• The STORIES Team

     

     

    Miriam Harmatz

    Executive Director

    Miriam, one of Florida’s leading Medicaid advocates, is a former senior health law attorney at Florida Legal Services and adjunct professor in the Health Law Clinic at Florida International University College of Law. As a young child with a health issue, Miriam learned that everyone must have insurance and that healthcare is a human right. She wrote her senior college thesis on why Congress failed to pass a national health insurance bill in 1974, and as a legal services attorney for 30 years she focused on ensuring access to healthcare for her clients.


    Miriam has been lead counsel on multiple federal court cases resulting in statewide relief for Medicaid beneficiaries. These successful outcomes, including federal court cases of first impression and with national import, are the result of highly collaborative work with national experts, Florida legal aid lawyers and pro bono attorneys. On a local level, Miriam led collaborative efforts that improved access and transparency at Miami-Dade County’s publicly funded hospital. This work includes administrative complaints successfully challenging outpatient and inpatient admission deposit policies, discrimination against foreign-born county residents, and violations of consumer protections provided under the ACA, the first complaint of its kind in the nation.

     

    Because Florida has not yet expanded Medicaid under the ACA, Miriam has focused on outreach and education detailing the tremendous human and economic benefits of extending coverage and the adverse impacts in failing to do so. And since the 2016 election, she has been part of the massive advocacy effort devoted to defending the ACA and Medicaid.

    Alison Yager

    Director of Policy Advocacy

    Alison is an attorney with over 20 years of experience in the non-profit and government sectors advocating on behalf of women, children and marginalized individuals. She comes to Miami from New York, where she served most recently as the Director of Policy Initiatives for Maternal, Infant, and Reproductive Health at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Her work included collaborating with internal and external stakeholders to identify new policy and program initiatives, conducting analyses and developing policy briefs to support the generation of policy initiatives, and advocating for or against enactment of policies at all levels of government.


    After graduating from UCLA School of Law’s Program in Public Interest Law and Policy in 2001, Ms. Yager was awarded an Equal Justice Works fellowship to provide legal services to young people at The Door's Legal Service Center in Manhattan, and subsequently worked as a Staff Attorney serving young people experiencing intimate partner violence at Break the Cycle- New York (now Day One). From 2006 to 2014, Alison worked at HIV Law Project in New York, first as a Staff Attorney and then as Supervising Attorney for HIV Policy. She began her career as a Community Organizer for the Children’s Defense Fund-NY.

    Blanca Mesa

    Client Outreach and Communications Consultant

    Blanca is an attorney, journalist, and communication expert. Blanca, a former Legal Services of Greater Miami public benefits attorney, also worked as the Communications Director for the Mayor of Miami-Dade County.

     

    After the ACA was implemented, she worked as a licensed federal navigator for the ACA health marketplace. She recently helped develop and manage a story bank of over 150 Floridians in the coverage gap willing to speak with the press.


    ​Blanca has a strong history of public service and community involvement. In 2016, she was named “Best Citizen” by Miami New Times and in 2017, Miami Today newspaper honored her as “Best of Miami” for her community environmental work.

     

    Blanca works on documenting the stories of individual low-income Floridians willing to engage on outreach and education regarding Medicaid, as well as other safety net programs that impact the social determinants of health.
     

    Joseph Schieffer

    Technology Director

    Joseph Schieffer, a highly skilled technologist, is the founder of A2J (“Access to Justice”) Tech Store, a social enterprise that builds technology to improve access to justice. Joseph leads FHJP's technology and digital content initiatives.

     

    ​Prior to founding A2J Tech Store, Joseph served in the Air Force, was a public school teacher and coach, and worked with mission-driven social justice organizations in Florida and elsewhere.


    ​Growing up in a low-income family that struggled to afford health care and living in Colorado, one of the 36 states that have embraced Medicaid expansion, Joseph is passionate about improving access to affordable health care for low-income Floridians. ​

     

    Joseph has collaborated with legal services organizations throughout the state of Florida, including projects with Florida Justice Technology Center, Bay Area Legal Services, and Southern Legal Counsel. Joseph has been a presenter at the National Legal Aid & Defender Association Conference, the Legal Services Corporation Innovations in Technology Conference, the ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference, and the LGBTQ Legal Aid Summit. Joseph holds a Master's of Science in Business Administration from the University of Florida, and a Bachelor's of Science from the United States Air Force Academy.

    Moraly Arroyo

    Story Outreach Coordinator

    Moraly Arroyo, who has Fortune 100 New York City experience and held senior leadership positions in Media, Advertising, Hospitality and Education brings her expertise in strategy, partnership development and community outreach to the STORIES project.

     

    As a Latina who came of age in the South Bronx community of New York City and attended public schools, she witnessed first-hand the pivotal role education and health care play in the quality of life of its residents.

     

    Committed to help bring a voice to Miami’s underserved communities, she has been actively engaged in non-partisan voter education and registration drives. Additionally, she has led and served on educational advocacy and community improvement campaigns.

     

    Moraly earned her Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Master of Science in Hospitality Industry Studies and Professional Certificate in Strategic Integrated Marketing Communications from New York University. She has received several honors including El Diario La Prensa’s Mujeres Destacadas, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Family of the Year and New York University’s Presidents Award for Leadership and Service.

  • Student Law Clerks

     

     

    Andrea Faverio

    Law Clerk

    Andrea Faverio Córdova, a rising 2L at UF Levin College of Law, is Peruvian-American. Growing up between the USA and Peru, she witnessed first-hand how adequate healthcare makes all the difference. As the daughter of a pediatric pulmonologist, she heard her father’s first-hand accounts of the disparities in who got access to health care and the services they needed to survive. Her father instilled in her the belief that health care is a human right – a right that doesn't end with old age or disability. She is excited to be working at FHJP on issues like Medicaid expansion in Florida.
     
    Andrea graduated cum laude from the University of Florida in 2017. She is the social chair for the Latino Law Student Association and an elected representative for the Student Bar Association. She speaks and writes Spanish fluently and is excited to utilize this skill to assist in unique matters this summer.

    Timothy Loftus, M.D.

    Law Clerk

    Timothy is a rising second-year law student at the University of Miami School of Law. His enthusiasm for the work of FHJP stems from his interest in healthcare issues affecting LGBT individuals as well as those issues related to mental health. Prior to law school, Dr. Loftus served as vice president of a healthcare software startup integrating home health data into electronic medical records. He obtained his B.S. in Chemistry with highest distinction and magna cum laude from the University of Illinois and his M.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. He did post-graduate training in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell. He is a native of Springfield, IL.