Health and Human Services > Indian Health Service > Improving Patient Care
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Indian Health Service: The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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National Staff

The IPC national team consists of the director, multidisciplinary collaborative directors, improvement advisors, evaluation and data experts, and administrative staff.

Barbara Vize, M.D, M.H.A, Acting Director, IPC

Dr. Vize is leading the Improving Patient Care Program and is committed to improving the quality and experience of care for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) patients. Prior to coming to IHS Headquarters, she served as Deputy Clinical Director and Acting Clinical Director for the Sells Service Unit. During her years of work at Health Partners Minnesota she was involved with peer review and the initiation of the Electronic Health Record. Sells Service Unit became her IHS home in 2003, when she began work in the Emergency Room at Sells Hospital. From December 2012 to June 2013, Dr. Vize served as the Acting Collaborative Director for the Improving Patient Care Program.

Dr. Vize graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1990. She trained at the University of Arizona and did her residency in Minnesota at the Health Partners Family Medicine program. She is board certified in Family Medicine. In January 2013, Dr. Vize received her Masters in Healthcare Administration from the University of Minnesota Executive Program.


Jason Harrington, RN, BSN, MHA, CNOR

Mr. Harrington serves as the Supervisory Collaborative Director for the Improving Patient Care (IPC) Program. He provides assistance in supervising the IPC Program staff, provides leadership and administrative management for the IPC collaborative, as well as coordination of the Area Improvement Support Teams, enabling the IHS to achieve its goals of improving the quality of and access to care for AI/AN people across the nation. Mr. Harrington is a Retired Army Nurse Corps Officer and 23-year Army Veteran having served operational assignments in support of Operations Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. His service incorporated a clinical focus on perioperative nursing with supervisory and managerial positions including Infection Control Coordinator, Head Nurse - Operating Room, Chief - Program Management and Analysis, and Chief - Quality Management at facilities ranging from deployed hospitals to regional medical centers. Mr. Harrington retired from active duty service on Ft. Detrick, MD where he had served as Deputy Project Manager, Medical Devices Program Office, U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency. Most recently, Mr. Harrington served as a health systems specialist with the Veterans Administration’s National Program Office of Sterile Processing.

Mr. Harrington received his bachelor’s of science in nursing degree from Beth-El College of Nursing, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs in 1996. He earned his master’s degree in healthcare administration from Baylor University in 2006. Mr. Harrington completed his residency phase of the Army-Baylor Program at Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


Karla Hackett

CAPT Karla Hackett of the U.S. Public Health Service is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and was born and raised on the reservation near Eagle Butte, SD. She currently provides leadership in promotion, coordination and implementation of the IPC program and QILN Initiative. CAPT Hackett has served IHS as a nurse for 23 years in various capacities. Most recently she has served as Director of Nurses at Ft. Thompson (SD) IHS Clinic from 2009 to 2013. It was here that CAPT Hackett became passionate about the IPC Program and the great improvements it can make in the lives of patients as well as heath care professionals. Prior to that, she served IHS in Rapid City, SD (Sioux San Hospital), Phoenix, AZ (Phoenix Indian Medical Center), Tuba City, AZ, (Tuba City IHS Hospital) and Whiteriver, AZ (Whiteriver PHS Indian Hospital). Her experience as a nurse includes OBGYN, emergency room, medical floor and supervisory positions. CAPT Hackett is a Basic Life Support (BLS) Instructor and has provided BLS training to staff and community agencies since 2000. In addition, she has significant experience working in private sector hospitals.

CAPT Hackett earned her BSN from South Dakota State University in 1982, and her Masters in Health Administration from the University of Phoenix in 2008.

Candace Jones, RDH, MPH, Administrative Officer

CAPT Candace Jones of the U.S. Public Health Service manages the budgeting, staffing, contracting, and interagency communications of the Improving Patient Care program. Currently stationed in Albuquerque, CAPT Jones has worked on high-level initiatives for the Indian Health Service—including Health Promotion/Disease Prevention, Behavioral Health, and Chronic Care (now Improving Patient Care—and has served IHS for the past 22 years. In 1998, she was detailed to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for two years to help implement the Oral Health Initiative for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and HRSA. Since joining the Public Health Service in 1988, she has served in Anchorage, Albuquerque, and Rockville, Maryland.

CAPT Jones received a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene from the University of Nebraska in 1971 and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan in 1988.


Susan Anderson, MPA, Improvement Advisor

Susan Anderson, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, identifies best practices and how to adopt them, and she conducts analytical and evaluative studies for IPC. Prior to joining the IPC team, Anderson was a program analyst in the IHS Office of Direct Services and Contracting Tribes. She has a background in grant writing and administration, organizational and community development, corporate training, and quality improvement initiatives.

Anderson began her career in Oklahoma and has more than 20 years of experience in program management and leadership. She served as a director in local government, Tribal organizations, behavioral health organizations, and federally funded grant programs. She worked with universities and Tribal colleges, administering undergraduate student medical and recruitment programs. She provided oversight in health care and higher education programs in Indian communities for a nonprofit organization and in the university setting in New Mexico.

Susan Anderson earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Central Oklahoma and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma.


Sokenunese Myles, Information Technology Specialist (Data Management)

Sokenunese Myles, a member of the Navajo Nation, develops quality measures and conducts baseline data and aggregate data analysis for the IPC Collaboratives. Myles recommends concepts, methods, and technologies for design and data implementation and provides end user support for the upcoming IPC portal. She brings strong quantitative and analytical skills in IT, RPMS, mathematics, clinical research, and cultural understanding of working with American Indian communities across the country.

Before joining IPC, she was the Resource and Patient Management System (RPMS) site manager and clinical data analyst at the Urban Indian health program at the American Indian Health Services of Chicago. She provided RPMS groundwork, IT processes, and patient workflow on the local level for the outpatient health clinic. Myles also worked for the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the University of Massachusetts Amherst on various research, administrative, and computer technology projects in educational environments.

Myles received her bachelor’s degree at UMass Amherst in 2007 and anticipates pursing her master’s degrees in business administration and public health. A beadwork artist, Myles attends and participates in powwows and cultural events, and she is actively involved with Native communities with volunteering and mentoring programs.


Mavis D. Stephens, Project Management Specialist

Mavis Stephens manages IPC Collaboratives 3 and 4. Stephens brings more than 20 years of dedicated federal service in the areas of health care and office administration, program analysis, project management, patient care coordination, policy, and public health analysis. She’s held various civilian positions, including military personnel status technician at Walter Reed, patient services assistant at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, patient care coordinator at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and, most recently, public health analyst/issues manager in policy at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She began her government career in 1988, serving in the U.S. Army as a medical specialist—active duty and in reserve—at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She received several medals and awards during her enlistment before her honorable discharge.

Stephens is a member of Blacks in Government and the Association of Professional Women. She also volunteers in various community organizations.

Mavis Stephens received an advanced administrative manager certification from the Performance Institute in 2007 and is currently enrolled at American Public University. She’s received several civilian awards and acknowledgments, including the CDC Diversity Award and NIH Merit Award.


Ella Richards, BSN, MS

Ella Richards is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, originally from Allen, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Ms. Richards currently provides leadership in promotion, coordination and implementation of the IPC 5 collaborative and Quality and Innovation Learning Network (QILN). She has served the Indian Health Service for almost 18 years.Ms. Richards brings a well-rounded foundation of clinical and administrative experience building on her professional Nursing career from Clinical Nurse (OB/Labor & Delivery, Medical/Surgical/Pediatrics, Ambulatory Care, Post anesthesia recovery & Emergency Room floats, and coverage in medical ICU, Nurse Educator including developing and teaching Medication Aids under the South Dakota Board of Nursing, Manage Care Nurse in Contract Health, Director of Nursing, Improvement of Performance at Eagle Butte and most recently Diabetes Educator/Program Coordinator working closely with SDPI Programs at Crow Service Unit. She also has more than 4 years nursing experience with the Veterans Administration.

Ella Richards received her bachelors of science in nursing degree from the University of North Dakota in 1992, Grand Forks with her Clinical Practicum at North Bay Medical Center in California. Ella Richards earned her Master of Science Degree - Family Nurse Practitioner degree at South Dakota State University in 2000.

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