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)

Orfelina has spent the past 25 years dedicated to her life’s mission: combating social injustice through education and wellness. 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.

Orfelina joins us 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.

Orfelina began her work at CBH in Member Services, serving on multidisciplinary workgroups and conducting in-person outreach to individuals who were unhoused, afflicted with severe mental illness, suffering from substance use, and/or immigrants and refugees. She subsequently served in CBH’s Clinical Operations, Compliance Personnel Review, Provider Operations and Data Analytics departments. Armed with a breadth of understanding about business operations, Orfelina opted to return to Member Services in 2016 in a management role, using her eagerness to apply business management strategies to support Philadelphia’s diverse communities.

In 2017, Orfelina led an employee resource group called “VOCES”, aimed at bridging communication and educational gaps between impoverished communities and the Medicaid system of Philadelphia. That same year, Orfelina coordinated CBH’s strategy and staff resources in support of the Mayor’s “Task Force Response to Combat the Opioid Epidemic, in addition to other City and CBH ground level initiatives. As Orfelina expanded in her roles, she ensured increased access to language resources for some of the most vulnerable Philadelphians. She facilitated successful partnerships between a network of providers and the City’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Behavioral Health and Justice Division, the Department of Human Services, the School District of Philadelphia, the Family Resource Network, and the Community Satisfaction Team. As a result of her ability to build and sustain collaborative relationships, Orfelina was the recipient of the Grapevine Award from the Philadelphia Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbilities in 2019.

A strategic and servant leader, Orfelina transformed the culture of the Member Services Department and strategically aligned department resources using Six Sigma and business process designs. Her genuine investment in people and thoughtfulness in strategy ensured the Department reached 100% of state compliance standards within two years of her leadership. During her tenure, Member Services shifted from manual to electronic documents, developed the first CBH Member Newsletter, distributed the first Member Experience Survey and trained to begin piloting a chat function on the CBH website. Most recently, Orfelina led efforts toward Multicultural Health Care Accreditation through the National Quality Council for Community Behavioral Health. Her work ensures an increase in language access services and standards as well as the development of a Consumer Council, ensuring the inclusion of member voices as part of the ongoing standard of care.

In addition to her role as Senior Director of Member Services, Orfelina served as the Disparity Mitigation and Language Access Co-Chair for the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health. In these roles, she facilitated and participated in workgroups focused on listening and advocated for the inclusion of member voices, standards of care and the need for diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels of functioning in the organization.

Proudly born and raised in the South Bronx of New York, Orfelina has lived in Pennsylvania for over 20 years. 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. Recently, Orfelina has been accepted into a doctoral program for marriage and family therapy at Eastern University.

Orfelina prides herself on being a woman of faith, a systemic thinker and an agent of change.   She is the proud mother of two wonderful boys and wife to her amazing college sweetheart. Her friends and family affectionately call her by her nickname, Lina.

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.

Alexandra Wolkoff, BA, graduated from Haverford College in 2014, where she studied Sociology and Education. She joined the Puentes team in July 2014, beginning as the Puentes Hacia el Futuro Program Supervisor and progressing to Assistant Director of Education. As the current Director of Education, she oversees both the daily operating and long-term development of our growing educational programs for children from early childhood through adolescence and their families. Alexandra works closely with Southwark School, Puentes de Salud providers, and numerous community partners throughout the region to coordinate services and to best support the growth of each child and family unit. The Puentes de Salud model allows Alexandra to align her personal, academic, and professional passions by integrating knowledge with action to create true positive change in solidarity with our community. Alexandra practices yoga, photography, and exploration as means of self-care and expression and aims to pursue further graduate education in the fields of psychology, community wellness, and education.

Annette Silva, LPN, has worked in community health and outreach as a clinical nurse since 1992. Her bilingual (English/Spanish) and bicultural background (United States/Latin America) provides the ideal framework for her service in the Latino 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. 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.

Dacey Stratton, CRNP, 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. During her first year at Puentes Dacey has focused on expanding access to sexual health and contraceptive services. As Medical Co-Director of Puentes, Dacey Stratton leads Women’s Health efforts and the Puentes Nurse Practitioner Residency Program.

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 Assistant Medical Director, Daphne oversees student volunteers at the Puentes clinic and also recruits and coordinates clinical volunteers including physicians, APPs, and other clinical providers.  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 is currently Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also serves as the Director for Longitudinal Curriculum in Advocacy at the Perelman School of Medicine.

Leah Reisman, PhD, is a sociologist, evaluator, and nonprofit practitioner with expertise in strategy, evaluation, the arts, and immigration. At Puentes, Leah currently serves as Health & Wellness Associate Director, and Project Lead for Community Arts-Literacies. In collaboration with the arts and education directors, Leah is responsible for collaboratively envisioning and leading operations for a set of integrated, community-based arts and education installations and programs, funded by the William Penn Foundation. Leah also helps to develop, implement, and manage Wellness services, and consults to Puentes leadership on evaluation, strategic planning, and organizational growth. Leah joined the Puentes team in October 2018, beginning by volunteering as Art & Culture Coordinator; she progressed to Health & Wellness Associate Director in Fall 2020. Leah is a skilled facilitator and strategist with demonstrated research and project management skills and experience in both the study and practice of nonprofit management. In addition to her work at Puentes, Leah writes and conducts research on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, serves as a mentor at Philadelphia Futures and sits on the Board of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Leah holds a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Chicago, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University.

Lili Domenick, BA, graduated from Haverford College in 2019, where she studied Spanish and Health. She began working with Puentes de Salud in 2018, as a volunteer tutor in the summer Bilingual Literacy program, and transitioned into role of Program Coordinator for the Puentes Hacia el Futuro education program in summer 2019. As the current Education Supervisor, Lili helps oversee the implementation of after-school and summer programming for elementary and middle-school aged youth. She works closely with students and their families as the education program works to center ongoing student and parent leadership. Lili deeply appreciates the multi-faceted, community-centered approach that Puentes brings to its health, education and wellness work, and hopes to explore careers in community wellness, social work, and education.

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 de Salud, a comprehensive health and wellness organization serving Philadephia’s Mexican and wider Latinx communities. Through this role, Nora has hosted over 60 unique events or classes yearly, many in conjunction with other artists, with topics ranging from weekly drop-in artmaking to textile classes to long-term programs in which community members use art to interpret and process experiences of immigration and reactions to U.S. immigration policy. She also organizes and hosts long-term art-making and community-building projects in her studio workspace, and has directed numerous art projects in collaboration with both national and international and Philadelphia institutions.

Her work and/or the results of her collaborations ahve been exhibited at: The Keisho Art Association, Aichi Prefecture Art Center, Nagoya, Japan; The Inaugural Kimmel Center Exhibition, Philadelphia, Pa.; Chinese Artist’s Group Show at the Mummers Museum, Philadelphia, Pa.; Da Vinci Art Alliance, Philadelphia, Pa.; Moore Galleries, Philadelphia, Pa.; Rutgers University Gallery, Camden, NJ; the Lincoln Financial Field and Patchogue Arts Council, NY; Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens; and The University of Pennsylvania, among other venues.

Paulina de Jesus, MPA, graduated from Penn State University with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. At the Ludmir Center Paulina focused on the emphasis placed on servicing the underserved population in Philadelphia. She also worked closely with the Latina Community Health Services which helped to secure health care services for the Latina population in the areas of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Paulina continues to serve the Latinx community by serving as the first person patients see at our clinic and by providing quality patient services for our community at Puentes de Salud.

Sharon Katzenbach, CRNP, completed the Family Nurse Practitoner Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the Puentes team, she worked in primary care in South Philadelphia and the Penn Emergency Department. Sharon has also taught seminar courses at Penn Nursing and precepts masters nursing students. At Puentes, Sharon sees primary care patients and maintains her focus on education, as a preceptor and director of the Puentes Residency Program.

Olivia Pandolfi (they/them) joined the Puentes Health & Wellness team as the Food Access and Case Management Coordinator in September 2021. In this role, Olivia coordinates the Food Pharmacy at Puentes and works in conjunction with the Health and Wellness and Education teams to support Puentes’ food access, case management, and other wellness-related efforts. Olivia has been shaped by deep relationship over the last 4 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. 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. In addition to their work at Puentes, they volunteer with Prison Health News and bake bagels at Korshak Bagels. They graduated from Oberlin College in 2018, where they studied History and Religion. They live on occupied Lenni Lenape land in West Philadelphia.

Sara Fernandez-Marcote is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 16 years of experience in the community behavioral health system. Ten of those years include providing trauma-informed clinical services to individuals and families in underserved communities. Sara attained in B.A. in Psychology and French from Arcadia University and her M. Ed. in Counseling Psychology from Temple University. Sara is a native Spanish speaker, and she conducts therapy sessions fluently in both English and Spanish. In addition, Sara has received specialized training in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Perinatal Depression, Anti-racism in Trauma-Informed Care, Problem Gambling, The Sanctuary Model, and Wellness Recovery Action Planning. Sara is also an affiliate member of the National Child Trauma Stress Network.

Sara strives to provide culturally responsive treatment to everyone she serves.  Sara offers a calm, supportive, and validating space 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 road map to achieve goals and live a healthier life.

Jorge Balverdi , Behavioral Health Consultant, has over 19 years of experience treating psychological distress and psychiatric conditions in culturally diverse groups. 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 managing specific role transitions. He has years of experience working with diverse communities and a particular love for work with immigrants and refugees.