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Joni is an Oklahoma Partners in Policymaking graduate, founded the Oklahoma Family Network, and has been instrumental in addressing health care and waiver issues in her state.


When I was in Partners and shared with you I hoped to have an opportunity to have input to the OK Health Care Authority [OHCA, the state's Medicaid agency], I had no idea what the meeting you set me up to attend on long-term care (that Juanita Killingsworth ended up attending) would open up for families.

I have to give you kudos. Out of that, as you know, Juanita had an opportunity to open up the chance for the Self-Directed Services Waiver [pilot Medicaid waiver; since this pilot, Oklahoma's DD Services Division is working toward greater self-direction for others in our In-Home Supports Waivers and the Council and our UCEDD are now doing extensive training on Person-Centered Thinking/Planning using Michael Smull's work].

Since then, we have continued to have more and more input. In fact, OFN received a contract this past year to begin a Member Advisory Task Force (MATF) which is in full swing and having quite an impact. All of them or their children have SoonerCare [Oklahoma's Medicaid program]. Several of the MATF members attended the OHCA Retreat and had a commanding presence. You would have been so proud. Wanda Felty, Theresa Sharp and I all attended. We're working on the other members to fill out applications for next year.

Because of the relationships at OHCA we have developed through the MATF, the ABCD III (a Commonwealth Fund grant) and the Joining Forces Conferences [the Oklahoma Family Network's annual conference] (supported by ODDC) doors have begun to open even wider. Wanda has been nominated as a new member of the Medical Advisory Council (typically has not had consumers for SoonerCare) and we are assisting OHCA in identifying others for that council and every other advisory they have.

We will let you know when we know all the requirements. Additionally, the Kaiser Foundation has approached OFN to assist them in identifying individuals who are dual eligibles (Medicare and Medicaid) to be profiled by their organization. What an amazing opportunity for Oklahomans. Once I have additional information, if you don't mind, I'd like to pick your brain for potential leaders you feel fit the roles they are looking for.

I will keep in touch. Below is an email I received from the Kaiser Foundation. I can't tell you how excited I am that two of our staff are Partners this year and that several other of our Supporting Parents [OFN family mentors] are as well. I hope you'll be able to fit me in again to present in March or before so we can encourage all of your new Partners to join us at Joining Forces and allow us to help them identify opportunities for leadership. There are so many more than ever before.

Joni Bruce, Executive Director
Oklahoma Family Network
Oklahoma's Family-to-Family Health Information Center