About the Institute Co-founders

Experts in the Field: We are national experts in the fields of health literacy, plain language, and health communications. We are also three of the founding members of the Clear Language Group (CLG). See www.ClearLanguageGroup.com for more information.

Extensive Professional Experience: We are active, energetic learners and practitioners, involved in wide-ranging projects that include:

Health communication and social marketing research

Materials development, design and testing

eHealth applications such as structuring
and writing website text

Organizational change for adopting plain language

Curriculum development

Teaching and consulting

We teach what we practice and practice what we teach.

Content Areas of Expertise: Our projects cover a broad spectrum of health topics. Recent work has included:

Addressing healthcare delivery issues including safety and quality of care, medical decision-making, and informed consent

Educating health professionals and students about health literacy and health communication

Helping adults understand how to prevent, manage, and make treatment choices about a range of conditions including cancer, diabetes, asthma, heart failure, depression

Developing information accessible to consumers about mental health, environmental health, aging, women’s health, nutrition, and genetic research

Creating plain language information about Medicare and the Affordable Care Act

Presenting at local, regional, and national conferences

Available to Help You: Need help in effective communications planning, training, organizational capacity building, plain language materials development? We are available year-round and serve clients across the country.

Contact Us:

Sue Stableford (Maine): sues9404@gmail.com
Wendy Mettger (Maryland): wmettger@mindspring.com
Audrey Riffenburgh (New Mexico): ar@plainlanguageworks.com


About Sue Stableford, MPH, MSB

Sue co-founded the Health Literacy Institute at the University of New England 22 years ago with the late Jane Root, Ph.D. Together, they launched a statewide health literacy training program in Maine and then expanded it into the National Summer Institute for health professionals from around the country.

Sue provides training to many organizations, including large federal health agencies, healthcare delivery systems, and health communications firms. She creates award-winning plain language health materials and informed consent prototypes, consults on eHealth projects, participates in health literacy research projects and federal plain language policy initiatives, and teaches in health profession education programs. Sue's recent work focuses on developing and coaching health literacy teams in hospitals and care practices.

To contact Sue
email her at sues9404@gmail.com
or call her at (207) 402-9843.


Photo of AudreyAbout Audrey Riffenburgh, MA

Audrey Riffenburgh is President of Plain Language Works (PLW), a plain language and health literacy firm based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her firm has guided professionals in the healthcare, public health, research, and disability communities in reaching their audiences with clear communications for many years. It has also directed organizations in making system-wide changes to address health literacy. In addition, PLW has created many plain language and low literacy materials in English and Spanish.

In addition to running her successful consulting business, she is a Ph.D. Candidate in Health Communication at the University of New Mexico.

Audrey was the health literacy specialist for a hospital system for three years. She led the initiative to improve all aspects of communication with patients and families as well as to change policies and processes to make the organization more "health literate."

She was on the faculty of the Health Literacy Summer Institute for many years and is a principal and founding member of the Clear Language Group. She served on the Steering Committee of the Plain Language Association InterNational and has presented at its conferences in Amsterdam, Sydney, Toronto, and Washington, DC. Audrey's expertise comes from more than 20 years in health literacy, adult literacy, and English as a second language at the local, state, and national level.

To contact Audrey,
email her at ar@plainlanguageworks.com
or call her at (505) 345-1107.


photo of wendyAbout Wendy Mettger, MA

Wendy Mettger, M.A., is President of Mettger Communications, a consulting firm specializing in health literacy and plain language projects designed to reach limited-literacy, culturally diverse, and underserved audiences.

Ms. Mettger is a principal and founding member of the Clear Language Group, a nationally known consortium of health literacy, plain language, and cross cultural experts.

She is recognized nationally as the co-founder of the National Work Group on Cancer and Literacy, the first federally-sponsored collaboration between health and literacy experts, and as the co-author of the well-respected guidebook, Clear and Simple: Developing Effective Print Materials for Low-Literate Readers.

She draws on over 30 years of experience and a master’s degree in health communication to serve as a health literacy and plain language expert to many Federal government agencies, such as the National Institute on Aging; private corporations such as Pfizer, Inc.; and nonprofit groups such as the American Diabetes Association, National Council on Aging, March of Dimes, and the New York City Poison Control Center. She develops easy-to-read and understand materials, conducts consumer-based research, and leads workshops at national and state conferences on how to create easy-to-read materials for individuals with limited-literacy skills. In addition, she trains health professionals, educators, and communicators on plain language materials development and clear verbal communication techniques.

She has received five NIH Plain Language Awards, two Pfizer Visiting Lecturer Awards, two Center for Plain Language Clear Mark Awards, and one Federal Government Blue Pencil Award.


B.A. Sociology – 1976, University of California at Irvine

M.A. Communication – 1988, University of Maryland

To contact Wendy,
email her at wmettger@mindspring.com
or call her at (301) 270-2774.