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DCHBX Senior Leadership Team

Mila Kofman, Executive Director  –Mila Kofman is the Executive Director of the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority (DCHBX).  She is a nationally recognized expert on private health insurance markets and regulation including the ACA, HIPAA, and ERISA. She has a record of successfully implementing federal and state health insurance reforms and building, revamping, and leading organizations.

As DCHBX’s first employee, Kofman successfully built the organization that now has 100+ employees, with a $30+million annual budget.  Kofman has led policy initiatives and secured passage of legislation with unanimous support.  She successfully guided the IT development of a State Based Marketplace (SBM) IT system for which there was no blueprint.  Although DC was the last state to begin building its IT system, it was 1 of only 4 to open for business on time and stay open on October 1, 2013.  Under Kofman’s leadership, DCHBX was recognized by AWS for Best Practices in Innovation (2016 and 2018), was selected by the Massachusetts Exchange to replace its technology for SHOP (first-in-the-nation SBM partnership), and ranks number one for consumer decision support tools.

From March 2008 - May 2011, Kofman was the Superintendent of Insurance in Maine.  She was the first woman to serve as Superintendent of Insurance, and while confirmed by a party-line vote of the legislature in 2008, she was unanimously reconfirmed in 2010.   While on faculty at Georgetown University studying private health insurance markets, Kofman published 30+ articles in peer reviewed publications, served as an expert witness, and provided advice to elected officials.  

Kofman was named by the Washington Business Journal as one of 100 most powerful Washingtonians (2013).   She has appeared on NPR, CNN, ABC News, CBS Evening News, and NBC Dateline and has been quoted in all national and many local news outlets, and trade press.  She has testified before Congress and state legislatures.

Kofman holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center (1996) and a B.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland (1993), summa cum laude

Purvee Parekh Kempf, General Counsel and Chief Policy Advisor – From 2003 to 2013, Ms. Kempf served as senior counsel for health policy in the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.  Her primary responsibilities were protecting and improving federal regulation of private health insurance, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, health information technology, and privacy through legislation and oversight for Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and previously Congressman John Dingell (D-MI).  In that role she helped negotiate and draft the health reform provisions in the Affordable Care Act including the statutory authority and responsibilities for health benefit exchanges.

Ms. Kempf also negotiated and ushered through the House of Representatives groundbreaking health information technology and privacy legislation, as well as the expansion and reauthorization of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Prior to her work on Capitol Hill, Ms. Kempf was an associate in the health practice group at Hogan & Hartson, LLP, currently Hogan Lovells, and a healthcare consultant at Anderson Consulting, currently Accenture.  She received an undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.  See lives in the District with her husband and three young children.

Debbie Curtis, Senior Deputy Director for Policy and Exchange Programs – Ms. Curtis has more than 23 years of experience working on Capitol Hill, where she was one of the leading experts on health insurance, Medicare, and mental health parity.  Most recently, she served on the Democratic Professional Staff for the Committee on Ways and Means in the US House of Representatives.  For the previous 15 years, she served in a joint position as the Chief of Staff for Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), and as a professional staff member on the Ways and Means Democratic Staff, where she played a key role in developing the Affordable Care Act.  Prior to her work for Rep. Stark, Ms. Curtis served as health legislative assistant for (then Representative) now Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rep. Jim Moody (D-WI), both then Ways and Means Health Subcommittee members. 

Ms. Curtis was the Congressional Affairs Director for Citizen Action, a nationwide grassroots consumer advocacy organization, where she lobbied for national health care reform during the Clinton Administration.  She’s also worked on the staffs of now Senator (then Representative) Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA).  Ms. Curtis graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1988. She is a longtime resident of the District and lives on Capitol Hill with her husband and daughter.

Yi-Ru Chen is the Senior Director of Programs and Operations where she is responsible for working with senior leadership and with the transition of moving the agency from start-up to ongoing. As a 17-year veteran leader in District government. Chen has successfully led and transformed start-up agencies and agencies in transitions.

Prior to Yi-Ru’s current role, she served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Department of Forensic Services where she led the Operations team, including resource allocation, contracting and procurement, human capital, health and safety, grants program, and information technology. She was also responsible for budget development and execution, policy and legislative affairs, and navigating District government operations. Ms. Chen was also the Deputy Director for the District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) and was instrumental in establishing the inaugural Homeland Security Commission.

Having served in the Executive Office of the Mayor under two administrations, Chen worked in various senior level positions, including Chief of Staff to the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice and to the Interim City Administrator, and as Interim Director of Justice Grants Administration. In the Executive Office of the Mayor, Ms. Chen oversaw the budget and program development for public safety agencies and the District’s Consolidated Forensic Laboratory, was actively involved in the creation of the Office of Unified Communications and the development of the District’s State-designated Fusion Center. Ms. Chen also served a brief detail to the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President. Ms. Chen received a master’s degree from the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. As a Public Service Fellow, Ms. Chen completed a master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, MA, and is a graduate of Smith College.

Linda Wharton Boyd, Ph.D., Director of Communications, External Affairs and Strategic Partnerships – Dr. Wharton Boyd joined the Exchange’s senior management team from the DC Department of Health (DOH), where she had been the Senior Advisor, Communications and External Affairs, and helped the agency establish a social media presence. Prior to this appointment, she was detailed to the Exchange to assist in communications and media relations. She earlier served as Director of Communications in the DC Executive Office of the Mayor for Mayor Vincent C. Gray, and was a member of the Mayor’s Executive Cabinet and the official spokesperson for the Mayor and the Government of the District of Columbia.

Linda Wharton Boyd has spent much of her professional career working to improve the lives of District residents. She is a communications professional with a proven record of success in communications, marketing, public affairs, media relations, organizational development, strategic planning, and problem solving with the ability to effectively design, implement and manage internal and external communications and marketing programs, projects, information campaigns, promotions, as well as achieve organizational goals beyond expectations. In addition to her work at the Department of Health and the Executive Office of the Mayor, Wharton Boyd has also served as Chief of Staff/Chief Communications Officer for Councilmember Michael A. Brown; Chief Communications Officer for the DC Public Schools; Director of the Office of Communications and Public Affairs for the DC Department of Human Services/Office of the Deputy Mayor For Children, Youth, Elders And Families; Director of the DC Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications and Director of Communications / Press Secretary for DC  Mayor Marion Barry.

With a wealth of experiences to draw upon in strategic communications, public relations, media, telecommunications and external affairs in both the public and private sectors, Wharton Boyd is responsible for building the Health Benefit Exchange’s strategic communications and partnership engagement  across the city with various community-based organizations, to include nonprofits, faith based institutions, and diverse populations. She will also serve as the liaison to the Council of the District of Columbia, District government agencies, Federal agencies and the White House.

She holds a Ph.D. in Communications and Master’s in Speech Communications from the University of Pittsburgh as well as professional Certified Municipal Manager designation from George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration.

Annie White, Contracting Officer – With over 40 years of experience working in DC government Contracting and Procurement.  As the DC Health Benefit Exchange Contracting Officer, Ms. White is responsible for all purchases of goods and services required by the Exchange. She received a BBA from the University of the District of Columbia. Her day to day responsibilities range from small dollar purchase of supplies and goods, large dollar purchases of IT products and multi-million dollar contracts for services.

While serving in her profession, she has worked for numerous DC government agencies, such as the DC Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP), DC Public Schools (DCPS, DC Housing Authority (DCHA) ,  DC General Hospital (DCGH) and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO). She is considered and expert in her field.

Marjorie Edmonds, Chief Financial Officer at the DC Health Benefit Exchange. She has held several leadership roles in finance in the private and public sector. She held the Budget Officer position at the DC Metropolitan Police Department and DC Child and Family Services, and Agency Fiscal Officer at the DC Department of Parks and Recreation. At each of these agencies Ms. Edmonds was responsible for managing the operating and, when applicable, capital budgets. She held the Financial Manager position at DC Water and Sewer (now DC Water). Here she was on the team for the initial $300M+ bond issuance for the $1.3B capital improvement program when the agency became independent.

In the private sector Ms. Edmonds has held roles as Vice President of Finance, Corporate Controller, Financial Analyst, Cash Manager and Auditor. During her career she has worked at Educate, Inc., ISR Solutions, Citibank and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company.

Ms. Edmonds has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Loyola of Baltimore. She is also a Certified Public Accountant, licensed in the state of Maryland.

Holly Whelan, Chief Operating Officer – Holly joined the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority (DCHBX) in 2013 and currently serves as the agency’s Chief Operating Officer. In her role, she has led the agency in the development of emergency preparedness planning and continuity of operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. She oversees the human resources, facilities, contracting and invoicing operations for DCHBX.

Before her time at DCHBX, Holly worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the development and implementation of the federally facilitated Exchange Marketplace. During her time at CMS, she served as the Director of both the Navigator and the Consumer Assistance grant programs, which in total provided more than $100 million in grant funds to states and organizations to help consumers enroll into health coverage, appeal coverage denials, etc.

Prior to her federal service, Holly worked for The Endocrine Society as the Associate Director of Health Policy and for the American Diabetes Association as the Manager of Public Policy, where she conducted research on problems consumers face accessing affordable and adequate health coverage. Holly is a proud graduate of Michigan State University, where she holds bachelor’s degree in Social Relations and Policy. She also holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from The George Washington University.

Eliza Navarro Bangit - Director of Marketplace Innovation, Policy, and Operations – Eliza oversees day-to-day operations of DC Health Link, the District’s on-line individual and small group marketplace. She also advises the HBX Executive Director on health policy and strategic matters. Prior to joining the HBX, Eliza was the Director of the Office of Policy Analysis and Development at the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where she focused on the development of measures of quality for home- and community-based services and developed technical assistance support to States that participated in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Duals Demonstration Financial Alignment Initiative. Prior to joining ACL, Eliza served as the Deputy Director of the Consumer Support Group in the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) at CMS where she led the development of the Consumer Assistance Program, a provision in the Affordable Care Act that provided millions of grant funding to states to strengthen their health insurance ombudsman and information counseling programs. Eliza also led the development of the Navigator Program to assist consumers understand the options available to them in the Marketplace. Eliza served as a Senior Research Associate for 10 years at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute prior to joining the federal government, where she concentrated on federal and state laws governing the private insurance market, with a focus on access, affordability, and adequacy of coverage, and has authored articles in legal and health policy journals. Eliza received her Juris Doctor from the University of the District of Columbia and is a member of the Maryland Bar Association. She earned her MA in Aging Studies with an emphasis on Health Care Administration from Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Jennifer Beeson, Director of Strategic Operations – Jen joined DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority in the spring of 2019, where she oversees the first-in-the nation partnership with the Massachusetts Health Connector for their Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) marketplace.

In her previous position, Jen spent four years as the Director of the Consumer Support Group at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), where she led three divisions and controlled an annual budget in excess of $100 million. Her teams were responsible for supporting private health insurance customers through policy formulation; the funding, training, and support of navigators and assisters in the federal health insurance marketplace; and directly assisting federal marketplace consumers through casework.

Prior to her federal service, Jen was the Deputy Executive Director at Families USA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the achievement of high quality, affordable health care for all. During her nine years at Families USA, Jen helped to develop and implement the organization’s long-term legislative strategy to achieve comprehensive health care reform, resulting in the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Jen has lived in the District for more than 25 years. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Journalism from Indiana University and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from The George Washington University.

Allen Gutierrez, Director of Business Development -- As a highly recognized national leader in business development, Gutierrez has impacted the underserved small business community throughout his career by providing mentorship, advocacy, and support for small business expansion. In his current role, Gutierrez leads DCHBX efforts to expand coverage in communities of color by created a stronger partnership in the Hispanic, Black, and women-owned business communities. He also serves as the spokesperson for the agency in the multicultural media.

Previously, Allen Gutierrez served as the Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development (OED) at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). As Associate Administrator, Allen was dedicated to enhancing the nationwide network of 1,200 offices, business executives, and mentors that support current and aspiring business owners as they start, grow, and compete in today’s global market.  During his tenure, SBA counseled and trained more entrepreneurs nationwide, which created higher number of jobs created and capital infusion to small business and entrepreneurs. He also expanded outreach and impact to underserved communities by creating 37 new women business centers, a record number for SBA. This accomplishment included 5 new centers associated with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), another first since SBA was established.  Gutierrez also led the execution and launch of Ascent, a first-of-its-kind, free digital e-learning platform geared to help women entrepreneurs grow and expand their businesses.  Lastly, Allen was the lead executive champion at SBA that created the first ever Hispanic Employee Resources Group (HERG), providing a platform for mentorship to growing SBA’s Hispanic workforce on upward mobility.

Prior to SBA, Mr. Gutierrez was the National Executive Director of The Latino Coalition (TLC) where TLC grew its membership to include 1.2 million Hispanic business owners and more than 90 coalition partners. He also transformed TLC into one of the nation’s largest and most effective Latino advocacy groups, which provides a strong voice for small business in Congress.

Mr. Gutierrez began his federal career in the SBA that spanned from 2001 to 2006 where he served as Senior Advisor to the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Senior Advisor to the Office of International Trade (OIT). Mr. Gutierrez was also a member of the senior team that executed the President’s Management Agenda to create a more transparent and results-orientated agency, as well as the Executive Resource Board advising the Administrator on senior management matters. During his tenure in the OIT, Gutierrez served as the key representative for SBA during the CAFTA-DR negotiations, which was signed into law as the first free trade agreement between the United States and a group of smaller developing countries.

As the Chief Operating Officer of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), Mr. Gutierrez served on the USHCC senior management team at a time of tremendous growth for the organization and accomplished record-breaking partnership with Corporate America, as well as high level participation from its membership at their annual and legislative convention.

Prior to his entry into the public and nonprofit sectors, Mr. Gutierrez career began in corporate America with a focus in Healthcare Industry. Mr. Gutierrez spans over 20 years’ experience working with firms like Aetna, Great West Life, Maxicare Health Plans and UnitedHealthcare in the areas of National, Divisional and Ethnic marketing initiatives which increased product recognition and narrowed the gap of uninsured.   Mr. Gutierrez experience of working with key stakeholders in the community stems from his past management of over 200 Life and Health business clients with an overall $100 million dollars in assets under management.

Born in San Jose, Costa Rica, Mr. Gutierrez immigrated to California in 1974, where he achieved his dream of becoming the first member of his family to graduate from an accredited four-year college. Mr. Gutierrez earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern California.

Today, Mr. Gutierrez lives in Maryland with his family.