WHP Staff Profile

The Times They Are A-Changing: WHP Executive Director Ellen Rabinowitz Retires

Ellen, 2001.

Ellen, 2001.

Before the Washtenaw Health Plan was created in 2001, there was the Washtenaw County Health Care program, which began in 1995 and was run by the Washtenaw County Health Department. Who better than an urban planner to plan a brand new program? Ellen Rabinowitz, the WHP Executive Director, has managed the Washtenaw Health Plan from its inception as a program of the health department to its metamorphosis into a nonprofit. [Read more about the history and development of the WHP here.]


Five years ago, Ellen added the job of Health Officer for the Washtenaw County Health Department to her position as the WHP Executive Director. While some people might have left one big job to take another big job, Ellen wanted to stay connected to the WHP—her first (work) love. And now, after working for Washtenaw County for over 30 years, Ellen is retiring. [And as she retires, two people will take her job! Jeremy Lapedis will become the WHP Executive Director and Jimena Loveluck will be the WCHD Health Officer.]

Ellen’s vision, as described in 2010, was simple: “We want to serve the most vulnerable members of our community, and we want to expand healthcare access to all.”

We want to serve the most vulnerable members of our community, and we want to expand healthcare access to all.
— Ellen Rabinowitz

Nearly 10 years later, a lot has changed. With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, the work of the WHP changed dramatically. Many more people were eligible for Medicaid, Marketplace, or employer insurance—but low-income individuals still need help accessing services. And the work of the WHP has expanded—into not only helping people access health care, but also into case management, training, and emergency room diversion.


As Ellen noted at her retirement party, “I have been so lucky in my career to be surrounded by the most dedicated, passionate staff. I’ve tried to lay out a vision of health for all, and then I’ve tried to get out of the way and let the staff do their work. And boy have they done an amazing job! Thank you to the WHP staff. They changed the name from WHP—Washtenaw Health Plan—to WHP: We Help People—because that’s their approach. That’s their ethic. No problem too big or too small. They will do what it takes to get our clients everything they need.”

One of Ellen’s last acts? Making sure that the WHP has a strategic plan to guide us in the next few years. And although we will miss her, we know she will continue to do good work in the community. In Ellen’s own words: “There is still so much work to do, for all of us, to create the kind of community we all believe in. A community where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to achieve optimal health and well-being. So, like I’ve been saying, you have not heard the last of me. I’m leaving full of gratitude for the opportunity I’ve had to work at the WHP and Washtenaw County, the opportunity to work with all of you.”

Ellen with WHP staff, 2006.

Ellen with WHP staff, 2006.

Ellen Rabinowitz—the feeling is mutual. Good luck, and may you be blessed with good health and exciting opportunities in the years to come.

—Ruth Kraut

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WHP Staff Profile: Tonya South Peterson


Tonya South Peterson is celebrating 20 years as a county employee.  For the last two years, Tonya has been an enrollment specialist at the Washtenaw Health Plan.  Tonya started her career after being noticed by a former nursing director.  Tonya worked at a photography lab where the director had her photos developed and noticed the excellent customer service Tonya provided.  After seeing her interact with a particularly difficult customer, the director mentioned a job opening in the Maternal Infant Health Program and the rest is history!  Tonya spent two and a half years as a Maternal Infant Health Advocate before moving to Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to become an eligibility and enrollment specialist for 15 years.  

Tonya loves working with children and families.  Her work at Washtenaw County Health Department gives her a "great sense of satisfaction in helping others."  At WIC, she got to know many families and is always happy to see them at the WHP office.  Through her years at WIC, Tonya had many roles in addition to enrollment and eligibility but enjoyed the families and children the most.  At WHP, Tonya enjoys helping clients with their healthcare and many other issues.  Tonya expertly assists people with utility assistance through the state assistance programs and Barrier Busters.  Tonya enjoys the camaraderie and walk-in atmosphere at WHP.  Spending more time with clients and helping with a wide range of problems is just one of the things she loves about her job.  


In 2002, Tonya became a union steward and continues to work protecting employee rights and job security.  Tonya is also trained in medical insurance billing, procurement, expenses and inventory, and while at WIC she performed quality assessments and trainings for the WIC office.  After attending Washtenaw Community College years ago, Tonya has returned to pursue a degree in Social Work. She received the highest grade ever achieved in her psychology class!  She is looking forward to learning and having more opportunities as she completes her degree.  

Tonya is celebrating 25 years with her husband, has four children and two grandchildren. She has lived in Washtenaw County since she was six years old and considers herself a Michigander.  In her free time, she loves to spend time celebrating holidays with her family.  She loves to read suspense thrillers--Dean Koontz is a favorite.  She also loves the writings of Toni Morrison and Richard Wright.  Her favorite movie is Forrest Gump, but she enjoys a good thriller too.  She loves listening to music, everything from A to Z. 

WHP is so happy to have Tonya as part of our staff.  Considerate, calm, knowledgeable  and very helpful, clients love her and she helps them tremendously.  Lucky us!   

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Adiós Frania and Ingrid!

Buena Suerte!



Ingrid Fonseca and Frania Mendoza, both bilingual (Spanish/English) enrollment specialists, are leaving the Washtenaw Health Plan to pursue their passions.  The WHP staff (and clients) are very sad to see them go but are so grateful for their expertise, knowledge and care they both shared with us.

Ingrid Fonseca will be taking her side business to the next level.  Ingrid’s incredible style, clothing, and jewelry put the rest of us WHP staffers to shame.  Originally from Ecuador, Ingrid also lived in Japan and Colombia developing her international style.  Ingrid sells both handmade (by her!) and vintage jewelry along with hand-selected clothes with an eco-bohemian style.  Good luck!  

Find Unique Vintage Jewelry & Boho Accessories at Ingrid’s Hippy Happy Shop on Etsy and on Instagram @hippyhappyshop

Find Eco-friendly & Eco-fashion Jewelry and Accessories at the IngridFonseca Shop on Etsy. 

We wish Ingrid smashing success!



Frania Mendoza Lua is leaving us for the Windy City.  After getting her MSW at the University of Michigan, Frania has been splitting her time on both applied work and research. She has been working with the WHP;  doing research, writing grants and developing a smartphone app for a UM research project; and working with Latino/a adolescents in Washtenaw County. This led Frania to decide to pursue a PhD! Frania has been accepted into the University of Chicago’s PhD program at the School of Social Service Administration (with funding to support her studies!).  Before letting the wind whip her hair around in Chicago, Frania will be spending part of the summer at a super statistics program at the ICPSR at UM.  As if all this was not enough--she recently got engaged. 

Ingrid and Frania, let’s not say farewell, but rather—good luck in your coming adventures!

Come Work With Us!

Meanwhile--do you think you have the stuff to fill their shoes?  Take a look at the WHP Outreach Worker position posted here (link: https://secure.ewashtenaw.org/hrjobs/AppJobPostingList.do). The job posting requires fluency in both English and Spanish, and the job posting closes July 6, 2018.

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WHP Staff Profile: Krista Nordberg


Meet our Queen of Enrollment and Outreach!

Have a policy question about Medicaid? Need to know the best way to make sure an entire family has health care? Want to understand the difference between QMB and SLMB, or SSI and SSDI? The go-to person in the WHP office is Krista Nordberg. 

Krista Nordberg has spent the last 25 years working as an advocate for people's rights through the legal system as a lawyer and legal advocate.  She has provided legal representation and assistance for low-income clients in the areas of housing, consumer and family law.  As the Assistant Director of the Counsel Advocacy Law Line she supervised a team of attorneys who performed legal intake services, case reviews and advice for 12,000 clients per year.  While working for Legal Services of South Central Michigan (LSSCM), Krista worked as a Staff Attorney (Ann Arbor) and Managing Attorney (Lansing).  

Since 2007, Krista has been the Director of Enrollment and Advocacy Services at the Washtenaw Health Plan.  She has trained and nurtured various staff members and AmeriCorps Community Resource Navigators (for example, Haley Haddad, Amber Wells, Michael Randall and Will Cheatham), all of whom have progressed in their careers with a strong sense of advocacy. 

Since joining the WHP as an AmeriCorps member, Krista has acted as a phenomenal mentor, showing me how important it is to be passionate about your work. Krista continues to be inspirational as I build my career and daily I strive to be as kind and dedicated as her.
— Haley Haddad, Americorps 2012-2013
Krista rocks the orange safety vest as she has people check in at a fire safety drill. 

Krista rocks the orange safety vest as she has people check in at a fire safety drill. 

As our Queen, I mean Director, Krista leads the fight for healthcare coverage for all through the Washtenaw Health Plan. Krista is known for sharing enrollment policy updates, answering questions from case managers across the county, providing leadership and collaborating with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for Medicaid enrollment and advocacy,  leading a staff trained as Certified Application Counselors for the Marketplace, and--in general--spreading the message that healthcare matters. 

Krista is a once in a lifetime kinda boss. One that takes you in and adopts you, coaches you and gets you ready to fly. I owe so much to my experience under her leadership and I am a better public servant because of it.
— Michael Randall, Americorps 2014
Krista and her daughters, Lucy and Sally.

Krista and her daughters, Lucy and Sally.

Krista has won the Washtenaw County Manager of the Year, the NAACP Distinguished Lillian D. Wald Civil Rights Award and she was a Commissioner on the Human Relations Commission for City of Ypsilanti.  But she doesn't want you to know about those awards.  Awards, in her opinion, are not as important as people getting healthcare, human rights and justice! 

And she dances! Krista loves salsa and travels to dance in California, Cuba or anywhere there is a good rueda.  She has two wonderful, smart daughters and lives in a tiny house with a cat, Logan. 

What stands out about Krista is that she is a fierce advocate, and she combines that with a strong sense of compassion. Clients are always asking for her by name, because she helped them before, and they know she will help them again.
— Ruth Kraut, WHP Program Administrator

-M. Buhalis

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WHP Profile / Perfil Personal: Spring Quiñones


Spring Quiñones is a Bilingual Outreach Worker at the Washtenaw Health Plan (WHP). She primarily focuses on doing outreach to the Latino community to help them understand and obtain health care coverage, working to remove barriers and ensure that the Latino population enjoys equal access to health care services.

Spring Quiñones es una trabajadora de alcance bilingüe para el Washtenaw Health Plan (WHP). Ella se enfoca principalmente en ayudar a la comunidad latina para entender, obtener cobertura de salud, y eliminar barreras que les impiden disfrutar de acceso igual a los servicios de salud.

Prior to her start at WHP, Spring worked with Ann Arbor Public Schools as a Teacher’s Assistant for 6 years, working specifically with children with autism—which she absolutely loved. Spring first joined the WHP in 2013 under a federal grant from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) to work with immigrant and homeless populations, ensuring they had equitable access to healthcare coverage.  Her primary focus was enrolling children and their families from the Latino Community and collaborating with the Education Project for Homeless Youth (EPHY) to make sure that they had Medicaid, MiChild and or the Marketplace. Spring also brings her skills as a Certified Bilingual Medical Interpreter to help facilitate questions around medical issues.

Antes de trabajar en el WHP, Spring trabajo con las escuelas públicas de Ann Arbor como asistente de profesor por 6 años, específicamente ella trabajo con niños con autismo—lo cual fue algo que disfruto mucho. Spring se unió al WHP en 2013 bajo una beca federal de los Centros de Servicios de Medicaid y Medicare (CMS) para trabajar con inmigrantes y personas sin hogar, asegurándose de que ellos tuvieran acceso equitativo a la cobertura de salud. Su objetivo principal era matricular a los niños y sus familias de la comunidad latina y colaborar con el Proyecto de Educación para Jóvenes Sin Hogar para asegurarse de que ellos tuvieran Medicaid, MiChild, o el Mercado de Seguro. Spring también trae sus habilidades como una Intérprete Médica Bilingüe Acreditada para ayudar a facilitar preguntas sobre temas médicos.

Spring’s compassionate nature and dedication to her work is contagious. She goes above and beyond to make sure her clients feel listened to, and her involvement in helping the Latino community does not stop with her work at WHP.

Spring es una persona muy compasiva y dedicada, su pasión por su trabajo es contagiosa. Ella va más allá para asegurarse de que sus clientes se sientan escuchados, y su participación en ayudar a la comunidad latina no termina con su trabajo en WHP.

Spring and Frania at an outreach event for families providing information about healthcare.

Spring and Frania at an outreach event for families providing information about healthcare.

Spring is also involved with the Washtenaw County Spanish Healthcare Outreach Collaborative (SHOC), where she helps facilitate meetings with organizations to discuss issues affecting the Latino community.  This collaboration is a valuable resource for information and network building that helps to eliminate barriers facing the Latino community. Spring emphasizes the importance of practicing cultural humility when engaging and educating the Latino community about issues surrounding health care, recognizing that things such as immigration, language, and culture can have a significant impact on health care delivery and access to health care services. 

Spring también está involucrada con el Spanish Healthcare Outreach Collaborative (SHOC), donde ayuda a facilitar reuniones con organizaciones para discutir cosas que afectan a la comunidad latina. Esta colaboración es un recurso valioso para informar ycrear redes sociales que ayudan eliminar los obstáculos que enfrenta la comunidad latina. Spring enfatiza la importancia de practicar la humildad cultural al participar y educar la comunidad latina sobre asuntos relacionados con la salud, reconociendo que elementos como la inmigración, el lenguaje, y la  cultura pueden tener un impacto significativo en la entrega y acceso a los servicios de salud.

Milo curls up and his markings form a heart.  

Spring has two children, an 18 year old daughter, and a 19 year old son, and a dog named Milo. She is originally from Colombia and previously lived in New York, and has now lived in Ann Arbor for the past 11 years.

Spring tiene dos hijos, una hija de 18 años, un hijo de 19 años, y una mascota llamado Milo. Ella es originalmente de Colombia, vivió previamente en Nueva York, y ha vivido en Ann Arbor por los últimos 11 años.

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WHP Staff Profile: Kelly Stupple

“The first few years of a child’s life make a world of difference, shaping who he or she will become, what he or she will achieve and how he or she will contribute to society as an adult.” --Kelly Stupple, Child Health Advocate

The first few years of a child’s life make a world of difference, shaping who he or she will become, what he or she will achieve and how he or she will contribute to society as an adult.

--Kelly Stupple, Child Health Advocate


Kelly Stupple is the Child Health Advocate for Success by 6 and is based at the Washtenaw Health Plan.  Kelly assists families in obtaining and retaining publicly-funded health insurance and quality medical, dental and mental health services for children, as well as prenatal and family planning care and insurance for women. 


Irionna, a happy client, with Kelly. 

For several years, Kelly was the co-chair for Barrier Busters, a collaborative working to remove barriers to housing and health for low income county residents.  Kelly co-chairs the Spanish Health Care Outreach Collaborative (SHOC) with Spring Quinones. SHOC is a networking organization of Washtenaw area health, education and human service professionals who serve the Latino community.  Kelly is also a member of the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Care Work Group of the Washtenaw Health Initiative. She works with children's oral health and infant mortality prevention with an emphasis on disparities. Collaborating with area agencies, schools and medical providers, Kelly works to ensure that all families, regardless of income, country of origin or language spoken, have access to comprehensive and compassionate health care. 

Kelly has an AB from Harvard with a major in African American Studies and an MSEd in Guidance and Counseling from Hunter College. Her work history includes counseling for students of color, managing grant funds, and working extensively with low-income families and families with complex medical issues, navigating the health system.

Buddy's Pizza in Detroit. Kelly's favorite! 

Buddy's Pizza in Detroit. Kelly's favorite! 

Kelly also LOVES Buddy's Pizza in Detroit, likes to go for walks, and is married to a public school teacher/musician.  She is passionate about Michigan, Ypsilanti, Detroit and Ann Arbor.  Her daughter is in 8th grade at Slauson Middle School and will be following in her mother's footsteps, attending Community High School next year. She also has 3 cats and a part-time dog. 

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WHP Profile: Meredith Buhalis


Meredith Buhalis began working at the WHP just weeks before the April 1st, 2014 start of the Healthy Michigan Plan. She hit the ground running, doing her first application on her own on opening day! Since then, Meredith has been an asset to the WHP, doing a very high volume of enrollments.  As part of the WHP team, Meredith works to help a diverse group of clients navigate the complexities of the current health care system.

Although getting health care coverage is the main focus of the WHP, educating people about their options and supporting clients to become their own advocates is her passion.  A client wrote this about Meredith.

 "She is amazing and she will help you! She has put the power back into my hands. These programs are funded and if you are eligible they should NOT ever be out of your reach. Call Meredith. Get the help you need to gain the coverage you deserve."
Check out the website and subscribe to our blog!

Check out the website and subscribe to our blog!

During the Coverage Counts CMS grant, Meredith worked out of the Livingston County Department of Public Health and has helped many community members in both Livingston and Washtenaw counties. Now, Meredith is full-time at the Washtenaw Health Plan offices in Ypsilanti.

Meredith first studied education and human development at Antioch College where she fully absorbed the founder's pleas to graduates, "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." After college and brief careers in house painting and restaurants, Meredith attended the School of Information at the University of Michigan. As part of hi-ce, she taught school librarians to use the Internet and helped organize the World Wide Web, pre-google.  She worked with nonprofits, technology and social workers before moving on to the wonderful world of school libraries.  Now she puts her organizational, creative, and people skills to good use at the Washtenaw Health Plan.  

Times change. Now, Meredith and family are covered by employer insurance!

Times change. Now, Meredith and family are covered by employer insurance!

For instance, Meredith designed the healthcarecounts.org website. Recently, our website and blog has been commended for its amazing marketing team. And that team is primarily Meredith!

Meredith lives in Ann Arbor with her husband, the singer/songwriter Chris Buhalis, daughter and dog. 

--Haley Haddad and Ruth Kraut

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