Syracuse Healthy Start and Healthy Families Team

Syracuse Healthy Start is part of a wonderful team of caring, dedicated staff, and community members. Meet some of our team members here!


Lisa Green Mills

Project Director

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I’m so excited to join Syracuse Healthy Start! My inspiration for this work is my brother who I never got to meet. His life was tragically lost before his first birthday. He would have been 30 now, and my mom still tells me not a day goes by that she doesn’t miss him. No mother should ever have to know that feeling. I’m honored to do this work in his memory, alongside all families who have ever lost a son, daughter, brother, sister or loved one before their first birthday. I’m passionate about bringing families and communities together to support parents and promote healthy, happy lives for all babies.

Before joining Syracuse Healthy Start, I worked as a nurse in a pediatric clinic, and helped coordinate a childhood obesity program with Head Start parents. I have attended SUNY OCC (AA in Math & Science), BinghamtonUniversity (BSN in Nursing), and the University at Albany (Master of Public Health). I am an avid weaver and member of the Syracuse Weaver’s Guild, and love to spend time with family, especially my very, very busy toddler.



Keturah Albright

Community Action Network (CAN) Coordinator

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Hello, my name is Keturah Albright and I am the CAN (Community Action Network) Coordinator, at SMNF (Syracuse Model Neighbors Facility). I have a Bachelor’s degree in Community and Human Service, and I am currently working towards my Master’s degree. Over the past thirteen years I have worked with young families, helping them navigate through resources to meet the growing needs of their families. It is my passion to see families grow and thrive.
Nell Garvey

Nell Garvey

Social Worker

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Hi! My name is Nell Garvey. I am a social worker with Syracuse Healthy Start. Before joining Healthy Families in 2014 I worked as a social worker at St. Joseph’s Hospital in a maternal and child health office. I have an undergraduate and graduate degree in social work. I have a specific interest in mental health and strive to support the health and happiness of parents and children.

Outside of work, I love baking, gardening, anything crafty, and spending time with friends and family – especially my husband, son, and dog, Ollie.


Kara Verbanic

Public Health Educator

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I am a Public Health Educator with Syracuse Healthy Start and have been with the program since 2008. I provide education to pregnant and parenting families at different community agencies within the city of Syracuse. My job is truly rewarding. I enjoy meeting and working with pregnant women, new parents, and of course the babies!

Prior to joining the Syracuse Healthy Start team, I worked as an educator with the Tobacco Program of the Onondaga County Health Department. I attended SUNY Cortland and studied Health Science and minored in Biology. During my internship, I worked at Family Health Network Perinatal Office in Cortland, and that is where my passion for working with and educating pregnant women and new parents began! In my free time, I enjoy running, gardening, and spending time with my husband and two children.



Maria Vazquez

Case Manager and Supervisor

Hello, my name is Maria Vazquez. I have been employed with Catholic Charities of Onondaga County since 1998. I became a Healthy Start Case Manager in 2001. I enjoy working with pregnant and parenting mothers. I also have had the opportunity to provide services to refugee families from all over the world. I feel honored to help a family prepare for a new baby as well as provide education, resources, and support for a better future.


Latisha Harper

Case Manager

Hello, I am Latisha Harper. I graduated from Cazenovia College with my Bachelor in Human Service with specialization in Criminal Justice. I’m a native of Syracuse and a mother of three. My career began at The Salvation Army in 2001 as an Adolescent Pregnancy Case Manager. I have been employed with Catholic Charities since 2009 as a Parent Aide working with families and children at risk. As of 2015 I became a Healthy Start Case Manager. I’m passionate about my position as I continue to work with mothers and babies. I feel children are sponges and they inquire their core values by the age of five. I feel privileged to provide tools and education to enhance the bonding between mom and baby.


Shameka Turner

Community Health Worker

Hello, my name is Shameka Turner and I am a Community Health Worker for Syracuse Healthy Start. I graduated from Buffalo State College with bachelors in Social Work. I am passionate about helping others and want to make a difference in the community. I am excited to work with pregnant and parenting mothers.

Jenn Finn

Jenn Finn

Case Manager

Hi my name is Jen Finn and I am a Healthy Start Case Manager. I started working for Catholic Charities in 2014 as an intern, where I developed a passion for serving families in my community. Upon completion of my Bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University, Catholic Charities hired me on as a Parent Aide, where I was able to help families through weekly intensive in-home visits. After doing that for 2 years, I accepted my current position, which I love, because I get to be part of and help build, a strong support system for moms and their babies during pregnancy and up to the childs 2nd year of life.


Stephanie Gonzales

Case Manager

Hi! My name is Stephanie Gonzales and I am a Catholic Charities Healthy Start Case Manager. I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Human Development at Oswego State University in 2015. I am currently working towards my Master’s in Social Work at Syracuse University. My younger brother, James, has always been my inspiration. He’s inspired me to become a role model, to always have a thirst for knowledge, and to push myself further than I ever possibly thought I could go. But most importantly, he has inspired me to become the person I needed when I was younger. As a Case Manager, I aim to enrich the parent/child relationship through support, education, and community resources. I consider myself lucky to be part of the Healthy Start team and I am looking forward to learning and growing with the families I serve.