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Project STAY Staff

At Project STAY, a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, including pediatric/adolescent medicine specialists, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, and health educators, provides care to at-risk and HIV-positive adolescents and young adults.

Program Director: Alwyn T. Cohall
Medical Director: Natalie Neu

Aanie Christopher    Renee Cohall   John A. Nelson   Joanna Pudil
Peter R. Ruiz   Katie Tang   Susan Vacca   Bari Weinberg

Alwyn T. Cohall, MD, Program Director

Dr. Cohall is the Director of Project STAY, as well as the Director of the Harlem Health Promotion Center (HHPC). He is on the clinical faculty of the Department of Pediatrics at NYPH, and is a Professor in the Departments of Sociomedical Sciences and Population and Family Health at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Cohall received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and his medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He completed his residency in pediatrics at Montefiore Hospital and a fellowship in adolescent medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Natalie Neu, MD Medical Director

Dr. Natalie Neu went to medical school at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. She did a pediatric residency at the University of Michigan Children's Hospital, and returned to New York and Columbia University to receive her pediatric infectious disease training. She is board certified in both Pediatrics and Pediatric Infectious Diseases. During her fellowship, Dr. Neu's research focused on the study of sexually transmitted diseases in adolescent s. She has worked clinically with young adults both in the STD clinic and at Project STAY for the past 7 years.

Peter R. Ruiz, MD, Psychiatrist

Dr. Ruiz provides mental health and psychiatric services for Project STAY clients. Board certified in Psychiatry, he received his medical degree from the Universidad Central Del Este and did residencies at both St. Vincent's Hospital and Westchester Medical Center.

John A. Nelson, PhD, CPNP, Coordinator of Clinical Services, Project STAY Specialized Care Center

John joined the team at Project STAY in September 2006. He provides clinical care to HIV-positive and at-risk adolescents and young adults, in addition to community outreach, research, and program growth and development efforts. He completed his MSN at Yale University in 1989, and his Ph.D. in Nursing at NYU in 2006. John has published journal articles on issues including LGBT adolescents, HIV and adolescents, and cervical dysplasia in adolescent females.

Joanna Pudil, MA, LMSW (individual, family, couples and group therapy), Project Director, Project STAY Specialized Care Center

Joanna joined Project STAY in 2002. She provides individual, family, couples and group therapy, and leads a weekly support group. She graduated from City College, CUNY in 1997 with a masters in clinical psychology and from Hunter College School of Social Work in 2001 with a Masters in Social Work (LMSW). She also has experience working in research, substance abuse, mental health, and employee assistance programs.

Aanie Christopher, LMSW, Social Worker

Aanie received her BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz and her MSW in Social Work from the Hunter College School of Social Work. She has experience working with GLBTQ youth, homeless and street-involved individuals, people who have experienced domestic violence, and adults with developmental disabilities. Her practice with individuals and families is guided by a strengths-based empowerment philosophy, and she believes strongly in the power of young people learning from and helping each other.

Renee Cohall, ACSW, Project Director, Project STAY Mobile Health Team

Renee previously served for seven years as the Senior Social Worker at the St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Adolescent HIV/AIDS Clinic, and has co-authored articles on emergency contraception, treating teen rape victims, and dating violence. She received her ACSW degree from the Hunter College School of Social Work.

Susan Vacca, MSN, CPNP, Coordinator of Clinical Services, Project STAY Mobile Health Team

Susan works with the Mobile Health Team to provide clinical care to adolescents and young adults at risk for HIV and STIs. She has over 13 years experience as a nurse practitioner caring for children and adolescents exposed to HIV. She also has experience providing HIV post-exposure prophylaxis for victims of sexual assault. Susan is on faculty at the New York University College of Nursing, where she teaches a pediatric course in the undergraduate nursing program. She earned her MS in Nursing at Seton Hall University.

Katie Tang, MA, CHES, Outreach Coordinator, Project STAY Mobile Health Team

Katie has extensive experience working with inner city youth and has been a health educator with the Mobile Health Team since 2008. She graduated with a master's degree in Health Education from Teachers College, Graduate School of Education at Columbia University. During her undergraduate career, she received training from the South African Department of Health as an HIV/AIDS counselor and worked in South Africa at a rural AIDS clinic as a nutritionist and health educator. She is also a trained nutritionist and an active member of the American Dietetic Association.

Bari Weinberg, LMSW, Mobile Health Team Social Worker, Project STAY Mobile Health Team

Bari provides case management and supportive counseling to adolescents at risk for STIs/HIV throughout NYC. Her outreach efforts with Project STAYs Mobile Health Team (MHT) include psycho-educational workshops focused on sexual health along with a variety of topics focused on healthy adolescent development. Ms. Weinberg is also responsible for evaluating and identifying high-risk adolescents and ensuring their linkage to care. She has a background in working with adolescents living with HIV/AIDS as well as providing supportive counseling and academic guidance within a school-based setting. She received her BA from the University of Vermont and her MSW from the Hunter College School of Social Work.

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