Member Experience Advisory Councils

Improving Member Experience

Health First Colorado and Child Health Plan Plus members, we need your voice!

At the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, we recognize the value of member and family participation and engaging the voices of those with lived experience in our programs. Engaging with our members is a guiding principle behind our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) work and is fundamental to our Department’s value of person- and family-centeredness.

The Member Experience Advisory Council (MEAC) is made up of people who are current Health First Colorado or Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) members or parent/caregivers of members. MEAC members come together monthly to learn, give input and ultimately affect positive change in our programs. Members share their honest experiences and provide feedback as a guide for the future.

Childcare, transportation costs and stipends for time well spent are offered for members’ participation.

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Current MEAC Members MEAC Alumni


Engaging members and family members of Health First Colorado and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) to improve member experience and deepen person- & family-centered practices and culture.


  • Continue to build understanding and commitment for person- and family-centeredness, which means we respect and value individual strengths, preferences and contributions, and work with members, not doing things to or for them.
  • Provide opportunities for collaboration between the Department and members with the goal of improving member experience and the relationship between the Department and all members.
  • Provide a way for Department staff to test with members whether or not programs and policies are working as designed and having the desired outcome.
  • Build staff empathy and skills by engaging with actual members and their lived experience, accessing meaning behind data, not just relying on what’s easy to collect and analyze.


Have questions? Contact Member Experience Advisory Council coordinator Sarah Davis at 303.866.5380 or


MEAC Members

Alexa Saindon-Holdorf – Mesa County

Alexa Saindon-Holdorf

My name is Alexandria Saindon-Holdorf. I have worked in child care for the last 4 years. I have a 6-year-old who has had multiple things. He has seizures and also has development delay. I’ve been working really hard to keep him where he is supposed be. I have worked with CHP+ a lot so that everything is covered.

Jessica Needs – El Paso County

Jessica Needs

Watch Jessica’s Story

Health First Colorado changed my life for 8 years as a biracial divorced single, 4th generation of slave ancestors, 3rd generation of deaf family mom to my 5 intelligent children and grandmother to an adorable 10-year-old granddaughter. My three adult children live on their own while two deaf teens live with me. Also my children are third-generation Medicaid recipients. I’m a domestic violence survivor, homeless survivor that led to PTSD and anxiety. I enjoy my healthy lifestyle, traveling, skiing, camping, hiking, and spending time with my family after joining Health First Colorado and want to be on MEAC as my investment with an amazing opportunity for us to make a change.

Melissa Bledsoe – Morgan County

Melissa Bledsoe

I’m a mother of 7, animal lover and my children have Medicaid or CHP+. I’m a Colorado Native. Absolutely always looking for a way to help out my community.

Brett Ryall – Adams County

Brett Ryall

I was born and raised in Colorado, and am mostly familiar with Denver and 4-corners areas. I graduated from Fort Lewis College in Durango and have years of experience in the hospitality industry. It has taught me the value of customer service which I will bring to MEAC. My volunteer experience includes Amina Shelters, Senior Citizen facilities, non-profit organizations and local hospitals. I’m glad to be a part of MEAC and making a contribution.

Antjuan Bouldin – Denver County

Antjuan Bouldin

I’m a Health First Colorado/CO Medicaid Program member (since 2012)… I care deeply for people, and I believe that we can always be “doing better.” I’m a deep thinker, an empath and idealist, who hopes to offer a fresh and unique perspective on things, and give voice to some of the lesser-represented people in our communities.

John Miller – El Paso County

I’m 24, and I’m a Colorado native. I love learning about science, as well as traveling and living in other cultures. My hobbies include cooking, reading, and watching anime with my wife and my two cats. I recently traveled to Ecuador, and I’m hoping to travel to Vietnam in the future.

Hania Sakkal – Larimer County

Hania Sakkal

I was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, and moved to the US to go to college. I ended up settling in Colorado, where I raised two children who are now in college. I live with PTSD and have worked very hard to heal using different modalities. I am very passionate about advocating for people from different backgrounds and for those who live with mental illness.

Mark Taht – Denver County

Mark Taht

I will hopefully learn all I can and simply relate my increased knowledge to others in need. I’m a quick learner and I believe I can also bring my knowledge to the table.

Leonor Urias – Pueblo County

Leonor Urias

I am a single mom and currently co-parenting. I am a SNAP beneficiary along with Health First Colorado for me and CHP for my son. I am the oldest daughter and was raised by my single immigrant mother. I have a younger sister who is intellectually and partially physically disabled. I am currently back in school trying to further my education and I hope my background and experience will benefit this council.

George Cunningham – Larimer County

George Cunningham

Hi my name is George Cunningham. I’m originally from Woodland Park, Colorado but I’m living in Fort Collins, Colorado for school! I’m connected to Health First Colorado cause as a student working on my PhD from Harvard Medical School I’m not able to work full-time at the moment! So I have been a Health First Colorado member a little over 3 years now! I have been a MEAC since October 2021! I’ve been able to see first hand the changes that our MEAC Meetings are involved in become changes to the system! It’s a Great Group to be a part of! It’s an Honor and Privilege to be on such an influential Advisory Board!

Diane Finley – Pueblo County

Diane Finley

I live in Pueblo and am part of the Buy-In program for Adults with Disabilities. I enjoy helping/giving back & trying to find solutions to issues. It’s a great opportunity to share my voice and hope to be part of positive change. The individuals in the group can continue to represent & speak up for their city/county/state while representing their individual groups. The monthly commitment for a year or more gives me a sense of belonging. I keep coming back to MEAC meetings as I feel my voice is heard. Meetings are organized, and we are always asked for our input. It’s a positive experience. I want to assist in reducing the stigma of individuals/families on Medicaid.

Talonnie Granger – Arapahoe County

Talonnie Granger

I am a small business owner who actively supports fellow small business owners by sharing their stories and their business. It has been my passion to help out my community by becoming a resource for clients in providing education for insurance and developing individuals with a growth mindset by teaching them how to properly ensure their families and secure a solid foundation for their future.

Seth Watkins – Arapahoe County

Seth Watkins

I joined MEAC because I was looking for somewhere to volunteer that was some sort of committee or public commission. When I learned what MEAC was and that they were accepting applications for a 2-year term I really got excited because being a member of Health First Colorado there were things I wanted to say, “Great job!” And some things that were terrible and I wanted help to fix. I keep coming back because I’m learning so much about how MEAC really does impact State Medicaid decisions and when MEAC shared that the new Behavioral Health Administration was accepting applications for the Behavioral Health Administration I really wanted to apply for that too because as someone with Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Trauma, and PTSD I knew I could make a difference like at MEAC. So, I got appointed to the BHAAC and look forward to ways the Mental Health System in Colorado can change and improve. As a Peer Specialist with the Ascent Team at Aurora Mental Health Center, I know the impact that Mental Health and Medicaid working together can help save lives and that’s why I continue to look for ways to let my voice be heard and to encourage other to speak up too. In my spare time I love on my Service Dog, Fear; and go to 12 Step meetings for my recovery. I have over 6 years Clean and I’ve learned to live Just For Today.

Will Mottern – Arapahoe County

Will Mottern

Dan Ham, Otero County

Ted Long – Pueblo County

Health First Colorado Member – Costilla County

Health First Colorado Parent – El Paso County

Share Your Story

The Department of Health Care Policy & Financing wants to share your story!

If Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program) or Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) has made a positive impact on you or your family, we want to hear about it. Your story will help other Coloradans better understand the benefits of health insurance coverage.

To share your story with us, please complete this form. We will not share your story with anyone else without your written permission first.

Check out the video below to experience how great it is to hear about other members.

See other member stories

Mary’s Story

Cassie’s Story

Beth’s Story

Raina’s Story

Emery’s Story

Mike’s Story

Maddie’s Story

Stacy’s Story

Jessica’s Story

The Soto/Ynigo Family Story

En Español

Jasmine’s Story

Steve’s Story

MEAC Alumni

Mike Badar – Boulder County

Mike Badar

Watch Mike’s Story

My name is Mike and I’ve been a member of Health First Colorado for over 7 years. I’m recovering from my 2nd brain injury – which required a four-hour surgery. Health First CO has been there for me every step of the way. The majority of the time I was always able to schedule appointments with the health care providers I wanted to work with; however, when problems did arise with scheduling, they were handled quickly and I was never denied coverage. This has given me the confidence that I will continue to heal from my 2nd TBI. For a government-run health care program, I could not ask for better service. Thank you Health First Colorado!

Alirio Moran – Arapahoe County

Alirio Moran

I am an uncle to beautiful Latinx and multiracial children who share their joy with me and also challenge my depression daily. I am an advocate and proponent of finding the right mental health partner (it may take a few tries, but you are worth it!) to develop a self-care practice that works for one’s health. I survived assaults, trauma (homicides and bombings during a civil war), poverty, ignorance, homophobia, homelessness, microaggressions, and the never-ending battle against stigmas. To quote a Colorado hero, “I am different, not less than.” For that reason, my service and motivation is to promote language access to all people in Colorado. Along with promoting the rights of people with disabilities, these two accomplishments make me feel useful and proud. Thanks to my friends, colleagues, mentors, and educational organizations that are leading the way to train the next generation of interpreters—they’ve helped me find my voice!

Mary Sanders – Jefferson County

Mary Sanders

Watch Mary’s Story

I am a student at Metropolitan State University in Denver majoring in interpersonal/relational communications and family services. I came to Colorado from Phoenix in 2012 and have received Medicaid and food stamp assistance since moving here. I was born blind, and I joined the Member Experience Advisory Council because I believe in promoting strong advocacy for statewide services within multiple communities including the disability community. I represent the blindness community as an activist in order to make sure all social services are accessible, including application and website accessibility.

Beth Bevilacqua – Denver County

Beth Bevilacqua
Watch Beth’s Story

I am a single mom with a six-year-old son who has special needs. I consider us extremely blessed to receive the vast health coverage from Health First Colorado. I first inquired because I felt the wide range of benefits from the coverage we had tapped into qualified me to chime in. I could give elaborate feedback, and give voice, particularly for the special needs community. But I never expected the family and deeper connection I became a part of within this diverse group. Through MEAC, I discovered how important my feedback and my reality are to those who are the backbone of Health First Colorado.

Marcel Castro – El Paso County

Marcel Castro

I joined the MEAC team to contribute my personal experience with Health First Colorado to the team in hopes of creating a better experience for all of us. The thing that keeps me coming back to the MEAC meetings are the people. Listening to the experiences of others and how that experience is being used to improve and create upon the system in place, keeps me returning with a sense of encouragement that what we are doing here will make for a better tomorrow.

Janelle Jenkins

Janelle Jenkins

I am a social worker and mother, community advocate, seeking to end injustice everywhere.

Kelly Butler – Denver County

Kelly Butler

I am currently a Medicaid recipient and have found Health First to be an excellent healthcare and dental provider. I have gotten wonderful care and the coverage provided has been phenomenal. I am very excited to be on the Member Experience Advisory Council and hope that I can provide valuable input to help increase awareness to others.

Laura Carroll – Delta County

Laura Carroll

Laura Carroll is now a patient and customer experience advisor who works with healthcare organizations and agencies to help them understand and implement fully integrated healthcare policies. Laura believes that every person deserves easy access to the very best medical, mental, and social healthcare and that they all deserve to receive that care in the time and space that is best for them, or as she likes to call it, “meeting people where they are.”

Laura has served on Health First Colorado’s Member Experience Advisory Council, was appointed as the Honorary Patient Representative for Governor Polis’s State Innovation Model Advisory Board, and has participated in numerous panel discussions on integrated healthcare access, including “Beneficiaries Helping to Improve the Medicaid Program,” during the 2018 National Association of Medicaid Directors Annual meeting. Laura is an avid gardener and photographer, and she enjoys exploring the wilderness with her husband and son, Jed and Joe.

Regan Choi – San Miguel County

Regan Choi

I’m a mother of two, and all of us had always foregone dearly needed healthcare, not even realizing what a difference it could make in the quality of our lives, until we became Health First members. I live in western Colorado and love being active outdoors. I’ve taught natural and human history, skiing and outdoor skills, grown organic fruit, and also faced losing my health and mobility several times. Being involved in community and the world around me is what makes life valuable, and being part of the MEAC community has enriched that.

Samantha Fields – El Paso County

Samantha Fields

I am a single, disabled senior, a survivor of domestic abuse, have experienced homelessness, and live with depression and anxiety. I currently benefit from Medicare, Colorado Medicaid, and an Elderly, Blind, and Disabled waiver. I started doing patient advocacy in 2011 but didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. I just wanted to help other people who dealt with the same issues that I had to live with. It was empowering to realize that my lived experience was a valuable resource. When I’m not serving on advisory councils and sharing my story, I enjoy writing, watching movies, traveling to new places and meeting new people, spending time with animals, and watching birds and wildlife. I am a passionate science and space enthusiast. I believe in bringing out the best in everyone around me by giving them an opportunity to do something great, and I live by the adage “Live your best life every day because today is the best day ever”.

Jacinda Hughes – Kit Carson County

Jacinda Hughes

Watch Jacinda’s Story

I joined MEAC to have a say in policies and make a difference. I keep coming back because I know my voice is being heard and I hope MEAC keeps doing the great work it does.


How else can I get involved? Find out more or email