Leadership Team - VA Boston Healthcare System
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VA Boston Healthcare System


Leadership Team

Vincent Ng, Director

Vincent Ng | 857-203-6000


Vincent W. Ng was officially appointed VA Boston Healthcare System Director on September 8, 2013. An accomplished healthcare executive, Mr. Ng has a long history of serving Veterans in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to his appointment as VA Boston Healthcare System Director, Mr. Ng served as Medical Center Director for Providence VAMC since September of 2000. His previous appointments included Director of Central Plains Health Network (VISN 14), Lincoln, Nebraska, and Director of VA Connecticut Healthcare System and Newington VA Medical Center. He also served as Associate Director at Philadelphia and Lebanon VA Medical Centers. Throughout his career, Mr. Ng has been recognized for demonstrating exceptional leadership, long-term strategic planning, financial and negotiating skills. He is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a graduate of Leadership VA, and has served on many Veterans Health Administration boards, committees, and special task forces, to include currently being a mentor in the VA Executive Career Field training program. He is currently a Board Member of the Boston Veterans Affairs Research Institute, on the executive council of the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, and a member of the Boston Federal Executive Association. Mr. Ng earned his BS degree in Environmental Health from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington in 1977, and a MBA in Health Care Administration from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas in 1979. Mr. Ng received numerous awards in recognition for his leadership skills and community involvement; they include the Federal Executive Board's Bud Gifford leadership award and the Providence Mayor's citation for community partnership. He also received the Rhode Island Veterans of Foreign War Healthcare Employee of the Year award. Mr. Ng was also recently featured in Trinity Alumni Magazine.

Karen Acerra-Williams, Deputy Director, MPH

Karen Acerra-Williams | 857-203-6001

Deputy Director, MPH

Ms. Acerra-Williams assumed the position of Deputy Director in August of 2014. Karen has been with VA Boston Healthcare System (VABHS) since 2005 when she was appointed the Health Systems Specialist to the Chief of Staff. She recently served as Acting Medical Center Director of the Bedford VA from June 2016 – June 2017. She also served as the Health System Specialist to the Medical Center Director and also served as the Assistant Director for the Brockton Campus. She holds a Master's Degree in Public Health from Boston University and has worked in healthcare administration for over 25 years. Prior to coming to VABHS, Ms. Acerra-Williams had worked in various leadership positions for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and Massachusetts General Hospital. Additionally, Ms. Acerra-Williams has served as an adjunct instructor at two local colleges and served on the Health Advisory Committee in her local community from January 2006 through December 2007. In 2008, Karen was recognized as the Professional/Administrative Employee of the Year by the Greater Boston Federal Executive Board, Excellence in Government Award.

Michael E. Charness, M.D., Chief of Staff

Michael E. Charness, M.D. | 857-203-6011

Chief of Staff

Dr. Charness earned his B.Sc. in Psychology from McGill University and his M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He served as resident in Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was resident and chief resident in Neurology and postdoctoral fellow in Neuroscience at UCSF. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Neurology. Dr. Charness came to VA as a staff neurologist in 1989 and served as Chief of Neurology at the VA Boston Healthcare System (1996-2003). He became Chief of Staff in 2003. He is Professor of Neurology and Faculty Associate Dean at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Neurology and Associate Dean at Boston University School of Medicine. He chairs the National VA Chief of Staff Advisory Council and recently chaired the Chief Medical Officer Group Steering Committee of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Dr. Charness is scientific director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) -funded Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and chairs the External Scientific Board for the NIH-funded Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. His laboratory research has delineated molecular mechanisms of alcohol toxicity in the nervous system and discovered drugs that block alcohol toxicity. He served as president of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) and as a member of the National Advisory Council of the NIAAA. He was awarded the Frank Seixas Award of RSA, a MERIT Award from NIAAA, the Excellence Award from NOFAS, the Henry Rosett Award from the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group of RSA, the Mark Keller Honorary Lecture Award from NIAAA, and the R. Brinkley Smithers Distinguished Scientist Award and the James H. Tharp Award from the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He has cared for patients with neurological complications of alcoholism throughout his career.

Heather Davidson, MD, Deputy Chief of Staff

Heather Davidson, MD | 857-203-6011

Deputy Chief of Staff

Dr. Davidson received her B.S. in Biology from Brown University (1997) and her M.D. from the University of Virginia School of Medicine (2001). She completed her internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital (2001-2004.) She is board certified in Internal Medicine. Dr. Davidson started her VA career as a teaching hospitalist at the Washington, D.C. VA Hospital in 2004. She moved to the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System in 2005, where she served as a teaching hospitalist, urgent care, emergency medicine and perioperative medicine physician at the Seattle VA Medical center. She was the interim chief of medicine for VA Puget Sound in Seattle and acting vice-chair of medicine at the University of Washington from 2011 through December 2013, when she began her current position as Deputy Chief of Staff for VA Boston Healthcare System. While at the University of Washington, Dr. Davidson was an Associate Program Director for the UW Internal Medicine Residency (2010-2013) and teaching faculty for the UW School of Medicine. Her scholarly interests include interprofessional education and residency duty hour reform. She is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and was awarded an Inter-professional Education Scholarship for her work as a Teaching Scholars Fellow at the University of Washington in 2011. She holds appointments as Assistant Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and Lecturer in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She continues to see patients while teaching residents and medical students on the inpatient medicine service at VA Boston.

Cecilia McVey, MHA, RN, FAAN, Associate Director Nursing & Patient Care Services

Cecilia McVey, MHA, RN, FAAN | 857-203-5118

Associate Director Nursing & Patient Care Services

Cecilia McVey has held progressively responsible leadership positions with VA Nursing Service since beginning her professional career in 1972. Upon the merger of West Roxbury/Brockton VA with Boston VA, she was named Associate Director Nursing/Patient Care Services in 1999. Ms. McVey received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Boston College School of Nursing in 1972 and completed a Certificate Program in Nursing Administration at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1986. She received her Master of Science in Health Administration from Clark University in 1988. She has published several articles in professional journals and remains certified in Nursing Administration by the American Nurses Association. Her professional memberships include Sigma Theta Tau, The Mass. Association of Registered Nurses, The Organization of Nurse Leaders Massachusetts/Rhode/Island/Connecticut, past National President of the Nurses Organization of Veteran Affairs (NOVA), from 2008-2010. She was responsible for forming the Northeast Region VA Nursing Alliance (NERVANA) in 2009, an academic/practice partnership comprised of six schools of Nursing in the Boston area and the Boston and Bedford VAMCs. NERVANA was recognized in October 2014 as an “Exemplary Academic/Practice Partnership” by AACN and AONE and in 2017 received “The New Era” Award from AACN. She served as Co-Chair of the Mass. Action Coalition Committee on the Future of Nursing Core Competencies, whose purpose was to embed these competencies in every practice and academic setting in the State of Massachusetts. She served as a member of the CCNE Committee to revise the Nurse Residency Standards nationally as well as several of the academic partners’ Schools of Nursing Advisory Boards. Currently, she is the National Legislative Chair for NOVA. Ms. McVey was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in October 2017.

Sandra Souza, Asst. Dir. Brockton Campus

Sandra Souza | 774-826-0000

Asst. Dir. Brockton Campus

Ms. Souza assumed the position of Assistant Director in July 2012. Ms. Souza's career began at the Brockton VAMC in 1982 as a Police Officer. In 1993 she was appointed Assistant Chief of Police of the Brockton/West Roxbury VAMC, and after 4 years she was appointed Chief of Police Service, first for the Brockton/West Roxbury VAMC, and subsequently for the VA Boston Healthcare System. Ms. Souza left Police Service in 2008 to undertake new opportunities as the Staff Assistant to the Deputy Medical Center Director, and as the Executive Assistant to the Medical Center Director in 2009. Sandra brings extensive managerial experience and proven leadership to the Executive Suite. Ms. Souza earned a degree in Management from Lesley University. She is an active member of her community having served as a member of the local and regional school committee for more than 8 years and a variety of other subcommittees and task forces, to include drafting of a new Regional School Agreement between the member towns.

Melissa Conway, Asst. Dir. Jamaica Plain Campus

Melissa Conway | 857-364-6897

Asst. Dir. Jamaica Plain Campus

Melissa joined VA Boston Healthcare System in July 2008 as an Administrative Fellow in the Director's Office as part of the Graduate Healthcare Administration Training Program (GHATP). After her one-year fellowship, Ms. Conway worked as the Health System Specialist for Radiology Service until 2016. For the past two years, Melissa has worked as the Health System Specialist to the Chief of Staff. Ms. Conway obtained her undergraduate degree in Management from Bentley University and her Master's Degree in Public Health from Yale School of Public Health. She is a VHA certified mentor and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.