Street-smarts to C-Suite: Alum Honored for Exceptional Leadership in Healthcare Management

by Michele Owen

Healthcare manager and USF School of Management Alum, Anna Dapelo-Garcia (MPA 2011), has been honored with the prestigious Future Financial Leader Award. Awarded by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), the nation’s leading membership organization for healthcare financial management executives and leaders, Dapelo-Garcia was recognized for her innovative and exceptional performance in leading and managing change, communicating vision, and fostering a strong collegial climate and culture.

As the Administrative Director for Patient Access Services and Patient Financial Services at Stanford Hospital and Clinics (SHC), Dapelo-Garcia is responsible for a $2 billion revenue cycle operation.  This includes management of 200+ staff, hospital registration functions across 25+ locations, and billing/collections activities. Dapelo-Garcia says her progression to upper management started in the conventional way; from a clerk to a lead, supervisor, manager, director to an administrative director.  Although her career was initially shaped by valuable hands-on experience in a number of staff-level jobs, she says it was her formal education that allowed her to advance her career to the executive level.

“Attending USF has certainly helped my career by teaching me advanced leadership skills and higher levels of analytical and critical 

thinking abilities”, says Dapelo-Garcia. “The [MPA] program not only exposed me to courses such as leadership ethics, and strategic management for public communication but to courses specific to my field such as health care issues and law.”

In line with the HFMA’s mission for its members to promote diversity and tolerance in the workplace, Dapelo-Garcia acknowledges the socio-cultural obstacles she faced in her life, and how she overcame them through the quest for a formal education.

“[Graduating with an MPA from USF] seemed surreal given my meager beginnings in a crime-ridden neighborhood in East San Jose,

California in the 1970’s … Little did I realize that my street-smarts and burning desire to be different and break free from the stereotype I was 

destined for was actually possible. Sitting in my first class at USF several years ago, I told myself that I can really do this no matter what others think or say!”

Dapelo-Garcia describes the moment she graduated at St. Ignatius Church as one of the highlights of her life, and said that being recognized as a Future Financial Leader has been a key milestone in her career. Adding to her pride in calling herself a mother, wife and Hispanic woman, Dapelo-Garcia hopes that others whose odds seem against them can follow in her footsteps.  “I look forward, in the years to come, to hearing about more Hispanics graduating from college and more Hispanics in the C-Suite.”