Juan Mejia

Juan Mejia
Juan Mejia is Vice President of Operations for the NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Sloane Hospital for Women. He is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations and the capital and operating budgets for areas including the Emergency Department, Cardiology, Operating Rooms, Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging Services and a number of other clinical services. Mr. Mejia joined NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in 2003 as Revenue Manager and for six years served as Director of Clinical Operations for the Milstein campus at NYP, overseeing the daily operations of numerous departments and clinical areas, including the Infusion Center, Radiation Oncology, Endoscopy, and Gamma Knife services. He also served as the Director of the Gastrointestinal Service Line at NYP/CU and provided leadership for cross campus patient safety, business planning, and disaster management committees.

Prior to joining the Hospital, he worked as a consultant for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene where he oversaw the management of contracts awarded to community-based organizations targeting reduction of infant mortality. Mr. Mejia earned his master’s degree from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and his bachelor’s degree in physiological science from the University of California in Los Angeles.

Mirian Zavala, DNS, RN

Mirian Zavala
I am employed at Pace University Lienhard School of Nursing in New York State as a Clinical Assistant Professor.    Currently, I am a certified doctoral candidate.   I will earn the degree of Doctorate of Nursing Science in Health Disparity in 2011. I earned a Master of Science degree in Nursing in Adult Health, Research Certificate, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, an Accounting Certificate and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics.

Dennis deLeon :: Founding Board Member

Dennis deLeon was born in Los Angeles, California in 1948. He attended Occidental College graduating with a BA. in 1970 and served as student body president. Dennis became a lawyer in 1974 after attending Stanford Law School. Aside from academic achievement, his time in school was marked by leadership in undergraduate and law school organizations.

After clerking for a California appellate court judge and working for a private law firm, Dennis joined the Civil Division at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. as a trial attorney. While there he was one of the founders of the largest Latino employee organization in the Department of Justice. While continuing with his responsibilities as Senior Assistant Corporation Counsel, in 1986 Mr. deLeon was appointed by Mayor Edward I. Koch to serve as Executive Director for the Mayor’s Commission on Hispanic Concerns. The Hispanic Commission issued a report with far ranging recommendations for Latino New Yorkers. Mr. deLeon worked with hundreds of Hispanic organizations in receiving testimony and recording numerous recommendations.

In 1988 Mr. deLeon was appointed by then Borough President David Dinkins to serve as Deputy Borough President for Manhattan. In that position he represented the Borough President at the Board of Estimate and before many legislative and community organizations. In addition, Mr. DeLeon was extensively involved in resolving conflicts between communities over land use issues, enforcing Mayor Dinkins? policies on city contractors doing business in South Africa and tion for a two month period. .He was also appointed to serve as Chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights. During his tenure, the Commission successfully developed legislation to reform the City Human Rights Law to expedite the resolution of complaints and to provide more opportunities for the disabled to seek redress for discrimination.

In September 1994, Mr. deLeon was selected to become President of the Latino Commission on AIDS, a service and advocacy program addressing HIV/AIDS in the Latino community. In this capacity he heads a broad based community effort to respond to the needs of Latinos infected and affected with HIV. Under his leadership the Commission has developed a national clearinghouse for AIDS treatment information in Spanish, a network of religious leaders offering HIV prevention programs in Spanish-speaking congregations, technical services that address the needs of Latino community based organizations.

Mr. deLeon serves on the Board of Directors of several organizations, including the Gay Men?s Heath Crisis, Dominican Sisters Home Care, Legal Action Center, and Prisoner Legal Services. For three years, he was a Board Member for the Puerto Rican Bar Association.

Jose Morales, Jr. :: Founding Board Member

Jose Morales Jr earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at City College of New York, following army service, in 1953. He also earned his MA in public administration at Baruch College in 1973, where he was one of eight National Fellows in Healthcare Administration in a federal university based mid-career executive development program.

His career has been in the health services field, currently serving as Vice President of St. Barnabas Hospital, where he has been an officer of the hospital since 1990. Other posts include: Director of New York City Department of Health Bureau for families with special needs; Assistant Professor of New York Medical College Department of Community and Preventive Medicine; Chief of Ambulatory Care for New York Medical College for Lincoln Hospital Center; and, Regional director of US Department of Health and Human Services, Region II.

He served in several capacities within the Department of Labor, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. As National Director, Community Organization, his duties included planning and coordination of a 12-office community organization program in New York State, New England, Delaware Valley and Midwest. As Chief, Community Organization of New York City, his duties included staff direction in grass roots, leadership training and community action. As Community Organizer, he was responsible for development of Latino community-based organizations in New York in the neighborhoods where newcomers settled.

Manuel A. Rosa :: Founding Board Member

Manuel A. Rosa (known as Manny to his friends) has served for nearly twenty-four years in various positions as the city, state and federal levels of government. Manny currently holds the position of Assistant Vice President of Intergovernmental Relations/State Legislative Liaison for the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC). In this capacity he advocates on behalf of the largest public hospital system in the nation and works with more than twenty-one Community Advisory Boards associated with HHC facilities.

Prior to assuming his current position, Manny has served as the first District Administrator appointed by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez; served as Assistant Secretary for Human Services, and Deputy Director of the Governor?s Office for Hispanic Affairs under Governor Mario M. Cuomo; Governor Cuomo also appointed Manny as the first Director of the New York State Office of Minority Health. In addition, Manny has worked as Special Assistant to Jose E. Serrano (while in the New York State Assembly); Program Director under New York State Senate Minority Leader Martin Connor; Assistant to City Council President Paul O?Dwyer; a Research Analyst within the Governor Hugh Carey?s Office of Urban Revitalization; Community Liaison and Board of Estimate Representative for Bronx Borough Presidents Robert Abrahms and Stanley Simon; and Project Manager in the New York State Urban Development Corporation.

In addition to the AHHE Board of Directors, Manny currently serves as a member of the PRACA Board of Directors; as an Advisory Board Member to the Latino Commission on AIDS, the Puerto Rican Family Institute and Brooklyn Legal Services.

Manny is married to Iris Rodriguez-Rosa and has a son Michael Anthony.

Michael J. Melendez :: Secretary

Michael is currently working in the federal government, at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In this capacity, Michael oversees the implementation of “The Partnership Plan” New York State’s Section 1115 Demonstration waiver as well as the Family Health Plus (FHPlus) program. The Partnership Plan is part of New York State’s program to move most eligible Medicaid individuals into a managed care environment and FHPlus is a health insurance program for low-income New York State residents.

Michael has dedicated many years of service to address the needs of the residents of The Bronx. For eight years, Michael worked in the Office of the Bronx Borough President. When Michael joined the Borough President’s he was a staff member in the health & human services unit. Michael quickly worked his way to becoming director of the health and human services unit. Michael also formed a not-for-profit corporation that would address health and human service issues in The Bronx as well as function as a consultant to the Office of the Bronx Borough President, The Bronx Health & Human Services Development Corporation (BHHSDC).

Throughout his career, Michael has held various positions in State and City government. Some of these positions are, director of public information for the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services within the Bureau of Communications and Community Relations and Target Cities coordinator for the Mayor’s Office of Drug Abuse Policy. Michael also has substantial direct service experience as an addictions specialist and supervisor for several alcohol and substance abuse programs.

In 1995 Michael was nominated and selected to participate in CORO Leadership New York, a one-year fellowship for mid-career professionals in the public, private and non-profit sectors to examine and develop creative solutions for issues affecting New York City. Michael has served on several advisory boards, including the Bronx Information Network, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Community Fellowship in Urban Health at Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Women’s Health Initiative of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Michael obtained a Masters in Social Work Administration from Fordham University and a Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Nelson Vega-Garcia :: Board Member and Treasurer


Mr. Vega-Garcia has over twenty years in health care with a Masters Degree in Health Care Policy and Administration and is double board certified in Health Care and Medical Practice Management with the American College of Health Care and Medical Practice Executives.

Mr. Vega-Garcia has held varied administrative positions; recently as the Administrative Director for Danbury Hospital and Interim Executive Director for La Vida/Prairie Medical Group/IPA in Los Angeles California and as Consultant for Business and Project Development for the Lutheran Family Health Centers in Brooklyn New York.

Prior to these positions, Vega Garcia served as Chief Operations Officer at All-Med Medical and Physical Therapy/Rehabilitation Centers in the Bronx and New York, Health Services Administrator for Promesa Health Systems and as Practice Administrator at Oxford Health Plans in Norwalk. CT

Vega-Garcia began his career as Associate Director at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, New York and subsequently served as Associate and Associate Executive Director at Elmhurst and Woodhull Hospitals in Elmhurst and Brooklyn, New York.

Vega-Garcia is a Fellow and an Executive Fellow with the American College of Health Care Executives and the American Academy of Medical Practice Management.

His many professional memberships include the American College of Health Care Executives,(Fellow) American Academy of Medical Practice Management (Executive Fellow) Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), The American College of Medical Practice Executives (Nominee) Health Care Executives of Southern California (Associate), Health Care Leaders of New York, and the Association of Hispanic Health Care Executives (AHHE) which he is a board member and Treasurer.  

Nilda I. Soto :: Vice President


Nilda is Assistant Dean for the Office of Minority Student Affairs at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She is also the Director of the Einstein Enrichment Program and Director of Minority Student Summer Research Opportunity Program. Her work entails coordinating activities and providing services for students from various educational levels, high school through medical school.

Nilda has been active in community programs and professional organizations. She has served on several boards including ASPIRA of New York and the Board of Friends of Double Discovery Center at Columbia University. Nilda is presently the Northeast Regional chair for Association of American Medical Colleges, Group on Student Affairs-Minority Affairs Section.

Nilda has a baccalaureate degree in Urban Studies from Thomas More College, Fordham University. She also has a Masters of Science in Education in Counseling & Personnel Services from Fordham University’s School of Education.

George A. Zeppenfeldt-Cestero :: National President

President & CEO, National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Health
President, Association of Hispanic Healthcare Executives

Mr. Zeppenfeldt has been a leading advocate in health care, small business development, and diversity for over 20 years. His advocacy in these areas resulted in his selection in 1995 as one of the ?100 Influential Leaders? by Hispanic Business magazine. Mr. Zeppenfeldt has served on numerous boards of directors where his role has focused on marketing, advocacy, fundraising, and board/membership development.

Mr. Zeppenfeldt received his undergraduate degree from Seton Hall University and graduate training in health administration at Long Island University. In 1998, he completed a certificate program in community relations from Boston College?s Carroll School of Management and later in 1999; he was awarded a Kellogg/Robert Wood Johnson Minority Fellowship in Washington, D.C. His publications appear in Employee Health & Fitness, Risk Management Journal, and El Diario/La Prensa. He has been quoted by numerous publications including the New York Times, Crain?s New York Business, Hispanic Business and Diversity: Allied Health Careers magazine and he has appeared on WNBC (Visiones), WABC (Tiempo), and Hispanics Today. He has addressed diversity in the healthcare workforce on the 2004 Congressional Hispanic Caucus Policy Institute Health Care Panel and for the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation where he was keynote speaker for their 2004 Multicultural Celebration.

In 1992, Mr. Zeppenfeldt was appointed to a board seat on Community Planning Board 7 (Upper Westside/Manhattan) where he currently serves as Co-Chair of the Business and Consumer issues Committee. His most recent assignment was that of Chairman of the Task Force on Community Social Responsibility and Communications. His other committee assignments have included health and human services, land use, housing and an appointment to the Manhattan Borough President?s Health Committee. In October of 2003, Mr. Zeppenfeldt was elected to the position of Third Vice Chairman for Community Planning Board 7. During the last ten years, he has served on a variety of non-profit boards including the Board of Directors for the Lincoln Center Business Improvement District (BIDs), the Hispanic Public Relations Association of Greater New York (Vice President), the Latino Commission on AIDS, and the Consumer Advisory Council for IPRO, New York State?s Quality Improvement Organization. In 1999, he was appointed as a delegate-at-large to Regional Policy Board II of the American Hospital Association. His career has also included positions as Director of Community and Government Relations at Montefiore Medical Center and Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for St. Clare?s Hospital and Medical Center. From 1981-1995, he was President and Founder of MarketCare, Inc., a marketing and pubic relations firm certified as an 8(a) firm, specializing in the healthcare industry. During that period, he established the Regional Small Business Coalition and testified on behalf of city, state and federal minority and women-owned business enterprise programs before regulatory agencies and addressed Latino procurements in both the print and electronic media. In 1998, he founded the Association of Hispanic Healthcare Executives/East Coast Chapter (AHHE) which now has over 320 individual and 17 organizational members (hospitals, healthcare facilities and manage care organizations) in 14 states. In 2001, he was elected national president of AHHE, and later that year, assumed a national board seat on the National Institute for Diversity in Health Management (IFD), the diversity initiative of the American Hospital Association, a position he held until 2007.  Mr. Zeppenfeldt is a member of the Community Partnership to Increase Diversity in the Health Professions (NY), Health Professionals for Diversity Coalition at the Association of American Medical Colleges (Washington, D.C.), Steering Committee Member of the National Hispanic Health Professional Leadership Network in Washington, D.C. and the Task Force on Diversity in Healthcare Leadership of the Greater New York Hospital Association.

In 2004, he was sworn in by the Region V Chair of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to the position of President and Board Chair of the newly established National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Health which addresses supplier diversity in the hospital, pharmaceutical, managed care, insurance, and health care sectors. He is now President & CEO of the chamber. In 2001 he was elected to the Board of Directors of the New York State Federation of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce (NYSFHCC) and served as their 2002-2004 Convention Chairman. In recognition of his business leadership, he was awarded their Chairman?s Strategic Partnership award in 2004. In 2003 and in 2004, he received awards from both the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce and the National Hispanic Medical Association for his leadership in improving the health of Hispanics.  Most recently, in August of 2006, the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Health was awarded the Hispanic Chamber of the Year Award from the NYSFHCC.