HLNY’s 6th Annual Mini-Congress

  • September 28, 2022
  • 8:00am-4:00pm
  • New York Academy of Medicine


Join HLNY for our 6th annual Mini-Congress as we focus this year on keeping you connected and offering three exciting panel discussions  in a one-day.

This event enlists esteemed panelists to drive innovative conversations around industry trends and beyond, as well as offer you the opportunity to network with those and others making it happen. We are excited to offer a full-day learning and networking opportunity to our membership and guests closer to home.

There will be 4.5 hours of ACHE face-to-face credit awarded. NoteIn order to attain the full 4.5 Face-to-Face credits, you must attend in-person for the full day of events. Attendance will be taken before and after each panel discussion.


8:00 AM – Registration and Breakfast
8:45 AM – Opening Remarks
9:00 AM – Panel 1 Discussion: Consumer Focused Health Care
10:30 AM – Break/Networking
10:45 AM – Panel 2 Discussion: Private Equity & Venture Capital Drivers if Change in our Health System 
12:15 PM – Networking Lunch
2:00 PM – Panel 3 Discussion:Cultivating an Inclusive Organization to Retain Diverse Talent
3:30 PM – Closing remarks and wrap up

Panel 1:

Consumer Focused Health Care
While many healthcare organizations recognize that consumer-centered healthcare is important, very few are following through on those priorities with innovative and effective strategies. Patients are increasingly choosing less expensive and easier to access options than traditional providers. While traditional providers are working to better engage consumers and compete in this new landscape with more and different competitors, there are many challenges. This panel discussion will lay the foundation by defining what “consumer focused healthcare” is, why it is important, and why it is so difficult to transition to a consumer-focused model, and explore some innovative and effective strategies.


Ralph Maldari
Chief Hospitality Officer
Hospital for Special Surgery

Ralph Maldari is a senior leader in the healthcare and hospitality space, and the Chief Hospitality Officer at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, where he oversees enterprise client services strategy across the enterprise. With a passion for delivering exceptional client service, he has helped organizations build the necessary strategies, programming, and operational infrastructure to deliver world-class customer experiences.

Throughout his career, Ralph has led numerous teams in driving transformative change and improving service delivery, leveraging his expertise in operations, consumer activation, business development, client and concierge services, consumer engagement, digital access, and brand marketing. He has held senior leadership roles within regional and global organizations including Mount Sinai Health System, Columbia University Medical Center, NYU Langone, and Ian Schrager Hotels. Additionally, he serves as an adjunct professor at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, teaching best practices in client relationship management and customer service.



Ajay Singh
Vice President, Strategy | Quality Reviews

Mr. Singh has had the privilege of working within and outside of healthcare organizations, giving him a unique perspective of the challenges hindering our industry from adopting a consumerism driven mindset. As the VP of Strategy for Quality Reviews, a digital health company focused patient engagement, Ajay has a passion to work with providers on their digital health strategy.

Starting at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Mr. Singh led growth efforts within the Department of Neurosurgery. Additionally, he has served as the Executive Advisor to The University of Miami Health System and their clinical strategy efforts.

At The Advisory Board Company, Ajay worked with 30+ health systems across the country. Partnering with and advising C-Suite leaders, he introduced innovative strategies that accelerated care transformation efforts, delivering over $100M in ROI for his clients. Recently,he has led commercial strategy for digital health companies that led to successful ex its.

Ajay believes the core to shifting to a consumer centric healthcare industry, starts and ends with improving access- meeting patients where and when they need support and services.

Julia Iyasere, MD, MA
Executive Director, Dalio Center
Health Justice at NewYork-Presbyterian

 Julia Iyasere, M.D., is the Executive Director of the Dalio Center for Health Justice at NewYork-Presbyterian. In this role, she leads the Center’s efforts to address longstanding health inequities due to race, socio-economic differences, limited access to care, and other complex factors that impact the wellbeing of our communities. Dr. Iyasere attended Yale University for her B.S. in Biology and Columbia University for her M.D./M.B.A. After completing her residency in Internal Medicine at Columbia, Dr. Iyasere joined the Division of General Medicine at Columbia in 2012. Prior to her current role, Dr. Iyasere was the Associate Chief Medical Officer for Service Lines and the Co-Director of the Care Team Office at NYP. An Assistant Professor of Medicine, Dr. Iyasere continues to see patients as an internist in the Section for Hospital Medicine at Columbia. 

Sven Gierlinger
Senior Vice President & Chief Experience Officer
Northwell Health

As a previous luxury Hotel Executive, Mr. Gierlinger brings a unique perspective tot he patient experience dialogue. However, it was his personal patient experience spending three months in hospitals that motivates him to challenge and disrupt the status quo in healthcare. As Senior Vice President & Chief Experience Officer for Northwell Health, New York’s largest integrated healthcare system and one of the largest in the country, Mr. Gierlinger is driving culture transformation grounded inpatient centeredness and empathy.

Mr. Gierlinger came to Northwell Health from the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit where he served as Vice President, Hospitality and Service Culture, responsible for creating a superior and consistent service experience for patients, visitors and employees. Mr. Gierlinger worked closely with leadership to drive culture change around improving the customer experience in every encounter across the system. Prior to that, he was an Administrator, Hospitality Services, for Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, responsible for all aspects of non-clinical operations, the Wellness & Integrative Health Center, retail shops, café, and the customer experience. Additionally, he was an integral part of the team, leading the efforts to achieve the acclaimed Malcom Baldridge National Quality Award.

Mr. Gierlinger began his career in the luxury hotel business, holding a series of leadership positions with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. He played a key role in the openings of several Ritz-Carlton hotels in Germany, Japan, Indonesia and the United States, responsible for executing and implementing Ritz-Carlton service standards, training staff, and leading teams of educators. Mr. Gierlinger is an Executive Board member at The Beryl Institute, and a Founding Council member of the Institute of Innovation. He received a bachelor’s degree in hospitality business administration from the Bavaria Hotel Management Academy, Altoetting, Germany.

Panel 2:

Private Equity & Venture Capital Drivers of Change in our Health System
Within the dynamic environment of healthcare delivery, traditional healthcare systems alongside innovative delivery models, have created opportunities to collaborate and improve access to care and the way in which it is delivered. Private Equity and Venture Capital leaders have not only advanced mechanisms of care for patients; but, established a new career pathway for healthcare professionals that leverage their expertise in an emerging market. Due to financial, geographical, and accessibility limitations facing traditional provider systems, investor supported expansion of the private healthcare market is a significant driver of change with potential for long term sustainability and high-quality care. During this panel discussion, participants will be introduced to Private Equity and Venture Capital investments in healthcare and overview of the market, key aspects of an acquisition, and the process of leading a team through the transition.


John P. Sganga, FACHE
President and CEO
Clinical Research Alliance

John Sganga is currently President and CEO of Clinical Research Alliance. In this role he is bringing much needed clinical trial opportunity to diverse communities. A key objective is to extend life and treat patients in local settings.

Furthermore, Mr. Sganga is also a Senior Advisor of Healthcare for Google X. He provides leadership and introduces new technologies to providers throughout the United States.
Prior to Clinical Research Alliance and Google X, Mr. Sganga was Senior Vice President, Alternate Site Programs at Premier Inc. and was responsible for the overall leadership of Premier’s 200,000 non acute, alternate site members. In this capacity he also created and launched Stockd.®, Premier’s successful ecommerce platform.

Before Mr. Sganga’s time at Premier, he launched and served as President and CEO of Innovatix and Essensa. Innovatix and Essensa grew into a leading national non acute care GPO with 61,000 members and surpassing $8.2 billion in combined contract volume. In December 2016, Premier Inc. purchased Innovatix/Essensa with a value of $750 million.

His 35 years of healthcare experience includes serving as Executive Vice President of GNYHA Ventures, Senior Director of Financial Operations at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, and six years at Ernst & Young’s Management Consulting Services Division. He holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University with a concentration in Financial Services.

Mr. Sganga is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and currently serves on the Board of Directors for both White Plains Hospital in White Plains, NY and Pandion Optimization Alliance in Rochester, New York.


Gary Herschman
Member of Firm, Health Care Steering Committee and Board of Directors
Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.

When health care companies undergo a major strategic transaction through mergers, acquisitions, consolidations, joint ventures, partnerships, buyouts, or new affiliations, health care M&A attorney Gary Herschman drives these important transactions to a successful closing. His leadership of deal teams protects his clients’ financial interests, in a regulatory compliant manner.

A skilled negotiator in major deals of any size—small ($5-$25 million), middle market ($30-$200 million), and large ($250 million to billion-dollar deals)—Gary balances the concerns of all parties, including physician groups, hospitals and health systems, ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), imaging centers, clinics and home health companies, lenders, investors, and state departments of health, to effectively structure and close complex deals.

Buyers and sellers benefit from Gary’s decades of experience on both the buy-side and sell-side of deals. His strategies for sellers maximize valuation, financial protections, and key clinical objectives. Gary helps physician practices, hospitals, and other health care clients sell their business or enter new partnerships and affiliations. He handles transactions in almost every state. Clients value Gary’s “real time” communications and his deep business, legal, and practical insights gained from more than 30 years of negotiating and closing deals.

Hector  M. Torres
Managing Director, Healthcare Investment Banking
DC Advisory

Hector M. Torres is a Managing Director in the global Healthcare Investment Banking Group of DC Advisory, an international investment bank offering tailored, independent advice on M&A, capital markets, financial restructuring and private equity transactions. Hector has more than 16 years of substantive experience providing investment banking, consulting, and financial advisory services to national and multi-regional health systems, academic medical centers, community hospitals, single-specialty and multi-specialty physician practices and groups, health insurers, non-acute care providers, medical device companies and capital providers to healthcare entities.

Prior to joining DC Advisory, Hector was the Co-Head of Healthcare Investment Banking at FocalPoint Partners, a leading middle market investment banking organization. Prior to FocalPoint, he was a principal and partner at ECG Management Consultants, where he was the national practice leader of the firm’s Mergers, Acquisitions and Partnerships practice. Prior to ECG, Hector was a senior member of the Mergers and Acquisitions practice of Kaufman, Hall & Associates, a fully integrated advisory services platform with a focus on the healthcare services sector. Prior to Kaufman Hall, Hector was a Vice President at an elite NYC- based private equity firm focused on principal investments within the healthcare services and medical device sectors and began his career as a healthcare investment banker at both large multi-national and boutique investment banking organizations in New York City, NY.

Hector received his Master of Business Administration degree in finance from the Syracuse University Whitman School of Management, his Juris Doctorate degree from the Syracuse University College of Law, and his Bachelor degree from the University of Central Florida. Hector is a licensed attorney in New York State, and a member of the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association. Hector is a FINRA Series 7, Series 79, and Series 63 Investment Banking Registered Representative.

Maximilien Weiss
Investment Professional, Debt & Equity
Prospect Capital

Maximilien Weiss is a investment professional at Prospect where he is responsible for originating, executing, and managing investments in a variety of industries. Prior to joining Prospect, he worked throughout business school with several direct investing private equity firms. Maximilien also worked as a Senior Associate with the Healthcare Group at Cross Keys Capital and as a Corporate Development Associate at US Anesthesia Partners.

Maximilien received his BA with Honors from The University of Chicago and his MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Mehran Ahmed
Managing Director
Webster Equity Partners

Mehran joined Webster in 2012 and today is a Managing Director. Prior to Webster, Mehran worked at Gemini Investors based in Boston, focusing on growth equity and buyout investments across many sectors. Before Gemini Investors, Mehran was based in New York where he worked at Arsenal Capital Partners as an Associate and Morgan Stanley as an Analyst. He has spent his career focused on investing in middle market companies and working with management teams to grow their businesses.

Mehran was educated at Bowdoin College, where he was a Sarah & James Bowdoin Scholar.

Panel 3:

Cultivating an Inclusive Organization to Retain Diverse Talent
Diversity in healthcare management is of critical importance and this factor must be recognized in the health care industry as organizations explore their recruitment processes. An increasingly diverse patient population can place pressure on health care organizations to reflect the communities they serve. Healthcare leaders also recognize that diversity brings fresh perspectives and skills provided by diverse employees that can help produce a bottom-line benefit for their organization, resulting in added value as well as competitive advantage. Often, there is disconnect between an organization’s diversity initiatives and the ability to promote diverse workforce within all levels of the organization. Many c-suite executives and managers fail to understand diversity, its value, and the importance of identifying, developing, and advancing diverse talent. Building a diverse leadership team will help drive organizational success and enhance cultural competence. It is important for healthcare leaders to begin a realistic discussion about diversity and their responsibility in effectively encouraging diversity within their organization and integrating into strategic initiatives.


Tonya Richards, SHRM-CP, PHR, CHHR, CDP
Inaugural Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer (CDEIO) for staff
Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC)
Executive Director of Human Resources & Academic Affairs
Columbia Doctors

Tonya Richards, SHRM-CP, PHR, CHHR, CDP is the inaugural Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer (CDEIO) for staff at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and Executive Director of Human Resources & Academic Affairs for ColumbiaDoctors. In the dual roles, she is responsible for providing strategic human resources support and DEI leadership to all stakeholders.  As the CDEIO, she develops and steers diversity and inclusion programs, consults on the recruitment and development of a diverse talent pipeline, and fosters a culture of equity throughout the medical center. The role ensured that CUIMC is building a supportive environment to meet the needs of a talented workforce and fostering an organizational culture that is responsive to the dynamic needs of staff and the diverse communities they serve. As an Executive Director of Human Resources, she leads a team of HR practitioners and provides consultation/coaching on complex HR matters to business leaders. Tonya has worked as an HR practitioner for over 18 years and a DEI strategist for almost 10 years.  She continues to work closely with internal & external stakeholders at her organization to mitigate risks and effectively accomplish business objectives via innovative strategies.

Before assuming her role at Columbia University in September 2016, Tonya served as Senior Director of Human Resources at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center (KJMC) in Brooklyn, New York.  Here, she led a team of human resources professionals in providing full-service support to 2,500 employees. In this role, she provided strategic human resources, diversity, and inclusion guidance to hospital leadership, which included but was not limited to the creation and implementation of recruitment retention, professional development, and engagement initiatives.

Tonya started her career in healthcare in 2003 at KJMC as a Human Resources Intern at her neighborhood hospital (Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center).  In 2008, she assumed a role as Employee and Labor Relations Generalist with the Consolidated Edison Companies of New York (ConEd) and built a background in the utility industry as well.   In 2012, Tonya returned to the healthcare sector for which she was truly passionate to assume the role of Human Resources Director at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center.

Tonya graduated Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial & Labor Relations and received a master’s degree in Human Resources Management & Development from New York University.  Tonya holds several human resources certifications and credentials including the Society of Human Resources Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP), Professional of Human Resources (PHR), Certified Healthcare Human Resources professional (CHHR), Certified Diversity Professional (CDP), and Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations’ certificate in Diversity & Inclusions Management, Employee & Labor Relations, Contract Negotiations, and Effective Investigations.  In early 2021, Tonya became a qualified administrator of the IDI (Intercultural Competence Inventory) to assess individuals’ and groups’ intercultural competence.  Tonya is also a certified executive and career coach.

Tonya leads with her heart and encourages those that encounter her to do the same.  Her passion for her work emanates with every encounter. Throughout her professional career, Tonya has received many accolades and recognition for her professional leadership, diligence, and creativity.  In 2016, she was appointed as president of the Association for Healthcare Human Resources Administrators (AHHRA), followed by Regional Consultant for the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Association (ASHHRA).

Born in the Caribbean island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tonya migrated to the United States at the age of twelve and took up residence in Brooklyn, New York.  She currently lives in Valley Stream, New York with her husband and three children. Tonya is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and attributes her foundation in community service to her membership.  She has been an avid advocate and ally to underserved communities and marginalized populations for decades. Tonya especially loves to share her life experiences and knowledge gained along her journey with young professionals and is an aspiring author and podcast host.


Christopher Awwad, DO
Family Medicine Physician and LGBTQ-Transgender Program Associate Director
Department of Hospital Medicine
Plainview Hospital, Northwell Health

Christopher Awwad, DO, a healthcare leader committed to healthcare excellence and serving New Yorkers regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Christopher is a Family Medicine Physician and LGBTQ-Transgender Program Associate Director in the Department of Hospital Medicine, Plainview Hospital, Northwell Health.

David Gill, Ph.D, M.S.
Vice President
Team Member and Culture Experience Department
Northwell Health

David Gill is the Vice President, Team Member and Culture Experience Department.

David has responsibility for the strategy, development, implementation and ongoing execution of engagement initiatives and measurement, external and internal awards and recognition, and the sustainability of the employee value proposition. Key initiatives that he oversees are the internal innovation challenges, president’s award program and workforce and physician engagement surveys.

Prior to joining Northwell Health, David led the Human Resources Assessment and Selection function at Verizon Communications, which was responsible for the development, validation and implementation of the talent acquisition processes for hiring new employees. With over fifteen years of Talent Management experience and applied research across multiple industries, David’s areas of exercise include employee engagement and retention, talent identification, performance management and employee development.

He received his Ph.D. and M.S. in industrial and Organizational Psychology and a certificate in Occupational Health Psychology from Kansas State University.

Maxine Legall, MBA, MSW, CPXP
Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer
Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services

Maxine L. Legall, MBA, MSW, CPXP, currently serves as Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office for The Jewish Board. In her current role Maxine is a key member of the agency’s senior leadership team where she leads strategic diversity and inclusion initiatives across the agency. Additionally, while working collaboratively with the senior team she works to improve internal culture and increase employee engagement and retention. One of her key goals is to weave diversity, equity, and inclusion into the fabric of the organization with an overall outcome of driving operational effectiveness.

Prior to this she was the Director of Patient Experience & Cultural Transformation at Mount Sinai Morningside where she created patient experience trainings and workshops to engage staff and share best practices and collaborated with leaders at MSM to develop and implement action plans to increase scores and enhance the patient experience.

Maxine earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Hofstra University, where her concentration was Health Service Management. She earned a Master of Science from Columbia University School of Social Work, where she focused on Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming. At the State University of New York, Maxine graduated cum laude, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in Sociology and Black Studies.

Maxine has a passion for working with others, staff engagement, enhancing the patient experience, diversity and inclusion, leadership and overall organization development.
She believes anything is possible when there is teamwork, engagement and strong leadership!


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This and all our programs and events are made possible by the generosity of our 2022-2023 HLNY Corporate Sponsors who are ardent supporters of the healthcare executive profession.





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