Our leadership

Sue Birch headshot

Sue Birch


Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Sue Birch to serve as HCA director on Jan. 1, 2018. As HCA director, she is focused on transforming the health care delivery system to better serve those for whom we purchase care, while keeping health care costs in check.

A nurse by training, Birch is passionate about improving population health and reducing overmedicalization by focusing on the social determinants of health. She has led efforts to combat the opioid public health crisis through increased access to treatment and public education, eliminate hepatitis C through innovative value-based drug purchasing, and implement a Medicaid benefit for supportive housing and supported employment.

Under Birch’s leadership, Washington implemented Cascade Care, the first-in-nation public option aimed at improving access to high-quality, affordable health care. Birch also helps lead an inter-governmental team to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before joining HCA, Sue spent nearly seven years as the executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, where she led the state’s successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act. A nurse by training, Sue also served as chief executive officer of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

Why she works at HCA

It is an honor to be a public servant and an executive leader for health care policy and financing. I am passionate about working on behalf of the public and serving Washington residents.

Follow Sue on Twitter: @WaHCADirector

Louis McDermott headshot

Louis McDermott

Deputy director

Lou provides leadership and oversight across the agency, including in employee benefits and finance. Lou’s team includes:

  • Tribal Affairs Administrator Jessie Dean
  • Audits and Accountability Manager Lynda Karseboom

Lou led the HCA Employees and Retirees Benefits Division for five years, overseeing public employee insurance benefit programs that cover employees and retirees of state agencies, school districts, and other eligible public and tribal employer groups. He also led the implementation of an ambitious and innovative plan to enhance the state’s approach to worksite wellness.

A longtime public servant, Lou also has held management positions at the Department of Corrections and the Department of Social and Health Services.

Why he works for HCA

I want to contribute to the health and well-being of our fellow Washingtonians and I believe that this organization is uniquely situated to make that happen.

Dr. Charissa Fotinos headshot

Dr. Charissa Fotinos

State Medicaid director

Charissa oversees the Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) program, which provides more than 2 million Washington residents with integrated physical and behavioral health services. Charissa’s team includes:

  • Program Integrity Administrator Michael Brown
  • Assistant Director for Medicaid Programs Division Jason McGill

Charissa, a family doctor specializing in addiction medicine, is HCA’s deputy chief medical officer and previously served as chief medical officer for Public Health-Seattle and King County.

Megan Atkinson headshot

Megan Atkinson

Chief financial officer

Megan served as chief financial officer for HCA from 2005-2008, and rejoined us in 2017. She most recently worked as assistant director for budget at the Department of Transportation, and also has held senior positions for both the Department of Social and Health Services Economic Services Administration, and the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The Financial Services Division manages multiple fiscal needs for the agency, including budget preparation and monitoring, accounting and payroll, forecasting, and rate setting.

Why she works for HCA

Working at HCA is a wonderful and challenging opportunity to work with very talented and dedicated individuals. I enjoy the intricacies of health care finance and purchasing, combined with our agency’s large and complex administrative budget.

Amy Blondin headshot

Amy Blondin

Chief communications officer

Since joining HCA in 2014, Amy has focused on improving customer communications and sharing the story of HCA's innovative work. Amy and her team manage strategic internal and external communications. Prior to joining HCA, Amy was the government and community relations manager for the Department of Early Learning, and worked as a public information officer in the Washington State Senate. She began her career as a journalist.

Why she works for HCA

Consumers deserve clear, accessible information that supports them in making decisions about their health care.

Jody Costello headshot

Jody Costello

Administrative services director

Jody is responsible for the complex operational components of the agency, including legal services, employee resources, and planning and performance. Jody’s team includes:

  • Assistant Director for Planning and Performance Kari Karch
  • Chief Legal Officer Annette Schuffenhauer
  • Director of Employee Resources Robin Vazquez

Why she works for HCA

I have a strong commitment to public service and I am honored to serve the residents of Washington.

David Iseminger headshot

David Iseminger

Director, Employees and Retirees Benefits Division

Dave provides direction and support for long-term benefits strategy, benefit contracting efforts, and operations of the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) Program and the School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB) Program. He also supports meetings of both programs’ board meetings and the state’s collective bargaining process for benefits. Dave has worked with the ERB Division in various capacities since February 2012, first as an assistant attorney general, next as an agency legal manager, and now as the director.

Why he works for HCA

Ensuring PEBB and SEBB Program members have access to the best and most robust benefits possible is a rewarding experience. Being able to improve benefits that are accessed during challenging circumstances—whether as part of an emergency room visit, as the result of a recent disability, or after the death of a loved one—is an important responsibility that keeps me motivated to do my best every day. I love coming to work each day because HCA staff are so committed to ensuring the best experience for Washingtonians.

Taylor Linke headshot

Taylor Linke

Director, IT Innovation and Customer Experience

Taylor is responsible for leveraging technology and person-centered design principles to enhance our internal and external customer experience. Her team includes:

  • Chief Information Officer Jerry Britcher
  • Acting Director of Medicaid Customer Service Trinity Wilson

Taylor joined HCA in 2016, and most recently led HCA’s Medicaid Customer Service Division, setting the vision for high-quality, responsive customer service support for Apple Health clients and providers. Prior to joining HCA she served in managerial and operational roles at the state Department of Health.

Why she works for HCA

I love pushing the envelope and exploring what is possible! The world around us is constantly evolving, and so are the needs of those we serve. I have a passion for public service, specifically with improving work processes to support the health care delivery system, and those in need of our critical services.

Mich’l Needham headshot

Mich’l Needham

Chief policy officer

Mich’l oversees policy innovation, health equity, and new projects seeking to transform the health care delivery system. The Policy Division also oversees legislative relations and supports policy and program development throughout the agency. Before joining HCA in 2017, Mich'l most recently served as the senior policy analyst for the Senate Health Care Committee overseeing federal health care issues, including Medicaid and the Health Benefit Exchange, as well as commercial insurance.

Why she works for HCA

I am passionate about the opportunities to improve access to health care, while working on options to reform the delivery system and payment of care. HCA offers a great opportunity to influence health care purchasing and work with a range of dynamic issues.

Keri Waterland headshot

Dr. Keri Waterland

State behavioral health authority

Keri leads the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, which provides program support for behavioral health, including mental health and substance use disorder treatment; SUD prevention, problem gambling treatment, prevention and outreach; mental health promotion; medication-assisted treatment; emergency services and behavioral health crisis services; and recovery support services.

Keri previously served as an assistant secretary at the Washington State Department of Corrections and a senior policy analyst at the Washington State Senate, as well as an operations manager for state hospitals at the Department of Social and Health Services.

Judy Zerzan headshot

Dr. Judy Zerzan

Chief medical officer

Judy is a general internal medicine physician and is passionate about state level health policy. She is focused on building on and aligning work including value-based payment models, the state’s Medicaid Transformation initiative, health equity, collaboration with stakeholders, and innovative use of data. Judy’s team includes:

  • Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Charissa Fotinos

She has served as chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. She has extensive experience in designing and implementing benefits, specifically in Medicaid programs, and was instrumental in implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Colorado.

Why she works at HCA

States are where the action is! HCA positively impacts the health of Washingtonians with our innovative work for Medicaid and state and school employees. I like working to solve hard health care problems with smart dedicated staff.