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Shelby Arena



Shelby earned her dual Bachelor of Arts Degrees in International Relations and Latin American Studies from Canisius College. She is currently pursuing her Master of Social Work at the University at Buffalo. She has worked in the health and human services sector since 2016 with experience educating and counseling people in reproductive health and justice, domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as mental health and substance use. Shelby is an advocate for harm reduction and is passionate about fostering community connections.

Brian Clemency, DO, MBA



Dr. Clemency has been involved in emergency care for nearly 20 years, beginning his career as a firefighter and emergency medical technician. Dr. Clemency completed both medical school and an MBA in health care administration in 4 years, before coming to Buffalo to continue his medical education. He is double boarded in Emergency Medicine and Emergency Medical Services. Dr. Clemency has become a local, regional and national leader in prehospital care, education and research. Dr. Clemency has authored over 30 peer reviewed publications, including 3 on the topic of opioid overdose. Dr. Clemency is the Research Director and oversees external funding.

Lucy Connery, MPH



Lucy Connery completed her BS in Health Promotion, BA in Spanish, and her Master of Public Health at Daemen University. Connery began her career in public health at the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo & WNY, where she launched multiple community health initiatives to promote regular physical activity, positive mental health practices, and improved quality of life in WNY. After time working as a Research Manager in the University at Buffalo’s Department of Emergency Medicine, Connery was quickly attracted to the MATTERS program for its advocacy for people who use drugs (PWUD). Lucy serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Daemen MPH Department and SUNY Cortland’s undergraduate Health Department; in her spare time, Lucy enjoys spending time at home with her two cats and participating in recreational sports leagues in WNY.

Mia Dickinson



Mia recently graduated from University at Buffalo with her Bachelor Degree in Public Health. She found her passion for public health through working for the New York State Contact Tracing Initiative during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and hopes to work towards reducing health disparities and increasing access to healthcare throughout her career.

Brigid Keane, MPH



Brigid graduated with her MPH in 2023 from Daemen University with a focus on Community Health Education. She graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a degree in biology with the ambition of going into a field where she was able to help others. Brigid is passionate about being a supportive member of her surrounding communities. She spends her free time doing pilates/other forms of physical activity and spending time with family, friends, and her 2 year old puppy Mochi.

Brooke Langella, MPH



Brooke earned her Master’s Degree in Public Health from SUNY Albany, specializing in Maternal and Child Health. Dedicated to health equity and improving health outcomes, Brooke is passionate about contributing to her community’s well-being. Drawing from her background in healthcare, health education, and substance misuse prevention, she is looking forward to expanding the MATTERS outreach further throughout New York State.

Lauren Lennett



Lauren completed her undergraduate degree in Public Health at The University at Buffalo, where she is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Health. She has had leadership experience for several years as a camp counselor and group leader at a summer sleep-away camp in Pennsylvania. Lauren specializes in digital marketing and content development and has a passion for taking care of others and helping her greater community.

Alexander Ljungberg, DO, MBA



Dr. Alexander Ljungberg is a dedicated emergency medicine physician who graduated from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2012. With nearly a decade of service to the Western New York community, he has worked as an attending physician at multiple WNY hospitals since 2015. Currently serving as the Associate Director of Emergency Medicine at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Dr. Ljungberg brings extensive expertise in quality assurance and improvement, culminating in the completion of his Executive MBA from the Jacob’s School of Management in 2021. His leadership is evident in the successful implementation of multi-level improvement processes, and the development of various improvement initiatives within UBMD Emergency Medicine.

Joshua Lynch, DO, FACEP



Dr. Lynch is an emergency physician and EMS medical director from Buffalo, NY. He is a senior physician with UB|MD Emergency Medicine and holds faculty appointments at the University at Buffalo and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Lynch has spent over a decade in EMS leadership and several years as the system medical director at Mercy Flight of WNY.

Dr. Lynch is the creator of MATTERS. This program works to provide efficient buprenorphine training to emergency physicians and create linkages between the hospital and substance use treatment programs. He serves as a technical advisor for the Erie County and New York State Departments of Health. He and his team are proud to have received nearly 3 million dollars in grant funding to support the MATTERS program and widely expand access to high-quality addictions care.

Robert McCormack, MD, MBA



Dr. Robert McCormack is an attending physician in the emergency department of Erie County Medical Center. In addition to his emergency medicine work at ECMC, he is also a Clinical Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, Vice Chair at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Chief of Service of Emergency Medicine for the Kaleida Health system. Dr. Robert McCormack is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services Community Service Award and the Western New York Heroes award.

Phil McNamara



Phil holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture as well as a CASAT-T. He has worked as an SUD Counselor specializing in MAT at Best Self and as a Community Outreach Coordinator specializing in HCV Linkage and Harm Reduction at ECMC’s GI / Hepatology Dept. He also has a decade of bar/restaurant management in NYC and Buffalo. Phil is the founder of Buffalo Resilience a nonprofit linking local businesses to community organizations to provide meals and harm reduction supplies to underserved communities in WNY. He believes that a strong community can offer many different paths to recovery and is passionate about building strong community connections.

Donna Middleton



Donna’s education in Chemical Dependency Counseling and Community and Human Services led her to providing SUD treatment to individuals, both inside and outside various correctional facilities, and to those returning to the community from incarceration. Donna was part of a startup team at Exodus Transitional Community partnered with The New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice to launch an Alternative to Incarceration Program during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Donna is deeply committed to ensuring fair, equitable, and quality treatment for everyone, while building strong community relationships.  Donna is excited to be a part of the MATTERS team and looks forward to expanding this valuable resource.

Mila Pakhomova



Mila Pakhomova holds an Associate degree in Allied Health Sciences as well as a Bachelor degree in Nursing. With a lifelong passion surrounding healthcare, Mila comes to MATTERS with 15 years of experience in healthcare administration and management. Through her experience she discovered a love for creating order out of chaos as well as enhancing the functionality of programs and departments. Her greatest accomplishment as a manager has been building teams that feel empowered, supported, engaged and focused on the organization’s mission. She is excited to be a part of a program which shares in her love of providing help to those in need. Outside of work, Mila enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors, reading, and listening to music.

Martie Ritz



With her bachelor’s degree in Emergency Management and over a decade on the front lines of emergency services, Martie brings this first hand experience to her efforts with UBMD and the MATTERS program. Martie has always had a passion for helping others and will be serving those of the Southern Tier, her home ground and the Mid-Hudson Region. In her free time, she enjoys taking her horses trail riding across New York, to enjoy the beautiful state she calls home. Martie is excited to continue to be voice and advocate to help better her community, for both its residents and its resources.

Katie Rossi, MS



Katie holds a BS in Health and Wellness and MS in Health and Human Performance. She started working in healthcare in 2012 and quickly discovered a knack for operations, specifically in high stress and complex environments. Her experience spans multiple medical specialties most notably neurology and emergency veterinary medicine. Beyond health and medical operations, her passion lies in leading teams and solving problems.

Kailyn Tomilin, MPH



Kailyn earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health from D’Youville University in 2021. She recently graduated from Daemen University with her MPH with a focus in epidemiology. Kailyn has a passion for public health and plans to spend her career helping to improve health outcomes among underserved populations and working to address barriers to care.

Renoj Varughese, MD



Dr. Varughese is an emergency physician and EMS medical director in Buffalo, NY. He currently practices at Buffalo General Hospital, ECMC and the Veterans Affairs WNY Hospital. His focus is on telemedicine and community paramedicine. He serves as the Telemedicine Director.

Bella Wilklow



Bella graduated from Buffalo State University with a BA in Psychology. She then began her journey by supporting families as a postpartum doula with Buffalo Doula Collective. Following her work as a doula, she discovered her passion for aiding underserved communities while working with refugees at Catholic Charities. Outside of her professional life, she finds fulfillment in restoring her Victorian home and baking.

Bob Zielonka, MA



Bob graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications, and Buffalo State University with a BA in Public Communications. After years of working in marketing agencies, Bob found his way into non-profit work, and truly found his calling within Public Health. When not dedicating his time to MATTERS, he has published a sci-fi novel, competed in 2 Ironman triathlons, and has traveled to three continents and nine countries.