Our Executive team is comprised of statewide child and maternal health care professionals and leaders who are committed to advancing health care priorities to ensure that Alaska’s children and families reach their full potential.
Board of Directors
President: CATHY HECKENLIVELY, MSN, MHA, RNC
Director, The Children’s Hospital & Women’s Services, Providence Alaska Medical Center, Anchorage
Since the beginning of her nursing career 25 years ago in Nebraska, as well as in her tenure at Providence Health & Services Alaska Cathy has demonstrated her passion for women & children, and for leading those who serve them. Inspired by this work, she holds both a Masters in Nursing, and a Masters in Health Care Administration from the University of Phoenix. She has invested much of her career in nursing on mentoring peers, leaders, building teams and alliances for the common purpose of improving patient care.
Treasurer: STEPHANIE BIRCH, RN, MPH, MSN, FNP
Private Practice Nurse Practitioner, Former section chief, Women's, Children's & Family Health, Division of Public Health,
Stephanie Birch is the Section Chief for the Section of Women’s Children’s and Family Health for the Division of Public Health, DHSS, State of Alaska. She has been with the Department of Health and Social Services since 2001 where she has focused her work on developing programs for children with special health care needs and improving the health outcomes for women and children. Ms. Birch also works as a Family Nurse Practitioner in east Anchorage serving a culturally diverse population. Ms. Birch is one of the founding members of the All Alaska Pediatric Partnership.
Secretary: MARY MIDDLETON
Executive Director, Stone Soup Group
Mary J. Middleton is the executive director for Stone Soup Group, a private non-profit organization
supporting families who care for children with special needs. Ms. Middleton has more than 20 years of experience in non-profit management, including ten years working with basic literacy and limited English proficiency populations and 10 years providing victim advocacy services to victims of sexual and domestic violence and child abuse. Ms. Middleton is the mother of two, including a young adult son who experiences autism. She is a graduate of Texas A & M University and has been an Alaska resident since 2001.
Outgoing president: MATT HIRSCHFELD, M.D., PH.D.
Medical Director, Maternal Child Health Services, Alaska Native Medical Center, Anchorage
Dr. Matt Hirschfeld became interested in health issues affecting Alaska Native people as a resident at the University of Washington. There, he met Alaskans who were transferred to Seattle for care that was not available in Alaska. These interactions led Dr. Hirschfeld to become a pediatrician at Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) in 2005. Today, he serves as ANMC’s Medical Director of Maternal Child Health Services, where he focuses on the development of services affecting women and children – with the goal to make health care for Alaska's women and children the best in the country.
Director: LAURA BRUNNER, MD
Pediatrician, Tanana Valley Clinic and Fairbanks Memorial Hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska
Dr. Laura Brunner is a pediatrician at the Tanana Valley Clinic and Fairbanks Memorial Hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska. Laura was born and raised in Fairbanks and loves taking care of kids and families in her home community. She trained at Colorado Children's Hospital and the University of Minnesota. She is the NICU medical director at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. She is excited to be part of a team focusing on the care of children and adolescents in Alaska.
Director: Rebekah Morisse, RN, BSN, MPH
Section Chief, Women’s, Children’s & Family Health, Alaska Division of Public Health
Dianne Gillis RNC, BSN is Alaska Regional’s Nursing Director of Women’s and Children’s Service line, to include the Family Birth Center, NICU, Women’s and Newborn Care and The Kid’s Care Unit. She has been instrumental in developing a Neonatal Transport Team and the NEST (Neonatal abstinence, Evaluation, Support, & Treatment) Program at Alaska Regional. Additionally, she successfully assisted Alaska Regional with the COEMIG (Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology) designation. Dianne has a passion for Women’s and Children’s care and health. She also leads a Community Perinatal Taskforce to address perinatal issues across the State of Alaska. Dianne has been a nurse for 21 years, she earned her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Director: Tanya Dumas, JD
Tanya Dumas came to Alaska in 2019 to serve as a program officer at Rasmuson Foundation, where she handles both small and large grants as well as program-related investments, aimed at helping all Alaskans thrive. Tanya is particularly interested in child and family well-being, stemming from her prior roles with the Indian Child Welfare team at Casey Family Programs, on the board of a small health equity nonprofit in Washington state, and from her life experience as a parent of young children. Tanya holds a JD from NYU School of Law and a BA in gender and international development from Lewis & Clark College.
Director: Bruce W. Hess, DO
Dr. Bruce W. Hess completed his completed his pediatrics residency at Keesler Medical Center, Keesler AFB in 2001 after completing medical training at Oklahoma State University, College of Osteopathic Medicine in Tulsa, OK. He spent 11 years serving as an active duty Air Force pediatrician in Mississippi and Landstuhl, Germany, before moving to Alaska in 2005. Dr. Hess served four years as Flight Commander of the Pediatric Dept. at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and it was during this time that he first began working with the All Alaska Pediatric Partnership. Upon completion of his active duty Air Force service, Dr. Hess decided to make Alaska home and joined Ptarmigan Pediatrics in Wasilla in 2009. Throughout his career, Dr. Hess has enjoyed working in collaboration with other diverse groups to improve resources for pediatric patients wherever he has worked, and he developed an appreciation for the complexities of pediatric specialty care in Alaska. He has also served on the board of directors for The Children’s Place since 2016.
Tamar Ben-Yosef joined AAPP in 2015 as executive director, following a position as account executive at Thompson & Co. Public Relations. Prior to that, she traveled extensively throughout rural Alaska as editor and writer for the Arctic Sounder and Dutch Harbor Fisherman weekly newspapers. Tamar is originally from Israel and moved to the U.S. in 2000. After completing her military service in the Israeli Defense Forces, she attended the University of Texas at Austin where she earned her bachelor's degree in communication studies. Tamar welcomed the change to the nonprofit world and has found her experience in communications has lent itself well to the position with the All Alaska Pediatric Partnership.
Program Director, Help Me Grow Alaska
Carmen Wenger joined AAPP in July 2017 as the program director for Help Me Grow Alaska. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Earth Science from Dartmouth College and a Master of Public Health Degree in International Health and Development from Tulane University. Carmen has worked in public health and community development in the United States, Latin America and southern Africa. Her work has centered around social justice causes, primarily focused on access to appropriate health services and other basic human rights. Carmen’s work in Alaska has included positions with the State of Alaska’s Immunization Program, the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness and the Joy Greisen Jewish Education Center.
Program Specialist, Help Me Grow Alaska
Rachel first joined AAPP as a student intern with Help Me Grow Alaska for the 2017-2018 school year and was then hired on in July 2018. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Special Education from Cedarville University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Rachel has experience in special education, children’s behavioral health, coaching teachers, and supporting family systems. When not working, Rachel enjoys exploring Alaska on foot, kayak, ice skates, skis, bike or whatever else takes her to the backcountry with her husband, and dog of course.
Outreach Coordinator, Help Me Grow Alaska
Elizabeth joined Help Me Grow Alaska in August 2019 as the Help Me Grow Alaska Outreach Coordinator. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Natural Science and Psychology from Juniata College and a Master’s of Divinity from Princeton Seminary. Elizabeth has worked as a Presbyterian pastor, focusing on youth and families, community outreach, and national and international service opportunities. She most recently served as the Community and Nonprofit Liaison, and policy analyst on Housing and Homelessness, for Governor Bill Walker. In this role, she had the opportunity to build strong relationships within the nonprofit community, identify gaps and barriers, and work collaboratively to improve systems to meet various challenges faced by Alaskan families and communities. She also planned and implemented statewide interfaith forums and a training for State of Alaska Commissioners and Division Directors on the Adverse Childhood Experiences study and trauma engaged response. Elizabeth and her husband, Matt, are the proud parents of three children and love to call Alaska home!