Bios of the NYC Board of Directors & Advisory Board
NYC Board of Directors
Elana was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at the age of 6. She obtained her B.A. from SUNY Buffalo in 2009 and her Masters of Social Work in 2012. Elana has been working in the social service field for 5+ years and enjoys bringing awareness to the Tourette community since 2014. She has also traveled extensively throughout Europe and South America. Some of her interests include advocacy, foreign languages, salsa dancing, and taking advantage of the endless cultural events in NYC.
Gardiner Comfort is an actor, writer, and teacher who was born and raised in New York City. He was diagnosed with Tourette when he was 7. He performs an original one-man show about his life with TS and his visit to the 2014 TAA National Conference called The Elephant In Every Room I Enter. He has produced the show at theaters in New York and continues to tour it across the country to Medical Schools, colleges, and theaters, spreading awareness, one tic at a time! www.gardinercomfort.com
Chelsea is a writer, producer, host and cat lady who moved to Astoria, Queens in September of 2005 and soon attended her first TSA-NYC event: the bowling social in January 2006. She heads up the Monthly Meet-Ups as well as the annual comedy fundraiser at Gotham Comedy Club to benefit she chapter. She also speaks nationally about living with Tourette.
Lil has a teenage daughter with Tourette Syndrome. Raising a child with TS has inspired her to take an active role in the TSA community. Lil works in the apparel industry and her husband, Jeff Feuer, works in the real estate industry. She and her family live in Manhattan.
Jeff is the father of a young adult daughter who was diagnosed with TS at the age of 8 ½. Jeff, along with his wife Lil, has been involved with the TS community for many years and he is looking forward to serving on the board of directors and continuing to build the NYC Chapter outreach. Jeff is a Real Estate Broker with Douglas Elliman and was born and raised in NYC. Cara, their daughter, is a singer and actress a graduate of LaGuardia Performing Arts HS and currently studying and performing in NYC.
Gary Schneidkraut has been a board member for the Tourette Association of America NYC Chapter for almost a decade.
Having been mis-diagnosed until he was 18 years old, Gary had to adapt and struggle with his newly discovered disorder and the beginning of college and adulthood.
His perspective relates to young adults dealing with Tourette Syndrome as it relates to dating, love, work and friendships.
In my position on the executive board, I strive to help the kids and young adults in our organization explore their creative passions and pursue more legitimized outlets and opportunities in which their artistic abilities can flourish.
Personally, I have enjoyed no better therapy than writing - something I now pursue professionally and in my free time. Writing has offered me both a sanctuary from incessant nagging of my tics, as well as a way to process my affliction from a place of humor. What’s the fun in having to stick your tongue out and wink at strangers if you can’t laugh about it after?
Outside of creative advocacy I work to promote our organization through social media channels, in hopes of bringing the invaluable resources of our community to anyone with Tourette Syndrome who might need it.
I always assumed (and hoped) that twitching was a phase I’d grow out of, not a condition I’d grow old with. Tourette Syndrome had always been an unwelcome guest, a source of insecurity and a downright bully until I discovered a community of people who understood inherently. That’s when I began to see Tourette Syndrome as something that made me unique, something that I could laugh at, learn from, and wholly accept. This is what I wish for everyone and this is why I pursue my role within the TAA.
Co-Founders and Members Emeritus
Dr. Lois Linet
Bios of Professional Advisory Board
Dr. Barbara Coffey
Dr. Coffey is the Director of the Institute for the Study of Tourette’s and Movement Disorders at the NYU Child Study Center. She is an internationally known specialist in Tourette’s Disorder and is the author of numerous manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, abstracts and book chapters. Her research focus centers on the clinical course,
phenomenology, comorbidity and treatment of Tourette’s Disorder.
Dr. Coffey received her B.A. in Biology and Psychology from the University of Rochester, her M.D. from Tufts University School of Medicine and her M.S. in Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health. Prior to her arrival at the Child Study Center, Dr. Coffey was the Director of Pediatric Psychopharmacology at McLean Hospital and Director of the Tourette’s Clinics at McLean and Massachusetts General Hospitals in Boston. She remains on the faculty of Harvard Medical School as a Clinical Associate at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Dr. Patricia A. Flynn
Dr. Flynn has her doctorate in Language, Literacy and Learning from Fordham University. Her specialization is reading and learning isues. She has over 25 years of teaching experience and currently is the Lower School Learning Specialist at The Brownng School in Manhattan. Additionally, she teaches at Bank Street College. She has presented on reading, comprehension, and study skills at The European Conference on Reading, The International Dyslexia Society, The International Boys' School Coalition, NYCAEYC (Early Childhood organization) and The ATIS (an independent school group). She has also published articles on learning.
Emily has been the Director of the Tourette Syndrome Association's New York City Counseling Program since 1989. Prior to holding that position, Emily was a social worker at Mount Sinai Hospital. She received her MSW degree from Hunter College, School of Social Work in New York, and her MSPH degree from UCLA's School of Public Health.
Dr Linet is board certified both in psychiatry and in child and adolescent psychiatry. He is currently in private practice. In the past, he has held faculty positions as Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry both at the State University of New York, Health Sciences Center at Brooklyn and at Cornell Medical College.
After receiving his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, he trained in psychiatry at the State University of New York, Health Sciences Center at Brooklyn, where he later also completed a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry. Dr. Linet was in charge of medical student education in child psychiatry at that institution and later worked as Medical and Psychiatric Director of a residential treatment center for severely disturbed children and adolescents. In addition, he served for several years on the Medical Advisory Board of the Tourette Syndrome Association and was a member of the Advisory Board to CH.A.D.D. (Children With Attention Deficit Disorders) of Brooklyn.
Bios of Honorary Board
Polly is well known for her starring role in the ABC series thirtysomething, as Ellyn Warren, a career woman, and was nominated for an Emmy for the role as best supporting actress. She has starred in several movies including Home Song, Second Best, and The Tic Code, which she wrote and produced. The film was loosely based on her husband Michael Wolff, a musician who has Tourette Syndrome and who is also a member of our Honorary Board.
Ruth is a pediatric behavioral neurologist who specializes in autism, ADD, and learning disabilities as well as migraines and seizures. Her research interests focus on epilepsy and autism, causes of autism in neurological disorders such as tuberous sclerosis and the cognitive and behavioral consequences of congenital stroke. Dr. Nass received her B.A. from Brandeis University and her M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In addition, she studied linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She did a post-doctoral fellowship in neuropsychology at the New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center and received a certificate in bioethics at the Einstein College of Medicine-Yeshiva University.
Dr. Sacks earned his medical degrees in Queen's College, Oxford and has lived in New York since 1965. He is a clinical professor of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, adjunct professor of neurology at the NYU school of Medicine and consultant neurologist to the Little Sisters of the Poor. He has a practice in New York City. Dr. Sacks is also a best selling author. His most famous book, Awakenings, was made into a movie. In his other books he describes cases of Tourette Syndrome and various effects of Parkinson's disease. Dr. Sacks' writings have been translated into 21 languages.
Paige is a conductor and currently resides in New York City, where she assists Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops. In addition, Vickery works with the Denver Brass and the Boulder Youth Symphony Society. Before this, she had a nine-year tenure with the Colorado Youth Symphony. Prize Winner at the 2003 Vakhtang Jordania International Conducting Competition, Vickery spoke at the Chapter's 2003 Mentoring Brunch about her experience with Tourette Syndrome.
Michael is an innovative pianist/composer with a wealth of straight ahead jazz credentials (Sonny Rollins, Nancy Wilson, Airto, Cal Tjader, Cannonball Adderley, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Jean Luc Ponty) as well as an impressive body of movie soundtrack work ("Dark Angel," "The Tic Code"). Wolff addresses his own musical roots while incorporating a fresh world beat sensibility as leader of his inventive band Impure Thoughts. Michael is married to actress Polly Draper, whom he met when she appeared on the Arsenio Hall television show, for which Wolff was the band leader.