2015 Jonas Policy Scholars






Toby Bressler, MPA, RN, OCN

Acute and Critical Care Expert Panel

Toby Bressler is a PhD candidate at Molloy College of Nursing.  Her dissertation focuses on evidence-based policies for nursing education program planning and cultural diversity.  Toby serves as Director of Nursing for Professional Practice at Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY.  In this role she supports advancement of the nursing profession, development of the art and science of nursing and evidence-based practice within the organization through research, education and application of scholarship.  She leads the implementation of Relationship-based Care, a nursing care delivery model and assists in developing leadership in clinical staff.  Toby has published 22 papers and 14 posters and has lectured extensively locally and nationally.  In addition to her scholarship in nursing education and leadership, she has a strong interest in the experience of the acutely ill patient and family, especially in the oncology clinical area.  She previously served as the patient care director for pediatric oncology and bone marrow transplant at Columbia University Medical Center. She is interested in developing policies related to family-centered care, promotion of palliative care within community settings and pediatric palliative care.  Toby is a leading member of the education committee for the American Nurses Association- New York chapter, an advisory board member for schools of nursing, a clinical practicum advisor and mentor for graduate nursing students, and an abstract reviewer for the Sigma Theta Tau-Virginia Henderson Library. Nursing is Toby’s second career after a decade in early childhood education.  She has received awards for exemplary leadership, academic excellence, community service. 


Billy Caceres, MSN, RN-BC, AGPCNP-BC

Aging Expert Panel

Billy A. Caceres is a third year PhD student at New York University (NYU) College of Nursing where he is a Scholar of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing and Research Assistant for the Nurses Improving Care of Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) program. He received a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in Nursing as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from NYU. Billy’s dissertation focuses on modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease in lesbian, gay, and bisexual older adults. He has published six peer-reviewed articles related to geriatric nursing and health disparities and four book chapters about elder mistreatment. Billy is currently a Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar, a TL1 Pre-doctoral Scholar (UL1 TR000038) at the NYU-HHC Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and Johnson & Johnson/AACN Minority Nurse Faculty Scholar. Previously, Billy was a Hermann Biggs Health Policy Scholar and Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation Hillman Scholar. He serves on the board of the Upsilon Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International at NYU and the Hillman Alumni Nursing Network, and works as Website Coordinator for the New York State Future of Nursing Action Coalition. He will be working as a Jonas Policy Scholar with the Aging Expert Panel and is interested in policies that reduce health disparities in minority older adults.  


Teresa Hagan, BSN, BA, RN

Women's Health Expert Panel

Teresa Hagan is a post-doctoral research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University in Boston.  She received her Ph.D. in nursing science and her B.S.N. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. She previously received a bachelor of arts in anthropology and international peace studies from the University of Notre Dame.  Ms. Hagan has published five peer-reviewed articles, two articles related to methods and policy, and co-authored one book chapter on topics related to oncology, women’s health, self-advocacy, and symptom management. She serves on the Leadership Committee of the Graduate Nursing Student Academy as well as the Policy Committee of the Graduate Nursing Student Academy, both of which she has assisted in supporting health policy involvement of graduate nursing students.  She is a fellow at the GetWellNetwork, assisting with improving patient engagement in their health and care delivery. Ms. Hagan is the recipient of an F31 training grant from the NIH/NINR and the Doctoral Scholarship in Cancer Nursing from the American Cancer Society. She is active in the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Pittsburgh chapter as well as several other community and cancer organizations.  Her research focuses on how women with a history of cancer get their needs met in the face of challenges. Ms. Hagan hopes to add her knowledge of women’s health, cancer, and symptom science to the Women’s Health Expert Panel, learn from the Expert Panel members, and contribute to improving the health and well-being of women throughout the nation and world.


Kari Mastro, RN, NEA-BC

Emerging Infectious Diseases Expert Panel

Kari A. Mastro currently holds the positions of Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and the Sloane Hospital for Women at New York-Presbyterian, and Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing at Columbia University. Ms. Mastro received her BSN from The Catholic University of America and her MSN from Seton Hall University. Her PhD research at the University of Colorado focuses on Patient- and Family-Centered Care and demonstrating empirical effects on pediatric quality and safety. Her interest in children’s healthcare and emerging infectious disease spans twenty-five years and stems from her work in advancing patient- and family-centered care and outcome management regardless of setting or provider. Ms. Mastro is best known for her work to improve the lives of children and their families. She has received numerous awards including the Dr. Randy Siegel Pediatric Cancer Medical Humanitarian of the Year Award and the March of Dimes Nurse Leader of the Year. Her leadership enabled her organization to win the NDNQI Award for Outstanding Nursing Quality, the Magnet Prize Honors for Innovation, and the HRET Community Outreach Award for Improving End-of-Life Care. Ms. Mastro has published 10 peer-reviewed manuscripts in the areas of nursing leadership, children’s healthcare, and patient- and family-centered care and has presented nationally and internationally on these topics. During her time as a Jonas Policy Scholar she will be working with the Emerging Infectious Disease Expert Panel enabling her to advance her interest in expert care and clinical outcome management.



Sarah Miner, MS, RN

Environmental & Public Health Expert Panel

Sarah Miner is a doctoral student in the University of Rochester School of Nursing Health Practice Research program. Her areas of expertise are community and public health. Her background includes work with immigrants and refugees in the US, as well as international work with Amnesty International and NIH funded research work on HIV prevention in Chile, South America. Her current clinical practice has focused on the delivery of home health to transcultural and multilingual populations and her dissertation research will explore Somali older adults and their families’ perceptions of adult home health care. Ms. Miner has published in English and Spanish in the areas of community health and vulnerable populations and currently has three first author publications and has participated as a co-author on eight additional peer reviewed articles.  She has served on the Diversity Council and Research Council at the School of Nursing, is a member of the Annual North American Refugee Health Conference Planning Committee, and also serves on the Cultural Competency and Health Literacy Committee for the Finger Lakes Performing Provider System for New York State Medicaid Redesign. She was the recipient of the 2015 Transcultural Nursing Society Research Award, the 2014 Jill Thayer Dissertation Award and the 2014 Home Care Association of New York’s Caring Award. She is particularly interested in how health policy at state and federal levels can reduce health disparities and inequalities for vulnerable populations. She hopes her experience will contribute to the Environmental and Public Health Expert Panel and the emerging directions of Academy health policy.


Christopher A. VanFosson, MSN/MHA, RN

Major, United States Army Nurse Corps

Quality Health Care Expert Panel

Christopher A. VanFosson is an active duty Army Nurse currently enrolled as a PhD student at The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing. A critical care nurse, Major VanFosson has clinical experience in a variety of patient care environments, including 24 months of combat nursing. He also has 24 months of clinical leadership experience in the medical/surgical and burn environments. Chris has authored or co-authored 11 journal articles and presented extensively regarding his experiences in combat. Previously, he served as an associate investigator for an evidence-based preceptorship program funded by the Tri-Service Nursing Research Program and is currently an associate investigator for a qualitative study of unfinished nursing care in the acute care setting. Since 2010, Major VanFosson has served as a consultant for three retrospective reports on the use of forward-deployed medical units in the Afghanistan theater of operations. Since 2012, Chris has also served as a TeamSTEPPs master trainer for the Army Medical Department. Currently, Major VanFosson is also a clinical reviewer for two nursing journals.

Major VanFosson believes that nurses are the answer to many of the healthcare challenges in the United States because, in the hospital setting, nurses spend more time with the patient than any other member of the healthcare team. Chris intends to bring a unique perspective to the Quality Healthcare panel as he advocates for research that is focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare processes that foster the delivery of high quality, safe care delivered by nurses.



Jiayun Xu, BSN, RN

Health Behavior Expert Panel

Dr. Jiayun Xu is a post-doctoral fellow studying end of life communications at the University of Utah, College of Nursing.  She completed her PhD as a BSN-PhD student from Johns Hopkins University in August 2015. Her dissertation, entitled Heart Failure Patient Decision Making Prior to Rehospitalization, was funded through a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA for Individual Predoctoral Fellows (F31), American Nurses Foundation/Southern Nursing Research Society research award, and a Sigma Theta Tau International Nu Beta chapter dissertation award.  She also received support from NIH T32 funding and was a Jonas Scholar during her PhD studies.    

She has conducted research from the lab bench to the patient side, ranging from genetics to promoting end of life care.  Her areas of expertise include chronic disease self-management and decision making, with six published articles on chronic disease management and nursing education.  Currently, she serves as a board member for a non-profit organization (INDEN) whose goal is to promote doctoral nursing education globally and as a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International conference planning task force.  Her future career goals are to advance end of life discussions among families and increase nursing research capacity in Asia. 


Deborah Gross

Jonas Policy Scholar Senior Advisor

Deborah A. Gross, DNSc, RN, FAAN

Dr. Deborah Gross is Senior Advisor for the American Academy of Nursing Jonas Health Policy Scholars Program.  She is also the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Endowed Professor in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and holds joint appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the School of Medicine, and the Department of Mental Health in the Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Dr. Gross is best known for her work in promoting positive parent-child relationships and preventing behavior problems in preschool children from low-income neighborhoods. Previously, as the Associate Dean for Research and a department chair at Rush University College of Nursing, Dr. Gross and colleagues developed the Chicago Parent Program, an innovative parenting program that improves parenting behavior and reduces child behavior problems. The program has been used in a agencies serving low-income families across the country and is listed on the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices. Dr. Gross was a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow, and among her many recognitions are the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research President's Award for outstanding research, induction in the Sigma Theta Tau International Researcher Hall of Fame, and the American Academy of Nursing Edge Runner award honoring developers of model programs offering solutions to health care challenges.  Dr. Gross was recently appointed as an Ambassador of the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research.  She has served on numerous review panels for the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Medicine, published more than 100 articles, book chapters, and abstracts, and currently serves on the editorial boards of Research in Nursing & Health and Nursing Outlook.