Steven Larson, MD, is a cofounder of Puentes de Salud. He served as the assistant dean for Global Health Programs and an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

He received his B.A. in fine arts from Haverford College and his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.  Over the past 20 years, Dr. Larson has developed an extensive working knowledge of the health care issues facing immigrant populations in the United States and in under-served populations worldwide. Since 1988 he has immersed himself in the history of Central America and examined the impact of politics, geography, economics and religion on health care. He visits frequently and has many personal and professional contacts throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador. In 1993 Dr. Larson established Frontline Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine to help students and residents explore the complex issues facing underserved populations. In 1999, with the goal of collaborating nationally with other medical educators committed to global health, Dr. Larson joined IHMEC, the International Health Medical Education Consortium (now GHEC). In 2000 he was elected to its Governing Council. Through this relationship, Dr. Larson has identified an expanded range of clinical and research opportunities for Penn medical students over the past 10 years. Dr. Larson also serves as the faculty advisor for the student-run Global Health Interest Group.

From 1993 to 2006, Dr. Larson served as the volunteer medical consultant for Project Salud, a nurse-managed migrant health clinic located in rural southern Chester County that provides health care to the predominantly Mexican labor force employed in the local agricultural industry. In 1994 Dr. Larson created an elective course on immigrant health for medical and nursing students. In 2003, recognizing the rapid growth of an urbanized, undocumented Latino population, Dr. Larson and his colleagues Drs. Jack Ludmir and Matthew O’Brien initiated work to establish Puentes de Salud.

Educating the next generation of students who will work on improving community health has been an important component of Dr. Larson’s career.  Below are links to several open source lectures about community and global health by Dr. Larson.

Open Source Teaching: Dr. Steven Larson on Global & Community Health

UPenn Global Health Career Day: Dr. Steven Larson (select track 7 to view or download)

Dr. Jack Ludmir (Co-Founder)

Jack Ludmir, M.D. is the Senior Vice President for Physician Engagement and Integration at Jefferson Health System and the Associate Provost for Community and Global Initiatives at Thomas Jefferson University. In this role he is responsible for establishing partnerships at the local and global level (Glocal Programs). Prior to this position he was the Professor and Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Pennsylvania Hospital, and the Vice Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania for 18 years. He was a founder of the Academy of Master Clinicians at Penn Medicine, and the Past Chair of the Governing Council for Maternal and Child Health for the American Hospital Association.

A graduate of Temple University School of Medicine, he completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and was on the faculty at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania for thirty years. His clinical and research activities have focused on cervical function in pregnancy and prenatal care for vulnerable populations.

Dr. Ludmir was awarded the Alfred Stengel Penn Health System Champion Award for improving, transforming and integrating the entire University of Pennsylvania Health System’s Obstetrical Services, ensuring that every patient has a right to prenatal care. He is a strong advocate for making high quality care available to vulnerable populations, including the underserved and uninsured in the Philadelphia region and globally. He was the President of Women and Children’s Health Services (currently the Ludmir Center for Women’s Health), a not for profit organization devoted to the care of women from the surrounding community and is a co-founder of Puentes de Salud and Latina Community Health Services, organizations providing free care to uninsured immigrants. The Maternity Care Coalition in Philadelphia awarded him the Spirit of Motherhood Award for strengthening families and inspiring change every day. The March of Dimes gave him the Roosevelt Award for Service to Humanity and Philadelphia Magazine named him one of the “Best Philadelphians”.

He is currently serving as the liaison coordinator between The Federation of Latin American Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FLASOG) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). He has established formal relationships with several universities and hospitals in Latin America to improve the safety and quality of obstetric care. In recognition for these services he received the Outstanding District Service Award and the Peter Hollis Community Service Award from ACOG, and has received honorary degrees from several universities in Latin America.

Orfelina Feliz Payne, Executive Director

Orfelina Feliz Payne (she/her/ella), joined the Puentes team in 2022 as the Executive Director. She has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in Business from Gwynedd Mercy University. She has also earned a Business Process Management Certification from Villanova University and Six Sigma Green Belt Certification. Lina joined Puentes after serving for almost 18 years in various positions at Community Behavioral Health (CBH), the primary contracted behavioral health provider for the City of Philadelphia and a key partner in Philadelphia-based health initiatives. As the first Latina Director within the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual Disabilities, she most recently served as Senior Director of Member Services at CBH where she was responsible for a budget of $3M and supervised a staff of 51 people.  With a personal identification fostered by her real-life experiences of trauma, poverty, and discrimination, Orfelina brings a passion for applying strategic, yet thoughtful, initiatives that promote the empowerment and overall welfare of communities habitually treated with disregard.

Dacey Stratton, Medical Director 

Dacey Stratton, CRNP, joined the Puentes team in 2016. As the Medical Director, Dacey oversees Puentes Clinic operations. Dacey also leads the Women’s Health Program, where she provides GYN and prenatal care to Puentes clients, and works to expand access to sexual health and contraceptive services. Dacey completed her Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in Women’s Health at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the Puentes team, she served as the lead clinician at Latina Community Health Services, a grant-funded program serving immigrant women.

Annette Silva, Nurse Liaison & Clinic Manager

Annette Silva, LPN, has worked in community health and outreach as a clinical nurse since 1992.  Since 2008, Annette has served as Puentes de Salud’s community nurse liaison, a position in which she actively engages in education programs, social services and clinical care.

Her bilingual (English/Spanish) and bicultural background (United States/Latin America) provides the ideal framework for her service in the Latinx community. From 1992 to 2006 she worked as a community health nurse in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. This experience honed her clinical skills and highlighted the importance of a collaborative team effort in meeting the health care needs of under-served populations. Subsequently, she developed the skills to effectively interface with physicians, social services organizations, hospital business administrators, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

Daphne Owen, Director of Medical Education and Development

Dr. Daphne Owen, MD, has been a volunteer at Puentes since 2009. In her time at Puentes, Daphne has worked as a volunteer in various capacities from receptionist, to after-school program leader, to physician. In her current role as Director of Medical Education and Development, Daphne oversees student volunteers at the Puentes clinic and also recruits and coordinates clinical volunteers. Daphne is committed to ensuring a special learning experience for student volunteers at the Puentes clinic and expanding our network of volunteer health professionals.Daphne received her BA from the University of California Berkeley, where she studied Sociology.  She completed post-baccalaureate premedical studies at Bryn Mawr College, and received her MD from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 2015.  Daphne completed her residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.  She currently serves as Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Sharon Katzenbach, Family Nurse Practitioner

Sharon Katzenbach (she/her/ella), CRNP, joined the Puentes clinic team as a volunteer in 2013 and sees Primary Care patients. Sharon received her BA in Medical Anthropology and Masters of Science in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the Puentes team, Sharon taught in Penn’s Family Nurse Practitioner program and worked clinically in primary care in South Philadelphia and the Emergency Department at Penn. She enjoys promoting  interdisciplinary education at Puentes- precepting nursing students, working with promtoras and medical residents. Sharon is committed to making high quality comprehensive primary care accessible to the Puentes community.

Wendy Santoyo, Patient Services Coordinator

Wendy Santoyo joined the Puentes team in 2012 as a community promotora. In this role, she taught workshops about diabetes prevention, sexual health, nutrition and cooking classes and supported Puentes patients through one on one counseling and resource navigation. In 2021, Wendy stepped into the role of Patient Services Coordinator, where she coordinates the clinic volunteer and provider schedules, oversees student volunteers as they receive patients at the front desk and support the daily functioning of clinic shifts. Wendy was born in Mexico City and moved to Philadelphia in 2004. Prior to her work at Puentes, she worked in the restaurant and childcare industries, and volunteered with the Ludmir Center for Women’s Health. Wendy is passionate about supporting the Latinx community, and loves interacting with Puentes community members.

Carol Godines, Patient Services Supervisor

Carol Godines (she/her/ella) joined Puentes Clinic team as the Patient Services Supervisor in March 2023. Carol holds a Medical Assistant Certificate, Associates in Health Care Studies and is currently continuing her education in Nursing. At Puentes, she is one of the first people patients encounter; she coordinates day to day schedules, communicates with providers, and helps with the clinic to make sure everything runs smoothly. Carol was born and raised in Mexico and has always had a passion for fixing the cracks in the healthcare system and for helping the Latinx community. In her career, Carol hopes to improve equality in healthcare for all people, regardless of their background.

Mariana Argüelles, Wellness Director

Mariana Argüelles (she/ella), MSW, was born and raised in Mexico and immigrated to the US in 2011. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Master’s degree in Social Work in 2018 and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Gender and Health Studies in 2015. She began working with Puentes de Salud part-time in September 2021, as a bilingual sexuality educator and later transitioned into a full-time role as the Adolescent Education Supervisor. Mariana currently serves as the Health & Wellness Director. In this role, Mariana manages Puentes de Salud’s Food Access, Case Management, and Behavioral Health programs. Mariana is also responsible for Puentes de Salud’s medical-legal partnership and, in collaboration with our clinic, the promotora program. Mariana has many years of experience as a nonprofit professional working in the intersections of social justice, health, and immigration. Prior to joining Puentes de Salud, Mariana worked with diverse Latinx immigrant populations doing individual counseling, support groups, medical case management, education, and advocacy. 

 

Olivia Pandolfi, Food Access Coordinator 

Olivia Pandolfi (they/elle) joined the Puentes Health & Wellness team in September 2021. As Food Access Coordinator, Olivia coordinates the Food Pharmacy and Despensa delivery programs at Puentes. They collaborate with a large team of volunteers, drivers, the Promotora team, and community members to bring free, culturally responsive food to the Puentes community. Olivia has been shaped by deep relationship over the last 5 years with Guatemalan land and water protectors through NISGUA (the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala), where they served as an international human rights accompanier in 2018-19 and 2023. Olivia is interested in body- and movement-based healing practices and became a certified yoga instructor in 2021 with YogaRoots on Location, a Black-woman led yoga studio in Pittsburgh. They graduated from Oberlin College in 2018, where they studied History and Religion. They live on occupied Lenni Lenape land in South Philadelphia.

Jeanette Rodriguez, Case Manager

Jeanette Rodriguez is a Social Worker with more than 30 years of experience. Jeanette joined the Puentes team in 2022 as a Case Manager, where she supports Puentes clients through medical and social case management. Jeanette has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Puerto Rico. She started her career as a Certified Case manager for the state of Florida where she developed her passion for working with Latinx families. She has experience working with immigrant families, elders, substance abuse, mental health, homelessness, and eating disorders. Her professional life includes a commitment to serving the needs of children and families. As a Puerto Rican and a Hispanic female in this country she is familiar with the difficulties our community is facing and understands how important it is for them to be connected to the appropriate resources in order for them to achieve their individual goals and become a successful member of their community. It is her goal to continue growing and learning in her role to better serve our community.

Susana Rodriguez, Food Access Assistant

Susana Rodríguez (she/her/ella) joined the Puentes Health Wellness program in August 2022 as the Food Access Assistant. In this role, Susana facilitates’ families’ access to the Puentes Food Pharmacy, and connection to other resources. Susana holds an Associates Degree in Applied Science with a major in Hospitality Management, and is in the process of obtaining a second degree in Health Promotion and Education. Susana was born in Mexico, and has lived in Philadelphia for the past 15 years. In addition to her work with Puentes, Susana works with the Public Health Management Corporation’s Parents Child Plus program, where she supports families in her community with early learning and school readiness.

Sara Fernandez, Behavioral Health Consultant

Sara Fernandez-Marcote is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 18 years of experience in community behavioral health. Since 2021, Sara has worked as a Behavioral Health Consultant at Puentes, providing culturally responsive therapy to Puentes clients. Sara also develops and facilitates training on behavioral health topics to increase community awareness, reduce stigma and empower individuals. Sara attained a B.A. in Psychology and French from Arcadia University and her M. Ed. in Counseling Psychology from Temple University. Sara has received specialized training in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Perinatal Depression, Anti-racism in Trauma-Informed Care, Problem Gambling, The Sanctuary Model, Wellness Recovery Action Planning and Global Mental Health. Sara is an affiliate member of the National Child Trauma Stress Network and is a certified trainer for the Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma. Sara intentionally creates calm, supportive, and validating spaces to explore the challenges, frustrations, and wounds that bring people to therapy. She uses a collaborative and empowering approach to identify the client’s strengths to create a roadmap to achieve goals and live a healthier life.

Jorge Balverdi, Behavioral Health Consultant

Jorge Balverdi is a licensed professional counselor with over 19 years of experience treating psychological distress and psychiatric conditions in culturally diverse groups. Since 2022, Jorge has worked as a Behavioral Health Consultant at Puentes, providing culturally responsive therapy to Puentes clients. Jorge also develops and facilitates training on behavioral health topics to increase community awareness, reduce stigma and empower individuals.Jorge‘s clients describe him as supportive and nonjudgmental and also warmly challenging. Jorge specializes in trauma, interpersonal conflicts, depression and anxiety. He also has a wealth of experience treating young adults as they manage specific role transitions, and particularly loves working with immigrant and refugee communities.

Renny Perla, Education Director

Renny Perla, M.A., (she/her/ella) joined Puentes in September 2022 as the Education Director,  overseeing the Puentes Education branch and guiding the growth of the Pre-K-12th educational initiatives and programming. As a proud daughter of Mexican immigrants and first generation college graduate, Renny has advocated for equity and justice for underrepresented families and youth in the education, legal, and social services sectors. Prior to joining Puentes, Renny worked in both policy and direct case management service roles for various nonprofits in Philadelphia and has worked with NGOs in Latin America providing technical assistance in international development projects on the educational rights of vulnerable and migrant youth. She has experience in educational advocacy at the city, state, and national levels and has classroom teaching experience. Renny attained a B.S. in Secondary Education & Social Studies Education from Temple University and holds a M.A. in Education and Human Development, specializing in International Education, from George Washington University.

Gaby Martinez Hernandez, Puentes Hacia el Futuro Supervisor

​​Gaby Martinez Hernandez (she/ella) graduated from Swarthmore College where she studied English Literature and Education. In the summer of 2020, Gaby began volunteering with the Puentes despensa program and continued volunteering with Puentes as a tutor for virtual afterschool programming. With a passion for teaching and learning with students, she continued student teaching at Kirkbride in a middle school classroom. Currently she is the Education Supervisor of the Puentes Hacia el Futuro program where she supports after school and summer programming for elementary and middle-school aged youth. Gaby is adamant about abolishing carceral systems and creating a free and joyous world where families have all the resources they need.

Maria Arreaga, Adolescent Education Supervisor 

Maria Paula Arreaga (she/her/ella) joined the Puentes Education team as the Adolescent Education Supervisor in February 2023. Maria oversees the Lanzando Líderes programming, cultivating the minds of Latinx high schoolers and empowering them to be future community leaders through educational efforts. Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and raised in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, Maria has always had a strong passion for serving the immigrant community. In the Spring of 2021, Maria graduated from Penn State University with a BA in Spanish, and minors in Global & International Studies and Latinx Studies. Following graduation, Maria worked as a Case Manager at Nationalities Service Center where she provided case management to immigrant survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. She worked closely with adolescents ages 16-18 and this role inspired her to want to continue working with youth.

Argelia Mejia-Cuba, Education Volunteer Coordinator

Argelia Mejia-Cuba (she/her/ella) joined the Puentes team in 2023 as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Education Department. Argelia oversees volunteers and works directly with students in the programs. In May 2023, Argelia will graduate with a B.A in Psychology and a minor certification in Education from Temple University. She hopes to obtain her Masters degree in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Bilingual studies to be able to offer mental health services to the Latinx immigrant population in South Philadelphia. She is passionate about breaking that generational trauma that exists between families and hopes to provide a space of healing and nurturing for the community where she was born and raised.

Nora Litz, Director of Arts & Culture 

Nora Hiriart Litz, MFA, is a printmaker and painter born in Mexico City. She attended the Arts Students League in New York and received her BFA at Moore College of Art and Design. Nora currently works in several major cities and countries via a career focused on the arts, education, and activism for human rights. Since 2013, Nora has served as the inaugural Director of Art and Cultural programming for Puentes. In this role, Nora organizes long-term art-making and community-building projects in which community members use art to process different themes, including experiences of immigration, reactions to U.S. immigration policy, celebrating and remembering cultural traditions and ancestral knowledge, and more. Nora also supports the Puentes a las artes early childhood program, and has directed numerous art projects in collaboration with both national and international and Philadelphia institutions.

José Lemus, Art and Education Coordinator

José Lemus (Lemus) is a first-generation Mexican-American multidisciplinary artist and arts educator from California who resides in Philadelphia. He got his BFA in fine arts from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 2020. Before joining Puentes staff, He taught art classes and worked in education in California and Philadelphia. Lemus joined Puentes de Salud in the fall of 2017 as a Volunteer to support Puentes’ Art and Culture with community arts projects. He now joins Puentes as the coordinator of art and education as an artist and educator. In collaboration with the Puentes’ art and culture and education programs, Lemus is part of the El Proyecto Grandote core team. He helps facilitate and develop the three art projects and installations for this community project. His experience in art education and community involvement promotes his role in empowering South Philadelphia Latinx community members and youth through art and creativity. He teaches culturally relevant art classes to a group of elementary students through the Talleres de Arte program, a new program developed in spring 2023.