Leadership Team - VA Connecticut Healthcare System
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VA Connecticut Healthcare System


Leadership Team

Alfred Montoya, Jr. MHA, FACHE, VHA-CM, Director

Alfred Montoya, Jr. MHA, FACHE, VHA-CM | 203-937-3888


Alfred A. Montoya, Jr. was appointed Director of VA Connecticut Healthcare System on October 13, 2019. Mr. Montoya is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force serving for over 10 years as a Russian Cryptologic Linguist. He served as an Instructor of Technology and Military Science, providing our Air Force personnel operational training on the EC-130H Compass Call which is a system on a C-130 Hercules airframe that disrupts enemy command and control communications. He previously served as the Director for the VA Medical Center in Manchester, NH. Mr. Montoya received a master's degree in Healthcare Administration from Walden University and a bachelor's degree from Wayland Baptist University. He is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute, Leadership for a Democratic Society program, and the Leadership Veterans Affairs (LVA) program. Mr. Montoya joined the VA in 2009 and served in various leadership positions of increasing responsibility including Assistant Director, VA Connecticut HCS; Director, White River Junction VA Medical Center, and Manchester VA Medical Center. Montoya was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth College.

John Callahan, Deputy Director

John Callahan | 203-937-3888

Deputy Director

John J. Callahan was appointed Associate Director in January 2012. He is a native of Rhode Island and received his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Rhode Island in 1980. Mr. Callahan has over 30 years of experience with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to his appointment as Associate Director, Mr. Callahan was Chief of Health Administration Service at the VA Medical Center Philadelphia, Penn. He began his VA career as a staff pharmacist in 1980 and since that time has served in increasingly complex leadership roles including Assistant Chief of Pharmacy, Project Coordinator/Facility Planner and Executive Assistant to the director. He is a graduate of the Network Healthcare Leadership Institute (NEHCLI) and a graduate of VA’s Executive Career Field Training Program (ECF) and Healthcare Leadership Institute. He is nationally certified as a Fellow Mentor. Mr. Callahan served as Acting Associate Director at VA Medical Center Fargo, North Dakota and from May to October 2010, he served a six-month detail as acting Associate Director at VAMC Philadelphia.

Ismene Petrakis, MD, Acting Chief of Staff

Ismene Petrakis, MD | 203-937-3825

Acting Chief of Staff

Dr. Ismene Petrakis was appointed Acting Chief of Staff on Feb. 22, 2021. She is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and has been the Chief of Psychiatry and Mental Health Services at VA Connecticut Healthcare System for 10 years. Dr. Petrakis received her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University and her medical training at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She completed her residency training at Yale University School of Medicine and then completed an Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship, also at Yale University. Since completing her training, Dr. Petrakis has over 25 years of experience in the clinical treatment of addictive disorders, research in this field and in the education of residents, medical students, post-doctoral fellows and other mental health trainees. She is also the Director of the Addiction Psychiatry Residency at Yale University School of Medicine and the principal investigator of a National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA-T32) training grant. She is also a grant funded investigator (funding sources over the years have included NIH, VA, Department of Defense, NARSAD and the Stanley Foundation) whose research interests include developing and testing potentially effective treatments for individuals with alcohol use disorder, opioid use disorder and in those with comorbid psychiatric disorders, particularly PTSD.

Bernadette Y. Jao, DNP, MSN, RN-BC ,  Associate Director for Nursing and Patient Care Services

Bernadette Y. Jao, DNP, MSN, RN-BC | 203-937-3888

Associate Director for Nursing and Patient Care Services

Bernadette Y. Jao, DNP, MSN, RN-BC was appointed Associate Director of Patient and Nursing Services April 26, 2020. Dr. Jao brings more than 20 years of progressive leadership experience within VA. She joined VA Connecticut from the Manchester VA Medical Center where she served as the Associate Director for Patient and Nursing Services since 2018. Prior to assuming that position, Dr. Jao served as the ADPCS at the Wilmington VAMC. She also served as the Interim ADPCS and Associate Chief Nurse for Mental Health at the Northport VAMC. Before that appointment, she served as the Associate Chief Nurse for Mental Health at the Maryland VAMC and Nurse Manager for Mental Health at the Bay Pines VAMC. She has wide-ranging backgrounds in providing leadership in Mental Health, Medical and Surgical Services, SPS and Primary Care. In 2019, she was appointed by VA Central Office as a member of an Integrated Project Team that provided national recommendations regarding lifelong health, well-being and resilience to integrate Whole Health throughout VHA. Dr. Jao is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute (FEI) Leadership for a Democratic Society program. She was also the recipient of the 2019 Secretary's Award for Nursing Excellence – Nurse Executive category.

Kendra Lee, Acting Assistant Director

Kendra Lee | 203-937-3888

Acting Assistant Director

Kendra Lee, JD, MBA was appointed Acting Assistant Director on April 1, 2021. Ms. Lee brings more than 10 years of progressive leadership within the federal government. She joined the VA New England Healthcare System as a Senior Employee and Labor Relations Specialist in March 2020. Prior to this appointment, she was the Chief of Employee and Labor Relations at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and has held various roles at several VA Medical Centers nationwide. She started her federal career in the Federal Career Intern Program in Federal Financial Management with the Department of Homeland Security in February 2009. During her time at DHS, Ms. Lee chartered the second ever employee organization, DHS Emerging Leaders, which was recognized by the Secretary of DHS. Ms. Lee holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and has a Juris Doctorate from Chicago-Kent College of Law. She is licensed as an attorney in Illinois.