Our Staff

Elizabeth A. Isakson, MD, FAAP

Executive Director

Elizabeth Isakson, MD, FAAP

Dr. Isakson is the Executive Director of Docs for Tots. She is a pediatrician and public health practitioner with decades 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 multiple publications published across the systems of early care and education, health, and family economic security. She teaches advocacy to graduate level students at Mt. Sinai School of Public Health, and is a sought after speaker on issues of community and state systems to support healthy development in early childhood. As executive director of Docs for Tots since 2013, Dr. Isakson has been an active voice in the dissemination of critical knowledge in the field of early childhood at both the community and national academic levels.

She has participated in many local and state cross-systems efforts including:

  • Governor Appointed Member of the Early Childhood Advisory Council of New York State, sits on the steering committee, oversees Promoting Health Development Workgroup
  • New York State First 1000 Days on Medicaid
  • Health Equity Alliance of Long Island
  • Early Intervention Coordinating Committee of New York City
  • Moving On Maternal Depression Project Core Planning Team
  • Member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, New York State Chapter 3 Executive Council

Dr. Isakson trained in General Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of New York where she served as Chief Resident and received her MD from University of Connecticut Medical School.

 

Melissa Passarelli, MA

Director of Programs

Melissa Passarelli, MA

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.

 

Robin Halloran, MS

Director of Operations

Robin Halloran

Robin Halloran is the Director of Operations for Docs for Tots. She has a BA in International Relations from Brown University and a Master’s in Nonprofit Management from Johnson & Wales University. Robin has a professional background in international education organizations including SACI Florence, NYU, CIEE, and AIFS. She has also volunteered with local nonprofit organizations including the West Side Campaign Against Hunger and the LaGuardia High School Parents Association.

 

Margaret Wayne, MPH

Program Manager of Building Relationships Infant in Toddler Education (BRITE)

Margaret Wayne, MPH

Margaret (Maggie) is the Program Manager of BRITE for Docs for Tots. She received her Bachelor of Science from SUNY Geneseo in 2014, where she studied Communicative Disorders and Sciences. Most recently, she received her Master of Public Health from Hofstra University. During her time there, she was Event Manager and then President of the Society of Public Health Advocates. These roles allowed her to plan and organize events including two charity 5K races on Hofstra’s campus. She was immersed in the Nassau County community through an outreach internship with the Nurse-Family Partnership where she discovered her passion for maternal-child health. This passion further grew through her attendance at the national conference for the American Public Health Association in November 2017. She remains active with APHA as a member of the Community Health, Policy and Program Development, Public Health Nursing, and Young Public Health Professionals sections. These activities combined with her academic performance resulted in her acceptance into Delta Omega, a national public health honors society. Prior to joining Docs for Tots, she worked as a Project Manager for ScribeAmerica to help facilitate the incorporation of scribes into physician workflow.

 

Laraib Humayun

Program Manager for Quality Improvement Initiatives

Laraib Humayun

Laraib Humayun is the Program Manager for Quality Improvement Initiatives at Docs for Tots. She received a Bachelor of Science in Community Health from Hofstra University in 2017. During her time at Hofstra, Laraib worked in many roles researching and promoting positive psychosocial health outcomes for children and families in communities and cross-sector systems of health/human services, public health, and social work. From 2017-2019, Laraib was the Health Liaison at Docs for Tots. As Health Liaison, Laraib implemented a two-year initiative to establish standardized maternal depression screening in several Federally Qualified Health Centers on Long Island, in order to promote positive attachment and developmental health outcomes in infants and toddlers while expanding families’ systems access. Throughout her work Laraib has maintained a lens of social justice through ongoing empowerment of the individual and community as a whole. More recently Laraib has been pursuing a dual degree in the Master of Clinical Social Work and Master of Global Public Health at New York University since 2018 and is expected to graduate in May 2021. In May 2020, she completed the NYU Zelda Foster Studies in Palliative & End-of-Life Care Fellowship with her clinical training in oncology social work at Mount Sinai Hospital. 

 

Fabella Decema

Family Resource Specialist (Bilingual – Haitian-Creole)

Fabella Decema

Fabella Decema is the Bilingual Family Resource Specialist for Help Me Grow – Long Island of which Docs for Tots is the organizing entity. For 4 years, Fabella has worked as the Bilingual Family Support/ Assessment Specialist for Healthy Families Jamaica Program at Sheltering Arms NY. She was responsible for supporting expectant families and new parents with the changes and needs that often come with the birth of a new child. She also promoted positive parent-child attachment/interaction to achieve the mission of preventing child abuse, neglect, and other adverse childhood outcomes. It was through this experience Fabella became well-versed in understanding the importance of using a strength-based approach to address the particular needs of families in the community.

 

Rose Marie Paul

Family Resource Specialist (Bilingual – Spanish)

Rose Marie Paul

Rose Marie Paul joins Docs for Tots as a Bilingual Family Resource Specialist for Help Me Grow Long Island. She received her Bachelor of Science from Queens College in 2017, where she studied Psychology. In her previous position, Rose served the community as a Bilingual Care Manager at Hispanic Counseling Center for over 2 years. She was responsible for assisting developmentally disabled individuals and their families with accessing a variety of resources and services to meet their needs. As a Care Manager, Rose has been able to provide advocacy for children in need of speech, physical, occupational, and behavioral therapies at CSE meetings. She has also been able to link families to local specialists to meet their dental, psychiatric, and psychological needs. Through this role, she has been able to observe and understand the necessity of connecting families to local resources in order to enrich the development of children with or without disabilities. During her free time, she enjoys spending her evenings as a mentor for at-risk youth. She also highly enjoys tending to her houseplants.

 

Melisa Vasquez

Administrative Coordinator (Bilingual – Spanish)

Melisa Vasquez

Melisa Vasquez joined Docs for Tots as a part-time Family Resource Specialist for Help Me Grow – Long Island, and is now our part-time Administrative Coordinator. Melisa received her bachelor’s from Molloy College in 2020 as a Social Worker. She is currently in her last semester obtaining her Master’s in Social Work at Fordham University. She had the opportunity to work with pre-teens/teenagers and their families as a social work intern at a middle school. During her time as an intern, she worked alongside the guidance counselors and school psychologists to provide counseling to children, also advocating for services such as sitting in IEP meetings, working with community providers to assist families in legal advice, and assisting in the school’s food pantry. Currently, she is interning at the New York City Office of Immigration Affairs. Melisa has a passion for helping individuals who do not have a voice. One of her future goals is to one day have a non-profit organization that will help out those in need.   

 

Latest News

Learning Collaboratives Prepare Child Care Providers to Offer Developmental and Social Emotional Screens to Children in Their Care

2020 Highlights For the families that use them, child care providers play a major role in children’s lives. A child who attends child care . . .
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Help Me Grow – Long Island 2020 Highlights

2020 in Numbers Expanded Partnerships in 2020 With support from Help Me Grow National, we strengthened our relationship with the Stony Brook Hospital Women, . . .
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Addressing Basic Needs and COVID Challenges

2020 Highlights 2020 has presented challenges for many families with young children worldwide. Docs for Tots has been fortunate to be able to continue . . .
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Investing in quality early learning programs is the most efficient way to affect school and life success and to reduce social expenditures later.

James Heckman, economist, Nobel laureate