New People and New Policies

May 20, 2019


Healthcare leaders from the Whitmer Administration and the Legislature discussed the compelling health care issues facing Michigan in the coming years. Video of the event is available below or on MSU MediaSpace.

Forum Speakers

Robert Gordon photo

Robert Gordon

Director, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Robert Gordon serves as the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, where he oversees Medicaid programs, Children’s Protective Services, food assistance, public health and many other statewide health and human services programs.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed him to the position effective Jan. 14, 2019.

Director Gordon has a distinguished career in public service. Most recently, he served as senior vice president of finance and global strategy for the non-profit College Board.

Prior to joining the College Board, Director Gordon served in the U.S. Department of Education as acting assistant secretary at the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. He spent four years at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, including service as acting deputy director. He has been described as the quarterback for President Barack Obama administration’s evidence-based policymaking initiatives, which closely tied program funding to quality evaluation.

In his time at OMB, Gordon also led design of innovative initiatives in maternal and infant home visiting, early childhood development, and child welfare. He had direct responsibility for overseeing the Administration for Children and Families and Administration on Aging at the Department of Health and Human Services, food and nutrition programs at the Department of Agriculture, and the Social Security Administration.

Earlier in his career, Director Gordon held a key position at the New York City Department of Education, orchestrating a fair student funding approach that has persisted through multiple school chancellors. He also has served as a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, a law guardian in abuse and neglect cases at the Legal Aid Society of New York, and a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In his first policy job, he worked in the White House helping to establish AmeriCorps, the national service program.

Director Gordon earned his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University and his J.D. from Yale University. He has two children.

Janet Olszewski photo

Janet Olszewski

Senior Fellow, Michigan Health Endowment Fund

Janet Olszewski joined the Michigan Health Endowment Fund in May, 2016 as a Senior Fellow where she developed the Health Fund’s evaluation strategy and now directs the Health Fund’s policy and research activities. Prior to joining MHEF Janet spent 27 years working for the State of Michigan in a variety of positions covering aging, maternal and child health, Medicaid, public health, and regulatory programs. Her career in state government culminated with her appointment as the Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health where she directed all publicly funded public health, mental health, Medicaid and other health coverage programs for the state of Michigan with an annual budget of $14 billion and a staff of 4000. Ms. Olszewski served in this position from 2003-2010.

Upon leaving state government, Ms. Olszewski joined Health Management Associates as a Principal, where she assisted clients with strategic planning and positioning related to the Affordable Care Act, health reform and state health care developments. More recently, Janet was the Senior Director for Strategic Initiatives and Public Policy for Consumers Mutual Insurance of Michigan. Ms. Olszewski has served on several state and national committees. She holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston University.

Sarah Esty photo

Sarah Esty

Senior Deputy Director, Policy and Planning Administration, MDHHS

Sarah Esty is the deputy director of the Policy and Planning Administration for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

In that role, Esty oversees the Policy and Innovation Division, the Office of Planning, the Bureau of Community Services and Michigan Rehabilitation Services, coordinating a wide variety of programs that provide housing to low-income people, offer services to children in schools, reduce health disparities, provide training and education assistance to those with disabilities and connect families with weatherization assistance.

Previously, Esty worked as a consultant focusing on healthcare and state/local government projects. In this role she advised state health, budget and tax agencies, city executives and state university leaders on topics including Medicaid payment innovation, organizational design, organizational health and culture, lean process redesign and national best practices in healthcare, workforce development and other areas.

She began her career as an advocate and policy researcher for low-income children and families in Connecticut, where she worked with the state legislature and state agencies to improve policies and fund critical programs related to early childhood care and education, healthcare, juvenile justice and workforce development. She has worked on retirement security, local and tribal economic development and the school lunch program at the White House National Economic Council, and has coordinated voter protection efforts in several states as part of a presidential campaign. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Harvard University and her J.D. and MBA from Yale University.

Joneigh Khaldun photo

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun

Chief Deputy Director for Health and Chief Medical Executive, MDHHS

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the appointment of Dr. Joneigh Khaldun as Chief Deputy Director for Health and Chief Medical Executive (CME) for the department. Khaldun formerly served as Director and Health Officer for the Detroit Health Department and is a practicing emergency physician at Henry Ford Hospital.

In this new role, Khaldun will oversee the MDHHS’ Population Health, Medical Services, and Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities administrations as well as the Aging and Adult Services Agency. As CME she will serve Michigan citizens by providing professional medical leadership, expertise and coordination in addressing public health issues, workforce issues, and health policy development to the MDHHS.

The Office of the Chief Medical Executive in the Department of Health and Human Services will help to protect and promote public health in Michigan by advising the Governor and the Department on public health issues, assessing the state of public health in Michigan and communicating health information to the public.

Dr. Khaldun has led several coordinated public health responses, including Detroit’s response to the largest Hepatitis A outbreak in Michigan history, vaccinating over 8,500 residents and establishing vaccination procedures in hospitals, clinics and social service agencies. She led Baltimore’s nationally recognized response to the opioid epidemic, expanding access to naloxone and treatment.

Dr. Khaldun served as Director and Health Officer at the Detroit Health Department since 2017 and previously served as its Medical Director. She joined the Detroit Health Department from her position as Chief Medical Officer and Assistant Commissioner for Clinical Services at the Baltimore City Health Department.

In 2018, Dr. Khaldun was selected for the 40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health Award by the National Minority Quality Forum and was named a Kresge Foundation Emerging Leaders in Public Health Fellow.

Khaldun has a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Biology from the University of Michigan, a Medical Doctorate (M.D.) degree from Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) degree in health policy from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.

Mary Whiteford photo

State Rep. Mary Whiteford

80th District in the Michigan House of Representatives

State Rep. Mary Whiteford was first elected to serve the 80th District in the Michigan House of Representatives in March 2016. The 80th District includes the cities of Allegan, Fennville, part of Holland, Otsego, Plainwell, Saugatuck, and part of South Haven. She also represents the village of Douglas city and the townships of Allegan, Casco, Cheshire, Clyde, Fillmore, Ganges, Gun Plain, Heath, Hopkins, Laketown, Lee, Manlius, Martin, Monterey, Otsego, Overisel, Salem, Saugatuck, Trowbridge, Valley and Watson.

Rep. Whiteford will serve as chair of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee for the 2019-20 legislative term. She will also serve as a member of the Health Policy Committee, the Appropriations Committee, and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Joint Capitol Outlay.

Whiteford earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Northern Illinois University.

Whiteford worked in a pediatric neurosurgery unit before working in a pediatric emergency unit. In 1997 she started an accounting business with her husband, Kevin, and they now run their own financial planning firm.

Whiteford was an active volunteer in her children’s schools, ran homeowner associations, was appointed to city committees and was appointed to the Michigan Women’s Commission where she worked on raising human trafficking awareness.

Rep. Whiteford grew up in the Midwest, in the small town of Cary, Illinois and is the oldest of four children. She met her husband, Kevin, in college and they have three adult children and two grandchildren. Whiteford and her husband live in Casco Township.

Curt VanderWall photo

Sen. Curt VanderWall

35th Senate District

In November 2018, residents of Michigan’s 35th Senate District elected Sen. Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington, to the state Senate, representing the counties of Benzie, Crawford, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Ogemaw, Osceola, Roscommon and Wexford.

VanderWall chairs the Health Policy and Human Services Committee and serves as vice chair of the Economic and Small Business Development Committee and the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. In addition, he is a member of the following four committees: Elections, Environmental Quality, Finance, and Regulatory Reform.

Prior to joining the Senate, VanderWall served two years in the Michigan House of Representatives, representing the 101st District.

VanderWall is the owner of Turf Care Mole Man of Ludington. Before that, he worked with Eberhard foods and Prevo’s Family Market for much of his adult life. He also served on the board of Old Kent Bank as well as the Mason County Growth Alliance Board, Northern Michigan Counties Association and the Mason County Housing Board.

Before being elected to the Michigan House, VanderWall served as commissioner and chairman for the Mason County Board of Commissioners. He also served on the Western Michigan Fair Association for six years, was district chair for MSU Extension and served on boards for the United Way of Mason County. Curt is currently chair of the Women’s Jericho House Board.

Curt and his wife, Diane, have been married for 34 years and have three children, a daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter. They are involved with Covenant Christian School in Ludington and are active members of Mason County Reformed Church.

Searching for Sustainable Funding to Prevent Future Health Care Costs

For decades we have acknowledged that clinical care accounts for only 10 to 15% of health status. Despite an intellectual awareness of this fact, our healthcare financing mechanisms are reluctant to invest today's healthcare dollar in order to realize a return on investment 40 to 60 years in the future. Consequently, we keep investing more in health care treatment, leaving the United States with the highest per capita healthcare costs in the world - but far from the best healthcare status. The Michigan Health Policy Forum will explore the role that social determinants of health and adverse childhood events (ACEs) play in the healthcare status of our state and examine the health status of Michigan's children today. A panel discussion will address how the health financing system is or could be supporting efforts to provide Michigan's children with the "resilience" required to stave off negative health consequences and raise the question of how best to structure financing for non-clinical interventions.


1:00 PM: Call to Order and Introductions

     Norman Beauchamp Jr, MD, MHS, Dean, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

The Impact of Social Determinants of Health

     Barbara Petee, Executive Director, The Root Cause Coalition and Chief of Advocacy and Government Relations, Promedica

The Impact of Adverse Childhood Events

     Michigan ACE Initiative Video

The Status of Michigan’s Children Today

     Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count Project Director, Michigan League for Public Policy

2:30 PM: Refreshment Break

2:45 PM: Panel Discussion

    Moderator: Paul Elam, PhD, Chief Strategy Officer, Michigan Public Health Institute

     Lisa Peacock, RN, MS, NP, Health Officer, Health Department of Northwest Michigan

     Barbara Petee, Executive Director, The Root Cause Coalition and Chief of Advocacy and Government Relations, Promedica

     Luke Shaefer, PhD, Director, Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan

     Kathy Stiffler, MA, Acting Deputy Director for Medical Services, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

3:50 PM: Summary and Concluding Comments

     Dennis Paradis, MPH, Executive Director, Michigan Health Policy Forum

Barbara Petee

Chief Advocacy and Government Relations Officer, ProMedica

portrait of barbara peteeBarbara Petee is the chief advocacy and government relations officer for ProMedica. With a specific emphasis on community relations and redevelopment, she is responsible for connecting organizations and agencies in collaborative work so that the mission of ProMedica — to ensure health and well-being for all citizens — is achieved.

In her government relations role, Petee works with lawmakers at the local, state, and federal level, to ensure ProMedica is consistently involved in helping to shape and provide input on key policy and legislative issues that affect the health system and the communities it serves.

Petee has held numerous roles during her tenure with the organization, most recently as chief communications and public affairs officer. She is a member of the Business Advisory Council for Toledo Public Schools, an advisor to the board of directors of the Toledo Area Humane Society, and a board member of the Alliance to End Hunger, an affiliate of Bread for the World, based in Washington D.C. Barbara is a graduate of Michigan State University with dual degrees in journalism and American literature.

Alicia Guevara Warren

portrait of Alicia Guevara WarrenAlicia Guevara Warren joined the Michigan League for Public Policy in 2014 as the Tax Policy Analyst, and became the Kids Count in Michigan Project Director in June 2015. She oversees the project, which includes the collection and analysis of data to make informed policy recommendations to improve child well-being. Alicia has an extensive background advocating for improved outcomes for children and families through her work in the nonprofit sector with Michigan’s Children, Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, and School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan. Additionally, as Democratic Central Staff for the Michigan House of Representatives, she served as the lead analyst on issues affecting children, families, and seniors, along with immigration, women’s health, and regulatory reform. Prior to joining the League, Alicia was with the Office of Economic Development at the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Alicia holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Sociology with a specialization in law, criminology, and deviance from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and a master’s of public affairs with a specialization in social and economic policy from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

Paul Elam, PhD

Chief Strategy Officer

portrain of dr elamPaul Elam, PhD serves as MPHI’s Chief Strategy Officer. He is responsible for aligning the priorities of MPHI with national interests as well as diversifying the Institute’s portfolio to address cutting edge issues that affect the health and well-being of our society. His past leadership includes mentoring and training professionals from historically underrepresented groups with evaluation expertise in the areas of child welfare and juvenile justice. His deep understanding of youth violence and prevention, crime and justice, and child maltreatment is nationally recognized. Dr. Elam brings a wealth of knowledge and experience measuring racial and ethnic disproportionality and believes that sound public policy analysis should include an examination of whether all people are being treated fairly and equitably.

Before joining MPHI, Dr. Elam was president of Public Policy Associates, Inc., where he worked closely with government, philanthropic, university, and nonprofit clients, providing strategic consultation to advance public policy decisions in ways that would improve lives, advance social justice and produce equitable outcomes.

Lisa Peacock, MSN, RN, WHNP-BC

lisa new pic Lisa Peacock, MSN, RN, WHNP-BC serves as Health Officer for both the Health Department of Northwest Michigan and the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department. Before taking up the mantle of Health Officer, she spent most of her 27 year nursing career in the field of public health serving in multiple staff and administrative roles with experience in a wide variety of public health programs. Lisa received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing from GVSU and is certified as a Nurse Practitioner in Women’s Health. She is currently a Master of Public Health candidate at Michigan State University. Lisa especially enjoys opportunities that involve regional collaboration and innovation. She serves as the vice chair of the Northern Michigan Public Health Alliance which was selected as the Backbone Organization for the Northern Michigan Community Health Innovation Region and has played a leadership role in the development of the Clinical Community Linkages model for the region.


Luke Shaefer, PhD

Luke HeadshotDirector, Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan; Associate Professor, School of Social Work; Associate Professor, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

Dr. Shaefer’s research on poverty and social welfare policy in the United States has been published in top peer-reviewed academic journals such as Journal of Policy Analysis and Management and the American Journal of Public Health, and has been supported by the National Science Foundation, among other sources. Shaefer has presented his research at the White House and before numerous federal agencies, has testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and has consulted with a number of the nation’s largest social service providers as well as numerous community-based agencies. His work has been cited in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Review, The Atlantic, Vox, the LA Times and Huffington Post and he has been featured on such programs as “Marketplace” and CNBC’s “Nightly Business Report.” His recent book with Kathryn Edin, “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America,” was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2015 by the New York Times Book Review and won the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism.

Ph.D. and M.A. University of Chicago; B.A. Oberlin College

Kathy Stiffler, MA

Kathy Stiffler Portrait CopyKathy has over 30 years of experience in Michigan’s health care system beginning as a health educator in 1984 with Health Central, a staff-model HMO and then with the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. In 1987, Kathy began her State Civil Service career when she joined the Michigan Department of Public Health as Michigan’s first Adolescent Health Coordinator and one of the first in the county. She then supervised the Prenatal and Infant Care and Adolescent Health Units. From 2003 until 2011, under the Michigan Department of Community Health, she directed the Children’s Special Health Care Services Division. In 2011, Kathy moved to the Medical Services Administration as the Medicaid Managed Care Plan Division Director. She was promoted to Bureau Director of Medicaid Care Management and Quality Assurance in 2013, playing an instrumental role in the implementation of the Michigan’s Medicaid expansion, the Healthy Michigan Plan. In 2015, she served as the acting Medicaid Director for the State of Michigan and is again serving as Michigan’s Acting State Medicaid Director as of November of 2017. Kathy received a BS in Public Health Education and an MA in Hospital Health Education from Central Michigan University.







Reports and Resources

  1. Addressing Social Determinants: We're All in This Together
  2. Advancing social determinants of health interventions needs pragmatic framework to justify investment, experts say
  3. Assessing Social Determinants of Health: Screening Tools, Triage and Workflows to Link High-Risk Patients to Community Services
  4. Addressing Social Determinants: We're All in This Together
  5. Another Social Determinant Of Health: How Philanthropy Can Help Rural Communities Use Technology To Improve Mobility And Health
  6. CDC HUS 2016
  7. Determinants of Health
  8. Determinants of Health (Slideshow)
  9. Financial imperative: Payers can't control costs without addressing social determinants
  10. Health care industry branches into fresh meals, rides to gym
  11. Health Care Looks Beyond Medicine to Social Factors
  12. How to incorporate social determinants of health data into EHRs
  13. Investing in Social Services as a Core Strategy for Healthcare Organizations: Developing the Business Case
  14. Michigan ACE Initiative video
  15. Overcoming Challenges To Medicaid Investments In Social Determinants Of Health
  16. Oregon health gains undermined by social issues
  17. Preventive Care Gaps For Adults - Podcast
  18. Public health spending lags in Michigan, and we have the poor outcomes to show for it
  19. States with Best Health Care Systems
  20. Secret Analytics For Upstream Outreach Raise Sharp Questions
  21. Socioeconomic status helps explain U.S. childhood cancer survival rates
  22. Social Determinants of Health
  23. Take Two Carrots and Call Me in the Morning
  24. The Social Determinants Speak: Medicaid Work Requirements Will Worsen Health
  25. Thoughts on Screening for the Social Determinants of Health
  26. What the Experts Want Us to Know About Public Health
  27. What About The Health Care Delivery System? Another View On Health Philanthropy And The Social Determinants Of Health
  28. What Do Foundations Have In Mind With The Phrase “Social Determinants of Health?
  29. An Ounce of Prevention: What Public Health Means for Michigan
  30. In the Battle Over Health-Care Costs, Food Could be a Weapon
  31. Poverty tied to worse heart health among U.S. teens
  32. Social Determinants As Public Goods: A New Approach To Financing Key Investments In Healthy Communities
  33. Integrating Social Needs Into Health Care: A Twenty-Year Case Study Of Adaptation And Diffusion
  34. The Maryland Health Enterprise Zone Initiative Reduced Hospital Cost And Utilization In Underserved Communities
  35. Addressing Social Determinants Of Health Through Medical-Legal Partnerships
  36. How Kansas City Is Using The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit To Advance Health
  37. In the Battle Over Health-Care Costs, Food Could be a Weapon
  38. What Civil War soldiers can teach us about how trauma is passed from generation to generation