Our Staff

MEJI staff include legal and advocacy staff committed to empowering low income older adults and assuring their dignity and autonomy.

Alison E. Hirschel

Alison Hirschel is the Director and Managing Attorney of the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative and the elder law attorney at the Michigan Poverty Law Program. She is also the Managing Attorney of the Crime Victims Legal Assistance Project-Elder Justice. Since 1998, she has taught elder law at the University of Michigan Law School where she also serves as a Public Interest/Public Service Fellow. Previously, Alison was a staff attorney at Michigan Protection and Advocacy and served as the co-director of the Elderly Law Project and the Director of Planning at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, PA. From 1991-1997, Alison also taught on the adjunct faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

In her current position, Alison engages in systemic advocacy on behalf of older adults and people with disabilities on issues related to individual rights, health care, public benefits, and elder abuse.  She serves as counsel to the State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program and works with staff on the MI Health Link Ombudsman Program, two local long term care ombudsman programs, and the Crime Victims Legal Assistance Project. She is also a resource for legal services attorneys and other advocates around the state on a variety of issues of particular concern to older adults and people with disabilities and collaborates frequently with state and national advocates.

Alison is co-editor and one of the authors of Advising the Older Client and Clients with Disability (ICLE, 2018).  She is the past president of The National Consumer Voice in Washington, D.C. and served as a Commissioner on the American Bar Association on Law and Aging.  Alison received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from Yale Law School.  In 1997, she was selected by Yale Law School as the first Arthur Liman Fellow.  In 2003, Alison received the National Aging and Law Award.

Alison can be reached at hirschel@meji.org or (517)827-8023.

 

Shelby Coolbaugh

Shelby is the Administrative Manager for the Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. Shelby comes to Michigan Elder Justice Initiative and the State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program with over sixteen years experience in the health care field, eight of those years as an Operations Manager for a large Michigan based healthcare system.  As the Administrative Manager, Shelby will work closely with local Ombudsman staff to ensure all time-sensitive information, case reporting details, and referral requests are handled appropriately and efficiently.  Shelby has a strong passion for helping others; for many years she has volunteered at several local Michigan based charities, from serving meals to raising funds. 

 

Shelby can be reached at scoolbaugh@meji.org or (517) 827-8027.

Ahnuh Hayes

Ahnuh Hayes serves as the local long term care ombudsman for Region 2 (Jackson, Hillsdale, and Lenawee Counties) where she advocates for residents of nursing facilities, adult foster care homes, and homes for the aged.  Ahnuh works out of Legal Services of South Central Michigan's Jackson office.  Ahnuh previously held a variety of positions working with children, families and people with developmental disabilities.  These include work in many different systems including foster care, schools, and private not for profit agencies.  In addition to being a licensed social worker in Michigan, Ahnuh has a special certification for advanced work with addiction. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Work at Michigan State University in 2001 and her Master's in Social Work from MSU in 2005.  

Ahnuh can be reached at ahayes@meji.org or (517)990-0510 or 866-485-9393.

 

Dakima Jackson

Dakima Jackson is the Assistant State Long Term Care Ombudsman for Local Ombudsman Support.  Dakima has been involved in the aging network for 12 years, most recently as the Local Long Term Care Ombudsman for the Area Agency on Aging 1-C service area in Wayne County.  She began her career working with adults with developmental disabilities adults in adult foster care homes, elders in nursing homes, and in assisted living facilities. Dakima has a Masters in Healthcare Services Administration from the University of Detroit Mercy. Her passion for elder abuse prevention prompted her to develop an expertise in elder rights that lead to developing caregiver and elder abuse prevention seminars for professionals and caregivers.

Dakima can be reached at djackson@meji.org or or (517) 827-8028.

Karrie Jordan

Karrie Jordan is the Assistant State Long Term Care Ombudsman for for Program Quality Improvement.  Karrie was the long term care ombudsman for Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton counties where she advocated for residents of nursing facilities, adult foster care homes, and homes for the aged.  Karrie has extensive experience in health care and long term supports and services.  She worked in outreach for the Capital Area Health Alliance which partners with area organizations to promote healthy lifestyles.  She has been the administrator/director of two local assisted living facilities as well as working in management positions for a home health agency and a continuing care retirement community.  She has helped to develop dementia curriculum for nursing students and facilitated Alzheimer's Support Groups.  She has a Master's in Public Administration with an emphasis in Health Care Administration from Western Michigan University and a Bachelor's Degree from Michigan State University.

Karrie can be reached at kjordan@meji.org or (517)827-8033.

Salli Pung

Salli Pung is the new State Long Term Care Ombudsman. Ms. Pung brings over 20 years of experience to this position. For the last 13 years, she has served as the Nursing Facility Relocation Coordinator at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services where she oversees nursing facility closures and ensures that residents are protected and empowered in this process. Previously, Ms. Pung served as the Program Manager for MI Health Link, Senior Program Manager at the Center for Long Term Care at the Michigan Public Health Institute, and Director of Education and Shared Services at the Michigan Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (now called Leading Age). Ms. Pung began her career in this arena when she served as a nursing assistant in a nursing home during college.

Salli can be reached at spung@meji.org or (517)827-8025.

Susan Steinke

Susan Steinke is the Outreach Coordinator for the MI Health Link Ombudsman project as well as the Elder Abuse Prevention Outreach Specialist.  Past positions include Outreach Coordinator for the Michigan Voices for Better Health, Project Coordinator for PHI Michigan's "Training to Prevent Adult Abuse and Neglect", and Community Based Ombudsman working with individuals receiving services in their homes after being transitioned from a nursing home.  She was the first Executive Director for the Michigan Quality Community Care Council (QC3), an inter-governmental agency supporting consumers and individual providers of Home Help, Michigan's State Plan Personal Care Program.  Prior to the QC3, Susan worked in a variety of outreach, advocacy, and organizing capacities.  She has a B.S. in International Relations from James Madison College at Michigan State University. 

Susan can be reached at ssteinke@meji.org or  (517)827-8026.

Kenneth Wirth

Kenny Wirth is the Interim Long Term Care Ombudsman for Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham counties. Kenny is a Michigan State University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and a Certificate in Aging. Kenny was an intern with the Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program for Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton Counties. Kenny has also interned with Adult Protective Services, Veteran’s Services, and In Home Supportive Services in Marin County, California. In his time at Michigan State University, he was selected for the Healthcare Education and Leadership Scholars (HEALS) program as one of three undergraduate students to
develop leadership skills to address system-level changes, heighten awareness of prevention and wellness, and address the issues of structural racism that are embedded in social institutions. Most recently, Kenny has been hired on as Staff Advocate for Michigan Elder Justice Initiative working with both the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program and the MI Health Link
Ombudsman program.

Kenny can be reached at kwirth@meji.org or (517) 394-3027.

Dan Wojciak

Dan Wojciak is the MI Health Ombudsman. He served as the primary author of the Advocate’s Guide to Michigan’s new MI Health Link (MHL) program and has been a staff attorney with the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative since February 2015.  In his role as MHL Ombudsman, he will advance the MHLO program's dual goals of individual and systemic advocacy.  Dan has prior experience working on legal issues involving housing rights, disability law, immigration, and human trafficking. He  received his JD from the University of Michigan Law School in 2014 and his BA from the University of Michigan in 2009.

Dan can be reached at dwojciak@meji.org or (517)827-8014.

Wenwu Zhang

Wenwu Zhang is interning with the Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.  He is doing a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a certificate in aging at Michigan State University’s School of Social Work. He helped Chinese American elders in Phoenix, Arizona for more than three years.  Wen was a research assistant and focused on aging, mental health, and elder abuse. While he was pursuing his bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University, he also volunteered more than 200 hours. His goal is to learn more about social work in the United States and bring these ideas back to China to improve the situation of aging in China.

Wenwu Zhang can be reached at wzhang@meji.org or (517)394-3121 ext. 264.