Samantha (Guarneri) Kaishian, HDFS Alumni Spotlight, October 2021


Samantha KaishianSamantha graduated from UConn in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS). As an undergraduate student she had two very formative experiences that started her on a path toward becoming a healthcare researcher. One was working as a research assistant with Dr. Keith Bellizzi, primarily focused on a study of breast cancer and quality of life. The second was working with Husky Sport, a community-campus partnership between the NEAG School of Education’s Sport Management program and nonprofits in Hartford’s North End, aimed at supporting youth development through sport and relationship building. After much reflection on these experiences, as well as guidance from two very influential mentors in her life, Dr. Bellizzi and Dr. Steven Wisensale, Samantha decided to pursue a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) degree.


Samantha attended the University of Maryland’s (UMD) School of Public Health to concentrate on health policy and be in close proximity to Washington, DC to work on Capitol Hill. As she began her health policy program, she quickly realized she was much more interested in studying the impact of health policy on individuals and the healthcare system than she was in actually drafting legislation. Samantha applied to an internship at Berkeley Research Group (BRG) in the Healthcare Transactions and Strategy practice, where she later took a full-time position following her graduation from UMD in May 2020.


Samantha and her team at BRG work to inform both investors and providers on how commercial payer dynamics, federal policy, and state policy impact healthcare businesses and the broader healthcare system. Since beginning work at BRG, Samantha has worked on over two dozen healthcare related mergers and acquisitions (M&A) across various healthcare sectors. She has also participated in multiple strategy projects with healthcare companies, including an eating disorder provider looking to expand their current business to address access to care issues and a non-profit healthcare data company looking to improve their business to help solve important life science and health policy questions. Samantha is very early on in her career as a healthcare researcher but is incredibly excited to see where it takes her

HDFS alum Stephanie Labbe plays for Canada in Olympic games

Stephanie LabbeUConn HDFS alum, Stephanie Labbe (’09), “who played women’s soccer for UConn from 2005-08, will be playing in her second Olympics as a goalkeeper for Canada, after helping that nation win a Bronze medal in the 2016 games.”

Learn more about Stephanie here: It appears she was quite the hero in the first round game:

Learn more about the other 15 UConn 2021 Olympians here.

Alumna Tatiana Melendez-Rhodes receives tenure and promotion in MFT Program

Tatiana Melendez-RhodesAlumna Tatiana Melendez-Rhodes (PhD ’10) received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) last year. And this month, she became Marriage and Family Therapy Program Director in the Department of Counselor Education and Family Therapy at Central. Congratulations Tatiana!

Margaret Forgione, HDFS Alumni Spotlight, April 2021

Margaret Forgione, BS, Human Development and Family Relations, 1989


Margaret ForgioneMargaret Forgione attended UConn in the 1980’s. While attending UCONN, she was fortunate to have many hands-on experiences that shaped her growth and interest in public service, such as an internship in Hartford at La Casa de Puerto Rico, volunteering at the Mansfield Training School, and serving as a Husky Ambassador in the Admissions office to assist UConn applicants. Margaret says that a public policy course in the Fall of her senior year changed her life by opening up the possibility of working in government and affecting change at a broader level.  As a result of this class she applied to Columbia University’s Masters of Public Administration program.  Ever since, she’s had a lifelong love of New York City and has been proud to effect change on its streets.


In the years after completing her master’s degree, Margaret held several jobs in New York, including as analyst for the Homes for the Homeless and Senior Analyst at the Office of the Mayor. In 1994, she began working at the New York City Department of Transportation, where she has worked as a special assistant to the first deputy commissioner, the director of the Adopt-a-Highway and Banner Programs, the Manhattan Borough Commissioner, and Chief Operations Officer. In 2021, Margaret was appointed as First Deputy Commissioner, where she serves as second in command and works closer with City Hall. Her work includes managing all aspects of the agency’s 5,000+ employees across all operational divisions, ranging from traffic operations and transportation planning, ferries, bridges, and roadway repair and maintenance, and emergency responses.  Some of the agency’s accomplishments in recent years that she has advanced include almost 1,400 miles of bike lanes, a bikeshare program including almost 20,000 bikes, and more recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, new programs such as Open Restaurants and Open Streets.


UConn is in a family affair for the Forgione family. In addition to Margaret, all of her siblings – Anna, Helen, and James Forgione – attended UConn. In addition, Margaret met her husband, Mark Chernauskas, at UConn. They both lived in Beard Dorm which was on South Campus at the time.  They currently live in the Bronx, and have two daughters.  Mark is retired from General Electric and keeps busy as a beekeeper and working at Captain Lawrence Brewery.