Our People: Meet California Health Advocates’ Founding Team

Our People: Meet California Health Advocates’ Founding Team

In talking with several members of the organization’s founding team, one repeatedly mentioned theme is the quality of people, heart and dedication that form the foundation and success of this influential organization. Below are a few quotes from some of their reflections…

Betty-ThurmanBetty Thurman, long-time consultant and trainer with the Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP), California Health Advocates and California Dept. of Insurance

“California Health Advocates becoming an incorporated non-profit organization allowed the HICAPs to have a highly effective exchange of information and materials with limited governmental bureaucracy…. California Health Advocates conferences and retreats also continue to produce great working sessions for the whole network, contribute to bonding, and strengthen both HICAP services and California Health Advocates as an organization.”


Carol-JiminezCarol Jimenez, Legal Counsel, California Health Advocates

“Throughout numerous successful law-making cases in the past 26 years as an attorney, I have been privileged to help and improve the lives of millions of people. Even so, when thinking back on my professional life, the single thing I’m most proud of is California Health Advocates. I am so pleased and honored to be a part of [this organization] and to work with these people.”


julieJulie Schoen, Senior Medicare Patrol Project Director, California Health Advocates

“California Health Advocates to me is that example of Margaret Mead’s quote, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ California Health Advocates truly has changed the lives of so many people with the dedication and passion of a few.”


Wayne-LindleyWayne Lindley, California State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)-HICAP Director

“…Some days only karaoke got us through. We just kept singing. I remember when California Health Advocates was born, prior to its incorporation. In those days we worked as a team negotiating HICAP’s continued statewide status and beginning an informal association of HICAPs. I watched as Clare Smith and her team and board took dramatic leaps and chances in broadening California Health Advocates’ mission on behalf of California’s Medicare beneficiaries.

…Today we continue to be dedicated partners with California Health Advocates. While California Health Advocates has grown under Clare’s leadership into a powerful state and national advocate and speaker on Medicare issues and the rights of all beneficiaries, it remains a unique institution for our HICAPs at home. California Health Advocates, you have a lot to be proud of and I for one am glad I was here to see it most of it. The talents, knowledge, competence of, and respect for, the people of California Health Advocates is recognized nationally. The people at California Health Advocates do more good in a day than most organizations do in a year…

…Congratulations California Health Advocates on your tenth anniversary! On behalf of the California Department of Aging’s State Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP) Office, we wish you a joyous celebration and many, many years of continuing success.”


Bonnie-BurnsBonnie Burns, Training and Policy Specialist, California Health Advocates

“California Health Advocates’ legislative successes are reflected in the many Medigap and long term care insurance bills passed creating strong consumer protections for people who buy those products in California. For instance, the production of a long term care insurance (LTCI) and Medigap rate guides, requirement of insurance agents to receive at least eight hours of training before selling LTCI, requirement of insurance companies to allow Medicare beneficiaries under age 65 to buy a Medigap policy and allow all Medicare beneficiaries more generous rights to buy a Medigap policy following the loss of other coverage.”


Janet-VanDeusenJanet Van Deusen, Alameda County HICAP Program Manager

“I have many special memories of working with California Health Advocates over the past ten years. One of the projects that stands out for me is working in a small group convened through California Health Advocates to update the HICAP Volunteer Handbook. It was an arduous but satisfying process that I was happy to be a part of. This was just one example of California Health Advocates’ ability to partner with others and deliver a quality product!”


Lennis-LyonLennis Lyon, Contra Costa County HICAP Program Manager

“…The success of the early regional [HICAP] meetings led to California Health Advocates’ birth – first as the California HICAP Association solely supporting the work of HICAP, and later as California Health Advocates shifting its mission to have a broader focus on serving all Medicare beneficiaries, health professionals and advocates. Forming California Health Advocates organized and centralized the distribution of information and materials for the HICAPs as well as for beneficiaries and providers (i.e. with the Fact Sheets which are used widely by consumers, social workers, Medi-Cal workers, hospitals, agencies and various advocates), and strengthened HICAP’s services statewide with its expertise, consultation services, and regular trainings.

I am so grateful to Clare Smith (California Health Advocates CEO/President) for her incredible job in securing funding for California Health Advocates and the HICAPs and building such a strong state and nationally recognized and respected advocacy organization for Medicare beneficiaries. I, along with all the HICAP programs and numerous other organizations, agencies and individuals, value California Health Advocates’ leadership, dedication, and quality of services. Thank you!!”

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.