President and Chief Executive Officer
Garry Maisel's commitment to the community is evident in his every action as President and CEO of Western Health Advantage (WHA).
As President, Garry has provided leadership at WHA from its start-up in 1996 to the present, with a current annual revenue of more than $800 million. WHA focuses on improving healthcare access and affordability and is well known for developing innovative programs to expand coverage to the uninsured. WHA currently provides medical coverage to more than 120,000 members in the Sacramento and North Bay Regions.
The Company's philanthropic activities earn it a regular top spot on the Sacramento Business Journal's annual list of Top Corporate Philanthropic Organizations for Direct Cash Giving, most recently ranked as #2 in both 2018 and 2019, as #5 in 2020 and 2021, and as #4 in 2022.
In addition to positioning WHA to improve access to healthcare, Garry also believes in leveraging his organization to support various non-profit organizations and community causes. An active community board member, Garry currently lends his expertise and experience to:
• Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council (Past Board Chair)
• Valley Vision – A Leadership Organization Dedicated to the Sacramento Region
• WEAVE – Women Escaping a Violent Environment (Past Board Chair)
• Sacramento Region Community Foundation (Board Vice Chair)
• Mercy Foundation (Past Board Chair)
• The University Foundation at Sacramento State
• Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts (Past Board Chair)
• The Crocker Art Museum (Board Chair)
• Meristem – Serving Neurodiverse Young Adults
• The Carlsen Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
• California Association of Health Plans (Past Board Chair)
• Health Plan Alliance – A National Organization of Provider-Aligned Health Plans (Past Board Chair)
Garry holds a degree in finance and economics from California State University Sacramento and has accumulated over 34 years of experience in healthcare plus 10 years in the banking and finance industry, including time as the Chief Financial Officer for a regional community bank. Garry has received numerous awards, including the Sacramento Metro Chamber 2010 Businessman of the Year Award; the 2011 Individual Arts Leadership Award from the Sacramento Arts & Business Council; the 2014 Executive Leadership Award from Community Link Capital Region; the 2015 Humanitarian of the Year Award from UCP Sacramento; the 2017 President’s Medal for Distinguished Service from Sacramento State; the 2019 Exemplary Leader Award from the American Leadership Forum – Sacramento Mountain Valley Chapter; and the 2020 Most Admired CEO Award from the Sacramento Business Journal.
Whether he is providing quality healthcare coverage to employers and individuals or expert counsel to non-profit organizations, Garry Maisel is perfectly suited to lead an organization committed to the people and the businesses of the Sacramento and North Bay Regions.
Chief Financial Officer
As the Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, Rita Ruecker has provided financial and operational leadership for Western Health Advantage since its start-up in 1997. Rita's insightful direction has led Western Health Advantage to grow substantially over the past 20 plus years.
Ms. Ruecker has over 30 years of experience in healthcare. Before Western Health Advantage, she worked in public accounting in the healthcare division servicing health plans, hospital systems and various healthcare companies.
Ms. Ruecker was honored as Sacramento’s CFO of the Year in 2011 by the Sacramento Business Journal. She proudly serves as a Board Advisor to the Sacramento Ballet and participates in many community benefit activities.
Ms. Ruecker is a Certified Public Accountant and has a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.
Chief Sales Officer
As the Chief Sales Officer, Jeff oversees WHA’s Sales and Major Accounts and provides market leadership as a key member of the senior management team. He supervises a 21-person sales team, handling nearly 135,000 members from private and public sector employer groups as well as individual and family accounts both on and off the state exchange – totaling nearly $800 million in gross premiums. Jeff ensures that the highest level of service is provided to WHA employers and members.
Jeff brings to the position 25 years of experience in the health insurance industry, with over 20 years in senior management in the greater Sacramento area. He has experience from both sides of the health plan sector: 20 years working with a health plan and five years with local brokerage firms.
Prior to joining WHA, Jeff served as the Area President for Sacramento within Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., a multi-billion dollar global insurance brokerage and risk management services organization that provides insurance services to clients worldwide. Before that and for more than two decades, Jeff was with Health Net, serving as Vice President of Commercial Products and Labor & Trust, where he built strong relationships with employer groups and brokers and offered a strategic approach to health coverage. Jeff’s product expertise includes knowledge on a full range of health care products, including Fully Insured, Self Insured, PPO, Medicare, and Specialty Products.
Chief Legal Officer
As the Chief Legal Officer, Rebecca Downing has provided legal and compliance leadership for Western Health Advantage since 2005. Ms. Downing is responsible for the Legal, Compliance and privacy and information security programs of the company.
Rebecca's background includes serving as General Counsel to a multi-state complementary/alternative care managed care company, as an associate attorney at a national law firm, and as Executive Director of a non-profit health care association.
Rebecca served as a member of the Dental Board of California from 2009-2012.
Ms. Downing graduated from the University of Southern California Law School and received her Bachelor's Degree from California State University, Sacramento.
Chief Information Officer
As the Chief Information Officer, Glenn is responsible for IT Infrastructure, IT Engineering, IT Application Development, IT Security and Business Intelligence Operations.
With more than 25 years’ experience in the managed care and technology industries, Mr. Hamburg garnered a broad industry perspective from his many leadership positions in consulting, health plans, software development and health care services organizations.
Glenn served as WHA’s Chief Client Services Officer for five years and was appointed Chief Information Officer in early 2019.
Prior to WHA, Mr. Hamburg worked at Blue Shield of California, where he was Senior Director, Systems & Solutions. He has also held executive positions at Dell Services, UST Global and TriZetto. He was a founding member of TriZetto, helping to shape the company to one of the nation’s premier payer software and service providers. He was Vice President of TriZetto’s Payer BPO, providing a complete line of administrative and implementation services to large and small health plans in commercial, self-funded, Medicaid and Medicare lines of business. He has also held several leadership roles in consulting, business integration, knowledge management, product management, mergers and acquisitions.
Mr. Hamburg has a Master’s Degree in Management Science from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Chief Experience Officer
Rick Heron joined Western Health Advantage's senior management team in 2005 to develop and lead the organization's marketing and community relations efforts, holding roles as Director of Community Relations and Chief Marketing and Brand Officer. Heron is responsible for coordinating all of the organization's external affairs, including advertising, marketing, communications, branding, charitable outreach, public affairs and member services. Since March 2019, in his current role as Chief Experience Officer, Heron is the strategic leader representing WHA’s customers and driving excellent customer experience across the entire organization.
Before joining WHA, Heron was regional marketing manager for America Online (AOL). Prior to AOL, he spent 15 years in professional sports, holding management positions in sales, community relations and marketing with the Sacramento Kings/Monarchs/Knights and the San Francisco Giants.
As a leading local healthcare company, WHA strongly supports making a difference in the greater Sacramento community. Leading this effort, Heron has worked extensively with neighborhood groups, school districts, business leaders and elected officials on an array of projects intended to benefit and strengthen our community. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors for KVIE, the local PBS station, and American Leadership Forum.
Heron has a bachelor's degree from UC Davis, and a master's degree from the University of San Francisco. He is a member of, and also certified by, Boston College's Carroll School of Management Center for Corporate Citizenship.
Khuram Arif M.D. MBA
Chief Medical Officer and Chief Operating Officer
As a board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Khuram Arif practiced for 19 years. He keenly understands the challenges facing clinical providers and the imperative of preserving the joy of practice. Dr. Arif spent a decade in physician leadership guiding medical groups in the transition from volume to value-based care. Most recently he served as Chief Medical Officer at Woodland Clinic and Medical Director Managed Care at Mercy Medical Group.
Dr. Arif obtained his medical degree at The Aga Khan University in Pakistan, then completed a general pediatrics residency at SUNY Brooklyn Downstate Medical Center where he also served as chief resident. After a three-year pediatrician stint in Portales, a federally qualified, underserved area in New Mexico he moved to Sacramento in 2005 joining Mercy Medical Group. Dr. Arif has served on medical group boards, published peer-reviewed articles, written about quality in managed care publications, advised industry, and testified as an expert witness on healthcare at the California Senate. He obtained an MBA from UC Davis in 2014 and became a Certified Physician Executive with the American Association of Physician Leadership in 2019. In 2021 he was certified as a Fellow, the Academy of Healthcare Management at America’s Health Insurance Plans. Dr. Arif serves on the American Heart Association, Sacramento chapter Board and leads the Clinical Excellence Committee of the Health Plan Alliance.
Dr. Arif is passionate about empowering patient autonomy and supporting clinical providers in the practice of medicine through healthcare innovation at Western Health Advantage.