The mission of the Northern Area Health Education Center, Inc. (NAHEC) is to improve health and health care through education.
As part of the larger New York State AHEC System, NAHEC is one of nine centers throughout the State of New York. NAHEC serves Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Franklin, Essex, and Clinton counties. Together with the Statewide office in Buffalo and regional offices in Syracuse and Manhattan, the New York State AHEC System offers statewide capacity for addressing health care workforce needs. At the national level, NAHEC is a member of the National AHEC Organization (NAO).
- Richard K. Merchant, CEO
- Anita Merrill, Center Director
- Rachel Woods, Office and Program Assistant
- Rachel O’Shea, Program and Data Specialist
- Michelle Oakes, Career Readiness Counselor
- Melissa Davis, Administrative Assistant
NAHEC is governed by an eleven-member volunteer Board of Directors comprised of leaders in business, education, and health care. The NAHEC Board is guided by input from four Regional Advisory Boards (RAB’s), which consist of representatives from Clinton/Essex; Franklin; St. Lawrence; and Jefferson/Lewis counties. The NAHEC Board considers information, requests, and opportunities from the Regional Advisory Boards as it pertains to the priorities, direction, and funding of the Center.
NAHEC Board Members:
Rod Boula: Chair
Rod Boula is Administrator and CEO of the Elizabethtown Community Hospital. He has served as the Vice President of Administration at the Alice Hyde Medical Center and CEO at Clifton-Fine Hospital. Mr. Boula is the co-founder of the Wilderness Healthcare Foundation. Mr. Boula received military honors and awards for his leadership above and beyond the call of duty from the U.S. Army.
Eve Van de Wal: Vice Chair
Eve Van de Wal joined Excellus BlueCross BlueShield in 1998. She held several management positions before being appointed regional president in 2008. She has more than 25 years of diverse experience in health care delivery and health insurance. Prior to joining Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Mrs. Van de Wal enjoyed a successful career in critical care and coronary care nursing. She serves on the board of directors of numerous community organizations and is an active member of the Utica Rotary and Urban Concerns Committee.
Paul D. Dingman: Secretary
Paul D. Dingman is the co-owner and general contractor of Adirondack Construction. Mr. Dingman is also a realtor for REMAX North Country. He has served as an Adjunct Professor of Mathematics at SUNY Plattsburgh and an educator at Plattsburgh City Schools.
Hugh W. Bonner, Ph.D., FASAHP: Treasurer
Hugh W. Bonner, Ph.D., FASAHP is the Dean and Professor of the College of Health Professions at SUNY Upstate Medical University. Dr. Bonner oversees all programs in the college, including the development of new degree programs. He is a nationally recognized leader in health professions education specialized accreditation, currently serving as the President of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Dr. Bonner has been very active in the NYS AHEC System and has served continuously on the NYS AHEC System Advisory Board since it was established in 1997.
Soham Patel, MD: By-Laws Committee Chair
Soham Patel, MD, is active in North Country medical practice initiatives and organizations. Dr. Patel practiced Neurosurgery in Plattsburgh for over 20 years. He is a diplomat of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
Irving S. Caplan
Irving S. Caplan is a Councilman for the Town Board of Malone. Currently, he serves many organizations including the New York State Board of Professional Medical Conduct, the Franklin County Empire Zone Board, and the Malone Economic Development Corporation. He served 12 years as a supply officer in the United States Army Reserve.
John A. Fallon, III, Ph.D.
John A. Fallon, III, Ph.D. is the CEO of NPower Indiana. Prior to this appointment, he spent his entire career in higher education. In addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate courses and conducting research, Dr. Fallon served in a variety of administrative capacities . He was President of Universities in Iowa, New York, and Michigan.
Paul Grasso, Jr.
Paul Grasso, Jr. is the President and CEO of the Development Corporation of Clinton County. Previously, Mr. Grasso served as the Executive Director of the North Country Workforce Investment Board. He has over 20 years of experience developing workforce programs in both the United States and Europe. He has a broad range of experience overseeing workforce development initiatives and in developing and maintaining strategic partnerships with educational institutions and businesses focused on providing a skilled and qualified workforce. In addition to NAHEC, Mr. Grasso serves on the Plattsburgh Housing Authority, the Advisory Board for the School of Business and Economics at SUNY Plattsburgh, and the Business Advisory Board for the Champlain Valley Technical Education Center (CV TEC).
Brenda A. Hewitt, RN, BSN, CLC
Brenda A. Hewitt is an Army Public Health Nurse serving as a Maternal Child Health Specialist with the United States Army Medical Department at Fort Drum, NY. Prior to this appointment, she served in the United States Army as a Nurse Corps Officer in Heidelberg, Germany; Fort Benning, Georgia; and Fort Irwin, California. Mrs. Hewitt has deployed to Bosnia.
Christopher P. Morley, Ph.D., MA, CAS
Christopher P. Morley, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, Public Health and Psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University. Dr. Morley serves as the Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Family Medicine, as a course director and core faculty member of the Central New York Masters of Public Health Program and as a co-investigator on several research and educational grants.
Stacey L. Zeigler, DPT
Stacey L. Zeigler, DPT is a Clinical Associate Professor of Physical Therapy at Clarkson University and the owner of Fun in Aging Physical Therapy, PC. She has over 18 years of experience as a physical therapist in a wide variety of settings and has also served in formal management and leadership positions locally and nationwide. Mrs. Zeigler is very active in the American Physical Therapy Association including her service as faculty for the Institute of Leadership in Physical Therapy, a course series focused on the development of leadership skills for healthcare practitioners.
For more information on NAHEC and NAHEC initiatives, please contact the office at 105 Main Street, Canton, NY 13617 or telephone us at: (315)379-7701.