Gettysburg, Pa. (June 26, 2022) — Optum Behavioral Health’s Tracy Sanders, M.Ed., Senior Director, Medicaid Complex Population Development, will present The Evolution Of Peer Mentor Training Programs for People with I/DD — A North Carolina Case Study at the July 14 OPEN MINDS Circle Elite Virtual Executive Roundtable. The session will share current peer support trends and provide a first-hand look at an update regarding the recent launch of Optum’s peer support training program from their session, “Peer Mentor Training For People With I/DD.”

Optum Behavioral Health, a division of Optum, is a new behavioral health service provider focused on continuous quality improvement for better overall health outcomes while simultaneously minimizing and actively driving down the total cost of care per consumer. Optum Behavioral Health meets consumers on their terms, improves access to behavioral health care, integrates multiple care services with their data analytics program, and constantly innovates new ways to drive consumer engagement and encourage the consumer to take a more active role in their own health planning and wellness. Community Bridges is a consulting group centered around stakeholder engagement, advocacy, and managed long-term supports and services. Their specialty is convening and facilitating diverse work and advisory groups, with the goal of infusing individuals with IDD and their family member’s voices into the public policymaking process. Optum Behavioral Health has partnered with Community Bridges to launch a peer support training program that utilizes a newly developed curriculum and leverages existing skills and resources to recruit specialists and peers into the program to provide support. Evidence coming out of the pilot program indicates the use of peer supports increases consumer engagement in care, social functioning, and consumer’s self-esteem. Tracy Sanders and Kelly Friedlander will be providing an overview of their Medicaid reimbursements for I/DD peer support services, sharing lessons learned from their pilot program to recruit and train peer support specialists, and outline important employment pathways for these peers. Furthermore, they will discuss how to evaluate the impact of peer support programs, expand peer mentor programs for individuals with I/DD, and develop a sustainable funding model to ensure program longevity.

“The health care marketplace has begun moving towards a more active role in overcoming social determinants to care and other related obstacles that consumers face, in seeking treatment,” noted Monica E. Oss, chief executive officer of OPEN MINDS. “Programs that meet consumers on their own terms are having great success in driving engagement, treating consumers in more appropriate care settings, increased cost savings, and better health care utilization and resource allocation overall.”

Tracy Sanders, Senior Director within Optum Behavioral Health’s National Product Team. She works closely with national, state and local partners on the design, implementation and quality measurement of programs and services supporting individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD). She is the program lead for Optum’s Peer Mentor Training Curriculum for People with I/DD. Ms. Sanders brings more than 30 years of health care experience spanning healthcare information technology, medical device research and development, and complex population product development in the US and internationally. She has participated as a member of the Council on Quality and Leadership MLTSS Workgroup, which seeks to develop a common understanding of value-based quality measures of services and supports utilized by individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. She is also a board member of the Sheltering Arms Foundation, which invests in the lives of Minnesota’s children to help them reach their full potential.

Kelly Friedlander is the Principal and Founder of Community Bridges. She has worked in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities for over 15 years. In North Carolina, she has worked on stakeholder engagement and policy analysis projects for clients such as the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services, RHA Howell, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, Vaya Health, and Anthem Healthcare. In addition, Ms. Friedlander has worked as a subject matter expert and writer for managed care RFIs and RFPs in Florida, Washington, Texas, Missouri, and North Carolina. Before moving to North Carolina, Ms. Friedlander served as the Operational and Quality Assurance Director of Pyramid, Inc., the largest day training program in Florida. She also has experience working within a state government, as she provided oversight to the Developmental Services Quality Assurance Contract at Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration. Ms. Friedlander holds a Master’s of Social Work, a Master’s of Public Administration, and a Bachelor’s of Social Work.

To register for the July 14 event, visit

The July 14 Circle Elite Executive Roundtable is offered as part of a weekly series designed to help executive teams navigate the business, organizational, operational, and culture changes of a market in turbulence during (and after) the COVID-19 crisis. Each one-hour briefing outlines a field-tested approach for recovering from the crisis and developing a plan for organizational sustainability. Once an exclusive benefit to Elite members of the OPEN MINDS Circle, these impactful sessions are now available to all OPEN MINDS subscribers and available on demand.

OPEN MINDS is a national market intelligence, management consulting, and marketing services firm specializing exclusively in the markets of the health and human service field that serve consumers with chronic conditions and complex support needs. OPEN MINDS’ mission is to provide payers, service provider organizations, and technology and scientific firms that serve these consumers with the market and management knowledge needed to improve their organizational efficiency and effectiveness.


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