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
As Principal of Intrepid Ascent, Mark leads our multi-disciplinary team and engages directly with client leadership to foster innovation at the intersection of technology, policy, and services design. Prior to founding Intrepid Ascent, Mark played a lead role 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, serves on the Board and Executive Committee of the California Association of Health Information Exchanges, and regularly speaks on the uses of data to impact positive change.
Personal Intrepid Ascents: Mark recently spent ten days in Oaxaca speaking and learning as much Spanish as he could, getting to know great people, enjoying the incredible food and arts, and walking through the city’s plazas and parks every day.
PRINCIPAL TECHNOLOGY STRATEGIST
Alex provides strategic leadership in health information technology systems and data management, leveraging over twelve years of experience as a health care technical executive and systems architect. He provides expertise, solutions design, and management services for our clients. An authority on health information management and data systems, Alex helps our clients use data as an asset for strategic planning and system redesign. He currently leads multiple interoperability and population health analytics projects for Intrepid Ascent, including with Provider Performance Systems under New York’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Program, and chairs the California Interoperability Committee. Alex previously served in technology leadership roles designing and implementing innovative interoperability, analytics, and personal health record solutions. 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 has recently moved into a fifth-floor walk-up in New York City – making every day an Intrepid Ascent!
Karen Ostrowski, MBA, PMP
PRINCIPAL STRATEGIST, DATA GOVERNANCE
With nearly 20 years of industry experience, Karen believes in the power of information to transform our health care system. She is a health privacy and security subject matter expert and provides strategic planning, program support, and technical assistance on multiple engagements. As Managing Consultant at Intrepid Ascent, Karen tackles complex issues and provides guidance on the integration of policies, processes, and technology. 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. 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 has an M.B.A from California State University, Sacramento, a B.S. in Health Services Administration from California State University, Chico, is a Certified Project Management Professional, and an active member of the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).
Personal Intrepid Ascents: Karen understands the importance of a healthy mind, body, spirit, and community. Her intrepid ascents generally involve good food, good wine, and good company. She recently took up kayaking and is having fun exploring the waterways of the Sacramento region.
Keira Armstrong, MPH
SENIOR CONSULTANT, HEALTH CARE IMPROVEMENT
As a relationship builder and data translator, Keira brings together front-line service providers and technical implementers to develop effective programs and systems. Her project management, research, and analysis currently focus on cross-sector care collaboration for whole person care. Keira has extensive experience improving collaboration between physical health, behavioral health, and social services to better serve vulnerable members of our communities. She also leads research projects on the evolving role of technology in supporting best practices for care coordination and chronic disease management. Before joining Intrepid Ascent, Keira worked as a researcher and evaluator in a variety of settings, including qualitative and quantitative health promotion and disease prevention projects in Zimbabwe and Peru. Keira received her Master of Public Health in International Health Services from the University of Washington.
Personal Intrepid Ascents: Keira is training her two teenage boys to explore the backcountry, climb mountains, and ride rocky trails. She also participates in a women’s body music choir called MoTor Dance that performs its unique mix of Appalachian music layered on polyrhythms from many diaspora cultures around the Bay Area.
Sokkim Lim, PharmD
SENIOR CLINICAL CONSULTANT, HEALTH CARE IMPROVEMENT
Sokkim serves as the lead clinical expert on a number of Intrepid Ascent engagements, informing data-driven pathways to improvements in coordinated, patient-centered care. Sokkim works on projects across various health care and social service sectors, contributing to health IT needs assessments that identify technical and workflow gaps, and developing solutions at the intersection of technology and clinical practice. She has recently developed clinical protocols for the effective use of IT in diabetes prevention and cardiovascular health and plays a key role in our support for the roll-out of IT systems to multi-disciplinary teams. Prior to joining Intrepid, Sokkim played key roles in developing new approaches to improving care coordination in the medication and pharmacy arena. She is committed to health care initiatives that are focused on efficient and effective use of resources to improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable populations. She received a PharmD from UC San Francisco.
Personal Intrepid Ascents: Sokkim enjoys immersing herself in various communities and cultures while traveling abroad. In the next couple of years, she hopes to get a glimpse in the daily life of an Italian family living in a charming countryside village.
Danielle Carter, MPH
SENIOR CONSULTANT, HEALTH CARE IMPROVEMENT
Danielle is a seasoned public health professional with extensive experience in the non-profit health care and public health fields. She leverages her knowledge of change management and quality improvement to guide clients through stakeholder engagement and implementation processes. Danielle serves as a subject matter expert with multiple Intrepid clients in the areas of performance measure development, IT system user onboarding, and workflow redesign. She leads the training and onboarding efforts for Alameda County Care Connect, a social health information exchange and consumer health record, and contributes to similar work for other clients. 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: Danielle enjoys every opportunity she gets to chase her toddler around the house. She also loves to get outside with her husband, son, and two dogs, whether running, walking, or hiking.
Samuel Taylor, MSW
Samuel is a health policy wonk with a passion for innovation in the health and social safety net. As Senior Consultant, Samuel brings his project leadership experience in health policy to support system delivery improvements, spur policy innovation, and foster collaboration to improve health for Medi-Cal beneficiaries. He has spent his career helping organizations and policymakers use data and evidence to inform decision-making and drive better outcomes for vulnerable populations, particularly in Medicaid. Samuel has a deep knowledge and expertise in applied research, data use and analysis, population health, Medicaid policy, and telehealth policy. He previously served as Senior Policy Associate at the Center for Connected Health Policy and as Policy Analyst with the Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University. He earned a Master of Social Work in Social & Economic Development with a concentration in research from Washington University in St. Louis.
Personal Intrepid Ascents: Samuel is an avid runner and uses nearby Mt. Tabor, an extinct volcano in Portland, OR, as his running course. He enjoys the physical challenge of scaling the 636-foot butte several times a week. He also enjoys competing in Hood to Coast, an annual long-distance relay race spanning 200 miles from Mt. Hood to the Oregon coast. After COVID-19 postponed the 2020 event, he’s excited to compete in 2021!
Vanessa Hernandez, MBA
CONSULTANT, HEALTH CARE IMPROVEMENT
Vanessa is a design strategist interested in bringing human-centered design to the health care and government spheres. She has worked continuously to bridge gaps between stakeholders in the community towards issues on education, health and public policy, specifically at The Primary School and Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center. She has spent most of her career advocating for immigrant families and underserved communities. Previously, she was a Consultant for VIVA Social Impact Partners and a Nutrition Educator for the University of California, Cooperative Extension. She was in the second graduating class from UC Merced, and recently received an MBA in Design Strategy from California College of the Arts. Prior to working at Intrepid Ascent, Vanessa served as a design strategist in the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Innovation, focusing on alternative 911 systems.
Personal Intrepid Ascents: A Fresno native, Vanessa is proud of her Central Valley roots and most recently painted the entirety of the interior of a ranch house. When not doing home improvement renovations, Vanessa is trying to find any free time to travel to distant locations and make ice cream (two separate things, not to be confused by going to distant locations to make ice cream).
Alexandra Milutin, MHA
Alexandra has over six years of experience in client-facing roles developing and implementing value-based care strategy in major Medicaid and Medicare markets across the United States. Previously, she was a Senior Consultant at COPE Health Solutions, where she provided both project and account management and supported business development opportunities. 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 this country’s health care reform and strives to create efficient structures to address social determinants of health.
Personal Intrepid Ascents: As a Southern California native, Alexandra enjoys spending time at the beach, practicing yoga and snowboarding. She also finds great joy in traveling the world with friends and most recently spent a week in Santorini, Greece where she attended a pilates and yoga wellness retreat.
Brian Dillon, MBA
CONSULTANT, HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Brian has been leading and collaborating with teams on complex projects for over a decade. In the Marine Corps, he served in a variety of domestic and international roles, planning and implementing large workflows and informational networks. Upon completion of military service, Brian joined Eurofins Scientific where he managed a clinical lab that processed rapid RT-PCR Sars-Cov-2 tests, allowing patients to receive real time results and clinical notifications via their mobile technology. Brian leverages his experience with technical projects to better enable technology solutions for clients that improve population health outcomes. 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 finds ocean sailing fascinating and seeks to make his way offshore into Bluewater in the next couple years.
Lauren is drawn to the public health sector in an effort to balance her interest in practical health improvements with a desire to impact community-oriented change. As an Analyst, she supports a range of consulting projects by facilitating meeting logistics and developing project deliverables. Lauren is excited to contribute to programs that improve the health of local communities and in California alike. She hopes to grow as a leader, starting with her current pursuit of a MPH at Johns Hopkins. Lauren also earned her BA in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley and is an always-proud member of the Intrepid Ascent team.
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
Rachel is a public health professional with strong interests in behavioral health and health technology. She is skilled in building relationships and creating actionable narratives from qualitative and quantitative data, and she provides direct support to consulting projects through research, analysis of information, and project management. After finishing her BA in Behavioral Neuroscience from Colgate University, Rachel conducted 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 where she discovered her interests in health policy and integrated care models.
Personal Intrepid Ascents: Rachel loves to challenge herself with baking and cooking. She has been baking a lot of breads lately, and she recently attempted Kouign-amann (a seven-hour endeavor for sugary, laminated pastries that weren’t quite ready for a bakery but still delicious). You can often find her in the kitchen, with flour all over the cabinets and floors.
SENIOR OPERATIONS MANAGER
As the Senior Operations Manager for Intrepid Ascent, Tajalli keeps things moving at a rapid pace and is constantly assessing and implementing new procedures, protocols, and tools to make our team’s work-life more stream-lined and coordinated. Tajalli has a robust background in operations, HR, marketing, and customer support. She has worked on everything from designing and implementing project management tools to leading customer support teams. She has an eye for detail and loves giving best-in-class customer service to our clients.
Personal Intrepid Ascents: While she wouldn’t consider herself a natural outdoors type, Tajalli recently became enchanted with the National Parks system after a life-changing trip to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. Following that, she spent two weeks camping and exploring Glacier National Park with her husband and two daughters – and dreams of going back!
With a decade of experience in operations and health care technology, Katelyn supports Intrepid Ascent’s high-quality services and continued growth. She has built a career facilitating teams with a focus on social justice and equity, having previously served as Office Manager for the public opinion research firm Goodwin Simon Strategic Research and in various capacities at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare. Katelyn earned a BA in Political Science and History from UC Berkeley, with additional coursework in computer science.
Personal Intrepid Ascents: Katelyn makes intrepid ascents by going out of her way to travel to sites of historic significance, often through unnecessarily long road trips. Recent travels include driving across the southern US to walk the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama and visiting the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan. An avid baker, she has also challenged herself by starting a home-based bakery business in her spare time.