MeHAF Community Advisory Committee
The foundation’s statewide Community Advisory Committee (CAC) includes individuals with diverse backgrounds who advise the Board and staff on critical issues that align with MeHAF’s mission. They provide thoughtful input into our periodic strategic planning and assessment efforts.
Thomas Bartol, NP
Tom Bartol is a Nurse Practitioner working at the Richmond Area Health Center, part of HealthReach Community Health Centers where he has been employed since 1998. He received his Master of Nursing degree from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1994 and his Bachelor of Nursing from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Besides his clinic work, Tom is a speaker, writer, and an optimist. He states, "Being an NP is the best job in the world!" and he believes NPs are the answer to many of the health care problems in this country. Tom Speaks nationally on several topics including recreating healthcare, motivating patients, creating healing relationships, diabetes, and understanding research among other topics. An avid writer, he writes a regular column for Medscape online and, also writes periodically for other journals. He has a vision of a culture change in health care where patients actively participate in decisions about their health care based on their unique circumstances, needs, goals and values. Putting the health and caring back into health care, it would not be “done to” patients but would become a dialogue, more of a dance with patients than a wrestling match. Tom has created a website, inspired by the model of open source software on which individuals can share information about how they have improved health care and see what others have shared. Tom lives with his wife, Barbara Moss, and two sons in Manchester. He enjoys tennis, gardening, sailing and just about anything else that comes across his path.
Nélida Berke, MPH
Nélida Berke came to the United States from Peru in May of 2001, with plans to extend her business in Peru. She later moved to the United States, married, and started a new life. Although her interest and experience was in business, opportunity opened a new career path for her in public health. In 2003, she joined the Portland Public Health Division’s STD/HIV Prevention, and then in 2005 she joined the Minority Health Program. In her role as a Community Health Outreach Worker (CHOW), she assisted Latinos, with and without health insurance, to obtain needed healthcare at major local health facilities. Her goal was to eliminate health disparities (language barriers, lack of transportation, lack of health insurance and awareness of resources, financial issues, and limited knowledge of prevention and treatment services) and to improve healthcare access. In 2013, she was promoted to the Minority Health Program Specialist position, where she skillfully coordinated and supervised 39 CHOWs and 17 volunteers from the 13 largest minority communities in Greater Portland to drive success and aid in better serving their communities. In December 2015, Ms. Berke was promoted to her new role as the Portland Public Health Division’s Minority Health Program Coordinator. She constantly advocates for immigrant rights and health equity through enhancing communication and community engagement with underserved populations. She completed her Master Degree in Public Health from the University of Southern Maine. She served on the Board for Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition until August 2020; serves on the Northern Light Mercy Hospital board, Catholic Identity & Ministry Committee and on several advisory committees. She is a regular guest presenter at health care facilities and universities, promoting improvement in cultural competence and encouraging humility in health care professionals in Maine.
Donna Brown, MSW
Donna Decontie-Brown is the Outreach Coordinator for the Wabanaki Women’s Coalition, a nonprofit tribal domestic and sexual violence coalition that serves the five Wabanaki tribes of Maine. Donna is a citizen of the Penobscot Nation of Indian Island, Maine and the Algonquin First Nation of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg located in Maniwaki, Quebec. Donna’s pronouns are she, her and hers. Donna received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Ottawa in 2007 and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Maine in 2012. Donna has extensive experience in the field of training, and has provided her services in the fields of information technology, customer service, corporate training, suicide prevention, Youth Mental Health First Aid, and intimate partner violence. Her desire to advocate for the rights, well-being and safety of others led her to serve in a variety of positions over the past 25+ years including adult case manager; research assistant; grant writer; domestic violence shelter aid; and consultant to develop Healing to Wellness Court programs for the Hopi Tribe in Arizona and the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe in Wisconsin. Donna is a traditional dancer and master beadwork artist who carries on the traditions of her people, through elaborate beadwork on regalia and modern-day garments. Her work has appeared in various exhibits, museums and galleries. Donna also helps to teach community members the fine art of regalia making and traditional dances as a form of healing and to promote resiliency.
Jacqui has enjoyed a 30+-year career as a mediator and facilitator as a partner in Mediation & Facilitation Resources based in the Capitol area. The focus of her work in conflict resolution is to build on the values and self-determination of the people she serves. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a Master’s degree in Public Administration, which have provided a framework for planning and community decision-making. She has been a founding member of several organizations including programs for experiential education, responding to domestic abuse, providing low cost mediation services, and most recently supporting immigrants and refugees. Jacqui is gratefully abled bodied at this time and enjoys physical activity in the woods, on the water with paddles of all kinds and indoor at her local YMCA. Just to be playful, Jacqui took a yoga teacher training class in 2015 and was startled to learn that she loves yoga and now instructs three classes a week as a born again yoga zealot.
Matt Dexter is President & Executive Director of the Christine B. Foundation (CBF), based in Brewer. The Foundation's namesake, Christine, is Matt's mother who passed to stomach cancer. Matt and his family started this organization to build a community of support for those affected by cancer in Eastern Maine. Since inception in 2014, Matt has grown the Foundation with values of creativity, collaboration, and committing to his community. Outside of CBF, Matt lives in Bangor and fills his time exploring Maine's hidden treasurers, serving on boards and committees, and enjoys running along the waterfront.
Gia Drew is Program Director at EqualityMaine where she’s worked since 2014. At EqualityMaine she oversees all education, outreach, and youth engagement programs across the state, and advocates for policies and laws that protect the LGBTQ community. She also serves on several committees and coalitions, such as Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, LGBTQ Youth Coalition, Coalition to End Transgender Healthcare Discrimination, Implicit Bias Project, and University of New England School of Social Work Community Advisory Group. While originally from Boston, Gia has called Maine home for the past sixteen years and lives in Kennebunkport. Gia earned degrees from both Syracuse University and Savannah College of Art and Design and worked as a high school art teacher and coach for twenty years. In that time she transitioned on the job becoming one of Maine's first OUT transgender public school teachers and one of the first transgender high school coaches in the country.
Elsie Flemings is the Executive Director of Healthy Acadia, a community health organization serving Washington and Hancock counties in Downeast Maine, with offices in Machias and Ellsworth. She is responsible for ensuring that the organization is responsive to local community health needs and priorities, while assuring effective program management, communication and coordination with partners, community mobilization, financial management, ambassadorship, and resource development. Healthy Acadia is dedicated to a broad range of collaborative community initiatives, with six current priority areas of focus: Strong Beginnings; Substance Prevention and Recovery; Healthy Food; Active and Healthy Environments; Health Promotion & Management; and Healthy Aging. Elsie lives in Bar Harbor with her husband, Richard, and their two daughters, Fiona and Sylvia. Their older daughter (Elsie’s step-daughter, Rachel) lives in Florida with her daughter, Haven. As a family, they love to “walk the walk” (or “run the run”) of healthy living together: running, hiking, biking, swimming, gardening, skiing, sledding, and adventuring in Maine, Florida, and beyond.
Tracey is the Executive Director of H.O.M.E. Inc. where she has worked for the last 13 years. H.O.M.E. Inc. provides services to low-income and homeless families in Hancock County. H.O.M.E Inc. services include, 5 shelters for the homeless, 18 transitional housing beds, a food pantry and soup kitchen, thrift store, affordable day care, an adult learning center, low-cost automotive repair, organic gardens, a craft coop for the sale of items such as, weaving, stained glass and pottery, plus programs to support a major house construction and repair effort that has built 53 homes for low-income families. Tracey has volunteered in partnership with H.O.M.E. Inc. at a homeless charity located in Harlem, NY, where she and her partner worked doing street outreach, handing out sandwiches and distributing organic produce to low-income families. In addition to street outreach, Tracey taught basic computer skills to undocumented and low-income families in the Bronx and has spent time advocating for Immigration Rights for LGBT couples. Tracey is a member of the Board of Community Compass, an organization working to break the cycle of poverty in Hancock County. Tracey also serves in an advisory capacity for Families and Children Together which provides services and programs to strengthen Maine families as they manage trauma, challenge, and change. She is also a member of Emmaus International, a global movement addressing poverty and homelessness. Tracey holds a lifelong passion for helping underserved populations. She and her partner Julia live in Bucksport where they enjoy gardening and tending to life in their little cottage.
Robert Kieffer, CIC
Rob Kieffer is the Agency Manager for United Insurance in Caribou, Maine. His responsibilities include overall management and growth of the Caribou branch of United Insurance. Rob also co-owns RE/MAX North Realty in Caribou with his wife Lehrle Kieffer. Rob began his insurance career in 1980 working for the family business in Caribou. Rob helped grow the business through several acquisitions, aggressive internal and external marketing, and support from many loyal clients. Graduating from the University of Maine in 1980 with a BS in Business Administration, Rob has actively pursued continued education for both his insurance and real estate licenses. In addition to his business interests, Rob is a registered Maine Guide, past Rotary Club president, past Cary Medical Center board chair, nordic ski coach, and has served on numerous other civic and professional organizations. Rob is married to Lehrle Kieffer and they have three daughters, Alison, Lydia, and Ginger. Rob enjoys spending time with his family, nordic and alpine skiing, snowmobiling, hiking, fishing, hunting, and spending time at his family camps on Madawaska Lake and the Machias River.
Rebecca Matusovich, MPPM
Becca Matusovich is the founding Executive Director of the Partnership for Children’s Oral Health. Her 25-year career in public service includes work in education, substance abuse prevention, chronic disease, public health infrastructure, refugee & immigrant health, child welfare, and community engagement. Becca brings a deep passion for improving the systems that serve Maine children and families, and she has extensive experience in catalyzing complex system change and forging partnerships with a common vision. Her state government posts include Prevention Team Manager for the Office of Substance Abuse, Chronic Disease Division Director at Maine Center for Disease Control and the Maine CDC’s first Cumberland District Public Health Liaison, and she spent several years as a Policy Associate at the Cutler Institute within USM’s Muskie School for Public Service prior to her current position. While crossing sectors and disciplines in many ways over the years, her work has always gravitated around a core interest in health equity and systems thinking.
Kenney Miller (he/him/his) served as the Executive Director of the Health Equity Alliance (HEAL). With a Master’s of Science in Social Anthropology, Kenney is a consummate student of culture and society and has devoted his career to addressing the ways in which social forces influence, shape, and collide with human health. He has spoken widely on the impact of stigma and discrimination on health outcomes, the need to transform health systems to be more culturally and structurally competent, and the value of cultivating these principles into a key pillar of HEAL’s work. During his tenure at the Health Equity Alliance Kenney has overseen the agency’s growth and transformation from a small social service agency into a regional force for health and social justice throughout Maine. He is the co-founder of the Maine Harm Reduction Alliance, and the Maine Coalition for Sensible Drug Policy, through which he propelled the philosophy of ‘harm reduction’ to center-stage and amplified the need to better integrate principles of compassion, science, and pragmatism into Maine’s drug policy. Kenny has co-founded several state-level health-focused conferences and helped jump-start numerous collaborations and projects to benefit Maine’s most marginalized communities including people living with HIV, people who use drugs, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people with a history of incarceration, and others.
Fowsia Musse is the Executive Director of Maine Community Integration and a Community Health Outreach Worker at Healthy Androscoggin. She has demonstrated her goal as a leader of the local Healthy Androscoggin where she is educating families about Lead Poisoning Prevention. She effectively leads situations involving conflict while balancing her personal leadership style with the demands of the organization. Fowsia is a member of the Pine Tree Youth Organization board, president of the Neighborhood Housing League, board member of the 21st Century after school program in Lewiston High School Program, and is a coordinator for Maine Community Integrations (MCI), which is an ethnic based organization. In the past she has worked as a medically certified interpreter helping the new Mainer population navigate the very complicated health care system. Fowsia is a cultural broker and "bridger" when it comes to diffusing conflicts, immediate community conflict, and working toward bettering the relationships between neighborhoods so they can have cohesiveness.
Elizabeth Neptune has 30 years of experience in delivering innovative health and human services to Native Communities. Ms. Neptune operates her own consulting business that primarily provides technical assistance to Native American Tribes programs across the country. She has become nationally known for her skills in directing programs and facilitating change in health care and child welfare systems. In her capacity as director of health and human services for the Passamaquoddy Tribe, Ms. Neptune created a model of holistic care which won both state and national recognition. She served as the state Child Wellness Coordinator and helped implement Project LAUNCH for the State of Maine. Ms. Neptune’s gift for innovation has changed health outcomes for many and has influenced system changes at the Tribal, State and National level. Locally, she was worked on projects with the Community Caring Collaborative and the Washington County Network for Health and Wellness. She was recently featured in Maine Magazine 50 Mainers Charting Maine’s future who are improving upon the state’s numerous assets and finding ways to leverage them to improve the lives of others. She has received several awards for her work. Recent awards include: 2013 Indian Health Service Health Advocate of the Year; 2014 National Indian Health Board Recognition for Outstanding Service to Advance American Indian and Alaska Native Health.
Noah Nesin, MD
Dr. Noah Nesin has been a family doctor in Maine since 1986, first in a private, solo practice and then in FQHCs, and has served as Chief of Staff of Penobscot Valley Hospital, as Medical Director of Health Access Network in Lincoln, ME, as Chief Quality Officer at Penobscot Community Heath Care (PCHC), and now as Chief Medical Officer at PCHC. Throughout his career Dr. Nesin has led efforts in evidence-based prescribing and in practice transformation to improve efficiency and to use health care resources judiciously. Dr. Nesin serves as the chair of Maine’s Academic Detailing Advisory Committee, the body which oversees the Maine Independent Clinical Information Service, sits on the Advisory Committee for the Lunder Dineen Health Education Alliance of Maine, serves on the board of the Hanley Center for Healthcare Leadership Development, is Vice President of the Maine Public Health Association, was a co-founder of Maine Quality Counts’ Maine Chronic Pain Collaborative and is a member of AHRQ’s National Integration Advisory Council, which is currently focused on treatment of substance use disorders across the country. Dr. Nesin has received a variety of recognitions, including the Maine Harm Reduction Alliance Harm Reduction Hero award, the Maine Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor of the Year, the Lisa Letourneau, MD award for Excellence in Primary Care, the Maine Primary Care Association Physician Excellence Award, and the Maine Medical Association President’s Award for Distinguished Service.
Jessica Oakes is a licensed clinical social worker, licensed alcohol and drug counselor, and certified clinical supervisor who currently works for the Open Door Recovery Center in Ellsworth, Maine. Her work is primarily with children and adolescents providing substance abuse assessments and substance abuse and mental health counseling in the school setting. Jessica’s work with youth stems from her belief in the importance of human relationships and the value of empowerment thru education and compassionate listening. When Jessica is not at work she is usually running a half marathon or outdoors on an adventure with her husband, Geromy. They have been spotted from Northern Quebec for ski trips in the winter to paddling the rugged coast of Maine in the summer.
Reshid Shankol, MD, MPH
Dr. Shankol is a licensed social worker and physician from Ethiopia currently working as a case manager at Community Clinical Service Family Health Care. He received his advanced medical degree in Ethiopia, from Jimma University School of Medicine in 1995. He was part of the first group of African immigrants to move to Lewiston to make a new home and has brought his energy and experience to the community ever since. As he pursued his education in the United States, he volunteered at the Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston. He continues to volunteer his skills and experience, currently serving as chair of the New Mainers Public Health Initiative board. In addition to his medical degree, he has a Master’s in Public Health from Purdue University in 2017. He is passionate about ensuring that all people have access to care that is timely, of high quality, and culturally appropriate. He has brought that commitment to his work and will bring it to MeHAF’s Community Advisory Committee.
Ben Sprague is a Vice President/Commercial Lending Officer for First National Bank. He is a former member of the Bangor City Council and served twice as the Council Chair. Ben was born and raised in Bangor and graduated from Bangor High School in 2002. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Government from Harvard University in 2006, Ben worked for the Boston Red Sox for three years and also taught high school diploma and career development classes. Ben then returned to Bangor in 2011. Ben is also a member of the Board of Directors for Good Shepherd Food Bank. He has previously served on the boards of the Bangor YMCA and Northern Light/Eastern Maine Medical Center. He is the founder and race director for Erin's Run, a road race which is run annually to raise money for a local domestic violence resource center and the Bangor YMCA. Ben has run five marathons and lives in Bangor with his wife, Malorie, and their three children.
Sara Squires, MPPM
Sara Squires received her undergraduate degree from Wheaton College (MA) and a Master's from USM's Muskie School of Public Service in 2010. She joined Disability Rights Maine (DRM) as an intake coordinator in September 2002 and was later named Public Policy Director. Sara continues to provide information and referral services, while also coordinating the agency’s policy work, maintaining DRM’s print/online media presence, and overseeing data management for reporting and quality assurance purposes. Sara is past Chair of the MaineCare Advisory Committee and served a term on the mPower Loan Board, which oversees Maine's adaptive equipment loan program. In 2014, she co-presented two workshops at the National Disability Rights Network’s Annual Conference, both on topics related to the intake process. Additionally, Sara regularly collaborates with the Secretary of State’s Office to provide training at its annual conference for municipal clerks and registrars.
Joby Thoyalil, MPA
Joby Thoyalil has over a decade of experience working in both Maine and New York advocating for economic and racial justice through policy change. He works as a senior policy advocate at Maine Equal Justice where he analyzes and develops legislative and administrative policy proposals and coordinates policy advocacy on a range of issues related to the economic stability of low-income individuals and families in Maine. Joby currently serves as a Commissioner on the newly established Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations, which is an independent, governmental entity with the mission to examine racial disparities across all systems in Maine and to specifically work at improving the status and outcomes for historically disadvantaged racial, indigenous and tribal populations in the State. Prior to moving to Maine, Joby worked as a campaigns organizer at the New Economy Project in New York, where he coordinated multiple campaigns and coalitions, including the statewide New Yorkers for Responsible Lending (NYRL) coalition and the NYC Coalition to Stop Credit Checks in Employment. He earned his Master’s in Public Administration from New York University's Wagner School of Public Service, where he specialized in public policy analysis.
Shirley Weaver, MT(ASCP), MA.,Ph.D.
Dr. Weaver has a long history of involvement in health professions education, both in military and civilian capacities. Shirl was the founding director of the Maine AHEC System and the Maine Geriatric Education Center at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Associate Director of the Harvard Geriatric Education Center at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Through those organizations she has focused on workforce training and education issues at national and state levels to improve health care for rural and underserved communities, such as: improving the distribution of health care providers, especially primary care providers; increasing health career awareness and preparation of rural and underserved youth; preparing providers to care for our increasingly older population; and increasing rural veterans’ access to care and services to address special mental health needs. Shirley enjoys retirement in Kennebunk, where her volunteer efforts are directed towards creating an age-friendly community and attempts to stay ahead of the deterioration of her 18th century home.