Mary's Center Team
Our team is now over 450 strong! Below you will find biographical information for our Chief Executives and Department Heads. Click here to meet our experienced medical staff.
To learn about employment opportunities with Mary's Center, click here.
Maria S. Gomez, president and CEO of Mary’s Center, founded the organization in 1988 as a clinic to provide prenatal and postpartum care to Latino women living in Ward 1. Under Maria’s leadership, Mary’s Center has grown from an initial budget of $250,000, serving 200 participants a year, to an annual budget of $39 million serving nearly 40,000 participants from all over the globe at four medical locations, one senior wellness center and two mobile units throughout the District of Columbia and Maryland in 2014.
Maria is among the strongest leaders in the region. As testament to her significant commitment to give back to her community, she was selected by the White House as one of the 18 recipients of the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor. She is also frequently recognized for her role in the DC metropolitan region’s health care system. Prior to establishing Mary’s Center, Maria was a public health nurse at the D.C. Department of Health. She also worked at the Red Cross, where she directed community education programming and disaster services, and at the Visiting Nurses Association. Originally from Colombia, Maria immigrated with her mother at age 13 and attended the D.C. Public Schools. Ms. Gomez obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Georgetown University and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley. She currently serves on the boards of Share our Strength, United Medical Center, and the Meyer Foundation. Maria is the recipient of many awards. To learn more about Maria, click here.
202-420-7008, Hazel Meda (Advocacy and Communications Associate/Special Assistant to the CEO)
David Tatro brings to Mary’s Center more than 20 years of administrative experience in the health care field. As COO, Mr. Tatro ensures that Mary’s Center has the proper operational controls, procedures, personnel, and systems in place to allow continued growth and compliance with all regulatory agencies. In addition, he oversees the Center’s day-to-day operating activities, including revenue from patient care billing, program expenses, cost and margin control, and monthly, quarterly, and annual reports.
Prior to joining Mary’s Center, Mr. Tatro served as the COO for the National Healthcare Group, an organization providing outpatient care in Virginia. He also has executive experience with the Fauquier Health System and with Inova Health System. Mr. Tatro served in the U.S. Naval Submarine Service and Naval Reserves. He received his B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and his M.B.A. from River College in Nashua, N.H. Mr. Tatro is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
202-420-7086, Lizzy McDonald (Special Projects Coordinator)
Josephine Morris-Young brings to Mary’s Center more than 15 years of experience in various accounting operations. She provides executive leadership, vision, and oversight to Mary’s Center’s financial plans and accounting practices. Ms. Morris-Young’s past professional experiences include working with Blue Cross Blue Shield, Inova Health System, KPMG, ManTech Solutions, and Outsource Partners International. She received her B.S. in Accounting from the University of Maryland and her M.B.A. from Averett College.
Dr. Elliott holds a Bachelor of Science from Howard University and a Post Baccalaureate degree from Fisk University. He attended Howard University College of Medicine and obtained his Doctor of Medicine degree in 2000. He completed his residency in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgetown University in 2004 and was named Outstanding Senior Resident in Gynecology. Dr. Elliott is Board-certified.
He is committed to community development, having taught in the Prince George’s County Public Schools and served as director of a mentoring program for at-risk youth early in his career.
Dr. Elliott lives in Maryland with his wife Dr. Keesha W. Elliott, an ophthalmologist, and their children. He enjoys family life, music and travel.
Prior to rejoining Mary’s Center, Dr. Elliott worked at Providence Hospital in Washington, DC, where he was a Staff Physician and Co-Chair of the Ob/Gyn Department in 2014. He also served as an Associate Professor at Howard University Hospital.
Dr. Christian Cornejo is pediatrician and served as Chief Medical Officer at Mary's Center from 2012 until March 2015. He is now the Administrative Medical Director at our Georgia site, where he will be able to dedicate more time to his beloved young patients. Dr. Cornejo attended medical school at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia and completed his residency at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Chattanooga. Dr. Cornejo has been a member of the Mary's Center team since November 2009 and speaks English and Spanish. He enjoys mountain biking, traveling with his wife, and painting.
(202) 545-2095, Lauren Reay (Medical and Nursing Programs Assistant)
A graduate of Temple University’s School of Dentistry and School of Business, Dr. Gesker started his career as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy Dental Corps. He joined Mary’s Center in early 2010 after four years in the military and three years in private practice. He is responsible for delivering high-quality dental care and maintaining the care delivery and management model for all administrative and clinical staff. He enjoys coordinating care between general dentists and specialists, but takes most pleasure in delivering same-day immediate care. His commitment to continuing education is supplemented by the various federal and private research projects he oversees. In March, 2014, Dr. Gesker was announced as one of the two winners of the DOCS Education's 2014 Sedation Dentist of the Year Award.
Dara Koppelman, Chief Nursing Officer, received her nursing degree from Johns Hopkins University. She also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to coming to Mary’s Center, Dara had experience in both the hospital setting as well as the public health field, working in labor & delivery and then at a local health department doing home visits for high-risk pregnant women and children. She also spent time abroad, doing volunteer work in a community center and farmer’s cooperative in Costa Rica, and studying the Spanish language in Spain. Her nursing interests include public health nursing, women’s health, nursing leadership, working with underserved populations, and teaching and mentoring nursing students. Dara joined the Mary’s Center team in May 2012, where she initially worked as a Nurse Manager at the Georgia Avenue clinic. Dara grew up in New York and speaks both English and Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys going to farmers’ markets, doing yoga, traveling, and singing
(202) 545-2095, Lauren Reay (Medical and Nursing Programs Assistant)
Gina Pistulka joined Mary’s Center in 2006. During her 17 years in nursing, she has worked in public health nursing in rural Minnesota, international health in Central America, and health education in an urban community health center in Minnesota. In 2001 she received a duel Master’s in Public Health and Community Health Nursing from Johns Hopkins University and in 2007 received her PhD in Nursing, also from Johns Hopkins. She has conducted independent qualitative research and has assisted a large academic team in cross-cultural intervention research. In addition, Dr. Pistulka has served on boards to further nurse training through the Catholic University of America and the nonprofit Truth About Nursing.
With Mary’s Center since 1998, Joan Yengo oversees the social services, mental health, home visitation, and education components of our work. Joan’s commitment to community work is highlighted by more than 25 years of experience working in nonprofit community programs, including work in Trenton, New Jersey, advocating for women’s right to choose and on HIV/AIDS issues. She also worked in Washington, D.C. for 15 years focusing on prevention programs. In 2002 Joan was recognized by Prevent Child Abuse America with a Service Excellence award. Ms.Yengo graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Psychology.
(202) 483-4913, Ana Rosas (Programs Assistant)
Senior Director Community Health Initiatives and Strategic Alliances
Alis Marachelian (pronounced Marashelián) has been with Mary’s Center since 2001. She oversees the day-to-day management of the Health Promotion department and leads trainings on a spectrum of health topics. Ms. Marachelian holds a Master degree in Public Health from the George Washington University and has been working in different capacities within the field of public health education, advocacy, prevention, and management with multi-cultural groups and diverse population of newcomers to this country for the last 18 years. Ms. Marachelian served in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign Faith Based and Neighborhood Organization’s Task Force to contribute to the development of culturally sound nutrition and physical activity educational curricula and materials. As a result, she was honored in 2011 with the Civilian Volunteer Award from President Barack Obama. In 2012, Ms. Marachelian was appointed by the DC Mayor, Vincent Gray, to the Ryan White Planning Council, serving as a board member to prioritize and allocate regionally, federal dollars designated for HIV care and treatment programs. Ms. Marachelian grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Boston, Massachusetts and she’s Armenian by heritage.
Director of Education
Christie McKay has 20 years of experience coordinating family literacy, social services, and Head Start programs. She has directed Even Start Multicultural at Mary's Center since 1995 and has been Education Director since 2002. She is the founder and executive director of Briya Public Charter School, which partners with Mary’s Center to provide educational services for children and parents. Under Ms. McKay’s leadership, Even Start Multicultural received the Verizon Tech Savvy Regional Award in 2009 and two Toyota Family Literacy Teacher of the Year awards. The Charter School received the New Territories Award and the 2010 Washington Women’s Foundation Leadership Award. The school is ranked number #1 of 50 charter schools in D.C. on the General Performance Assessment. Ms. McKay earned a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Human Services, International Development, and Peace Studies from Bethel College. She is board chair for the Ecumenical Project for International Cooperation and founding member of Fundacion Agri-Cultura Marco Orozco.
With a B.A. in social communication and journalism from the University of Antioquia, Colombia, Lyda started her career in that country working in news stations and television shows as a reporter, anchor, and producer. She was also executive producer at A Noticias, one of Colombia’s leading television stations. Lyda joined Mary’s Center in 2002. She conducts outreach to local and national media outlets, and works with the development team to increase community awareness of and media exposure for Mary’s Center. She is also responsible for fostering internal and external communication and for maintaining Mary’s Center’s social media and website.