Our Experts

John Frana, MBA, President, theFranaGroup, JFrana@theFranaGroup.com

John Frana founded theFranaGroup in 1999 to assist community health centers to navigate the ever-changing regulatory landscape, requirements and opportunities for the healthcare industry. Since that time, he has worked with over 100 organizations, reviewed 200 clinical sites in 35 states and Puerto Rico and secured over $888 million for his clients to provide care to the uninsured and low-income patients.

John is the former CEO of a Federally Qualified Health Center, President of the Malpractice Risk Purchase Group and Vice Chairman of a Medicaid HMO. With his significant background and experience in all facets of the healthcare industry, John brings an unparalleled level of expertise and knowledge to his clients. John is licensed in all lines of insurance and holds an MBA in Finance.

In his spare time, John is an avid motorsports enthusiast with seventeen years’ experience as a licensed National and FIA (international) race car driver. John even designed, manufactured and marketed a manual quick jack for Formula race cars.

Mary Verdun, Administrative Assistant, theFranaGroup, Mverdun@thefranagroup.com

Mary Verdun is the Administrative Assistant for theFranaGroup. She works in the Corporate Office and does bookkeeping/marketing/purchasing/grant input/maintenance and other duties as assigned including making travel arrangements for theFranaGroup associates.

Before joining theFranaGroup, Mary worked at the Illinois Department of Transportation for 22 years as a Civil Engineer. She received an engineering degree and MBA from University of Illinois. After retiring from IDOT, she received a teaching certificate that fueled her second career of teaching Math and business to high school students for 12 years.

Suzanne Niemi, MHA, CPA, Financial Associate, SNiemi@theFranaGroup.com

Suzanne Niemi has been involved in the health care industry for 30 years and in the Community Health Center program for eleven. In addition to experience in public accounting, she has worked for hospitals and ambulatory clinics across the country. Her experience covers all facets of healthcare finance and operations.

Suzanne worked for the Alaska Primary Care Association and for Community Health Centers – including private non-profit, tribally operated and public entities. She also does consulting for CHCs in new access point applications, grants management and compliance, finance, strategic planning and operations and HRSA operational site visits.

Suzanne holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a Masters’ Degree in Health Administration from Chapman University. She is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant and has achieved Certified Medical Practice Executive status through the Medical Group Management Association.

Ann Marchetti, MS, Project Development Associate, AMarchetti@theFranaGroup.com

For the past twenty-two years, Ann Marchetti has held leadership roles in several successful nonprofit agencies with a singular goal — to improve the health and wellbeing of children, youth, and families. Most recently, Ann has served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer for the Cambridge, MA based National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ), which specializes in improving the quality of care for children through advocacy and assistance to help prevent and combat childhood obesity, promoting the best approaches to dealing with chronic childhood illnesses such as asthma, hyperactivity and epilepsy, and encouraging early screening programs for infants.

Ann earned her MS degree from Radford University, and is dedicated to providing executive leadership and oversight and to empowering a new generation of leaders in the nonprofit sector to develop effective systems for capacity development and program delivery.

Deb Fransen, BA, Community Development Associate, DFransen@theFranaGroup.com

Deborah Fransen is a grant writing consultant with experience writing grants for a variety of organizations like Crusaders Health Foundation, Northern Illinois Botanical Society, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, Davis Memorial Park, Blackhawk Day Care Center, and Rockford Symphony Orchestra to name a few.

Deborah currently works at NIU College of Education on Special Projects and was formerly a Senior Gift and Estate Planning Officer for Northern Illinois University Foundation, Chief Development and Communications Officer for the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, and Director of Grants at Rockford College. Deborah holds a B.A. in English from Rockford College, and an Associate in Arts from Rock Valley College.

Karla Finnell, JD, MPH Health Planning & Legal Associate, KFinnell@theFranaGroup.com

Karla Finnell is a Senior Health Care professional with extensive experience in health policy for medically disenfranchised populations. She holds a strong background in advocacy and policy development, health system strengthening, program development, as well as leadership and capacity building.

Karla currently focuses on business strategy and program development for non-profit organizations dedicated to medically underserved populations. She serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Kansas, and previously served as the Executive Director of the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved, Assistant Director of the New Mexico Primary Care Association and was a practicing attorney for 12 years.

Ms. Finnell holds an M.P.H. in Health Policy and Management from the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, OK (with honors), a Juris Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, and a B.S., Business Administration in Finance from the University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK.

Dr. Denice Curtis, DDS, MPH, DHSc, Health Research Associate, DCurtis@theFranaGroup.com

Dr. Denice Curtis brings more than 20 years of experience in public health, data collection and analysis, and quality improvement. Her work experience includes seven years as Chief Quality Officer for the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved (KAMU) where she was responsible for managing and implementing several clinical quality programs, and providing direction and guidance to the clinical area; six years as an epidemiologist both for chronic and infectious diseases for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and ten years for UNICEF-Ecuador as a program officer, where she was responsible for writing and monitoring grants implementation.

Dr. Curtis is originally from Quito, Ecuador where she earned a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from CentralUniversity in 1981. In 1994, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and obtained a Masters’ Degree in Public Health with honors at the University of Kansas, Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health. In 2010 she earned a Doctor Degree in Health Sciences at NOVA Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale-Davie, Florida, with an emphasis on Global Health. Dr. Curtis is an assistant professor for the University of West Florida where she teaches Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Global Health.

David Bingaman, Senior Associate, DBingaman@theFranaGroup.com

David B. Bingaman is the former Deputy Regional Administrator for the Health Resources & Services Administration at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in Chicago. A licensed clinical social worker, Bingaman served in several leadership roles during his 23 years at HRSA. Most recently he helped implement the Affordable Care Act as well as expand the integration of behavioral health services in primary care settings. Previously he managed the Region V Office of Performance Review that provided technical assistance and training to 250 federal healthcare grantees to help improve performance. He also re-engineered and managed the highly successful U.S. Postal Service’s Employee Assistance Program nationwide.

Prior to joining HHS, Bingaman was Vice-President of a community-based hospital in Chicago and also served as the Administrator of Regulatory & Support Services at the Illinois Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. Currently he works as a Behavioral Health Consultant at a FQHC and teaches psychology at a local college. He has a master’s degree in political science and public policy analysis, a master’s degree in social work, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

Bingaman’s extensive federal, state, and local healthcare experience as well as outstanding grant writing skills greatly benefit FranaGroup clients.

Elizabeth Morgan Burrows, JD, Senior Associate, eburrows@theFranaGroup.com

Elizabeth Burrows has a law degree from Indiana University and served in several leadership roles including: CEO of Vermillion Parke Community Health Center; Director of the State Office of Rural Health, Indiana State Department of Health; Project Manager of the Office of Community & Rural Affairs in Indianapolis, Indiana and Community Development Assistant for US Dept. of Agriculture-Rural Development Agency.

She was the former Chief Executive Officer of Valley Professsionals Community Health Center in Indiana. Burrows will be bringing to theFranaGroup her expertise in legal writing, grant writing, project management, communication skills, risk management, compliance, quality improvement, policy advocacy, strategic planning and operational management.

“Elizabeth’s extensive knowledge and experience in the rural healthcare field, federal grant making processes, the Federally Qualified Health Center program, and expertise in rural primary care make her a valuable asset to theFranaGroup and its growing list of clients,” said John Frana, President of theFranaGroup, “we are excited to bring her skills to our client base.

Michelle Wells-Colgate, Finance/Operations Performance Improvement, mmartin@theFranaGroup.com

Michelle is involved in meeting all finance and operation strategic objectives. She has worked in healthcare administration for nearly 20 years, devoting the last 10 years to the complex needs of Federally Qualified Health Centers. She has served as Director of Revenue Cycle for a large FQHC, as well as, consulted with many Community Health Centers to create the ideal business model. Michelle has an outstanding record of turning around struggling operations through process development, optimization, and implementation to ensure sustainable financial success and excellent customer service.

Overview of Michelle’s methodology:

  • Conducts rapid but thorough assessment to swiftly gain understanding of organization’s most urgent needs and develops strategic and tactical plans to address them with corresponding urgency.
  • Creates a high-level dashboard reporting tool that allows the management team to have a complete overview of business as it compares to the organizations key performance indicators.
  • Evaluates process capabilities and personnel in order to ascertain and comprehend issues, potential, and fit between people and responsibilities to determine best strategy to meet goals.
  • Develops highly successful cross functional teams utilizing a style that encourages employees to take ownership of changes and successes.
  • Utilize auditing tools through revenue cycle process to ensure sustainability and longevity.

Key Deliverables:

  • Increase collection percentage
  • Reduction in Accounts Receivable
  • Reduction in claim denials

Penney Benson, Practice Management Specialist, pbenson@theFranaGroup.com

Penney has worked in the health care industry for over 20 years. She has extensive experience in clinic operations, administration, HRSA compliance, and working with Boards. She has been personally responsible for preparing for successful HRSA Operational Site Visits during her time as a Clinic Administrator. She has also served as the Admin / Governance reviewer for numerous mock OSVs over the past five years.

She has worked with Community Health Centers – including private non-profit, tribally operated, and public entities, and a state Primary Care Association where she provided technical assistance in grants management, operational assessments, performance improvement guidance, and support in all aspects of operations.

She has also received recognition for her achievements from the following organizations.

Alaska Primary Care Association, Coho Award for the initiative, innovation, or best practices that support or optimizes access, delivery, services, and or outcomes in Alaska.

Mountain Pacific Quality Health, Alaska Primary Care Quality Excellence, Honorable Mention.

Alaska Primary Care Association, Steel-head Award for representing CHC’s to local community organizations; state-tribal entities; state, regional, and national CHC organizations.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Certificate of Appreciation in Recognition to your Contributions to Ambulatory Medical Care and Public Health.

Alaska National Guard Yellow Ribbon Mobile Outreach Team, Certificate of Appreciation for her valiant assistance in helping the team reach current and former military service members living in remote Alaska.

Nina M. Sutton, MHS, MPA, Operations/Program and Service Creation/Grant Writing, nsutton@theFranaGroup.com

Nina Sutton has 20 years of experience as a Chief Operations Officer.  She has overseen operations and created programs and services for multi-campus, multi-county, and multi-state FQHCs and other community-based health services organizations.  She is passionate about her work and mission-driven.  She gets out of bed in the morning to make things better.

She can help organizations create their strategic plan and then help them implement it.  She can create plans that will help organizations that are in financial trouble.  She can manage change, improve operational and financial performance, improve every aspect of the revenue cycle, create a better patient experience, better clinician and staff experience, work with clinicians and support staff to improve quality measures and get ready for value-based care, teach employees how to use PDSA cycles and data to drive positive operational change and operational decision-making.  She has written millions of dollars worth of grants ranging from new 330 and NAP grants to community-based organizations.

Importantly, Nina has a proven track record of developing community and demographically-based programs and services beginning with performing a community needs assessment.  She has led teams across organizations and faiths to create programs and services that have made communities stronger and healthier.

Nina earned her Bachelor of Sciences from the University of California, Davis.  She was a Physician’s Assistant and graduated from Duke University Medical School’s PA Program.  She earned her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco.