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Senior Community Executive Ric Bruton Helps Unite New Central Territory


Senior Community Executive Ric Bruton's efforts to build relationships and combine Cardinal Innovations Healthcare's Alamance-Caswell (AC) and Orange Person Chatham (OPC) regions into the new Central Territory have been instrumental in making the shift, said Nicole McKinney, Director of Community Relations.

The pilot consolidation of the AC and OPC Local Community Boards became effective this month. Bruton led the effort to blend the boards and several other community forums.

“(Bruton) hit the ground running. He is always an empowered and vocal champion for Cardinal Innovations and has developed even stronger local ties in the last year," said McKinney, Bruton's supervisor.

McKinney said Bruton was a natural fit for the senior community executive position. When leadership positions became available in both the AC and OPC offices, Bruton (who worked in Information Technology at the time) offered his support in the AC region because it was close to his home and he had worked there in the past.

“When he offered to potentially fill in some gaps outside of his own department, I knew that he was a leader within our company that I wanted to try and secure for my team," McKinney said. “(Bruton) has always been a true team player, no matter what role he has had at Cardinal Innovations. He often inspires others through his daily work path."

Bruton said the attitude he brings to his job is one of ownership. “I always say, 'This is my company so I have to jump in when there's a need.' That's what I do with my communities. These are my communities. I've got stories for all of these places, but it's about ownership and being invested."

Bruton joined Cardinal Innovations in 2011 during its first consolidation with the Alamance-Caswell Local Management Entity (LME). He said working in a field that helps individuals with mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities and substance use disorders is a natural fit for his unique background. Bruton has a myriad of experience including his time served in the U.S. Army, working in public health and social services, and earning a teaching certificate. Bruton credits his diverse experience with helping him connect with several different types of stakeholders in the Central Territory.

“I've got an idea of where public health is coming from because of working there. I have an idea where the department of social services is coming from because of working there and I know where law enforcement is coming from because of working in the military," said Bruton, a former U.S. Army Military Policeman who served from 1995 to 2000. “It helps me balance my message to their perspectives."

Bruton said his number one job is customer service. One of the challenges he has faced is changing stakeholders' perceptions about how the behavioral health industry and Cardinal Innovations works. He also works to improve understanding about Cardinal Innovations' role by being heavily involved in his communities even when that means spending Saturday at the grand opening of a new agriculture center for some face time with local county commissioners. He said it's also important to be sensitive and aware of the unique cultures in each community.

Bruton also has discussions with community stakeholders about how the behavioral health industry is changing and becoming more collaborative. “These are community issues. I've got a part in it. You've got a part in it. Let's work on it together," he said.

As Bruton looks to the future for the Central Territory, he said he's focused on ensuring that Cardinal Innovations is seen as a partner that is “relevant in this ever changing behavioral healthcare landscape."

“I want to build on relationships with community leaders to advance understanding in the community and enrich the lives of our members," he said.

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