Co-Chair, BTG Alumni Network
Dr. Marjorie Dejoie Brewer is the owner of MAD Fit, a medical consulting and Wellness & Health business and currently holds the position of Medical Director of hemoglobinopathies in Global Medical Affairs and Global Strategist at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Medical Director for the Sickle Cell Association of Delaware. She serves as Co-Chair of the Mental Health and Wellness initiative for the Sickle Cell Consortium, a medical consultant to SCDAA National, an ambassador to SICK cells and group leader for Meditation for Leadership. Prior to that she held the position of Director of Patient Advocacy for Global Product Development in Rare Disease at Pfizer and Clinical Research Outreach Liaison for Hydroxyurea and Transition at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her groundbreaking work as a primary medical consultant for the Mayor’s “Fun, Fit, and Free” program, a key part of the Mayor’s Commission for Health, Fitness and inclusion, allowed her to apply her training in medicine, exercise physiology, and alternative medicine in an integrative, community based, preventative format with the primary goal of making Philadelphia a healthier city. From there, she molded a career in Functional Medicine, which utilizes a fusion of the principles of medicine, prescribed exercise, bio-psychosocial elements, stress reduction, nutrition, yoga and alternative medicine in the holistic treatment and care of patients with rare diseases and clients. Herself a patient of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), Dr. Dejoie is a firm proponent and practitioner of comprehensive and preventative health and wellness planning. This became the mission behind her consulting firm “M.A.D. fit" established in 2002. Building on this foundation, Dr. Dejoie opened a wellness center, “Bonne Santé” in the fall of 2003, dedicating herself to making this world a better place by making it healthier, one person at a time.
Co-Chair, BTG Alumni Network
After completing my Bridging the Gaps internship with the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America in the summer of 1997, I earned my Bachelors of Science in Occupational Therapy from the College of Health Professions at Thomas Jefferson University in 1998. I additionally earned a Masters Certificate in Pediatric Occupational Therapy from Temple University in 2003, and my Masters of Jurisprudence in Health Law from Widener University School of Law in 2012. I am a licensed occupational therapist in New Jersey and Pennsylvania; I am also certified in Healthcare Compliance and Healthcare Environmental Management. I began my clinical practice at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia and have treated patients in a diverse array of settings, including home care, subacute rehabilitation, long-term care, and schools. All the while, I also had an intense interest in health policy and how to advocate for patients, families, and providers in order to maximize the benefit of skilled rehabilitation therapies and access to specialized durable medical equipment such as powered wheelchairs. This interest first led me to a role writing medical policy for Independence Blue Cross, then to a role leading a large team of rehabilitation professionals who provided home care for Moorestown Visiting Nurses and Hospice. In graduate school, I discovered my true passion and commitment for healthcare risk management and patient safety—all patients deserve safe healthcare, and in a system constrained by many competing forces, all providers benefit from support and training to provide the safest care possible. After completing my program, I initially consulted, providing compliance analysis, research and writing, data abstraction, accreditation survey support, and web-based education to small and mid-size healthcare organizations. In 2015, I joined ECRI—an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of care across all healthcare settings worldwide—as a Risk Management Analyst. At present I am a Senior Patient Safety Analyst/Consultant; I provide clinical risk management and patient safety services to physician practices through ECRI's Ambulatory Care Risk Management program and to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and free clinics under the Health Resources and Services Administration. I also serve as an analyst for FQHC members of the ECRI Institute and ISMP Patient Safety Organization. I am passionate about educating and supporting the providers who care for our nation's most vulnerable patients at FQHCs; this stage in my career feels like "full circle" from my still-treasured time with Bridging the Gaps. I'm so happy to join the BTG alumni network and am open to connecting with fellow alumni interested in reconnecting and/or interested in professional collaboration. I am also open to connecting with current students and recent graduates who would like to learn more about patient safety or discuss the evolution of "nontraditional" career paths in healthcare.
In the Summer of 1990, Cindy Weinstein and I worked with the turner middle school in west philadelphia, teaching the kids to run blood pressure screenings in their communities. The idea for Bridging the gaps came from this experience.
After graduating UPenn Medical School, I did my pediatric residency At Seattle Children's Hospital, then 4 years in the National Health service corp in Lawrence, MA. Next came 8 years in a rural U. Washington teaching practice in Port Angeles, WA, providing pediatric support to schools and tribal clinics on the Olympic Peninsula.
I have always been drawn to advocacy for children, and BTG and the West Philadelphia kids at the Turner Middle School were foundational to my career orientation. Those kids were my real curriculum. they taught me that if i learned to listen to them and dedicated myself to working with communities, real change was possible.
In 2008, I came to Dartmouth to teach advocacy and run the Boyle Community Pediatrics Program. I work with medical students and residents, and lead the Northern New England Advocacy Collaborative. Clinically, I work with parents in early opiate recovery who have young children. I still search for new ways to listen, and new ways to work with communities as a supportive partner. i am deeply into co-design as a methodology, both with families and community agencies.
I am interested in learning from the BTG alumni how we can support advocacy as a career path. I, as did many of us, made it up as I went along. So, collectively what did we experience, and what did we discover? I would love to think about how we define advocacy, its rigor and impact, and how we describe and support early career paths.
Julie Cousler served in Bridging the Gaps in 1996 through her Social Work program at Temple University leading a group of Philadelphia high school students on a community project in Central Philadelphia to beautify a vacant lot and check in on elderly neighbors in the heat. From there she received her Master’s degree in Social Work with a concentration in administration and social planning. After graduate school Julie Cousler served at Congreso de Latinos Unidos for ten years as the Vice President for Health and Wellness where she led a $5 million division of critical health services, after coordinating the maternal and child health programs for a year. Then in 2009, she served as Senior Policy Fellow for the Stoneleigh Foundation addressing truancy and chronic absenteeism through cross-systems work with the City, and she served as Deputy Director for Concilio 2011 to 2014, the city and state’s oldest Latino non-profit organization, where she provided strategic vision and oversight to health and social services with responsibility for fundraising and development, and strategic communications and community engagement.
Today in 2021 she serves as Executive Director of Education Plus Health working to bring the non-profit’s successful school-based health center (SBHC) model to scale, and as executive director of the Pennsylvania School-Based Health Alliance, a non-profit she founded in 2020 with other SBHC advocates from across the state.
Julie Cousler has served on numerous boards of directors in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania including the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women, the Seybert Foundation, the Pan American Academy Charter School, the Women’s Medical Fund Board of Directors, and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She has held officer positions on all of these boards. She has also earned a variety of prestigious awards for her work including the 2020 Social Innovations award for health care innovation, the 2006 Purple Ribbon Award from Lutheran Settlement House for her domestic violence work, and the 2004 Forum Award from the Forum of Executive Women.
After graduating from Penn Medicine in 2011 I went on to do my residency in Emergency Medicine at Cooper University Hospital . After residency, I completed a year-long fellowship in Administration and currently work both clinically as a practicing EM physician in the Cooper ED as well as administratively as the Medical Director of the Cooper Emergency Department. In addition, I have a special interest in process/quality improvement work and teach PI/QI methodology at both the medical school and GME level. In my role as an EM physician and administrator I can't emphasize enough the importance of multi-disciplinary teams and work within healthcare. We have so much to learn from one another! What I appreciated most from my BTG summer was working with and learning from others outside of the physician track. Happy to connect with students interested in EM, administration or process/quality improvement!
Bridging the Gaps is a program that helped guide my interest in community health during my undergraduate nursing education at Moravian College. I participated in BTG following my junior year after being encouraged by my community health professor to apply. Having experience with missions trips to underserved communities both domestic and abroad and being bilingual, I have always been drawn to serve vulnerable communities. BTG served as a unique opportunity to combine my experience with vulnerable communities with my interest in how social determinants of health affect them. During the summer of 2016, I had the opportunity to meet professionals that felt the same way about the underserved. Between Philadelphia and Allentown, I worked primarily with the Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley (NHCLV), a group of federally-funded health centers that serve the complex needs of the disadvantaged. This experience helped to shape my view of the nursing care I would provide from the start of my nursing career, to where I am now, 4 years later. I began my nursing career in 2017 as a medical-surgical nurse on a unit with a very diverse population of patients. I was in the heart of Allentown, where I had started with BTG, and the issues many of the patients faced were varied and not all illness-based. The complex social factors involved in these patients’ care was often something that reminded me of the importance of my BTG work. After my experience in med-surg, I went to cardiac step-down and critical care nursing. In many ways, this specialty was different, but in some ways, my experiences there highlighted a greater need for community-based healthcare and intervention on a much more personal level, through relationships and education. From 2017 through today, many of my personal experiences and values in the acute setting have led me back to community-based health service with economically disadvantaged and underserved populations. I am currently the RN clinical coordinator for Valley Health Partners Street Medicine program. We work with underserved populations throughout the Lehigh Valley, providing on-site healthcare services, primarily to individuals experiencing homelessness. The stories of many of our patients are not what you’d often expect to hear. They often remind us of ourselves. The relationships we form with our patients are not just about “healing them” but understanding their most prioritized needs, and building trust within their communities so that we can serve them not just medically but holistically.I feel that I was more equipped for a role in Street Medicine because of the experiences I had with BTG. The opportunity to meet others with a similar conviction and to work collaboratively with professionals from different career paths was integral to my career today. BTG is not just an internship for experience, but an opportunity to see what the world is like for people that live right in your communities. Being part of the BTG network helps to connect you with others that have shared experiences with different populations of people or patients who may be experiencing the same things.
Roopali Kulkarni completed the bridging the gaps summer internship program in 2016 while completing her dental education at the University of Pennsylvania. she graduated in 2019 with both her doctor of dental medicine degree and master of public health degree.
She is currently serving as the chief resident of the postdoctoral oral medicine program at the university of Pennsylvania. she plans on working in dental academics following the completion of her residency.
Roopali's passions lie in community health, service and outreach, and working with an interdisciplinary approach to care. her career focus is on the integration of medicine and dentistry, which blossomed into her pursuing an oral medicine residency program.
Alongside patient care, Roopali is actively involved with health advocacy efforts and organized dentistry. she served as the 2018-2019 national president of the American student dental association and now maintains involvement in philadelphia county dental society, Pennsylvania dental association, American dental association, American dental education association, and the American academy of oral medicine. she is currently working on a number of research protocols involving the oral-systemic health connection.
Bridging the gaps has allowed Roopali to combine all of her professional goals and hopes to continuing building relationships and collaborating with other disciplines through the btg alumni network.
Sometimes it is hard to know the impact of a simple YES. Back in 1990, I was sitting on the lawn with Cindy Wienbaum (one of our two student founders, along with Steve Chapman), talking about community health and social justice, and feeling just a little out of place in medical school. "You should be the student coordinator for Bridging the Gaps." I'm not sure I even asked her what that was before I said yes. Something about that passionate invitation from someone I knew meant it. That yes has made all the difference. I met Lucy Tuton, JA Grisso, Tony Rostain and Don Schwarz, the faculty putting together a new, interdisciplinary, community oriented program, Bridging the Gaps. These are mentors for life - they taught me about collaboration, about kindness, about equity, and the principles that still guide my work. At Youth Emergency Services that first summer I learned that there are no simple solutions, and that systems aren't built to solve complex inequities. I learned a little about leadership: perseverance, honesty, some frustration and some joy. Now as a family physician, I continue to learn from my patients where systems fail and where they do harm. To advocate for system change, I have learned to always ask why, and who, and how. And then to get on with it and do something different. After a health services research fellowship in Ann Arbor, where I learned about Community Based Participatory Research, I ended up in Allentown, PA. This is where the work really gets going. There was no health center, so we built the first federally qualified health center. I said yes to hiring people with lived experience so that we could welcome people into their own health center. So many of our patients were experiencing toxic stress that we built integrated behavioral health and made a timebank for mutual aid. We had so many patients who kept going to the hospital and weren't getting better, we developed community based care management that asked people what they needed to be well, and advocated for humanity in healthcare. We saw the terrible stigma against people with addictions, people experiencing homelessness, people in pain, and how all of these issues were worse if you were black or didn't speak english. In response we built primary care addiction medicine and incusion health, where healthcare goes where people need us and adapts to what they can manage. My partners are many - from people with lived experience, to grassroots organizations and advocates in positions of power. What brings us to work together is commitment to Radical Welcome - our belief that everyone has something to contribute, that everyone deserves caring, and exclusion is violence. The best thing about saying yes to BTG years ago is that I met people with the courage to do things differently, to create what's needed and stick to principles. My invitation is to say yes to something you didn't plan, and see what unfolds. Our careers as pathfinders have twists and surprises. We need people around us to challenge us when we are too comfortable, support us when the work hurts, and celebrate our successes together. BTG has been that community for me. I hope we can be that community for you.
While I was pursuing a Master of Social Work degree at the University of Pennsylvania, BTG helped me begin a journey to become an effective interdisciplinary practitioner. In the Summer of 1995, I teamed up with a medical school student to staff the Safe Summer Center to provide adolescent sexual health education from our Center City base in the Gallery Mall. We pooled our educational background, creativity, and passion for helping youth to make healthy choices to develop interactive presentations. We left the ivy halls of campus to facilitate workshops at summer camps, recreation centers, as well as the drop-in center in the mall to reach teens and parents with brochures, condoms, demonstrations, etc.I chose my profession of social work because I believed it provided the best avenue for me to make a positive impact in the world. My BTG Summer helped me to think critically about the philosophical, historical, and practical underpinnings of social work, and how to bring the best of my field into a collaborative setting. This also helped me grapple with some of my professional limitations so that I could better appreciate the perspective, knowledge, and skills that other professions can bring to a partnership to address social challenges. Upon graduation, I began my career as an analyst for a White House agency focused on policy and programs related to substance use disorders (SUD). For more than 20 years, I have continued to focus on ensuring a comprehensive approach to understanding and addressing SUD prevention and treatment. During that time, I have worked with experts from multiple disciplines, including medicine, law enforcement, psychiatry, public health, public administration, etc. I am pleased to be a member of BTG’s alumni network. I will continue to hail the benefits and opportunities of developing an interdisciplinary practice early in our professional careers. It is my hope that BTG will continue, and even expand to include other disciplines such as education, criminal/juvenile justice, etc. to further address the complex social challenges of our communities.
Maggi was one of the student leaders of Bridging the Gaps during the summer of 1993. She received her medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1996. In addition to being elected into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, she graduated with a prize for outstanding achievement as a clinician.She completed her residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. She was an Administrative Chief Resident in her last year. She also served as a representative to CREOG (Council of Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology). After completing residency in 2000, Maggi worked as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine for the New York University School of Medicine treating her own patients and training residents and medical students at Bellevue Hospital Center. From 2001-2011 she served on multiple national committees for the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She moved to Miami in 2003 and has been in private practice ever since. Though she would not have predicted it, Maggi found a richness in being a general OB/GYN. She enjoys practicing in the community in which she lives. She loves caring for generations of women within the same family. Most importantly, she is constant learning from and striving to provide evidence-based care to her patients. For over 10 years, Maggi has been an active leader in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baptist Hospital of Miami. Bridging The Gaps enriched her education by providing opportunities to engage in the local community and collaborate with practitioners beyond the "M.D." track. This experience continues to influence her today as she heads an OB/GYN Collaborative Committee that involves nurses, physicians, social workers, and pharmacists among others. Together, this committee strives to improve the quality of care it provides to their patients. Maggi is excited to connect with BTG Alumni Network. Hopefully, her years as a general OB/GYN can assist in developing standardized quality of care that breaks downs the many inequities that exist. She is eager to learn from fellow alumni.
My experience with Bridging the Gaps begins prior to starting medical school, when I worked at Community Legal Services as a public benefits paralegal. In that capacity, I collaborated with volunteer students at the Chinatown Medical Clinic, which was in part supported by BTG students. There I saw first hand the barriers non English speaking individuals face in accessing health care. That experience convinced me to go to medical school. In my second year, I became a National Health Service Corp scholar. In 2008, I myself participated in BTG, as an intern at Jane Addams Place, a women and children's shelter in (at the time) West Philadelphia. There, I was exposed to trauma informed care and the "sanctuary model". This experience was crucial in my understanding of providing empathetic care to the poor. In 2011, I graduated medical school from Drexel and started a Family medicine residency at University of Pennsylvania. There, I learned how to provide full spectrum primary care, with an emphasis on marginalized populations. I learned to incorporate "trauma informed care", as well as other ideological frameworks, into my clinical care. After graduation in 2014, I joined Greater Philadelphia Health Action, a network of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) as an attending physician. There, I practice broad spectrum primary care, including adult medicine, pediatrics, outpatient OB/GYN, and medication assisted therapy for opiate use disorder. In 2016, I became Clinic Director of GPHA's Southeast Health Center location, where I continue to work today. Over the past year, I have been involved in our COVID testing and vaccination program, which emphasized providing COVID care to groups that traditionally suffer health disparities. As a BTG alum, I would like to support other health professional students who are interested in providing the highest quality of care to all marginalized patients.
Dr. Wendy Sanger owns a private dental practice in Warren, NJ. She prides herself on providing comprehensive dental care to people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic levels. She is proficient at managing patients with complicated treatment plans, physical, or mental limitations. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 1998, she attended Morristown Memorial Hospital and completed a General Practice Residency. She worked in several group dental offices until branching out on her own in 2001. Dr. Sanger has always been a strong believer that education and knowledge are the key to change and success. Bridging the Gaps only strengthened that conviction. Dr. Sanger was acknowledged for her efforts by the International College of Dentists, the Pennsylvania Dental Foundation, the Philadelphia County Dental Society and the American Academy of Dental Schools. She was the student coordinator for the Special Olympics and the Special Athletes Special Smiles Program. Today she continues to attend preschools encouraging the very young to take an interest in preventive care and their dental health. She has a relationship with her high school to mentor those interested in the healthcare profession. As a private practitioner, I do not always get the opportunity to work with likeminded healthcare professionals that often, so I look forward to connecting with other professionals, especially in fields other than mine, through the Bridging the Gaps alumni network. I also am excited to mentor young people who are starting their careers in the dental field.