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Staff Leadership

Executive Team

  • James L. Kaufman, LCSW-R
    James L. Kaufman, LCSW-R

    James L. Kaufman has more than thirty five years of experience in social service. Prior to joining Abbott House as CEO in 2013, Mr. Kaufman began his career with Westchester Jewish Community Services as a Psychiatric Social Worker and later, the Clinical Director. After a year with Professional Services Center for the Handicapped as the Assistant Director of MR/DD Services, Mr. Kaufman joined Family Services of Westchester. During his tenure at Family Services of Westchester. Mr. Kaufman spent twenty years developing programs directly impacting children, youth and families. He served as Program Director, Senior Program Director, Vice President, and Senior Vice President.

    Mr. Kaufman serves on the Board of Directors of the Collaborative for Children and Families (CCF) and is co-chair of CCF’s Finance Committee. In addition, Mr. Kaufman serves on the Board of Directors of the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA) and sits on various committees including COFCCA’s Steering Committee and OCFS’s Statewide Implementation Team Committee and Managed Care Task Force.

    Mr. Kaufman holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Psychology and Behavioral Medicine Psychology, respectively, from the University of Miami and a Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

  • Justine Christakos, LMSW
    Justine Christakos, LMSW


    Justine Christakos joined Abbott House in February 2016 as the Vice President of Programs. She had previously spent the last 22 years working at ARC of Rockland holding various Administrative positions, with her final role being the Associate Executive Director for Day Habilitation Services. In her role as VP of Programs, Ms. Christakos is responsible for the Services for People with Developmental Disabilities (SPDD), Health Home Program and Community & Home Based Services (CFTSS & HCBS). In September 2021, Ms. Christakos was promoted to Senior Vice President of Programs and added to her supervision the Article 31 Clinic and the Article 29-I Voluntary Foster Care Agency (VFCA) Health Facility. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from St. Thomas Aquinas College and a Master of Social Work degree from New York University. Ms. Christakos is a Licensed Master Social Worker.

  • Abbie Relkin, MA,MBA
    Abbie Relkin, MA,MBA

    Abbie Relkin brings more than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit and governmental fiscal arena. It is her goal to assist nonprofits to maintain sustainability and to thrive while providing needed community services.

    She began her career with the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities as a Revenue and Reimbursement agent. She then went on to work for the multi-service Westchester Jewish Community Services as the Director of Revenue and Reimbursement. She was the CFO of the Mental Health Association of Westchester from 2004 through 2022. In addition to her work for these organizations, Ms. Relkin has assisted several other nonprofits, IPAs and service organizations with special projects.

    She was thrilled to join Abbott House in 2023 as CFO. The breadth and importance of the services Abbott House provides is something she believes in and she hopes that her experience will help to sustain this important organization.

  • Suraiya Sheikh, BS, MCSE, MCSA
    Suraiya Sheikh, BS, MCSE, MCSA

    Suraiya Sheikh first came to Abbott House in 2000, when she began her career as an Information Technology (IT) Coordinator. She was later promoted to Assistant Director, Director, and most recently to her current position, Chief Information Officer. Mrs. Sheikh oversees Abbott House's IT and Management Information (MIS) Departments. She possesses an in depth knowledge of various information systems as well as the regulatory compliance on privacy and security mandates related to the agency's funding sources. Mrs. Sheikh is a Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE) and Microsoft Certified System Administrator (MCSA) in addition to holding a Bachelor's Degree in Natural Sciences. Throughout her tenure at Abbott House, Mrs. Sheikh has played an essential role in the continued successful design and implementation of a secure and reliable network infrastructure across the agency's multiple offices and remote sites.

  • Bruce Stern, MPA
    Bruce Stern, MPA

    Bruce Stern joined Abbott House in May 2022 as the Director of Human Resources. Bruce has had a long and impressive career as a Human Resources Professional. Prior to joining the Abbott House team, he worked at the Institutes of Applied Human Dynamics (IAHD) for 27 years; the last 18 as its Director of Human Resources and prior to that, Human Resources Manager. Before joining the Human Resources Department at IAHD, Bruce managed a 12-bed group home for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and complex behavioral needs. Bruce graduated from Long Island University (LIU) with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Administration and a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA). He is an expert in health care, insurance, and benefits management and has provided related consultation to several organizations.

  • Dr. Kamilah Dowling, DNP
    Dr. Kamilah Dowling, DNP

    Dr. Kamilah Dowling has worked at Abbott House for over 15 years, where she is now the Medical Director. She has over 16 years of experience in Pediatrics, including Critical Care, Emergency Medicine, and Pulmonary and Neurological Surgery. Dr. Dowling received her doctorate and master's degrees from Columbia University, where she now serves as an Assistant Professor. She has a Post-Master's Certificate in Executive Healthcare Leadership and Health Care Change Management from Cornell University. Dr. Dowling was named Westchester's Top 40 under 40 for her participation in the separation of Craniopagus twins at Montefiore Medical Center in 2016, and she also received a NYS proclamation for her work. Dr. Dowling has since consulted internationally on Craniopagus twins in Ghana, Brazil, and Indonesia. She is an international lecturer on pediatric neurological surgery and has been an invited guest lecturer in Paris, Turkey, England, Germany, Indonesia, Africa, and Japan. In her spare time, Dr. Dowling likes to volunteer, serving on the medical team for the NYC marathon and participates in medical missions in countries like Haiti.


  • Antoinette Grant, MA, Ed. S
    Antoinette Grant, MA, Ed. S

    Antoinette Grant, whose personal motto is “Striving for Excellence,” is an energetic and innovative leader, with demonstrated success in creating positive outcomes for at-risk children and families. She has a proven track record of increasing operational efficiencies through organizational and cultural re-engineering, including coaching and educational development of her team. Antoinette has established an impeccable reputation with management, staff, and colleagues for having integrity, being accessible, innovative, and holding the highest standards for herself and her team.

    Antoinette’s career in child welfare began in 1999 as a Child Protective Specialist for the Administration for Children (ACS). Antoinette joined Abbott House in April of 2019 after spending 10 years at Graham Windham where she held the position of Associate Vice President of Foster Care at and was awarded the agency’s Mission Award as well as the agency’s Vice President’s Award. It must be noted that Antoinette was one of the two first individuals to be certified in the evidence base model Solution Based Casework (SBC) in New York City.

    Antoinette earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Brooklyn College. She then went on to earn a Master Degree in Counseling and Psych Studies at Seton Hall University and subsequently, a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Seton Hall University. To enhance her leadership skills, Antoinette attended a Senior Leadership Program at Columbia University and earned a Senior Leadership Certificate.

    At Abbott House, Antoinette looks forward to continue the very important work of partnering with her team and at risk families to help create lasting positive outcomes which would result in life long success for children and families.

  • Jeff Shapiro, Ed. M.
    Jeff Shapiro, Ed. M.

    Jeff Shapiro comes to Abbott House as a proven non-profit leader with twenty-five years of experience working within the juvenile justice, child welfare and mental health systems. His focus has always been a deep commitment to helping vulnerable children, adolescents and their families. Beginning his career working within the juvenile justice system in New Jersey, Mr. Shapiro successfully directed a volunteer program for court-involved youth living in a shelter. After returning to New York, he began working at a Residential Treatment Center with the Jewish Board of Family & Children's Services. During his successful tenure with the agency, Mr. Shapiro was promoted to several positions which included Director of Continuous Performance Improvement, Director of Day Treatment, Director of RTF's and ultimately, the Senior Director of Westchester Mental Health Services. Mr. Shapiro's many roles have provided a strong foundation for creating caring and supportive environments that promote healing and empowerment. Using data to drive measurable positive outcomes, Mr. Shapiro's leadership will focus on trauma-informed care, systems collaboration, and youth and family engagement. Mr. Shapiro joined the Executive Team in September of 2019 and is eager to continue building on the exceptional services that Abbott House is known to provide.

  • Tiffany Bell, MSW
    Tiffany Bell, MSW

    Tiffany is a passionate advocate for children, adults, and families and believes in empowering clients by ensuring every individual has the support to reach their full potential. She joins the Abbott House team with more than 18 years of experience in child welfare and mental health services, starting as a case planner and progressing to leadership positions in a variety of programmatic and administrative roles. For the last eight years, Tiffany honed her expertise in performance improvement, as the Assistant Director of Continuous Performance Improvement and Acting Director for one of the RTFs at the Jewish Board for Family and Children’s Services. While there, she is credited with improving organizational structure and implementing new policies to promote high fidelity best practice.

    Tiffany earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Lehman College and a Master in Social Work with a Specialization in Organizational Management and Leadership from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. She enjoys embracing challenges and is a persuasive ally for vulnerable people, ever persistent in the fight for what is “right and just” for all clients served.

  • Kristina Papa
    Kristina Papa

    Kristina Papa first came to the Abbott House Development Department in February 2018 from the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, where she served as the Director of Development and raised more than $2 million in revenue. In her role, she managed all aspects of special events, major gifts, direct mail, and community outreach.

    Prior to that, she was Manager of Special Events at the New York Botanical Garden and Manager of Promotions and Special Events at the New York Yankees, where she planned ceremonial events both on and off the field, including three Ticker-Tape Parades, earning her Keys to the City of New York.

    Kristina brings more than 20 years of experience to her current role as Director of Development and Communications. She and her dedicated team are committed to strategies that grow revenue, strengthen donor relationships, and promote the agency's vision to build promising futures for all those in care. This includes fundraising, stewardship, special events, community and corporate engagement activities, as well as major gift solicitation, public relations, and communications.

    Kristina earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Media Studies and English from Hofstra University. She embraces the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of foster children, struggling families, and adults with developmental disabilities and considers this role to be the most rewarding work of her career.