How Do I?                 Tompkins A-Z     

Meet the CHS Team


Claire Espey Claire Espey, (she/her) MPH
Director of Community Health Services

Claire joined the Tompkins County Health Department in December 2020 as Community Health Services Director, where she oversees the communicable disease and maternal child health programming in the Department. Claire spent the last ten years leading public health programming in east Africa. She has experience there with maternal and child health programs and the development of drinking water systems and community engagement work. She completed her Master of Public Health (MPH) at Columbia University and spent 4 years there as a program coordinator, before moving to Burundi and then to the DRC.

Darlene Prince Darlene Prince, (she/her)
Account Clerk Typist

Darlene has worked at the Health Department with Homecare and Community Health Services for almost 20 years as an Account Clerk Typist. It has been an adventure of growing with CHS as programs have evolved and changed. Darlene provides clerical support for Moms PLUS +, Lead, CD, Covid, Immunizations and TB.  She has two grown boys Jason and Jeremy and three grandchildren:  Austin, Jordyn, and Camron. They keep her young at heart. Outside of work, she cares for her family, and is looking forward to retirement in the future.  Darlene enjoys outdoor activities in the warm weather, dancing, concerts, swimming, kayaking, walking, bicycling, picnics, family gatherings and traveling.

Deidre Gallow Deidre Gallow, BS
Administrative Assistant 

Deidre grew up locally in Groton, NY. She graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in Applied Statistics. She joined the Health Department in 2014 and has worked in Environmental Health, Community Health Services, Children with Special Care Needs, and Health Promotion. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she was pulled into COVID response full time for 2 years. Currently, she is working in Health Promotion and Community Health Services focusing on the Community Health Assessment and monitoring/evaluation of the newly re-opened Moms PLUS+ program. Deidre is excited to help support our team as we move forward with these new projects! 


Emme Edmunds Emme Edmunds, (she/ze) NP, PHD
Community Health Nurse

Emme has worked in family, women’s and LGBTQ health for decades and has conducted research in New York and New Delhi, India. Her favorite achievements are helping one wonderful son reach adulthood (no easy task!), and supporting other families and children in achieving health and expressing themselves though the arts. She is focused at TCHD on communicable disease surveillance and case management, and also works to promote learning about climate, social, and environmental changes so that individuals and families can be as resilient as possible. She works to promote fairness in health care so that both rural and urban people have improved health experiences. Emme loves sharing hikes, music, and food with friends and loved ones and is always learning more about birds, plants, and animals.

Rachel Buckwalter Rachel Buckwalter, (she/her) RN, BSN
Senior Community Health Nurse

Rachel is a senior community health nurse at the Tompkins County Health Department. She has worked at TCHD for a total of 9 years, the last 2 in a management role. She leads the communicable disease team and the immunization team. She has 20 years of experience as a nurse, including pediatrics, community health, home care, hospice, maternal child health and public health. She is interested in building healthy communities. She lives in Ithaca with her family and can be found hiking, reading or cooking when not at work.

Matt Philips Matt Phillips, (he/him)
Systems Administrator and Billing Coordinator

Matt has been a part of our Community Health Services team for the last year and a half, where he oversees our electronic health record, and billing team. He prides himself on helping the CHS team navigate new technology so they can work more effectively for our community. In his free time, he enjoys taking his 2 dogs for walks, cheering on the Yankees and Syracuse basketball team, and going on hikes with his fiancé.

Dorota Kossowska Dorota Kossowska (she/her)
NYS Public Health Fellow

Dorota was born and raised right here in Ithaca, NY. She graduated from Cornell University in 2020 with a bachelors in Global and Public Health Sciences right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. She worked as a project assistant for a few months doing case monitoring before starting as NYS Public Health Corp Fellow. She has been working primarily within Community Health Services focusing on maternal and child health. She is excited to promote the Moms PLUS + program so that more people take advantage of this wonderful program. She is thrilled to be serving Tompkins County in this new role as a public health fellow. In her free time, Dorota enjoys taking walks in nature and fostering kittens for the SPCA.

Shuai Yuan Shuai Yuan, (she/her) MPH
Public Health Graduate Fellow

Shuai joined the Tompkins County Health Department in November 2021 as a community health coordinator working on COVID-19 Response after graduating from the Master of Public Health program at Cornell. Shuai have a background in public health, food systems and nutrition, and chemistry and biomolecular engineering. She is currently working as a public health graduate fellow in the health department and her primary interest are public health communication and evidence-based public health interventions. Shuai is still working on COVID-19 but have also had chances to work on other interesting projects including COVID-19 Response evaluation, being part of the cross-functional team, helping with community outreach programs, etc. Shuai is very excited to discover more interesting project opportunities in the Health Department!

[Top of Page]


Moms PLUS+

Celeste Rakovich Celeste Rakovich, (she/her) BSN, RN, CLC,
Senior Community Health Nurse

Celeste oversees the Moms PLUS+, Rabies, and Lead poisoning prevention as well as the anonymous HIV testing.   She brings years of pediatric, maternal child health and home care experience to her position. She is passionate about education, empowerment and inclusivity.   She enthusiastic about different cultures, languages and backgrounds and eager to engage with groups who are underserved in the community.  Celeste is a mother of four children and two fur babies.  She enjoys gardening and live entertainment.

Deb Axtell Deb Axtell, (she/her) BSN, RN, CLC
Community Health Nurse

Deb came to the MOMS program in 1990, after working in various hospitals in New York State in Pediatrics, Maternity, Special Care Nursery, and Labor and Delivery. Deb enjoys Public Health Nursing because she gets to share knowledge and skills learned from the hospital setting, with moms in the more relaxed home setting. She especially enjoys answering questions about breastfeeding and how beneficial it is to mom and baby. Deb finds the variety of cultures in Tompkins County most interesting. She knows that motherhood can be uncharted territory in any culture.

Gail Birnbaum Gail Birnbaum (she/her), BSN, BM, RN, CLC

Gail has decades of experience in Maternal-Child Health in a variety of clinical and home settings. She joined the MOMS/MOMS Plus team in 2006 and is happy to have found such a fulfilling place to serve families and their babies in Tompkins County. She enjoys providing antepartum and postpartum care, as well as teaching lactation and parenting skills. Gail loves the outdoors, traveling with her husband, and having adventures with her family.

Jessica Clark-Manderville Jessica Clark-Manderville (she/her), RN, BSN

Jessica has over a decade worth of experience as a Registered Nurse specializing in Maternal-Child Health and Pediatric care.  She joined the MOMS team in 2021 and strives to meet the needs of families and babies in Tompkins County.  She is currently working towards becoming a Certified Lactation Counselor to help further assist lactating parents and babies.  Jessica enjoys spending time with her friends and family, being outdoors and reading.

Carolyn Canto Carolyn Canto 

Carolyn joined the Tompkins County Health Department in 2020.  She has been a nurse for 37 years having worked in a variety of settings. She is excited to have joined such a dynamic team in servicing all birthing parents in Tompkins County through the MOMS PLUS program.   In her free time she enjoys being outdoors and spending time with her family.

Caryl Silberman Caryl Silberman (she/her/hers), BS, RN
Community Health Nurse

Caryl is a Registered Nurse with decades of experience working in a variety of settings.  She strives to support her clients’ knowledge of health and wellness across their life span.  She is thrilled to be working in Maternal Child Health as well as in Communicable Diseases.  Caryl loves the outdoors, enjoys cooking, reading, traveling, and hiking and kayaking with her partner and rescue poodle.

[Top of Page]

WIC, the Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, & Children

Michelle Hall Michelle Hall, (she, her) BS
WIC Program Director

Michelle joined Tompkins County Health Department WIC Program in November 2016.  Michelle has worked in the New York State WIC program for the past 25 years.  Michelle has a Bachelors of Science in Nutrition from Syracuse University and started her journey in the WIC program as a Nutritionist in the Northern Finger Lakes area. Over the past year Michelle co-lead one of the cross-functional teams-integration; this experience was rewarding, as she enjoyed the opportunity to work with other staff in the organization.   Michelle enjoys learning about different cultures and eager to travel the world someday.  Michelle is a mother of two teenagers and a stepmother of two additional teens.  In Michelle’s free time she enjoys camping, traveling, music and spending time with friends/family.

Cindy Mallary Cindy Mallary, (she/her) MS, RDN, CLC
WIC Program Nutritionist

Cindy has a BS in Nutrition from Syracuse University and an MS in Clinical Nutrition from Cornell University.  She has been working at the Tompkins County WIC Program as a nutritionist for 35 years.  She has also been the Breastfeeding Coordinator for several years, working with the breastfeeding peer counseling program and the breast pump program.  She has been a Certified Lactation Counselor since 2001.  She has always been interested in how nutrition and breastfeeding can influence our health.  She loves working for WIC, as she enjoys getting to know so many great people in our diverse community.  In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, biking, swimming, cross country skiing and playing music with friends.

Kelsey Fitch Kelsey Fitch, (she/her) RDN, MPH, CLC
WIC Program Nutritionist

Kelsie is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Lactation Counselor who joined the Tompkins County WIC team in 2018 as a WIC Nutritionist. In addition to her Nutritionist duties, she also works as the Nutrition Coordinator, conducts public health detailing with the local health care providers, and runs the WIC social media accounts.  Kelsie graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor's degree in Nutritional Sciences and a minor in Biochemistry, followed by a Dietetic Internship through Syracuse University. As of May 2022, she completed her Maters in Public Health with an emphasis in Maternal Child Health. Kelsie is passionate about maternal and child nutrition and is especially interested in aiding mothers through their breastfeeding journey.

Cecilia Hagen-Revelins Cecilia Hagen-Revelins, (she/her) BS, RDN, CDN

Cecilia Joined the WIC team in 2019 as a WIC Nutritionist and doubles as the WIC Outreach Coordinator. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Nutritional Sciences in May of 2018. Following graduation, she continued to the Cornell University Dietetic Internship graduating in 2019. During her schooling she worked with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Beechtree Nursing Home, Meals on Wheels and completed her clinical work at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She has experience providing nutrition education and counseling throughout the lifespan but enjoys the focus of maternal, infant and child nutrition. Cecilia loves spending time with her daughter and husband. They love camping, hiking, biking, gardening, dancing and reading books together.

Lingli Ma Lingli Ma (she/her/hers), 
WIC Clerk

Lingli grew up in the HuBei province of Central China. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Management from ShenZhen University. Lingli joined the WIC team as WIC Clerk in November 2020 and has been absolutely loving helping people in this position ever since! She lives on the East side of Cayuga Lake with her husband Aaron, toddler Mercutio, and cat Honoco!

[Top of Page]