Get to Know Our Leadership
Ross Friedman MSW, LSW
Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Friedman has an extensive 20 year career working in the behavioral health field. He has held numerous roles in psychiatric hospitals leading both clinical and operational departments to successful outcomes. Mr. Friedman has worked at all levels within hospitals including maintenance staff, MHA, social worker, unit manager, and as a director of multiple departments.
For the last few years, Ross has served as the CEO of Summit Oaks Hospital in New Jersey leading their team to award winning stature as noted by the State of NJ and various payers with outstanding regulatory outcomes. This was achieved through his determination to develop a culture based on teamwork, transparency, and partnering with stakeholders in his management approach. He leads by example with involvement from all levels of the organization.
Through use of the Service Excellence Committee, he utilizes a model of team building that incorporates the 6 pillars of a Healthy Working Environment which enhances careers of the staff with a large impact on staff turnover rate.
Throughout his career, Mr. Friedman has had the privilege to provide leadership, and impact quality care by supporting families and patients in mental health services and is thrilled to be doing so at Friends Hospital.
Elizabeth W. Uffner
Director of Business Development
Elizabeth (Liz) Uffner started her career at Friends Hospital in 2001. She has held many positions at Friends from Mental Health Technician to Court Coordinator to Director of the Crisis Response Center, all contributing to her wealth of behavioral health knowledge and awareness of resources.
In her role as Director of Business Development, Liz leads the coordination and implementation of Friends Hospital’s strategic marketing plan. She drives the execution of a comprehensive organic growth strategy. As a senior leader, she is responsible for increased revenue through census development, identifying potential clients, cultivating relationships, and expanding existing customer opportunities. Liz serves as the primary contact or spokesperson for the hospital related to media and public relations, and community outreach. She has a proven track record of maintaining effective partnerships with internal and external stakeholders. Liz manages of team of individuals who work closely with other providers ensuring proper and efficient access to care and education of serves offered.
Dr. Peter Vernig
Director of Clinical Services
Dr. Vernig received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Suffolk University in Boston, where he focused his studies on substance misuse, behavior change, and acceptance-based behavioral interventions. He is a graduate of the clinical psychology internship program at Friends Hospital, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Anxiety Treatment Center of Austin. Dr. Vernig is a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, and is a Registered Health Service Psychologist. He has worked in a wide range of clinical settings, including community mental health, homeless services, residential programs, therapeutic camps, inpatients facilities, and the VA. He is a member of the clinical faculty at Drexel University’s College of Medicine and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. In his role at Friends Hospital, Dr. Vernig is responsible for supervising the clinical services departments, including social work, psychology, expressive art therapy, peer support services and spiritual care. He works with the staff and students of these departments, alongside the medical and nursing departments, to implement interventions which are individualized, evidence-based, and recovery-focused.
Director of Human Resources
Danielle Jervis joined Friends Hospital as the Assistant Director of Human Resources in April 2016 and was promoted to Director of Human Resources in 2018. Prior to joining Friends, Danielle spent seven years in progressively responsible HR roles at The Horsham Clinic. Danielle holds a B.A. from Arcadia University and an M.S. in Human Resource Development from Villanova University.
Emily Kawski-Allard, MSS
Performance Improvement Director
Emily Kawski is a seasoned healthcare executive who has held leadership positions in multiple organizations serving behavioral health consumers and providers. She served in multiple roles at the Livengrin Foundation including the Director of Quality Assurance and the Vice President of Patient Experience. In this capacity, she oversaw strategic quality and compliance initiatives for a large, multisite system which provides residential and outpatient care to people living with substance use throughout southeastern Pennsylvania. While working at FSSolutions, Ms. Kawski worked with providers across the United States to implement high-fidelity monitoring of state-sponsored impaired professional programs. At Friends Hospital, she collaborates closely with the CEO and the other members of the senior leadership team to ensure compliance with state, Joint Commission, CMS, and payer standards while managing the ongoing performance monitoring and improvement activities for all departments. Outside of Friends Hospital, Ms. Kawski serves on the Advisory Committee at La Salle University, where she holds a faculty appointment. She holds a bachelor’s degree from La Salle University, and a Master of Social Service from Bryn Mawr College.
Director of Plant Operations
Vance has been employed at Friends Hospital since January 2017. Prior to Friends, he served as the Director of Plant Operations at Fairmount Behavioral Health System from 1997-2011. In 2011, Vance was promoted and served as the Regional Director of Plant Operations, overseeing the physical plant and construction operations at both Friends Hospital and Fairmount Behavioral Health System. Vance also served as the hospital safety officer at both facilities to ensure the safety of all patients and employees. He has completed 10 successful JCAHO inspections.
Throughout his tenure, he has overseen the departments of maintenance, housekeeping, dietary, security, grounds, communications and transportation.
During all major and minor construction projects, Vance manages and serves as the liaison between architects, civil engineers, mechanical engineers and general contractors on all projects assuring buildings meet codes (AIA, NFPA, etc.) and company guidelines/regulations. Vance has been a member of the NFPA for over 20 years.
Prior to Fairmount, Vance was employed by ServiceMaster Management Services where he was awarded the ServiceMaster PRT Award in recognition of outstanding operational achievement. Vance’s engineering background stems from his training in the U.S. Navy as a machinist mate aboard a nuclear submarine. In this capacity he acquired several Naval Engineering Certificates and four Letters of Commendation for his tireless dedication while onboard the USS Sunfish.
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Medical Officer