Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Carladenise Edwards, 40
President and CEO, Cal eConnect
Carladenise Edwards is surely an up and comer, but the organization she was recently hired to lead has a long way to go before its own future is assured.
Edwards, 40, has been the president and CEO of Cal eConnect, California's statewide health information exchange, only since July 1.
As the leader of what could be the largest such exchange in the country, Edwards is responsible for managing the $38.8 million federal grant California received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to implement health information exchange services and policies.
In addition, one of her top priorities for 2010 is to develop a workable business plan that will make the exchange financially self-sustainable, even though historically that's been an unsolvable puzzle for many leaders of regional health information organizations or their predecessors for about two decades.
To top it off, Edwards must build her new organization while picking her way through a potential minefield of factions laid by Cal eConnect's two warring predecessors, the older, but now-disbanded CalRHIO, and the upstart California eHealth Collaborative, formed in 2009 as a CalRHIO alternative. “I do know there are quite a few personalities here, strong personalities, who disagree on what is the best way to go for California,” Edwards says. “My idea is to take the lessons learned and keep them in a little book, but keep our eyes on the end prize. So, to the extent that I can, I'm trying to stay away from the personalities as much as possible and concentrating on the business at hand.” Edwards holds a bachelor's degree in sociology and a master's in education specializing in psychological services, both from the University of Pennsylvania, and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Florida. In 1994, at age 24, she was named assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Penn, and then worked at HHS in 2001 and 2002, first with the elderly and disabled health programs group for the CMS at HHS, later as a presidential management intern and public health analyst with the Center for Mental Health Services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. From 2002 to 2005, she did stints in Florida as administrator of the state's Medicaid research policy unit and administrator of its Medicare monitoring unit. She later launched and ran the BAE Co., a management consulting firm to health and social service agencies. During that period, Edwards served as the founding executive director of the South Florida Health Information Initiative, a not-for-profit RHIO. She also served as the founding executive director of then-Gov. Jeb Bush's Health Information Infrastructure Advisory Board.