Health Equity and Quality Committee Members

Anna Lee Amarnath, Integrated Healthcare Association
Anna Lee Amarnath
Within IHA, Dr. Anna Lee Amarnath is the General Manager of the Align. Measure. Perform. (AMP) Program and its overall strategy and execution. In addition to her AMP Program responsibilities, she works with key partners on the Encounter Data Governance Entity (EDGE), a cross-industry encounter data improvement project in California. Dr. Amarnath joined IHA from the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), where she worked as Medical Program Consultant, Chief Medical Quality and Oversight. Dr. Amarnath completed a fellowship in Quality, Safety, and Comparative Effectiveness Research at the University of California, Davis Medical Center. Prior to that, she completed a family medicine residency at Swedish Medical Center. Dr. Amarnath earned a medical degree and Master of Public Health from Tufts University School of Medicine and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College.

Bill Barcellona, America's Physician Groups

Bill BarcellonaBill Barcellona is the Executive Vice President for Government Affairs for America's Physician Group (APG). APG represents over 300 physician organizations across the United States that deliver health care to patients enrolled under Medicare, Medi-Cal, and employer-sponsored coverage plans. Bill has been an attorney since 1985 and has served on the CHHS Privacy & Security Advisory Board, helped to form, and implement the Symphony and Sanator provider registries. He currently serves on the Health Care Payments Data Advisory Board and the CHHS Data Exchange Framework Stakeholder Advisory Sub-Committee.  He has worked in healthcare for over 20 years and previously served as a deputy director at the Department of Managed Health Care. Bill is also a graduate and former faculty member of the USC Price School MHA program.  

Dannie Ceseña, California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network

Dannie CesenaDannie Ceseña has over 15 years of experience working with non-profits in program development and advocacy. His knowledge and leadership have assisted in the creation of two TGNC community health care clinics, and a monthly TGNC legal clinic in Orange County, CA. He is responsible for building We Breathe: Supporting Tobacco-Free LGBTQ Communities from the ground-up, and has established the program as a leader statewide, nationally, and even internationally.  He has provided leadership and guidance for LGBTQ organizations who are new to working with the Department of Public Health, helping them navigate the complicated bureaucracy and ensuring LGBTQ project staff always have a place to turn with their questions and concerns. He is a graduate of CSU Long Beach with Bachelor Degrees in English and Political Science, and is a graduate of National University with a Master Degree in Public Health. 

Alex Chen, HealthNet

Alex ChenDr. Alex Chen, MD, MSHS, FAAP started his career as a Health Services Research tenure track professor at USC Keck School of Medicine's Children's Hospital Los Angeles, conducting research on health care equity and disparity. In 2014, Dr. Chen took a medical leadership role at AltaMed Health Services, one of the largest FQHC in the US, where he eventually became CMO. Throughout his term at AltaMed, Dr. Chen stayed on as an Adjunct Scientist at RAND, continue to conduct research on pediatric quality of care and patient experience. At AltaMed, Dr. Chen oversaw the newly formed Health Equity Institute as well as the Quality Improvement Department, where many community-based intervention for the underserved to reduce health care disparity were implemented. Dr. Chen was recruited to be CMO for HealthNet in 2018, to continue to focus on improving health care disparity among the Medicaid population. 

Cheryl Damberg, RAND Corporation

Cheryl DambergDr. Cheryl Damberg is the Director of RAND’s Center of Excellence on Health System Performance and holds the Distinguished Chair in Healthcare Payment Policy at the RAND Corporation. She is an international expert in pay for performance (P4P) and value-based payment (VBP) reforms and has advised Congress, federal agencies, the UK National Health Service, and the governments of Germany and South Korea on embedding performance-based incentives into provider payments schemes. Dr. Damberg was appointed in 2021 by the Comptroller General of the U.S. to serve on the Secretary of Labor’s State All Payer Claims Databases Advisory Committee. In 2019-2020, Dr. Damberg was appointed by Governor Newsom to serve as Vice-Chair of the California Healthcare Payments Database (HPD) Review Committee to establish a plan for California’s APCD, and she now serves as a member of the California HPD Advisory Committee which is providing guidance to the state of California as it implements the APCD.

Diana Douglas, Health Access California

Diana DouglasDiana Douglas is Manager of Policy and Advocacy for Health Access California, having joined the organization in 2019. As a consumer advocate, Diana is dedicated to fighting for quality, affordable health care for all and leads Health Access’ work on a wide range of legislative and administrative issue areas, including the commercial market, Medi-Cal, Covered California and behavioral health. Prior to joining Health Access, she worked in the state legislature for State Senator Richard Pan and as a policy analyst for the American Lung Association. Diana received her Masters from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she conducted research on social safety net programs and access to behavioral health care. 

Lishaun Francis, Children Now

Lishaun FrancisAs part of the health team, Lishaun Francis leads Children Now’s behavioral health portfolio. Prior to joining Children Now, Lishaun was an Associate Director at the California Medical Association. She provided policy support and analysis for California physicians on the issues of Medi-Cal, Workers’ Compensation, and Health Information Technology. Lishaun spent over two years with the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) where she provided fiscal and policy analyses to the State Legislature on issues of mental health, developmental disabilities, and alcohol and drug programs. In Washington DC, Lishaun worked as a Program Analyst for the U.S Department of Education, providing fiscal support on issues of higher education. Lishaun received her Master’s of Public Policy from the University of Michigan, and her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. 

Tiffany Huyenh-Cho, Justice in Aging

Tiffany Huyenh-ChoTiffany Huyenh-Cho is a senior staff attorney in the health team at Justice in Aging. She focuses on issues involving low-income older adults dually eligible for Medicare and Medi-Cal benefits in California. She works in collaboration with government agencies and consumer stakeholders to develop and implement policies and initiatives to improve access to health care and long-term services and supports for low-income older adults in California. Prior to Justice in Aging, she provided direct legal services at a legal aid program in the Bay Area, helping individuals access health insurance and health care services. Tiffany earned her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School and her undergraduate degree from UC San Diego. 

Edward Juhn, Inland Empire Health Plan

Edward JuhnDr. Edward Juhn is the Chief Quality Officer at Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) where he is responsible for leading the advancement of IEHP’s holistic focus on Quality through transformative incentives, initiatives, and innovative solutions and partnerships. Prior to joining IEHP, he served as a Sr. Medical Director at Blue Shield of California where he worked on initiatives leveraging big data, advanced analytics and technology-enabled service offerings. Dr. Juhn also has experience as a clinical scientist at an Intel-funded startup company and served as Chief of Healthcare Innovation and Strategy at Premier HealthCare. Dr. Juhn received his BA and MD from George Washington University, his executive MBA from New York University, and his MPH from Johns Hopkins University. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, a fellow of the American College of Physicians, and was a clinical instructor at Stanford Medicine.

Richard Riggs, Cedars-Sinai Health System

Richard RiggsDr. Richard Riggs is the Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for the Cedars-Sinai Health System and has served in that role since October of 2019. Dr. Riggs served as Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Cedars-Sinai 1997-2020 and is a Clinical Professor at Cedars-Sinai and a Health Sciences Clinical Professor at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He previously served as Vice President and Chief Medical Information Officer for Cedars-Sinai from 2015-2019. Additionally, he facilitated the launch of the California Rehabilitation Institute in 2016 as Chief Medical Strategy Officer and Chief of Staff. He has been intimately involved in the Cedars-Sinai health equity work through participation as a member of the Health Equity Council, Executive Diversity and Inclusion Council and Cedars-Sinai core leadership for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Pursuing Equity Initiative.

Bihu Sandhir, AltaMed

Bihu SandhirDr. Bihu Sandhir is a board-certified Internal Medicine Physician Executive with more than 25 years of health care experience. She currently serves as Medical Director of Quality and Patient Safety at AltaMed. Prior to moving to California, she worked in Ohio for 17 years as Medical Director of Primary Care Quality and Executive Medical Director in two large Hospital Systems. She successfully led these Healthcare Systems achieve PCMH recognition and participate successfully in Medicare’s innovation Projects: CPCI & CPC+. Dr. Sandhir has earned multiple honors and frequently serves as a distinguished speaker. She is passionate about quality and safety measures that will eliminate health disparities to those in underserved communities. In addition to her Executive role, Dr. Sandhir continues to practice medicine, specializing in Advanced Diabetes and Geriatric care.   

Kiran Savage-Sangwan, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

Kiran Savage-SangwanKiran Savage-Sangwan is the Executive Director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN). CPEHN is a statewide multicultural health advocacy organization, focused on eliminating persistent health inequities and addressing structural racism in health care. Prior to becoming Executive Director in 2019, Kiran served as CPEHN Deputy Director and Health Integration Policy Director. Kiran has a background in immigrant and mental health organizing and advocacy. She also previously served as the Chairperson of the Sacramento Community Police Review Commission. Kiran graduated from New York University with a BA and a Master of Public Administration. 

Rhonda Smith, California Black Health Network 

Rhonda SmithRhonda Smith is the Executive Director of the California Black Health Network, a nonprofit that works to advance health equity for Black Californians. Rhonda has served in various nonprofit leadership roles that include Consultant/Project Director for the LiveHealthy OC Initiative, a three-year initiative that aimed to transform the model of care of a network of FQHCs from a disease-focused treatment model to prevention and wellness model, providing whole person care approach. Before the LiveHealthy OC Initiative, Rhonda served as the Consultant/Statewide Project Manager for the Susan G. Komen® Circle of Promise California Initiative. Rhonda earned her MBA in Marketing and Operations Management from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and her B.S. Degree in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech. 

Kristine Toppe, National Committee for Quality Assurance 

Kristine ToppeKristine Toppe, MPH, is the Assistant Vice President for State Affairs at the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), where she leads the engagement and support of states on identifying and implementing policies for quality improvement and meaningful evaluation of the healthcare system. She has over 20 years of experience and direct knowledge of state and federal public health policy and has supported NCQA’s relationships in California since 2001. In 2020-2021, she served as an advisor on the Oregon Health Care Authority’s Social Determinants of Health Measure Workgroup which was charged with recommending a measure for incentivizing the screening of individuals for health-related social needs. Ms. Toppe holds a Master of Public Health from UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Oregon. 

Doreena Wong, Asian Resources, Inc.

Doreena WongDoreena Wong, Esq., currently works at Asian Resources, Inc. (ARI) as its Policy Director, in its Los Angeles office. Before coming to ARI, Doreena was the Director of the Health Access Project at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. She has over 30 years of experience as a civil rights attorney, with expertise in the areas of health care, language access and voting rights while working at a range of public interest legal organizations. Doreena is also a well-known social justice advocate who has helped to found several Asian American lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer rights group, including API Equality-LA and the Asian Pacific Islander Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Network. She graduated from New York University School of Law in 1987 as a second career after having worked as a health care professional for nine years. 

Silvia Yee, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

Silvia YeeSilvia Yee is a senior staff attorney at Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) where her work has included projects to increase physical and programmatic accessibility and disability awareness in the delivery of health care services, as well as impact litigation to increase access for people with disabilities in myriad aspects of public and private life. Over the past decade, Ms. Yee has presented and written on how disability health and healthcare disparities, civil rights, public health, and social determinants of health such as race/ethnicity, LGBTQ status, and income level intersect. Recently, she has had the privilege of co-teaching the disability rights law class offered at UC Berkeley School of Law. Prior to joining DREDF, Ms. Yee worked in private commercial practice in Canada, and with the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. Ms. Yee received her B.Mus., M.A., and LL.B. degrees from the University of Alberta. Following graduation from law school, she clerked with Justice William Stevenson at the Alberta Court of Appeal.

Ex Officio Committee Members (non-voting)

Palav Babaria, California Department of Health Care Services

Palav BarbariaDr. Palav Babaria has served as the Chief Quality Officer and Deputy Director of Quality and Population Health Management of the California Department of Health Care Services since March 2021. She was formerly the Chief Administrative Officer of Ambulatory Services at Alameda Health System. Prior to that role, she served as Medical Director of K6 Adult Medicine Clinic. She also has over a decade of global health experience and her work has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Academic Medicine, Social Science & Medicine, L.A. Times, and New York Times. Dr. Babaria received her bachelor’s from Harvard College, as well as her MD and Masters in Health Science from Yale University. She completed her residency training in internal medicine and global health fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. 

Stesha Hodges, California Department of Insurance 

Stesha HodgesStesha Hodges is an Assistant Chief Counsel at the California Department of Insurance (CDI) and Chief of CDI’s Health Equity and Access Office (HEAO). As Chief of HEAO, her work focuses on promoting equity and access in health coverage for historically disadvantaged groups. Stesha joined CDI as an attorney in 2008. Since 2010 she has worked to improve access to, and equity in, health coverage and care through work implementing the Affordable Care Act and health reform in California’s health insurance markets. Stesha represents CDI and the Insurance Commissioner on health issues in proceedings of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and with a wide range of external stakeholders. Prior to joining CDI, Stesha worked as an attorney at the California Department of Social Services, as well as in private law practice. She holds a B.S. in criminal justice from California State University-Sacramento, and a J.D. from the University of the Pacific – McGeorge School of Law.  

Julia Logan, California Public Employees Retirement System

Julia LoganDr. Julia Logan serves as the Chief Medical Officer and Head of Clinical Policy for the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS). She is charged with advancing health equity, behavioral health, and pharmacy policy as well as improving clinical quality. Dr. Logan has held leadership positions in the public, private, and academic sectors related to chronic disease management, quality improvement, and patient safety, including serving as the Chief Quality Officer and Associate Medical Director of the California Department of Health Care Services. She is on the faculty of the California Department of Public Health’s Preventive Medicine Residency Program. Dr. Logan is board-certified in Public Health and General Preventive Medicine and Family Medicine. She received her bachelor’s degree in American Culture from Northwestern University, and MPH from UC Davis, and her MD from Drexel University College of Medicine.

Taylor Priestly

Taylor PriestlyTaylor Priestly (she/her) is the deputy director of the health equity and quality transformation division at Covered California, the state’s health benefit marketplace. In this role, she leads health equity policy development and oversees implementation of Covered California's health equity and quality transformation initiatives. She has served as Covered California’s health equity officer since 2018. Taylor started with Covered California in November 2012 and helped launch Qualified Health Plan selection and certification, plan contracting, and standard health and dental benefit plan designs. Taylor joined Covered California after extensive work in health and intervention programs for low-income and vulnerable populations at CommuniCare Health Centers, Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA) Head Start, and the YWCA of Sonoma County.  She holds master’s degrees in social welfare and public health from the University of California, Berkeley, where she researched pediatric oral health disparities with a focus on access to care.

Robyn Strong, California Department of Healthcare Access and Information

Robyn StrongRobyn Strong is the Enterprise Data Operations Assistant Branch Chief within the Information Services Division of the Department of Healthcare Access and Information (HCAI). Robyn joined HCAI (formerly the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development) in 1999 and has served in numerous roles, primarily related to data collection and validation of healthcare data including patient-level administrative, financial, utilization, healthcare payments (APCD), and cost transparency of prescription drugs. Prior to HCAI, Robyn worked for the California Public Health Foundation as a Health Surveyor and for the Employment Development Department. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from California State University, Chico and Certificate from the California Health and Human Services Leadership Development Academy at California State University, Sacramento in 2019.