Executive Management Team
James E. Shmerling, DHA, FACHE
President and Chief Executive Officer
James E. Shmerling was named President and Chief Executive Officer at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center on October 1, 2015. For over three decades, Dr. Shmerling has served in management roles in children’s hospitals and is nationally recognized as a leader in issues concerning children’s health and wellness.
Prior to joining Connecticut Children’s, Dr. Shmerling spent the last eight years as the Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Hospital Colorado, one of the top ranked children’s hospitals in the nation. Before that, he was the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt from 2002 to 2007. He was the Senior Vice President of Methodist Healthcare and President of Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center from 1995 to 2002, and was Le Bonheur’s Chief Operating Officer from 1991 to 1995. He served as the Associate Director of Hospitals at Indiana University Hospitals and Administrator of the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children from 1987 to 1991. Dr. Shmerling’s career in children’s hospitals began in the Children’s Hospital of Alabama where he progressed in administrative responsibilities from 1979 to1987, the last of which was as its Associate Administrator.
He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Education from the University of Tennessee in 1976. In 1980, he was awarded a Master of Science Degree in Hospital and Health Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He earned a Master of Business Administration from Samford University in 1984 and his Doctorate of Health Administration from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1999.
Dr. Shmerling is a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives (ACHE). He is an adjunct faculty member in the Hospital Administration programs, University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Additionally, Dr. Shmerling is active in several national healthcare organizations.
Currently he serves as:
- Board member of the Children’s Hospital Group, Dublin, Ireland
- Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Salt Lake City, Utah
- Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Children’s Hospital Association, Alexandria, VA
- Chair of the Child Health Patient Safety Organization, Inc., Overland Park, KS, a component entity of the Children’s Hospital Association
- Chair Elect on the Governing Council of the American Hospital Association’s Section for Maternal and Child Health, Washington, D.C.
- Past Board Chair of the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO), Denver, Colorado
- Board member of Virtual PICU Systems, LLC, Los Angeles, California
Gil Peri, MBA, MPH
President and Chief Operating Officer
Gil Peri has more than two decades of leadership experience in strategic planning, performance improvement and business development for healthcare systems.
Peri last worked at Children’s Hospital Colorado, where he served as the senior vice president & chief strategy officer for three years. During his time there, he successfully implemented an enterprise financial and operational performance metrics system. His earlier experience includes serving as vice president for strategic development & operations at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio.
Peri holds a master’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in public health from the University of South Florida.
Bill Agostinucci, MS, RPH, FACHE
Vice President, Clinical and Support Services
Bill Agostinucci is Vice President of Clinical and Support Services where he has responsibilities for diagnostic and rehabilitative services, Pharmacy and Respiratory Care at the medical center as well as corporate services such as Facilities, Safety and Security, Environmental Services and Supply Chain. He started his career in Pharmacy and helped to open the hospital in 1996. He became Director of Clinical Support Services in 1998 and has worked to develop systems and technology enhancements as well as increase the access to care over his tenure. Many programs have expanded and added new services, improving the care provided. The hospital has added new Sleep and Neuro-diagnostic Services, advanced Radiology capabilities and Sports Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy services under his leadership.
Bill graduated from the UConn School of Pharmacy, attended a Pharmacy Residency Program and achieved a Masters in Healthcare Management from the Hartford Graduate Center. Bill received the Pharmacist of the Year Award from the Connecticut Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists where he also served as President. He is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Andrea Benin, MD
Senior Vice President, Patient Quality and Safety
Andrea Benin, MD is Senior Vice President, Patient Quality and Safety for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center as well as Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Connecticut School of Medicine.
Dr. Benin drives the agenda and activities to provide the safest, highest quality, zero-harm care for children in Connecticut and beyond. Dr. Benin is a pediatrician with background and training in informatics, public health, epidemiology, and infectious diseases. Dr. Benin has particular expertise in developing, validating, and measuring metrics of quality of care in both paper and electronic formats, and is also visiting faculty at the Yale Center for Medical Informatics.
She is currently researching electronic approaches to evaluating reports of adverse events. Over the course of her career, she has had more than 20 peer-reviewed research studies published. Dr. Benin has served on and continues to serve on multiple peer-review groups and study sections as well as several national steering committees and boards dedicated to quality and patient safety.
Dr. Benin received her A.B. cum laude from Dartmouth College and her medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine.
Paul Dworkin, MD
Executive Vice President, Office for Community Child Health
Founding Director, Help Me Grow® National Center
Paul Dworkin, MD, is Executive Vice President of Community Child Health and professor of pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.
Dr. Dworkin was the 2003 recipient of the C. Anderson Aldrich Award, given by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ section of developmental pediatrics. Past winners of this award for work in childhood development include Dr. Benjamin Spock and Dr. T. Berry Brazelton. Dr. Dworkin is a member of numerous professional societies including the Academic Pediatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. He was the editor of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics from 1997-2002. He serves on the board of directors for several organizations, including the Urban League of Greater Hartford, and is a member of the first entering class of the Academy of Distinguished Educators at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Dr. Dworkin received his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He completed a pediatric residency and fellowship in ambulatory pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston, with a special emphasis on developmental and behavioral issues.
Trisha A. Farmer, MSN, RN, CPHRM
Vice President, Planning and Business Development
Trisha Farmer has extensive healthcare leadership and operational experience. In addition to her CEO support responsibilities, she has current oversight of business development plans as they relate to strategic growth initiatives. Previous to this role, she served as the Senior Director of Risk Management and Administrative Services with direct oversight of the enterprise risk management program. She has broad experience with patient safety, policy and regulatory issues.
Since arriving at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in 1996, Trisha has served in several leadership roles including Operational Manager and Director over several pediatric specialty areas. Trisha holds a Master of Science degree as a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist and spent her clinical career caring for patients and families in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Trisha’s specialty focus was infant cardiovascular disease.
Trisha graduated from Yale University with a Master of Science in Nursing. She received her Baccalaureate degree in Nursing from the University of Hartford. She is CPHRM certified as a professional healthcare risk manager and currently holds a Director seat on the Connecticut Society of Healthcare Risk Manager’s Board.
Executive Vice President, Surgeon-in-Chief; Peter Deckers Endowed Chair of Surgery; Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Surgery, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Christine Finck, MD has served as Chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery since 2007 and is an associate professor of pediatrics and surgery at UCONN Health. Most recently, she took on the role of Associate Director of Academic Affairs, advocating for various clinical, academic and research efforts across the institution and serving as a mentor to our pediatric research investigators.
Through her own research, Dr. Finck is revolutionizing health outcomes of pediatric and neonatal diseases, most specifically spearheading efforts focused on identifying and treating those that affect the lungs, esophagus and brain. This past May, those innovations were recognized by The Group on Women in Medicine and Science, who awarded Dr. Finck the Outstanding Clinical Scientist Woman Faculty Award.
Dr. Finck received her bachelors degree from Boston University and her medical degree from SUNY Upstate Medical University at Syracuse. She completed a surgery residency at SUNY Upsate Medical University at Syracuse and a pediatric surgery fellowship at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
Glenn Focht, MD
President, Connecticut Children’s Specialty Group
Dr. Focht has close to 20 years of experience as a physician and health care clinician and administrator. Dr. Focht came to Connecticut Children’s from Boston Children’s Hospital, where he was the Chief Medical Officer with the Pediatric Physicians’ Organization at Boston Children’s.
Prior to that, he was the first president and physician executive for the provider organization, which consists of more than 350 physicians practicing 37 specialties in 19 communities. As the chief executive of Central Maine Group, Dr. Focht delivered winning direction and stewardship to an organization with annual gross revenues in excess of $100 million.
Prior to his tenure at Central Maine Group, Dr. Focht served as the Vice President of Medical Affairs for Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass. In this position, Dr. Focht was responsible for operating and leading a group practice of more than 80 physicians, 24 practice locations, and yearly gross revenues exceeding $35 million.
From 1999 through 2004, Dr. Focht served as Medical Director of Quality Care and Education, and Chief Medical Officer, for Milford Regional Hospital (Milford, Mass.).
Dr. Focht was also a clinician at Tri-River Health Center (Uxbridge, Mass.), an affiliate of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, from 1994 through 1999. It was during this time that he also won awards as a member of the faculty at UMass Medical School.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Dr. Focht did his residency at University of Massachusetts Medical Center. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and liberal arts from Messiah College in Grantham, Pa.
Cheryl Hoey, RN, BSN, MBA
Senior Vice President, Clinical Services; Chief Nursing Officer
Cheryl Hoey currently holds the title of Senior Vice President for Clinical Services, and Chief Nursing Officer. Major accomplishments since joining the Connecticut Children’s team in 2011 include developing a shared governance model for nursing, implementing a Nurse Residency program, launching the Nurse Leadership Academy, partnering with quality colleagues to implement a culture of safety program in conjunction with the Connecticut Hospital Association state-wide collaborative, and collaborating with UCONN School of Nursing to develop the Institute for Nursing Research at Connecticut Children’s. Hoey was the Labor Team lead in the Managing Value and Performance (MVP) initiative at Connecticut Children’s, as well as presently leading an organization approach to improving the patient experience.
Hoey served in both the director and manager capacities at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital for 33 years. There she became a nursing and operational leader in many initiatives, including quality practice, co-chairing the Children’s Hospital’s Quality & Safety Committee, and chairing the hospital-wide Healthy Skin Steering Committee. With a strong focus on Family Centered Care, she founded and was co-chair of the Family Advisory Board in 2003. Hoey was part of the leadership team that led YNHH to a successful Magnet designation in 2011.
In 2006, she earned her Master’s of Science in management and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven. Hoey was the 2014 recipient of the Connecticut Nurses Association Doris M. Armstrong Diamond Jubilee Award for outstanding contributions to nursing leadership.
President, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Foundation
David Kinahan is the President of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Foundation. Prior to Connecticut Children’s he served as Vice President of Development for Tulane University’s School of Medicine providing leadership in the quiet phase of their first Billion dollar campaign. Kinahan has served in advancement roles at Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston Children’s Hospital and Georgetown University.
He earned an undergraduate degree from Bethany College, his Masters in Public Administration from Georgia State University and a certificate in nonprofit management from Georgetown University. He is the recipient of the CASA Volunteer of the Year award for his work advocating for children in foster care.
Lawrence (Larry) Milan
Senior Vice President, Human resources
Larry Milan is senior vice president for human resources at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. He was previously senior vice president of human resources – ING Americas of ING North America Insurance Corporation. Milan was responsible for HR consulting, talent management and talent acquisition, leadership and organization development and workforce diversity. Since joining ING in 2000, he served as head of human resources at ING U.S. Financial Services and as vice president of customer service centers for ING U.S.
Milan’s expertise includes significant business, strategic, organizational, and leadership experience gained throughout his tenure at ING and Aetna Financial Services, as well as in assignments with industry leaders such as Pitney Bowes, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and State University of New York (SUNY) Oswego.
He earned an undergraduate degree from Bluffton University, Ohio, and a master’s degree in higher education administration and personnel management/labor relations from Michigan State University. Milan also completed the University of Michigan Executive Management Program. In 2011, he was selected among the “Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America” by Savoy magazine.
Deb Pappas, MBA
Vice President, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer
Deb Pappas joins Connecticut Children’s with more than 20 years of marketing and communications experience in both agency and industry sectors, including healthcare. Most recently, she served as the Senior Director of Marketing and National Physician Relations for Boston Children’s Hospital. Prior to that she was the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for UMass Memorial Health Care.
Throughout her career, Pappas has managed corporate and product marketing and communications strategies for a variety of technology, financial services and retail brands. Known nationally for her marketing expertise, she has been a featured speaker at conferences across the country.
Juan C. Salazar, MD, MPH
Executive Vice President, Physician-in-Chief
Dr. Salazar is Physician-in-Chief, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs at the Medical Center. He is also the Director of the Pediatric and Youth HIV program at Connecticut Children’s and serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the UConn School of Medicine.
Dr. Salazar has received several NIH and private Foundation grants to study Pediatric HIV, congenital syphilis and Lyme disease. Dr. Salazar and his colleagues at the Spirochetal Research laboratories at the University of Connecticut Health Center are actively studying the immune response of children and adults who become infected with the Lyme disease bacterium. He also collaborates with translational and clinical researchers in Southern China and in Cali, Colombia.
Kelly R. Styles
Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer
Kelly R. Styles is the senior vice president and chief information officer for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Mr. Styles provides oversight for all support services areas to include supply chain, safety and security, environmental services, facilities services, food and nutrition services, telecommunications, bio-medical informatics, and information technology. As chief information officer, he is responsible for technology decision making and evaluation at Connecticut Children’s, focusing especially on improving timely access to relevant information in support of the Medical Center’s strategic goals.
Before joining Connecticut Children’s, Styles worked at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C., where as chief information officer, he was responsible for all corporate information technology activities across 38 individual clinical facilities and administrative offices located in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia. He also served in the United States Air Force for 14 years, where he developed and utilized various technologies in support of the Air Force’s analytical capabilities.
Styles received associate’s degrees in general studies from the University of Maryland University College and in communications technology from the Community College of the Air Force. He received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree in management information systems from the University of Dallas. Styles is a member of numerous professional organizations including the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.
Ann Taylor, JD
Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer
As Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Connecticut Children’s, Ann Taylor, JD is responsible for legal affairs, government relations, corporate compliance and risk management. She also has oversight for the Foundation, strategic planning, marketing and corporate communications. Formerly a banking executive, she served as vice president and government affairs counsel at Fleet Bank and represented the American Bankers Association in Washington, D.C.
Taylor currently serves on the boards of Connecticut Legal Services and Simsbury Bank; the MetroHartford Alliance Legislative Affairs Council and the Connecticut Hospital Association Committee on Government. She is a past chair of the Foodshare board, and was an appointee to the Fleet Community Oversight Committee, the state Ethics Commission and the Judicial Review Council. Currently she serves on the state Criminal Justice Commission.
Taylor is a graduate of Catholic University and Western New England School of Law.
Seth Van Essendelft
Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer
Seth joins Connecticut Children’s with nearly 20 years of experience in financial services specific to the healthcare sector and insurance industry. Most recently, he served as Senior Vice President of Finance for Lawrence + Memorial Delivery Network, Yale New Haven Health, managing all aspects of financial operations, strategic planning and investments. Prior to Lawrence + Memorial’s affiliation with Yale New Haven Health, he held the role of Chief Financial Officer and VP of Support Services for Lawrence + Memorial Healthcare. Seth has also served in a variety of financial leadership roles at Vidant Health, Doctors Hospital – Baptist Health South Florida, and Cigna.
He received his Bachelor of Science from the United States Coast Guard Academy and Master of Business Administration from The College of William and Mary, Graduate School of Business. Seth is a decorated member of the United States Coast Guard, graduate of the Coast Guard Academy and retired Commander who served our country for 20 years.
Moses Vargas, Esq.
Vice President and General Counsel
Moses Vargas, Esq. is Vice President and General Counsel for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. In this role, he oversees the Legal, Compliance and Risk Management Departments and provides legal advice and support to the operational departments of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Connecticut Children’s Specialty Group, Inc., the CCMC School and all other CCMC Corporation affiliates.
Prior to joining Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Moses worked as a health care transactional/regulatory lawyer for Robinson + Cole, LLP. He has an extensive background in health care law, and has authored several pieces in legal publications focused on HIPAA and patient privacy laws.
Moses is a member of numerous professional organizations including the American Health Lawyers Association, Health Care Compliance Association, Connecticut Lawyers Association, and Health Law Section of Connecticut Bar Association.
Moses obtained his Bachelor’s Degree, Master of Social Work and Master of Business Administration degrees from the University of Utah and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Connecticut School of Law.