Our Team

Meet the dedicated staff, interns, and volunteers at WAHA!

Carol Gipson, MA
Executive Director

Carol brings over 20 years’ experience in non-profit management, social services, and fundraising. She has worked to advance access to education and services across a wide range of communities and needs. Carol’s work has spanned immigrant rights, cultural and language integration, affordable housing, behavioral health and end of life issues. Carol grew up in Michigan and has lived in Berkeley, Portland, Maine, and Switzerland, but feels she is finally “home” in Bellingham. She is thrilled to be part of WAHA and the Bellingham community.

Christina Ortiz
Connector Services Program Manager

Christina received her Medical Receptionist Certificate at Bellingham Technical College. As the Connector Services Program Manager, she enjoys learning about all the health care resources available to the community and is excited to help people access the proper care they need.

Nicolas Jensen
Navigator Program Regional Manager

Nicolas is a 2016 graduate of Western Washington University, with a BA in Political Science. Nicolas grew up on Camano Island and Stanwood, but is enjoying living in Bellingham. Nicolas is excited to be a member of the WAHA team and help manage and coordinate the Navigator Program and enrollment services in the North Sound region.

Emma Palumbo
Health Access Intern/ Americops Member

Emma is excited to join the WAHA team as a Health Access Intern and AmeriCorps Member. Emma grew up in Chelan, Washington before attending Western Washington University, where she recently graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Sociology. She is very interested in the accessibility of health care as well as the role that plays in matters of social equity. Emma feels very fortunate to be part of an organization that is so invested in creating positive change in its community.

Lara Welker, MPH
Convener for NW Life Passages & Whatcom Provider Council

Lara was the Program Manager at WAHA from 2009-2016. In 2016 she started her community health consulting practice, and is now pleased to be supporting NW Life Passages and the Whatcom Provider Council, two of WAHA’s collaborative initiatives. Lara has over 25 years’ experience with health education and program planning, implementation, and management in the public and non-profit sectors. She lives in Bellingham with her husband and daughter, and loves to garden.

Photo Coming Soon!

Jessica Staten
Director of Finance

Jessica brings over 20 years of experience in non-profit accounting at a variety of human service agencies in Whatcom County. She has a record of achieving clean audits, creating operating efficiencies and establishing strong internal controls. She has served on a number of community Boards, including Lydia Place, Emergency Food and Shelter, and Womencare, typically as Treasurer. She loves to read, garden, go for long walks around Lake Padden and the North Lake Whatcom Trail, and loves her three, perfect cats.

Andrea Day, MPH
ICM Case Manager

Andrea discovered WAHA as a volunteer, worked as a Care Coordinator for 2 years, and now enjoys the role of Intensive Case Manager. She has a Masters in Public Health from the University of Sheffield (UK), specializing in health education and sexual and reproductive health. Having worked, volunteered, and researched in Costa Rica, Australia, Kenya, India, Sierra Leone, and Nicaragua, she appreciates the challenges of working in the field and problem solving with outside-the-box solutions

Zahra Elkhafaifi
Interim Administrative Coordinator

Zahra is a psychology graduate of Western Washington University and now lives and works in Bellingham. She enjoys spending time with her two cats, eating local cuisine, and helping people get connected to what they need. Zahra is excited to be working at WAHA, where she assists clients to enroll in Affordable Care Act plans during Open Enrollment.

Australia Cosby
Whatcom SHIBA Program Manager

Australia is a graduate of Western Washington University with a degree in Human Services & Rehabilitation and Spanish. She currently serves as the primary Whatcom County SHIBA liaison to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. Australia is thrilled to be part of a team of statewide volunteers that help promote community education, health literacy, and consumer advocacy among Medicare beneficiaries and their families.

Mary Ann Percy, MS
Advance Care Planning Specialist

Mary Ann lived in the New York area most of her adult life and recently moved to Bellingham after fifteen years in southern California. There she spent nearly ten years working in palliative care, hospice, and spiritual care, including medical bio-ethics, advance care planning, community and professional education, with extensive experience in clinical and educational roles. She is passionate about improving the end of life experience for patients, families and caregivers. She is a graduate of Binghamton University (BA) and Queens College (MS).

Sheila Rhodes
SNF Council Coordinator

Sheila joined WAHA in 2011 first as a volunteer with the goal of bringing a long term care perspective to WAHA’s mission. She worked many years as a social worker in skilled nursing facilities before retiring at the end of 2011. In 2012 WAHA hired her to start the Care Transitions program that helped Medicare patients go home from the hospital successfully. She presently facilitates the Whatcom County Skilled Nursing Facility Council for WAHA and volunteers with End of Life Choices, assisting individuals to complete their Advance Care Plans. Her passions include bringing a consumer voice to health care planning and giving culinary hugs.

Laura Woods
Intensive Case Manager

Laura graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead with a B.A. in Psychology. After ambling through Sweden, Eastern Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Asia, and Alaska, she returned to Bellingham to complete her M.S. in Psychology at Western Washington University. Laura brings 23 years of experience in counseling to the ICM program. She enjoys collaborating with the Bellingham Community Paramedic (EMS), Homeless Outreach Team (HOT), and other agencies to better Bellingham’s community health care system. Laura loves reading, strolling through the woods, planting trees, and watching BBC TV.

Megan Havner
Health Access Intern/ Americops Member

Megan grew up in Seattle before attending Western Washington University. She graduated with a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. As a Health Access Intern and AmeriCorps Member working with WAHA, she hopes to have a positive impact on the Whatcom community.