Cari DeSantis, President & CEO Melwood

Cari DeSantis joined Melwood as President & CEO on March 1, 2013, after a long career in leadership positions in the nation’s health and human services sector.  As an $81 Million non-profit organization that creates jobs and opportunities for people with differing abilities, Melwood has over 1,400 employees – over 800 are employees with differing abilities – in 43 locations throughout Maryland and Washington, DC. 

Previously, Cari was the principal of an independent management consulting firm, where she assisted government agencies and nonprofit organizations through organizational transformations designed to embed sound business practices and quality focus in the agency management.  She is the creator of an innovative new business model for 21st century government health and human services systems that is now in pilot implementation in states and counties around the nation.  Prior to her consulting work, Cari was the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications at Casey Family Programs Foundation, a $2 billion foundation whose mission is to inspire individuals, communities, elected officials, and the media to care about America’s most vulnerable children.  From 2001-2008, she served the State of Delaware as Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Families. As CEO of this large state department, she was responsible for overseeing an annual budget in excess of $175 million and more than 1,300 employees in 30 locations statewide.  Her prior work experience includes seven years as a senior executive in a large Delaware hospital/healthcare system.

Cari DeSantis holds a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (Medical Ethics) from the University of Delaware, where she also received a Bachelor of Arts in English/Journalism.  She is the recipient of SmartCEO Magazine’s 2016 Brava Award.  Cari is also the author of three books, including the 2000 National Independent Publishers Book Award-winning Of Hope and Charity, as well as numerous articles. Her fourth book is in the works.

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