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 51 Audubon Avenue
8th Floor, Suite 800
New York, New York 10032
Tel: (212) 305-8060
Fax: (212) 342-3914

About the GCA Team


From left to right:  Rafael Lantigua, Natalia J. Arias-Abreu, Ross A. Frommer, Clara N. Leon, Dennis Mitchell, and Sandra Harris


Ross A. Frommer
Vice President and Associate Dean
Phone: (212) 305-4967
Fax: (212) 342-3914



Ross A. Frommer is Vice President for Government and Community Affairs and Associate Dean at Columbia University Medical Center. He represents the Medical Center on legislative and executive branch matters at the federal, state, and local levels, and assists with the development and implementation of programs with the surrounding communities of the Columbia University Medical Center.

Prior to coming to Columbia University, Ross spent five years working for former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) as State Director in the New York City office and as the Regional Director of the upstate office in Oneonta, New York. In that position he was in charge of all constituent outreach and managed the state staff.

Before joining Senator Moynihan's staff, Ross held several legislative and government positions. These include Legislative Assistant and Counsel to Congressman James Scheuer (D-NY), Legislative Assistant to Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Legislative Counsel to the New York State Office of Federal Affairs, and Legislative Director of the Northeast/Midwest Senate Coalition.

In addition to his work in government, Ross was the New York Political Director for the Bradley Presidential Campaign in 2000. He was also a Disaster Assistance Employee with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a member of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's Military Academy Selection Panel.

Ross is an attorney and practiced as a litigator with the Brooklyn, New York firm of Cullen and Dykman. He is admitted to practice in New York State, the District of Columbia, and before the Federal Courts. Ross is a past Chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges Government Relations Representatives Steering Committee and is Vice President for Membership and a member of the Board of Directors of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research. He has also taught politics at the St. Johns University School of Continuing Education and has been a guest lecturer at Columbia University, Upstate Medical University, New York University and the State University of New York College at Delhi.

Ross, a native New Yorker, graduated from Tufts University and holds a Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.  He is married to Connie Dong.  They currently live in New York City.


Sandra Harris
Assistant Vice President for Government and Community Affairs
Phone: (212) 305-6359
Fax: (212) 342-3914


Sandra Harris is the Assistant Vice President of Government and Community Affairs at Columbia University Medical Center.  In her role, she is responsible for maintaining community and institutional relations, developing partnerships and promoting university and community programs that impact the health and well-being of the northern Manhattan community. 

Prior to her role at the Office of Government and Community Affairs, Sandra served as executive director of the Northern Manhattan Community Voices Collaborative, a national initiative funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation with Columbia University’s College of Dental Medicine as the lead partner.  Under her leadership, Community Voices strengthened partnerships between community organizations and neighboring institutions to increase and promote access to quality health care services.  She helped secure funding to establish health outreach projects targeting the uninsured and health education programs focused on asthma, nutrition and exercise, and mental health services. 

Sandra’s work in the northern Manhattan community began 23 years ago as a constituent services liaison with then State Senator Franz Leichter.  During her tenure there she developed a keen understanding of the needs of her community that led her to change her career path from housing-tenant advocacy to strengthening mental health services and developing policies that impact the mental, health and social well being of the residents of northern Manhattan.  This career change led her to work for the largest Dominican non-profit organization in the country, Alianza Dominicana.

Sandra has a Masters degree in Social Work from Hunter College and Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College of Human Services- Metropolitan College of New York.  She currently sits on the board of directors of the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, member of American Public Health Association, National Association of Social Workers and the NJ Mental Health Counselor’s Association.


Rafael Lantigua, MD
Professor of Medicine and Co-Director, Community Engagement Resource Core Columbia CTSA
Phone: (212) 305-8060
Fax: (212) 342-3914

Dr. Rafael Lantigua is a Professor of Medicine at CUMC and Co-Director of the Community Engagement Resource Core Columbia CTSA. Since coming to Columbia in 1980, he has a distinguished record of working to improve the health of aging minorities. He was the driving force behind CALME, the Columbia Center for the Active Life of Minority Elders, which supported research to reduce health disparities affecting minority elders and established an important bridge between Columbia researchers and the neighboring community. Dr. Lantigua also helped start the Columbia Center for the Health of Urban Minorities to shift community based-research from studies for the community to studies with the community. Dr. Lantigua earned his Medical Degree at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.


Dennis Mitchell, MD
Associate Professor of Dental Medicine
Phone: (212) 305-8060
Fax: (212) 342-3914

Dr. Dennis Mitchell is an Associate Professor of Clinical Dental Medicine at CUMC. A member of the College of Dental Medicine faculty since 1991, he has a longstanding involvement in research investigating oral health disparities affecting minority and economically disadvantaged populations, particularly in northern Manhattan. Dr. Mitchell helped establish the Community DentCare Network to provide dental services in the community to underserved residents of northern Manhattan who need affordable dental care.. Dr. Mitchell is also actively involved in initiatives to increase the number of minority oral health providers. Dr. Mitchell earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Howard University and his Master’s Degree in Public Health from Columbia.



Clara N. Leon
Assistant Director of Community Affairs
Phone: (212) 305-9950
Fax: (212) 342-3914
Clara N. Leon facilitates the coordination and management of community and government affairs efforts, programs, and events held at the Medical Center campus by the Office of Government and Community Affairs and community-based organizations. She oversees the management of existing programs and special projects such as the America Reads Program, Medical Center Neighborhood Fund, university-community schools mentoring programs, award ceremonies, and special conferences. Ms. Leon also oversees the Summer Youth Employment Program, which provides summer jobs for over 100 high school youth within the University. Clara also provides technical assistance to internal groups such as CUMC departments, offices, and students in developing projects and events as it relates to the local community. Among other duties, she coordinates all use of university space by external groups and represents the office at internal and community meetings. Ms. Leon holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Fordham University.






Natalia J. Arias-Abreu
Administrative Coordinator
Phone: (212) 305-9951
Fax: (212) 342-3914

Natalia J. Arias-Abreu is the Administrative Coordinator for the Office of Government and Community Affairs and the CUMC Office of Special Events. She joined Columbia University in 2001 to work on a research project for the School of Dental and Oral Surgery. Presently, her responsibilities include supporting the administrative duties across Government and Community Affairs and the Office of Special Events. Her activities include and are not limited to the department's daily operations, finances, human resources, technology, event planning, and special projects to ensure efficient, high-functioning departments. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Lehman College.

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Last updated 7/16/ 2015

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