November 6, 2019

Thriving Forward Podcast

In each episode we will speak with people involved in good works and projects in the Greater Rochester Area. We hope that by introducing you to these inspirational people and their stories, that you will be motivated to learn more about these amazing organizations in our region and the fabulous people who keep them working.


Megan Callanan Lasaponara, MD is a Pediatrician at English Road Pediatrics in Greece, NY and the Founder and Executive Director of Kids Thrive 585, Inc.

Sarah Collins-McGowan, MD is a Pediatrician at Genesee Pediatrics and the Associate Director of Pediatrics Links with the Community at the Hoekelman Center.

Episode 1

In this episode, Sarah interviews Megan about Kids Thrive 585, Inc.

Episode 2

In this episode Megan interviews Mary Tiballi Hoffman the Development Manager for Blackfriars Theatre as they head into their 70th season of bringing local theatre to the Rochester area!

Episode 3

In this episode Megan Interviews Dr. Andy Aligne from the Hoekelman Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

  • Website:
  • Phone: (585) 273-3737
  • Fax: (585) 276-2566
  • Address: 601 Elmwood Ave, Box 777, Rochester, NY 14642

Episode 4

In this episode Sarah interviews Dr. Andrew Sherman, a local Pediatrician and Co-President of Net Life. A non-profit that works to prevent Malaria in Africa by working to address the barriers that exist to using mosquito nets.

  • Website:
  • Email:

Episode 5

In this episode Sarah interviews Dirk Hightower from The Children’s Institute. A. Dirk Hightower, Ph.D. is a Senior Associate at Children’s Institute. The mission of Children’s Institute is to equip and support those who work with children to ensure the success of every child.

Episode 6

In this episode Megan interviews Grandmaster Sung Kim of Master Kim’s Tae Kwon Do Institute. This local martial arts studio makes it part of its mission to do community service projects to give back to people in our area!

  • Website:

Episode 7

In this episode Sarah talks with Rebecca Russo, a supervising attorney at Legal Assistance of Western NY (LawNY), about the medical legal partnership model, where doctors and lawyers work together to help patients.

  • Website:

Episode 8

In this episode Megan speaks with Dr. David Topa, a local pediatrician and child advocate. He has helped to fund raise for multiple local organizations and often partners with the Children’s Agenda on causes he is passionate about.


Episode 9

In this episode Sarah interviews Alice McAdam, the Program Manager of the Parents as Teachers (PAT) program at Hillside Children’s Center. They are joined by Vanessa Lespier and Nicole Pope, two parents who are enrolled in the program.

  • To learn more about Hillside’s Parents as Teachers Program, you can contact Alice at: 585-436-0370, ext. 308

Episode 10

In this episode Megan interviews Shawn Brown, the Program Director for Teen Empowerment of Rochester. The mission of Teen Empowerment is to: employ, train, and empower youth to create peace, equity, and justice, in collaboration with adults.

Episode 11

In this episode Megan interviews Deb Rosen, the Executive Director of Bivona Child Advocacy Center. Bivona Child Advocacy Center delivers excellence in child abuse response, healing and prevention through collaborative service, awareness, education and leadership.


Episode 12

In this episode Megan interviews Jennifer Johnson. Many Rochesterians may recognize her from her work in local news for 17 years. She now works as the Director of Family and Community Outreach at Golisano Children’s Hospital at URMC.


Episode 13

In this episode, Sarah interviews Jackie Dozier from Trillium Health.

Jackie Dozier has a BS in Healthcare Administration, and currently manages the Women’s Prevention Program, Innovation Institute at Trillium Health. Jackie has many ties with the African American and Latino communities in Rochester. Jackie’s purpose is to raise awareness to women and their families on prevention of HIV/AIDS/STIs and High Blood Pressure, along with the other health disparities and social determinants of health in our communities. Jackie is the former Administrative Assistant to the late County Legislator, Willie Lightfoot, at the South West Community Center (SWAN) and is affiliated with numerous community and faith-based organizations.

Episode 14

In this episode Sarah interviews Erick Stephens, the Parent Engagement Coordinator for Healthi Kids at Common Ground Health.  In his role, Erick provides technical assistance and support to schools to strengthen and improve parent engagement efforts. He also works directly with parents training them on advocacy and connecting them to opportunities to impact policy, systems, and environmental change in schools.

Episode 15

In this episode Sarah interviews Dr. Jan Schriefer from the Department of Pediatrics at URMC.  As the Director of Quality Improvement (QI) for the Department of Pediatrics, Dr. Schriefer oversees and facilitates quality initiatives to improve processes of care and outcomes.  She is also the Quality Assurance Liaison (QAL), and as such is integrally involved in quality assurance efforts, helping to facilitate case reviews, serving on Root Cause Analysis teams, managing the daily event reporting system and better connecting QA and QI efforts. 

For more information, please visit:

Episode 16

In this episode Sarah interviews Katelin Pellett, the Vice President of Programs at Causewave Community Partners. Katelin leads a team that works with 200+ nonprofit partners on marketing and behavior change efforts in order to make the community a better place. She is also charged with partnership development, campaign and capacity building program development, strategic initiatives and organizational advancement.

For more information, visit:

Episode 17

In this episode Megan interviews Matt Fico, Community Outreach Coordinator at The Arc of Monroe.  Matt has been with The Arc since January 2019.  His job there is to provide information and drive community interest in The Arc’s Programs and Services. He works with area schools, care coordination organizations, community partners, families and people The Arc supports to educate and provide more details on programs, services and eligibility for enrollment.  Prior to his time at the Arc he was Independent Living Supervisor for The Regional Center for Independent Living in Rochester, and before that he spent 20 years in the corporate sector, in various positions. 

To contact Matt or learn more about The Arc of Monroe, email or visit:

Episode 18

In this episode Megan interviews Dr. Yvette Conyers, Assistant Professor of Community Health Nursing at St. John Fisher College’s Wegmans School of Nursing.

Dr. Conyers is a Family Nurse Practitioner who specializes in completing in-home risk assessments for Medicare Advantage consumers. She received her associate degree from Monroe Community College, her RN-BS completion degree from the University of Rochester, and her master’s in nursing education from Roberts Wesleyan College. Shen then completed her Family Nurse Practitioner certificate and doctorate of nursing practice from St. John Fisher College. Dr. Conyers received the Greater Rochester 40 under 40 African American Leaders award in 2011 and the Health Care Achievement Award from the Rochester Business Journal in 2019. Dr. Conyers is the first president of the Rochester Black Nurses Association, founded in 2018.

Episode 19

As part of the celebration of International Breastfeeding Month, Megan spoke with the outgoing Co-Presidents of the Rochester Regional Breastfeeding Coalition, Kate Lyness and Julie O’Hehir. They discuss the local options for breastfeeding support and the different levels of certification. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, check out this week’s episode!


Episode 20

Megan and Aaron discuss the Rochester Summer Meals program, its community partners, and changes in the era of COVID. Aaron Lattanzio is a senior program manager at Causewave Community Partners, Aaron has supported strategy, outreach and coordination efforts of the Summer Meals Partnership of Rochester since 2014. While working with the partnership Aaron has also worked on a variety of other youth-focused initiatives including student attendance in the Rochester City School District, youth nutrition and physical activity with Finger Lakes Eat Smart NY and GROW comprehensive health and development screenings with the Children’s Institute. As a former chef, Aaron has a passion for ensuring youth in our community have access to healthy and tasting food options.


Episode 21

In this episode Sarah interviews Dr. LeKeyah Wilson. Dr. Wilson is the Medical Director of School-Based Health Centers for Rochester Regional Health as well as a practicing pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist. The RRH School-Based Health Centers are located in the following schools: Charlotte High School, The Edison School, Freddie Thomas Learning Center, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School #9, and John James Audubon School #33.

To learn more about Dr. Wilson, go to:

To learn more about the RRH School-Based Health Centers, visit the website below and scroll down to “School-Based Health Systems”.

Parents who are interested in enrolling their child in one of the School-Based Health Centers can look for a form in their enrollment packet or contact the nurse’s office directly at their child’s school.

Episode 22

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Locally Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong provides phenomenal care for children and families dealing with cancer diagnoses. On this episode podcast we welcome Dr. Carol Fries from URMC’s Pediatric Hematology and Oncology group as well as Dr. Katie Rice, the Division’s Pediatric Psychologist. Dr. Rice specializes in helping children and teens with medical conditions. In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Fries is researching ways to provide more personalized therapy with fewer side effects to children diagnosed with Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

URMC Pediatric Hematology and Oncology:

Episode 23

In this episode Sarah talks with Dr. Sandy Jee, co-director of the Finger Lakes Children’s Environmental Health Center.

The Finger Lakes Children’s Environmental Health Center’s mission is to prevent, diagnose, and treat environmentally related conditions for families in their 15 county region.  Funded by NYS Department of Health, FLCEHC is part of the first state-based model for pediatric environmental health services in the country.   
For more about FLCEHC, check out:
Facebook –
Call Line – (844) 352-3420 (844-FLCEHC-0) for the public, community agencies, and healthcare providers

Dr. Jee is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester.  She received her B.A. in English from Yale University, her M.D. with Distinction in Research from the University of Rochester, and M.P.H. in Health Management and Policy from the University of Michigan.  She completed her pediatric residency at N.Y.U. and University of Michigan, and fellowship in Pediatric Health Services Research at the University of Michigan.  She has also completed a fellowship in Integrative Medicine from the University of Arizona.  In October 2020 she became Co-Director of the Finger Lakes Children’s Environmental Health Center (FLCEHC) at Golisano Children’s Hospital.  She is a practicing general pediatrician and teaches medical students and residents at the University of Rochester.  Her current research and clinical interests focuses on health disparities for children and promoting healthy living principles.

For more about Dr. Jee, visit:

Episode 24

In this episode Sarah interviews Lisa Nolan, Director of Prevention Education at Willow Domestic Violence Center, to learn about their services and how the pandemic has affected domestic violence in our area.

 To learn more about Willow, go to:

 Domestic Violence hotline: 585-222-SAFE (7233)

 Domestic Violence textline: 585-348-SAFE (7233)

Contact us:

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