Staff and Board of Directors

Staff

Executive Director

Janet Varon is the founder and Executive Director of Northwest Health Law Advocates. She coordinates the statewide legal advocates' Medical Assistance Work Group and serves on the Healthy Washington Coalition Steering Committee. Janet is a member of the boards of the National Health Law Program and the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children. She previously chaired the state's Medical Assistance Advisory Committee and served on the Governor's Certificate of Need Task Force and on the Low-Income Populations Advisory Group to the Joint Select Committee on Health Care Reform Implementation. Before starting NoHLA, Janet worked for 13 years as a staff attorney at Evergreen Legal Services. Janet is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Rob Weiner and Janet Varon

The National Health Law Program Board President Rob Weiner presents a plaque to NoHLA Executive Director Janet Varon in appreciation of nine years of service on the NHeLP board.

Senior Staff Attorney

Daniel Gross is a Senior Staff attorney at Northwest Health Law Advocates (NoHLA), where he works on a wide array of healthcare-related issues. He serves on the State’s HealthPath Advisory Team, advising the State on its development of an integrated healthcare program for individuals eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. He is also a member of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board's Health Equity Technical Advisory Committee.

Prior to joining NoHLA, Daniel was a member of the Public Interest Law Group in Seattle, a staff attorney at the Washington Protection and Advocacy System (now Disability Rights Washington) and a staff attorney at the Defender Association of Seattle/King County. Daniel was awarded a NYU Public Service Fellowship to advocate for the rights of involuntarily committed psychiatric patients.

Daniel volunteers for the King County Bar Association Nonprofit Law Clinic and with the University of Washington Human Subjects Research Independent Review Board, as a prisoner advocate. Daniel served as a Board member and officer of REACH, a student –run homeless services nonprofit in New York City, and Washington CAN!, Washington State’s largest grassroots community organization.

Staff Attorneys

Huma Zarif is a staff attorney at Northwest Health Law Advocates (NoHLA). She graduated from University of California, Hastings College of the Law with a concentration in Health Law. Prior to law school, Huma worked as a social worker for over eight years, including at Harborview and Swedish Medical Centers. She obtained both her Bachelor in Social Welfare and Master of Social Work from the University of Washington, School of Social Work. Huma believes health care is a human right and is passionate about improved access to health care services.

As her schedule permits, Huma enjoys volunteering and previously served on the Board of Directors of Chaya (now API-Chaya), a Seattle based nonprofit working to end domestic violence in the South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Muslim communities. She also volunteered with HealthRight International where she conducted mental health assessments for asylum applicants. Following college graduation, Huma's interest in both local and global health issues led her to volunteer at an orphanage and maternity hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Ann Vining came to NoHLA in March after a career as a legal services staff attorney that began at Spo-kane Legal Services in 1979. She continued at Evergreen Legal Services and Columbia Legal Services before moving to Northwest Justice Project's Everett office in 2004. Since 1982, her work has focused on benefits issues, including Medicaid, Medicare, and long-term care services, and other issues of con-cern to older adults and people with disabilities. Ann served as a clerked for a federal district court judge in Spokane after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1977. Her under-graduate degree is from Harvard University.

Other significant experiences included growing up in the Ozarks, attending Little Rock Central High School after federal authorities secured desegregation there, working with children with profound intellectual challenges, staffing a Wisconsin Governor's Task Force that developed a comprehensive agenda for accessibility for people with disabilities (years before the ADA), and serving as a caregiver for family members with physical, mental health, or cognitive challenges.

Communications Director

Molly Belozer Firth is the owner of MCG Consulting, a health policy consulting firm in Seattle. Prior to striking out on her own, Molly was the Director of Public Policy at the Community Health Network of Washington, a network of community-based health clinics across the state, and Community Health Plan of Washington, the state’s only safety net health plan. She advocated for Washington State's community health centers for over ten years and is committed to improving access to health care for uninsured and underserved individuals and families. Her efforts focus on strategic public policy development, policy research and analysis, coalition building and health care reform implementation. Molly received her Master of Public Health degree from Tufts University School of Medicine, and a BA in Biology from the University of San Diego.  

Administrative Coordinator, Webguru

Hafoc Yates joined the NoHLA staff in August 2006. She holds NoHLA together and keeps it functioning – no small task! She coordinates fundraising, administrative and database management, training, communications and NoHLA trainings, and she provides creative troubleshooting support. Hafoc is NoHLA’s Web Administrator, and specializes in Tech support with a smile.

Hafoc has a long history working with nonprofit organizations. She volunteered and fostered many rescued animals from pets to possums to owls in Portland, OR. Moving to Seattle she volunteered for Seattle’s famous P-Patch program. She enjoys animals, gardening, science fiction/Steampunk, BBC, hacking, and bicycling & vegan cooking with her son.

Board of Directors

President

Blake Marks-Dias joined NoHLA’s Board in 2013. He is a partner at the Corr Cronin Michelson Baumgardner Fogg & Moore law firm in Seattle, with a practice focusing on complex commercial litigation. He was part of the NoHLA litigation team that protected the rights of more than 11,000 Washington residents faced with termination from the Basic Health program

Blake lives in West Seattle with his wife, Jodie (formerly an attorney with the Northwest Justice Project), their two boys and a Boston Terrier named “Alibi.”In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family, listening to music, and taking advantage of Seattle’s vast and varied dining options.

Vice-President, Secretary

Lori Buchsbaum has over 20 years experience working with local, regional and international health programs in Seattle, Washington, D.C. and along the U.S.-Mexico border.  She is currently a probono attorney with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the King County Housing Justice Project, and is working in mediation.

Ms. Buchsbaum was Staff Attorney for Northwest Health Law Advocates (NoHLA) for four years.  Prior to that she worked with the Center for Health Training; the Washington State Department of Health, Tobacco Prevention and Control Programs; Public Health Seattle King County; Medstar/Georgetown University Hospital; the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; the Maryland Court of Special Appeals; the Center for Medicare Advocacy; Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal, LLP; the Office of Counsel to the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Development Associates; and Project Concern International.  Lori received her J.D. in 2004 from American University, Washington College of Law, and a Master’s Degree in Public Health in 1991 from San Diego State University.  Lori loves to travel, hike, ski, swim and “explore” with her son Max and dogs Butch and Sundance.

Treasurer

Audrey Sheffield came to Seattle in 1989 after receiving her MBA from the Yale School of Management. Since then, she has worked in health care management for both Northwest Hospital and Group Health Cooperative. She has also served in a variety of volunteer capacities in connection with the Seattle Public Schools: PTA Treasurer, Annual Fund Chair, Garfield Jazz Foundation Co-President, and girls soccer team manager. She is currently a volunteer college coach for Garfield High School students with College Access Now. Audrey lives in Madrona with her husband, John, a UW faculty physician at Harborview Medical Center, and has two daughters in college.

Charles Mitchell is a civil legal aid attorney at the Northwest Justice Project office in Vancouver, Washington. He has worked for more than 20 years in legal aid, focusing on medical and other public assistance needs of low-income people. Previously he worked in Washington, D.C. as an attorney and lobbyist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit consumer and health policy advocacy organization, concentrating on the effort to pass the federal Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990.

Charlie sings in a choir, does the running leg for one of NoHLA's annual triathlon relay fundraising teams, and is getting used to having one child a college graduate and the other a college sophomore.

Misha Werschkul is the Executive Director for the Washington State Budget & Policy Center and guides the organization’s strategic vision and ensures its position as a leading voice shaping the debate around budget priorities. She previously worked in a range of roles with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Washington, DC, and SEIU 775 in Seattle – most recently serving as 775’s legislative and policy director. Misha has a master's degree in public policy and women's studies from George Washington University and held two research fellowships with the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington D.C.

Julie Severson has extensive experience in women’s bioethics, patient decision-making and the Affordable Care Act. She co-chaired the Healthy Washington Coalition Insurance & Exchange Committee. Julie holds a Ph.D. in Women’s Studies and a J.D. from the University of Washington.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her two young children.

Christina Peters is an experienced policy advocate, having been involved with legislative and administrative advocacy to implement the Affordable Care Act in Washington. She served on the Health Benefit Exchange Health Equity and Outreach Technical Advisory Committees, co-chaired the Healthy Washington Coalition Insurance and Exchange Committee, and convened the Health Coalition for Children and Youth. In her spare time, Christina enjoys spending time with her two young children.

Jodi Sullivan joined NoHLA’s Board in 2016. She is a civil legal aid attorney at the Northwest Justice Project in Everett. She formerly worked at the NJP offices in Port Angeles and Seattle. Jodi’s work focuses on legal issues faced by older adults and on medical and public benefits for low-income individuals. Jodi received her J.D. from the University of Washington. She spends her free time reading and enjoying time with her spouse and dogs.

Eulalia (Lili) Sotelo is a Directing Attorney at Columbia Legal Services, where she oversees litigation, legislative advocacy and community outreach for the Economic Justice Project.  Prior to working at CLS, Lili was Senior Attorney at the Northwest Justice Project’s Foreclosure Prevention Unit and the Directing Attorney of Consumer Law at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.  She has presented at numerous CLE trainings across the country on housing and consumer issues and has testified before the Legislature about unfair banking practices.  One of her most high-profile cases was against international banks for their role in predatory loan origination and securitization during the height of the subprime crisis. Lili has written resource material on foreclosure for judges and was an adjunct professor at Seattle University School of Law.  She graduated from Harvard University and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.