Hamilton, NJ, September 27, 2023 — The Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) today announced that 20 rising Medicaid agency leaders from across the country were competitively selected to participate in the third class of the Medicaid Pathways Program. This Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded executive training initiative, led by CHCS, offers a unique opportunity to support the growth of a diverse group of state agency leaders who are new to Medicaid leadership roles and/or interested in advancing to a more senior role in the future.

“To create a more equitable health system that is fair and just; treats all people with dignity and respect; and rectifies past harms and prevents future ones, we need to support a diverse pipeline of Medicaid agency leaders now,” said Simbo Ige, MD, MS, MPH, managing director of program, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Our investment in the development for this talented group of state officials helps promote innovative thinking, inclusive leadership, and greater health equity for Medicaid members.”

The Medicaid Pathways Program aims to strengthen participants’ knowledge and skills to effectively serve in complex leadership roles and facilitate the development of senior Medicaid leaders, with a focus on supporting more diversity in leadership positions to reflect the communities served by Medicaid. Individuals chosen to participate in the Medicaid Pathways Program Class of 2024 represent 15 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and bring a wide range of professional and lived experience to their work.

The cohort includes:

  • Lynnette Aaron, Chief Financial Officer, Division of Health Care Financing and Policy, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services
  • Alexandria (Alex) Childers-Scott, Bureau Chief of Care Management, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
  • Felmarie Del C. Cruz Morales, Fiscal Director, Puerto Rico Medicaid Program, Puerto Rico Department of Health
  • Rebecca Curtiss, Bureau Chief for Quality, Innovation and Medical Policy, Iowa Medicaid, Iowa Department of Health and Human Services
  • Charles (Charlie) Estabrook, Managed Care Administrator, Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services
  • Alejandro Eduardo Garcia Davalos, Director of Health Plan Administration and Oversight, MassHealth
  • DaShawn Groves, Special Projects Officer to the Medicaid Director, District of Columbia Department of Health Care Finance
  • Jessica Hill, Chief of Staff, Division of TennCare
  • Sandra Kick, Director, Medical Benefits Management, Office of Health Care Financing, Maryland Department of Health
  • Yoon Kim-Butterfield, State Medical Director of Medicaid, Utah Department of Health and Human Services
  • Cynthia A. Parsons, Director of Behavioral Health and Long-Term Care Services, West Virginia Bureau for Medical Services
  • La-Risha Ratliff, Director of Government Affairs, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration
  • Lee Robinson, Medical Director for Behavioral Health, Office of Behavioral Health, MassHealth
  • Tyler Sadwith, Deputy Director of Behavioral Health, California Department of Health Care Services
  • Michelle Smith, Director of the Office of Eligibility Policy, Division of Integrated Healthcare, Utah Department of Health and Human Services
  • Jesse Springer, Deputy Medicaid Director, Wyoming Medicaid, Wyoming Department of Health
  • Jill Stemple, Executive Policy Specialist, Office of Policy Development, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
  • Janelle White, Associate Medical Director, Division of Health Benefits, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
  • Tangela N. Womack, Medicaid Deputy Director, Louisiana Department of Health
  • Gwendolyn Zander, Director of Managed Care Operations, Office of Medical Assistance Programs, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

“It is important that we invest in the development of Medicaid leaders across the country,” said Mark Larson, senior vice president at CHCS, former Vermont Medicaid director, and lead faculty for the program. “We are excited to welcome this new and diverse class of senior Medicaid leaders and support their efforts to bring accessible and dignified care to communities across the nation.”

During the nine-month-long program, participants will gain skills through following a competency-based leadership framework; engaging in individual and group coaching sessions; and exploring best practices in Medicaid leadership. For more information about the Medicaid Pathways Program, visit https://www.chcs.org/project/medicaid-pathways-programs.


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, the Foundation is working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.


The Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) is a policy design and implementation partner devoted to improving outcomes for people enrolled in Medicaid. CHCS supports partners across sectors and disciplines to make more effective, efficient, and equitable care possible for millions of people across the nation. For more information, visit www.chcs.org.