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Members

Members of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services

Member Biographies

Steve Barnett, DHA, CRNA, FACHE

President & CEO of McKenzie Health System
Lake Orion, MI
Term Expires: August 2023

Steve Barnett has served as a hospital chief operating officer and chief executive officer over the past 17 years. Currently Steve is serving as the President and CEO of McKenzie Health System, a rural Critical Access Hospital in Sandusky, Michigan.

Steve has been a member of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association since 2001, served and chaired their Legislative Policy Panel, and sits on the Small and Rural Hospital Council. He also serves on numerous healthcare related boards, is an Assistant Professor in the Central Michigan University’s College of Medicine, and is an Adjunct Professor at Saginaw Valley State University.

Steve began his healthcare career as a Respiratory Therapist, went to Oakland University and received his bachelor’s degree in Nursing, which led to a master’s degree in Nurse Anesthesia from Southern Connecticut State University and finally earned his Doctorate in Healthcare Administration from Central Michigan University.

Kathleen H. Belanger, MSW, PhD

Nacogdoches, TX
Term Expires: March 2020

Kathleen Belanger, MSW, Ph.D. retired as Professor of Social Work at Stephen F. Austin State University, is a member of the Rural Policy Research Institute’s Human Services panel, and a consultant with the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids. Her experience, research and numerous publications address rural human services, particularly racial disproportionality in child welfare, working with faith communities, building sustainable programs in and with communities, demystifying research and data, addressing foster and adoptive parent recruitment and retention challenges, and building evidence in practice. Her awards include the CWLA’s Champion for Children Award for her work in rural child welfare.

Robert Blancato

President of Matz, Blancato and Associates
Washington DC
Term Expires: August 2023

Bob Blancato has over 30 years of deep experience in the field of aging and public service. Including a Presidential appointment to direct the 1995 White House Conference on Aging.   Mr. Blancato is the former chair of the American Society on Aging (2016-2018).  In addition, he is executive director of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs and the national coordinator of the Elder Justice Coalition. He is also on the National Board of AARP since 2016.

Kari M. Bruffett

Vice President for Policy at the Kansas Health Institute (KHI)
Lawrence KS
Term Expires: August 2023

Ms. Bruffett oversees policy activities, project management and operations, and supervises team leaders at KHI, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization focused on health policy and research.  Ms. Bruffett participates in policy analysis and interpretation, strategic planning, budget development, surveillance of business opportunities, and the launch of new lines of business.  She leads KHI efforts related to health care finance, Medicaid, provider issues, and access to care. Before joining KHI, Ms. Bruffett worked in state government, serving as Secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.  She also served as the Director of the Division of Health Care Finance at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), playing a key role in the development of the state’s Medicaid managed care program, KanCare.  Her prior experience includes eight years in government affairs at The University of Kansas Hospital, and four years in Washington, DC, as a congressional staffer.

Wayne George Deschambeau, MBA

President and CEO of Wayne HealthCare
Greenville, OH
Term Expires: August 2023

Mr. Deschambeau is the President and CEO of Wayne HealthCare, a rural hospital that serves southwestern Ohio. Born and raised in the Chicago area, he served in the Air Force and Illinois Air National Guard. After graduating from the University of Central Florida and receiving an MBA in 1983, he worked in several hospitals before being appointed CEO of the hospital in New Port Richey, Florida in 1990. He has been the CEO of hospitals in Ohio, Colorado and other states before settling in Greenville Ohio in 2006. He has been a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives since 1991, has served on numerous boards and currently chairs the Ohio Hospital Association's Small & Rural Hospital Committee.

Molly Dodge

Chancellor, Ivy Tech Community College
Madison, IN
Term Expires: August 2023

Molly Dodge serves as the Chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College campus in Madison, Indiana. Ivy Tech Community College is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system. Ivy Tech has 19 campuses throughout Indiana. Ivy Tech serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana.

Prior to this role, Dodge served in dual roles as director of adult education and director of the Clearinghouse and special projects at the Madison-based, non-profit River Valley Resources, Inc. As Clearinghouse director, she created a multi-tenant nonprofit center focused on the provision of employment and wrap around services to families living in poverty. The Clearinghouse includes permanent and rotating office space for nonprofit service providers; training classrooms; computer lab; a 3,200 square foot food pantry; and an information resource and referral center. In her role as the director, Dodge spearheaded a capital campaign to raise $2 million to purchase and renovate a building and recruited tenants and needed services to the facility. As director of River Valley Resources' adult basic education program, Dodge coordinated delivery of adult education, foundational skill development, career pathways, and academic and career counseling services to adults and out-of-school youth.

Carolyn Emanuel-McClain, MPH

CEO, Rural Health Services, Inc.
Santee, SC
Term Expires: March 2020

Carolyn Emanuel-McClain graduated UNC-School of Public Health (Chapel Hill, NC) with a Master’s in Public Health (Administration) in 1979. She was employed by Pembroke Medical Services, a free standing NHSC site) immediately upon completing graduate school (1979) until 1981. In 1981 she founded the Lumbee Medical Center in Pembroke and was responsible for obtaining the first PHS Section 330 funding for a health center in Robeson County, NC. In 1985 Lumbee Medical Center formed a consortium with other health care facilities in the county and the name became Robeson Health Care Corporation with the principal office located in Pembroke, NC. In 1986 Emanuel-McClain became the Executive Director of Family Health Centers, Inc. in Orangeburg, SC where she remained for the next 15 years and was responsible for the health center being the first CHC to become JCAHCO accredited in SC. From June 2001 until August 2009 she worked as an independent consultant with numerous health centers in SC and the southeast. She also worked as a consultant with the SC Primary Health Care Association and for Management Solutions Group, Inc. Effective August 14, 2009 Carolyn Emanuel-McClain became the Interim Chief Executive Officer for Rural Health Services, Inc., d/b/a/ Margaret J. Weston Community Health Centers in Clearwater, SC and was named the CEO in April of 2010. Mrs. Emanuel-McClain has served as a past Chair of the National Association of Community Health Centers and as President of the SC Primary Health Care Association.

Meggan Grant-Nierman, DO, MBA

Poncha Springs, CO
Term Expires: August 2023

Dr. Grant-Nierman is a Colorado native and a second-generation rural family medicine physician.
She is a partner at First Street Family Health (FSFH) where she provides full spectrum family medicine.  She has enjoyed working on team-based care transformation as well as patient and family engagement, and is a member of the Patient Family Advisor Council at FSFH.  She recently completed a term as national faculty for the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative and has enjoyed engaging with healthcare organizations around the country regarding practice transformation.  Dr. Grant-Nierman was voted as the 2018 Best Physician in the "Best of Salida Reader's Choice Poll".

Constance (Connie) E. Greer

St. Paul, MN
Term Expires: March 2020

Constance Greer was employed by the State of Minnesota from 1980-2014 in the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) in state Departments in which OEO was located. (Minnesota Department of Human Services, St. Paul). From 1991-2014, she served as the Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity. Duties included leadership, management, policy development, and supervision of state and federal anti-poverty programs. This included Community Action, Homeless Shelters (HUD), Food Banks and Food Shelves, The Emergency Assistance Food Program (TEFAP) (USDA), SNAP Outreach and SNAP-Ed. She was also responsible for legislative and budget activity, planning and policy analysis and evaluation. From 1980 to 1991, she held positions in the Office of Economic Opportunity including administration, monitoring, training and technical assistance for Head Start, Head Start/Child Care Collaboration, Energy Assistance, Weatherization, Food Shelves, Homeless Programs, Lead Abatement, and Community Action Agencies. From 1973-1980, she was employed by the Bi-County Community Action Agency, Bemidji Minnesota, in positions including Head Start Director and Director of Personnel and Operations. She supervised and managed the delivery of agency programs including Energy Assistance, Weatherization, and Senior Citizen Services. Managed and supervised a staff of sixty persons. Constance has a BA in Social Work from the University of Minnesota.

George “Mark” Holmes, PhD

Director, Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research,
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill NC
Term Expires: August 2023

Mark Holmes, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health and Director of the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, where he is also the Director of the North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center and the Co-Director of the Program on Health Care Economics and Finance. His research interests include hospital finance, rural health, workforce, health policy, and patient-centered outcomes research.  In 2014, he received UNC’s Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty. In 2015 he was named Outstanding Researcher by the National Rural Health Association.  He previously served on the board of the North Carolina Health Insurance Risk Pool. His state policy work led to his 2010 Health Care Hero "Rising Star" award from the Triangle Business Journal.  A native of Michigan’s “Thumb”, he now lives in North Carolina with his wife and three children.  He received his BS in Mathematics and Economics from Michigan State University and his PhD from the Department of Economics at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Joe Lupica, JD

Chairman, Newpoint Healthcare Advisors
Phoenix, AZ
Term Expires: August 2023

Joe Lupica is a veteran healthcare industry advisor. During his career, he has served a variety of nonprofit, corporate and public-sector clients, providing governance advice, affiliation development, and scenario planning. He is best known for his focus on the community and municipal hospital sector of the industry.

Mr. Lupica pioneered an award-winning community collaboration model to build consensus when not-for-profit or public-sector hospital leaders consider community objectives and evaluate options. In dozens of projects, his teams have produced innovative alignment structures for the transformation of hospitals and healthcare networks. He has also provided guidance to help local hospital leaders stand firm against mergers that would not advance their institutions or the communities they serve.

Mr. Lupica was President of Stroudwater Capital for seven years prior to joining Newpoint. He formerly served as a Regional Vice President for one of the nation’s largest hospital systems. During his Wall Street career, Mr. Lupica was a senior officer of Kidder, Peabody & Co., where he served as Vice Chairman of KP Global Markets, President of Kidder Peabody China, and SVP of Corporate Business Development. Prior to joining Kidder, he was Vice President and Executive Director of Corporate Finance at Goldman, Sachs and partner in a major Connecticut law firm, where he was a leading business litigator.

Mr. Lupica served in the Reagan White House as Special Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs, and served a cabinet officer as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. During his federal service – as now – he has focused on local and regional issues faced by community officials and their constituents.

Mr. Lupica earned his JD and BA, cum laude, from Cornell University.

Brian Myers

Chief Strategy Officer at Empire Health Foundation (EHF)
Spokane WA
Term Expires: August 2023

Brian Myers leads the design and implementation of the Foundation’s grantmaking portfolios.  He began his work at EHF in 2010 as the Foundation was forming its initial strategies as well as its culture of accountability and impact while remaining compassionate, collaborative and equitable.  In prior roles he directed the Foundation’s Healthy Aging Program, which is aimed at supporting seniors to remain healthy and independent in their homes or communities of choice, as well as the design and implementation of the Foundation's Capacity Building Program, helping bring over $260 million in outside funding to Eastern Washington and catalyzing partnerships to address social determinants of health.  He is constantly working with regional, state, national, and tribal partners to address social determinants of health, improve quality, and outcomes while keeping a lens on sustainability, reducing disparities, and ensuring that communities are better through long-term relationships with the Foundation.
Mr. Myers currently serves as a board member for the Spokane Teachers Credit Union, Spokane Tribal Network, Potlatch Fund and Grantmakers in Aging.

Maria S. Poepsel, CRNA, APRN, PhD

Columbia, MO
Term Expires: March 2020

Maria “Sallie” Poepsel has a broad-based experience in healthcare for approximately 41 years encompassing clinical, education, research, leadership and administrative practices. Within the last 21 years she has been providing anesthesia services in level I trauma, ambulatory surgery center, office-based and rural hospital settings. She has focused her practice in rural critical access hospitals since 2000, and has been a tireless advocate for her profession and more importantly, for access to healthcare services in rural and medically underserved areas. She has served in many committees both nationally and at the state level, including the state’s DHSS task force for hospital licensure and regulations to review and revise the rules and regulations and make these consistent with the federal CMS regulations. She has participated as a volunteer anesthesia provider overseas through the Medical Missions Foundation Inc. based in Kansas City, MO, to provide much needed surgical and anesthesia services in third world countries. She is a consummate professional and has been a lifelong learner, completing her PhD in Public Policy and Administration specializing in Healthcare Services.

Mary K. Rolf, MBA, MHA

President/Chief Executive Officer, Home Care of Central New York, Inc.
Bridgeport, NY
Term Expires: March 2020

Kate Rolf is a senior healthcare executive with over 20 years of leadership experience, which is complemented by her master’s in business administration, certification as a Home Care Executive, fellowship from the American College of Healthcare Executives, and licensure as a New York State Nursing Home Administrator. She is President and Chief Executive Officer at Home Care of Central New York, Inc. (dba VNA Homecare), an eight company long term/community-based home care network with over 500 employees that includes Visiting Nurse Association of Central New York, CCH Home Care & Palliative Services, Home Aides of Central New York, Independent Health Care Services, the Eldercare Social Day Program, two charitable organizations, the VNA Foundation of Central New York and Eldercare Foundation as well as VNA Homecare Options, a managed long term care (MLTC) plan that operates in 48 counties throughout New York State. Strengths include strategic planning, financial management, streamlining operations and customer service. Ms. Rolf currently serves on Board of Directors for Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA), LeadingAge New York where she is also their Home and Community Based Service Cabinet Chair, the Long Term Care Executive Council and Selective Services. She has received countless honors and awards, most recently the Home Care Association of New York State’s 2015 Advocacy Award and the Excellence in Health Care Award for Innovations in Health Care.

Mary T. Sheridan, RN, MBA

Bureau Chief, Bureau of Rural Health & Primary Care, Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare
Meridian, ID
Term Expires: March 2020

Mary Sheridan, RN, MBA, is the Bureau Chief of the Bureau of Rural Health & Primary Care, Division of Public Health, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, since 2003. She has many years of clinical nursing experience and provides leadership for federal and state programs designed to improve healthcare access in rural and underserved communities. Mary actively leads a number of rural initiatives in Idaho’s Statewide Healthcare Innovation Plan, a healthcare transformation effort.

Pat Schou

Executive Director of Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN)
Princeton IL
Term Expires: August 2023

Pat Schou is the Executive Director of ICAHN, the first state-wide critical access hospital (CAH) network, which was established in 2003.  ICAHN is a not for profit corporation comprised of 57 critical access and small rural hospital members and provides a number of hospital support services and educational programs.  She also manages the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant, Small Hospital Improvement Program and several other grant programs on behalf of the Illinois Department of Public Health.  In addition, Ms. Schou is the Executive Director of the Illinois Rural Community Care Organization (IRCCO), which is a statewide rural accountable care organization comprised of 25 critical access and rural hospitals.  Ms. Schou has more than 35 years of clinical and rural hospital administrative experience and currently serves as president-elect for the National Rural Health Association.  She was awarded the Calico Rural Leadership Award by the National Rural Research Center in 2013, the Rural Hero Award by the University of Illinois Rural Medical Education in 2016, and received the National Rural Health Association’s President Award in April 2015.  Ms. Schou serves on the Board for the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program, National Rural Resource Center Board, Partners for Connected Illinois Board, and is a fellow member of the American College of Healthcare Executives as well as a national speaker and facilitator.

Benjamin (Ben) H. Taylor, PA, Ph.D.

Martinez, GA
Term Expires: March 2020

Ben Taylor is a graduate of the Army’s Physician Associate Program through the University of Oklahoma. Additionally, he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Virginia State University, a Master’s degree in Emergency Medicine from the University of Nebraska and a Doctorate in Health Sciences from Walden University. He lectures in multiple medical venues and currently practices in multiple clinics in South Carolina and Georgia. He continues to be active in PA advocacy.

Robert L. Wergin, MD, FAAFP

Physician, Milford Family Medical Center, Memorial Health Care Systems
Milford, NE
Term Expires: August 2023

Dr. Robert Wergin is a family physician in Nebraska and was President and Board Chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He practices the full spectrum of family medicine at the Milford Family Medical Center, from obstetrics to geriatrics. He also serves as medical director of Crest View Care Center. 

Dr. Wergin currently serves on the board of the Milford Public Schools Foundation, is medical director for the Milford volunteer fire department, team physician for Milford Public Schools, and sideline physician for the Nebraska Shrine Bowl. He also serves as Milford city physician, and is an instructor of advanced cardiac and advanced trauma life support. In addition, he is a volunteer faculty member at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, teaching medical students and residents on their rural rotations.

James L. Werth, Jr., Ph.D.

Behavioral Health and Wellness Services Director
Black Lung Program Director
Stone Mountain Health Services
Bristol VA
Term Expires: August 2023

Dr. Werth received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Auburn University and his Master of Legal Studies from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.  He is board certified in counseling psychology (American Board of Professional Psychology) and is the out-going editor of the Journal of Rural Mental Health.  He is the Behavioral Health and Wellness Services Director as well as the Black Lung Program Director for Stone Mountain Health Services, a federally qualified health center headquartered in Jonesville, Virginia.  Prior to working at Stone Mountain, he was Professor and Founding Director of the PsyD Program at Radford University, which has emphases on rural mental health, evidence-based practice, cultural diversity, and social justice.  He has presented and published widely, with a focus on professional ethics, HIV disease, end-of-life issues, and rural behavioral health practice.

Loretta Wilson

Chief Executive Officer
Hill Hospital of Sumter County
Boligee AL
Term Expires: August 2023

Ms. Wilson is the CEO of Hill Hospital of Sumter County. She is responsible for providing administrative leadership and operational direction to approximately seven hospital departments as well as oversight of the Home Health and Rural Health Clinic services of Hill Hospital of Sumter County, with 33 licensed hospital beds and about 70 employees.
Prior to becoming the CEO at Hill Hospital, Ms. Wilson was the founder and CEO of the Rural Alabama Prevention Center, an organization dedicated to reducing the prevalence of chronic disease in South West Alabama.

 

Date Last Reviewed:  June 2019