As the coronavirus pandemic reveals stark fault lines in New York City, with disparate impacts based on race, class, immigration status, and justice system involvement, community organizations are mobilizing to respond even as their resources dwindle. Serving diverse and vulnerable constituencies, including immigrants, those who are food-insecure, incarcerated or formerly incarcerated individuals, and those with risk factors for the virus, these organizations are mounting urgent responses and grappling with the critical policy decisions that must be made.

Featured Speakers include (bios and links below): Roosevelt House Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize awardees Ann-Marie Louison, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer at CASES (2015) and Dr. Melony Samuels, Executive Director and Founder of The Campaign Against Hunger (2011); Udai Tambar, Vice President of Community Health at Northwell Health; and Sudha Acharya, Executive Director of the South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS). The panel discussion, moderated by Shyama Venkateswar, Director of the Public Policy Program and Distingushed Lecturer at Hunter College, will be followed by Q&A. Panelists will address how organizations are impacted by and responding to the pandemic, and what challenges and solutions might lie ahead.

Featured Speakers

Ann-Marie Louison, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) (2015 awardee)

Ann-Marie Louison joined CASES in 1999 to launch the award-winning Nathaniel Project, CASES’ first alternative-to-incarceration program for adults with serious mental illnesses convicted of felony crimes. For sixteen years she oversaw the development of justice programs and treatment services for individuals with serious mental illness and behavioral health needs impacted by the justice system. Ms. Louison has developed arraignment diversion programs and implemented evidence-based Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) as an alternative-to-incarceration program. She has shared the innovative approaches and programs CASES has developed at the intersection of mental illness and the criminal legal system across the country, serving as a technical assistance consultant and presenting on expert panels. In 2017, Ms. Louison was appointed Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer to coordinate the agency’s response to criminal justice and healthcare reforms. She holds a Master of Social Work and Applied Social Research from Brunel University (U.K.) and is the proud winner of the 5th annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize for Excellence in Urban Public Health.

Dr. Melony Samuels, Executive Director and Founder, The Campaign Against Hunger (2011 awardee)

Dr. Melony Samuels, a humanitarian, visionary leader and staunch advocate for food equity has dedicated her life to the improvement of the lives of marginalized people and the strengthening of food and financially insecure families. Dr. Samuels has more than 20 years of experience as a pioneer in the anti-hunger community and Founder and Executive Director of The Campaign Against Hunger – one of the most robust, direct client services anti-hunger organization in the country. Dr. Samuels exhibits strength in an array of areas including financial planning, cost management, strategic development, and project implementation. Dr. Samuels has worked extensively to bring social change and racial equity in communities of low-income families through advocacy, connecting and maximizing resources. Her enthusiasm led her to develop models that can be easily implemented by other grassroots organizations and which have been replicated throughout the country and prevalently, with acknowledgment, throughout the City.

Dr. Samuels has changed the trajectory of what started as a small traditional food pantry into a strong, effective food-security and health nutrition education agency. Dr. Samuels demonstrated managerial skills have created a corporate culture defined by compassion and facilitation of the dignity of the individuals served. She has ensured that TCAH’s operational infrastructure, on both the food production/supply-side and the food distribution side, is robust, well tested, and financially sound. Well respected in all quarters, she has served on the Steering Committees for both the Manhattan Borough President and the Politics of Food Conference and currently sits on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Vital Brooklyn Task Force and the Council on Hunger and Food Policy board. She has given a TED Talk and has received numerous commendations for her work. Some of her other achievements include the Brooklyn Community Foundation’s Do Gooder Award, 2010; Joan H. Tisch Community Health Award, 2011; City Harvest Innovation Award, 2012; Woman of Distinction Award, 2013; Medical Maverick Award, 2014 and the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award in 2015 from the New York Chapter of NOBLE; Jolli Humanitarian Award, 2016 and Why Hunger Chapin Award in 2017 for being a leader in the fight against hunger. Dr. Samuels has demonstrated true leadership and has incubated community activism and mobilized resources to ensure that food-insecure New Yorkers are not denied a fundamental human right to wholesome food.

Udai Tambar, Vice President of Community Health, Northwell Health

As Northwell Health’s vice president of community health, Udai Tambar is part of a team that focuses on improving patient and community health outcomes by addressing social determinants of health.

Mr. Tambar began his career in health care at NYC Health + Hospitals, serving as associate executive director of strategic development and project implementation at Elmhurst Hospital and as assistant vice president in the system’s Office of Transformation.

Previously, he was chief of staff to Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, the former NYC deputy mayor for health and human services who had oversight of nine city agencies with a combined budget of more than $20 billion. Mr. Tambar also served in various public service roles, including executive director of South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!), a youth development community based organization dedicated to helping low income South Asian youth in NYC; assistant deputy commissioner for parent and community engagement at the New York City Human Resources Administration; special assistant to the HRA commissioner; assistant director of the Policy Research Institute for the Region at Princeton University, policy director for Newark Mayor-Elect Cory Booker’s transition team; and manager of policy and operations at the 9/11 United Service Group.

His additional New York City government experience includes managing the City Council’s New American Youth Initiative, working for the deputy chancellor of management and policy at the Board of Education, and serving as a senior policy advisor for the Workforce Development Division of the Department of Small Business Services.

A fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, Mr. Tambar has taught courses at NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Princeton University. He holds a BA magna cum laude in Asian Studies and Chemistry from Cornell University and an MPA from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Sudha Acharya, Executive Director, South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS)

Sudha Acharya, the Executive Director of the South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS), has been active in the community from the past thirty-five years. She has held various responsibilities and leadership positions in community-based organizations. Sudha serves as the Executive Director of SACSS, after serving as the Founder-President for the first two years. The major areas of focus for SACSS are healthcare access, health awareness and advocacy, senior support, and food security. Sudha has served on various City and State level health care coalitions.

Sudha has been awarded the Gandhi Community Award, Indo-Caribbean Network Award and the Federation of Indian Associations Award. She received the Union Square Award for her work at SACSS in 2003, the Pravasi Bharatiya Community Service Award from GOPIO in 2006, the India Abroad Gopal Raju Award for Community Service (2010), Sri Swami Vivekananda Award for Community Service in 2011 and Change Maker Award from Domestic Harmony Foundation in 2015. She has Masters Degrees in English Literature and Financial Management.


Local Responses to the Pandemic: Lessons and Challenges | Posted on April 30th, 2020 | COVID 19, Public Policy Program Events, Public Programs