Impact of 9/11 Toxins 20 Years Later and the Federal Response: Participant Bios

DAY 1: Thursday, September 9, 2021

Biographies (in order of speaking)

Dennis S. Charney, MD
Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai President for Academic Affairs, Mount Sinai Health System

Dennis S. Charney, MD, is Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and President for Academic Affairs for the Mount Sinai Health System. He is a world-renowned expert in the neurobiology and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders who has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of human anxiety, fear, depression, and resilience, and has played a key role in the discovery of new treatments for mood and anxiety disorders.

Dr. Charney was recruited to Icahn Mount Sinai in 2004 as Dean of Research. In 2007, he became the Dean of the School and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of what was then known as the Mount Sinai Medical Center. In 2013, he was named President for Academic Affairs for the Health System.

Under Dr. Charney’s leadership, Icahn Mount Sinai has become one of the nation’s leading medical schools. He has recruited world-class faculty across the biomedical sciences, as well as in computational biology, information technology, and entrepreneurship to cultivate a supercharged, Silicon Valley-style atmosphere in an academic setting.

Icahn Mount Sinai is among the nation’s top recipients of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, reflecting the fact that Dr. Charney has hired faculty members who are both innovative, ambitious researchers and dedicated educators.

Dr. Charney has prioritized anti-racism initiatives. He established the Mount Sinai Institute for Health Equity Research, which is working to improve health and access to care across the nation’s demographic divide and expanded Icahn Mount Sinai’s efforts to promote diversity and gender equity in medicine.

John Howard, MD, MPH, JD, LLM, MBA
Director, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Administrator, World Trade Center Health Program

John Howard, MD, is the Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Howard was first appointed NIOSH Director in 2002 during the George W. Bush Administration and served in that position until 2008.

In 2009, Dr. Howard worked as a consultant with the US-Afghanistan Health Initiative. In September of 2009, Dr. Howard was again appointed NIOSH Director, and was reappointed for a third six-year term in 2015. Prior to his appointments as NIOSH Director and WTC Health Program Administrator, Dr. Howard served as Chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health in the State of California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency from 1991 through 2002.

Dr. Howard earned a Doctor of Medicine from Loyola University of Chicago; a Master of Public Health from the Harvard University School of Public Health; a Doctor of Law from the University of California at Los Angeles; and a Master of Law in Administrative Law and Economic Regulation, and a Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management, both degrees from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Howard is board-certified in internal medicine and occupational medicine. He is admitted to the practice of medicine and law in the State of California and in the District of Columbia, and he is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court bar. He has written numerous articles on occupational health, policy, and law.

Steven Markowitz, PhD
Director, Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment, City University of New York and Board Member, 911 Health Watch

Steven Markowitz, MD, DrPH, an occupational medicine physician, internist, and epidemiologist, directs the Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment at the City University of New York. He was educated at Yale and Columbia Universities.

For two decades, Dr. Markowitz has directed the largest occupational lung cancer detection program in the country, using low dose chest CT scans to screen 14,000 former U.S. nuclear weapons workers in collaboration with the United Steelworkers and other unions. He has a longstanding commitment to WTC workers, having provided medical screening in 2002 for Latino day laborers who worked near Ground Zero; directed the Queens WTC Clinical Center for 8 years; and continuing to research asthma and PTSD among WTC workers. He served on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Board of the World Trade Center Health Program of NIOSH from 2011 to 2020.

Dr. Markowitz has conducted research in the areas of occupational cancer, asbestos-related diseases, immigrant occupational health, and surveillance of occupational injuries and illnesses and World Trade Center health, publishing over 100 journal articles and book chapters. Dr. Markowitz currently serves as Chair of the Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program of the Federal Department of Labor.

Commander Brittany B. Rizek, MPH, CHES
Deputy Division Director, World Trade Center Health Program, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Commander Brittany Rizek commissioned with the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) in 2009 as a Health Services Officer. A professionally trained and nationally certified health educator since 2006, she holds a Master of Public Health in Health Education and Behavioral Sciences from Indiana University and recently received a graduate certificate in Executive Women in Leadership from Cornell University.

CDR Rizek currently serves as the Deputy Division Director for the WTC Health Program at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She provides strategic leadership to the WTC Health Program, driving quality health care and program efficiency. During her tenure with the WTC Health Program, she has served as Program Coordinator, Medical Benefits Unit Chief, and Acting Deputy Director. Her previous PHS assignments include Program Manager for both the Ryan White Part B Program in the HIV/AIDS Bureau and Solutions Development in the Information Technology Division at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Prior to joining PHS, she was a Project Officer for the Office on Women’s Health under the Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) and coordinated research programs at the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute at the Ohio State University Medical Center.

Michael A. Crane, MD, MPH
Professor, Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health Medical Director, World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Michael A. Crane, MD, MPH, is Professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Medical Director of the Selikoff Centers for Occupational Health and of the WTC Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence at Mount Sinai. Dr. Crane is an expert on the physical and mental health consequences of large-scale disasters experienced by rescue and recovery workers, particularly those affecting responders who worked at the World Trade Center disaster site following the attacks of September 11, 2001. An advocate of worker safety and health, Dr. Crane has conducted extensive research on the health effects of exposures to workplace hazards and environmental toxins, as well as prevention and control strategies to protect worker health.

Prior to joining Mount Sinai in 2006, Dr. Crane spent 16 years at Con Edison of New York, where he served as Assistant Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. In 2002, he established a medical monitoring and treatment program for Con Edison workers who assisted in recovery efforts at the WTC site. Previously, Dr. Crane served as Associate Director of the Alcoholism Treatment Program of the Mount Sinai Services City Hospital Center at Elmhurst, New York.

He received his medical degree at the University of Rochester Medical School and a Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University School of Public Health. Additionally, he completed his medical internship and residency at the Montefiore Hospital in New York.

Benjamin J. Luft, MD
Edmund D. Pellegrino Professor Director, World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence SUNY at Stony Brook

Dr. Luft began taking care of responders and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attack almost immediately after September 11. He has been the Director and Principal Investigator of the WTC Health Program since 2003. In this capacity, Dr. Luft’s clinic cared for and longitudinally followed a cohort of close to 12,000 patients for medical, psychiatric, and social issues.

His Program did pioneering work on the interaction of PTSD and 9/11 related physical disease, as well as identifying that patients exposed to 9/11 are suffering from cognitive dysfunction. He continues to work on the “Remembering 9/11: an Oral History of WTC Responders” project, to preserve the personal accounts of WTC responders which is housed in the Library of Congress. These histories have been the primary source of a number of books and films on 9/11.

Mariama James
World Trade Center Health Program Member

Mariama James is a lifelong resident of Gold Street in Lower Manhattan, five blocks east and one block north of the World Trade Center. On the morning of September 11, 2001, Ms. James, eight months pregnant, was at work. Her children were at school, and her father was on Broadway, across the street from the towers. Ms. James’ mother, who lived in Harlem, was on Liberty Street headed to work at Deutsche Bank. Ms. James and her family all developed what are now considered to be WTC-related health conditions. Ms. James’ father lost his battle with COPD in May of this year. Her mother is a stage 4 colon cancer survivor. Ms. James and her three children all have certified conditions of their own, even her daughter who was in utero at the time. She will be 20 in October.

Joan Reibman, MD
Professor of Medicine and Environmental Medicine at New York University/Bellevue Hospital Medical Director, World Trade Center Environmental Health Center, NYC Health + Hospitals

Joan Reibman, MD, is Professor of Medicine and Environmental Medicine at New York University/Bellevue Hospital. Dr. Reibman is the Medical Director of the Health + Hospitals WTC Environmental Health Center, a Center of Excellence for surveillance and treatment of community members with WTC-related illnesses funded by the CDC-NIOSH WTC Health Program under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation fund.

She is also Medical Director of the NYU/Bellevue Asthma Airways Environment Program Center, a longstanding program initiated to provide state-of-the-art care and research in asthma. She has been involved in health studies of adverse health effects in the community from environmental exposures to WTC since 2001. She has been the recipient of multiple NIH and CDC awards and is a Principal Investigator for the New York Consortium of the American Lung Association Asthma Clinical Research Centers.

Jacqueline M. Moline, MD, MSc
Vice President, Department of Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention Medical Director, World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence at Northwell Health

Jacqueline M. Moline, MD, MSc, is an Occupational Medicine specialist and Professor of Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention, and Internal Medicine at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. She obtained her medical degree from the Pritzker School of Medicine of the University of Chicago. She completed residencies in Internal Medicine at Yale University and Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she obtained her Masters of Science degree.

After 19 years on faculty at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, she joined Northwell Health in 2010 as the founding Chairperson of the Department of Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention. Since 2001, many of Dr. Moline’s endeavors have been centered on the medical evaluation and treatment of WTC responders. Dr. Moline is the only individual who has directed WTC programs at two institutions, first at Mount Sinai and now at the Northwell Health Clinical Center of Excellent in Queens, NY. Dr. Moline was the recipient of the Kehoe Award of Merit from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine for significant contributions to research in the field of occupational and environmental medicine in 2010 and was awarded the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021. She has received numerous awards for her service to WTC responders. She is Editor in Chief of the Archives of Environmental and Occupational Health. Dr. Moline continues to maintain a clinical practice, focusing on patients with occupational exposures with a particular focus on individuals who have been exposed to asbestos.

Denise Harrison, MD
Medical Director, World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence at NYU and Associate Medical Director, Bellevue/NYU Occupational Medicine Clinic

Denise Harrison, MD, is Medical Director of the World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence at NYU and also serves as Associate Medical Director of the Bellevue/NYU Occupational Medicine Clinic. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Pulmonary Medicine at NYU. She has been directly involved in providing care to those suffering from adverse health effects of the World Trade Center tragedy from the onset. Immediately after 9/11 she started seeing patients in both the Occupational Medicine and Chest clinic who had immediate symptoms or concerns, respiratory or otherwise. Her earlier work also involved using mobile medical vans to screen day laborers in different communities who played a pivotal role in the rescue and recovery of lower Manhattan.

She continues to works collaboratively with other World Trade Center treatment centers to monitor and treat responders. More specifically, her program at NYU was involved in the development and recruitment of patients for studies investigating factors that contribute to sleep apnea and chronic rhinosinusitis in WTC responders. Her work in the occupational medicine clinic and with WTC responders and volunteers is in keeping with her primary focus which is, “the identification, prevention, evaluation, and control of the adverse impacts of environmental factors on human health, with strong foci on the effects of ambient air pollution, environmental and occupational factors in the causation and prevention of human cancer and diseases”.

Carol Robles-Román
World Trade Center Health Program Member

Carol Robles-Román is General Counsel and Dean of Faculty at Hunter College. She is on leave as she receives treatment for stage IV lung cancer. In 2017 she was certified as a General Responder by the World Trade Center Health Program. On September 11, 2001, she served as Special Counsel to Chief Judge Judith Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman/Director of Public Affairs. In that capacity, she was tasked with (i) overseeing the rescue, recovery, and clean-up efforts by the New York State Court Officers at Ground Zero and the search for three missing court officer responders (ii) liaising between the Court Officers and New York State and City officials and their NYPD, FDNY, and other first responders engaged in the recovery and rescue efforts; and (iii) managing the reopening of the Courts located in the WTC Site.

From January 2002 to December 2013, Carol was NYC Deputy Mayor for Legal Affairs and Counsel to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The recovery and clean-up effort at Ground Zero was a critical priority of the new administration. As Deputy Mayor, Carol worked closely with city agencies involved in the recovery and clean-up efforts. She previously served as New York State Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Bureau, as well as Special Inspector General for Bias Matters for the courts. She is a graduate of NYU School of Law and Fordham University at Lincoln Center. She is married to Nelson S. Román, United States District Court Judge in the Southern District of New York. They have two children, Andres and Ariana.

David Prezant, MD
Chief Medical Officer for the Fire Department of the City of New York Special Advisor to the Fire Commissioner for Health Policy Director, FDNY World Trade Center Health Program

David Prezant, MD, is Chief Medical Officer for the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) and Special Advisor to the Fire Commissioner for Health Policy. He has overall responsibility for the Bureau of Health Services, Counseling Services Unit, the WTC Health Program and the Office of Medical Affairs. He is FDNY’s senior Pulmonary Consultant, Co-Director of FDNY’s WTC Medical Program, the Principal Investigator for the NIOSH funded FDNY WTC Data Center and the Co-Director of the NIOSH-funded FDNY WTC Clinical Center of Excellence.

On 9/11, Dr. Prezant was at the WTC site, taking care of FDNY firefighters and EMS rescue workers. He was present during the collapse and its aftermath and helped with triage efforts. Since then, he has been responsible for the design and implementation of the WTC medical monitoring and treatment program for FDNY firefighters and EMS WTC rescue workers. He has authored over 200 peer-reviewed medical scientific papers, of which over 100 have been on the health impact of the WTC on NYC firefighters and EMS workers. This work has identified illnesses such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, COPD, sarcoidosis, rhinosinusitis, gastroesophageal reflux, mental health disturbances, obstructive sleep apnea, and cancers as WTC-related illnesses eligible for federal coverage.

Dr. Prezant has played a key role in leveraging the WTC Health Program so that members can obtain WTC Victims Compensation benefits and DOJ Public Safety benefits.

Dr. Prezant received his Bachelor of Science from Columbia College and his Doctor of Medicine from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. After completing his internal medicine residency at Harlem Hospital, he returned to Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center for his Pulmonary Fellowship training. Currently, Dr. Prezant is a Professor of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a pulmonary physician at the main teaching hospital – Montefiore Medical Center. He is the course director for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine course on Pulmonary, Critical Care & Disaster Medicine.

Jeffrey K. Low, MD
Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Clinical Co-Director, FDNY World Trade Center Health Program

Dr. Low joined the FDNY WTC Health Program during the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and has cared for its members at FDNY Headquarters, Fort Totten, and Commack locations. In 2018, he was promoted to Deputy Chief Medical Officer overseeing clinical operations of its five locations.

Dr. Low is a native New Yorker from Elmhurst and Rego Park. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School and attended the Sophie Davis Biomedical Education Program at the CUNY School of Medicine with clinical rotations at New York Medical College.

Dr. Low completed his residency at the Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City and practiced in its primary care, residency training, and hospitalist departments. Dr. Low lives in Long Island with his wife and two children. He enjoys biking, surf fishing, and growing succulent plants with them for fundraising events.

Iris Udasin, MD
Professor and Medical Director of the Environmental and Occupational Health Science Institute at Rutgers University School of Public Health and Director, World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence at Rutgers University

Iris G. Udasin, MD, is the Director of the Rutgers University World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence (CCE) and also serves as Medical Director of the clinic of Environmental and Occupational Health Science Institute (EOHSI) and is professor of environmental and occupational medicine. She graduated from SUNY – Downstate Medical Center and completed a residency in internal medicine and training in occupational medicine at Rutgers University. She is board certified in internal medicine and occupational medicine. She is a principal investigator and has been directly involved in providing care to those suffering from adverse health effects of the World Trade Center (WTC) exposures from the onset of the WTC program. In January 2003, she began seeing WTC patients at the EOHSI clinic.

Her earlier work involved exposures to chromium and mercury in New Jersey. She developed and implemented plans for employee health for all of the health science campuses of Rutgers University and has directed employee health for central New Jersey campuses and published several papers concerning exposures in health care workers.

As a member of the WTC steering committee, she continues to work collaboratively with other WTC treatment centers to monitor and treat patients exposed to toxins. Along with other investigators, she has worked to establish the relationship between WTC exposure and sleep apnea. She has also noted an increase in head and neck cancers in WTC patients. In addition to patient care, she has worked to improve the pension system for New Jersey police and firefighters exposed to WTC toxin.

John Cochran, MD
Medical Director, World Trade Center Health Program National Provider Network, Logistics Health Inc.

John Cochran, MD, is Medical Director for the National Provider Network for the World Trade Center Health Program. He started serving in this position in August 2020 and has been assisting in the program since he joined Logistics Health Inc. (LHI) in 2017. Dr. Cochran also has served as the Chief Medical Director for the Reserve Health Readiness Program since 2017. In this position, he was responsible for the yearly medical review of all Reservist and National Guard service members nationally. Dr. Cochran serves on the VA Community Care Network Quality Peer Review Committee and served as its chair from 2018 to 2020. Dr. Cochran also serves as chair of the Credentials Committee for all LHI network providers.

Dr. Cochran has thirty years’ experience with Mayo Clinic Health System where he was a practicing Family Physician and was the Medical Director at Mayo Clinic Caledonia Minnesota. He was an instructor at the Mayo La Crosse Family Medicine Residency. He served as the Chair of Information Services during the implementation of an Electronic Medical Record for La Crosse Mayo Clinic. He also served as the Chair of Chronic Disease and Prevention for the La Crosse Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Enterprise.

Dr. Cochran served as a US Army Clinic Commander for four years in Germany and completed eight years of active service where he achieved the rank of Major. His undergraduate degree is from The Ohio State University, and he received his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin. His internship occurred at Brooke Army Medical Center, and his Family Medicine training occurred at Eisenhower Army Medical Center.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton
U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division

On January 20, 2021, Brian Boynton was named Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice Civil Division. Brian joined the Division from Wilmer Hale, where he was a partner in the firm’s Government and Regulatory Litigation Group. He previously served in the Attorney General’s office as a Counselor to the Attorney General and as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel at DOJ. Brian attended Dartmouth College as an undergraduate and is a graduate of Stanford Law School.

Jordana (“Jordy”) H. Feldman
Former VCF Deputy Special Master

Jordana (“Jordy”) H. Feldman served as Deputy Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) until November 2019, having spent over a decade playing a key leadership role in the VCF through each of its iterations since 2002. Over the course of her tenure, she ran the VCF’s New York office and hearings process, developed program policies and procedures, adjudicated thousands of claims, and served as the primary liaison with various federal, state, and local entities. Ms. Feldman left the VCF in 2019 to design and administer a compensation program for victims who were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein.

She currently serves as the Administrator of the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program, which is a voluntary, confidential, non-adversarial litigation alternative, rooted in the principles and processes of the VCF. Through her work with the VCF and in the private sector, she has had extensive experience in the design, implementation, and administration of claims resolution programs – with a focus on fashioning creative, equitable solutions to challenges that arise in the claims process and ensuring program integrity, transparency, and meaningful opportunities to be heard. She also co-authored the Master Guide to Mass Claims Resolution Facilities, which provides practical guidance regarding issues involved in claims programs. Ms. Feldman began her legal professional career at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, and later worked in the alternative dispute resolution practice at Dickstein Shapiro, LLP. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and received her undergraduate degree magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania.

The Honorable Alvin K. Hellerstein
United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York

Alvin K. Hellerstein was appointed a United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York by President Clinton and has been serving on the court since 1998. He previously practiced law for 38 years with Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, and was co-head of its Litigation Department.

As a District Judge, Judge Hellerstein presided over all the 9/11 litigation, some 13,000 cases. The uniqueness of these litigations – none involving class actions – required specially crafted administrative and management techniques for each group of cases. Judge Hellerstein, using special masters, and with the cooperation and participation of liaison counsel, developed the procedures to enable the cases to progress towards their eventual settlements and dispositions.

Judge Hellerstein also carried the full run and variety of cases assigned to all District Judges. Among these have been the Freedom of Information Act cases against the Department of Defense and the CIA, reflected in orders and opinions providing for the release of the Abu Ghraib photographs (redacted to avoid personal identifications of victims), and the identification by the CIA and other agencies of the government of memoranda and summaries of renditions and interrogations of captured enemy combatants and terrorists.

Judge Hellerstein graduated from Columbia College (A.B., 1954) and Columbia Law School (LLB, 1956), where he was an editor of the Law Review. Following graduation, he served as a Law Clerk to United States District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri, and then served for three years as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps. During his military service, he taught military law at The Judge Advocate General’s School in Charlottesville, Virginia, and tried cases and counseled military personnel in Korea.

Kenneth R. Feinberg
Former VCF Special Master

Kenneth R. Feinberg is one of the nation’s leading experts in alternative dispute resolution, having served as Special Master of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, the Department of Justice Victims of State-Sponsored Terrorism Fund, the Department of the Treasury’s TARP Executive Compensation Program and the Treasury’s Private Multiemployer Pension Reform Program. He was also Special Settlement Master of the Agent Orange Victim Compensation Program.

In 2010, Mr. Feinberg was appointed by the Obama Administration to oversee the compensation of victims of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Most recently, he has served as Administrator of the New York State Dioceses’ Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Funds, the One Orlando Fund, the GM Ignition Switch Compensation Program, and One Fund Boston Compensation Program arising out of the Boston Marathon bombings.

He is currently the Court-appointed Settlement Master in the Fiat/Chrysler Diesel Emissions class action litigation in San Francisco. He has been appointed mediator and arbitrator in thousands of complex disputes over the past 35 years.

Rupa Bhattacharyya
VCF Special Master

Rupa Bhattacharyya has a distinguished career in public service, initially joining the Department of Justice (DOJ) as a Civil Division litigator in 1996. In July 2016, she was appointed by Attorney General Loretta Lynch to serve as the Special Master for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. She has successfully led the program through a very public funding shortage and is currently navigating the program’s transformation to reflect its permanent authorization in 2019.

Immediately prior to her work with the VCF, Rupa served as a Director in the Torts Branch of the DOJ, where she had oversight over two compensation programs – the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, and the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Program. For her work with the VCF, in 2019, Rupa was awarded the DOJ Civil Division’s Michael F. Hertz Memorial Award for Exceptional Professionalism & Outstanding Performance, and in 2020, she was awarded the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service.

Camille S. Biros
Director of Claims Administration, The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Feinberg, PC and Former VCF Deputy Special Master

Camille S. Biros is currently the Director of Claims Administration at The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Feinberg, PC. She is currently the Co-Fund Administrator of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Programs established by the Catholic Dioceses in the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California and Colorado. In 2010 she was the Co-Administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, established as a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, where she designed, implemented and supervised the process for the review and evaluation of over one million claims for compensation.

Ms. Biros was the Deputy Special Master for the administration of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund’s federal program to compensate the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Her pro bono services include the design and administration of Charitable Distribution Funds for the shooting and bombing tragedies in Las Vegas, Boston, Orlando, Virginia, and Connecticut and Colorado.

Stefanie Langsam
VCF Deputy Special Master

Stefanie Langsam has over 25 years of broad-based management and leadership experience. She worked on the original VCF from January 2002 until it closed in 2004, and was quick to return to the Department of Justice as a consultant in 2011 when the opportunity arose to support the reopened VCF. Stefanie held key positions on the leadership team, and had a lead role in the implementation of the changes required by the December 2015 reauthorization.

In June 2016, Stefanie became a VCF Deputy Special Master, directly in charge of all VCF day-to-day operations, including the claims management system, internal and external communications, helpline, data and reporting, payment processing, document management, claim review support activities, and contract management.

In 2020, Stefanie received the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service. She was also selected by Federal Computer Week (FCW) as a 2020 Federal 100 winner, which recognizes leaders from throughout the Federal IT community who had the greatest impact in 2019.

Day 2: Friday, September 10, 2021

Michael Aronson
New York Daily News Editorial Board

Michael Aronson has been on the Editorial Board of the Daily News for many years. He helps guide the paper’s stand on issues of the day and writes editorials. His editorials have been honored with the Pulitzer Prize and the Polk Award.

Devlin Barrett
Reporter, The Washington Post

Devlin Barrett is a reporter at The Washington Post, where he writes about the FBI and the Department of Justice. He is the author of October Surprise: How the FBI Tried to Save Itself and Crashed an Election – a behind-the-scenes look at how the nation’s premier law enforcement agency made a series of disastrous miscalculations during the 2016 presidential race. He was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for National Reporting, for coverage of Russian interference in the U.S. election. In 2017 he was a co-finalist for both the Pulitzer for Feature Writing and the Pulitzer for International Reporting. He has covered federal law enforcement for more than 20 years, and has previously worked at The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, and the New York Post, where he was working on Sept. 11. In the years that followed he continued to cover the consequences of that day, from terrorism investigations, to how the Twin Towers collapsed, to government rebuilding efforts, to the long-term health effects. A native of Troy, N.Y., whose mother worked in the World Trade Center in the 1990’s, he now lives in Virginia with his wife and children.

Benjamin Chevat
Executive Director, 911 Health Watch

Benjamin Chevat is Executive Director of both 911 Health Watch and Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act, two not-for-profit organizations working on behalf of injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors and their families to ensure the proper implementation of the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010” and its reauthorization in 2015 and 2019.

Mr. Chevat was formerly Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York, where he coordinated her office’s efforts in passing the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Prior to this, Mr. Chevat’s work included: Chief of Staff to then Congressman Charles Schumer, Counsel to the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Counsel to the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee, and Deputy Counsel to the Queens Borough President.

He received his BA from Queens College and his law degree from the City University of New York Law School at Queens College, where he was in the inaugural class.

John Feal
President and Founder, FealGood Foundation

John Feal is best known for his work with the FealGood Foundation (FGF), a 9/11 first responder advocacy group that has provided both economic aid and individual comfort to countless first responders, as well as his tireless efforts on behalf of those responders in the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. However, his leadership characteristics were born well before the creation of the FGF.

Following his service in the United States Army, John began working in the construction industry as a demolition expert. On September 12th, 2001, John and his team were ordered to report to what is now referred to as “Ground Zero” in order to assist in the clean-up and recovery mission following the terror attacks at the World Trade Center. Tragically, on John’s fifth day on site he became the one that needed aid. While supervising his team, a steel beam weighing approximately 8,000 pounds came loose from the huge pile of debris, crushing John’s left foot. Following eleven weeks in the hospital, doctors decided it was medically necessary to amputate half of John’s foot. Subsequently, John went through years of surgeries and innumerable hours of therapy; as well as extensive stays in the hospital for follow up treatments.

Through its grassroots fundraising, the FGF has raised and donated over $6 million dollars to individuals gravely affected by the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.

Beginning in 2004, John and the FGF team began to educate every Congressional member on legislation that would provide both health care and compensation to 9/11 first responders who had become ill because of their efforts at Ground Zero—H.R. 847, better known as the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act. That work continued again in 2015 and 2019 for reauthorization of the programs.

Kimberly Flynn
Director, 9/11 Environmental Action

Kimberly Flynn serves as Director of 9/11 Environmental Action (9/11EA), which she co-founded. An activist organization of residents, school parents, environmental and worker health and safety experts, 9/11EA formed to demand the health of the downtown community be protected from the environmental hazards released in the destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC). 9/11EA formed in April of 2002 to press the Environmental Protection Agency for science-based clean-up in the neighborhoods affected by the 9/11 attacks.

9/11EA helped to lay the foundation in evidence for the WTC Survivor Program, through assembling facts about the range, intensity, and chronicity of community exposures. 9/11EA worked with community and labor partners, such as the Beyond Ground Zero Network and the WTC Community Labor Coalition, to demand the health needs of survivors and responders be assessed and addressed. Flynn was lead organizer of the 2006 Town Hall which introduced federal WTC Health Coordinator Dr. John Howard to the community, and launched a drive for inclusion of survivors in federal 9/11 health legislation.

In 2012, Flynn participated as a stakeholder representative in the WTC Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee’s cancer deliberation that resulted in a recommendation to add more than 50 cancers for treatment by the World Trade Center Health Program.

For nine years, she has served as the chair of the Survivors Steering Committee, whose mission is to provide input and guidance from 9/11 survivors to the World Trade Center Health Program’s Survivor Program. 9/11EA continues to conduct outreach for the Program.

Juan Gonzalez
Co-Host of Democracy Now and former Daily News staff columnist

Juan González is the Richard D. Heffner Professor of Communications and Public Policy at Rutgers University and the long-running co-host of the syndicated radio/TV news show Democracy Now. A staff columnist for The Daily News for nearly thirty years, he covered both the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and he was the first journalist to reveal in a series of Daily News reports the extensive contamination in Lower Manhattan in the months after the collapse of the twin towers.

Denis Hughes
Former President, New York State AFL-CIO

Denis Hughes served four terms as President of the New York State AFL-CIO where he achieved numerous legislative victories to advance labor interests. Denis was also instrumental in securing $20 billion in federal funds to rebuild New York City after the 9/11 tragedy as well as securing passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health Care and Compensation Act, which provides necessary funding for medical care for 9/11’s first responders.

Denis served on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2004-2010, including as Chairman from 2009-2010. Denis is currently a Senior Operating Partner of Stonepeak and support’s Stonepeak’s government and labor relations. Denis holds a Bachelor of Science in Labor and Industrial Relations from Empire State College.

Jake Lemonda
Former President, NYC Fire Officers

James “Jake” A. Lemonda was born in the Bronx and spent his early life in Brooklyn and Queens. He attended St. Francis Prep High School and then went on to obtain his degree from Queens College in 1980. In 1981, he was hired as a New York City Police Officer. From 1982 to 1986, he worked as a Suffolk County Police Officer before being appointed to the FDNY in 1986. From “proby” school James was assigned to Engine 92 in the Morisiana section of the Bronx. On his very first tour, a senior firefighter nicknamed him “Jake” in reference to boxer “Jake LaMotta.” The name instantly stuck and throughout the Department, James is still known as “Jake”.

In 1994, Lemonda was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned to Division 11. He was later transferred to Engine 234 in Brooklyn. His promotion to Captain came seven years later after the events of September 11, 2001. Initially he was assigned to the WTC site and then onto the 14th Division, in Queens, until his permanent assignment as Captain of Engine 234 at the end of 2001. In May 2005, James was promoted to Battalion Chief and assigned to the 11th Battalion until his election to the Uniformed Fire Officers Association (UFOA) Executive Board in September 2009.

Before being elected as President in 2014, Chief Lemonda previously served the UFOA in the capacity of Financial Secretary and Chiefs’ Pension Representative during his five-year tenure on the Board. He has also been chair of the Special Events and Scholarships committee, serving as particularly instrumental in the inception of the Bravest Scholarship Raffle Fundraiser, a fundraiser which nets over $75,000 yearly toward the education of children who have lost a parent active on the FDNY.

James is married to his wife Ann. Together they have two daughters: Kathryn and Elizabeth. Kathryn has a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. She currently resides and works in Boston, Massachusetts and is pursuing her Doctoral Degree. Elizabeth is a Registered Nurse also in Boston and is weighing her options for further studies.

Michael McAuliff
Reporter, New York Daily News

Michael McAuliff is a reporter who has covered Washington and politics since 2005. He has covered 9/11 even longer—since 9/11 when, as the national editor of, he heard on the radio that a “small plane” had flown into one of the Twin Towers. He rushed to the World Trade Center, and got there just after the second plane hit, contributing the ABC’s Peabody Award-winning coverage. He went to work for the New York Daily News in 2003, and transferred to Washington in 2005. He wrote dozens and dozens of stories there and for The Huffington Post that explained how survivors and responders were being affected, and how Congress was failing to act, helping to keep a spotlight on an issue for 14 years that many lawmakers would have preferred to forget.

Last updated: September 29, 2021