The Advisory Board, a group of medical, policy, and administrative professionals, offer key insight into veterans’ health care programs. Advisors provide direction to VHPI's fellows and analysts, recommend areas of study, and connect our research team to experts and resources.
H. Westly Clark
Dr. H. Westley Clark is a highly respected public health expert in the field of substance abuse treatment. He is formerly the Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he led the agency’s national effort to provide effective and accessible treatment to all Americans with addictive disorders. Clark was also the former chief of the Associated Substance Abuse Programs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco, California and a former associate clinical professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). Clark served as a senior program consultant to the Robert Wood Johnson, Substance Abuse Policy Program and as a co-investigator on a number of the National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded research grants. He also worked for Sen. Edward Kennedy (MA) as a health counsel on the U.S. Senate Committee of Labor and Human Resources.
Charlene Harrington, Ph.D., RN has been a professor of sociology and nursing at the University of California San Francisco since 1980. She was elected to the American Academy of Nursing and the Institute of Medicine (now the Academies of Medicine). Her research has included designing and managing a model California long-term care consumer information system website (2002-2016); studying state Medicaid home and community-based service programs and policies (1994 to 2016); directing the National Center for Personal Assistance Services (2003-2013), and assisting with a new Community Living Policy Center funding (2013-2017). She has testified before the U.S. Congress on long term care research and policy, written many articles and books on nursing homes and long term care, and lectured widely in the U.S. and internationally.
Bridget Lattanzi is an Iraq veteran who served in the Illinois National Guard for 19 years. She was deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005 where she was a mechanic in a maintenance unit. She was deployed to Camp Anaconda in Baland, Iraq. Camp Anaconda was the second-largest US base in Iraq and was nicknamed “Mortarville” because of the many mortar attacks it sustained. Because it was such a large base, it was also known for its problems with burn pits. Since she left the National Guard, Bridget Lattanzi has pursued a certification in Veterans Services at the College of Dupage and is now a student in the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program and is will be studying Human Resources. Bridget also did a fellowship with The Mission Continues and an internship with the Allen Force. She is a patient at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.
Craig Newmark is a web pioneer, philanthropist, and leading advocate. Most commonly known for founding the online classified ads service craigslist, he works to support and connect people and drive broad civic engagement in areas that include trustworthy journalism and the information ecosystem, voter protection, women in technology, and veterans and military families. At its core, all of Newmark’s philanthropic work helps to strengthen American democracy by supporting the values that the country aspires to – fairness, opportunity, and respect.
Newmark serves on the board of directors of numerous organizations, including Blue Star Families, the Center for Public Integrity, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York, Girls Who Code, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American, Poynter Foundation, Sunlight Foundation, VetsinTech, and Women in Public Service Project. He also serves on the Board of Overseers of the Columbia Journalism Review and on the advisory board of nearly twenty other nonprofit organizations, including DonorsChoose.org, EFF, New America Foundation, Voto Latino, Wikimedia Foundation, and Women Who Tech.
Dorothy Salmon is a civic and business leader in Napa County. Salmon was the first woman President of the Napa Rotary Club. She was President of the Board of The Pathway Home Inc, a residential program that served veterans with PTSD and other mental health problems. Salmon has been the sponsorship chair for Cycle4Sight Rotary Ride for Veterans for 14 years raising over a million dollars to fund veterans programs As a leader in the Rotary Club, Salmon launched a pioneering partnership between Rotary Clubs and the Martinez VA’s Post Deployment Assessment Treatment Program for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. She was the driving force behind the production of the Rotary Club book Serving Those Who Have Served: How Rotary Clubs Can Form Partnerships that Better Support Our Nation’s Veterans.
Joan Zweben, Ph.D., is an addiction psychologist, and a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California. She recently retired as Executive Director of the East Bay Community Recovery Project, community-based treatment program she founded in 1989 for people with co-occurring disorders. She was also the founder and Executive Director at the 14th Clinic, an opioid treatment program in Oakland, California from 1979-2007. Joan has been a San Francisco VA Medical Center employee since 1974, spending 10 percent of her time at its facilities.
Joseph Riotta is a Director of Sales living in New York. Originally from Argentina, Joseph arrived in the United States at age 14, with a desire to attend High School and learn English. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and a Master’s in Business Administration. His work has taken him all over the world and allowed him the privilege of seeing how different cultures face technical and personal challenges and work to solve them.
He is the father and legal guardian of a disabled veteran and, after experiencing some harrowing experiences while advocating for his son, decided to advocate on behalf of all veterans, especially those that are mentally disabled.
Larry Cohen currently chairs the board of Our Revolution, the successor organization to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Cohen served as President of the 600,000 member Communications Workers of America from 2005-2015, and spent nearly all of his adult life as a member, organizer, and officer. Cohen is also a member of the Democratic National Committee, and was appointed by Sanders as vice-chair of the Unity Reform Commission whose mandate is to democratize the party structures and presidential nominating process.
Charlynn Johns is the Executive Director of Sunshine After Rain Ministries, a faith-based non-profit founded over 20 years ago. For the past ten years, she has worked with military families and veterans, developing a website, Battle Buddy Info, a collection of resources to help veterans find assistance when they need it. She is the advisor to Texas Vets Cares for Health Care, a group of stakeholders, veterans, and concerned patriots who are working to ensure veterans know legislative information that will have long-term consequences. She is considered by many to be an expert when it comes to current efforts and issues on privatizing the VA. She was awarded the 2017 Honoree of the Year by Greater Dallas Veterans Council for her work.
Phil Longman is a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University and a senior editor at Washington Monthly. He is also the policy director at the Open Markets Institute, where he is currently researching the effects of concentration in health care. Mr. Longman was appointed by Senate President Harry Reid to serve on the Commission on Care, a federal panel charged with creating a strategic plan for the future of veterans’ health care. He has written extensively on VA health care, including his book Best Care Anywhere: Why VA healthcare would be Better for Everyone, now in its third edition. Mr. Longman lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Sandy, and son, Sam.
Dr. Andrew Pomerantz is the National Mental Health Director for Integrated Services in the Veterans Health Administration and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He was a primary care physician in Chelsea, Vermont from 1972-1984, prior to training in psychiatry. He joined the White River Junction, Vermont VA and Dartmouth faculty in 1987 and served as the VA Chief of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences from 1992 until 2010 and was Associate Director of Residency Training at Dartmouth for over a decade during that time. During his tenure as service chief, he was widely recognized for many innovations, including provision of mental health care in community-based outpatient clinics in the 1990s, developing partnerships with state and other non-VA agencies, a partnership with the National Guard, telehealth and integrating mental health services into primary care. Since beginning his current position in VA Central Office in 2011 he has led the national development and implementation of mental health services in the VA Patient Aligned Care Team (the VA patient centered medical home. More recently he has played a key role in advancing patient centered care, pain management and treatment of substance use disorders in primary care.
Kenneth W. Watterson
Kenneth W. Watterson joined the United States Marine Corps in January 1965 and took basic training in San Diego, California. After basic training he received orders to Vietnam and arrived there in July 1965. After thirteen months, he was re-assigned to Camp Pendleton, California. Watterson volunteered to go back to Vietnam for his second tour in July 1967. During that time he received wounds on his 21st birthday while out on operations. Again, after 13 months of duty in Vietnam he was assigned back to Camp Pendleton, California. Watterson has been involved with many different military organizations including eight years serving on the Board of Trustees as National Vice Commandant of the Southern Division of the Marine Corps League.
Marilyn Park worked in the labor movement for nearly 25 years as an AFL-CIO health policy specialist and lobbyist advocating for American Federation of Government Employee union members in the VA workforce. She has also worked on health care issues for the Labor Department and Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry. In retirement, she devotes time to fighting privatization of the VA health care system and Post Office and restoring the voting rights of individuals with felony convictions.
Hugh Foy is Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the UW School of Medicine. He served as an attending surgeon in General, Burn and Surgical Critical Care at Harborview Medical Center, the Level I Trauma center in Seattle for 28 years from 1991-2019 until his retirement in September 2019. Prior to returning to Harborview in 1991, he practiced at a UW affiliated teaching hospital, Pacific Medical Center for 5 years following his 6 years of residency in General Surgery and Burn and Critical Care Surgery at the UW. His surgical career encompassed all phases of trauma and general surgery with an emphasis on GI surgery, abdominal reconstruction, soft tissue infection and critical care. His other academic efforts have focused on medical and surgical education. He served as the UW General Surgery residency program director for 9 years and was a founding head of one of the UW School of Medicine’s Colleges where he enjoyed teaching medical students for 16 years balancing his clinical work as a trauma/critical care surgeon. He is also a founding member and former member of the board of the Western Washington Chapter of PNHP, Physicians for a National Health Care Program.
Mark Jwayad is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles and working around the world. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Jwayad attended the University of San Francisco and studied Performing Arts & Social Justice. He continued with a Masters in Film Directing from Chapman University. Jwayad spent several years working with actors in the commercial casting world. Today, his work ranges from short-form to film and television development. He writes and directs comedic, dramatic, and documentary content for various brands and non-profits. His work documenting veterans’ stories has led him to a deep concern for veterans’ health care.
Edward Machtinger, M.D., is a Professor of Medicine and Director of the Women’s HIV Program (WHP) at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He is a national thought leader and advocates for using trauma-informed approaches to more effectively address complex health and behavioral conditions, and to improve the resiliency and joy of care providers. The specific focus of Dr. Machtinger’s research and innovation has been to develop and evaluate a scalable model of trauma-informed primary care suitable for any population. He has consulted about trauma-informed care for multiple federal agencies and foundations and is currently a consultant for the Substance Use and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), co-authoring federal guidance on trauma-informed primary care. He is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and performed his residency in internal medicine at UCSF.
Dr. Josef Ruzek retired as Director of the VA National Center for PTSD Dissemination and Training Division in April 2018, after helping improve PTSD services in VA for over 26 years. Ruzek is an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Co-Director of the Center for m2 Health at Palo Alto University. He has been a member of the VHA Undersecretary's Special Committee on PTSD and served as psychotherapy champion for the joint VA-DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for Management of Traumatic Stress. Ruzek specializes in early intervention to prevent the development of PTSD, dissemination of evidence-based treatments for PTSD, and development and evaluation of internet and smartphone-based interventions for trauma survivors. His team at the National Center for PTSD developed widely used apps for veterans, including PTSD Coach and PTSD Family Coach.
Jay Youngdahl is presently a Visiting Research Scholar at the Murphy Institute at City University of New York (CUNY). Prior to this, he was a Fellow at Harvard University in Ethics as well as in Responsible Investment. A lawyer, he is a partner in The Youngdahl Law Firm in Houston, Texas where he represented workers and unions. Youngdahl served with the Third Armored Division in the U.S. Army. He was honorably discharged in 1974 as a Private First Class.
Adam Pelletier is a United States Marine Corps veteran and receives health care through the Veterans Health Administration. He was deployed to Kuwait/Iraq once during the initial invasion of Iraq from March to October 2003. He is currently a Statewide Union Organizer with the Civil Service Employee Association (CSEA) in New York and the President of the Troy Area Labor Council (AFL-CIO). He has been active in labor and social issue advocacy and organizing in the Capital District for the last 10 years. Previously, he served the public as a Social Security Claims Specialist in Troy, NY helping people navigate what can be a very complicated and onerous system. He recently completed a 6-month certification course to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in Saratoga County. He graduated from Clarkson University, where he used his Post 9/11 GI Bill, with a B.S. degree with a Political Science and a Law Studies minor. He is a staunch opponent of privatization of any government services, but especially efforts to privatize the only fully integrated health care system found anywhere in the United States; the VA Health Care System.