Neighborhood Health Plan of R.I. announces 2 leadership appointments

SMITHFIELD – Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island has added to its executive leadership with two new appointments.

Melissa Husband, former deputy secretary of state and director of administration, is now Neighborhood’s chief of staff, and Karen Carlson, who comes to Neighborhood from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, is the health plan’s new chief operating officer.

Husband, a Rhode Island native with more than 20 years of public policy and nonprofit and public leadership, was appointed to her role in state government by Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea.

In addition to overseeing numerous state divisions and units, Husband led an overhaul of data management systems, implemented new guidelines for receiving and reporting money, and made changes to the delivery of services to businesses across the state.

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“Melissa’s deep experience in and affinity for public service makes her a tremendous asset for the mission-driven work we do,” said Neighborhood CEO and President Peter Marino. “She is a highly skilled public servant grounded by a strong foundation in strategic planning, financial management, performance and project management, policy development and implementation, cybersecurity, loss mitigation and program evaluation. Melissa’s skills, combined with her impressive track record of enriching the lives of Rhode Islanders, will greatly benefit our members, providers and employees.”

Carlson also has more than 20 years of experience in her career in health and human services.

“With half of Karen’s career spent in human services, half in health care, and with significant experience building a lean management culture, she is uniquely qualified and an exceptional fit for the Neighborhood team,” Marino said. “She brings to our organization deep experience in Medicare and commercial health plans – having overseen enrollment, call centers, claims payment, payment integrity, grievance and appeals processing, and Medicare compliance. Additionally, Karen is skilled in decreasing manual processes and increasing consistency in procedure performance.”

Carlson is making the move to Neighborhood after spending the past 15 years at Blue Cross. She most recently served as managing director, overseeing more than 8.5 million claims payments and 12,000 grievance and appeals cases each year.

Elizabeth Graham is a PBN contributing writer.