Health Equity Committee

Formally established in July 2020, the Health Equity Committee is tasked with understanding health disparities and developing strategies to ensure health equity for all AHCCCS members. The committee is responsible for overseeing and managing health equity considerations as they relate to policy, data, health plan oversight, and emerging health care innovation strategies for over two million Arizonans.

Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. More information can be found at Online Public Health: Equity vs. Equality: What’s the Difference?

Equality Equity people with hands up grabbing fruit

Healthy People 2030 defines health equity as the “attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities.”

The AHCCCS Health Equity committee will use utilization and quality improvement data to advance policy and/or contract strategies that improve health equity for AHCCCS members and Medicaid-eligible Arizonans. The committee will communicate existing health equity strategies, identify and recommend needed improvements to existing strategies (if appropriate), develop and/or evaluate key metrics, and articulate future interventions aimed at eliminating health disparities.

Questions? Please email:

Committee Goals:

  • Understand health disparities among AHCCCS members,
  • Effectuate policy changes and support the implementation of strategies for positive improvement where known disparities exist, creating opportunities for the more equitable provision of services and supports,
  • Raise the visibility of AHCCCS’ commitment to health equity and the strategies in place to ensure the equitable provision of services and supports,
  • Improve health outcomes for AHCCCS members, and
  • Identify challenges and barriers that AHCCCS members have in accessing covered services.

Committee Chair Jakenna Lebsock, Assistant Director, Division of Managed Care Services
Committee Co-Chair Ruben Soliz, Section Chief, Division of Public Policy & Strategic Planning
Executive Sponsor Carmen Heredia, Executive Deputy Director
Project Support Dr. Sara Salek, Chief Medical Officer
Project Manager Amy Putman, Project Administrator, Division of Public Policy & Strategic Planning
Committee Members
  • Division of Behavioral Health & Housing - Alexandra O’Hannon, Alexandrea Ruth, Andrew Medina, Lia Ballesteros
  • Division of Business & Finance - Margaret Hackler
  • Division of Community Health & Engagement - Vacant
  • Division of Fee-For-Service Management - Leslie Short, Rachel Conley
  • Division of Managed Care Operations - Vacant
  • Division of Managed Care Services - Cameron Adams, Jane Otenyo, Julie Ambur, Lindsey Irelan, Min Ji Yi, Susan Podshadley, Vishal Etikala
  • Division of Member and Provider Services - Dareth Cox, Deidra Frisby, Jesse Pare, Tara Cochran
  • Human Resources & Development - Vacant
  • Information Services Division - Amanda Spence, Michael Lipscomb, Mike Sisson, Owen Blackshaw, Tara Finck
  • Office of General Counsel - Vacant
  • Office of Inspector General - Robin Clancy
  • Office of the Director - Vacant
  • * Membership is reviewed on an annual basis. Each division will have at least one representative, excluding committee leadership and staff.

Alexandra O HannonAlexandra O’Hannon has a Master’s degree in Social Work from Arizona State University and is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ). She has over 20 years of experience in healthcare operations for substance abuse, medical and behavioral health services. In her current role, she oversees the administration of the State Opioid Response grant. Alexandra is an advocate for quality-based healthcare for all Arizonans. She is honored to be able to contribute to the committee’s efforts to strengthen health equity within the State.

Amanda SpenceAmanda Spence is a Business Analyst for the ISD Recipient Team with 11 years at AHCCCS (10 DMPS, 1 ISD). Within DMPS she has served as ALTCS Customer Service Rep, ALTCS Eligibility, TSC Agent, and Management Analyst for HEA/PMMIS Testing. She has extensive experience with HEAPlus and PMMIS Recipient/Health plan subsystems. Amanda is passionate about continuous process/systems improvement, data integrity and meaningful data. She is excited to see a collaborative data driven approach to identifying barriers and addressing inequities within AHCCCS’ most vulnerable populations.

Cam AdamsCameron ‘Cam’ Adams is the data coordinator for the AHCCCS Targeted Investments (TI) Program in the Office of the Director. He analyzes TI participation, claims, and PCP assignment data and regularly interacts with providers, plans, and SMEs to better understand results and identify opportunities for policy improvement. Cam is proud of his past work in ALTCS eligibility, HEA plus, and the AHCCCS administrative budget, looks forward to applying these experiences to promote health equity for AHCCCS members.

Jakenna LebsockJakenna Lebsock is an Assistant Director in the Division of Health Care Management, focusing on clinical and operational aspects of Managed Care. Jakenna has a passion for data and continuous quality improvement as well as ensuring quality care for Arizona's most vulnerable populations. Jakenna grew up in a very rural/poor community in southeast Kansas and understands the impact of appropriate and representative access to care and services. Jakenna is a dedicated advocate for survivors of domestic violence, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ rights. Jakenna holds a Master's Degree in Public Administration from the University of Arizona.

Jane OtenyoJane Otenyo joined AHCCCS in 2022 and is currently a Project Coordinator for the Targeted Investments Program (TI) in the Office of the Director. Jane holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Arizona. Prior to AHCCCS, she was active in initiatives aimed at improving local health outcomes and reducing health disparities through community-based organizations in Arizona. Jane is eager to work in partnership with this committee to support health equity for all.

Julie AmburJulie Ambur is a Senior Project Manager with AHCCCS, applying 20 years of private and public sector managed care compliance and public policy development experience to her role. Julie’s approach pulls from her and her family members' experiences living with chronic illness, her environmental and sustainability advocacy, as well as her studies in biological sciences and public administration. Julie is also part of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute’s cohort for the 2022 Community Health Leadership Program which focused on climate change and environmental health equity. Julie's goal is to reach communities in ways that are impactful, inclusive, and promote health equity for AHCCCS members.

Leslie ShortLeslie Short currently serves as the Integrated Services Administrator in the Division of Fee-for-Service Management at AHCCCS, providing regulatory oversight to the Tribal Regional Behavioral Health Authorities and working to create and support care coordination opportunities within the Indian Health Services and tribally operated health care delivery system for the American Indian population in Arizona. Leslie holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from New York University and has spent close to fifteen years working in the public health sector implementing health care initiatives for diverse and underserved populations in NYC to rural and border communities in southwest Arizona.

Lia BallesterosLia Ballesteros holds a master’s degree in Community Counseling. With over 16 years' experience working with children, families, and adults in underserved communities, she has worked in diverse areas of the helping profession including assessment, crisis intervention, advocacy, and outpatient individual, group, and family therapy. Since 2015, while working at the Arizona Department of Health Services, and now AHCCCS, she has provided and overseen regional advocacy across Arizona for individuals with a serious mental illness designation. Lia is dedicated to continued advocacy for the underrepresented by ensuring health equity and achieving optimal health for all AHCCCS members.

Michael LipscombMichael Lipscomb joined AHCCCS in 2016 and currently serves as the Whole Person Care and Criminal Justice Administrator in the Division of Health Care Management. In this role, Michael is the agency lead for social determinants of health and criminal justice- focused initiatives and manages cross-agency collaborations to develop, operationalize, and evaluate new interventions addressing social risk factors. Michael holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Southern Illinois University and has 12 years’ prior experience in the criminal justice field in Arizona.

Rachel ConleyRachel Conleyis an American Indian of Arizona. She moved to Phoenix in 2000 and has been employed with the State of Arizona since. She is currently the Tribal Arizona Long Term Care Service (ALTCS) Administrator at AHCCCS. She is responsible for maintaining a positive government-to-government relationship with eight Tribal ALTCS programs throughout Arizona and ensuring appropriate oversight of the system. Rachel is a member of the Health Equity Committee where she serves as an advocate for our tribal population. She participates in establishing a health care system that focuses on improving our health care systems, eliminating health disparities, and reaching health equity for members. Rachel grew up in a tribal community, so she is deeply passionate in successfully implementing Federal and State Government plans and projects while at the same time respecting tribal sovereignty.

Additional Committee Members:

  • Division of Behavioral Health & Housing
    • Alexandrea Ruth, Program Administrator
    • Andrew Medina, Program Evaluation Administrator
  • Division of Business & Finance
    • Margaret Hackler, Business Specialist
  • Division of Managed Care Services
    • Lindsey Irelan, Program Manager
    • Min Ji Yi, Health Program Manager
    • Susan Pdshadley, Administrative Project Manager
    • Vishal Etikala, Senior Research & Statistical Analyst
  • Division of Member & Provider Services
    • Amy Putman, Program Administrator
    • Deidra Frisby, Research Analyst
    • Jesse Pare, Program Support Administrator
    • Tara Cochran, Policy Unit Manager
  • Division of Public Policy and Strategic Planning
    • Amy Putman, Program Administrator
    • Ruben Soliz, Section Chief
  • Information Services Division
    • Mike Sisson, Chief Data Officer
    • Owen Blackshaw, Application Developer
    • Tara Finck, Business Intelligence Manager
  • Office of Inspector General
    • Robin Clancy, Audit Manager


In September and October 2020, AHCCCS held a series of public forums on health equity. These forums were held virtually on weekdays, weeknights, and weekends to allow all stakeholders in the AHCCCS system to share their experiences and perspectives. Invitations were extended to community members, AHCCCS members, AHCCCS providers and the AHCCCS managed care health plans. Spanish translation was offered at one forum and AHCCCS held a specific forum for tribal stakeholders. These forums resulted in the themes outlined below. The feedback from the forums is a part of the qualitative information the AHCCCS Health Equity Committee is gathering and will be used in combination with claims data to inform future health equity strategies and recommendations. It is the Health Equity Committee’s intention to have continuous community dialogue; if you have any comments or questions, please reach out to the committee at

Summary of AHCCCS Health Equity Feedback Sessions Infographic

Summary of AHCCCS Health Equity Feedback Sessions

Access to Technology

Lack of access to technology and internet limits accessibility for some members and providers.

Communication and Language

Need for increased accessibility, including interpretation services at appointments, printed material in plain language and in various languages, and LGBTQ+ inclusive language on all materials.

Education and Health Care Literacy

Need to educate the health care community about cultural differences and historic inequities their members may have experienced, and promote health care professions in communities, paying attention to underserved communities, including tribal.

Care Coordination and Access to Health Care

Members in rural communities are more likely to struggle to obatin care and medications, and have fewer substance use disorder treatment options. The non-emergency medical transportation benefit is not well understood.