Meet the Team
Intrepid Ascent is a team committed to improving health outcomes one community at a time through effective data sharing and use. Given the multi-dimensional opportunities faced by our clients, our engagement teams typically weave together expertise in strategic planning, governance, technology, quality improvement, and user experience. In addition to our staff below, we incorporate talented experts in the field onto client teams as needed. As a firm we value integrity, creativity, humility, growth, and community as lenses to approach our work, and our investments in client relationships lead to long-term partnerships with shared mission and impact.

If you are interested in becoming a member of our team, please see the Open Positions page for current employment and subcontractor opportunities.

Mark Elson, PhD

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

As CEO of Intrepid Ascent, Mark leads a dynamic team of consultants guiding clients through the terrain of digital transformation toward elevated community health. He engages directly with other leaders to advance shared goals for effective and equitable health services, and to leverage technology for collaboration across sectors to address social determinants of health. Prior to founding Intrepid Ascent in 2014, Mark played key roles in California’s implementation of federal programs to advance health IT. He received a BA from Stanford University and a PhD from the University of Chicago, and serves on the Board of the California Association of Health Information Exchanges (CAHIE). 

In a personal intrepid ascent, Mark recently spent three weeks living in and working from Mexico City (which sits at an elevation of 7,200 feet!) to experience the largest city in North America, speak Spanish at every opportunity, and learn more about our shared history. 

Alex Horowitz

VICE PRESIDENT, TECHNOLOGY STRATEGY

As the leader of our Technology Strategy Group, Alex provides strategic leadership in health information technology systems and data management to our clients, leveraging over fourteen years of experience as a health care technical executive and systems architect. An expert in health information management, population health, and health data analytics systems, Alex helps our clients leverage their data as an asset for strategic planning and system redesign. He leverages his health IT expertise to focus on innovating effective and scalable solutions for integrating data, systems, people, and processes across the healthcare and social sectors to help communities better address the social determinants of health (SDOH) and to succeed in their goals to share data across sectors. In addition, Alex leads Intrepid Ascent’s strategic business development team, looking for interesting and impactful work to engage multidisciplinary teams in across the country.

Prior to cofounding Intrepid Ascent in 2014, he served the East Kern County Integrated Technology Association (EKCITA) HIE as its inaugural Chief Architect and Technology Officer from 2007 to early 2013and later as CalHIPSO’s Director of Technology Services. These roles with one of the West Coast’s first HIOs and the nation’s largest Regional Extension Center (REC) during the foundational early days of mass EHR adoption shaped his view that there is always room for innovation in the U.S. healthcare system, and that thinking outside the confines of convention are critical to successfully pushing the envelope toward better health. Currently based in our Brooklyn, New York office, Alex was raised in rural California and received a BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

 Personal Intrepid Ascents: In an effort to simulate his favorite hikes in the High Sierras on the West Coast, Alex plans backpacking trips to every East Coast “mountain” he can find, taking him further and further afield from Brooklyn each time. Next on the list – Quebec!

Karen Ostrowski, MBA, PMP

VICE PRESIDENT, POLICY INNOVATION

A born problem-solver, Karen believes in the power of information to transform our health care system. She is a recognized health privacy and security expert with over 20 years’ experience and has a passion for tackling complex health policy issues. Our clients rely on Karen’s expertise in health policy, governance, and state and federal regulations to support the exchange of information and improve care delivery. Over the past several years, Karen has worked closely with cross-sector data sharing initiatives to develop industry-leading data governance and policy frameworks to support community care coordination and collaboration.

Prior to her work on policy analysis and regulatory compliance, she specialized in health care data analysis and decision support for payor and provider organizations. Karen earned her MBA from California State University, Sacramento and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Services Administration from California State University, Chico. She is a Certified Project Management Professional and an active member of the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

Personal Intrepid Ascents: Karen’s personal intrepid ascent is traveling – she loves exploring new places near and far. Having recently relocated to western Montana, she is having fun discovering “the last best place.” 

Danielle Carter, MPH

DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY CHANGE

Danielle is passionate about advancing systems change to improve health outcomes through human ingenuity and shared learning. In her role leading Intrepid Ascent’s Community Change Group, Danielle harnesses her expertise in quality improvement, change management, and learning organizations to guide clients and their stakeholders through the evaluation, implementation, and adoption of technology with people at the center. Danielle recently led Intrepid’s development of the onboarding program for the Alameda County Community Health Record, as well as offering her expertise to other clients to support workflow redesign, training, onboarding, technology adoption, and evaluation. 

Previously Danielle led multiple large-scale quality improvement initiatives that trained providers and front-line staff to critically evaluate their system’s performance and identify opportunities to make fundamental change. Danielle holds a bachelor’s degree in physiology and neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego, and a master’s degree in public health (MPH) from Touro University California.

Personal Intrepid Ascents: When not working, Danielle loves spending time with family. On the weekends you can find her chasing her boys around the playground and spending time in her garden. 

Keira Armstrong, MPH

LEAD STRATEGIST, COMMUNITY CHANGE

Keira is a project leader and researcher specializing in cross-sector care collaboration initiatives. Keira is a relationship builder, community mediator, and technology translator who brings together front-line service providers and technical implementers to identify needs and develop effective programs and systems. At Intrepid, Keira has worked with Community Information Exchange and Whole Person Care efforts to increase connections across physical health, behavioral health, and social services to better serve vulnerable members of our communities. A lifelong researcher, Keira is interested in the social and structural determinants of health and how technology and data sharing can support care coordination initiatives that address them. 

Before joining Intrepid Ascent, Keira worked as a behavior change researcher, program planner, and evaluator in the US and overseas.  Projects focused on health promotion and disease prevention (HIV/STDs and MDR TB), or social determinants of health such as affordable housing, public education, or factors contributing to poverty or self-sufficiency. Keira received her Master of Public Health in International Health Services from the University of Washington. 

Personal Intrepid Ascents: Keira shakes off long days on zoom by chasing her two teenagers around the mountains, coaching with the Berkeley High School mountain bike team, and dancing/singing with MoTor Dance. Our current family intrepid ascent goal is to climb/ski 14ers in California and Washington. 

Sokkim Lim, PharmD

SENIOR CLINICAL CONSULTANT, POLICY INNOVATION

Sokkim has an interdisciplinary focus that sits at the intersection of policy, systems, clinical interventions and community-based services. She has more than 10 years experience assisting providers across various health care and social service sectors with data-driven pathways to improvements in coordinated, patient-centered care. She regularly manages time-critical, high-stakes projects that often involve complex strategic issues and multidisciplinary stakeholder environments. Her recent assignments have included providing expertise to local and state public health departments for the prevention and management of chronic diseases as well as Community Information Exchange – related initiatives, including the Whole Person Care Pilot Program. Sokkim is serving as the lead for the portfolio of state and local interventions under the CA Department of Health Care Service’s CalAIM initiative. Prior to joining Intrepid, Sokkim played key roles in developing new approaches to improving care coordination in the medication and pharmacy practice areas. She received her PharmD from UC San Francisco.

Personal Intrepid Ascents: Sokkim’s personal intrepid ascent is spending quality time with her family and introducing her two young and very active children to new foods and places. Every day is an adventure! 

Samuel Taylor, MSW

SENIOR CONSULTANT, POLICY INNOVATION

Samuel is a self-described policy wonk with nearly a decade of experience in policy research and consulting. He currently serves as Senior Consultant in the Policy Innovation Group and one of the firm’s core Medicaid policy experts. In his role, he is leading the implementation of California’s Medicaid delivery system redesign – known as CalAIM in San Joaquin County as well as behavioral health system reform in Santa Cruz and Merced counties through the Behavioral Health Quality Improvement Program (BHQIP). Samuel also helps lead the firm’s strategic Medicaid business development initiatives and supports various projects as a subject matter expert on information privacy laws/regulations, telehealth policy, data governance, and state and federal Medicaid policy. He brings to Intrepid a deep understanding of the safety net and a history of working closely with Medicaid stakeholders, having previously worked as a policy analyst/consultant with the Center for Evidence-based Policy (OHSU) and Multnomah County (Oregon). He holds a Master of Social Work (MSW) with a concentration in policy and research from Washington University in St. Louis. 

Personal Intrepid Ascents: Samuel recently turned his love of house music into a passion project during the pandemic and took up DJ’ing. He’s quickly become a fixture in the local music scene in Portland, OR and spins regularly at events and clubs.

Denise DiNoto

SENIOR CONSULTANT, COMMUNITY CHANGE

Denise is passionate about collaborating with community partners to leverage data, solve inefficiencies, and push toward transformative health care delivery. With over 20 years of experience in relationship management, Denise has cemented her keen communications skills, supported by diplomacy and tact when navigating complex business partnerships. She is highly skilled in community collaboration with varied stakeholder groups, including executive leaders at partnering organizations, community stakeholders, and technology vendors. Before joining Intrepid Ascent, Denise served nearly a decade as the Director of Community Service and then Chief Engagement Officer for the Rochester RHIO, one of New York State’s most successful Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) where she was responsible for executing RHIO’s mission and vision. Grounded in the world of data exchange is where she began her journey toward community change in support of health equity.

Personal Intrepid Ascents: Living in upstate New York, Denise soaks in the benefits of experiencing all four seasons. Finding the most joy in Autumn, hiking nature trails on brisk days, or unwinding with a good book and cup of chamomile tea. No matter the season, Denise values quality time creating memories with family and friends. When she’s not working or spending time with loved ones, she’s on a quest for the next great record to add to her extensive vinyl collection.

 

Alexandra Milutin, MHA

CONSULTANT, TECHNOLOGY STRATEGY & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

Alexandra has a passion for improving the healthcare delivery system in the United States. With over eight years of experience in healthcare consulting, primarily working with safety-net organizations, Alexandra understands the impact that strategic health improvement initiatives can have on vulnerable populations. Alexandra joined Intrepid Ascent in August 2020 and currently serves a dual role leading client engagements as a Consultant in the Technology Strategy Group and leading strategic business development initiatives as Business Development Manager. Alexandra has led several technology adoption engagements and guides clients through a seamless approach to vendor selection. Alexandra also provides technical assistance to local and state health departments in California for the prevention and management of chronic diseases. 

Previously, she was a Senior Consultant at COPE Health Solutions, where she provided both project and account management and supported clients in strategic planning, transforming business models from fee-for-service to services that complement coordinated care risk models such as capitation or bundled payments. She developed assessments and evaluations for service line redesign and innovations and identification of opportunities for performance improvement. Alexandra is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where she received her Master’s in Health Administration (MHA) and a certificate in Management of Ambulatory Care Systems. She also received her Bachelor’s in Public Health from San Diego State University. Alexandra hopes to be an active participant in our country’s health care reform and strives to create efficient structures to address social determinants of health. 

Personal Intrepid Ascents: Alexandra is a first-generation Croatian who loves to practice yoga daily, especially after a long day of work. In her free time, she is usually plotting her next trip and has a bucket list of countries she plans to visit.  

Brian Dillon, MBA

CONSULTANT, TECHNOLOGY STRATEGY

Brian is a Consultant with Intrepid Ascent and serves in the Technology Strategy Group. He specializes in systems architecture design and health data interoperability. He enjoys meeting with teams trying to solve complex problems which span beyond traditional healthcare delivery models and service organizations. Several of these projects seek to establish or expand community information exchanges (CIE) which have core goals of improving health outcomes, equity, and access to healthcare needs. Brian finds meaningful opportunities helping ensure Health IT vendor provide software solutions relevant and efficient to community organizations with little resources and knowledge of implementation projects.

Previously, Brian served as a General Manager in the US Clinical Division of Eurofins Scientific, a global life science company. He managed and led their largest clinical lab in California and third largest in the US. During the pandemic in 2020, he and his team rapidly built a COVID PCR facility in which quickly became one of the largest commercial testing facilities in the state with result delivery directly to a client’s cell phone in less than 24 hours. Before joining Eurofins, Brian served in the United States Marine Corps. During this time, he led units in several international locations, planning logistics, communications, and operations within harsh and remote environments.  Brian received a BA in Information Technology from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and MBA from Northeastern University with a double concentration in Finance and High Technology.

Personal Intrepid Ascents: Brian has a proclivity for the challenging and untraveled paths in life and an affinity for observing other cultures. He has lived in eleven US states and traveled to several countries across four continents. He hopes to continue the journey with seafaring and navigating a sailboat across Bluewater. 

 

Lauren Wood

CONSULTANT, COMMUNITY CHANGE

Lauren sought the public health sector to balance her optimism about practical health improvements with a desire to impact the people around her. As a Consultant in the Community Change Group, she enjoys working with stakeholders to understand and better serve their unique needs regarding user onboarding and change management. She keeps processes in motion with a keen sense of project management and is focused on streamlining efforts the next time around. Whether she’s engaged with external or internal best practices, Lauren seeks to bring the best out of any organization. Before joining the Intrepid team, Lauren interned at the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency. Lauren is currently pursuing a MPH at Johns Hopkins and earned her BA in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley. 

Personal Intrepid Ascents: Lauren recently attempted to hike Mt. Tallac near Lake Tahoe, and the night before an unusual summer storm brought a few feet of snow to the whole mountain. Not wanting to miss out on stunning views, Lauren and her friends hiked the mountain with no visible trail, turning a relatively easy summit into a full day affair! She says it was 100% worth it.

 

Rachel Goldberg, MPH

CONSULTANT, POLICY INNOVATION

As a Consultant in the Policy Innovation Group, Rachel translates and applies complex policies at the community level and helps craft innovative ways of enabling data exchange (often in the face of an ambiguous legal landscape). She thrives when conducting qualitative analysis, from key informant interviews through developing actionable narratives from data. Beyond policy, Rachel also guides programs through integrating new technologies into their workflows and provides project management support across client engagements. After finishing her BA in Behavioral Neuroscience from Colgate University, Rachel conducted mixed methods research focused on tobacco control and lung cancer stigma at UCSF. She then completed her MPH with a concentration in Behavioral Health from the University of San Francisco. 

Personal Intrepid Ascents: Rachel loves to challenge herself with baking and cooking. She has been using more physical cookbooks lately (both functional and good apartment decoration), and she loves to make meals with friends.

Mariah Laird, MPH, CHES

CONSULTANT, COMMUNITY CHANGE

Mariah’s professional journey has been focused on pursuing opportunities that allow her to advocate for a culture that prioritizes prevention with a goal of improving health and living conditions, especially for our most vulnerable and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. Mariah has a strong foundation in conceptualizing and leading prevention research, community needs assessments, and program planning and evaluation. Mariah applies health equity principles and social and behavior change theory to strategically identify root causes of conditions within a population and support the development of tailored solutions. She has worked with a myriad of federal, state, and local organizations and understands the importance of cross sector communication and collaboration. Mariah studied Behavioral Science and Health Education at Emory University where she received a Master’s in Public Health. She also holds a Bachelor’s in Organizational Studies from the University of Michigan.

Personal Intrepid Ascents: As a form of creative expression and to maintain her physical and mental wellbeing Mariah spends her free time taking contemporary dance classes. 

Desa Yadegarians, MPH

ANALYST, POLICY INNOVATION 

Desa brings with her a background driving community health transformation for underserved communities and has experience spanning local government and the health care sector. As an Analyst with the Policy Innovation Group, Desa carries on this momentum through supporting community needs assessments and project management efforts on diverse client engagements. Her joy in collaborative work captures her interest in addressing social determinants of health through a collective impact approach.

Desa previously was a community worker for the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, where she engaged in policy, systems, and environmental interventions for chronic disease and injury prevention grantfunded projects. She also completed an internship at Health Net where she worked on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and traumainformed care initiatives focused on MediCal beneficiaries within a robust cultural competency framework. Desa earned her MPH with a specialization in Community Health Sciences from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and a B.S. in Health Science from California State University, Long Beach.

Personal Intrepid Ascents: Currently splitting her time between Southern California and Northern Nevada, Desa enjoys visiting local coffee shops and most recently kayaking(beginner fun!)while enjoying the beautiful views of Donner Lake near Lake Tahoe, CA.

Tajalli Love

DIRECTOR, PEOPLE AND OPERATIONS

As a member of Intrepid Ascent’s Executive Team, Tajalli provides strategic consultation and solutions on all people-related aspects of the business using a People First approach. Main areas of focus for Tajalli are employee experience and engagement, operations processes, and all things company culture. She continuously seeks out creative solutions to support and foster a high-performing team, while championing Intrepid Ascent’s core values of integrity, creativity, humility, growth, and community. Her passion is planning company-wide events that bring the team together for learning, collaboration, team-building, and fun. 

Personal Intrepid Ascents: Navigating the tenuous and exciting world of raising two teenage daughters. Tajalli also loves hiking, exploring new places, and watching movies.

Katelyn May

DATA INSIGHTS MANAGER

Katelyn equips our team with the data necessary to make informed decisions and the IT infrastructure to collaborate effectively in a remote environment. She combines a mix of creativity, curiosity, resourcefulness, and an excessive love of spreadsheets to engineer solutions and ongoing improvements to Intrepid’s information systems, tools, and processes. Her contributions include the development and management of a suite of dashboards summarizing financial, project, and resource utilization metrics and KPIs sourced from multiple data systems; a comprehensive review and consolidation of company IT systems; and the development of a complex model forecasting performance to inform strategic planning.

Passionate about health and social supports for the LGBTQIA+ community (see here) and the de-stigmatization of mental health, Katelyn has worked in operations roles supporting social justice and healthcare for over a decade. Her previous role as a Consultant with Intrepid Ascent gives her a unique perspective on how best to support our consultants and clients. Katelyn received her BA in Political Science and History from the University of California, Berkeley.

Personal Intrepid Ascents: An avid baker, Katelyn challenged herself during the pandemic by opening a home-based bakery business in her spare time. After a very busy year fulfilling orders, she is now reclaiming the joy of baking, as an amateur. 

Allie Zwald

OPERATIONS COORDINATOR

As the Operations Coordinator, Allie helps with all aspects of Intrepid Ascent’s business and people operations from invoicing to talent recruitment and new employee onboarding. With a passion for helping others, her favorite part about being a member of the operations group is knowing she is directly impacting the growth of our team, projects, and clients. Allie earned her BA in Communications from California State University, East Bay and has a strong background in process improvement, project management, operations, and administration.

Personal Intrepid Ascents: As an outdoor enthusiast, Allie enjoys exploring local trails with her dog Winston and finding new camping spots. When she is not exploring the outdoors, she enjoys trying new restaurants, traveling with friends, and immersing herself in a good book.

  

CLIENTS  |  CONTACT

2120 University Ave. Berkeley, CA 94704  |  hello@intrepidascent.com