|Matt Slonaker, J.D., Executive Director
Matt, after a year as UHPP’s Medicaid Policy Director, became Executive Director in September 2013. Matt’s unique background includes growing up on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, working in Washington D.C. and New York City, and marrying a Spaniard! Educated at the University of Montana, Matt took an early interest in policy and government, first studying political science and economics, then going on to complete a law degree. Shortly after law school, Matt joined Governor Brian Schweitzer’s budget team in Helena, MT working as an economist and tax policy analyst. Washington, D.C. was the next career stop when Matt began work for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. While serving as a nonprofits policy adviser and outreach coordinator, Matt had the opportunity to work on two pieces of landmark legislation: The Affordable Care Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Matt went from political staffer to community advocate upon taking a position in New York City at Care for the Homeless. At Care for the Homeless, he helped coordinate a coalition of providers of health care for the homeless in dealing with vast changes to state Medicaid policy. In Utah, Matt was a founding organizer of the successful Proposition 3 campaign to expand Medicaid and improve health care in the state. He has been quoted extensively in national and local press as a go-to thought leader on health care (including but not limited to the Salt Lake Tribune, NPR Utah, Deseret News, KSL News, New York Times, the New Yorker, Bloomberg News, Huffington Post, and Politico.) When he isn’t taking orders from his two little girls, Matt continues to work hard with his team and community partners to develop strategies that strengthen Utah’s health care system.
DeLacy Healey, Director of Operations and Finance
Before joining UHPP in 2021 as the Operations and Finance Director, DeLacy worked as the office manager for the School and Institutional Trust Funds Office where they managed $3.2 billion. Prior to that, she was the Finance Manager for Allies with Families, where she managed a budget of $3 million in local, state, and federal grant funding. Her nonprofit experience spans the globe- she worked with the Human Outreach Project and World Wide Trekking for five years as their Operations Manager for domestic and international humanitarian projects, as well as travel for groups with MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Moran Eye Center, and more. Before that, DeLacy gained professional experience working for the Florida Bar Foundation, The Mustard Seed of Central Florida, multiple hotel agencies, and the Sundance Film Festival. DeLacy received her honors AA in Public Relations/Organizational Communication after which she was a research scholar at the University of Central Florida in her English and Biology studies. She is a published author in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. She loves her son and dogs, has a passion for travel, wildlife, the great outdoors, giving back to the world around her, and exploring on her own at every chance she gets. She loves the peaks of the world, the depths of the ocean, cultures, and long road trips. DeLacy is also a champion for those with mental disabilities and firmly believes that you can be anything you want to be while still working within the parameters of what you have been given. She greatly enjoys making Utah a more equitable place each day at UHPP and hopes to expand its reach to all residents of her home state.
Stacy Stanford, Health Policy Analyst
Stacy Stanford is the health policy analyst at Utah Health Policy Project. Her focus is on health care access through a disability rights lens, and she has been an advocate for patients for over a decade. Stacy began her career as an activities director in long-term care, working primarily with residents with dementia. She went back to school where she received a BA in Disability Justice from Westminster College in 2016. This was a customized degree program combining political science, sociology, and justice studies. Stacy began with UHPP as a consumer volunteer in 2014, moving from intern to part-time associate, before taking the role of full-time policy analyst in 2017. In this role, Stacy organized more than two dozen health care defense events during the ACA repeal fight of 2017, and she led much of the grassroots volunteer efforts behind the successful 2018 Proposition 3 Medicaid expansion ballot initiative campaign. In her spare time, Stacy serves on the boards of the Disability Law Center and Art Access; she enjoys assembling jigsaw puzzles, creating mixed-media art, and watching ESPN.
Courtney Bullard, Education and Collaborations Director
Courtney claims Clinton, Utah as home, although she spent many of her younger years living in the Middle East. After graduating from the University of Utah with degrees in political science and Arabic, she returned to the area to work for the Ministry of Social Development in Amman, Jordan. While there, she worked on health evaluations at several refugee camps throughout the area. That experience sparked a deeper interest in policy research and after completing the evaluations she moved to England to work on a master’s degree in social policy and evaluation. While studying in England, she collaborated with several nonprofits to do more health and immigration policy evaluations related to refugee and immigration issues in England, Lebanon, Jordan, and northern Iraq. Before starting at UHPP, she returned to Salt Lake City and worked on similar policy issues with Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act at a local nonprofit, Women of the World. In her personal time she enjoys playing with her nieces and nephews, practicing the violin, perfecting her Arabic, and reading novels.
Sarah Leetham, Health Access Assister/Healthy Kids Program Director
Sarah was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, but has spent her entire life in Utah. She has always had a desire to work within her community. She has volunteered with the VOA-Homeless Youth Resource Center, Rape Recovery Center, and the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She also has several years of experience under her belt within the healthcare industry. Right out of high school she began working at ARUP Laboratories full time, handling patient samples and eventually moving into the field of quality control and advocating for better patient care. She graduated from the University of Utah in 2018 with a double BS in Consumer and Community Studies, and Health, Society, & Policy. This is where she first encountered UHPP, as they were working on the Proposition 3 Ballot Initiative to fully expand Medicaid in the state of Utah. While at the University, she worked with Alliance for a Better Utah and HEAL Utah during legislative sessions, advocating for legislative changes that support healthy communities. She has a passion for the policy process and how it can impact the determinants of health. When she’s not working at UHPP, she’s either canvassing for a local election, cooking dinner for friends, walking her 3 dogs, or gardening with her wife.
Allison Heffernan, Health Access Assister/Behavioral Health Outreach and Enrollment Program Director
Allison Heffernan joined UHPP in October 2018 as a Health Access Assister. She graduated from the University of Utah in 2016 with a B.A. in International Studies with an emphasis in Global Health and a double minor in Spanish and Nutrition. While there she developed her beliefs that healthcare should be available for everyone. She is excited to serve her community in assisting people to gain access to healthcare. Growing up she was a part of the organization National Charity League (NCL) for over 7 years volunteering with organizations throughout Salt Lake County. In the summer of 2016, Allison joined Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU) as their education intern. She worked with both the community educators and the public affairs team, helping facilitate comprehensive sex education classes with different organizations. In October of 2017 she became a Youth Counselor for the Housing Authority of the County of Salt Lake (HACSL) for an after-school program for youth in their public housing. In her free time, she loves to bake, try new foods, and travel.
Leigh Cottle, Operations Coordinator
Leigh has been with UHPP since May of 2021 as the Operations Coordinator. Before that, she has worked at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the Sierra Club, and a private-owned law office. In these roles, she learned nonprofit organizational skills as well as finance and operational skills. Leigh graduated with her Master of Public Administration degree with an emphasis in nonprofit organizations from the University of Utah in August of 2021. She also received an undergraduate degree from the University of Utah with a BS in Psychology in 2019. Leigh is born and raised in Salt Lake City. She loves the Utah lands and has volunteered with multiple nonprofits to work to protect them. Outside of work, Leigh likes to hike, climb, and be outside, as well as try new foods.
Luis Rios, Health Access Assister
Luis Rios is a Health Access Assister, where he helps individuals and families sign up for health insurance. He first came to UHPP through AmeriCorps in 2013, where he focused on lowering the uninsured rate for Utah children by enrolling them in Medicaid and CHIP as part of United Way of Salt Lake’s Promise Neighborhood program. After his one-year term with AmeriCorps, Luis joined the enrollment team at UHPP as a Health Access Assister for Take Care Utah. Luis is one of the most experienced assisters in the state, where he primarily serves Utah’s Hispanic community, while also assisting individuals leaving the criminal justice system. As Lead Broker, Luis oversees UHPP’s Marketplace enrollment efforts. He and his wife live in Tooele with their three daughters and their dog.
Julie Contreras, Health Access Assister
Julie was born in Chicago, IL, grew up most of her life in Mexico City and for the last 15 years she’s resided in Utah. She has an associate degree in general education from Salt Lake Community College. She started at UHPP through AmeriCorps in 2014 as a Certified Application Counselor. Because of her desire to empower and inform communities about health issues, she decided to join the UHPP team as a Navigator in 2015 to help and guide the underserved through the lengthy and sometimes complicated process of health insurance enrollment. She is part of a program called Bringing Communities and Clinics Together, this program oversees the low rate of the insurance population in South Salt Lake and Glendale areas. Julie and her four children live in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Daryl Herrschaft, Health Access Assister
Daryl joined UHPP in 2019 to help underserved populations in Utah secure health insurance coverage. He was previously an HIV Prevention Counselor at the Utah AIDS Foundation. Daryl is a native of Philadelphia and spent 22 years working in for non-profit organizations in Washington, DC. Including 13 years at the Human Rights Campaign. Prior to moving to Utah, he worked as a Disaster Corps member for Habitat for Humanity aiding in Hurricane Sandy recovery on the Jersey Shore. Daryl enjoys gardening, cooking, bicycling and restoring old homes.
María Guadarrama, Health Access Assister
María was born in Mexico, migrated to the U.S with her family at the age of five. She grew up in Logan, Utah. She graduated from Utah State University with a Global Communications major where she found a passion for the nonprofit sector. Soon after graduating, she moved to Salt Lake City where she joined AmeriCorps, in 2015 and served at UHPP as a Certified Application Counselor. After her year of service at UHPP, she joined the Association of Utah Community Health as a Community Health Worker. Her role as a liaison was to assist clients in connecting, listening and advocating for their health. She had the opportunity to become a Community Outreach Coordinator for Molina Healthcare where she strengthened her relationship with organizations and community leaders. Because of her experience and passion with nonprofit organizations, María has enrolled at Westminster for her Graduate program in Masters of Arts in Community Leadership (MACL). The program has an amazing focus on civic engagement and grass-root projects, both of which María is fully committed to learning more of. María has a drive-in working with the Latinx community and hopes to continue working in the nonprofit sector. She has joined UHPP again as a Navigator and is excited for her journey in being a part of empowering the community.
Dedi Ramba, Health Access Assister
Dedi Ramba came to the U.S. as a refugee from South Sudan in 2004. A long-time community organizer, he joined Utah Health Policy Project in 2018. He speaks Arabic, Kakwa/Baria, and English.
In April 2010, Dedi was instrumental in mobilizing refugee communities in Utah to participate in the twenty-third United States Census. In 2013, the University of Utah awarded Dedi a master’s degree in Health Promotion and Education with an emphasis on International Health. In 2017, Dedi enrolled as a trainee/fellow with Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND).
Dedi is the recipient of the Outstanding Community Builder Award in 2009 from the Refugee Services Office, the Department of Workforce Services.
In his free time, Dedi likes to play scrabble, or any of the word search indoor games. He also likes to edit photos and video clips and makes short family and friends videos on his laptop. Most importantly, Dedi enjoys being the pseudo martial arts instructor of his daughter after she returns from her dojo.
Dajhana Sudbury, Health Access Assister and Volunteer Coordinator
Dajhana was born in Peru, and she has resided in Utah for the last 18 years. In 2014, she worked as a case manager at HAP, a nonprofit organization through Americorps, where she discovered her passion to work for a cause helping people to improve our communities. In 2017, she worked as a Spanish interpreter, providing language services to health care patients with limited English proficiency. She joined UHPP in 2019 and she is very excited to make a difference in her community. In her free time, Dajhana likes to do puzzles and play with her children.
Jude Schmid, Health Access Assister
Jude was born in New York City and has made her home in Utah for the past 30 years. She has a B.A. from the State University of New York at Binghamton and a Masters in Business from the University of Utah. She has worked with underserved and vulnerable populations throughout her career and retired from Salt Lake County government in 2015. Since that time, she has been working with refugees at the Refugee and Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah. While there she worked in several capacities as a work readiness ESL coordinator, a neighborhood center assistant and also helped facilitate emergency rental assistance to the refugee population in the community. She joined UHPP in November 2017 as a Navigator. When not at work, she enjoys camping, hiking, running, and cats.
Jade Hill, Health Policy Fellow
Jade Hill joined UHPP in September 2020 as a Health Policy Fellow. Her education includes a Master of Public Health and a Bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion. Jade’s passion for Public Health is rooted in achieving health equity, particularly in the area of maternal health and reproductive justice. She has experience in healthcare from a patient care, administrative, and research capacity. Jade became interested in health policy during the completion of her Master’s thesis on the maternal mortality crisis in the United States. She is excited to contribute to the health policy work in Utah and learn from the team at UHPP! In her spare time, Jade enjoys reading, playing tennis, and spending time with family.
Tamara Maust, MSW, Heath Access Assister
Tamara joined Utah Health Policy Project and Take Care Utah in November 2019. Originally from California, Tamara has lived in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Arizona and landed in Utah in 2006. She worked many years in the healthcare industry (Non-clinical) on the business side. She is our Weber County representative. In December 2016, Tamara graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Weber State University and in May 2020 obtained a master’s degree in Social Work focusing on Substance Abuse Treatment and the Criminal Justice System from Walden University. Her passion lies in helping underserved populations that have been involved in the Criminal Justice system and have mental health and substance abuse disorders. She has two grown children and recently became a Grandmother. In her free time, she loves to attend concerts and spend time with family and friends.
Fernando Garcia-Aguilar, Health Access Assister
Fernando was born and raised in Logan Utah. His passion for interaction and helping others started at a very young age in the food service industry. He then continued that passion onto college earning a degree in Health Education and Promotion in 2019. He started gaining more experience through his internship at Bear River Health Department. In early 2020 he joined our team at UHPP as a Health Access Assister. In Fernando’s free time he enjoys going on adventures with his husky, and making delicious cocktails for friends and family. He also enjoys traveling to new places on his motorcycle.
Fatima Rasoul, Health Access Assister
Fatima was born in Syria to her ethnically Kurdish parents. She has lived in Salt Lake City ever since 2000 when her family immigrated to the United States as refugees. She attended the University of Utah, where she acquired a degree in Political Science and Gender Studies. She has prior experience working in the healthcare industry as a Licensed Health Insurance Agent. Her goal is to help increase access to health insurance for Utahns and be a resource to her community. She also fluently speaks Kurdish. In her free time, Fatima enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her cat.
Mona Taha, Health Access Assister
Mona joined UHPP in July 2020 as a Health Access Assister. She is from Sudan, and lived in Egypt for two years before coming to the United States. She is fluent in Arabic and English. Mona studied Health Society and Policy, and Psychology at the University of Utah, and graduated in 2020. In her last year at the University of Utah she interned with Sorenson Impact Center, where I helped organize data and the annual Winter Innovation Summit. She is planning to pursue a Master’s degree in health care administration, since health care is a problem in the United States for many people, although it is the most important to all of us. Mona’s plan is to help those who are underserved. She works with Turn Community Services as a direct support staff, and helps people with disabilities in their daily lives. She has worked with high school students as a mentor and tutor for over a year, and she loved seeing students succeeding through their educational journey. She is a member and a cofounder of the Nile Association organization, which started shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic with the main goal of helping refugee communities with what they need, as well as providing mentoring and tutoring services for students. In her role at UHPP, Mona looks forward to learning more skills to help people in different ways to support them with more resources.
Shawnica Sanders, Health Access Assister
Shawnica is a Health Access Assister who recently joined our team. She grew up in Utah her entire life and has dedicated most of her time to health care. When she is not in a clinical setting, she is typically volunteering or working within the community. Since a very young age, Shawnica has been involved. As an activist/ advocate for underprivileged communities, you can trust that she will have your best interest. Shawnica has worked with non-profit organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Children of Hope, the Marshall White Center, and the Lantern House. She has also been very active on campus while finishing her B.S. degree in psychology. Her Leadership in clubs/ organizations like Black Scholar United as well as the NAACP have allowed her to make a major impact on the community, development of policy, and implementation of regulations. She is excited to be a part of the UHPP team, making a difference where it truly matters.
Elena Gardner, Health Access Assister
Elena is from Atlanta, Georgia, and attended college in Washington, DC where she received a BA in International Relations concentrated on Environmental Sustainability and Global Health. Her passion lies at the intersection between social conditions, lived environment, and holistic health, and will be pursuing a Master’s in Public Health in Fall 2021 to further explore those intersections. Before working for UHPP, Elena worked for the Road Home at the COVID-19 Vulnerable Populations Hotel where she worked to find permanent supportive housing for homeless seniors while they quarantined away from the rest of the unsheltered population. She is excited to continue working with this population and to get out into the community. When she is not at work, you can find Elena tending to her vegetable garden, camping in the Wasatch National Forest, or writing.
Peyton Thomas, Health Access Assister
Peyton recently joined the UHPP team as a Health Access Assister. She was born in California and raised in Maui, Hawaii. She moved to Salt Lake City in 2017 to attend the University of Utah where she recently graduated with a BS in Health, Society, & Policy and a minor in Sociology. Prior to starting her role at UHPP, she worked at Utah’s State Botanical Garden and Arboretum, Red Butte Garden, for over three years. During the Spring of 2021, she also interned at the United Way of Salt Lake with the Collective Impact team on their Stay Safe, Stay Connected project which sought to reengage students in schools during COVID-19. Both organizations’ involvement in the community inspired her to seek out a job that would help her stay connected with the community of Salt Lake and, hopefully, make a difference. In her free time, she enjoys cooking at home and spending time in local parks and gardens.
Natalie Cha, Health Access Assister
Natalie joined UHPP in May 2021 as a Health Access Assister. She was born and raised in Houston, TX, and just moved to Utah in May. Natalie graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2021 with a degree in Health and Society and a certificate in Public Policy. At UT, she was a research assistant in the Gender Health Equity Lab and primarily worked on research focusing on the health effects of housing on Black/African American women. Her experiences range from volunteering at hospitals and clinics to interning with Representative Ryan Guillen at the Texas Capitol and with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. In addition, she was a leader of the UT chapter of the International Justice Mission, an anti-human trafficking organization, the college ministry at the Austin Stone, and Ignite Texas. Natalie is eager to further UHPP’s mission of advancing sustainable health care solutions for underserved Utahns.
Mariam Nalbandyan Ghazaryan, Health Access Assister
Mariam joined UHPP in July 2021 as a Health Access Assister. She was born in Armenia and raised in Spain. Growing up in Spain she had the chance to work at an orphanage helping children. She felt the need to give back at an early age. In 2015 she moved to Utah and she immediately got involved with a no-profit and found ways to serve the community. During the weekends she joined a Christian church to feed the homeless. She studied English and she graduated with her Associate’s degree from LDS Business College. Her passion lies in helping the underserved and providing resources for those in need. She was a community health worker before joining UHPP where she had the chance to meet a lot of Utahns who were struggling to meet their needs and provide solutions for those who were financially affected by COVID-19. She is eager to help those in need and find ways to improve the system to better serve her community.
Ciara Mao, Health Access Assister
Ciara was born in California but raised in Holland, Michigan. Her parents are refugees from Cambodia and immigrated to the United States in the early 1980’s. She attended the University of Utah, where she obtained a degree in Health, Society & Policy, and a minor in Sociology. Previously, Ciara interned for the American Heart Association, researching chronic illnesses and raising awareness about prevention and disease management. She also volunteered with the American Red Cross and partnered with other community organizations to develop and implement strategies for preparedness programs during response and recovery operations. She has over 10 years of experience in the food service industry and is excited to implement her customer service skills to better serve her community. Ciara recognizes the challenges and struggles of underserved populations firsthand. She is dedicated to navigating and addressing any healthcare concern to enhance and facilitate healthier community outcomes for all. In her free time, she enjoys skiing, backpacking, and sandy beaches.