our story

a new brand


Healthfirst is a non-profit community health provider in central Wisconsin.  Incorporated in 1973, Healthfirst set forward to develop a quality facility that offered confidential reproductive health and WIC services in Marathon County.  Since 1973, Healthfirst has expanded its geographical footprint and now offers WIC services in three counties and health services in eight counties.

We are taking appointments at our clinics in eight Wisconsin counties



The purpose of Healthfirst is to improve the reproductive and nutritional health within our communities.


Healthfirst is dedicated to providing quality, confidential reproductive health care, education and nutrition counseling that is affordable and accessible through direct care and strategic partnerships.


Healthfirst fulfills its purpose and mission through:

  • Providing confidential services;
  • Treating all with respect and dignity;
  • Empowering through education;
  • Maintaining honesty and integrity;
  • Being kind, caring & empathetic; and
  • Committing to innovative, high quality, evidence-based services.



Jessica Scharfenberg

Chief Executive Officer

After graduating from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, Jessica began her career as a registered nurse in the emergency room of a critical access hospital in central South Dakota.  This is where her passion for public health began. 

Jessica transitioned into public health while working for the South Dakota Department of Health as a Public Health Regional Manager, before moving back home to Wisconsin.  She obtained her master’s in Public Health from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, with an emphasis in policy and administration. 

Jessica brings a variety of hands-on, public health experience to her leadership at Healthfirst and believes prevention is the best medicine.  “When we focus on the health of our community, together as a community we reap great success.”

In her free time, Jessica enjoys spending time in the great outdoors with her husband and two sons.  From hunting to fishing and hiking, she is always on the go with her boys.


Karen Zimmerman

Service Line Manager WIC

Karen is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BS in Dietetics and became a Certified Lactation Specialist in 2017.  She has worked for the WIC program for the past 35 years!  Karen started her work with the WIC program in southern Wisconsin; first in Jefferson County for two years followed by Rock County for one year.  After getting married Karen and her husband decided to make a change and move to northern Wisconsin.  Karen then started her work with WIC at Healthfirst and she has been with the organization for the past 32 years.  Karen states she has enjoyed working in all aspects of the WIC program during her time with the program.  She is committed to public health nutrition and serving the Healthfirst community. 

Karen enjoys spending time outside regardless of the season doing a variety of activities such as hiking, biking, gardening and snowshoeing.


April Waraksa

Service Line Manager Reproductive Health

April is a Wausau native and has been working in Healthcare for 20 years. She started her healthcare career as a Pharmacy Technician in Wausau before moving to California where she attended Bryman College and became a certified and licensed Pharmacy Technician. April moved back to Wisconsin and began her career at Healthfirst as the Lead Clinical Assistant in 2010. After being with the organization for 7 years, April transitioned to her current role, Service Line Manager – Reproductive Health. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Health Administration through Capella University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. April is passionate about providing high quality reproductive health services in the communities Healthfirst serves. When she is not at work, April enjoys travelling and spending time with family and friends.


Jerry Lyon

Chief Operating Officer

Jerry is an energetic and proactive leader with extensive non-profit management experience.  Through his previous work with Special Olympics and Big Brothers Big Sisters, his leadership has been on the forefront of strategic planning, program growth, implementation of new programming, special events, communications, and staff and volunteer management, on a local, statewide, and national level.  Jerry received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.  He is also a graduate of the Leadership Excellence program through the Greater Wausau Chamber of Commerce and the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point at Wausau’s Non-Profit Management Institute.

Jerry and his wife, Molly, live in Merrill with their children, Wyatt and Jacey.  In his free time, Jerry enjoys his role as Chief Transportation Officer for his children in their many ventures, coaching, playing golf, and he is an avid muskie fisherman.


Justine Thicke

Public Relations & Education Specialist

Justine graduated from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a BS in Community Health Education.  In her last semester she completed an internship with Chicago Public Schools working with their STI/HIV Prevention Specialist executing CPS Sexual Health Education policy.  She then obtained her status as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) in 2012.  Since completing college Justine has focused her work in reproductive health through direct clinical care and by providing training, education and outreach. 

Justine and her husband, Tyler, moved back to the area when she rejoined the Healthfirst team as a Public Relations & Education Specialist.  Outside of work Justine enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, daughter and dog, watching baseball and hanging out with family and friends.


Allysa Anderson

Public Relations & Education Specialist

Allysa graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in May of 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion and Wellness with a minor in Psychology.  In her last semester of college she was a community health intern for Healthfirst Network.  At the close of her internship she joined the Healthfirst team in the role of Public Relations and Education Specialist.  Allysa is passionate about reproductive health, community wellness, and advocating for the LGBTQ+ community.  Allysa is originally from Illinois, but now lives in the Baraboo area and is very excited to be a part of Healthfirst Network.