Barbara Kennedy, MHA, FACHE
President and CEO
Barbara’s long-standing commitment to improve the health status of diverse communities and her focus on ensuring an exceptional patient care experience, along with comprehensive and integrated services and innovative approaches to clinical care, patient service, and business operations, Barbara has demonstrated to the Board that she is poised to lead North County Health Services successfully into the future.
With more than 20 years of senior healthcare executive experience, Barbara brings extensive experience in healthcare management to her new role. Most recently, Barbara served as President and CEO of Northern Arizona Healthcare Verde Valley Medical Center in Arizona.
Barbara an Arizona native born and raised in Tucson, has an appreciation for diverse cultural backgrounds. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Arizona and her Master of Science in Healthcare Administration from California College of Health Sciences in San Diego. She is a Lean Six-Sigma Green Belt and a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Barbara is happily married to her husband, Michael Kennedy, who grew up in San Diego. They have five adult children that they are very proud of and are excited to be joining extensive family in the area and a network of supportive friends and colleagues. When not working, Barbara enjoys cooking, spending time with family and friends, hiking, bicycling, traveling, beach time, and taking long walks with Michael and their two dogs, Teddy, a Golden Retriever and Makena, a Maltese.
Corporate Executive Team
Dr. Patrick Tellez, MD, MPH, MSHA
Chief Medical Officer
With over 30 years of healthcare industry experience, Dr. Patrick Tellez serves as the Chief Medical Officer at NCHS and holds a wealth of experience as a practicing physician, but also brings a robust background in Health Care Administration. Dr. Tellez graduated from the University of Minnesota School Of Medicine and is boarded in Pediatrics and Immunology & Allergy. He holds a Masters in Public Health from UCLA and Master of Science in Health Administration from the University of Colorado.
In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Tellez received the 2012 Award for Clinical Quality Improvement, Colorado Primary Care Association and the American Medical Association. He also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the San Diego Medical Society, and Delegate to the California Medical Association. In his free time he enjoys hiking, fitness, music and bonsai.
Deizel Sarte, BSN, MAS
Chief Operations Officer
Deizel Sarte is the Chief Operations Officer at NCHS and boasts a 26 year-long career as a healthcare professional. True to her motto, ‘once a nurse, always a nurse’ she began her healthcare path as a nurse’s assistant at the early age of 19, and by 21 became an RN for Children’s Hospital. Deizel received her Master’s in Advanced Studies in the Leadership of Healthcare Organizations from UCSD.
After over a decade of serving children and families in the hospital setting she decided to bring her compassion and expertise to NCHS – and has never looked back. In just a few short years Deizel not only earned the honor of Nurse of the Year but in her time at NCHS, she grew from overseeing the health centers to taking a lead role in administration. Under Deizel’s leadership, we adopted the electronic health and dental records, patient centered medical home (PCMH) transformation, the opening of our newest health centers, successful provider recruitment just to name a few. In her spare time Deizel enjoys time with family, traveling, concerts, reading novels and dancing.
Chief Financial Officer
Kathy Martinez is the Chief Financial Officer at NCHS and enjoys a robust 17-year history at NCHS, where she began as a Staff Accountant. Kathy has enjoyed an impressive 30-year career covering a wide range of industries, before calling NCHS ‘home’.
After other experiences in the oil, agriculture management and public accounting industries, she discovered her passion for the non-profit world and the specialty that lies within accounting for a Federally-Qualified Health Center. In addition to helping NCHS earn a stellar financial reputation industry-wide, she has also earned her a CPCA CFO training certificate. When she’s not crunching the numbers, Kathy enjoys spending time with family and friends, relaxing sunny days on the beach with a good book and doing ceramic arts and crafts.
Michelle D. Gonzalez, MPA
Chief Strategy and Development Officer
Michelle Gonzalez is the Chief Strategy and Development Officer at NCHS. Nearly 15 years ago, she began her career as a Program Coordinator, implementing innovative solutions and key development strategies from the start. Michelle holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration as well as a certificate in the Not-For-Profit Management Development Program through the Harvard Business School, San Diego Chapter. In her rapid rise to Executive Management, Michelle has impacted significant areas of the organization including program planning, workforce development, clinical operations, as well as community relations and strategic planning. Some of her most impactful and shining achievements include the creation and centralization of the patient call center, planning and expansion of new clinic locations, multi-million dollar grant oversight and award-winning marketing programs, all of which served to grow both revenue and market share.
In her current role as Chief Strategy and Development Officer, she continues to champion the “Building Great Relationships” cultural and customer service initiative she brought to life, which the organization operates by daily. In addition, she is most known for developing organizational strategies that have exploded business growth in critical areas including Communications, Marketing & Outreach, Community Engagement, Planning & Grants and Patient Engagement & Retention. The success of these key areas illustrates her strategic and forward thinking to further NCHS’ competitive edge. When she’s not developing strategic plans, Michelle loves to spend as much time as possible with her husband and their two young children.
Chief Human Resources Officer
With over 17 years in the human resources field, Andrea Lewiston serves as the Executive Vice President of Human Resources at NCHS. In her current role, Andrea oversees employee relations and engagement, talent acquisition, benefits and compensation, and credentialing. She began her experience in human resources while working part-time as a human resources representative at a local hospital in El Centro, CA, which sparked her passion for human resources and the underserved community. Andrea received her bachelor’s degree in communication and media management from SDSU and is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management.
Andrea believes that each NCHS employee has a story, much like her own, that resonates with the NCHS mission and is honored to support and advocate for such caring and dedicated staff. When Andrea is not helping NCHS employees grow within the organization, she enjoys spending time with her family outdoors.
Tracy Elmer, RHIA
Chief Innovation Officer (CIO)
Tracy Elmer is the Chief Innovation Officer at NCHS. As a local leader in Health Informatics, her vast experience in health information technology (HIT) and the role it plays in supporting care of our patients motivates her to continue to improve care for patients through coordinated efforts on behalf of the NCHS Business Intelligence and Information Technology departments. Tracy is a graduate of Loma Linda University, holding a degree in Health Information Administration and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Health Care Informatics at the University of San Diego with an anticipated graduation date of August 2019.
In addition to her work, Tracy has a passion to serve. As an active volunteer for the past 15 years, she is proud to have served as Past President of the California Health Information Association (CHIA) and Chair of the National Advocacy & Public Policy Council for the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Giving back to her community and profession is a deeply rewarding experience for Tracy, as she credits it as being instrumental in her professional growth and career development.
In Tracy’s free time, she enjoys spending it with family and friends while cooking, traveling, or watching movies. Tracy also loves the opportunity to cheer on her son at his ice hockey games and while practicing martial arts.
Briana Cardoza, MPH
Vice President of Business Development
Briana Cardoza is a North County native and the Vice President of Business Development at NCHS. With nearly ten years of experience in community health, she is a key member of the Corporate Executive Team, executing strategic and emerging business initiatives for NCHS. Briana began her career at NCHS as a grant writer, and now oversees multiple branches of the organization, including grant writing and management, enrollment services, project planning and development, and patient engagement and retention. She successfully secured a $5,000,000 capital grant, which led to the construction of the new NCHS Mission Mesa Pediatrics Health Center. Briana holds a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in community health from UCLA.
Briana received the 2012 NCHS Chief of the Year award for her advocacy on behalf of the Outreach and Enrollment teams. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and three young boys.
Teresa Therieau, MPH
Vice President of Operations
Teresa Simms is the Vice President of Operations at NCHS and has been a part of the NCHS family for over seven years. Throughout her time at NCHS as the Senior Health Center Director and now the VP of Operations, she has helped the organization expand and grow to better meet our patients’ needs. A few of Teresa’s most significant achievements include the creation and expansion of NCHS Quick Care, the integration of behavioral health into NCHS’ primary care services, and the development of behavioral health as a specialty service offered at NCHS. Teresa has spent a total of 15 years in various clinical leadership roles. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from UC Riverside and a master’s degree in public health from San Diego State University
Teresa helps fulfill NCHS’ mission by ensuring that all NCHS health centers have everything they need to continue to run smoothly and provide exceptional care to our patients. In her spare time, Teresa enjoys cooking, entertaining, and spending time with her husband and two dogs, Petey and Mocha.
Dr. Kenneth Morris
Associate Medical Director & Pediatrics Clinical Director
Dr. Kenneth Morris has been a beloved pediatrician at NCHS for 21 years. He currently serves as the Associate Medical Director where he is responsible for supporting the Chief Medical Officer with leadership and management over a wide range of clinical areas. Dr. Morris also serves as the Pediatrics Clinical Director, in which he oversees the development and delivery of pediatric care provided at all NCHS sites. He continues to share his knowledge and expertise with his patients and staff at NCHS because he believes in the NCHS mission and the work he does within the organization to help our local communities. Dr. Morris received his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin and his pediatrics training at UCSD. He also completed the Healthcare Executive Leadership program at UCSD in 2000.
He received the American Academy of Pediatrics Special Achievement Award in 2008 for his work in mentoring pediatric residents, and the 2013 Provider of the Year Award for his extraordinary service at NCHS. When Dr. Morris is not providing quality care to his patients, he enjoys sport fishing, cooking, and traveling with his family.
Deidre Elliot (Dee) is the Controller at NCHS and has been a part of the NCHS family for six years. She started her journey with NCHS as an accounting manager and rapidly rose to her current position through her hard work and dedication to the NCHS mission. Prior to calling NCHS home, Dee enjoyed a remarkable 31-year career in public accounting for the public, private, and non-private sectors. Dee received her bachelor’s degree in business administration management and accounting from California State University Long Beach.
Dee is proud to work at NCHS and to be a part of a team that is making a difference in their community. In her spare time, Dee enjoys listening to music, camping, and participating in community service.
Jonathan Smith, BIT/ISS
Vice President of IT
After nine years of service in the United States Marine Corps, Jonathan Smith now serves as the Vice President of Information Technology (IT) at NCHS. In his current role, Jonathan is responsible for providing reliable and secure forms of communication and technologies to ensure NCHS functions in an efficient and effective manner, in support of the overall mission and vision of NCHS. He holds a bachelor’s degree in information systems security.
He was nominated for the San Diego Top Tech Executive Award in 2016 and was the recipient of the 2016 NCHS Chief of the Year Award for his extraordinary service and dedication to the development of his department and security. Jonathan is also responsible for the current nomination of NCHS as the 2018 Citrix Innovation Customer of the Year Award. In his spare time, he enjoys spending quality time with his wife and three children.