We wanted to share with all of you a brief that was written by Liz Moore for the Rauch Foundation. “Minding the Gaps. How . . .
Elizabeth A. Isakson, MD, FAAP
Dr. Isakson is the Executive Director of Docs for Tots. She is a pediatrician and public health practitioner with 15 years of experience with Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) and the New York Zero-to-Three Network (NYZTT). Her passion and support for early childhood systems integration (health, education, family) stems from her exposure to the short- and long-term human outcomes of an under-funded and misaligned system for families with young children.
Dr. Isakson has published multiple publications with the National Center for Children and Poverty (NCCP) across the systems of early care and education, health and family economic security. With NCCP and Susan Ochshorn of ECE PolicyWorks, she envisioned and executed the policy forum: Paid Family Leave: Getting it Right from the Start. Dr. Isakson sat on the executive committee of the board for the New York Zero-to-Three Network from 2008-2013, where she authored the 2008 report Unequal from the Start: a Check-up on NYC’s Infants and Toddlers. In addition to publications, she is a sought after speaker on issues of community and state systems to support healthy development in early childhood.
Dr. Isakson trained in General Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of New York where she served as Chief Resident. She received her MD from University of Connecticut Medical School and is completing her MPH from the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.
Melissa Passarelli, MA
Director of Programs
Melissa Passarelli is the Director of Programs for Docs for Tots. Melissa has a background in mental health, early learning, and working across systems to affect sustainable change. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Public Policy from The George Washington University, during which time she worked for non-profits such as A Wider Circle, Fiver Children’s Foundation, and First Book that focused on providing equal opportunities for education and healthy development for children of all socioeconomic backgrounds. In 2014 Melissa earned her M.A. in International Disaster Psychology from the University of Denver and worked as a trauma therapist with refugees, homeless women and children, and survivors of sexual assault. Her training included international work in India, disaster response, cultural and body-based clinical interventions for trauma, and global mental health. From 2013-2014 she helped establish and coordinate the Trauma and Disaster Recovery Clinic in Denver, Colorado.
Melissa has been associated with Docs for Tots since 2011 and has been directing the developmental screening project since 2014.
Ikadshi Thukral is the Operations Manager for Docs for Tots. She received her Bachelors of Arts degree from St. John’s University in 2014 and majored in Government and Politics. Ikadshi is very interested in public policy and it’s affects on our youngest and most vulnerable population. In 2010 Ikadshi conducted a study comparing gender roles and domestic violence in first generation Indian immigrants and second generation Indian Americans; for which she became a National Semo-Finalist in the Young Epidemiology Contest Sponsored by College Board. Prior to joining Docs for Tots, Ikadshi was the marketing manager/ Designer for NY Commercial real estate from 2012-2014.
Laraib Humayun is the Health Liaison for Docs for Tots. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Community Health from Hofstra University in 2017, where she assisted in research studying the effectiveness of digital storytelling as a method of health education and health promotion. Because of her exemplary academic performance, Laraib has been the recipient of the Presidential Scholarship, John Adams Scholarship, and was consistently on the Dean’s List. Laraib brings a passion for public health and a depth of knowledge in nonprofit strategy with experience working as a Community Health Advocate for Health Leads at Nassau University Medical Center, NUMC, and as a member of the Medical Services Team at Planned Parenthood.
Bilingual Family Resource Specialist
Blanca Franco is the Bilingual Family Resource Specialist for Help Me Grow – Long Island of which Docs for Tots is the organizing entity. In her previous position as Bilingual Child Victim Advocate at Nassau County’s Child Advocacy Center, she was the primary person to coordinate care for families and collaborated with a multi-disciplinary team to provide a trauma-informed response to children who were victims of sex abuse and their non-offending family members. Through this experience Blanca became well-versed in understanding structural injustice and why immigrant families and other populations have trouble accessing services. Blanca’s passion for social work developed at a very young age and grew during her years working with non-profits such as The Safe Center LI, Nassau BOCES, Parent-Child Home Program, and MOMMA’s House. These experiences have made her adept with creating networks with community partners, providing advocacy, case management, referrals for families, as well as identifying gaps and barriers to services and educating families regarding community resources.