From left to right, Ken Iwama, Vice President of Economic Development, Continuing Studies and Government Relations, the College of Staten Island; Josephine Melendez, Assistant Director of Adult Education and Training, Resident Economic Empowerment and Sustainability, NYCHA; CHW program graduate Melissa Smith; Joseph Conte, Executive Director, Staten Island Performing Provider System; Kim Truong, Community Coordinator of Health Initiatives, NYCHA; William Myhre, Senior Director of Workforce Transformation and Human Resources, Staten Island Performing Provider System; Jasmine Cardona, Executive Director, Economic Development, Continuing Studies, and Government Relations, the College of Staten Island. Photograph submitted by Niluka Udugampola.

Five Staten Islanders who reside New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments in Stapleton, West Brighton, Mariner’s Harbor, and Richmond Terrace were honored at the College of Staten Island’s Park Café. They were joined by friends and family, along with administration from the College, NYCHA’s Office of Resident Economic Empowerment & Sustainability (REES) and Staten Island Performing Provider System (SI PPS).

The residents recently completed 54 hours of Community Health Worker training at the College, and will soon begin employment as Community Health Workers in Staten Island. In their roles, they will support Medicaid residents living in underserved communities, who may have difficulty accessing healthcare providers, systems, or medicine due to cultural, language, and/or socioeconomic barriers.

Each student received a full scholarship funded by the Staten Island PPS, whose mission is to elevate the quality of care and overall health for Staten Island’s Medicaid and uninsured populations, which include more than 180,000 Staten Island residents. “This program, like all PPS-directed programs, is about providing the right care at the right time in the right place at the right cost. This program will connect residents of Staten Island to appropriate healthcare resources by training community members to act as their ambassadors as they navigate the complex matrices of social services and healthcare,” states SI PPS Senior Director of Human Resources and Workforce Development, William Myhre.

To prepare for their CHW work, the residents completed intensive training where they learned about coordinated care, benefits, and entitlements, and the prevalent, chronic diseases on Staten Island, including asthma, diabetes, depression, and substance use disorder. Jasmine Cardona, Executive Director of Economic Development, Continuing Studies, and Government Relations, states, “Every endeavor that the College partakes in ties back to one of six strategic priorities. Offering CHW training to NYCHA residents directly reinforces the College’s priority of borough stewardship. Residents of the Staten Island community are being trained to attain the credentials to gain employment. In their work, they will improve the health and safety of the community. Needless to say, we are extremely proud of our work.”

NYCHA Executive Vice President for Community Engagement and Partnerships Sideya Sherman is equally proud of the graduates, stating, “Every day, we see how many NYCHA residents are not only driven to succeed but are also committed to keeping their communities healthy. We thank SI PPS and the College of Staten Island for their partnership in the Community Health Worker Certificate program, and for helping empower public housing residents to improve their lives and the lives of their neighbors.”

For more information about workforce training programs offered by the College of Staten Island, visit To learn more about additional SI PPS initiatives, visit