The Root Cause Coalition is dedicated to bringing the full power of healthcare to bear in our collective fight against health inequity. The Coalition recognizes that no one sector can address the full breadth of the social determinants ravaging the health of our people. We must work together. We share best practices, engage with communities in collaborative projects, conduct research and champion policies that will improve the health and well-being of the diverse communities we serve.

By encouraging and fostering cross-sector partnerships, we increase the collective impact of our member organizations in our three primary areas of focus: research, education and advocacy. The social determinants of ill health—factors such as hunger, housing instability, inadequate transportation, and social isolation—are found in every dimension of our public and private lives. That is why we must join forces across sectors, across services, and across state lines to address them. Join us in our effort to achieve health equity in America.

Learn more about the Coalition by viewing our 2019 Organizational Brochure.

Barbara Petee, Executive Director, The Root Cause Coalition

Ms. Petee has served as the inaugural Executive Director of the Coalition since its founding in October 2015. Drawing from more than 34 years of experience in healthcare communications and government relations, Ms. Petee leads the Coalition's efforts to unite cross-sector organizations under the common goal of achieving health equity. In less than three years, the Coalition's membership has grown from 17 inaugural partners into a diverse collection of more than 65 leading organizations from various states, sectors and services. For the past decade, Ms. Petee's focus has been addressing food insecurity and other basic needs so as to help develop and lift-up sustainable solutions that can be scaled and replicated across the nation, thereby improving the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Committed to helping develop and implement a new model of healthcare delivery that considers all the various social, physical and mental needs of individuals, Ms. Petee’s work in the social determinants has been widely recognized across the nation. She has served on myriad local, regional and national boards and committees, and is currently a board member of the Alliance to End Hunger, an affiliate of Bread for the World; a member of the Government Relations Officers Network for the American Hospital Association; and serves on the Legislative Policy Panel for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. Follow Barbara on Twitter: @BarbaraPetee

Thomas Dorney, Director

Tom Dorney is Director of The Root Cause Coalition. He leads the Washington office’s day-to-day advocacy efforts, manages its operations, and supports the work of the Executive Director, Board, and Membership Groups.

In his prior role, Tom served as Senior Policy Advisor to Congressman John Lewis. He advised on all health matters in Rep. Lewis’ work as Chairman of the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, and developed legislation and initiatives focused on HIV/AIDS providers, kidney and cardiac health, and the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

Thomas holds a Master of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in social work from The Catholic University of America.

Hannah Miller, Senior Programs Manager

As Senior Programs Manager at The Root Cause Coalition, Hannah develops and maintains the organization’s yearly event calendar and coordinates the planning of the Coalition’s major programming, such as the annual advocacy fly-in on Capitol Hill and the National Summit, an annual gathering of hundreds of leaders from a wide range of disciplines who are interested in learning more about health equity. She also manages the Coalition’s advocacy efforts and monitors federal and state legislative and regulatory issues related to the social determinants of health.

Prior to joining the Coalition, Hannah worked as a Policy and Research Associate at a small nonprofit in Washington, DC. She has extensive experience working with state legislators across the country and researching and writing about key public policy issues related to social and economic equity. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Denison University and earned her Master of Science degree from American University’s School of Public Affairs.

Madison Flores, Manager of Member Relations, Events and Digital Communications

Madison graduated from Southwestern University with a B.A. in Political Science and History. During her time at Southwestern she worked as a research assistant to Dr. Emily Sydnor, writing a book chapter on political incivility. On campus, she served as the corresponding secretary for Zeta Tau Alpha and events manager for Student Foundation. Madison also worked on a number of congressional campaigns and served as an intern for Congressman John Lewis.

Randy Oostra, Chair, The Root Cause Coalition Board and President & CEO ProMedica

Randy Oostra is president and chief executive officer of ProMedica, a not-for-profit, mission-based health system in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. Deeply commited to the healthcare industry and the community, Mr. Oostra is extensively involved in numerous professional and civic organizations at the local, regional and national levels. A member of the development committee for Bread for the World, he is on the board of the American Hospital Association, a member of the Ohio and Michigan hospital associations and a fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Lisa Marsh Ryerson, Vice Chair, The Root Cause Coalition Board and President, AARP Foundation

Lisa Marsh Ryerson has served as president of AARP Foundation, AARP’s affiliated charity, since 2013. She is an experienced and innovative leader, responsible for setting the foundation’s strategic direction and leading its efforts to create opportunities for older Americans struggling with poverty, hunger, housing problems and social isolation. Awarded for leadership and service throughout her career, Ms. Ryerson has forged innovative collaborations with other organizations, such as the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, and helped AARP Foundation secure unprecedented funding for programs and services.

Emily Allen, Trustee, The Root Cause Coalition, and Sr. Vice President, Foundation Programs, AARP Foundation

Throughout her career, Ms. Allen’s passion has been to serve the needs of those most at risk in our communities. Serving in a several capacities in nonprofit, education and workforce development organizations, she has worked to ensure vulnerable and at-risk individuals have access to the resources and services they need to thrive. Beginning her career as a special education teacher and school administrator in the Bahamas, Ms. Allen went on to work with AARP and AARP Foundation. She was named Vice President for AARP Foundation in 2011.

Laura Appel, Trustee, The Root Cause Coalition and Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, Michigan Health and Hospital Association

Laura Appel is senior vice president and chief innovation officer at the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA). In her current role, she focuses on healthcare policy, hospital finance, legislation and governance. At the federal level, she represents the interests of Michigan hospitals and health systems in both the legislative and regulatory arenas on key issues, including federal healthcare reform and Medicare. She is an expert in auto insurance and legislative policy and has a proven ability to influence legislation and healthcare policy through her understanding of the issues, educating influencers and policymakers, and introducing fresh ideas.
Since joining the MHA staff in 2000, Appel has focused on strategic priorities related to state and federal lobbying and healthcare policy analysis. She served as vice president of federal policy and advocacy, executive director of the MHA Health Reform Resource Center, and senior vice president of strategic initiatives prior to being named to her current position in October 2015.
Before joining the MHA, Appel started her career as a policy analyst at the Michigan Insurance Bureau (now the Department of Insurance and Financial Services [DIFS]) before moving to the Democratic policy staff of the Michigan House of Representatives, where she worked for 12 years, serving as director during her final year. She currently serves on the board and executive committee of the Citizens Research Council and the board of the Michigan Fitness Foundation. She previously served on the Alliance for Advancing Nonprofit Health Care in Washington, DC.
Appel holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Additionally, she recently received an MBA certificate in design and innovation from Kendall College of Art and Design, Grand Rapids, Mich., to further her interest in design as it relates to creating and improving organizational systems and healthcare delivery.

Dr. Juan Carlos Belliard, Trustee, The Root Cause Coalition, and Assistant Vice President for Community Partnerships, Director, Institute for Community Partnerships, Associate Professor in Global Health, Loma Linda University Health

Juan Carlos Belliard has taught in the areas of culture and health; traditional, complementary and alternative medicine; ethnographic research methods; health disparities; and migrant health. His research interests are focused on medical pluralism, exploring how migrant communities utilize parallel systems of health care. Dr. Belliard is dedicated to various efforts that strengthen community-university relationships. He serves on the board of the Community Action Health System (SACHS) a Federally Qualified Health Center in San Bernardino, CA. His passion for minority health, education, and health equity has been an impetus in the creation of the Promotores Academy at the San Manuel Gateway College, a certificate program for promotores/community health workers who are trained to bridge the gap between health systems and the community. Dr. Belliard and his wife Anastasia have two children Victoria and Nicolás. The Belliards all share a love for music, reading, travelling, camping, running, and futbol.

Angela Brandt, Trustee, The Root Cause Coalition and President, ProMedica Physicians Group

Angela has established her career by building revenue and efficiencies through effective operational models. In her current role, as President, she manages the business operations, clinical operations, revenue cycle, and value-based initiatives for northwest Ohio’s largest, employed provider group. ProMedica Physicians Group, employing more than 960 providers, the multispecialty group, expands more than 125 acute care and ambulatory-based locations and is a vital part of the ProMedica Health System. Angela has also been critical in the growth and development of the strong recruitment, retention, and engagement efforts of providers and staff. Angela earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Administration and holds an Executive Master of Business Administration degree from Case Western Weatherhead School of Management. In 2017, Angela was selected as one of sixteen executives to be a Baldrige Executive Fellow through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Angela is a proud veteran of the United States Navy and active in the metro Toledo community as a volunteer and board member.

Michellene Davis, Trustee, The Root Cause Coalition and Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at RWJBarnabas Health

At RWJBarnabas Health, Michellene Davis leads Social Impact and Community Investment initiatives, working with government officials, local partners and the system’s own employees to address the social, economic and environmental conditions that impact health outcomes. Charged with making strategic policy decisions, Davis has strengthened RWJBarnabas Health’s position with state and federal agencies and broadened the system’s abilities as it seeks to create a more equitable future for all New Jersey communities. She is the creator of the RWJBarnabas Health Women's Leadership Alliance, the Young Professional Advisory Council and the Corporate Institute for Internship. RWJBarnabas Health is the largest integrated healthcare delivery system in the state of New Jersey, and Ms. Davis is the first woman and the first person of color to ever ascend to the position of Executive Vice President in its 152 year history.

Rates of poverty are more than twice as high in the unhealthiest U.S. counties