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Our Team

Our team is dedicated to creating a future in which all Utahns have access to high quality and affordable physical, oral, and behavioral health care and are equipped to make informed decisions within a system that meets their health care needs in a timely manner.


Matt Slonaker

Matt became the Executive Director in September 2013, bringing with him a wealth of experience and a passion for making a difference. Growing up in rural western Montana, Matt developed a deep understanding of community needs and the importance of effective leadership.

His educational journey led him to the University of Montana, where he pursued his passion for policy and government. Matt delved into the realms of political science and economics, setting a solid foundation for his future endeavors. Building upon this knowledge, he went on to complete a law degree, where he solidified his interest in policy reform.

After completing law school, Matt joined Governor Brian Schweitzer's budget team in Helena, MT, assuming the role of economist and tax policy analyst. This experience honed his analytical abilities and allowed him to contribute to the state's economic well-being.

Seeking to make a broader impact, Matt relocated to Washington, D.C., where he served as a nonprofit policy adviser and outreach coordinator for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. In this influential position, he played a crucial role in shaping two landmark legislations: The Affordable Care Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Driven by a desire to address pressing social issues, Matt later moved to New York City to work at Care for the Homeless. His role involved coordinating a coalition of healthcare providers focused on serving the homeless population amidst significant changes to state Medicaid policy. Through his dedication and strategic thinking, Matt helped ensure that vulnerable individuals received the care they needed.

Matt's commitment to improving healthcare extended to Utah, where he played a pivotal role as a founding organizer of the successful Proposition 3 campaign to expand Medicaid. Matt's contributions to this successful campaign galvanized his reputation as a knowledgeable and influential advocate for change. His expertise and insights as a thought leader on healthcare matters have been widely recognized locally and nationally.

Together with his dedicated team and community partners, he continues to work tirelessly to develop innovative strategies that strengthen Utah's healthcare system, ensuring the well-being of its residents. Matt has a second job meeting the demands of his two little girls who seem to have an endless appetite for his attention. He doesn’t mind.


Daryl Herrschaft

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.

Leigh Taylor

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.

Julie Contreras

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.

Peyton Thomas

Peyton Thomas is a Take Care Utah Manager, alongside her amazing co-manager Julie. Born in Northern California and raised in Maui, Hawaii, she relocated to Salt Lake City in 2017 to pursue her education at the University of Utah. After graduating with a B.S. in Health, Society, and Policy, along with a minor in Sociology, Peyton started working with the Utah Health Policy Project as a Health Access Assister. Her enrollment work focused mainly on assisting folks exiting incarceration in applying for Medicaid. After a year of working as a Health Access Assister, Peyton took on Community Organizer responsibilities for UHPP, leading out the health insurance enrollment efforts coordinated with the Utah State Correctional Facility and the Salt Lake County Jail. Now, as a Take Care Utah Manager, Peyton continues to be invested in managing UHPPs activities funded by the State Opioid Response grant and has enjoyed the opportunity to take on several other projects, including the Partnering for Vaccine Equity Initiative and the Linkage Coordinator program (a partnership with DHHS). In her free time, she frequents Red Butte Garden, enjoying the beautiful garden where she previously worked during her undergraduate degree.

Payton Connors

Payton joined UHPP in August 2022 as a Health Access Assister. Payton grew up in Southern Idaho and Northern Utah. She attended Utah State University and graduated in 2020 with an AS degree. She knew from a young age that she wanted to work with underserved communities. Before working at UHPP, Payton worked as a pediatric dental assistant for many years. It was in that clinical role, that Payton discovered her passion for helping patients get the care and coverage they need. Payton witnessed many children go without the treatment they needed due to excessive barriers in the health insurance realm. Now, Payton is driven by her past experiences and strives to help as many folks as she can. Payton believes affordable health care is a basic right to everyone. She is passionate about helping folks leave incarceration with the tools, and assistance they need to set them up for success. Payton's favorite part of her job is being able to advocate for her clients. Outside of work, she likes to spend time outdoors, read books, and spend time with her husband and dog.

Daniel Sloan

Daniel joined UHPP as a health policy analyist in April 2022. Daniel graduated from BYU in 2021 with a Master of Public Administration degree, focusing on health policy and state/federal government. He also received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Utah. Before UHPP, Daniel worked for Leavitt Partners and interned with organizations including the Utah Insurance Department, where he researched and wrote a report on insulin affordability for the Legislature; the Utah Attorney General’s Office; and the U.S. Supreme Court. Daniel was born and raised in Salt Lake City and enjoys reading and spending time outdoors.

Emily Zheutlin

Emily joined UHPP in August of 2022. Emily graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s of Science and a Master’s of Science, focusing on Public Heatlh. Her master’s thesis focused on the environmental impacts on women’s health. Before UHPP Emily worked on a clinical trial at the University of Utah. Emily enjoys playing board games, hiking, skiing, and pretty much anything outdoors.

Pushyami Ajjarapu

Pushyami joined UHPP as Oral Health Policy Fellow in May 2023. She graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2023 with master's in health and bioinformatics and received her undergraduate degree in Bachelor of Dental Surgery from Dr. NTRUHS, India in 2019. She worked as graduate assistant for GVSU KCON research grant on nursing workforce demand and primary care provision during her graduate school with focus on social determinants of health, workforce diversity and primary physician shortage areas. She has been an active participant with the student organizations as a Peer educator in educating the community on safety choices for healthy lifestyle adaptations. Pushyami has dental background, community engagement experiences in oral health awareness that helps with her work on dental care coverage, and access among the underserved communities. Born and raised in India, she enjoys sketching, hiking, and star gazing.

Rebecca Barhorst

Rebecca was born and raised in Lubbock, TX and recently moved to Salt Lake City to be closer to her sisters (and the mountains). She graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio in December 2020 with a degree in Anthropology, where she developed a passion for learning about all aspects of humanity in the past and present. While working at a residential painting company in Texas, she cultivated a background in working with people to beautify the spaces that mean the most to them. Rebecca is looking forward to transitioning to a field where she can continue to assist people of all backgrounds in getting the healthcare and support they deserve. When not at work, Rebecca will be watching her favorite movies, reading a book, organizing her nail polish collection, or trying out her latest crafting or hobby technique.

Tatiana Pryor

Tatiana is a dedicated member of the community and loves to work with Utah residents. She is currently a candidate for a Master of Public Health through Brigham Young University, and graduated with her Bachelor of Public Health, Health Science and minor of Spanish in June of 2022. At BYU, Tatiana researched in the family health lab, which deepened her understanding of child and family circumstances that affect an individual's access to health, and why the need for healthcare is necessary to the health of individuals and communities. Tatiana has worked with UHPP since July of 2022 and has become deeply rooted in working with community members through outreach and event coordination. She is passionate about immigrant and refugee health, women's and family health, and health systems policy. Tatiana loves working with community partners, especially after growing up a Girl Scout and now spending time as a Girl Scout troop co-leader as a way to give back to the organization. When not found discussing her passion for equitable and universal healthcare, Tatiana can be found discovering new music, movies, and restaurants or at home with her two dogs, Luci and Lilli.

Dajhana Sudbury

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.

Cecilia Armaza

Cecilia joined UHPP in May 2021 as a Health Access Assister. She was born in Peru and came to the United States around 20 years ago. In Peru, she has always enjoyed helping her community and ensuring everyone’s needs were met. After coming to the states, she graduated as a social worker from the University of Utah, where during her college education, she had the opportunity to be a volunteer in different nonprofits organizations and programs such as Injury Safety Program, and Prediabetes prevention. She also obtained the certificate of Lifestyle coach for National Diabetes prevention Program.

Cecilia also worked with the Salt Lake County Health department as a health educator. Before UHPP, she worked as a community health worker that connected underserved communities with important resources needed. She worked closely with clinical teams to ensure that patients were receiving proper, comprehensive care, and she established trusting relationships with her patients and their families to help them become more engaged in their health.

In her free time Cecilia enjoys being outside with her family, dancing, traveling, and practicing meditation.

Community Outreach and Enrollment Organizer

Iris Curiel

Iris was born, raised, and educated in Mexico. Moved to USA seeking a more multicultural environment to continue her passion of helping others and becoming a facilitator between people and knowledge; Obtained her TEFL from Sand Diego State University in 2007, CDA from Utah Valley University 2016, and Utah State Broker license in 2022.

Iris possesses 16 years of experience in the educational field; As a lead teacher and family advocate had the opportunity to interact with families and individuals from all over the world. Developing an understanding of global backgrounds, struggles, traditions and needs. As a communicator, recorded jingles and TV commercials offering local services, and advertising events for the local community.

In the early years, worked for Utah Community Action in Salt Lake City making a positive impact in the Hispanic Community through a ward program recognized by Utah State Holistic and better know as Head Start. It was through observation and daily interactions that life-long connections were made with children and their families who reached out to her for resources, educational advice, and professional teaching. She has volunteered in over one hundred events between the states of Utah and California.

Currently active Rotary member, fostering collaborations between organizations to bring even more resources and opportunities for Utah’s residents.

When not at work, Iris enjoys the outdoors all year round, enjoying skiing, hikes, paddle boarding and Yoga.


Elim Schmidt

Elim (He/Him/His) joined UHPP as a Health Access Assister in 2022. He was raised in rural Bluffdale where the sprawling fields and all the little lives they contained spurred his love for biology. Witnessing the struggles that his family and communities faced, this interest turned into a drive to help his loved ones explore all aspects of their health and where they could find appropriate help and support.

As a youth, Elim spent 5 years involved with the Utah Pride Center. When he joined, the group was named the Queer Youth Activist Coalition but eventually evolved into the Youth Planning Committee. Elim Spent his time there learning how to successfully collaborate with peers while planning large scale community events, where his favorite task was to create and design educational materials about numerous public health issues targeted for youth. During that time, he also volunteered with The Youth of Utah Advocacy Coalition. Now at UHPP Elim is continuing his purpose to help Utahns gain access to the best healthcare they deserve.

When Elim isn’t watching old Sci-Fi’s, you will find him scribbling in his sketchbook, playing D&D, or enjoying a long quiet walk.


Jude Schmid

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 master's in business administration 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. She then worked with refugees at the Refugee and Immigrant Center – AAU for two years. Jude joined UHPP in November 2017 as a Health Access Assister. When not at work, she enjoys camping, hiking, running, and cats.

Mona Taha

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.

Anna Diaz

Community Outreach and Enrollment Organizer

Yesenia Gonzalez


Aimee Klein

Aimee Klein joined the UHPP team in November of 2022. She is currently a Community Organizer that works closely with the Utah Department of Corrections to ensure that those being released from incarceration have the opportunity to apply for health insurance coverage. Aimee was born and raised in Salt Lake City and has recently graduated with her Master of Public Health from Westminster University in May of 2023. With a passion for health equity and access to quality healthcare, Aimee wants to help make a difference in her community. In her free time, Aimee enjoys being outdoors, spending time with friends and family, and playing with her dogs.

Heather Knight


Marisol Solorio

Marisol joined UHPP as a Health Access Assister in 2022. Before joining our team, she worked within the Weber County community and has a passion for helping people get access to affordable healthcare. Marisol worked for a Non-profit where she learned the importance of medical insurance and assisted individuals with applying. Her mission as a Health Access Assiter is to be able to help individuals in Weber County get their medical needs taken care of without the worry of financial burden. When not at work Marisol enjoys visiting local shops to support small businesses.

Yulisa Padilla

Yulisa Padilla, recently joined Utah Health Policy Project as a Health Access Assister in September of 2023. She was born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT. In May of 2023 she graduated as a first-generation student from the University of Utah with a BS in Sociology and minors in Business and Health. During my time as an undergraduate student, she worked for and volunteered with various organizations that focused on supporting marginalized members of our communities. Some of these include Promise South Salt Lake, Maliheh Free Clinic, Pamela Atkinson Resource Center, and the McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention Research & Education. Having grown up in Salt Lake City, she is passionate about contributing to the success of my community, especially when it comes to accessible and quality health care. She hopes to emphasize the importance of all forms of health from physical to mental health and to encourage our communities to take advantage of our health access services. During her free time, she enjoys spending quality time with my family and friends, being out in nature, or taking on any travel opportunities that come her way.

Rosario Bauer

Rosario Bauer (She/Her/Hers) was born in Lima, Peru. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications. She moved to the US in 2020 to do an exchange cultural program, leaving in New York for a year. She moved to Utah in 2021 and joined UHPP in November 2022 becoming a Health Access Assister. Rosario is passionate about helping people to meet their needs in different ways. She believes that everybody deserves a change to get a health insurance or get help to coverage those expensive bills. Our job it’s make the whole process easier for Utahns.

Rosario enjoys spending time with her family. She likes to play board and card games, also watch series and moves.


Matt Goldenberg

Matt joined UHPP in December of 2021. He was born on the east coast and has also lived in Denver, Colorado. Before UHPP, Matt worked as a tech in a number of mental health facilities, and in the medical billing field. Matt enjoys hiking, yoga, and reading.

Raye Silvers

Raye Silvers is a Utah native who has studied social work, social sciences, and alternative healthcare modalities, and has worked in the non-profit sector for most of her professional career. Prior to joining UHPP in May 2023 she worked for many years helping low-income, unhoused, and justice involved people with substance use and mental health disorders access treatment services. She saw treatment outcomes improve significantly when Utah fully expanded Medicaid in 2020, because of greater access to behavioral health and medical care, and Medicaid funding for post-treatment services that helped clients stabilize in recovery and rebuild their lives. Healthcare access is essential to well-being in all areas of life, for everyone, regardless of their history or circumstances. She recognizes good health as a fundamental human right and enjoys helping Utahns obtain the healthcare coverage they need and deserve.

Denise Jones

Denise is a native Washingtonian, having relocated to Utah with her husband. She holds a BA in Human Relations from Trinity University and an HR certification from the Graduate School USA. Prior to spending over a decade with the Department of the Treasury as a Management and Program Analyst, and as an HR Specialist with the Department of Justice, Denise worked for the nonprofit, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). There she collaborated closely with program staff to improve the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the US. As a reading instructor in the DC public school system, her focus was grades K-6. Most recently, she has been a volunteer with the public library’s America Reads program. In her free time, Denise enjoys writing, trying baking recipes, and watching procedural TV dramas.

Fatuma Abukar

Fatuma joined UHPP in April 2023 as a Health Access Assister. She was born in Somali and resided in Utah for the last 16 years. . Prior to this, she worked at the Refugee and Immigration Center- Asian Association of Utah, displaying her dedication to community service. In various roles, including Social Services Case Manager and Transitional Housing Case Manager, she supported refugees, second immigrants, asylum seekers, and survivors of human trafficking and labor trafficking. Notably, Fatuma actively facilitated crucial COVID-19 and TANF rental assistance for the community, showcasing her commitment to aiding the underserved. On her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Brian Benitez

Brian joined UHPP as a Health Access Assister in April 2023. He is a Mexican American born and raised in Ogden, Utah. He graduated from Weber State University with a B.S. in Political Science and a minor in Business Administration in December 2022. Prior to starting his role at UHPP, he worked for the Ogden School District as a Student Advocate running an anti-gang prevention program at a junior high school. He will enroll into a Master of Public Policy program at the University of Utah in Fall of 2024. He hopes to use his work and education experience to further aid and support underserved populations within the state of Utah and, eventually, on a national level. Outside of work, he thoroughly enjoys going to the movies, attending concerts, and hanging out with his friends and family.

Clarke "CJ" Hemmert

CJ (they/them/theirs) recently joined the UHPP team as a Health Access Assister. They were born in Vernal, UT and raised on Long Island, New York. They attended the George Washington University where they studied criminal justice with a focus in behavioral analysis. When they weren't studying, CJ was interning with various police departments in the DC Metro area, as well as volunteering at Planned Parenthood. They moved to Utah in 2020 and found their passion for health policy while they were homeless and working to get back on their feet. They look forward to applying their passion to the work UHPP does helping Utahns access affordable healthcare. Before UHPP they previously worked as the program manager for a substance abuse recovery facility in Northern Utah. When they're not working, you can find CJ hanging out with their wife, dog, and two cats, at a rock concert, painting, or skiing.

Ashley Vaughn

Before recently starting with UHPP in 2023, Ashley started out working for Primary Children’s Hospital as Executive Secretary for Pediatric General Surgery in 2010. Ashley was promoted to Scheduling Timekeeping Coordinator in 2011. In this role she worked with nursing managers/directors to coordinate and build inpatient nursing schedules for NICU, NTU, and Adolescent Behavioral Units. Ashley then decided to expand her career taking on the role of Executive Secretary for U of U OBGN-MFM in 2016. Ashley was then promoted to Faculty Onboarding Coordinator at the University of Utah School of Medicine – OBGYN in 2019. Ashley assisted in coordinating care to the high-risk pregnancy population as well as assisting with the SUPeRAD (Substance Use in Pregnancy Recovery Addiction Dependence) clinic for opiate addicted pregnant patients. Ashley was responsible for onboarding new providers, drawing up employment contracts as well as renewing licenses/DEA’s and all outside credentialing. Ashley is motivated and determined to use her skillset to help improve the lives of others. Ashley enjoys spending her time with her husband and 2 daughters outdoors, on road trips, and near water.

Naomi Romano

Naomi joined the Take Care Utah family in March of 2023 as a linkage coordinator. Naomi is a Salt Lake City native, who graduated from Weber State University with a master's degree in criminal justice in May 2021 and is currently working on a master's in social work. Before joining Take Care Utah, she worked as an intensive outpatient coordinator, as well as a certified Prime for Life and Prime Solutions instructor. She also has extensive experience assisting those with disabilities live their most independent lives within independent living centers. As a linkage coordinator, she enjoys helping people in underserved populations get connected to low-cost resources within the local community. In her free time, Naomi loves spending time with her two dogs, playing video games, gardening, thrift shopping, as well as traveling.

Zaydia Ellis

Zaydia has been with UHPP since August 2022 and is working as Linkage Coordinator, helping individuals with disabilities get connected to healthcare and other support services across Utah. Before joining the team, she worked has worked as a Case Manager for those with severe mental illness, and as a Behavioral Technician doing ABA and play therapy with children and teens with Autism. Zaydia graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology degree in 2021 from the University of Wyoming. While she completed her degree she worked as a Direct Support Professional supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in their daily living activities. Zaydia is originally from Green River, WY, but moved to Salt Lake City shortly after completing her degree. Outside of work, Zaydia likes to crochet, play Dungeons & Dragons, walk her cats, and spend time with her husband.