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Connecticut Health Policy Project
  Improving Connecticut's Health Through Information

Who We are

Ellen Andrews, PhD, Executive Director

Ms. Andrews has been Executive Director of the CT Health Policy Project from its inception in 1999. The Project publishes regular policymaker issue briefs, conducts research on CT health policy needs, hosts issue briefings at the Capitol and webinars with health care experts, publishes CT Health Notes, an electronic newsletter of timely health care issues in CT, and the CT Health Notes Blog with updates on state health policy. Dr. Andrews' experience includes positions as legislative staff on health policy, non-profit health care advocacy, perinatal educator at a community health center, and academic teaching and research. She coordinates a multi-state Health Policy Steering Committee for the Council of State Governments/Eastern Region Conference and serves on over a dozen state, regional and local health policymaking councils. She holds a PhD in Human Genetics from Yale University.

Sherri Aquilino, Board of Directors

Monica Still, RN, BSN, Board of Directors

Monica is a novice to the arena of formal policy making but she brings with her a lifetime of experience as an informal activist. She started her nursing career in the Infants and Toddlers Unit of Yale New Haven Hospital in 1987. Since 1989, Monica has been a home care nurse in the Greater New Haven Area. She is currently employed as Co-Director of QI for VNS, Inc. of Southern Connecticut. She has never forgotten her roots as a primary care nurse, visiting patients in their homes and keeping them where they wish to be, at home. Through her professional life she became well acquainted with the health care system in the State of Connecticut. But, it is her personal life, which motivated her to want to change the health policy and the system in the state. Monica was born with Spina Bifida. Thought she was a patient often, she never had to work through the state Medicaid system and her health was excellent. In 2001, her world changed dramatically when she contracted necrotising faciitis. She became disabled, went on SSDI and became a HUSKY consumer. While she was struggling with her changing ability level, she also had to cope with the changing HUSKY system and the cuts made by the legislature. It was this experience that became a blessing in disguise. Not only did she heal and resume her life albeit as an amputee. It was this experience that motivated her to become an active voice for change. Her children remain on HUSKY as she works a varied schedule between full and part-time. Monica has a unique perspective in that she sees both sides of the equation. She has navigated the states health care system as both a patient and a professional. She now advocates for more then her patients and herself. She had become involved in forming health care policy, disability rights and is working with the Amputee Coalition of America. She currently resides on the shoreline with her two daughters.

Deputy Commissioner Norma Gyle, RN, Board of Directors

Norma Gyle currently serves as Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health. She Co-Chairs the Connecticut Women's Health Summit, is a member of the President's Council on Nursing at Yale University, and serves on the Connecticut Commission on Children. She was a member of Connecticut's House of Representatives from 1984 to 1998, serving as Ranking Member of the Public Health Committee. She was Vice-Chair of the National Conference of State Legislators' (NCSL) Health Committee and founding member of NCSL's Forum for State Health Policy Leadership. Her legislative initiatives include designated blood donations, needle exchange programs, managed care reform, and 48-hour maternity stays. She is a registered nurse with clinical experience in both hospital and home health primary care settings.

David Henderson, MD, Board of Directors

Dr. Henderson practices family medicine at Asylum Hill Family Practice Center and he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at UConn. In 2010, he Co-Chaired the legislative SustiNet Health Care Workforce Task Force. He has also served in leadership roles at Backus Hospital, Eastern Connecticut Primary Care, Norwich Community Health Center, Charter Oak Terrace Rice Heights Health Center, and two hospitals in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Joanne DeSanto Iennaco, PhD, MS, RN

Joanne DeSanto Iennaco is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing at Yale University School of Nursing. Her clinical experience as a nurse has included work in both mental health and community health nursing. Her areas of research interest include Occupational Mental Health, Violence, Anxiety, Depression, Suicide, and the interface between mental and physical health. Joanne currently works with the Yale Occupational and Environmental Medicine research team where she studies the effect of psychosocial aspects of the workplace (psychological demand and control) on health outcomes including depression and cardiovascular disease. Joanne holds a PhD in Chronic Disease Epidemiology from Yale University School of Public Health, a Master of Science in Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing from Saint Joseph College, and a BSN from Fairfield University. Prior to pursuing her PhD, Joanne was a tenured Associate Professor of Nursing at St. Joseph's College in Maine, where she was the program director for the BSN Opportunities program. In addition to teaching psychiatric mental health nursing and community health nursing, she was instrumental in developing the College's successful service-learning program. As Project Director, she developed a college-wide service-learning infrastructure, community partnerships and promoted service-learning integration by faculty.

Brandon Levan, Board of Directors, In Memoriam

Prior to his passing in 2010, Brandon Levan served in various volunteer capacities with the CT Health Policy Project since September 2008 most recently working on PCCM consumer and provider outreach, and research support for numerous projects. Brandon graduated from Yale University in 2008 majoring in both Biology and Economics. Brandon has worked as a systems analyst/developer, CPR Instructor, EMT, emergency room technician, and academic research assistant. Brandon was planning to attend medical school in 2011.

Vickie Nardello, MS, Board of Directors

Vickie Orsini Nardello served in the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1994 to 2012. She served as Vice-Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, on the Public Health and Insurance/Real Estate Committees and Chaired the Public Health Subcommittee of the Medicaid Managed Care Council. She has been a champion of managed care reform and health care access issues. Ms. Nardello worked for over 30 years as a public health dental hygienist and for the last 15 years she provided dental care to Hartford public school student through school-based health centers. Ms. Nardello holds a Masters degree in Health Education from Southern Connecticut State University.

Sarah Parker-McKernan, JD, Treasurer, Board of Directors

Sara Parker McKernan currently serves as the Legislative Liaison/Special Project Coordinator at the Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut (LARCC). LARCC is a collaborative project of the state's four legal services programs and advocates legislatively and administratively for policies which benefit low-income people. Her focus is primarily in the areas of public benefits and housing. She also coordinates and staffs the Welfare Working Group, a group of 25 key advocates and lobbyists who meet regularly to strategize around low income issues.

She is the past Director of the Connecticut Anti-Hunger Coalition (CAHC), which helped to establish a strong network and movement around issues affecting food security policies in our state. Her interest in hunger issues has continued with her appointment to the Board of End Hunger CT!, which was established in 1999 to continue with the policy and advocacy work that was started through CAHC. Her work has also included being a staff mediator and case manager at a private arbitration and mediation firm, Senior Investigator for the Boston Fair Housing Commission and the Director of a Housing Mediation Center. Ms. Parker McKernan has a J.D. from Suffolk University in Boston, MA.

Brian Roccapriore, MS, Senior Policy Fellow

Brian Roccapriore formerly served as Director of Programs for the CT Health Policy Project. He is now Executive Director of STRIVE New Haven, a nonprofit providing job training and support to ex-offenders in the New Haven area. Mr. Roccapriore holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology and a BS in Electronics Engineering.

Carla Taymans, MHA, Senior Policy Fellow

Carla Taymans was formerly the Director of Programs at the Connecticut Health Policy Project. Ms. Taymans has worked extensively with several community-based physician groups most recently as the business manager for a multi-site, 16-physician oncology and hematology practice. She consulted with the Hospital of Saint Raphael's MSO to develop and implement a Central Billing Office while attending Quinnipiac College where she earned a Masters Degree in health administration.

Hannah Munson

Hannah interned with the CT Health Policy Project in 2010 developing referral resources for clients, creating fact sheets, research patient privacy rights in other states, and assembling service data from CT’s free clinics. She also graduated from James Madison University in 2010 majoring in Health Services Administration. She is currently working as a Consulting Analyst at Mercer Health & Benefits.

Selina Tirtajana

Selina was a Research Fellow with the CT Health Policy Project from 2009 through 2011. Her projects included a survey of CT pharmacies to assess the relationship between prices and community characteristics such as median income and Medicaid enrollment, as well as a survey of CT physicians assessing the impact of a Medicaid rate increase on participation rates. She graduated from Yale with an MPH in Healthcare Management in 2011. She is currently working in Business Development & Licensing at Coviden plc.

Aba Hayford, Board member

A native of Ghana, Aba Hayford has volunteered with the CT Health Policy Project since 2012 working on policy and organizing projects including an outreach roadmap for Connecticut Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. She works in billing and administration at Columbia University Medical Center and is studying at the University of New Haven in the Masters of Healthcare Administration program.