The ECHO. Fueled by passion and vision.
We are ECHO Colorado, a team of clinical and public health professionals who realize the power of sharing knowledge across miles and across disciplines. We exist to improve health and wellness throughout our state and beyond. We bring health professionals with a diversity of viewpoints together to share ideas and learn from one another.
ECHO Colorado is where treatment, prevention, wellness, technology, sharing and learning converge, and this is the team that helps make it happen.
John F. “Fred” Thomas, PhD, is a healthcare/health policy educator, system designer and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in public health advocacy, eHealth innovation and model development. He is currently the director of ECHO Colorado as well as the director of Telehealth Services for Children’s Hospital Colorado. He has academic appointments in the Departments of Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Family Medicine in the Colorado School of Medicine and the Department of Epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health. Prior to this role, he served as the director of Community-Based Mental Health Services and Policy at the University of Texas Medical Branch. During these tenures, he has conceptualized, funded and implemented numerous health innovations along with research protocols to investigate their effectiveness. He received his BBA in finance from Texas State University, his MSSW in services with children and families and his PhD in psychiatric epidemiology at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He is involved in numerous organizations and societies and is recognized as a national thought leader in telehealth, systems of care and population health. His wife, Stephanie, is a clay artist and they have four children.
Duane Pearson, MD, is an associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Department of Medicine. He currently serves as the practice director for the CU School of Medicine’s Rheumatology practice and the associate director for ECHO Colorado. After completing his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in rheumatology at the CU School of Medicine, he moved to Ventura, Calif., to further explore health care delivery models in medically underserved populations. At the Ventura County Health Care Agency, he served as the medical director for specialty services, where his main focus was the coordination of care transitions between primary and specialty care. Currently, he is partnering with CORHIO and HCPF for an e-Consult pilot project to improve specialty care access for Medicaid participants, participating in the Aurora Health Care Access Specialty Task Force.
Kory Thomas has been with ECHO Colorado from its inception and believes in the collective strength and influence of diverse entities to identify challenges and embrace opportunities to end inequalities. She earned her MPH degree in health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Prior to the UMSPH, she received a BS in health and exercise science, concentrating in health promotion, from Colorado State University. Before joining the ECHO Colorado Program Center, she was responsible for the coordination of ECHO activities in the Center for Public Health Practice at the Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) and Children’s Hospital Colorado. In addition, she provided evaluation technical assistance to health promotion programs with the Community Epidemiology and Program Evaluation Group at the ColoradoSPH. Kory also has experience in various settings including corporate wellness, geriatric rehabilitation, health promotion programming and international development. Kory is a graduate of the Regional Institute on Health and Environmental Leadership’s Advanced Leadership Training Program. A native of Colorado, Kory loves her home state and everything it has to offer.
Melodie joined the ECHO team after providing administrative support to the epidemiology department chairs and faculty at the Colorado School of Public Health for nearly four years. Melodie brings more than 20 years of executive support experience, which includes 10 years serving the soldiers and families in the United States Army. She studied business management at Western State College in Gunnison, Colo. Melodie is very active in events supporting our military veterans and is an advocate for helping to provide women with the knowledge and tools that will enable them to have better labor and birth experiences.
Michael spent the last two years working as an instructional designer for the all-online PharmD program at the University of Colorado Denver while finishing his MA degree in Information and Learning Technologies at CU Denver. His prior life was split between a deep exploration of the 17th-century French literary milieu and modern library work at the intersection of technology and teaching. He’s a flexible coordinator, an effective teacher and communicator, and a process geek who can both focus on detail and step back to view the broader picture. Most at home in an environment that requires multiple methods of interpersonal communication, he thrives when given the opportunity to collaborate and creatively solve problems. He’s thrilled to be a part of an innovative team that is pushing the boundaries of health care education.
Erin’s passions for health and working with people have been the primary driver in both her academic and professional decisions. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and Food Science from Colorado State University and earned her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Community Behavioral Health from the Colorado School of Public Health. Prior to joining the ECHO team, Erin worked in a variety of health settings including clinical, public health research, and program evaluation. Her areas of interest are in program evaluation, improving health equity by increasing access for underserved populations, nutrition, and reproductive health.
Outside of work, Erin spends her time playing in the Colorado Rockies, distance running, exploring new countries, and volunteering for different community organizations.
Marisa is interested in improving access and equity in health through education and community collaboration. She is passionate about the use of technology to elevate practice and establish relationships to solve complex health issues reaching across disciplines and sectors for a shared goal. Marisa holds a bachelor of arts in communication from the University of Arizona and a master’s in public health with a concentration in community health sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago. With a background in health care management, communications and nonprofit administration, she brings a comprehensive skillset and natural curiosity to her role as the Development and Implementation Manager.
Suzuho Shimasaki is recognized across Colorado as a public health leader with vast experiences in health equity strategies and programming, transformational organizational and community change, workforce development through peer-to-peer learning, and collaborative community engagement. Outside of ECHO Colorado, Suzuho serves as the Principal of Catalysts for Achieving Racial and Ethnic Equity (CARE Equity) and President-Elect of the Colorado Public Health Association (CPHA).
Personally and professionally, Suzuho is invested in building a healthy and just society, creating opportunities for individuals and communities to achieve their desired potential, and living a life of purpose, striving each day to live up to the name Suzuho, which illustrates sails in the cool breeze and finding direction through the use of all that is encompassed in one’s surroundings. Suzuho’s extracurricular interests include hiking, country line dancing, cycling, gardening, watching Broncos games, and playing taiko.
Halley is a health equity advocate driven by the opportunity to use her unique skills around responsible communication and inclusive marketing strategies. While earning her Bachelors in Journalism and Media Studies from Rutgers University, Halley gained firsthand experience of the inefficiencies of the current health care model due to her father’s metastatic diagnosis. Inspired by the opportunity to improve such experiences for others, Halley has since devoted her career to enhancing outreach, engagement, and community integration efforts at various organizations ranging from non-profits and government agencies to community groups and local start-up initiatives.
She is passionate about connection, collaboration, and combining creative synergies to improve efficiency in working toward shared missions and further investing in socially impactful causes. She is proud to be a part of the ECHO Colorado team where she can combine her personal experiences with her professional skill-sets to support an initiative she believes has the power to end inequities in health care and drastically improve health outcomes for everyone.
Karen is driven by her educational background and her previous work in social justice to help build communities that are healthy, more accessible in under-served areas, and that are invested in through collaborative entities. Being brought up as a Japanese American, Karen was passionate about health equity, social justice, and community building from a young age. This inspired her to pursue work at an equity center and commit to her education to help drive her desire to create sustainable, meaningful change in health care. She received her Bachelor of Arts in molecular, cellular, developmental biology from the University of Colorado Boulder and Masters of Public Health with a concentration in community behavioral health from the Colorado School of Public Health.
Outside of ECHO, Karen spends her time as the Awards Chair for the Japanese American Community Graduation Program, performing with Denver Taiko, and advocating for women and girls through the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. She also enjoys rooting on Colorado sports teams, being her brother’s #1 fan, barre, reading, and traveling.
Renia’s passion for community connection with people relationally and through knowledge building environments was the core reason she joined the ECHO Colorado team. She is inspired by opportunities to support in the promotion of access to health knowledge to improve patient health outcomes among every community, regardless of size or location. This vision being supported by the core vision of the ECHO concept is what brought Renia to join the ECHO Colorado team.
Renia studied Pre-law at Stevenson University. She brings her gifts of organization, strategic planning, and warm smile to the ECHO Colorado team. She enjoys reading, spending time with family, and learning new things. She looks forward to learning more about how we, as a state-wide initiative, can invest and build stronger, healthier communities.
Michelle earned a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and is a Registered Dietitian. She completed her dietetic internship at the Tri-County Health Department in Colorado, driving her passion to work in public health. Michelle spent much of her time as a Registered Dietitian working with the USDA National School Lunch Program at the local and state level. She provides support for ECHO Colorado’s program evaluation, registration management, and in-session support.
Coming to ECHO Colorado as a team member at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect, Sarah enthusiastically supports the work that ECHO Colorado engages in within the child abuse and neglect space. She is passionate about people and is grateful to be a part of a team whose work positively impacts the people and communities of Colorado and beyond.
Sarah holds a bachelor of arts in church ministries from Liberty University and enjoys hiking, skiing, and tending to her garden in her spare time.
The ECHO Colorado board
The ECHO Colorado Board of Directors is an 11‐member board that functions as an independent group with authority over ECHO Colorado. Board membership represents the wide and diverse constituencies of ECHO Colorado, including community‐based clinicians, state health agency leadership, and patient‐care organizations.
Jeff Bontrager, MSPH
Director of Research on Coverage and Access
Colorado Health Institute
HIT and SIM Coordinator
Office of the National Coordinator
Gretchen McGinnis, MSPH
SVP Public Programs
Laurie Schneider, MPH
Deputy Chief, Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention Branch
Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
Ricardo Velasquez, MD
Clinical Adviser (VWHS), Medical Director (ICHP)
Valley Wide Health Systems, ICHP
Denise Denton, MSHRM
Aurora Health Access
Vice President for Health Affairs
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Kathleen McInnis, RN, MS
Southwestern Colorado AHEC
Chief Quality and Development Officer
Colorado Community Health Network
Lisa VanRaemdonck, MSW, MPH
University of Colorado - Denver School of Public Affairs Institute
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