Meet the team of quality professionals who share the HQI vision for patient safety and quality, which will serve as a vehicle to harmonize efforts and accomplishments, and in so doing, lead the nation in high quality, safe and reliable health care, resulting in greater value and better health.


Barbara Abeling, PhD, MS, RN
Safety and Reliability Clinical Advisor

Barbara has over 25 years of experience in health care. She spent many years providing direct patient care, primarily in obstetrics, before transitioning to clinical informatics. Barbara brings a wealth of knowledge regarding the electronic health record on topics ranging from the end-user workflow perspective to data extraction. Barbara has experience with both qualitative and quantitative research methods. She obtained her Masters and her PhD in Nursing Science Healthcare Leadership from the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis.

(916) 552-7614

Martha Ackman, RN, CPHQ, CPPS
Clinical Improvement Advisor

Martha Ackman returns to HQI as a Clinical Improvement Advisor for CalHEN 2.0 following successful work in CalHEN 1.0. Martha has deep experience in quality improvement and clinical leadership in a career spanning over thirty years, predominately in Southern California. Martha is a registered nurse, earning a BSN from Arizona State University. She is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ), Patient Safety (CPPS), and Healthcare Risk Management (CPHRM). Her clinical practice was in critical care nursing.

(916) 717-9824

Asma Ahmad
Administrative Assistant

Asma has over 15 years of administrative support experience, including ten years supporting executives. Her experience includes project coordination, documentation control, and database management. She has a strong background in customer service. Asma supports HQI and CHPSO with member contract and database management, and team calendar coordination, presentation development and travel arrangements.

(916) 552-7651

Matthew J. Bryant
Marketing & Communications Manager

Matt Bryant joined the HQI staff as Marketing and Communications Manager in September 2018. His role is focused on developing messaging and materials for HQI’s activities and events.

Matt comes to HQI with 25 years of experience in marketing and sales in technology, advertising and broadcasting, Most recently, he served in communications roles at the California Association of Healthcare Facilities (CAHF) and the California Coalition for Youth (CCY).

Mr. Bryant has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from New Mexico State University.

(916) 552-7658

Trish Cruz, RN, BSN, PHN
Clinical Improvement Advisor

Ms. Cruz joins HQI as a Clinical Improvement Advisor. She has 20+ years of experience in Performance Improvement and Quality with Lean training. Most recently she participated as a consultant for performance improvement to decrease harm in the Pacific Northwest. She blends skills to drive quality in patient care, hospital efficiency, and cost containment by fostering collaboration, using evidence, and championing a patient/person-first attitude.

(916) 717-5443

Jenna Fischer, CPPS
Vice President, Regional Quality Network

Ms. Fischer joined the HQI staff through her work at the  Hospital Council of Northern and Central California. Prior to her work at the Hospital Council, Ms. Fischer worked at Lumetra Healthcare Solutions, formerly the California Quality Improvement Organization, where she was the Director overseeing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) statewide hospital, nursing home, and home health improvement initiatives.  In this position her role focused on facilitating quality and patient safety improvement projects, and managing and growing business and community partnerships and coalitions.  Ms. Fischer has over 20 years’ experience in healthcare managing quality improvement and patient safety initiatives.

(925) 746-5106

Boris Kalanj, MSW
Director, Cultural Care and Experience

Boris Kalanj joined HQI in March 2014 as Director of Cultural Care and Experience. His background includes leadership in the design and direction of patient experience programs in public and private hospital systems, and leading organizational strategies in diversity, language access, cultural competence, and care equity. Mr. Kalanj’s Master’s of Social Work from the University of Minnesota and his deep frontline experience provides expertise to connect patient, family and community needs and preferences to hospital care and services.

(916) 552-7694

Scott Masten, PhD
Director, Performance Analytics

Scott Masten joined HQI in 2016 to help develop the Hospital Quality Intelligence Initiative (HQI2) data warehouse and advance our data processing, analysis, and reporting capabilities, as well as provide statistical consulting, program evaluation, and education for member hospitals.

(916) 552-7557

Alicia Muñoz, MAS, FACHE, CPHQ, CPPS
Vice President, Regional Quality Network

Ms. Muñoz joined the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties in May, 2012.

Ms. Muñoz completed her Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration from California State University and her Masters of Advanced Studies in the Leadership of Healthcare Organizations from UCSD. She is board certified in Healthcare Management as a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, certified as a Professional in Healthcare Quality and is a Certified Quality Auditor.

(858) 614-1541

Akasha Orr
Program Coordinator

Akasha comes to HQI with over 20 years’ experience in business and healthcare administration, event planning and executive support. Her background runs the gamut of project coordination, data processing and office management. Akasha supports the HIIN team as the Program Coordinator, assisting with special projects, CIA field team support, office operations, executive calendar management, event coordination and outward-facing education opportunities.

(916) 552-7687

Steve Pon, MBA
Project Manager

Steve Pon is a project manager with HQI, heading up Hospital Quality Intelligence Initiative (HQI2). He has over 25 years of experience in the areas of business, education, and military. He came to HQI in 2017 from California Department of Public Health (CDPH), where he headed the statewide ELR project to convert laboratory reporting  to public health agencies from paper to electronic laboratory reporting (ELR). Steve earned a BS from the United States Naval Academy and MBA from Drexel University.

(916) 552-7647

Julia Slininger, RN, BS, CPHQ
Vice President, Regional Quality Network, Hospital Quality Institute

Ms. Slininger has more than 35 years of experience in healthcare Performance Improvement, Patient Safety, Risk Management, Infection Control, and Team Building- helping providers improve processes and outcomes. Facilitating peer-to-peer learning between healthcare teams, she has led several Collaboratives in the state of California, focused on a variety of goals including Patient Safety, Infection Prevention, Surgical Care Improvement, Readmissions Reduction and Team Communications.

(213) 538-0766

Rebecca Sparks, RN, MS, LNC, CPPS
Clinical Improvement Advisor

Ms. Sparks joins HQI as a Clinical Improvement Advisor.  She has over 30 years of experience in Performance Improvement and Quality, Risk Management and Patient Safety, in addition to various clinical and administrative roles.  Most recently she participated as a consultant for a healthcare risk management and patient safety team and as a clinical coder for the University of California and Harvard/CRICO.  Rebecca brings strong healthcare project management experience with a focus on patient safety and communication education to her work within all care settings.


Kim Werkmeister, RN, BA, CPHQ, CPPS
Clinical Improvement Educator

Kim Werkmeister is a nurse leader with over twenty years in healthcare quality and patient safety. She is a national expert in the implementation of patient safety and process improvement strategies in healthcare. She is a leading contributor to the national discussion about women’s health issues and the reduction of obstetrical harm through her work with the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC) as well as participation in numerous national workgroups.

(916) 606-9502

Theresa Wheat
Director of Operations

Theresa is Director of Operations for HQI. She is a proven leader with recognized experience optimizing productivity and efficiency through holistic management of business operations, finances, administration, logistics and corporate support services. She joined the Hospital Quality Institute in 2015 and has over 25 years of experience and award-winning results in both the transportation and media research industries and successful leadership of local, national and international teams.

(916) 552-7600