Kathryn Thomas Recognized for Leading Support Culture Group

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — June 7, 2019 — 4 min read
Kathryn Thomas' journey to the role of Data Analyst in Cardinal Innovations Healthcare's Business Intelligence Advanced Analytics department began as a high school science teacher.

She enjoys numbers and systems, she said. A workplace is an ecosystem of sorts that requires balance and that's one of the reason's Thomas was drawn to the Culture Ambassadors, a group of Cardinal Innovations employees from across the organization who are charged with improving its overall culture.

Recently, Thomas led the Culture Ambassador's Support workgroup of about 20 people that came up with the idea to create a new Recognition Program.  

As chair of the Support group, Thomas led the group through the research and development of the new Recognition Program. Everyone wanted something that would allow people peer-to-peer recognition. 

“We did a project to see how people felt about recognition," Thomas said. “That was neat because it shows you people run the entire spectrum. Some people want to be recognized in a very private way. Some people want to be recognized in a very public way."

Under the new program, you will receive an email if someone in the organization has recommended that you be recognized. Your supervisors also receive an email. This gives the supervisors the chance to make the decision about how to recognize the individual based on their knowledge of the person. 

Cardinal Innovations Human Resources Director Angela Genaro-Ruilova said Thomas has been a valuable member of the Culture Ambassadors and the Support work group.  

“(She) has managed the team for about a year now and has led them to the successful completion of the Recognition program. She really stepped up into a leadership role," Genaro-Ruilova said. “This was a heavy lift, lots of responsibility, high profile and was one of our company goals that will be presented to the Board of Directors. All of this was on the side of her day job where she works tirelessly to serve our provider network and our members."

Before joining Cardinal Innovations, Thomas worked as a high school science teacher when she was about 22 or 23 years old. She decided it wasn't for her, which led her to Discovery Place where she worked for five years and ran the summer camp. 

“I started out as a science teacher and then got my Masters in Public Administration and fell in love with data in that process. I like how it can tell parts of the story that a narrative never could," she said.

Thomas' graduate degree focused on not-for-profit organizations. “I loved learning the theory behind culture and how it affects your work environment. Work as an ecosystem," she said.

When Thomas is not working, she keeps busy with her two other passions – roller derby and volunteering as a Guardian ad Litem.

“I've done roller derby for six years," she said, adding that she is on the Charlotte Roller Derby's All Star travel team. “People say, 'You seem so sweet and then I'm like, 'Ha, I throw people with my body.' 

Thomas also has a passion for working with children that first drew her to education and then to her role as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for Mecklenburg County. The children she works with are those involved with Child Protective Services who have been taken from their parents. 

“Through the process, you are trying to work toward permanency in whatever form that is," she said. 

Thomas has volunteered as a Guardian ad Litem for about two and half years. “The Department of Social Services is there to represent themselves. The mom has an attorney. Dad has an attorney. There is no one there to represent the child. Guardian ad Litems' only agenda is the best interest of the child," Thomas said.

Thomas said what keeps her inspired to be working in behavioral health and supporting Cardinal Innovations' efforts to help those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), mental health and substance use disorders is knowing that data she compiles can help change lives.

“I enjoy using the data in the best way possible to make sure we are making the best decisions for our members. Even the state reporting might seem kind of boring but we're using that to make improvements," Thomas said.
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