New program offers opportunities for future behavioral health care leaders

The UNC Charlotte School of Social Work and Cardinal Innovations Healthcare have teamed up to launch the Behavioral Healthcare Leadership Academy, a program for students at UNC Charlotte interested in pursuing leadership-based careers in behavioral health care.

Through the program, eight undergraduate or graduate scholars will participate in monthly development workshops, webinars and project-based learning opportunities. Participants will receive access to various resources (i.e. books, webinars, additional training opportunities) and a $500 stipend.

“I think participating in the academy will help my long-term career by providing me with more knowledge related to managed care, which will help me as I strive to empower the clients I will have the privilege of working with," said Sarah Varker, a student participating in the program.

Behavioral health focuses on how behaviors affect body, mind and overall well-being. Its practitioners work in a variety of areas including prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery support services. The academy will allow students to develop critical skills, including on the business of health care.

“This investment in our students is a game-changer in the preparation of competent scholars who are prepared to serve some of our most vulnerable clients while ensuring the sustainability of sound business practices,” said Sonyia Richardson, a UNC Charlotte social work professor who helped design the program.

At the academy’s recent first session, Trey Sutton, CEO of Cardinal Innovations, and Mary Hamilton, chief financial officer of Cardinal Innovations, discussed their roles at the organization and spoke about the transformation of Medicaid and health care accountability.

“The first session was very informative,” said Brianna Ussery, an academy student. “I am looking forward to attending the next session to learn more about the business aspect of providing quality care services.”