Committed to innovation, quality and efficiency, HealthFirst’s team has
a strong combination of executive experience and industry knowledge.


Paula has served as HealthFirst’s CEO since 2011, and she has also been a vice president with ETMC Regional Healthcare System for nearly 20 years. Paula is a fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives and frequently speaks on healthcare technology, workforce development, and legislative topics.

She holds a PhD in organizational development and change from the College of Business and Technology at The University of Texas at Tyler and a master’s in business administration from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.


Chief Operating Officer Cindy Klein is responsible for the overall operation of HealthFirst, including strategy, business development, customer success and product development.
She joined the organization in late 2017 and has extensive experience in marketing, operations, sales, HR and IT, and has held executive roles at Mentoring Minds and Leadership Tyler.
Cindy earned an Executive MBA from Texas A&M University and holds a Texas General Lines Life, Annuities and Health license.



Director, Networks & Managed Care

Kym oversees our relationships with all of our provider networks and manages the operations of AccessDirect Platinum, our proprietary network in East Texas.

She has 25 years of progressive experience in the healthcare industry and has a deep understanding of managed care and the self-funded insurance industry. Kym has been with HealthFirst since 1996, in a variety of roles, with responsibilities including HMO, marketing, Medicare HMO and systems.


Director of Product Management

Denise is responsible for new product development and research. She will also help members better manage and understand their health care plans by developing strategic reports and analytics and developing new products to help clients better manage their plan costs. She will be responsible for overseeing compliance and working with vendors to always ensure members have the best products available in the marketplace.

She joined HealthFirst in 2008 as an account executive and has more than 16 years of progressive experience in the self-funded insurance industry, having previously held roles at PPO networks, a claims software company and a large international consulting firm. She earned her BBA in business management from Sam Houston State University.

TRISH TERRELL,  Director of Client Services

Trish joined HealthFirst in 2014 as the director of communications, responsible for external and internal communications and events, including client and plan member education, digital communications and marketing efforts. She also took a strategic role in the RFP process, developing new business and retaining clients.

In her current role, she manages the account executive/account management team and oversees communications and marketing. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and was formerly a reporter, an editor, and a communications consultant. She holds a Texas General Lines Life, Annuities and Health license.



Director, Health Management Services

Jolene joined HealthFirst in 2004 to manage services that directly affect the health of our plan participants. Her team of registered nurses works closely with members and performs case management, utilization management, disease management, and health coaching. She also oversees our population risk management program, which helps members at risk of developing a serious health problem control their conditions.

A registered nurse, Jolene has more than 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry, including hospitals and HMOs. Jolene received a BS degree from East Texas State University and an MS in healthcare administration from Texas Woman’s University.

MONICA BAUMAN,  Director of Plan Management

Monica Bauman oversees claims processing, fund management, benefits eligibility, customer service, reinsurance and building plans for clients.

She started with HealthFirst in 1998, working in the mail room, and moved her way into the fund management department. She’s been a department manager for the past five years.



Director of Underwriting and Analytics

Kevin oversees all RFP and RFQ responses and manages the stop loss process, including marketing, placement, and claims. As a self-professed “data junkie,” Kevin has a deep understanding of risk control, cash flow improvement, plan design, and value-based benefits and wellness programs.

He uses these skills to help clients create effective plans that use their resources wisely. Kevin joined HealthFirst in 1998. He has more than 25 years of experience in the TPA industry, and got his start in the field while attending the University of Houston.