Proudly Serving More than 2,400 Arizona Physicians

ASPA is unique among Independent Physician Associations because of its longevity, size, and the number of individuals that may use IPA providers. ASPA was incorporated in Arizona in 1986 as a physician-owned cooperative. It currently has more than 2,400 members who have completed a rigorous credentialing process.

Members include all major physician specialties, physical therapists, psychologists and other health care providers who practice throughout Arizona. Plans need only contract with ASPA to access a comprehensive provider network. More than 1,000,000 individuals are eligible to receive care from ASPA members through various payor agreements.

Our Mission

Expand contracting opportunities by maintaining a comprehensive network of credentialed providers located throughout the state that practice cost-effective medicine.

Maximize revenue and minimize costs by assisting physicians manage the business component of their practices and by making state-of-the-art software, practice management and other needed services available to members at competitive prices.

Elevate the status of physicians in the health care industry.

ASPA’s Management

Understanding the many factors that drive talented individuals to focus their life’s work in a particular area may not be fully understood. What is known is that commitment to an area of concentration is an essential ingredient of success. Commitment to serve the interests of physicians is the foundation of ASPA’s management staff.

Connie RichardsonDirector of Operations
Connie Richardson is the Director of Operations for the Arizona State Physicians Association (ASPA) a position that she has held for the past 27 plus years. Connie has been successful in assuring that all ASPA contracted payors utilize, by delegation, ASPA’s primary source credentialing program. She also developed Quick Start, a credentialing application service designed to assist health care providers to obtain initial plan contracts and hospital privileges that streamline the hospital and plan reappointment process. ASPA CVO services have also developed and expanded under Connie’s leadership.

Connie is actively involved in IPA contract negotiations, ASPA membership recruitment and specialty network development. Her 42 years of varied years of experience in the health care industry includes physician office management, hospital business office management, AHCCCS plan administration in rural communities and HMO managed care administration. Connie is on the Board for TIPAAA (The IPA Association of America); an active member of the National and Arizona Medical Group Management Associations, Arizona Association of Medical Staff Services and the National Association of Medical Staff Services. She is also a member of the National Association of Professional Women.

ASPA Staff

Connie Richardson
Director of Operations
Extension: 212
Maria Sanchez
Physician Liaison
Extension: 210
Tonya Richardson
Provider Relations – Data Entry

Cathy Chavez
Credentialing Assistant
Extension: 216
Angie Higgins
Credentialing Coordinator
ASPA Membership – Initial/Recredentialing
Extension: 222
Pam Virgils
Credentialing Agent,
Application Service
Extension: 218
Michelle Gierke, LPN
Quality Assurance Services
Extension: 226
Mark Thiele
Extension: 221
Xitlaly Solis
Extension: 221


Board of Directors

Policy and decision making authority is entrusted to ASPA’s Board of Directors and implemented by the management staff. IPA members elect ASPA’s board members for three-year overlapping terms with representation from each of five divisions. The officers of the organization consist of a president, vice president and secretary/treasurer who are elected annually by the board members. The Board of Directors meets every month.

Aprajita Nakra, DPM – President
Affiliate Member Since 12-04-2000
Dat Tran, MD – Vice President
Internal Medicine
Affiliate Member Since 06-06-2001
Melanie Cloonan-Schulte, MD – Secretary Treasurer
Internal Medicine
Affiliated Member Since 07-12-2004
Susan LaSala-Wood, NP
Nurse Practitioner
Owner Member Since 03-02-2015
Gerald B. Harris II, DO
Internal Medicine
Affiliated Member Since 03-06-2006
Afeworki Kidane, DO
Internal Medicine- Geriatrics
Owner Member Since 02-06-2012
William Robey, MD
Family Practice
Owner Member Since 04-01-1986
Chatur J. Babaria, MD
Family Medicine
Affiliated Member Since 03-05-2007
Sandhya Venugopal, MD
Internal Medicine
Affiliate Member Since 04-17-2017
Aruna D Poduval, MD
Pediatric Endocrinology
Affiliate Member Since 10-02-2017
David Mendelson, DO
ENT Specialists of AZ
Affiliate Member Since 08-05-2002
James Ewing, MD
Affiliate Member Since 10-17-2013

ASPA is organized as a cooperative whose members own a single share of capital stock. Shares of membership stock are not transferable and no person may own more than one share.