•  Inaugural Empire Whole Health Heroes Awards recognize exceptional New York leaders who improved the health of our communities
  • Celebratory event panel to feature Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO, Partnership for New York City (panel moderator); Linda Kirkpatrick,
  • President, North America, Mastercard (panelist); Kevin Ryan, Founder and CEO, AlleyCorp (panelist), discussing the impact of companies and individuals on NYC’s physical and financial health

The virtual celebratory event is available at www.crainsnewyork.com/empireevent

As part of its mission to materially and measurably improve the health of all New Yorkers, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, in partnership with Crain’s New York Business, custom division, is pleased to announce the 50 honorees of the 2020 Empire Whole Health Heroes Awards program. Empire and Crain’s created this program to honor and celebrate individuals and teams whose commitment, kindness and exceptional leadership have helped to improve the health, wellness and safety of the city during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.


“COVID-19 hit New York early and hard, which meant that our communities were on the front lines of the response,” said Alan Murray president & CEO of Empire BlueCross BlueShield. “In true form, many New Yorkers stood up to these new and evolving challenges, demonstrating resilience and innovation as they worked to address emerging needs across our city. It was a true honor to learn about these stories as part of selecting our 50 honorees. Thank you to the honorees and all applicants for your service during this past year.”


“Crain’s is proud to be part of the 2020 Empire Whole Health Heroes Awards program to honor and celebrate 50 individuals, and teams, that demonstrated remarkable compassion, empathy and true leadership during the pandemic,” said Frederick P. Gabriel Jr., Publisher and Executive Editor of Crain’s New York Business. “It was a privilege to work in partnership with Empire BlueCross BlueShield in bringing these remarkable stories to light.”


The fifty (50) honorees were recognized in the following categories:


  • Healthcare: Leaders in healthcare delivery or leaders in professional services/technologies supporting the health care sector
  • Business: Leaders in the private sector
  • Essential Workers: Leaders in essential services


The 50 honorees, listed in alphabetical order, are:

  1. Aberg, Judith A., M.D., Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Mount Sinai Health System; director, infectious diseases, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  2. Ackerman, Marra Gillian, M.D., Clinical associate director of psychiatry, NYU Grossman School of Medicine; director of consultation-liaison psychiatry, NYU Langone Health
  3. Ames, Lori, National secretary treasurer, Home Healthcare Workers of America, International Union of Journeymen and Allied Trades
  4. Arias, Nancy, Chief nursing officer, Correctional Health Services
  5. Astua, Alfredo, M.D., Chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine, NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst
  6. Barasch, Michael, Managing partner and 9/11 legal advocate, Barasch McGarry

Salzman & Penson

  1. Barzilay, Oren, President, FDNY EMS Local 2507
  2. Bauer, Kristy, M.D., Pulmonologist and Critical Care Physician, Rockland Pulmonary and Medical Associates
  3. Bedard, Rachael, M.D., Director of Geriatrics and Complex Care Services, Correctional Health Services
  4. Boorshtein, Karen, President and CEO, Family Service League
  5. Boulud, Daniel, Co-president, Citymeals on Wheels; founder, the Dinex Group; restaurateur and 2 Michelin-star chef
  6. Boyce, Charles, President, Boyce Technologies
  7. Castaldo, Erica, Nurse, Montefiore Children’s Hospital
  8. Charney, Dennis S., M.D., Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; president for Academic Affairs for the Mount Sinai Health System
  9. Chiu, Winston, Chef owner, Bonbite Events and Little Tong Noodle Shop; founder, Feed Forward
  10. Clarke, Kelly, Program director, NYC Well, Vibrant Emotional Health
  11. Cocks, Patrick, M.D., Program Coordinator, NYU Langone
  12. Cohen, James, CEO, Nevvon-Better Training, Better Care
  13. Connelly, Jim, Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Eastern Region for Marriott International
  14. Di Pietro, Isabella, Cofounder, Feed the Frontlines NYC
  15. Dowling, Michael, President and CEO, Northwell Health
  16. Dye, Thelma, Ph.D., Executive Director and CEO, The Hilde L. Mosse Northside Center for Child Development
  17. Flannery, Marki, President and CEO, Visiting Nurse Service of New York
  18. Gore, Robert, M.D., Emergency medicine physician and founder of the nonprofit Kings Against Violence
  19. Grossman, Joyce, M.D., Chief of population health and research, Globex Health
  20. Haberfeld, Jacqueline, Global director of pro bono and pro bono counsel, Kirkland & Ellis
  21. Hochman, Katherine A., M.D., Associate professor, New York University Grossman School of Medicine; associate chair for Quality of Care; director of hospitalist program, NYU Langone Health-Tisch Hospital
  22. Holliday, Marc, Co-founder, Food1st; chairman and CEO, SL Green Realty Corp.
  23. Team Distinction: Hoplamazian, Mark, President and CEO, Hyatt Hotels; and Isom, Robert, President, American Airlines
  24. Lasso,          Morena, CHSP, CPSO, CHEP, Director of safety, SBH Health System
  25. McCray, Chirlane, First Lady of New York City; chair of the board of directors, Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City
  26. Meaders, LaToya M., Culinary Strategist/CEO, director of operations and co-founder, Collective Fare Catering
  27. Memtsoudis, Stavros G., M.D., Ph.D., MBA, Director of Critical Care Services,

Hospital for Special Surgery

  1. Mraz, Joseph, Director of Building Service Operations, NYU Langone Health
  2. Neumark, Liz, Founder, Great Performances
  3. Team Distinction: NYC Healthcare Heroes                     
  4. Ortiz, José “Tony”, Senior Mobile Markets Liaison, City Harvest
  5. Paladino, Lorenzo, M.D., Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine, SUNY Downstate and Kings County Medical Center
  6. Ramirez, Julia M., Director of patient relations, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  7. Ramot, Daniel, CEO, Via
  8. Rice, Arva R., President and CEO, New York Urban League
  9. Rockwell, David, Founder and president, Rockwell Group; Founder DineOut NYC
  10. Rothschild, Howard, Attorney and president, Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, Inc.
  11. Russell, Davon, President, Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco)
  12. Samuels, John M., Founder and CEO, Better Health Advisors
  13. Schienberg, Mark, President, Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association
  14. Shapiro, Marc J., M.S., M.D., FACS, FCCM, Professor of surgery, Stony Brook

University; assistant chief medical quality officer program director–surgical critical care, Stony Brook University Hospital

  1. Sridhar, Divya, M.D., Chief of interventional radiology, NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem
  2. Stark, Wendy, Executive director, Callen-Lorde
  3. Whiting, Jeff, Founder, Broadway Relief Project


Crain’s New York Business will honor these individuals and teams, and their organizations, at a virtual celebratory event on February 18, 2021 at 4 p.m. ET (crainsnewyork.com/empireevent), which will feature remarks by Alan Murray, CEO, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, and Fred P. Gabriel, Publisher and Executive Editor of Crain’s New Business. Event will also feature a panel discussion on the important roles companies and individuals play in NYC’s physical and financial health, moderated by Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO, Partnership of New York City, and featuring Linda Kirkpatrick, President of North America, Mastercard and Kevin Ryan, Founder and CEO, AlleyCorp as the panelists.


All honorees will receive a crystal award to commemorate their selection on this list and will be featured in a print and digital section in Crain’s New York Business and on https://www.crainsnewyork.com/crains-custom-content-empire-anthem on February 22, 2021. Empire will also make a donation to the Food Bank For New York City to honor this year’s heroes.

The Crain’s New York Business newsroom did not participate in the judging or selection of the honorees.


About Empire BlueCross BlueShield in New York

Serving New Yorkers for 80 years, Empire BlueCross BlueShield (Empire) is on a mission to materially and measurably improve the health of New Yorkers. Empire is the largest health insurer in New York supporting more than four million members and more than 38,000 business, union and small employers in New York. Empire is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc., and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc., independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State. Additional information about Empire is available at www.empireblue.com. Also, follow us on Twitter at @empirebcbs and on LinkedIn.