John Swagert, M.D.
Chief Executive Officer

Northwestern University (1986)
University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine (1990)
George Washington University (1994)

Letter From Our CEO

I was born in Palo Alto, California, tried and failed to enjoy living in colder climates, and eventually settled in Arizona in 1994. My older sisters tell me that I told everyone that I was going to be a doctor at a very young age. This was probably because my mother suffered from medical problems during that time and her doctors made a big impact on my life—when they were good, my mother felt better and I got to spend more time with her.

It’s hard to remember life before Mountain Park, I’ve been here so long. I have always been drawn to things that make the world a better place and I believe that being part of Mountain Park has given me the opportunity to do that. I joined Mountain Park’s obstetrics department in 1998 and delivered 2,287 Mountain Park babies in nine years. For two years after I became Mountain Park’s CEO in 2005, I tried to continue seeing patients and delivering babies, but it eventually became clear that I couldn’t keep that up and I delivered my last baby in August of 2007. I am married to my lovely wife Karen who is a psychologist. We have a son named Sam who is studying at Emerson College in Boston.

As the CEO, I have many dreams for Mountain Park, but I think the primary one is to see it continue to grow because I know there are many more people out there who need us. Growing and helping more people is good, but it is also very important to me that we maintain the culture of caring about our patients and each other while we grow.

Fun Fact: I spent my summers in high school working as a cowboy on my oldest sister’s cattle ranch in the Ozarks. We worked long days putting up hay or riding the range on horseback. My first patients were actually calves.

Davinder Singh, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
GGS Medical College, Punjabi University (1987)

I got my residency training at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. After four years I moved to Arizona. I’ve never been a fan of the cold so Arizona was a perfect fit for me. I started working for Mountain Park in 2003. I chose the organization because of its mission and the primary care model to support our patients and providers.

I’m passionate about having direct patient contact, which is why you will still find me with patients at the clinic. I love following patients that I have seen from day one on the job. My goal is to help design an ambulatory care delivery system which is meaningful, efficient and rewarding for patients and providers equally.

I have two kids, a daughter who graduated from college and wants to pursue medicine and a son who is in school. I would love to see Mountain Park become a leader in primary care in the Valley and be known for its effective care delivery model in this rapidly changing healthcare environment.

Fun Fact: I am a news junkie and love reading geopolitical thrillers.

Rachel Lambert
Chief Operating Officer

University of Arizona (1995)
University of Phoenix (1998)

As a little girl I loved math and always wanted to be an accountant. I waited tables to put myself through college and soon realized that living in the moment with people was as exciting as sharpening my pencils and punching away at a calculator. Therefore, I started my professional career in healthcare, as this is where I found these two things cohabitating. I came to Mountain Park in 2002 because the organization’s mission spoke to me. I love coming to work because every day is unexpected and my interactions with the patients/employees keep me grounded and appreciative for the privileges life has afforded me.

One of my favorite moments at Mountain Park was when we opened the Maryvale Clinic. I was brought to tears on the Grand Opening Day as I sat in the lobby watching the employee’s and patient’s reactions to the introduction of this state-of-the-art facility to their community. For me, revitalizing something that people used to be afraid to visit really was an amazing feeling.

I’m passionate about work, yet am more passionate about being a good wife and mom. I have been married for over 20 years and we have two kids together. They are both avid soccer players. Hence, a majority of my free time is spent in a camping chair, cheering loudly on the sideline. I choose to volunteer with their soccer organizations as well as the City of Tempe (my hometown) as a way to teach my children the importance of feeling connected to a community and more importantly giving back.

Fun Fact: My favorite day of the year is my birthday as I get to celebrate it with my best friend, my identical twin.

Alana Podwika
Chief Information Officer

University of Pittsburgh (1998)
University of Phoenix (2004)

I grew up in Dunmore, PA. During my final year of pharmacy school I came out here to visit some friends and fell in love with Arizona. I wanted to live somewhere different than what I was used to. Fast forward to today and I have a husband, two kids and an amazing career at Mountain Park Health Center, where I have devoted many years of my life. I love everything about this place: the patients, the staff and the leadership. Working for and with Dr. Swagert is amazing. I love the mission of the organization and the way we care for our patients. Coming from a retail setting, when I started working at Mountain Park it was such an eye opener because I wasn’t used to caring for the patient like we do here.

As a little girl I either wanted to be a ballerina or do something in healthcare. The one thing that pulled me toward medicine was my dad. He has been living with Polio since he was 6-years old. His story fascinated me and I wanted to learn more about infectious diseases, how they were treated and how to prevent them with vaccines.

Outside of Mountain Park I spend a lot of time with my family. My husband Carl and I have a daughter and a son and as most moms, I enjoy watching my kids play tennis and soccer.

When I came to Mountain Park in 2000 there was no pharmacy program, and I was terrified to start one. CeeCee Hofberger, told me, “Take it one day at a time. We are all here to help you…it will be okay.” To this day I hear her words echo through the halls and I am proud to work with an amazing team who is always here to help. I am excited to see Mountain Park expand and look forward to the adventure.

Fun Fact: I am addicted to Bootcamp.

Troy Foster
Senior Director of Legal Affairs and General Counsel

Northern Arizona University, B.S. (1992)
Arizona State University, J.D. (1996)
University of Arizona, Master of Public Health (2016)

As a child, my family co-owned a ranch with the Sandra Day O’Connor family. When Justice O’Connor elevated to the Supreme Court, I was fortunate enough to spend time with her when we both worked in Washington, D.C. Her and I would talk about the importance of law as a tool, and how to use it in a way that would benefit other people. That is what inspired me to get my law degree.

I have worked for Mountain Park for almost two decades in total, first starting as outside counsel and then joining as the HR Director in 2012. In my current role, I serve as Mountain Park’s lawyer and lead our legal team in providing advice on all matters to advance our mission of care. I also coordinate the work of outside lawyers when specialized legal expertise is required. I chose to work closer with Mountain Park because of its mission and how focused and passionate the people who work here are. I hope Mountain Park continues to grow and provide excellent quality service to more people. One thing I always try to keep in mind is that at times we all get bogged down and frustrated, but we’re all here working toward the same thing.

Outside of work, I have four kids, two biological and two that were adopted, one from China and one from Ethiopia. I’m the founder of a nonprofit, Henry’s Hope that was inspired by my son—who wanted to make sure all children with life-threatening and terminal diseases had access to healthcare. I am fortunate to get up every morning, have the kids that I do, and be able to come to a job I love where I can make a difference.

Fun Fact: I love independent films and have been to several Sundance Festivals over the years.

Stella Xenakis
Senior Director of Grants & Programs and Compliance Officer
Arizona State University, MBA (2000)

I have always been passionate about improving health and people’s living conditions. I came to Mountain Park in 2006 because I was really impressed with the organization’s mission and wanted to support and be a part of it.

Working in grants is so rewarding because the grants we receive allow us to provide additional help to many of our patients. Grants make a huge impact on our patients’ lives and I love being able to be a part of that impact. I also enjoy working with staff to increase understanding of the complex healthcare rules and regulations to ensure continuity of grant funding and quality of work. As we grow, I hope to see Mountain Park become the community’s favorite health center where everyone feels valued and they receive the best care possible.

My life outside of Mountain Park revolves around my family. I am married to George who is an Engineer. We have two sons, a granddaughter and a German Shepherd. In my free time I love reading, walking, painting and yoga.

Fun Fact: I lived in Greece for 15 years.

Michelle Hernandez
Senior Director of Marketing & Engagement 

Arizona State University (1991)

I was born in New York, and spent many hours roaming the hallways of Dorothy Nolan Elementary School in Saratoga Springs, New York before my family moved to Phoenix when I was in sixth grade. My transition from a small town in upstate New York to the bustling city of Phoenix wasn’t easy, but I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

I have spent most of my entire career in the nonprofit world where I put mission above margins and people above profit. Joining the Mountain Park family in 2005, I quickly realized I had found a place where I could make a difference and contribute to our community at the same time. From my first few days in the office I recognized how fortunate I am to work for an organization whose entire mission centers around impacting the health and well-being of our community.

It’s a privilege to be able to tell the Mountain Park story to anyone that will listen. To me, there’s nothing better than connecting the dots between people who need healthcare and Mountain Park, an organization that provides the best patient-centered care in the Valley (I’m biased, I know). I am honored that I am able to spend my time making our community better than it was yesterday or the day before that.

I am married to Chris, who makes me want to be a better person than I really am, and I have a son, Curtis, who has taught me the true meaning of unconditional love. I fill my days with the escapades of Edgar and Hazel, two German Short Haired Pointers that love nothing more than to remind me I need to be outside hiking. With them. Right now. I also have a cat named Kate Spade and I knit like you wouldn’t believe.

Fun Fact: I have a mild obsession with the Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who I was able to meet in 2015.

Essen Otu
Senior Director of Diversity & Community Affairs
Arizona State University (2002)
National Urban Fellows at Baruch College, New York, MPA (2008)

I spent my early childhood in Nigeria, but call Arizona home because I have been here for more than 30 years. Some may not know this, but when I was little I wanted to be an artist. To this day I still love art, but now I have the ability to appreciate it on a deeper level and collect it.

I have been with Mountain Park since 2008. What attracted me to the organization was its willingness to take risks. I believe it’s so important to build relationships. If you can go out and meet people and get to know them on a personal level, you can help them and they can help you. Over time, these relationships blossom and you become so much more aware of what is happening all around you. I would love to see this organization grow to serve more people, while continuing to maintain the feel that makes Mountain Park unique.

Over the years that I have been here I have had some memorable moments. One of my favorite days was when we went to David Crockett Elementary School and asked the students to vote on the Gateway playground equipment. It was great seeing kids take part in something that would be a part of their new community health center.

My family life and my faith are very important to me and go hand in hand. I am married to Allison and we have three kids, Sahara, Amel and Aya.

I am a huge proponent of philanthropy. I find it interesting because I never knew anything about it growing up. When I was introduced to it, I was fortunate enough to have resources to give to things I believe in. I consider it a great opportunity to do something positive with what I’ve been blessed with.

Fun Fact: I have always been a huge fan of Sade.