Staff Bios

Donna Phillips, MD

NYU Grossman School of Medicine Assistant Dean of Simulation Education

Dr. Donna Phillips leads the New York Simulation Center for the Health Sciences (NYSIM) as the Assistant Dean of Simulation Education at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. In addition, she serves as the Director of Graduate Medical Education (GME) Quality and Safety for NYU Langone Health. Her focus areas are High Reliability Organization transformation and ensuring that NYULH meets the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) expectations for house staff engagement in quality, safety, communications, and teamwork. Dr. Phillips has developed curricula in communications skills, professionalism, and clinical reasoning that incorporates simulation and workplace assessments for orthopedic residents. Dr. Phillips is working toward integrating simulation into all levels of education across the NYU Grossman School of Medicine as well as the City University of New York to increase quality, safety and patient experience.

Dr. Phillips is a Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Pediatrics, specializing in Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery. She completed medical school and two years of general surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. She completed her Orthopedic Surgery Residency at Indiana University and a Pediatric Orthopedic Fellowship at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. Dr. Phillips came to NYU in 1995.

Joanne Agnant, MD

Associate Medical Director

Joanne Agnant, MD, MSc, the Associate Director of the Pediatric Emergency Medicine (PEM) Fellowship Program at NYU Langone Health/Bellevue Hospital Center, joined the NYU/Bellevue family as a PEM Fellow in 2010. After completing her fellowship, she joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor, obtaining a Masters in Clinical Investigation at NYU Langone Health’s Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI). Her professional interests include medical education for fellows, residents, medical students, and nurses, with a focus on simulation-based medical education and process improvement. Dr. Agnant is also interested in wellness, mentorship, promoting diversity & inclusion, and providing compassionate and equitable care to our diverse patient population. As Associate Medical Director of NYSIM, Joanne will support simulation-based medical education across NYU Grossman School of Medicine and CUNY, collaborating with our educational leaders to design, implement, and evaluate our programs with the overarching goals of improving health outcomes, equity, and safety for all of our patients.

Deepak Pradhan, MD

Associate Medical Director

Deepak Pradhan, MD, FCCP, MHPE candidate, is the Associate Program Director the NYUGSOM Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine (PCCM) Fellowship, Co-Director of the Bellevue Veno-Venous ECMO Program, Faculty in the Bellevue Special Pathogens Program and the National Emerging Pathogens Training and Education Center, and former Associate Section Chief of Pulmonary/Critical Care at NYULH Tisch Hospital. He completed his residency training in Internal Medicine at Brown University, and was a PCCM fellow and Chief fellow at NYU. He is currently completing a Masters in Health Professions Education at NYU/Maastricht University. He attends in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at NYULH Tisch Hospital and Bellevue Hospital. His interests in include point-of-care ultrasound, simulation, procedural competency, faculty development, and medical education. Deepak looks forward to collaborating with NYU and CUNY educators engaged in simulation-based education, helping to improve the rigor of their simulation activities, provide guidance on turning their efforts into educational scholarship, and overall raising the visibility of NYSIM as one of the preeminent simulation centers in the nation.

Laura Penalo, PhD, RN, CNL, CHSE

Health Professions Director

Laura Penalo, PhD, RN, CNL, joined NYSIM in December 2022 as the Health Professions Director. She has 20 years of experience in healthcare and 10 years of experience in nursing simulations. Prior to joining NYSIM, she worked as a Nursing Assistant Professor and Simulations Liaison for The City University of New York BMCC School of Nursing, Simulations Coordinator for The Monroe College School of Nursing, and as an adult Medical-Surgical and Ambulatory Care Nurse at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell. Dr. Penalo has experience in simulations quantitative and descriptive qualitative research methodologies. She looks forward to collaborating with CUNY and NYU faculty and educators to design, implement, and evaluate simulation programs that promote learners’ knowledge, skills, attitudes, confidence, clinical decision making, and communication skills with the overarching goal of improving healthcare outcomes through effective team work, evidence-based practice, culturally congruent care, and adherence to quality and safety standards.

Sondra Zabar, MD


Sondra Zabar, MD is the Director of the Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency Training Program at the NYU School of Medicine. She is the Director of the Program for Medical Education Innovations and Research (PrMEIR), established in 2006 with the mission of advancing medical education scholarship at NYU and instituting best practices for patient-centered, evidence-based medical education through research, faculty development, and internal grants program.

Katie Tame

Administrative Director


Katie Allen

Assistant Director

Katie Allen joined NYSIM in August 2021 as the Operations Manager. She has over ten years of experience in various academic health care settings, most recently as the Project and Operations Manager for the Nursing Department at NYU’s Tisch/Kimmel Hospital. Katie has been with NYU since 2015, working for Patient Experience and Graduate Medical Education prior to Nursing. Before NYU, Katie worked as the Senior Trauma Data Coordinator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. She obtained her Master of Public Administration in Health Financial Management from NYU and her BS in Health Policy and Management from Providence College.

Ryan Zurich

Program Manager

Ryan C. Zurich joined NYSIM in 2016 as a Simulation Operations Associate. In 2019 Ryan obtained their master’s degree in Psychology and Theology at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. They earned their B.A. from Hunter College in Psychology, Studio Art, and Religious Studies through the CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies. Presently Ryan manages NYSIM’s National Certification Courses (NCC), as well as business operations for external clients. Outside of NYSIM, Ryan is a practicing painter, an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College, and a life-long swimmer.

Pablo Heredia

Program Supervisor

Pablo has worked in film production for 9 years, as well as a help desk technician for 4 years. During his time in film productions he worked on one of Hillary Clintons TV ads for her 2016 race where he met attorney General Eric Holder. Before joining NYSIM he worked for Laerdal traveling around the country maintaining, installing, and repairing simulators for over a year. On his free time he loves lis-tening to music and is an avid movie goer.

Brielle Blatt

Program Supervisor

Brielle Blatt is a Program Supervisor, overseeing the operations of the Standardized Patient Program at NYSIM. She studied Public Health at Tulane University and has a Master of Public Administration in Health Policy and Management from NYU. Her interest in simulations was piqued from her prior role as a Senior Project Coordinator at NYU Grossman School of Medicine where she managed an Integrated Clinical Skills curriculum. Brielle is passionate about providing accessible and high quality healthcare among diverse patient populations and is drawn towards NYSIM's mission of using simulation to improve health care quality and patient safety. Outside of NYSIM, Brielle enjoys teaching Zumba, long distancing biking, and vegetarian cooking.

Lawrence Pontrelli


Larry Pontrelli, B.S. (Fordham University) joined NYSIM in 2019 as an Advanced Cardiac Life Support and CPR Trainer. He has been teaching American Heart Association certification courses for over 20 years. He also worked as a paramedic and an EMS Lieutenant with FDNY, retiring from city service in 2014.

Tom Vongbandith

Senior IT Systems Analyst

Mr. Vongbandith has more than 15 years’ experience in the IT industry. At NYSIM he supports all technical aspects of the center, including the A/V equipment used for recording and reviewing simulation sessions; all computerized simulators; and the online educational management system. He started his career specializing in software training and support for companies in the retail industry, and has worked as a systems consultant for Avaya Communications, formerly part of Lucent Technologies. Prior to joining NYSIM, he worked as an IT customer support specialist for the Department of Surgery at New York University School of Medicine.

Virginia Drda

Standardized Patient Educator

Ms. Drda has more than 15 years’ experience merging the art of theater with the art of medicine. Her expertise at NYSIM is training standardized participants to portray patients, providers, and family members for human simulation. She previously served as Associate Program Manager with the Clinical Competence Center of New York (C3NY) and as actor, writer, and director of educational outreach programs with Kaiser Permanente. As a professional actor, she has performed on stage and screen. She holds a BA degree in Communications from John Carroll University, and studied in the MFA Acting program at the Actors Studio Drama School at The New School University. She is an active member of the Association of Standardized Patient Educators (ASPE).

Gene Mamaril

IT Systems Analyst 2

Mr. Mamaril graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has 3 years of experience in designing smart homes with theaters, media rooms, distributed video and music systems, and advanced automation controls for security and lighting. He also has 6 years of experience in medical simulation systems from Education Management Solutions. During these 6 years, he has designed, installed, and serviced the A/V behind the online component of these systems nationally and internationally. As an analyst at NYSIM, he is part of a team that supports the technology of the center, which include A/V, the control system, and advanced patient simulators.

Cynthia Reyes

Senior Simulation Operations Associate

Ms. Reyes had professional training as a Licensed Practical Nurse and participated in specialized coursework in the field of nursing during her high school years. In 2014, she received her Bachelor of Art in Psychology at CUNY Hunter College. During her time at CUNY Hunter College, she had the opportunity to work as a Simulation Facilitator for Hunter’s Nursing Department. Working as a Simulation Facilitator allowed her to collaborate with nursing educators and prospective nursing students. She currently works as a Simulation Operations Associate who supports daily immersive simulation programs at NYSIM.

Sean Overstreet

Senior Simulation Operations Associate

Before joining NYSIM in March of 2021, Sean was an administrative professional with over 7 years of experience ranging from customer service, operations, and administrative work. After having worked as an Operations Manager at a medical scribe company, Sean realized a passion for the medical field and teaching. He started to pursue his career in the Department of Education (DOE) but ultimately found his way to NYSIM after deciding that he wanted a role that made an impact, but could also facilitate his desire to breach into the medical world. As a Simulations Operations Associate, Sean will be able to utilize his versatile skill set in order to support the ongoing and future OSCE's at NYSIM.

Willie Lombeida

Simulation Operations Associate

Willie Lombeida started his career at NYSIM in 2022 as a Simulation Operations Associate. Prior to joining NYSIM, Willie worked as a Simulation Operations Program Coordinator at Kaplan Medical for 12 years. Willie also has a background in graphic design and visual arts. Willie has a passion and enthusiasm for utilizing his organizational, creative and leadership skills to empower and support healthcare learners for success in their OSCEs, and he is excited to be a part of the NYSIM team.

Jeremy Condit

Simulation Operations Associate

Jeremy Condit joined NYSIM in April 2022 as a Simulations Operations Associate. Prior to joining the NYSIM team, he was an Emergency Medical Technician working with 911 systems, and an event manager for concert and athletic events, recruiting and managing teams of caregivers nationwide. Jeremy is passionate about delivering positive patient outcomes to diverse populations. Outside of NYSIM, he enjoys distance running, yoga, and SCUBA diving.

Tatiana Ali

Simulation Operations Associate

Tatiana joined NYSIM in August 2022 as a Simulation Operations Associate and first visited the center as a learner. She obtained her bachelor’s and associate’s from CUNY SPS (RN to BS in Nursing) and BMCC respectively. Tatiana has been committed to helping others since a young age. She is passionate about improving patient safety, advocacy, providing culturally competent, and high-quality care for every patient. Outside of NYSIM, she enjoys painting and yoga.

Porsche Scott

Administrative Coordinator

Mrs. Scott is an administrative professional with 7 years of experience coordinating administrative functions and supporting leadership. Prior to joining the NYSIM team, Porsche worked as an office administrator for a non-profit organization where she was responsible for general office and leadership support, preparing reports, creating and distributing correspondence, and creating graphic design work.

Stacy Lee

Project Associate

Stacy Lee started with NYU Langone Health in 2019 as a Program Associate Temp in the OSA Office of Global Health. Prior to that she was a full time mother for 20+ years, working part time and volunteering within education. Stacy credits that incredible life experience for all the core interpersonal skills she has learned and acquired over the years. Stacy joined NYSIM as an Office Assistant in 2020, and in her role as Project Associate supports all aspects of the daily operations of the center. Stacy is passionate about health, fitness, nutrition and CrossFit.

Crystal Mitchell

Office Assistant

Crystal Mitchell joined NYSIM in September 2022 as an Office Assistant. Prior to joining NYSIM she worked in the home care field as a Human Resources Coordinator/Recruiter. Crystal is passionate about simulation education because it creates a safe environment for learners to practice important skills before working in patient care settings. Outside of NYSIM she loves family time, reading and adventures.

Errol Ansalone

Per Diem Simulation Operations Associate

Errol joined NYSIM in December of 2019. He got his start in TV Video production after graduating from Hofstra University. After 12 years in the field he went back to school for a degree in special education. He currently works as a simulation operations associate.

Diego Guaman

Per Diem Simulation Operations Associate

Diego Guaman is a Simulations Operations Associate at NYSIM. Since graduating Molloy University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Diego worked in the medical field as an EMT, PCA, and Covid-19 Vaccinator. He has also been an Assistant Research Scientist at NYU School of Global Public Health, in a NIH-funded program of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostic Initiative (RADX) to speed innovation of technologies for Covid-19 testing. Diego is currently studying to be a Physician Assistant, and strives to deliver improved medical care to underserved communities.

Madelyn Kaplan

Per Diem Simulation Operations Associate

Madelyn Kaplan grew up in a medical household and at the age of five announced she would go to medical school and become a plastic surgeon. Our life goals change over time and she took a turn and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. During her time at OU, she also dabbled in pre-medical studies. While in school Madelyn worked as a Patient Observation Aide where she found her love for Emergency Medicine. This led her to become an Emergency Room Technician in a teaching hospital with a trauma center in Detroit. Madelyn recently moved to NYC and wanted to continue in educational medicine which led her to NYSIM.

Afsana Ahmed

Per Diem Simulation Operations Associate

Afsana studied Neuroscience at Columbia University on the pre-medical track. At Columbia, she led a non-profit to prevent maternal HIV/AIDS transmission in Uganda. She also conducted research for several years on the neural circuitry underlying depression at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. She enjoys teaching and volunteering at local organizations to serve the NYC community. After completing a simulation program at Weill Cornell Medicine, she became interested in safe and innovative ways to practice life-saving medical skills, which brought her to NYSIM! Afsana is currently in the process of applying to medical school, and works as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.


Organizational Table