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 Clients on Elder and Disability Law (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 works closely with local Ombudsman staff to ensure all time-sensitive information, case reporting details, and referral requests are handled appropriately and efficiently. She also coordinates trainings, manages the office, and takes care of innumerable administrative details to keep MEJI running smoothly.  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, and residents in nursing homes and  assisted living facilities. Her passion for elder abuse prevention prompted her to develop an expertise in elder rights.  She has developed caregiver and elder abuse prevention seminars for professionals and caregivers.  Dakima has an Associates of Science in science/dental assistant from Wayne County Community College, a Bachelor of Science in health care administration from the University of Phoenix, and a master's in healthcare services administration from the University of Detroit Mercy. 
 

Dakima can be reached at djackson@meji.org 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 State Long Term Care Ombudsman. Salli brings over 20 years of experience to this position. Before joining MEJI in 2016,  Salli served as the Nursing Facility Relocation Coordinator at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for 13 years.  In that position, Salli  coordinated nursing facility closures and ensured that residents were protected and empowered.. Previously,  Salli 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). Salli 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.

Anita Salustro

Anita Salustro is an Outreach Coordinator for the MHLO program.  Anita’s long involvement with older people began at AARP where she managed communications to the AARP members. The Membership Communications Department handled responses to 4,000 people each month. In 1995, she assumed the Associate State Director position at the AARP Michigan State Office. Her many projects included community organizing, promotion of  universal design, and, most notably, anti- financial exploitation campaigns. Anita led an inter-agency team of state and non-profit organizations called the “No Free Lunch” campaign that sought to combat aggressive sales pitches to older people regarding the purchase of living trusts. Her anti-fraud efforts earned her the Frank J.Kelly Award from the State Bar.

Since 2008, Anita has been based in metro Detroit, and has been involved in a host of programs for older people, including a stint at the Detroit Area Agency on Aging (training older workers in long term care); Michigan Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program (leader of the Senior Medical Patrol, an anti Medicare fraud effort); Senior Brigade (the Attorney General’s corps of speakers); and, most recently, three years with the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition (MDRC).  At MDRC, Anita was the Outreach Coordinator for Wayne and Macomb Counties, managing a team of five people. Most recently, she played a role in the innovative “Lunch and Learn” program for people who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and eligible for the MI Health Link program. Anita has a Master of Arts in intercultural training and administration from the School for International Training and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Michigan.

Anita can be reached at asalustro@meji.org or (517)827-8035.

Nicole Shannon

Nicole Shannon is the Systemic  Litigation and Advocacy Attorney at the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative. Previously, Nicole was the Supervising Attorney and a Staff Attorney at Legal Services of South Central Michigan’s Lansing office, where she handled foreclosure, consumer, and elder cases for low-income and older clients. Nicole was also a Staff Attorney with Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service where she served adult clients with disabilities in civil rights matters. In her current position, Nicole is focused on systemic issues facing older clients and individuals with disabilities, such as guardianship, long-term care, and public benefits. Nicole has a B.A. from James Madison College at Michigan State University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, where she served as a Note Editor on the Michigan Law Review.

Nicole can be reached at nshannon@meji.org or (517)827-8031.

Susan Steinke

Susan Steinke is an 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. 

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

Kenneth Wirth

Kenny Wirth is the local Long Term Care Ombudsman for Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham counties as well as an Outreach Coordinator with the MI Health Link Ombudsman program.  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, Kenny 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.

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 an intern with the Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.  He is completing a master’s degree in social work with a certificate in aging at Michigan State University’s School of Social Work. For more than three years, Wen assisted Chinese-American elders in Phoenix, Arizona. Wen also served as a research assistant focusing on aging, mental health, and elder abuse. While Wen was pursuing his bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University, he also engaged in more than 200 hours of volunteer work. 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 older adults.

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