Leadership


Our Leadership Team works to improve people’s health in Cook County. Each team member has years of health care experience. They understand your needs and care about your community. Use this Contact Form to talk with the team. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Leadership Team

Cheryl Whitaker

MD, FACP
Chief Executive Officer, Chairwoman

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Garfield Collins

Chief Operating Officer

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Dianna Grant

MD
Chief Medical Officer

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Andy Bhugra

Chief Financial Officer

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Theodore Dixon III

Vice President of Provider Network Services

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Sheon K. MacNeill

MSN, APN, FNP, CCM
Vice President of Integrated Care Management

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Renee Mitchell

D.M.
Vice President of Human Resources

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Lorrie Rickman-Jones

Ph.D
Vice President of Strategic Innovation and Behavioral Health

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Board Members

Rodney C. Armstead

MD, FACP
Board Member

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Cheryl Whitaker

MD, FACP
Chief Executive Officer, Chairwoman

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Cheryl Whitaker

MD, FACP
Chief Executive Officer, Chairwoman

Dr. Cheryl Whitaker is a 20-year veteran health care professional who has dedicated her career to finding innovative health care solutions for underserved populations. She has extensive experience in health care information technology, leveraging I.T. solutions toward better quality care for patients.

Most recently, Whitaker served as the chief medical officer of a publicly traded health information technology company where she guided product strategy. In 2011, she was appointed to serve as the inaugural chair of the Illinois Health Information Exchange Authority, where she guided the state’s effort to create secure data exchange for health information.

Prior to that, Whitaker worked as a senior program officer for the Chicago Community Trust, which for the past century has connected donors to organizations working to improve metropolitan Chicago. She oversaw the grant strategy for all health-related grants given by the Trust, including efforts related to healthcare reform and the health information exchange.

Whitaker also served as a faculty member at Rush University Medical Center, where she earned additional certification as a clinical hypertension specialist and numerous grants to help the medical industry understand the needs of marginal populations living with chronic conditions. The Stanford Patient Education and Research Center certified her as a master trainer in self-management of chronic disease.

In her position as chair and CEO of NextLevel Health, Whitaker provides strategic direction to the executive leadership team, focusing on altering the care delivery system by bringing the “medical home” to the “member’s home.”

Whitaker earned her bachelor of science in biology from Emory University and a medical degree from the Washington University School of Medicine. She has a master of public health from the Harvard School of Public Health with a concentration in health policy and management. Her clinical training in primary care internal medicine was completed at Stanford University and the University of California San Francisco. Whitaker’s medical training focused on the care of diverse populations in the Bay area, which included immigrant populations from across the world, HIV-positive populations, as well as populations struggling with addiction, poverty and mental illness. Whitaker also completed a fellowship in health services research at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Whitaker is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, a former member of the advisory board for Northern Illinois American College of Physicians, and an appointee to the Chicago Institute of Medicine.

Garfield Collins

Chief Operating Officer

Garfield S. Collins is an innovative senior health insurance executive with more than 20 years of results and profitability in highly competitive and regulated health insurance environments. Proficient in Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial lines of business, he is skilled in creating cultures of accomplishment through operations improvement and service excellence.

Prior to coming to NextLevel Health, Garfield served as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Beacon Health Options. There he developed and implemented a strategic plan guiding all operational activities, including administration, clinical, claims, quality, business solutions, provider network contracting, credentialing, data management and call center functions for the Western Region Service Center.

As Senior Vice President of Operations for New Century Health, Collins was responsible for all operational and staffing functions impacting utilization management, provider network operations, claims management, and client services.

Prior to his roles as Senior Vice President for two companies, he built RLJ Insurance Services, a preeminent firm in the insurance and reinsurance industry for self-funded medical and voluntary benefit plans. His successful leadership of this startup was fueled by previous accomplishments at AmeriChoice (A UnitedHealth Group Company) and Perot Systems Corporation.

As Chief Operating Officer for NextLevel Health, he will oversee the strategy and implementation of operational units, including claims, member services, provider network services, and information technology.

Collins earned his bachelor of arts in economics from Florida Atlantic University. As a Six Sigma Black Belt, Collins has also earned recognition for his experience in process methodology and change management.

Dianna Grant

MD
Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Dianna Grant is an American Board of Family Medicine-certified physician and an executive leader certified by the American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Professionals in quality improvement, compliance and strategic planning. She brings more than 40 years’ experience in medicine and executive leadership in healthcare to NextLevel Health.

Most recently, Grant served as Chief Medical Officer/Vice President of Medical Affairs for Molina Healthcare of Illinois, where she was responsible for quality improvement, compliance and accreditation, and where she launched a disease management program for COPD/asthma, high-risk pregnancy, oncology, and sickle cell anemia.

Prior to joining Molina, Grant was Vice President of Medical Management for Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago.

Now, in her role as NextLevel Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Grant oversees utilization management, care coordination, quality of care programming, and compliance.

Grant earned a bachelor of science in biology from Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Miss., and a doctorate in medicine from Rosalind Franklin University’s Chicago Medical School.

Andy Bhugra

Chief Financial Officer

Amrit (Andy) Bhugra has more than 20 years’ experience in executive-level financial leadership positions in the healthcare and insurance industries. He began his career in finance for Humana Healthcare Plans and served in executive positions for multiple insurance corporations since then.
In his most recent position, Mr. Bhugra assists physician practices with managed care contracting and mergers acquisition opportunities through his own management consulting firm. In his previous positions, he developed relationships and support for innovative solutions to healthcare’s most vexing financial problems.

Mr. Bhugra has served on a variety of professional and advisory boards and was selected to serve on the groundbreaking Medicaid-Medicare Alignment Initiative, which was a new health plan geared toward people eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare.

NextLevel Health Partners welcomes Mr. Bhugra as Chief Financial Officer, ensuring the stability and success of our mission to serve our communities in culturally competent and relevant ways.

As Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Bhurgra will oversee budget and accounting system and ensures that the organization meets its financial performance targets.

Mr. Bhugra holds a bachelor’s of business administration in management from Northwood University in Midland, Mich., and a master’s of business administration in finance from Western Michigan University; he completed the Executive Program at the Wharton School of Business.

Theodore Dixon III

Vice President of Provider Network Services

Theodore Dixon is a health care leader with a record of results in Medicaid, Medicare, physician practice management, and government relations for managed care organizations.

Before coming to NextLevel Health, Dixon served as the Network  Director – Illinois for Jencare Neighborhood Medical Centers. There he contracted with national and local health plans serving Medicare Advantage populations to increase member assignment to the practice.  Additionally, he was responsible for developing alliances and expanding access to primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals and other health care professionals for older adults.

Serving as Vice President of Provider Network Services for NextLevel Health, Dixon will be responsible for directing the strategic development and maintenance of regional and statewide provider networks, overseeing NextLevel Health’s interface with providers and identifying opportunities to support clinical operations and population health management.

As a health care and management consultant, Dixon has been focused on physician, hospital and vendor relationships through product knowledge, network analysis, network development, and strategic integration.

Dixon also brings extensive experience leading the startup phase of managed Medicaid health care plans, including HealthSpring of Illinois, CareSource Management Group, Inc., and Harmony Health Plan of Indiana, Inc.

Dixon earned his bachelor of science degree in political science from Illinois State University and a master of public administration from the University of Illinois Springfield.

He is affiliated with the Chicago Healthcare Executives Forum and American College of Health Care Executives.

Sheon K. MacNeill

MSN, APN, FNP, CCM
Vice President of Integrated Care Management

Sheon MacNeill is an advanced practice nurse, board-certified as a family nurse practitioner with a sub-specialty in occupational nursing, and is a certified case manager. She brings 15 years of national and international experience in providing health care to underserved populations as a provider in public health and insurance.

Most recently, MacNeill served as a director of medical management for government-sponsored programs at a Fortune 500, multi-national health solutions enterprise, where she established and oversaw successful care management programs to provide high quality, cost-effective health care services.

Prior to that, she served as a nurse practitioner in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine for Cook County Health and Hospitals System, where her roles and responsibilities expanded. She functioned as a provider and served as the Associate Director of Ambulatory Pulmonary Medicine and was the research project manager for studies specific to coal miners.

In Guam, MacNeill worked in utilization management for the largest commercial insurance organization and was responsible for coordinating care for health plan members on and off the island.

Now, in her role as NextLevel Health’s Vice President of Integrated Care Management, MacNeill oversees case management, utilization management, and care coordination.

MacNeill holds a bachelor and master of science in nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Renee Mitchell

D.M.
Vice President of Human Resources

Renee Mitchell, a 20-year veteran in human resources, specializes in organizational development, change management, and workforce planning. She has held positions in a variety of industries including government, insurance, financial administration, and higher education administration.

In her most recent position, Mitchell served as associate vice president of human resources at Chicago State University, supporting more than 1,000 employees. While there, Mitchell provided strategic human resources leadership university-wide. These initiatives included the implementation of a talent management strategy, recruitment plans, management training, and compensation structures.

Mitchell joins NextLevel Health as vice president of human resources. She will serve as a strategic leader in all initiatives related to human capital, including talent acquisition, retention, benefits, compensation, and performance management.

Mitchell earned a bachelor of arts in industrial organizational psychology from the University of Illinois Chicago, a master of arts also in industrial organizational psychology from Roosevelt University, and a doctorate of management in organizational leadership from the University of Phoenix.

Lorrie Rickman-Jones

Ph.D
Vice President of Strategic Innovation and Behavioral Health

Dr. Lorrie Rickman-Jones has more than 25 years of experience in behavioral healthcare strategy, systems management, monitoring and evaluation, conducting diagnostics, clinical, neuropsychological forensics, and competency-based assessments.

Most recently, Rickman-Jones consulted with NextLevel Health as senior behavioral health strategist, where she was responsible for the development of the Integrated Home Health Program Model. Prior to that, Rickman-Jones served as the Director of the Division of Mental Health (DMH) for Illinois Department of Human Services, where she was responsible for the strategic management and operations of nine state psychiatric hospitals, establishing mental health policies, and funding services in the community system of care that served more than 200,000 individuals. She later became a Senior Policy Advisor to the Illinois Governor’s office, where she was responsible for creating, directing, and overseeing the behavioral health policy development across several state agencies.

Currently, Rickman-Jones serves NextLevel Health as the Vice President of Strategic Innovation and Behavioral Health. In this role, she implements and execute the Integrated Home Health Program (IHH) while overseeing the management and implementation of the behavioral health services department.

Rickman-Jones holds a bachelor of arts from Tufts University in Maryland, a master of science in clinical psychology, and a doctorate in clinical psychology and neuropsychology from Howard University in Washington, DC.

Rodney C. Armstead

MD, FACP
Board Member

Dr. Rodney C. Armstead is a dedicated health care professional committed to driving the highest quality and cost-effective health care to all Americans. He is currently a principal at Armstead & Esslinger Health Consultants, LLC, focusing on strategy; operations and automation; integration of clinical and care solutions for physical, behavioral, pharmacy, and social needs for Medicaid; aged, blind, and disabled, fully integrated dual-eligibles for Medicare and Medicaid; subsidized expansion; long term services; and support and institutional populations.

Most recently, Armstead was executive vice president for complex population management at Optum, a UnitedHealth Group company. He worked to deliver integrated, intelligent solutions to modernize the health care system and improve overall individual and population health. He led Optum’s business unit, which was responsible for transforming health care for the most medically complex patients, in delivering provider-led, patient-centric care and care management in the most clinically appropriate setting to the most vulnerable populations, including those with multiple chronic conditions and those facing serious illness.

Armstead earned his bachelor of science degree from the University of California, Irvine, and his medical degree from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

Armstead is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and a fellow of the American College of Physicians. He is a trustee for the Stanford Center on Longevity in Palo Alto, Calif., as well as the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J., and a clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine, Phoenix campus.

Armstead is also active in the community and volunteers his time promoting education.

Regina Benjamin

MD
Board Member

Dr. Regina Benjamin has more than 25 years of health care experience dedicated to providing care to underserved individuals. President Barack Obama appointed her as the 18th United States Surgeon General; she served a four-year term. Benjamin currently holds the NOLA.com/Times-Picayune Endowed Chair in Public Health Sciences at Xavier University of New Orleans.

As surgeon general, Benjamin implemented the National Prevention Strategy, shifting the nation from a focus on sickness and disease to one based on wellness and prevention. She advocated for eating nutritiously and breastfeeding, and she addressed the dangers of tobacco use. In conjunction with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, she released the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention to reduce the number of suicides, a public health issue that results in the deaths of 100 Americans each day. Benjamin joined leaders of five U.S. federal agencies to announce Advancing Healthy Housing: A Strategy for Action, which unifies federal efforts to expand healthy housing, demonstrating the connection between housing conditions and residents’ health. She also strongly promoted the value of health IT systems and electronic health records.

Benjamin served simultaneously as surgeon general and as the first chair of the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, a consortium of 17 cabinet-level Federal agencies that developed the National Prevention Strategy. During her tenure as surgeon general, Reader’s Digest ranked Benjamin as one of the “100 Most Trusted People in America.”

Prior to her position as surgeon general, Benjamin worked at the rural health clinic she founded in Bayou La Batre, Ala. She kept the clinic in operation during multiple natural disasters including Hurricanes George and Katrina, as well as a devastating fire.

Benjamin is former associate dean for Rural Health at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile, Ala., and past chair of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States. She was the first physician under age 40, and the first African-American woman, to be elected to the American Medical Association Board of Trustees. She served as president of the American Medical Association Education and Research Foundation and chair of the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs. Benjamin was the first African-American female president of a state medical society in the United States when she assumed leadership of the Medical Association State of Alabama.

Justin Dearborn

JD
Board Member

Justin Dearborn is the chief executive officer of Tribune Publishing.

Prior to Tribune Publishing, he served as chief executive officer and director of Merge Healthcare. During his tenure, he led the company through a period of transformation and sustainable growth. Merge was acquired by IBM and was integrated into IBM’s Watson Health division to deliver intuitive, cognitive computing solutions to healthcare providers. Before joining Merge Healthcare, Dearborn served as managing director and general counsel at Merrick Ventures, LLC., and in various executive senior management positions for Click Commerce, Inc., a publicly traded software company.

Dearborn earned a bachelor of science in accounting from Illinois State University and a law degree from DePaul University College of Law.

Robert Jordan

Board Member

Robert Jordan has been launching and growing companies and helping other entrepreneurs for 20 years.

His first company, Online Access, the first Internet-coverage magazine in the world, put him on Inc. magazine’s “Inc. 500” list of fastest growing companies.

After the sale of Online Access, Jordan launched two companies, RedFlash and the Association of Interim Executives. RedFlash champions entrepreneurs by establishing teams of trusted business builders who take on tough tasks like product launch, money raising, and company sale that company founders or management may be facing on their own for the first time. As well, the Association of Interim Executives serves to educate the business world about this new and growing specialty, while connecting the best interim executives in the world with corporations and owners seeking fast, strategic talent on demand.

Jordan is author of How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America and author of the Nightingale Conant audio production, How They Did It: Real World Advice from Today’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs.

His areas of specialty include startup ventures, new product rollouts, strategic marketing, negotiations, raising venture capital, angel funding and private equity, multiple project management, rapid-fire brainstorming, and creation of SPEED Days for company owners needing immediate improvement.

Jordan earned a bachelor of arts in economics and political science from the University of Michigan and a master of business administration in management, marketing, and finance from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.

Cheryl Whitaker

MD, FACP
Chief Executive Officer, Chairwoman

Dr. Cheryl Whitaker is a 20-year veteran health care professional who has dedicated her career to finding innovative health care solutions for underserved populations. She has extensive experience in health care information technology, leveraging I.T. solutions toward better quality care for patients.

Most recently, Whitaker served as the chief medical officer of a publicly traded health information technology company where she guided product strategy. In 2011, she was appointed to serve as the inaugural chair of the Illinois Health Information Exchange Authority, where she guided the state’s effort to create secure data exchange for health information.

Prior to that, Whitaker worked as a senior program officer for the Chicago Community Trust, which for the past century has connected donors to organizations working to improve metropolitan Chicago. She oversaw the grant strategy for all health-related grants given by the Trust, including efforts related to healthcare reform and the health information exchange.

Whitaker also served as a faculty member at Rush University Medical Center, where she earned additional certification as a clinical hypertension specialist and numerous grants to help the medical industry understand the needs of marginal populations living with chronic conditions. The Stanford Patient Education and Research Center certified her as a master trainer in self-management of chronic disease.

In her position as chair and CEO of NextLevel Health, Whitaker provides strategic direction to the executive leadership team, focusing on altering the care delivery system by bringing the “medical home” to the “member’s home.”

Whitaker earned her bachelor of science in biology from Emory University and a medical degree from the Washington University School of Medicine. She has a master of public health from the Harvard School of Public Health with a concentration in health policy and management. Her clinical training in primary care internal medicine was completed at Stanford University and the University of California San Francisco. Whitaker’s medical training focused on the care of diverse populations in the Bay area, which included immigrant populations from across the world, HIV-positive populations, as well as populations struggling with addiction, poverty and mental illness. Whitaker also completed a fellowship in health services research at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Whitaker is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, a former member of the advisory board for Northern Illinois American College of Physicians, and an appointee to the Chicago Institute of Medicine.