2019 Cardinal Leads Award Winners

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — September 23, 2019 — 6 min read

Each year, employees who embody Cardinal Innovations Healthcare's core values in ways that have a high impact on the organization, employees and members are selected from several nominations to receive the Cardinal Leads Award. 

The winners can come from any department and are role models, setting an example for others to follow in keeping high standards and championing Cardinal Innovations' values. This year's winners received their awards at the 2019 All-Employee Leadership Conference on September 12.

Dayn Chittick

Dayn.jpgAs an Application Engineer in the IT Department, Dayn Chittick is credited with showing great flexibility when projects took an unexpected turn. Over the past year, he successfully pivoted between three solutions when needs changed.

He leverages what he learned from one experience and quickly applies it to the next. Chittick was a key resource on the Jiva project, for example, when it was decided that Jiva would not go live, Chittick took what he learned and applied it to a temporary product called Surenet.

“Priorities for Care Management were constantly shifting over the past year, and he spent a lot of time on solutions that ultimately were not implemented, yet continued to help Cardinal Innovations select the best solution and add value to Care Coordination in the interim,” said Desmond Gibson, Director of Business Solutions. 

“Chittick showed a tremendous amount of resiliency, demonstrating our pioneering core value in helping to find the right long-term solutions, as well as creating interim solutions to complex situations,” said Director of Business Solutions Desmond Gibson.

Chittick was also instrumental in developing the employee Suggestion Box and Recognition Tool.


Ken Field

Ken.jpgKen Field, an Analyst in Network Management, received a Cardinal Leads Award for his efforts to bring analytics into Cardinal Innovations’ decision processes.

“Through his efforts and with minimal guidance, (Field) is introducing tools and processes to help shape Cardinal's clinical guidelines,” said Diedra Cook, Director of Network Management. “For example, he introduced the use of geo-mapping to identify provider performance in connection with back-up staffing throughout Cardinal Innovations’ counties.” 

His efforts in analyzing provider performance on back up staffing will eventually be incorporated into Cardinal Innovations’ Provider Maturity Model and will help improve member outcomes and saving on the cost of services, Cook said.

Field is credited with using Cardinal Innovations’ data and analytics tools to aggregate multiple data sources into meaningful insights of members’ experiences. This has allowed for conclusions that can be used to improve quality of member care. Examples include:

  • Back-Up Staffing Analysis
  • Emergency Room Re-Admission Analysis
  • ABA Service Heat Mapping
  • Opioid Treatment Resource Availability 

Within the Advance Analytics team, Field has automated multiple dashboards for speed and accuracy of reporting. He also developed multiple training/instructional guides, and has provided training within and external to his team on data analytic tools and strategies. 


Lesley Jones

lesley.jpgUtilization Management Supervisor Lesley Jones received the 2019 Cardinal Leads Award for her efforts to provide strong leadership in difficult situations where collaboration between multiple departments was needed.

“She has not hesitated to step up and do whatever was required to ensure that the needs of the members came first, regardless of whether or not what was being asked fell within her ‘normal’ job duties. This contributed to positive outcomes for our members,” said Director of Utilization Management Chantay Cooper.

Jones works closely with Cardinal Innovations’ providers to explain why some services are denied, and provides explanations to help them understand the decisions and what alternatives are being recommended. 

“Her relationship-building and collaborative spirit serve as a model for what we can achieve when working together,” Cooper said. 

Jones began her career at Cardinal Innovations as a UM Care Manager and is now a supervisor, working to empower her team and allow them to have the opportunity to also grow. She views her leadership role as not just one focused on her own team, but one that needs to work well with other teams in other departments for the success of the organization, Cooper said. 


Rhonda Little

Rhonda.jpgAs Provider Monitoring Team Lead in Quality Management, Rhonda Little was selected as a Cardinal Leads Award winner for being a powerful system change agent, making a difference not only at Cardinal Innovations, but also at the state level. 

“When DMH calls for a volunteer to provide feedback on a quality improvement processes, Rhonda Little is the first person that they ask if they can tap,” said Director of Quality Management Onika Wilson. “The improvements she has recommended and piloted in these systems have reduced administrative burden for our provider community who in turn can dedicate more time and energy to supporting our members.”

Over the past four years, Little has actively participated in the development and implementation of the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Final Settings Rule provider self-assessment, the development of the Provider Monitoring Tool, and the revision to the Records and Documentation Manual. 

“Rhonda has unselfishly committed time and expertise to assist the Division of MH/DD/SAS (Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse Services) with special projects that have directly benefited Cardinal Innovations members, providers and our organization at large,” said Director of Quality Management Onika Wilson. 

Recently, the assistant director for DMH, reached out to Cardinal Innovations CEO Trey Sutten to make sure we knew what a difference Little makes each day.


Alicia Sager

Alicia.jpgAs an In-Reach specialist on the Transitions to Community Living Diversion Team, Alicia Sager received a 2019 Cardinal Leads Award for her work building relationships with members that helped them feel secure in living outside an Adult Care Home, said Director of Transitions to Community Living Mike Bridges. 

As a Registered Nurse, Sager used her nursing skills to help find creative ways to meet the medical needs of Cardinal Innovations’ members.

“Alicia has shown incredible initiative to create new ways to help meet the medical needs of our members,” said Diane Lowder, TCL Diversion Supervisor. “She has forced the team to look at members through a medical lens and help us all address those physical health needs much earlier than ever before. This medical leadership will help us all operate better in a tailored plan environment.” 

Sager has also demonstrated courage and pioneering spirit in overcoming adversity, and because of her Cardinal Innovations is better at serving and planning for our members. 

Sager began her career at Cardinal Innovations using her Certified Peer specialty on the TCL team as an In-Reach specialist. “In this role, she did an exceptional job of advocating and educating members so that they could make informed decisions about how and where they wanted to live,” Lowder said.


Tom Wilson

Tom.jpgAs the Regional Manager of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Care Coordination, everything Tom Wilson does is influenced by his desire to help people live better lives. This commitment and dedication to helping those with disabilities has earned them the opportunity to serve on various external committees as Cardinal Innovations’ representative. It also is why he received one of the 2019 Cardinal Leads Awards. 

“This year, Tom has gone above and beyond to ensure that the needs of our members are met, making himself available on weekends to accommodate our members and providers,” said Director of IDD Care Coordination Jessica Moore.

Wilson has served on the steering committee and/or board of various external groups including the North Carolina chapter of the Association for People Supporting EmploymentFirst (NCAPSE). He also served as the Cardinal Innovations representative for Project SEARCH, a national best practice model for supported employment. 

He participated in and led statewide efforts for the implementation of the Home and Community Based Settings (HCBS) federal rule. He also led the state work group to recreate the Individual Support Plan (ISP) and Risk Support Needs Assessment (RSNA) for NC Innovations members. Both new documents were implemented statewide in November 2018. 

“Tom is an example to his peers of what a great leader looks like. He is accountable, collaborative, highly skilled and operates with integrity,” Moore said. “He is quick to volunteer his time and energy if it means the result will be to the benefit of a member or the organization.”

About the artist
Our beautiful awards were created by Elijah Kell, a young, emerging artist with a love for design and a passion for glass.  Diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of eight, his love of art quickly became his release from academic challenges and frustrations with language. He began exploring the art glass when he was ten years old, ultimately inspiring the name of his studio.  Elijah finds inspiration for his design work in nature, life experiences, and his faith. 

Find more on his website Atten Studio Glassworks and find him on Facebook.


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