Say Ah! Symposium

Health Literacy & Seniors: An Age Friendly Approach to Health Information

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017
1:30-5 pm
Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Books Library
40 W. 20th Street
NY, NY 10011


1:30      Registration
2:00      Welcome Remarks
2:10      Keynote Speaker
3:00      Panel on Health Literacy and Seniors: Insights from the Field
4:15      Training in Health Literacy Best Practices
4:45      Evaluation & Closing Remarks

Keynote Speaker

Christina Zarcadoolas, PhD
Professor of Linguistic Anthropology
Hunter College, City University of New York
Creator of

Dr. Christina Zarcadoolas  is a sociolinguist and internationally recognized expert in health literacy and public understanding of health and science. She focuses on analyzing and closing the gaps between expert and lay knowledge and understanding, paying particular attention to how people make meaning out of complex things. The New England Journal of Medicine called her critically acclaimed book, Advancing Health Literacy: A Framework for Understanding and Action, “required reading” for public health communication professionals. Dr. Zarcadoolas is also the creator of the popular website – a continuously expanding free online library of short lessons and tips for health professionals about communicating health and science.  She is a professor of Linguistic Anthropology at Hunter College in NYC.


Michelle Burda, MLS
Education and Health Literacy Coordinator
National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region
Health Sciences Library System
University of Pittsburgh

Ms. Burda’s experience in healthcare spans from her past career as a clinical microbiologist to that of a medical and consumer health librarian. She has worked in both small community and large academic hospital settings providing medical and healthcare information to staff, patients and families. She is beginning her sixth year as the Education and Health Literacy Coordinator for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), Middle Atlantic Region (MAR), a program of the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Her role is to provide all U.S. health professionals with equal access to biomedical information and improve the public’s access to information so they can make informed decisions about their health. In this position she is also responsible for raising awareness of the health literacy issues that affect both consumers and healthcare professionals, promoting evidence-based practice and developing programs and training materials on NLM health resources. Ms. Burda has contributed her skills and talents as a teacher, collaborator, advocate and partner, establishing relationships with those that provide health information to healthcare professionals and the community.

Christopher Langston, PhD
Vice President, Health Care Services
Aging in New York Fund/
New York City Department for the Aging

Dr. Langston is an executive, health services researcher, and national leader in philanthropy with 20 years of experience in transforming health care to improve outcomes and value in the care of older Americans. In 2016 he joined the Aging in New York Fund as its Vice President of HealthCare Services, working to advance the integration of healthcare and social services in partnership with New York City’s Department for the Aging. From 2007 to 2015 he served as the Program Director of the John A. Hartford Foundation, where he was responsible for the Foundation’s grantmaking in support of its mission to improve the health of older Americans. He served five years on the board of directors of Grantmakers in Aging, the nation’s largest affinity association of funders in the broad field of aging, including three years as board chair. Dr. Langston earned his PhD in Psychology from the University of Michigan, taught at Purdue University’s Department of Psychological Sciences, and was a post-doctoral fellow in late-life mental and physical health co-morbidities at the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Geriatric Center’s Polisher Research Center.

Hextor Pabon, MSW
Director, NYS Office of Mental Health Bureau of Cultural Competence
Mr. Pabon is a strong advocate for social and equitable rights to behavioral health services. He has been the Director of the Bureau of Cultural Competence (BCC) for the New York State Office of Mental Health since 2014. Under his leadership, the BCC works to eliminate disparities in mental health care throughout the state by providing cultural competence and linguistics trainings to health care providers so that they may meet the diverse cultural and linguistic needs of New Yorkers. He began his social work career working as a Psychiatric and Forensic Staff Social Worker at the Albany County Mental Health Clinic. In 2009 he was appointed as a Research Assistant at Albany’s Stratton S. Samuel VA Medical Center, where he specialized in human subject research of VHA-funded educational programs geared toward caregivers and veterans of chronic illness. Since 2003, Hextor has served as a part-time Adjunct Instructor of the Social Science and Psychology Departments at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY. Mr. Pabon received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and his Master in Social Work (MSW) from University at Albany SUNY, and is currently in the dissertation phase of his PhD studies in psychology.

Lauren Schwartz 
Director of Public Education
New York City Poison Control
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
New York University School of Medicine
Ms. Schwartz is the Director of Public Education at the New York City Poison Center. Lauren received a master’s degree in Public Health from Hunter College. She has worked at the NYC Poison Center since 1999. In her role, she coordinates the community education and outreach efforts for NYC, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties. Ms Schwartz is responsible for all aspects of the multilingual health education programs created to raise awareness about prevention of unintentional poisonings, medicine safety and utilization of the NYC Poison Control Center.

Moderator: Dr. Heather Paladine

Dr. Paladine is a family physician and the residency program director at the New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Family Medicine residency program. She attended Columbia College and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. She then completed a residency in Family Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University and went on to do a fellowship in Maternal and Children’s Health Care at California Hospital in Los Angeles. Her interests include women’s health, medical education, and health care for underserved patients. She is fascinated by how people make health care decisions, and how to encourage shared decision-making between patients and physicians.

Developed resources reported in this symposium are supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012342 with the University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Library System. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.