Our Staff

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

Ahnuh Hayes

Ahnuh 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.

 

Alison Hirschel

Alison 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 a consulting attorney for the Crime Victims Legal Assistance Project-Elder Justice. From 1998-2020, she also taught elder law at the University of Michigan Law School where she also served as a Public Interest/Public Service Fellow. Previously, Alison was a staff attorney at Michigan Protection and Advocacy (now Disability Rights Michigan) and served as the co-director of the Elderly Law Project and the Director of Planning at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, PA.  Alison also taught for seven years on the adjunct faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  Alison served as a clerk in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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 is also a resource for legal services attorneys and other advocates around the state, writes and speaks frequently on issues of 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) and is the co-chair of the Medical Care Advisory Council.  She also serves on the board of and is a past president of The National Consumer Voice in Washington, D.C. and was a member of the  American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging.  Alison received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from Yale Law School.  Alison 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.

 

Dan Wojciak

Dan is a supervising attorney and the MI Health Link 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.

Jad Salamey

Jad served as a summer law clerk with the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative where he engaged in systemic advocacy on behalf of older adults and people with disabilities. After his summer experience, Jad couldn't pass up the opportunity to return as a part time intern to tackle the issues affecting some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society. 

Jad is a second year student at the University of Toledo College of Law where he participates in the International Law Society, the Student Bar Association, the Arab American Law Student Association, and the Black Law Student Association. Prior to law school, Jad graduated with a B.A. in political science from Wayne State University and was active in a number of political and humanitarian campaigns and organizing efforts. When Jad graduates from law school, he hopes to use his skills to serve as a public interest lawyer.

Jad can be reached at jsalamey@meji.org or (313) 666-0852.

Karrie Craig

Karrie is the Assistant State Long Term Care Ombudsman 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 kcraig@meji.org or (517)827-8033.

Matthew Nagaj

Matthew is the staff attorney for the Home and Community Based Services Ombudsman Program.  Prior to joining MEJI, Matt worked as a staff attorney for Lakeshore Legal Aid handling a multitude of different legal issues including divorce, child custody, landlord- tenant, Social Security appeals, Guardianship and Conservatorship matters and Medicaid appeals. In addition, Matt worked as a civil litigator for over 15 years in matters involving No-fault claims, automobile accidents, medical malpractice and other related matters. Matt successfully tried numerous jury cases and Arbitrations to verdict during this time. Matt currently serves on the Advisory Board of the William Booth Legal Aid Clinic in Detroit, Michigan and has done so for over 20 years. Matt is also a certified CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for the Oakland County CARE House. CASAs advocate on behalf of neglected or abused children who have been removed from their home and are wards of the Court in Oakland County. Matt received his Bachelor's degree from Michigan State University in 1994 and his J.D. from University of Detroit-Mercy in 1997.

Matt can be reached at mnagaj@meji.org or at (517) 827-8036.

Michael Daeschlein

Michael is a Long-Term Care Specialist working on various assignments related to long-term care. Michael previously worked at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) as manager of the Long-Term Care Policy Section, which is responsible for Medicaid policy for nursing facilities, level of care determination, hospice, Home Health, Private Duty Nursing, Brain Injury Services and the MI Choice waiver program. Prior to working at MDHHS, Michael worked at the Wayne State University Developmental Disabilities Institute conducting projects supporting self-determination for people with disabilities. Michael has also worked for local agencies providing residential and vocational services to people with disabilities.

Michael can be reached at mdaeschlein@meji.org or (517)827-8038.

Mireille Phillips

Mireille is Legal Counsel to the Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. She comes to MLTCOP from CVLAP-Elder Justice Initiative in Mt. Clemens, MI, where she was a Staff Attorney. Prior to that she was a Legal Research and Writing Instructor at Wayne State University. She was also in private practice where she practiced doing family, media, commercial and railroad litigation. She received her B.A. from University of Michigan and her J.D. from Indiana University School of Law.

Mireille can be reached at mphillips@meji.org or (517) 827-8037

Nicole Shannon

Nicole 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.

Salli Pung

Salli 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.

Sara Gusler

Sara is a licensed social worker who has worked over 15 years in the service of those affected by acute and chronic illness with specialization in aging and dementia-related care. Her experience includes hospice and end of life needs, long term care services, home and personal care, small business ownership, policy cultivation and improvement, aging advocacy, and extensive involvement in the development and presentation of educational opportunities focused on improving the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities related to health and wellness. Before Sara joined MEJI to serve as the local long term care ombudsman in the Lansing area, Sara served as the local ombudsman in Region 9.

Sara can be reached at sgusler@meji.org or (517) 394-3027.

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.

Susan Steinke

Susan is an Outreach Coordinator for the MI Health Link Ombudsman project.  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.

Tammy Cordes

Tammy is the Elder Abuse Prevention Training Coordinator.  She works on a state PREVNT grant-funded project to promote elder abuse prevention in nursing facilities.  Through this project, Tammy will provide training to nursing home staff and support staff task forces focused on educating and empowering staff to prevent abuse in their facilities. Tammy has extensive experience working in both abuse prevention and training. She worked for more than 6 years in the Child Abuse Prevention Division at Child and Family Charities, primarily as a parent coach in the Foster Care Supportive Visitation program. Prior to that, Tammy was a full-time instructor and Territory Training Specialist in the Health and Safety Department at the American Red Cross. Tammy is excited that her position involves her two passions: abuse prevention and training. She is a certified Family Life Educator with a master’s degree in Family Studies from Spring Arbor University. 

 

Tammy can be reached at tcordes@meji.org or (517) 827-8030. 

Vincent Pinti

Vincent Pinti serves as the Program Coordinator for the Olmstead Coalition, an advocacy organization of advocates for people with disabilities and older adults, and engages in outreach for the MI Choice, Community Transition Services, and PACE Ombudsman Program (MICPOP) at MEJI. Vincent graduated from the University of Michigan with an honors Political Science major and a Spanish degree. Vincent enjoys advocating for disability rights and improving access to college and careers for persons with developmental disabilities. To achieve these aims, he has founded two scholarships for students at the University of Michigan who helped advance inclusion for students with disabilities by serving as a member of their support staff. Vincent is also in the process of developing a permanent database of students interested in being personal care assistants for other individuals who are older adults or people with disabilities in the community. Vincent also served on student government, as a research assistant for several professors, as a group facilitator for the Global Scholars Program, and as a mentor and student instructor. Because of these efforts and others, Vincent received the prestigious Neubacher Award for outstanding advocacy in 2020 as well as numerous other honors. He strives to see a world where having a disability is no longer a barrier to going to college or starting a career. 

Vincent can be reached at vpinti@meji.org or (517) 827-5609