Our Leadership Team
Debbie Pantin, MSW | CEO
Debbie Pantin joined VIP Services in September, 2013, as the Associate Executive Director. She was appointed as VIP’s new Chief Executive Officer effective January 2017. She has over 25 years of experience in the human services industry, specializing in the fields of mental health, substance use disorder treatment, homelessness, supportive housing, vocational and employment services, primary care, and HIV prevention and services. Leading agency-wide changes and managing organizational transitions are the hallmarks of Ms. Pantin’s experience and reputation. Her professional experience includes staff training and development, and conference presentations and planning. She participates in various national, state, and local boards. Ms. Pantin has extensive knowledge of program development and services, as well as budget management. Most recently, Ms. Pantin served as the COO of Palladia Inc., a not- for- profit agency in New York City. At Palladia she directed program and operational services, which collectively serviced approximately 17,500 clients per year; a staff of 470 employees, and an annual budget of $45 million. As a key member of the leadership team, Ms. Pantin was tasked with influencing systematic changes. She campaigned key agency initiatives; Outpatient Substance Abuse Services and Mental Health Services, Quality Improvement processes—namely the NIATx (Network for the Improvement of Addiction Services) process, and the use of Data Driven Management. Ms. Pantin has been a driving force in educating her team, and staff in Health Care Reform. She brings to VIP her exceptional human services management experience and command of the critical policy issues of our times. Ms. Pantin has established herself as one of the top professionals in the not-for -profit industry.
Irving Dela Cruz, CPA CIA CGMA | Executive Vice President/CFO
Irving dela Cruz leads the Finance Department, Infrastructure and Development activities of VIP Community Services Inc. (“VIP”). He also oversees the asset management operations of the affordable housing portfolio of VIP. He has over 23 years of extensive accounting, auditing and consulting experience servicing both for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
Prior to joining VIP, Irving was the Chief Financial Officer of Asian Americans for Equality, Inc. He worked as an audit manager at Marks Paneth LLP, one of the largest accounting firm in the New York region. Irving also worked as a senior auditor in another CPA firm in the New York City area that specializes in financial and compliance audits of various nonprofit entities. Prior to migrating in the United States, Irving was the managing partner of his own consulting firm in the Philippines. Irving was involved in various audits and consulting engagements for several high-profile multinational companies when he was employed in Sycip Gorres Velayo & Co./Ernst & Young LLP during the early part of his career. Irving also worked as a Senior Finance Manager of a car dealership in the Philippines, owned and affiliated with major bank.
Irving holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce major in Accounting. In July 2014, Irving completed the Hispanic Leadership Institute Emerging Leaders Program sponsored by the Hispanic Federation and Baruch College School of Public Affairs. He also attended a Leadership and Management Development Program at the Center for Continuing Education of Ateneo de Manila University. He also had units in the Ateneo-Regis MBA Program from the same school.
Irving is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the State of Virginia and has the Certified Internal Auditor® (CIA®) designation, a globally accepted certification for internal auditors. In April 2014, Irving has been awarded the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. The CGMA designation recognizes professionals who have deep understanding of finance and have expanded their business skills through experience as management accountants to help drive better business decisions. Lastly, Irving is also an associate member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the Society of Human Resource Management.
Carmen Rivera | Vice President of Communications & External Affairs
Carmen G. Rivera currently serves as the Assistant Vice President of Communications & External Affairs for VIP Community Services, Bronx NY. Carmen served on the Board of Directors of VIP Community Services for 35 years, where she served as its Chair for 20 years. Ms. Rivera is an active community organizer and activist who facilitated a myriad of community partnerships throughout her 42-year history with the organization.
Ms. Rivera was born in Bayamon, in Puerto Rico and is the third of six children. Her bilingual and bicultural background provided her with sensitivity to the plights of the influx of immigrants and those with language barriers. She began a career of volunteerism; most notably at her local parish of St Anthony’s where a local priest (Rev. Father Robert Banome) helped to nurture her thirst for spiritual ministry and activism. These ecumenical efforts helped to propel the Bronx leaders into providing housing for the poor, food for the hungry, and treatment for those suffering from chemical dependency. Ms. Rivera became a leader in provision of those services in her community.
Her community leadership has spanned decades. Carmen has served on Community Board 9 for 17 years, and held a post on the Executive Committee for 9. Ms. Rivera also served for 14 years as Housing Chairperson. Ms. Rivera honorably served as parish trustee for 18 years, and President of Parish Council for Church of St. Anthony. Ms. Rivera serves as a mentor and leader to young girls ages 7–18 years. She provides spiritual mentorship and community projects to create future Latina leaders. She also serves as a member of the Executive Committee of Discovery for Justice Coalition, a nonprofit organization that advocates for criminal justice reform.
Her early professional career was in Publishing. Carmen was employed as the National Sales Manager at Bookazine a Book Wholesaler, later becoming National Trade Sales Manager at Lectorum/Scholastic Publishing marketing Spanish books nationwide. Carmen was a member of the American Library Association, American Bookseller’s Association, and a member of Reforma, supporting the needs of Spanish speakers through library services. In 2009, Carmen was honored with the first Lifetime Achievement Distinction providing services to the Latino community.
Her most important role is the matriarch of her family. Carmen is mother to Yolanda and Jeanette and grandmother of three: Jasmine, Destiny, and Brandon. She is great grandmother to Hailey and Dominick. Ms. Rivera is a proud resident of Bronx, NY, for 54 years and has resided in the same home for 45 years. She is an avid reader who enjoys culinary arts and travel.
Debbian Fletcher-Blake APRN, FNP | Chief Operating Officer
Debbian Fletcher-Blake specializes in technical assistance related to the administrative areas of health care services. She has a Masters degree in Nursing from Pace University and two Bachelors degrees: one in Nursing and one in Chemistry. With an Executive Leadership in Health Information Technology Certificate from the University of Colorado School of Nursing, Debbian brings expertise and efficiency when related to the coordination of health and social services programs as the Chief Operating Officer at VIP.
Most recently, Debbian was the Assistant Executive Director at Care for the Homeless in New York City. There, she supervised two federal grants and was responsible for the overall functioning of the health services at the agency. As COO, Debbian will provide leadership and direction for daily operations relating to integrated clinical care delivery, customer service excellence that exceeds patient, provider, and payer expectations, as well as coordination of internal team efforts with external community key stakeholders, providers, and regulatory agencies.
Christal Montague, MSW, LMHC, CASAC, CARC | Chief Program Officer of Substance Abuse and Social Services
Christal Montague, MSW, LMHC, CASAC, CARC, Chief Program Officer of Substance Abuse and Social Services, has more than 20 years of clinical and administrative experience in social service and behavioral health organizations. Ms. Montague comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience in OASAS substance abuse treatment, DHS housing and shelter services, Care Coordination implementation, HIV/AIDS Services, Criminal Justice, and many other services. Prior to Ms. Montague assuming her current role, she was the Vice President of Quality Assurance for a NY-based non-profit organization. Ms. Montague holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from Fordham University and a undergraduate degree from Binghamton University.
Dr. Ernst Jean | Medical Director
Dr. Jean has been the Medical Director at VIP Community Services for the past 3 ½ years. He graduated from and completed his Medical Degree at the State University of Haiti School of Medicine and Pharmacy. With 20 years of experience in Addiction Medicine/ Outpatient Behavioral Health and Ambulatory Medicine, Dr. Jean is committed to patient education and finding solutions in Medication Assisted Treatment with emphasis in quality improvement and aiding consumers to be productive members of society.
Tabitha Gaffney | Chief Compliance Officer
Tabitha Gaffney comes to VIP with 23+ years of experience working in social services and non-profit organizations that provide services and support to consumers who have a history of homelessness, mental health and substance use issues, physical and mental health and care coordination needs. Ms. Gaffney’s track record of success includes driving program and project development, implementation and management, quality improvement projects, and effectively restructuring and rebuilding failing programs into high performing programs. Ms. Gaffney’s expertise in Corporate Compliance, Privacy Compliance, Risk and Incident Management, Training, Team Development, Quality Improvement, Program/Project Development, Implementation and Management will be critical in her new role as Chief Compliance Officer for VIP where Ms. Gaffney will be responsible for the oversight and management of the Corporate Compliance Program and HIPAA Privacy Management.