Office of the Patient Advocate Staff
Monisha Avery, MSW
Monisha Avery is currently the Acting Director of the Office of the Patient Advocate (OPA) with the California Health and Human Services Agency and has served as the Deputy Director since 2014, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Office. OPA publicly reports health care data to help consumers, purchasers and policy-makers make decisions based on health care quality.
Avery previously served as the Federal Legislative Coordinator at the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) from 2010 – 2014. In that role, she tracked and informed the directorate on policies and legislation concerning the Affordable Care Act. She has a long history of public service and non-profit work including 18 years in state service. She was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Ombudsman Program at the California Department of Child Support and has managed major child welfare programs including a federal child welfare demonstration project. Prior to state service she worked in various capacities as a social worker which include foster care and adoptions, medical social work, and victim and witness service advocate with the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.
Avery received a Master of Social Work degree from California State University, Sacramento.
Ruben Mejia, Research Program Specialist II
Ruben Mejia is the research lead for OPA’s Health Care Quality Report Cards and has been implementing ways to make them more useful and easier to navigate by consumers.
Prior to working at OPA, Ruben conducted financial research for capitation rate setting at the Department of Health Care Services and cost efficiency studies for Offender Substance Abuse Treatment Programs at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Allison Barry, Staff Services Manager I
Allison Barry manages OPA’s public reporting initiative for the annual Complaint Data Report and coordinates OPA program activities for fiscal, budget, and contract administration. She has served OPA in various roles since 2010, including as a consumer education and health care policy analyst, legislative coordinator, website manager, and events outreach
Before joining OPA, Allison served two Lieutenant Governors as a communications and policy analyst and the Governor of California as an executive writer. She also has private sector experience working for corporate management of skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.
Allison earned a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, San Diego.
Kate Burch, Associate Governmental Program Analyst
Kate Burch manages OPA’s website and aims to continually improve consumer access to OPA products. She also performs data analysis to support OPA’s consumer complaints reporting.
Prior to joining OPA, Kate worked at Health Access California where she served as the Director of the California Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health and Human Services Network. In that role, Kate fought health disparities faced by LGBTQ communities and ensured that California health care regulations were fully inclusive of LGBTQ individuals and families.
Kate holds a BA in Biology from Oberlin College, an MA in Secondary Education from Loyola Marymount University, and an MA in Molecular and Cell Biology from U.C. Berkeley.
Claudia Coons, Staff Services Analyst
Claudia Coons is the communications and events coordinator. She is responsible for the development of bilingual print and online communications including social media advertising and organization branding. She also supports the production of the Health Care Quality Report Cards.
Prior to joining OPA, Claudia worked for various international companies as a destination consultant and relocation specialist assisting international moves between the United States and Scandinavia.
Claudia graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in both Human Biology and Iberian & Latin American Cultures. Immediately after graduation, she moved away and lived in Chile, the Dominican Republic, Norway, and Guatemala before settling back in California in 2014.
Dana Preston, Office Technician
Dana coordinates all of OPA’s executive assistant, office management, and human resources needs. Dana is also a member of the California Department of Social Services, Volunteer Emergency Services Team (VEST) that responds to disasters in California.
Dana has held positions in security, law enforcement, missing person’s investigations, disaster services, air medical transport, and management. As a volunteer with the American Red Cross, Dana worked major disasters including Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
In addition to a California Peace Officers Standards and Training 832 PC certificate and a certificate in Computer Graphic Design, Dana is a licensed amateur radio operator and runs a part-time graphic design business.