Board of Directors

Meet Hixny’s Board of Directors

Board Chair

Paul F. Macielak, Esq

President and Chief Executive Officer of The New York Health Plan Association

Paul F. Macielak is president and CEO of the New York Health Plan Association (HPA), an Albany-based organization that represents 25 managed care health plans across New York State.

Collectively, those plans provide comprehensive health care services to nearly seven million New Yorkers.

As the chief executive of HPA, Mr. Macielak is responsible for development of policy positions for the organization, advocacy with the executive and legislative branches of government, and serves as lead spokesperson to the media and the public on issues relating to the managed care industry.

Prior to joining HPA, Mr. Macielak was Vice President and Vice Provost for Government, Community and Public Affairs for the New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Before that, he served as Counsel to the Majority Leader of the New York State Senate (1989-1992) and Chief Counsel to the Assembly Minority Leader (1983-1988).

Mr. Macielak is a gubernatorial appointment to the NYS Immunization Council and is a former member of the New York State Hospital Review and Planning Council (SHRPC). He is also an emeritus member of the Board of Directors of the Island Peer Review Organization (IPRO). A graduate of Albany Law School in 1975, Mr. Macielak received his undergraduate degree at the University of Rochester in 1972.

Board Vice Chair

Joseph Gambino

Chief Executive Officer of Hometown Health Centers (HHC)J Gambino 8-14-14

Joseph Gambino is the Chief Executive Officer at Hometown Health Centers (HHC), a federally qualified community health center in Schenectady, NY.

Mr. Gambino joined HHC in 2007 during a very challenging time. The health center was deep in debt, short on staff and not meeting demand for healthcare services in a medically underserved community. Providing quality care and unparalleled customer service quickly became the focus at Hometown. The safety-net provider is now nationally recognized by NCQA as a Patient-Centered Medical Home. HHC offers 340B on-site pharmacy services and uses a fully implemented electronic medical record and practice management system.

He leads a team that is fiscally responsible, patient-focused and prepared to tackle the challenges ahead in this ever-changing healthcare environment. Under Mr. Gambino’s leadership, Hometown Health Centers is now a stable, fiscally sound collaborating partner in Schenectady County that is providing quality healthcare and dental services to thousands of children and adults.

Mr. Gambino came to HHC from Fidelis Care, the largest government-sponsored health insurance provider in New York State. He had statewide responsibility for all public relations and marketing strategies.

He is a graduate of the College of St. Rose, a private college in Albany, NY where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications. Mr. Gambino serves on a number of boards and advisory councils, including the Health Center Network of New York and Schenectady County Public Health Services.

Board Treasurer

David M. Kile, RPh, MS

Executive Director of Continuing Education and Professional Development of Albany College of Pharmacy and Health SciencesDavid M Kile

David Kile joined Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 2009, after serving on the ACPHS Board of Trustees for seven years.  He is currently the Executive Director of Continuing Education and Professional Development.  Mr. Kile is also a member of the faculty and is an Instructor teaching a required course on Pharmacy Administration and an elective on Leadership, as well as advising independent study students on the annual NCPA Student Business Plan Competition.  He is currently the Project Lead responsible for establishing the college’s two pharmacy student supported community pharmacies in Albany and Schenectady.  Mr. Kile has 35 years of experience in hospital pharmacy practice and served 25 years as Director of Pharmacy at Capital District hospitals, after starting his pharmacy career in Vermont.

Mr. Kile received his BS in Pharmacy from Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and a Master of Science in Health Systems Management from Union College.  He is also an SKB-LDI Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.  Mr. Kile has been actively involved with Hixny since 2008.


Board Secretary

Wouter Rietsema, MD

Vice President of Quality and Information Services, The University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital  rietsema edit

Wouter Rietsema MD was named the Vice President of Quality and Information Services in July of 2011, having previously served as the Medical Director then Vice President of Medical Affairs, starting in June of 1998.

A native of Avon, Connecticut, Dr. Wouter J. Rietsema received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Middlebury College, Vermont in 1980 and his Medical Degree from the University Of Connecticut School Of Medicine in 1985. After an internship at the San Diego Naval Hospital in California, he went onto serve four years of active duty at the Naval Hospital in Groton, Connecticut as a Submarine and Diving Medical Officer. Dr. Rietsema left active duty in 1990 to complete his postgraduate training in Portland, Oregon, where he completed his Internal Medicine residency at Good Samaritan Hospital and then his Infectious Disease fellowship at the Oregon Health Sciences University.

In 1994, Dr. Rietsema returned to the northeastern United States as the first Infectious Disease physician at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital Medical Center (CVPH).

Dr. Rietsema became the Medical Director at CVPH in 1998 and in 2002, became the full-time Vice President of Medical Affairs at that facility. He maintains a small HIV practice consisting of approximately 60 to 70 HIV-infected individuals across the North Country, for whom he provides comprehensive primary and HIV care. He also provides vacation coverage for Infectious Diseases at CVPH.

In 2011 the role of Vice President of Quality and Information Services was created to address the merging of these two disciplines in healthcare, and Dr. Rietsema was appointed to that role in recognition

Board Director (At-large Member)

James Hopsicker, RPh

Vice President of Pharmacy for MVP Health CareHopsicker1503c

Mr. Hopsicker is responsible for leadership of the company’s pharmacy program, including development and maintenance of pharmacy policies, changes to the formulary, oversight of the organization’s pharmacy benefits manager and response to changes in the marketplace.

Mr. Hopsicker began his career at MVP in 1998 as the pharmacy program director. He previously was manager of pharmacy services for Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan.

Mr. Hopsicker earned his MBA from Union College and holds a bachelor’s degree from the Albany College of Pharmacy. In 2006, he earned the distinction of a Certified Healthcare Insurance Executive (CHIE) through the Executive Leadership Program of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

Mr. Hopsicker has presented locally and nationally on various managed care topics, including leading edge pharmacy management programs, provider P4P, managed care pharmacy, and quality programs.

Mr. Hopsicker is a past member (and President) of the Albany College of Pharmacy Alumni Association, and is a past member of eight years of the Western Turnpike Rescue Squad.

Board Director (At-large Member)

Louis S. Snitkoff, MD, FACP

Medical Director at CapitalCare Medical Group

Louis S SnitkoffDr. Louis Snitkoff completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Albany Medical Center, where he also served as Chief Medical Resident. After residency, he entered the private practice of Internal Medicine in Schenectady in 1980, and was a founding member of CapitalCare Medical Group, established in 1998. He became Medical Director of CapitalCare in 2000.

He initiated CapitalCare’s Comprehensive Diabetes Self-Management program, which is recognized by the American Diabetes Association. During his tenure, CapitalCare has experienced significant growth, while focusing on quality improvement through achievement of NCQA Recognition, and with participation in the Bridges To Excellence collaborative and the CDPHP Patient-Centered Medical Home Pilot program.

Dr. Snitkoff is President of the Board of Advisors of the Capital Region of the American Cancer Society and a member of the Quality Improvement Committee of MVP Health Care.

Dr. Snitkoff also Chairs the Health and Public Policy Committee and the Diabetes Advisory Group of the New York Chapter of the American College of Physicians, and the Primary Care Cabinet at Ellis Hospital.

He is a member of the American Medical Association and the American College of Physician Executives, and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

Board Director

John D. Bennett, MD, FACC

President and Chief Executive Officer of CDPHP

Bennett_headshot_4x4 - 7.25.14John D. Bennett, MD, FACC, was named president and CEO in July 2008 after serving as chairman of the CDPHP board since September 2003, vice chairman since 1999, and board member since 1996.

Prior to joining CDPHP, Dr. Bennett served as CEO, Prime Care Physicians, PLLC. During his tenure there, he practiced cardiology with Albany Associates in Cardiology.

He also chaired the department of medicine, served as chief of the division of cardiology at Albany Memorial Hospital, and was a member of the Northeast Health Systems’ board of directors.

Dr. Bennett is board certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialties in both internal medicine and cardiology. He earned his medical degree at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, and a bachelor’s of science degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Bennett completed an internship and residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiovascular disease at Albany Medical Center.

He is a member of the board of directors for the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Alliance of Community Health Plans, the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York, the Center for Economic Growth, Colonie Senior Service Centers, Hixny, and the Palace Theatre. Dr. Bennett also served as chairman of the 2010 Capital Region Start! Heart Walk for the American Heart Association.

Board Chair

Board Director

William Duax

Vice President of Information Services, Albany Medical CenterDuax Picture

Bill Duax’s position at Albany Medical Center gives him responsibility for nearly 50 staff members supporting all medical college, business operations, web services, data integration and data analytics systems.  Key activities include implementing, updating, operationalizing and supporting more than 170 computer applications

Duax joined Albany Med in 2006, as Director of Information Services, and was promoted to Assistant Vice President of Information Services in 2010.  He took on his current position in 2014.

In his years with the medical center, Duax has been involved in several key initiatives, including the implementation of the patient portal and electronic transition of care to achieve Meaningful Use Stage 2 objectives; the implementaiton of a patient safety simulation center; the replacement of the medical school’s student information systems; the implementation of an infant protection system; and the deployment of an enterprise-wide emergency mass notification system.  In 2012, he was the first recipient of Albany Med’s “Spirit of IT Leadership” award and in 2014 he was awarded the John Glaser Scholarship by the College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME).

Prior to joining Albany Med, Duax held several other positions in information services, for such companies as Anderson Consulting (now Accenture) and Carrier Corp.

He attended the State University of New York at Albany, receiving both a Bachelor’s degree in Finance Management and a Masters in Business Administration in Management Information Systems.

Board Director

Barbara Hess

Chief Administrative Officer, SEFCU

Hess - PHOTO

A seasoned executive with more than 25 years of professional experience, Hess has worked in the financial services, government, and education sectors. Hess is skilled in the areas of employment, compensation, benefits, labor relations, contract administration and negotiations, staff development and training, affirmative action/equal opportunity, and employee relations. At SEFCU, she participates in strategic planning and the development of credit union policies, procedures, and goals, acts as a point of contact for the Board of Directors, coordinating the ongoing professional development of these credit union volunteers. Hess is responsible for all aspects of human resources, workforce and organizational development, as well as risk management, internal Web development, and performance management. Hess oversees the coordination of activities such as recruitment, employment, payroll, compensation, benefits, performance assessment and management, orientation, training and development, and employee relations, including events, affirmative action, EEO reporting, procedure implementation, personnel record keeping, personnel policy development, and employee communication.

Prior to joining SEFCU, Hess served as the Director of Human Resources for Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES; Assistant Director of Personnel for Hamilton College; Training Manager/Senior Personnel Specialist for Bank of New York; and Training Manager/Affirmative Action Officer for Otsego County Department of Employment and Training. Hess holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/Psychology from HartwickCollege and a Graduate Certificate in Industrial and Labor Relations from CornellUniversity.

Hess serves as the Board Chairperson for SEFCU Insurance Agency, on the audit committee for Colonie Senior Services Centers, Inc., and on the Board of the American Heart Association – Founders Affiliate and Hixny, and is a member of the both American Heart Association Circle of Red and the Forum for Executive Women. She was also named one of the Business Review’s “Women Who Mean Business” in 2012.

Board Director

Sumeet Murarka

Chief Technology Officer and Director of Information Technology, Community Care Physicians P.CMurarka - 11.30.15

Sumeet Murarka’s first task upon joining Community Care Physicians, in 2004, was to establish its electronic medical record system, one of the first in the region.  He also brought CCP into Hixny, as one of a small group of chief information officers who set the stage for the formation of the organizations, more than a decade ago.

Murarka’s primary role at CCP is to implement the strategy that has kept the 190-physician multi-specialty group at the forefront of health information technology in the region. He drove the successful launch of key patient information and technology systems, including electronic prescribing, the patient portal and image-guided radiation therapy.   He has directed projects that significantly increased CCP’s technology infrastructure, including personal computers, applications and network devices, without a corresponding increase in staff and overhead.

Prior to joining CCP, Murarka held various positions with the ATEC Group, a technology services company in Albany.  He assisted ATEC in becoming a public company, and handled the data conversion to bring seven subsidiaries together under one accounting system. As a technology consultant, he worked with such area clients as MVP Healthcare, GE, BASF, Albany Medical Center and the Times Union.

Murarka received his B.S. from Union College in 1989, and obtained an M.B.A. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2002.

Board Director

Katherine Alonge-Coons

Commissioner of Mental Health, Rensselaer CountyCoons Photo

Katherine G. Alonge-Coons LCSWR (Kathy Coons) serves as the Commissioner of Mental Health in Rensselaer County, Troy, N.Y. She was appointed to serve as the Commissioner in January 2013 after working in the Rensselaer County Department of Mental Health since 1987, where she worked as: the Director of Children’s Services, Intensive Case Manager for Children and Youth; and a clinician in the children’s outpatient clinic.

In her capacity as the Director of Children’s Services, Kathy took on the role of Director of Program Operations for the county operated Mental Health services, which included oversight of: the Department’s Management Information System Unit and the launching of electronic health records; corporate compliance program development and implementation, as well as direct services of case management and outpatient clinic services.  Kathy has been active in the development of the health home serving adults in Rensselaer County.

She was recently elected by the NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors to serve as the chairperson of the Child and Family Subcommittee which works to provide advocacy and input re: the behavioral health system serving children and youth in NYS.

Kathy graduated from SUNYA School of Social Welfare in December 1984 earning a Masters of Social Work; and Siena College in August 1980 with a Bachelors of Sociology.  In addition, she is a graduate of St Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry having earned a Masters of Divinity in June 2006.

Board Director

Kirk R. Panneton, MD, FACP

Regional Medical Director, Blue Shield of Northeastern New YorkDr_Panneton_Blue_RGB 7.24.14

Dr. Kirk Panneton joined Blue Shield of Northeastern New York in 2013, after five years as Medical Director: Senior Services for CDPHP.   While with CDPHP, he assisted with implementation of the plan’s Medical Management, Quality Improvement and Resource Management initiatives and served as its liaison to the physician community.

Prior to joining CDPHP, Dr. Panneton was Vice President of Medical Affairs and Medical Director in the Geriatric Department at St. Clare’s Hospital; Vice President of Medical Affairs with Northeast Health and The Eddy; and an internal medicine clinician in private practice in Schenectady.   The growth of his practice led to the creation of Capital Care Medical Group in 1998. During his years in private practice, he became chief of the Section of Internal Medicine at Ellis Hospital and President of the Schenectady County Medical Society.

Dr. Panneton attended medical school at Boston University, and did his internship and residency at Albany Medical Center, where he was Chief Resident in Internal Medicine.

He has served on the boards of Catholic Charities, Bellevue Hospital and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Board Director

David Shippee

Chief Executive Officer, Whitney M. Young, Jr. Health ServicesDavid H Shippee-4x5 2.16

David Shippee has over 25 years of healthcare management experience and is currently the President and CEO of Whitney M Young, Jr. Health Center.  Mr. Shippee came back to the Capital District in 2011 after spending 20 years as the CEO of Chase Brexton Health Services in Maryland.  Chase Brexton is Maryland’s largest federally qualified health center organization and one of the largest community-based providers of care to HIV-infected persons in the U.S.   Prior to his 20 year stint in Maryland, Mr. Shippee was the Administrative Director of the AIDS Treatment Center at Albany Medical Center.   He has also served as a consultant to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for the past 20 years.

While in Maryland, Mr. Shippee served on the board of a 200,000 member Medicaid managed care organization and for the last five years of that time served as the board chair.  He also served as the board chair for the non-profit, Community Health Integrated Partnership, a statewide community health center owned network focused on practice management and IT solutions for community health centers.  He is currently on the board of the CHCANYS, the Health Center Network of NY and the Healthy Capital District Initiative as well as the Hudson Mohawk Area Health Education Center (AHEC).

Mr. Shippee received his Bachelors of Arts from Binghamton University and his MBA in Health Systems Administration from Union Graduate College.   He is also a 1997 graduate of the Greater Baltimore Committee Leadership program.

Board Director

Chuck Fennell

Regional Chief Information Officer, St. Peter’s Health Partners

Chuck serves as Regional Chief Information Officer for St. Peter’s Health Partners (SPHP) as well as St. Joseph’s Health in Syracuse.  Fennell served as interim CIO for SPHP since December 2015. He has served as CIO for St. Joseph’s Health since 2001. Both SPHP and St. Joseph’s Health are regional health ministries of Trinity Health.

Prior to joining St. Joseph’s Health in 2001, Fennell served as vice president of health systems at Health Care Data Systems near Syracuse.

Board Director

Scott GroomGroom Photo 150x150 - BOD Photo

Vice President, Bassett Healthcare Network

Mr. Scott Groom is a Vice President for the Bassett Healthcare Network, serving as the corporate-level CIO and administrative dyad partner for population health related programs.  Prior to Bassett, Mr. Groom served in senior executive roles with Cabell-Marshall University Health, Inovalon (formerly known as: MedAssurant), Baptist Health Systems, Santa Rosa Consulting (formerly known as: InforPartners) and Cerner Corporation. He began his career in healthcare working as a legislative analyst for the American Federation of Home Healthcare on Capital Hill and for the George Washington University Department of Emergency Medicine Physicians.  Mr. Groom holds an undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech, a Masters from The George Washington University, and completed a fellowship at the University of Virginia Medical Center.

Board Director

Bonnie Chavin, Esq

President, Seymour Fox Memorial Foundation

Bonnie FINALBonnie Chavin is an attorney with 25 years of experience in private practice in Troy, New York.  Since 2012, she has also served as President of the Seymour Fox Memorial Foundation, Inc., a private charitable foundation funded through the last Will and Testament of the late Troy attorney, Seymour Fox, which has as a key component of its mission giving patients and their medical providers the information they need to effectively coordinate better health care.

She is a graduate of SUNY Albany, and Albany Law School, and is a life-long resident of the Capital Region.