Meet Families USA’s staff
Senior Director of Fundraising
Senior Policy Analyst
Ellen Albritton is a Senior Policy Analyst at Families USA. Her chief focus is on how the transition to a value-based health care system can be leveraged to achieve health equity. To this end, she contributes policy development and analysis to the Health Equity Task Force for Delivery and Payment Transformation and the Community Health Worker Sustainability Collaborative. Additionally, Ellen provides policy analysis and support to Families USA’s national prescription drug pricing efforts and its State Prescription Drug Pricing Collaborative, which brings together consumer health advocates from across the country to enact policies that will protect consumers from high prescription drug prices.
Prior to joining Families USA, Ellen was a Research Associate at AcademyHealth. There, she worked on a number of research projects regarding payment and delivery reform, including improving care for children with special health care needs, increasing sustainability for community health workers, and improving care for people with mental and behavioral health conditions. She also worked previously as an Associate at NETWORK, where she coordinated Medicaid expansion campaigns in several states.
Ellen received a BS in public health from the Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice and is currently pursuing her J.D. at the The George Washington University Law School.
Senior Director of Communications
Kimberly N. Alleyne is Senior Director of Communications at Families USA. Her portfolio includes setting strategies for media, messaging, branding, and the organization’s digital footprint. In her role, Kimberly relies on her journalism background and cross-discipline expertise in communications and reputation management to oversee Families USA’s standing as the voice for health care consumers.
Kimberly has a noted prowess for penning social change communications and managing campaigns that spark opinion or behavior change. She has earned communications awards for her leadership of national public awareness campaigns, and is regarded among industry peers as an expert in communications metrics, audience engagement, and crisis communications. Kimberly also has a unique skill set for launching and leading communications departments, having started three departments during her career.
Prior to joining Families USA, Kimberly devoted 18 years to corporate, agency, nonprofit and advocacy communications including tenures at National Institutes of Health (NIH) and at SEIU, where, as a senior health care communicator, she led communications and media relations strategies to protect Medicaid and the health care law. While there she also launched, co-produced, and hosted the organization’s first podcast program, Healthcare on the Front Lines.
She enjoyed a “first career” as a health and health care reporter and editor, and is an active freelance writer on health care justice and social justice issues.
Kimberly has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and a graduate degree in health care administration.
Visiting Scholar & Senior Advisor for Value Initiatives
Business Manager & Board Liaison
Abby Bott is the Business Manager & Board Liaison for Families USA. In her role, Ms. Bott coordinates marketing and communications and bridges connections for the Health Action team. She plays a primary role in organizing the annual, three-day Health Action conference held in Washington, D.C. for more than 500 health care advocates. She is also the project manager of the national networking and professional development group, Emerging Professionals. In this capacity, Ms. Bott has created several successful initiatives, such as the Emerging Professionals Mentor Match Program, and has expanded the group to include more than 500 members nationwide within the health policy and advocacy community.
Prior to joining the Health Action team in 2014, Ms. Bott was the Interim Communications and Events Coordinator at Campaign for Better Health Care (CBHC) in Illinois. Before CBHC, she worked at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the division of Disability Resources & Educational Services (DRES).
Ms. Bott holds a bachelor’s of science in psychology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Oral Health Campaign Manager
Melissa Burroughs is the Oral Health Campaign Manager at Families USA. In this role she provides leadership for the Campaign, including collaborating with state and national oral health partners, building relationships with advocates, stakeholders, and public officials, identifying political and policy trends and opportunities, providing partners with technical assistance, and developing and implementing advocacy communications and tools. Before her work with the Oral Health Campaign, Melissa was a Campaign Associate and a Villers Fellow at Families USA where her work focused on consumer advocate engagement in health system transformation and advocacy surrounding Medicaid expansion.
Melissa graduated from Duke University with a BA in public policy, focusing on health and social policies.
Digital Media Associate
Director of the National Center for Coverage Innovation and Senior Fellow, Families USA
As a Senior Fellow at Families USA, Stan Dorn plays a leading role in a broad range of projects, with a special focus on coverage innovations and federal strategies to lower prescription drug prices and improve drug development.
For more than 30 years, Mr. Dorn has worked at both the state and federal levels on health care issues, typically those focusing on low-income and other vulnerable populations. He is widely seen as a leading national expert on Medicaid, CHIP, and the Basic Health Program; the individual insurance market; innovative strategies for enrollment and retention; coverage for children, laid-off workers, justice-involved populations, and people with disabilities; state options for coverage expansion and delivery-system reform; and the intersection of tax and health coverage systems.
Before joining Families USA, Mr. Dorn served as Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center, where he won the President’s Award for Outstanding Research and served as peer reviewer for Health Affairs and the Milbank Quarterly. He also served as Health Division Director at the Children’s Defense Fund, as Managing Attorney at the National Health Law Program’s Washington office, and as Senior Policy Analyst at the Economic and Social Research Institute. He was also the initial Project Director of the Health Consumer Alliance, where he led the organization in its effort to win the Beneficiary Services Award of Merit from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Policies he helped shape include streamlined enrollment provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA); federal payment rules for the Basic Health Program option under the ACA; Express Lane Enrollment for children in Medicaid and CHIP; state fiscal relief for Medicaid programs during the Great Recession; Health Coverage Tax Credits for workers displaced by international trade; and legislation preserving Medicaid for families losing cash assistance under welfare reform.
Stan received his BA from Harvard College and his JD from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.
Director of Access Initiatives
Cheryl Fish-Parcham is Director of Access Initiatives at Families USA. In this role she focuses on public policies that would improve access to coverage and care, including those related to oral health and to behavioral health services. She has substantial expertise in both private insurance and Medicaid policy, helping lead Families USA’s successful efforts to establish consumer protections in these areas within the Affordable Care Act. At present she serves on advisory committees to the DC Department of Insurance and the DC Health Care Ombudsman. She is also a reviewer for the Academy of Health’s Annual Research Meeting and a frequent lecturer at Catholic University’s National School of Social Service.
Previously at Families USA, she served as Associate Director of Health Policy and also helped establish the Health Assistance Partnership (HAP), a national support center for consumer health assistance programs. She later coordinated HAP’s technical assistance on Medicaid issues. Throughout her time at Families USA and HAP, Cheryl has authored numerous reports on a range of health policy issues, including designing consumer health assistance programs, the plight of the uninsured, Medicaid, private insurance, and gaps in care and coverage.
Earlier in her career, Cheryl worked as an advocate at AARP’s Legal Counsel for the Elderly and served as an advocate, administrator, and social worker for several community organizations in the District of Columbia.
Cheryl holds a B.A. from University of California, Santa Cruz and an M.S.W. from Howard University.
Senior Director of Health Policy
As Senior Director of Health Policy, Eliot Fishman leads Families USA’s policy analysis and advocacy agenda development at the state and federal levels, working with the policy department and other members of senior leadership. In this capacity, he leads Families USA’s analytical and policy development work regarding universal coverage, transformation of health care delivery and payment, and achieving equity in health care access and outcomes. He directs major initiatives defending Medicaid at the national and state level; seeking to leverage system transformation to drive health equity; and building a national coalition around fundamental reform of prescription drug policy.
Prior to joining Families USA, Eliot worked to promote health policy innovation and universal coverage throughout his entire career, in both the government and private sector. Most recently, he served at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from 2013 to 2017. In that role, he led the federal government’s work with states on Medicaid waivers and federal policy on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Medicaid and CHIP quality measurement, eligibility, and enrollment. CMS named Eliot its Executive of the Year in 2016 for his work leading Medicaid waiver negotiations regarding expansion, delivery system reform, and provider payment innovation.
Prior to his work at CMS, Eliot served as Director of the Office of Policy in the New Jersey Department of Health, where he directed a large, complex portfolio including the Center for Health Statistics, Institutional Review Board, Office of Healthcare Quality Assessment, Office of Planning & Development for Senior Services, New Jersey Health Information Technology Commission, New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research and New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research. He led the development of a pilot program in which over half of the state’s newborns were automatically enrolled in health insurance before hospital discharge through the state’s birth registry.
He also was a Principal at Health Management Associates, a consulting firm specializing in health policy issues for low-income people, where he led a national practice focused on implementation of two major new programs for people with complex needs in the Affordable Care Act: Medicaid Health Homes program and the new Medicare-Medicaid Financial Alignment initiative. Before that, he worked as a Vice President in the Metropolitan Jewish Health System, a large, non-profit integrated delivery system in New York, where he developed a multi-million dollar portfolio of new programs and services from proposal stage into staffing and implementation in an integrated health and long-term care delivery system. He also has published extensively on health policy and health reform.
Eliot received his Bachelor’s from Harvard College and his Ph.D. from Yale University.
Raven Gomez is a Campaign Associate at Families USA. In this role, she organizes and oversees the planning and logistics for Families USA’s annual national Health Action conference. She also provides technical and programmatic support in the form of research and partner communications for the State and National Strategic Partnerships Team and the Medicaid Waiver Strategy Center.
Raven graduated from Binghamton University, where she received her BA in both sociology and environmental science.
Senior Director of Federal Relations
Shawn Gremminger is Senior Director of Federal Relations at Families USA. In this role he oversees Families USA’s engagement with Capitol Hill and the administration. Shawn is a recognized national expert in key issues impacting Medicaid and low-income populations, including Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) and other supplemental payments, state financing of Medicaid, including Medicaid provider taxes, and the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which provides discounted outpatient pharmaceuticals to safety net providers, including community health centers, AIDS clinics, and eligible hospitals.
Before joining Families USA, Shawn served as the Director of Legislative Affairs for America’s Essential Hospitals, which represents more than 325 large hospitals and health systems (including public and safety net hospitals) across the country. In this role, he oversaw federal relations for the organization, including leading the association’s efforts on Capitol Hill to support enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and later directing efforts to defeat legislation to repeal the ACA and impose unprecedented cuts to the Medicaid program. In addition, from 2012-2016, he served as the elected chair of the Partnership for Medicaid, a coalition of more than 20 national Medicaid stakeholder organizations that include Medicaid providers, health plans, counties, and labor groups. Prior to joining America’s Essential Hospitals in 2009, Shawn worked for the Children’s Hospital Association (formerly the National Association of Children’s Hospitals) for four years, where he represented the nation’s children’s hospitals on a variety of issues.
Shawn holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the George Washington University in Washington, and a BA in political science from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, VA.
Director of the Center on Health Equity Action for System Transformation, Families USA
Sinsi Hernández-Cancio is the Director of Health Equity at Families USA, where she leads efforts to advance health equity and reduce disparities in health outcomes and health care access and quality. In this role, she has focused on building a movement and advancing policies that leverage health care and delivery system transformation to reduce persistent racial, ethnic, and geographic health inequities with an intersectional lens. Most recently, in 2018, this work has resulted in the founding of the Health Equity Task Force for Delivery and Payment Transformation.
Sinsi is a nationally recognized health equity thought leader and sought after speaker and advisor. Currently, she serves on the Johns Hopkins University Press Health Equity in America National Advisory Council, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State Strategy Advisory Committee, and the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs Advisory Committee. She also served on the Addressing Disparities Advisory Panel for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and on a Clinical Practice Guideline Sub-Committee of the American Association of Pediatrics.
Sinsi has worked in the field of health policy for more than 15 years and has a longstanding commitment to advancing social justice and fighting for the rights of people of color, especially vulnerable women and children. She started her professional career as a women’s human and civil rights lawyer with a Georgetown Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship at the Women’s Rights Project of Human Rights Watch. She first became deeply engaged in health care justice and the elimination of racial and ethnic health inequities as the Health and Human Services advisor for two Puerto Rico Governors at their District of Columbia offices. She then worked on health policy for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where, during the push to pass the Affordable Care Act, she was the National Campaign Coordinator for SEIU’s Healthcare Equality Project.
Born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, Sinsi is bilingual and bicultural. She earned an A.B. from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was a Hays Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Fellow and was awarded the Vanderbilt Medal for her service to the law school for representing and advocating for students of color.
Senior Communications Manager
Lisa Holland is the Senior Communications Manager for Families USA. She is responsible for helping to shape the organization’s strategic media and communications strategy and working across departments to raise its profile among the media and key stakeholders.
Prior to joining Families USA, Lisa served for 12 years as the Director of Communications for the Community Action Partnership, a national nonprofit association whose member agencies help vulnerable individuals and families achieve economic independence. She has also been a marketing and public relations consultant for a number of associations and businesses focused on health, science, and the environment.
Lisa’s expertise includes writing, media relations, digital marketing, and social media. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Delaware, a public relations certificate from the George Washington University School of Professional Development, and digital marketing certificates from the American Marketing Association.
Frederick Isasi was selected to be Families USA’s second-ever Executive Director in January 2017 because of his life-long commitment to achieving high-quality, affordable health care for all. He also brings to his position deep expertise in Medicaid, Medicare, and private health insurance, health equity, and payment and delivery reform. In addition, he has a proven track record of working effectively in a bipartisan manner with policymakers at the national and state levels. Mr. Isasi has testified frequently in front of Congress on health policy issues in both the U.S. Senate and House. Mr. Isasi’s skills and experiences made him the ideal choice to lead Families USA into the future as the premier voice for all families and health care consumers in America.
As Executive Director, Mr. Isasi leads the expert staff at Families USA as the organization focuses on four key challenges: Creating a value-based health system that ensures higher-quality, lower cost health care; Helping people overcome barriers to health and health care based on race, ethnicity, income, gender, demography, or sexual orientation; Making comprehensive and affordable health insurance available to all; and Empowering health care consumers to ensure that their voices are heard in their state and local communities as well as in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Isasi’s passion for health care reform began when he was growing up in North Carolina as the son of Cuban immigrants. There, he saw firsthand many of the barriers to health care experienced by the poor, people of color, people with language barriers, and rural communities. In his 20s, Mr. Isasi was a leader of various gay rights and AIDS/HIV student organizations. He also founded a volunteer organization that provided support to the children of parents dying from AIDS and a summer camp for children with HIV/AIDS in North Carolina and Wisconsin.
Before joining Families USA, Mr. Isasi served as the Health Division Director at the bipartisan National Governors Association’s (NGA) Center for Best Practices. In this position, he worked directly with governors of both parties and as NGA’s national voice on issues such as health care delivery and payment reform, improving Medicaid, and health exchange planning and oversight. He also directed technical assistance for states as they navigated changes to their health care systems.
Prior to NGA, Mr. Isasi served as Vice President for Health Policy at the Advisory Board Company—a leading national and international private-sector group that advises 3,100 hospitals, health systems, provider groups, and payers—where he founded its Health Policy Department. Under Mr. Isasi’s leadership, the Advisory Board sought new opportunities to leverage the power of health system data and develop evidence-based policy solutions to modern health care challenges. He also broadened the Advisory Board’s work with policymakers in Congress, the Administration, and states to improve health care transformation efforts across the nation.
As Congress was developing the groundbreaking Affordable Care Act legislation, Mr. Isasi served as Senior Legislative Counsel for Health Care on both the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) for former Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the only Democrat serving on both committees during the creation of the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Isasi was the Senator’s principal negotiator during closed-door, bipartisan negotiations. He also served as the Senator’s advisor and chief negotiator on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act of 2009 and various Medicare bills, and directed the Senator’s leadership efforts to address the health care challenges brought on by low-income, cultural, and racial disparities.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Isasi served as a health care attorney with Powell Goldstein, where he worked closely with states on Medicaid reforms and represented public hospitals; prior to that, he served as Senior Policy Advisor to the District of Columbia Primary Care Association.
Mr. Isasi is a well-known and respected national speaker on Medicaid, state innovation, health system transformation, behavioral health, and the social determinants of health as well as health care quality, payment, and equity issues. He has served on myriad expert panels and boards, including the National Academy of Medicine, Brookings Institution, National Committee for Quality Assurance, Duke University Margolis Center for Health Policy, Catalyst for Payment Reform, the Health Care Payment Learning & Action Network (LAN) and Bipartisan Policy Center. He holds a JD from Duke University, where he was a Pamela B. Gann Scholar and a staff editor of the Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy, an M.P.H. from the University of North Carolina, where he was inducted into both the Delta Omega and the Frank Porter Graham honor societies, and a B.S. in Cellular Biology and a second major in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin, where he was a Powers-Knapp Scholar.
Oral Health Intern
Director of Campaigns and Partnerships
Claire McAndrew is the Director of Campaigns and Partnerships at Families USA. Ms. McAndrew oversees advocacy work focused on the organization’s mission to ensure high quality, affordable health coverage and care for all. Her portfolio includes federal and state advocacy to protect the gains in coverage and care achieved by the Affordable Care Act. She also oversees Families USA’s state and federal advocacy to improve provider access through consumer protections for network adequacy, provider directories, and balance billing.
Ms. McAndrew provides extensive strategic campaign assistance to state and national organizations, and she frequently speaks on health care advocacy issues around the country. In addition, she is a consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and Vice-Chair of the Standing Advisory Board to the District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange.
Previously Ms. McAndrew served as Private Insurance Program Director at Families USA, managing the organization’s policy work on private insurance issues including those related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces. Ms. McAndrew has also authored numerous publications on issues including health insurance marketplaces, private insurance regulation, network adequacy, wellness incentive plans, COBRA continuation coverage, and limited-benefit health plans.
Prior to joining Families USA in 2007, Ms. McAndrew held positions in mental health and children’s health advocacy organizations. Ms. McAndrew holds an M.P.H. in Health Policy from the University of Michigan and a B.A. in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University.
Justin Mendoza is the State Partnerships Manager at Families USA. In this role he works to support state consumer advocates by building cross-state collaborations through Families USA’s State Innovation and Learning Collaborative, advising on campaign strategy development and coalition building, and providing technical assistance on state legislation. Justin also works on Families USA’s drug pricing projects, where he provides strategic guidance and expertise on prescription drug pricing policy, and co-coordinates a monthly organizing table connecting organizations working to mobilize for lower drug prices. In addition to his work at Families USA, Justin’s current activities include serving on the board of directors of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, a nonprofit student-driven organization working on access to medicines.
Before joining Families USA, Justin worked as the organizer for Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program, where he built the drug prices organizing table, managed a social media presence, and created digital and field campaign strategies. He also spearheaded the Affordable Medicines Now conference held in Washington, D.C. in June 2018, which was a first-of-its kind convening with grassroots advocates, policy experts, and lawmakers dedicated to work toward making medicines affordable for all.
Prior to Public Citizen, Justin worked at Partners In Health, a global health nonprofit with offices in Boston, MA, on the PIH Engage team. There he worked to build a grassroots-based volunteer program which raised nearly $500,000 over his tenure and mobilized more than 4,000 advocates in grassroots advocacy efforts aimed at building sustainable global health financing.
Justin holds a M.P.H., with a certificate in regulatory affairs from Yale University and a B.S. in biomedical science and neuroscience from Central Michigan University.
Events and Operations Assistant
Senior Director of Finance and Operations
Jon Olson is the Senior Director of Finance and Operations at Families USA. He serves as part of the organization’s leadership team and oversees the recently combined finance and operations staff.
Jon started at Families USA in 2017, coming from the National Governors Association where he had been Director, Grants and Contracts for the previous eight years. He has close to fifteen years of non-profit experience and another ten years in private industry.
Jon is a certified public accountant and has a B.S. and an M.S. in Accounting, both from George Mason University.
Emmett Ruff is a Policy Analyst at Families USA, where he provides critical analysis and strategy on key issues such as Medicaid, health equity, and health system transformation. Prior to this, Emmett served as a Project Officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS), where he worked with state Medicaid agencies to implement section 1115 waivers to extend coverage to former foster care youth, cover home-based care for children with disabilities, and extend Medicaid coverage for family planning benefits.
Before that, Emmett had been at Families USA as a Health Equity Intern, helping to build partnerships to advance a health equity agenda on health system transformation and to identify and eliminate health disparities.
He also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer in Hartford, Connecticut, where he implemented a program to expedite SSI/SSDI benefit applications for individuals experiencing homelessness. He has a BA in Political Science from Grinnell College.
Denisse Sanchez is a policy analyst at Families USA where she provides critical analysis on a variety of issues including Medicaid and prescription drug pricing. She also supports the organization’s health equity and value work, providing analysis on the effectiveness of community health workers and assisting with the Health Equity Task Force for Delivery and Payment Transformation.
Prior to Families USA, Denisse held research positions at George Washington University, Truth Initiative, and Kaiser Family Foundation, in areas relating to school-based telehealth programs, smoking cessation intervention for people living with HIV, and health disparities. She also implemented a community-based obesity prevention program from a federally qualified health center in Los Angeles, CA.
She received her MPH from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University and her BA in anthropology from the University of California, San Diego.
Chief of Staff and Director of Children’s Policy
Lisa Shapiro is Chief of Staff and Director of Children’s Policy at Families USA. Serving as senior advisor to the Executive Director, Lisa oversees strategy, policy, partner relationships, and organizational issues with the goal of advancing Families USA’s vision and increasing the impact of our work.
As Director for Children’s Policy, Lisa applies her experience as a child advocate and policy expert to bolster Families’ engagement on children’s health issues, with a focus on efforts to improve coverage through public programs, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid. Lisa also has extensive experience working on Affordable Care Act policy as well as public health issues affecting children, including childhood asthma and environmental health concerns.
Before coming to Families USA, Lisa spent more than a decade as Vice President for Health Policy and was a founding member of the leadership team at First Focus, a bipartisan advocacy organization focused on improving public policy for low-income children. She has almost 20 years of experience working in the public, nonprofit and private sectors on federal health policy issues with a primary focus on children, the uninsured, and underserved populations.
Lisa also served as a congressional fellow for Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), where she worked on the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee on a broad range of health issues, including: Medicaid and CHIP, immigrant health, childhood obesity, prescription drugs, and safety net financing issues.
Lisa has an M.P.A. from the Virginia Tech Center for Public Administration and Policy. She received her B.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Senior Federal Relations Manager
Jane Sheehan is Senior Federal Relations Manager at Families USA, where she helps implement the organization’s work with federal policymakers and key national partners on all of Families USA’s program areas.
Prior to joining Families USA, Jane worked on the legislative staff of U.S. Representative Ed Pastor, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, where she advised the Representative on a variety of domestic policy issues.
Jane holds a B.A. in political science from Marist College.
Director of Talent and Happiness
Director of Health Care Innovations
Sophia Tripoli is the Director of Health Care Innovation at Families USA where she helps to lead Families USA’s work on value initiatives that focus on addressing the biggest drivers of health care costs and inadequate quality in the health system, and on forwarding consumer-focused policy agendas to improve health care delivery and payment systems. As part of this work, Sophia leads Families USA’s Consumers First initiative that focuses on redesigning the economic incentives of the health care system to deliver high value health care. Sophia also helps leads Families USA’s efforts to protect, expand and improve the Medicaid program at the state level through state legislative action and citizen’s initiatives. As part of this work, Sophia generates policy analysis, and works to foster partnerships with national and state health policy experts, state legislators, and consumer health leaders and advocates. In addition, she helps lead Families USA’s work to strengthen the dialogue between consumer health leaders and governors’ leadership on targeted health policy priority areas. Sophia represents Families USA as Co-Chair of the Public Policy Work Group for the Health Care Transformation Task Force and represents Families USA on the National Advisory Committee for the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs.
Prior to joining Families, Sophia worked at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), State Innovation Group where she oversaw the implementation of State Innovation Model Awards (SIM) for Round 2 Test States. While working at CMMI, Sophia also worked across multiple divisions to align new CMMI payment and delivery models with state health reform efforts, including Accountable Care Organization models, the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus model, and the Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program.
Before joining CMMI, she worked as a Senior Health Policy Analyst at the National Governors Association, Center for Best Practices. There, she provided policy analysis, technical assistance, and resource development for governors and their staff across a range of policy issues including Medicaid delivery system reform, Complex Health and Social Needs, high-impact pharmaceutical therapies, and community-based oral health interventions.
Sophia holds an M.P.H from George Washington University and a B.A. in international affairs with a concentration in global public health from George Washington University.
Director of Medicaid Initiatives
Senior Director of State and National Strategic Partnerships
Patrick Willard is Senior Director of State and National Strategic Partnerships for Families USA, overseeing the organization’s work with advocacy partners in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. He leads a team that brings resources and critical assistance to move health care initiatives forward in the states. His work includes managing the organization’s annual Health Action conference, which brings more than 500 state and national health care advocates to Washington, D.C. each year to focus on expanding coverage and access to high-quality health care. Mr. Willard brings more than 25 years of experience with federal, state, and local governments on issues ranging from Medicaid funding for the elderly to livability initiatives for cities.
Prior to joining Families USA, Mr. Willard worked for AARP in Washington, D.C. as a state health policy coordinator and as an advocate in Tennessee. As a member of AARP’s State Health and Finance team, he coordinated the organization’s efforts to work with state offices and support the Medicaid expansion established under the Affordable Care Act. As Advocacy Director of AARP’s Tennessee state office, he led the consumer effort to expand home- and community-based services through the Long-Term Care Community Choices Act. The Choices Act resulted in doubling the percentage of enrollees in the state’s community services in the first two years of the program and has been recognized as a model for balancing long-term care funding.
Before joining AARP, Mr. Willard worked in the local, state, and federal branches. He served as senior policy advisor to the mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, chief of staff to the Tennessee House Majority Leader, and senior legislative assistant to the ranking member of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.
He holds a BA from Vanderbilt University and a MA from Columbia University.
Ronald Denson Jr.
Manager of Storytelling Initiatives
Ronald Denson Jr. (“JR”), a native Washingtonian, is a health policy advisor and educator. He connects patients and caregivers with decision-makers, media, and the public at large to bring greater attention to everyday stories about health care challenges and successes. He curates those stories and finds creative ways to showcase them for FUSA’s programs, partner organizations, and lawmakers at the federal and local levels. His work supports policymakers, advocates, and other stakeholders in their consideration of policies and programs that can be used to address issues that aim to advance reliable, high-quality, affordable, and equitable health care for all.
Prior to his time at FUSA, JR conducted health policy analysis and research at a Washington, DC think tank and was a fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives, focusing primarily on health, education, and environmental issues. Before his stint with Congress, he worked as a public health official for multiple local governmental agencies in the District of Columbia as well as a health educator and trainer to several clinical medical facilities.
JR holds a master of science in health promotion management from American University and a bachelor of arts in Spanish linguistics from the University of Florida.