Faculty and Staff

Daniel S. Gardner, PhD, LCSW
Interim Director


Daniel Gardner has been a faculty researcher at Brookdale and an Associate Professor at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College since 2012. Dr. Gardner has over 25 years of clinical, administrative, policy, and research experience in health and mental health, specializing in social work practice with individuals, families, and communities living with chronic and advanced illness. His scholarship primarily explores adaptation to serious illness in later life, with the goal of improving palliative and end-of-life care interventions for underserved older adults and their caregivers. Dr. Gardner’s current community-based research examines access barriers to pain and symptom management among low-income, minority elders in East and Central Harlem, NYC.

Dr. Gardner has authored or co-authored over 30 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, or monographs. His work has been funded by grants from CUNY, the American Cancer Society, the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, the National Institute of Aging (NIA), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). He is a Hartford Faculty Scholar in Geriatric Social Work, a founding board member of the Social Work in Hospice & Palliative Care Network (SWHPN), Research Director of the Hartford-Silberman Center of Excellence in Gerontological Social Work at Hunter College, and a Fellow of the Social Research, Practice & Policy Section of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). Dr. Gardner holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University, an MSW from the University of Pennsylvania, and a PhD in Social Work from Columbia University.

Jerry Antonatos

Jerry Antonatos, MPA
Director of Finance and Administration


Jerry Antonatos has been a CUNY staff member since 1988. Prior to joining Brookdale in 2006, Jerry was Director of Finance for the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and before that, held various finance positions within the Research Foundation of CUNY. His longstanding contacts within CUNY and deep knowledge of the University’s systems make him a valuable member of the Brookdale team.

Jerry is an active member of the Army National Guard unit 4th Financial Management (Fighting Finance). He was called to serve in Afghanistan in 2008-2009 and again in 2014. He was the Deputy Disbursing Officer of Jalalabad in the East, and Disbursing Agent of Kandahar in the South and controlled all financial activities in those regions of Afghanistan.

Jerry received his Bachelor’s Degree from Hunter College in Accounting and has a Master’s in Public Administration with a specialty in fiscal policy analysis and oversight from John Jay College.

Shira Birnbaum, PhD, RN
Project Manager


Shira Birnbaum is a nurse, educator, artist, and writer with 25 years of experience in teaching, program evaluation, and curriculum development in education, criminal justice, and healthcare. She graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College with honors in Anthropology and was a Shell Fellow in Science and Environmental Reporting at NYU. She has a PhD in Educational Foundations and Policy Studies from Florida State University. She is the author of two books. The most recent, Therapeutic Communication in Mental Health Nursing: Aesthetic and Metaphoric Processes in the Engagement with Challenging Patients, is published by Routledge in 2017. Shira is currently working on a project about the problem-solving strategies of front-line staff in human-services organizations. She is involved in a variety of Brookdale educational, research, and policy initiatives in the areas of older-adult prisoner re-entry, trauma-informed care, human-services organizational leadership, and adult protective services.

Paul G. Fleishmann
Logistics Coordinator


Paul Fleishmann joined Brookdale in 1993.  He has more than 25 years of experience in the fields of communications, media, print and electronic publishing, website design and management, and special events and conference planning logistics. Prior to joining Brookdale, Paul spent nearly a decade in the radio, television, video and advertising industries where his work included writing, producing and directing commercial and public service announcements, video editing, producing multi-media productions and managing the distribution of syndicated network television programs.

Paul has a Bachelor of Arts in Television and Radio Broadcasting from SUNY College at Buffalo and an Associate in Applied Science and Broadcast Telecommunications from Suffolk County Community College.

Angela Ghesquiere, PHD, MSW
Program Manager, Sadin Institute for Law and Public Policy


Angela Ghesquiere has been on staff at Brookdale since 2014, and joined the Sadin Institute in 2017. She manages the daily operations of the Sadin Institute and helps develop and oversee research and evaluation projects related to older adult health, mental health, and policy. She oversaw the analysis portion of Sadin’s review of guardianship cases in New York State.

Prior to joining Brookdale, Dr. Ghesquiere was a fellow in geriatric mental health services research at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Ghesquiere has also worked on several federally-funded intervention studies in the fields of grief, loss, trauma, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder at both Columbia University and the University of Washington.

Angela received her PhD in Social Work from Columbia University, and has a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Smith College and a Master’s of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis.

Rebekah Glushefski, MSW
Project Coordinator


Rebekah Glushefski joined the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging in May 2016. Rebekah is a social worker with concentrations in aging and community organizing, planning and development. As Project Coordinator, Rebekah is responsible for the Brookdale Certificate Program and for coordinating a range of initiatives led by Brookdale’s Learning and Development and Research cores. Prior to joining the team, Rebekah served as the founding Program Manager for Silberman Aging, a Hartford Center of Excellence in Diverse Aging at the Silberman School of Social Work. Before that, Rebekah held positions in education and training coordination, advocacy program administration, marketing, and project management. She is an active steering member of the Older Adults Subcommittee of the East Harlem Community Health Committee and a field educator for social work interns. Rebekah holds a Master of Social Work degree from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from James Madison University.

Sheryl Grant

Sheryl Grant
Finance Administrator


Sheryl Grant joined Brookdale in 1988. Sheryl handles a wide array of key tasks, from providing information to all new employees, to overseeing timesheets, to facilitating the timely payment of all invoices. Her knowledge of and long-standing relationships with key personnel at Hunter College and the CUNY Research Foundation are invaluable.

Sheryl attended York College and majored in Accounting.

Caitlin McAfee, LMSW
Research Associate


Caitlin McAfee joined Brookdale in 2015. She assists with data collection, coordination of research projects and data analysis. She is especially active in outreach efforts for Brookdale’s work in community-based palliative care.

Prior to joining Brookdale, she worked as a geriatric social worker providing case management services to older adults. She has presented at national conferences on topics such as ethical conflicts in care management.

Caitlin has a Master’s of Social Work from Fordham University with a specialization in gerontology and a Bachelor’s in Social Work from Texas Christian University.

Theresa Montini, MSW, Ph.D
Director of Research


Theresa Montini joined the Brookdale Center in 2015.  As a research scientist, she plans and conducts research to broaden scientific knowledge to improve the lives of older adults.

Prior to joining Brookdale, Dr. Montini worked as a researcher at the Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF, as a NIH-CSR review officer and a NIH-NIDA program officer, and as a senior researcher at the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics.  Since returning to the New York City in 2008, she has worked as a senior researcher at the NYU College of Dentistry and an assistant professor at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.  Dr. Montini’s research funding has ranged from public sources (NIH R21 AA012621 and R03 HG004040) to private foundations (Risk Management Foundation).

Dr. Montini received her doctorate from the University of California, San Francisco  (1991), her MSW from the University of California, Berkeley (1984), and her BA from Rutgers College (1979).

Geoffrey L. Rogers
Director of Learning and Development


Geoff Rogers has more than two decades of professional experience helping individuals and organizations learn, manage, change and seize new opportunities. Prior to joining Brookdale in 2007 as Director of Learning and Development, Geoff was Director of Operations for the New York City Home Energy Assistance Program. He has also worked in advertising, publishing and marketing and served as a Director of Special Projects, Director of Training and Director of Operations for New York City Adult Protective Services.

Geoff’s unusual background spanning creative industries, public administration and management consulting informs his work at Brookdale to develop learning opportunities that engage a diverse array of human services professionals.

Geoff has a Bachelor of European History and English from Colby College.

Alicia J. Murray, MBA
Project Coordinator


Alicia J. Murray joined Brookdale in 2016. As a Project Coordinator she provides training that blends traditional classroom instructions with distance learning technologies for management and frontline human services professionals. Prior to joining Brookdale, she worked as a  Project Coordinator at The College of State Island STEM program where she helped a number of students from under-represented  groups pursue professional licensure in the STEM fields.

Alicia has a Master’s of Business Administration from Metropolitan College of New York  and a Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing  from Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Debra Sacks, LPN, JD
Senior Staff Attorney, Sadin Institute for Law and Public Policy


Debra Sacks has been a staff member of Brookdale’s Sadin Institute for Law and Public Policy since 1988. She is a nationally recognized expert and trainer in adult protective services, elder abuse, guardianship, and daily money management and currently provides legal training to staff throughout New York State who provide protective services to vulnerable adults. Debra’s most recent accomplishment is serving as Principal Investigator in Brookdale’s 2009 study, The Value of Daily Money Management: An Analysis of Outcomes and Costs. This groundbreaking research is informing national policies on aging.

A graduate of the University of Iowa, Debra received her law degree from Pace University, an LPN from Phelps Memorial School of Nursing and a Certificate in Aging Studies from the University of Iowa.