Officer Biographies

CAPT Steven B. Auerbach, MD, MPH, FAAP

CDR Catherine M. Beer, MS (new bio 09/2014)

LT Tara K. Carmody, MPH (new bio 09/2014)

CDR Andrew J. Chen, MPH, MBA, FACHE

CAPT Chae Un Chong, BPharm, M.S. (updated 09/2014)

Romerl Elizes, DPS, MBA

LCDR Kimberly Garner, MS, MPH. REHS

CAPT Chandak Ghosh, MD, MPH (updated 09/2014)

LCDR Kimberley Gordon-Ricketts, MPH

LCDR Doreen P. Gubbay, RD (updated 09/2014)

CDR Harlem J. Gunness, MPH, PHP

CDR Liatte Krueger, PharmD (updated 09/2014)

LT Sarah A. Meehan, M.S. (new bio 09/2014)

LCDR Stephen Mottola, PharmD, MBA (updated 09/2014)

CAPT Farah Parvez, MD, MPH

LCDR George A. Pourakis, MD, MPH

LCDR Michael Serrano, BS, PA-C (updated 09/2014)

LCDR Erica J. Sison, MPH (updated 09/2014)

CDR Samuel J. Schaffzin, MPA (new bio 02/2017)

CDR Elena Vaouli, BS, MPH, REHS/RS

CDR Frank Verni, RPh

CDR William Waldron, MBA, MHA

CDR Jerry Zee, PharmD MPH CPH (updated 09/2014)


CAPT Steven B. Auerbach, MD, MPH, FAAP
Captain Steven Auerbach serves as a medical epidemiologist and public health advisor for the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) and Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS), assigned to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), based out of the Region 2 (NY, NJ, PR, VI) Office.  His primary assignment of late is for the Bureau of Clinician Recruitment and Service (BCRS) which administers the National Health Service Corps and other primary care health workforce programs, while he continues working on cross-cutting activities with the NYC Providers of Health Care for the Homeless and the HealthierNYC umbrella network.
CAPT Auerbach grew up in NYC and graduated from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the School of Public Health, and completed his residency in Pediatrics at UCLA.  He has been with U.S. Public Health Service since 1989, starting with the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, then overseas in Micronesia for three years, and with the HRSA Region 2 Office since 1994 in a variety of capacities.  He serves on the Applied Public Health Team for emergency deployments.  He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Public Association of NYC (PHANYC), the NY Metro Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and the NYC Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene-Columbia University Preventive Medicine Program, and holds an appointment of guest investigator at the Rockefeller University.  He is coauthor on 40 papers. His wife Dr. Karen Becker is a physician at a Federally Qualified Health Center in the Bronx and is on the clinical and teaching faculty at the Montefiore Dept of Family and Community Medicine.  They have two children.
CDR Catherine Beer, MS

Commander Catherine Beer has served in the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) since 2009.  She currently works for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) where she has held the position of Investigator (with a focus on Medical Devices, Biologics and Foods) for 5 years and is currently serving as a Compliance Officer for the New York District Office.  CDR Beer also serves on the RIST Region 2 Deployment Team.  CDR Beer is Co-Chair of the JOAG Officer Health and Wellness Subcommittee and also serves as an active member on the HSPAC Career Development Subcommittee. 

CDR Beer’s educational background includes a BS in Biology and a MS in Organic Chemistry from Illinois State University. Prior to USPHS, LCDR Beer worked for 5 years in pharmaceutical industry as a Medicinal Chemist working on novel drug design. 


LT Tara K. Carmody, MPH

Lieutenant (LT) Tara Carmody currently works as an investigator for the Food and Drug Administration in the New York District Office.  She earned a BS in Biology from St. John's University in 2008.  She then went on to earn a Masters in Public Health from Nova Southeastern University in 2012.  LT Carmody was hired by the FDA in August 2008 and called to active duty in February 2013.  Her current deployment team is Tier III, Roster E.

CDR Andrew J. Chen, MPH, MBA, FACHE

Commander Andrew Chen is a Regional Emergency Coordinator for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services. CDR Chen is a Health Services Officer in the US Public Health Service and has been on continuous active duty since October 2005. Serving as a Regional Emergency Coordinator for Region II since August 2007, CDR Chen provides support and oversight to all activities related to Emergency Support Function #8 (Public Health and Medical Services) under the Department of Homeland Security’s National Response Framework for New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

CDR Chen has been on multiple deployments, including to McGuire AFB, NJ, in support of the evacuation of American citizens from Lebanon (July 2006); Chicago, IL, and Indianapolis, IN, in support of the Midwest floods and the recovery of Columbus (IN) Regional Hospital (June-July 2008); Baton Rouge, LA, San Juan, PR, Tallahassee, FL, and Denton, TX, in support of hurricanes Gustav and Ike (August-September 2008); Buffalo, NY, in support of victim recovery and identification operations for the Continental Connection 3407 plane crash (February 2009); Jefferson City, MO, in support of the tornado response for Joplin, MO (May 2011); and San Juan, PR, and Albany, NY, in support of the response for Hurricane Irene and the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee (August-September 2011).

CDR Chen’s prior experience includes serving as Assistant Vice President at the Hospital for Joint Diseases Orthopaedic Institute (now known as NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases) from 1999-2005, where in addition to overseeing ten areas of operations and departments, he served as the hospital’s emergency management coordinator and oversaw the hospital’s response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the power outage on August 14, 2003.  CDR Chen’s first tour of duty in the USPHS was as a Watch Officer in the Secretary’s Operations Center in Washington, DC, from October 2005 to August 2007.

CDR Chen holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Certificate in Community Health from Tufts University (1995); a Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University (1998); and an Executive Master of Business Administration from Columbia Business School (2002).  He is also a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and resides in Bucks County, PA with his wife, Dr. Jessica E. Stehr.

CAPT Chae Un Chong, BPharm, M.S.

CAPT Chae Un Chong is currently the Chief Pharmacist with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York.  She was the Regional Pharmacy Consultant with ICE Health Services Corps under the Department of Homeland Security.  As the Pharmacy Consultant, she is responsible for the provision of a full range of pharmacy services within her region as well as having managerial responsibilities related to the operation of IHSC pharmacies. CAPT Chong began her career as the Chief Pharmacist with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York. After 7 years of distinctive service with the BOP, she joined the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in May 2000.  Her first duty station was with the Division of Immigration Health Service as a Tele-Pharmacist to manage the pharmacy service in Eastern Facilities in New York and New Jersey.  The agency recognized her natural leadership skills and appointed her to lead the Pharmacy Program as a Pharmacy Consultant and a Pharmacy Program Manager.


CAPT Chong received degrees in Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from Rutgers College of Pharmacy (now known as the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy) and her degrees in Master of Science in Pharmacotherapy from the Long Island University.  She also has earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree recently from the University of Florida where she was awarded “Professional Leadership Award” upon her graduation in 2013. Her deployment role for ReDDOG is SAT-2 and she is a point of contact for the Ernesto Mario School of Pharmacy.

Romerl Elizes, DPS, MBA

Romerl Elizes is an Information Technology Specialist with 17 years of software/web development experience servicing Federal, state, academic, and corporate stakeholders. Romerl was an Inactive Reserve Corps Officer (IRC) until the passing of the PPACA on March 2010. During his service to IRC, Romerl participated in short tours that included developing an application to handle and report H1N1 nationwide data for ASPR at HHS HQ (January 2010), developing algorithms to clean hospital data for CDC EIS officers (December 2009), and developing a training database for the Office of Reserve Affairs (September 2009) of the Office of the Surgeon General.
While he is trying to regain a commission with the US Public Health Service, Romerl has remained active as the Co-Webmaster for the NYCOA. Romerl was responsible for uploading most of the current website content for the JOAG, Atlanta COA, and New York COA websites. Romerl was also the former Career Opportunities chair for the HSPAC Information Technology Professional Advisory Group (ITPAG), Online Career Opportunities co-chair of the JOAG Recruitment and Retention Committee, Website chair for the HSPAC Communications and Publications Committee, Website chair of the JOAG Communications and Publications Committee, and Co-Webmaster for the Atlanta Chapter of COA. Romerl is a Senior Developer Manager for the Research Foundation of the City University of New York. He is also a First Lieutenant in the New York Guard serving as the Station Administrative Officer of the 244th Medical Clinic at Camp Smith Training Station, Cortlandt Manor, New York. Romerl is the recipient of the PHS Citation Medal, PHS Unit Commendation Medal, PHS CCRF Ribbon, NY Guard Achievement Medal, SGAUS MEMS Badge, and SGAUS Membership Ribbon.

Romerl was raised in New York City. In addition to his work experience, he has a Doctor of Professional Studies in Computing from Pace University, a Master of Business of Administration in Computer Information Systems from Baruch College, and a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science from Hunter College. He maintains his physical fitness through weight training, running, martial arts, and pick-up football. He currently holds a 1st Degree Black Belt in Taekwon-Do. Romerl currently resides in New Jersey with his wife and 2 children.

LCDR Kimberly Garner, BS, MS, MPH
Lieutenant Kimberly Garner is an Environmental Health Officer and works for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), serving as the Health and Safety Manager for Region 2 (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands).  As the Health and Safety Manager, she oversees a great variety of safety programs, providing guidance to supervisors, employees and union members on safety related issues.  In addition, she serves as the Region’s Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator for employees with disabilities and works to ensure employee health by collaborating with Federal Occupational Health to provide health promotion and disease prevention activities for employees. 
Prior to joining the U.S. Public Health Service, she earned her Masters in Public Health from Emory University in Environmental and Occupational Health.  This degree helped to instill in her the importance of strong public health leaders in this nation and sparked her interest in serving in the Commissioned Corps.  She also holds a Master in Science from the University of Tennessee in Animal Science (emphasis microbiology) and a Bachelor of Science in Pre-Veterinary Medicine from Tennessee State University.  LT Garner joined NYCOA soon after being called to active duty and is also an active member of JOAG.  Her deployment role for OFRD is RIST Region 2. 


CAPT Chandak Ghosh, MD, MPH
A Board-Certified ophthalmologist, Captain Ghosh is a Senior Medical Advisor for Federal Policy at Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).  His work led to the development of HRSA’s National Performance Review Protocol, utilized to improve all Federal health grantees, including hospitals, universities, and community health centers. 

 CAPT Ghosh, a nationally-recognized expert in minority health equity, stands committed to the health needs of underserved populations and keeps focus on the impact of economic downsizing on quality of care.  His research and published articles have been presented before Congress and the White House and have energized collaborations among foundations, community-based groups, government, and academia.  The U.S. Public Health Service has awarded CAPT Ghosh a rare three Outstanding Service Medals, among its highest honors, for “influencing progress towards health equity on a national scale.”

After his undergraduate studies at Yale, CAPT Ghosh received his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia and completed a chief residency in ophthalmology at Long Island Jewish Hospital/Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  He served as a Commonwealth Fund Fellow in Minority Health Policy and received a Masters in Public Health from Harvard University, School of Public Health.  CAPT  Ghosh has been on Active Duty since 2002.

LCDR Kimberley Gordon-Ricketts, BS, MPH
Lieutenant Kimberley Gordon currently works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a Public Health Advisor detailed to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  She previously served as a Consumer Safety Office with the Food and Drug Administration in the New York District Office.  She earned a BS in Biology & Psychology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2005.  She then went on to earn a Masters in Public Health in Health Policy and Management from the University at Albany in 2007.  LCDR Ricketts was hired by FDA in September 2008 and called to active duty in July 2011.  Her current deployment team is Tier III, Roster A and she hopes to join a NIST team in the future.

LCDR Doreen Gubbay, RD
Lieutenant Commander Doreen Gubbay earned her BS in Dietetics from Rutgers University in 2006.  In 2007 she completed her Dietetic Internship from University of Delaware, fulfilling her rotations at various facilities in Ocean County, NJ.  After graduation, she worked for an outpatient medical wellness facility as a Registered Dietitian, counseling patients on lifestyle and disease management.  In February 2010, LCDR Gubbay was hired as a Consumer Safety Officer (CSO) with the Food and Drug Administration at the Resident Post in North Brunswick, NJ.  In June 2010, she Commissioned as a USPHS Officer.  Her deployment role is on RDF3.  
CDR Harlem J. Gunness, MPH, PHP

Commander Harlem J. Gunness serves as the Assistant Officer-In-Charge at the CDC JFK Airport Quarantine Station working to prevent the introduction of diseases in the US.  Prior to this experience, he worked at NY State DOH with Bioterrorism initiatives, CDC with SARS project management and HIV/AIDS project management and research. He earned Bachelors and Masters degrees at Hunter College, City University of New York with a concentration in Public Health-Community Health Education.  Currently, he is in his second year pursuing a doctoral degree in public health at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey with a concentration in health education/behavior modification.  LCDR Gunness has three years in PHS and has just been elected as Associate Recruiter for the HSO category.

CDR Liatte Kreuger, PharmD
Liatte Krueger is serving as a Compliance Officer for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA), New Jersey District Office in Parsippany, NJ, since 2009. In her current role, she conducts domestic and international drug and dietary supplement inspections. LCDR Krueger is a Pharmacy Officer called to active duty in 2005.  Commander Liatte Krueger graduated from the University of Rhode Island - School of Pharmacy in 2006 with a Doctorate in Pharmacy degree, and is currently pursuing her MPH with a concentration in Nutrition from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.  Prior to joining the FDA as a Consumer Safety Officer, CDR Krueger served as a Senior Pharmacist for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota for 3.5 years. Her current OFRD deployment role is accountability officer for RIST-2, a Tier I deployment team. Her most recent deployment was for Super Bowl 48.

LT Sarah Meehan, M.S.
Lieutenant Sarah Meehan earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Montana in 2006. In 2007, she started her career in Public Health working as an Environmental Health Specialist for the Allegheny County Health Department Food Safety Division in Pittsburgh, PA. In this position, she inspected retail food establishments and was involved in various public health programs such as the West Nile Virus Prevention Program, Raccoon Rabies Vaccination Program and Hazardous Waste Recycling Day.

In 2008, LT Meehan began her career with FDA in Jamaica, NY as a Consumer Safety Officer (CSO) where she inspects various types of food manufacturing facilities, conducts trace-back investigations, and responds to consumer complaints. She earned a M.S. in Environmental & Occupational Health Science at Hunter College School of Public Health in 2013. After graduation, she commissioned as an Environmental Health Officer for the United States Public Health Service. Sarah was selected as a Food Specialist for the FDA New York District in 2013. Her deployment role is currently Tier 3, Roster C.

LCDR Stephen Mottola, PharmD, MBA
Lieutenant Commander Stephen Mottola graduated from the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University in 2009 with a Doctorate in Pharmacy degree, and a Masters in Business Administration degree from The Rutgers Business School in 2014.  He was commissioned in the summer of 2011 and works as a supervisory consumer safety officer for the FDA, Office of Regulatory Affairs, New Jersey District Office (Parsippany) where he oversees investigators who conduct domestic and international food and drug inspections.  He is a member of the RIST 2 deployment team and was deployed during Super Bowl 48. LCDR Mottola’s prior experience includes functioning as a senior medical writer in oncology for Ogilvy CommonHealth from 2009 to 2010.

CAPT Farah Parvez, MD, MPH
Captain Farah Parvez serves as Director of the Office of Correctional Public Health for the CDC’s New York City Department of Health.  As Director, Dr. Parvez develops public health programs and policy for the New York City jail system.

LCDR George A. Pourakis, MD, MPH
Lieutenant Commander George Pourakis is currently serving in the Health Resources & Services Administration as a Senior Public Health Analyst.  Prior to this, he served as the Senior Medical Officer at U.S. Coast Guard New York, where he was assigned since March 2010.  Prior experience include serving on the H1N1 Community Mitigation Task Force in the H1N1 Policy Unit at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta from September 2009 to February 2010, as well as serving as the Physician Intern for Healthcare Issues onh the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the US House of Representatives from June 2009 to August 2009.

LCDR Pourakis attended medical school at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he also completed his residency and attained board certification in Preventive Medicine. He also earned his Master of Public Health from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

LCDR Michael Serrano, BS, PA-C
Prior to becoming a PHS officer, LCDR Michael Serrano received degrees in Bachelor of Science in Biology and Physician Assistant, worked in a major pharmaceutical company, as a Drug Safety Associate, then commissioned on 2006. His first assignment was working in the Department of Immigration and Health Services in San Diego. When returning to New Jersey, he worked as a civilian PA at Mount Sinai Hospital in the Thoracic Surgery Unit, worked 50% in surgery and 50% in post surgical/ICU. In 2008, he was recommissioned to the FDA at the New Jersey District Office (Parsippany, NJ) as an Investigator. LCDR Serrano also currently practices as a PA in an Urgent Care center in New Jersey. He has been deployed once and has participated on multiple OFRD trainings. His current deployment team is SAT II.

LCDR Erica J. Sison, MPH
Lieutenant Commander Erica J. Sison is serving as the Officer in Charge for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, Newark Quarantine Station at the Newark Airport, since 2013. LCDR Sison is a Health Services Officer called to active duty in 2010. LCDR Sison’s background is in infectious disease epidemiology and emergency preparedness. Prior to joining the CDC Newark Quarantine Station as a Public Health Officer in 2009, LCDR Sison served as the Infectious Disease Epidemiologist and Surveillance/Epidemiology Coordinator for the Newark Department of Health for 4 years.
LCDR Sison earned a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry with a Minor in Neuroscience from Miami University of Ohio and a MPH with a dual concentration in Epidemiology and Health Policy & Health Administration from Rutgers University - School of Public Health. Currently, she is working on her PhD in Epidemiology. Her OFRD deployment role is RIST-2, Tier I.

LT Racquel Stephenson, BS, MPH, REHS
Lieutenant Racquel Stephenson currently works as a Quarantine Public Health Officer for the CDC’s New York Quarantine Station, at JFK International Airport. She joined the Commissioned Corps in 2009, where her first assignment was as a Regional Representative with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Before becoming a USPHS officer, LT Stephenson was an epidemiology intelligence service (EIS) fellow with the Florida Department of Health. She received her MPH in Global Environmental Health from Emory University, and BS in Biology from Oakwood University. LT Stephenson is also an active member of the Junior Officer Advisory Group (JOAG) and the Environmental Health Officer Professional Advisory Committee (EHOPAC).

CDR Samuel J. Schaffzin, MPA

Commander Samuel Schaffzin is currently assigned to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) where he serves as a Technical Director for Health IT and as national program lead for the Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program. In this role he helps develop, implement and evaluate the Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Program and provides technical assistance to states on developing, upgrading and streamlining Medicaid Enrollment and Eligibility Systems in order to be compliant with the Affordable Care Act. Previously, CDR Schaffzin was with the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, where he served as a Senior Program Officer for the Division of the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps (DCVMRC) and coordinated programmatic activities and conducted national outreach on behalf of the Post 9/11 Public Health Preparedness program. CDR Schaffzin holds a Bachelors degree from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, and an M.P.A. in Health Policy and Management from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

CDR Elena Vaouli, BS, MPH, REHS/RS
Commander Elena Vaouli, Environmental Health Officer, is a Regional Representative for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's (ATSDR) Region 2 Office. Before moving to the area, CDR Vaouli spent 10 years doing water quality work in the U.S. Territory of American Samoa at the local Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2007, she received her commissioning to the USPHS. Her first assignment was with USEPA Region 9 in San Francisco, where she was detailed back out to America Samoa to serve as the local EPA's Water Program Manager. In addition to the NYCOA, CDR Vaouli actively participates in subcommittees of the Junior Officer's Advisory Group (JOAG) and Asian Pacific American Officer's Committee (APAOC). She holds a BS degree in Biology from The Catholic University of America, and an MPH in Environmental Health Science from Johns Hopkins University.

CDR Frank Verni, RPh
Commander Frank Verni earned his Pharmacy degree in 2002 from St. John’s University.  CDR Verni worked as a retail & compounding pharmacist in the NYC area for six years before being commissioned in the US Public Health Service in 2007.  CDR Verni currently works for the Food and Drug Administration - Office of Regulatory Affairs in the New York District office. Here he is a Consumer Safety Officer with a focus on Pharmaceutical & Medical Device inspections.  CDR Verni is the UPOC for both St. John’s University and Long Island University College’s of pharmacy in the NYC area.  CDR Verni is an active member in both JOAG and the Pharmacy PAC. CDR Verni’s OFRD deployment role is Tier 3, Roster C; and he was deployed to Texas in response to Hurricane Ike in 2008.

CDR William Waldron, MBA, MHA
Commander “Rusty” Waldron has served in the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) since 2003. He has held positions in budget, finance, operations and administration at various duty stations while working for the Medical Affairs Branch and ICE Health Service Corps (IHSC). CDR Waldron has also served as Aide de Camp to Surgeon General Richard Carmona from June 2004 – July 2004. Currently, he is the Health Services Administrator for ICE Health Service Corps and covers two clinics in the New York/New Jersey region as well as the RIST Region 2 Team lead.

CDR Waldron’s educational background includes a BS in Business Management and a dual Masters in Business Administration and Health Administration from the Pennsylvania State University. Prior to USPHS, CDR Waldron served as a Medical Service Corps officer in the United States Navy.

CDR Jerry Zee, PharmD
Commander Jerry Zee is the Regional Pharmacist for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Region II which encompasses NY, NJ, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands since 2012.   

CDR Zee obtained a dual degree of Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Marketing & Management, and Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University in Boston, Massachusetts.  He also obtained a Masters in Public Health (MPH) degree at Hunter College, CUNY School of Public Health, with a focus in Health Policy & Management.  

Commander Zee was commissioned into the US Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps in 2005.  He was initially stationed in Washington state with the Indian Health Services (IHS) under the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as a staff pharmacist and satellite clinic manager.  From 2009 to 2012, CDR Zee was the senior pharmacist for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) under the Department of Justice (DOJ) at the Metropolitan Correctional Center of New York.