christopher Bersani is a Clinical Health Psychologist and Neuropsychologist by training and currently serves a Deputy Regional Administrator and the National Lead for Behavioral Health for the Office of Regional Operations of the Health Resources Services Administration. Prior to taking his current assignment, Captain Bersani worked for 6 years for the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons as Head of the Health Psychology Department at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, MA. Captain Bersani also served over 6 years as a commissioned officer in the United States Navy (Medical Service Corps).

Captain Bersani received his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Vermont (1989) and his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago (1995). In 2002, Captain Bersani achieved diplomate status with the American Board of Professional Psychology. He completed Post-Doctoral training in Neuropsychology in 2007.

Captain Bersani has spent the last 14 years working for HRSA’s Office of Regional Operations where, in addition to providing regional oversight for HRSA grants and programs, he has been the regional and national leader for behavioral health activities and programs for HRSA’s regional offices.



Event Description

This interactive webinar is designed to help rural audiences enduring medical and social isolation, stay healthy, and connected during these unprecedented times.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the basis of wellness, specifically during times of isolation and restrictions
  • Recognize signs of stress in ourselves and others
  • Review safe and sustainable strategies to improve self-care, enhance wellness, and manage stress
  • Gain tools and resources to address social isolation and improve fitness



Registration is now closed.


Recording & Materials:

Click Here for the Video Link. 

Click Here for a copy of the Presentation.


Previous Event 

About Tanya Lord:


When tragedy strikes an individual, it is common for the impact to be life altering. It was for Tanya, a special education teacher turned stay at homemom when her son, Noah, had a devastating healthcare experience. This fired her desire to improve patient safety, quality and the patient experience. Returning to school, she currently holds a Masters of Public Health from the University of New Hampshire and a Doctorate in Clinical and Population Health Research from the University of Massachusetts Medical School. As a graduate student, Tanya focused on patient safety research, learned improvement science and research methods while working with many experts in these fields. However, there always seemed to be something missing from the research and improvement initiatives, the voice and experiences of patients. Combining her expertise in Quality Improvement and a passion for including all healthcare stakeholders, Tanya is the Director of Patient and Family Engagement at the Foundation for Healthy Communities in Concord, NH. Tanya works with all NH hospitals as they partner with patient and families to improve care. Tanya was formally PFE Subject Matter Expert with the AHA HRET HIIN project that works with 36 hospital associations and their hospitals. She is a sought‐after national consultant, workshop and keynote presenter. Tanya’s passion, initiated by tragedy, is sustained by hope for a safer healthcare system.


Event Description

This presentation will provide participants with a background for understanding whole-person care. Her presentation will focus on understanding how biases impact the ability to engage in partnerships of care. She will discuss the concepts to reduce stigmatizing behavior toward patients, families and co-workers and engage the audience in developing personal and professional humility as it relates to learning about and caring for patients and families.



Registration is now available! Please CLICK HERE to register. As of October 20th, 2020 these events will be open and free to all. Deadline for registration to this event is November 1st - 11:59PM EST.

We would also like to thank our sponsors for partnering with us for the whole series!

If you would like to join in sponsoring the series please click here to read more.