Leadership Team - VA San Diego Healthcare System
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VA San Diego Healthcare System


Leadership Team

Robert M. Smith, M.D., Director

Robert M. Smith, M.D. | 858-642-3201


Dr. Smith, a San Diego native, was appointed as the VA San Diego Healthcare System Director July 24, 2016. He has been associated with the San Diego VA since the time of his residency training at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and has held a range of leadership roles including Director of Medical Critical Care, Associate Chief of Staff for Healthcare Analysis, Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Development, and Chief of Staff. A graduate of Princeton University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering and of McGill University School of Medicine; Dr. Smith went on to complete residency training in Internal Medicine at UCSD. He subsequently did specialty training in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at UCSD and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Biochemistry at the Research Institute of Scripps Clinic. Dr. Smith is Professor of Medicine at UCSD, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, and a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians. He is a graduate of the 2010 VA Health Care Leadership Institute and the 2012 Interagency Institute for Federal Health Care Executives. Dr. Smith has been heavily involved in clinical informatics throughout his career and also serves on the VA Information Technology Committee and on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Regional Health Information Exchange

Cynthia Abair, MHA, Associate Director

Cynthia Abair, MHA | 858-642-3205

Associate Director

Ms. Cynthia E. Abair began as the Associate Director of the VA San Diego Health Care System effective July 22, 2007. In her current position, she oversees administrative operations including Engineering, Financial Management, Health Administration, Human Resources, Logistics, Environmental Health and Safety, and Voluntary Service. Prior to this assignment, she served as the Associate Director of the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System from February 2005 to July 2007. Previously, Cindy was a member of the Network 22 staff in Long Beach, California from July 1, 2003 until February 2005 where she served as Acting Network Operations Officer and the Acting Network Human Resources Manager. Prior to joining the Network, she held the position of Special Assistant to the Director at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System from December 2000 through June 2003, and served as Executive Assistant to the Director at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System from June 1997 to December 2000. Cindy began her VA career in 1987 as an Administrative Resident at the VA Long Beach; she completed the Health System Specialist Training program and then served as the Medical Service Administrative Officer until assuming the position of Executive Assistant to the Director. Cindy completed the Executive Career Field (ECF) Development program as a member of the Class of 2002 and Leadership VA 2003. Cindy graduated from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science degree and from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri with a Master of Health Administration. Cindy is a native of Memphis, Tennessee and is married to Tom Abair, who is a registered nurse, a veteran, and currently serving as a Lt. Commander in the US Navy Reserves.

Kathleen Kim, MD, MPH, Chief of Staff/Medical Director

Kathleen Kim, MD, MPH | 858-642-3241

Chief of Staff/Medical Director

Dr. Kathleen Kim was appointed Chief of Staff at the VA San Diego Healthcare System effective April 2017. She graduated from Brown University with a Bachelors of Arts in Biology in 1979 and with a medical degree in 1983. Dr. Kim also graduated from the Harvard School of Public Health with a Master's degree in Public Health. She completed residency training in Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine in 1987, and then completed a two year Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Mental Health Services Research also at Yale. Dr. Kim is a Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and has additional specialty certification in Geriatric Psychiatry. She is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine, and a Fellow of the American College Psychiatrists (ACP). Dr. Kim is also a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). She has chaired the ACP's Geriatric Research Award Committee, and served on the APA's Council on Aging. Dr. Kim is currently a member of the ACP Audit Committee. She served as the Secretary of the Society for Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine. Dr. Kim previously served as the Deputy Chief of Staff at the VA San Diego Healthcare System from May 2011. She has been a member of the Network 22 Primary Care Mental Health Integration Steering Committee and an ad hoc member of the Network 22 Mental Health Executive Committee.

Carmen Concepcion, MSN, MHA, RN, Associate Director, Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive

Carmen Concepcion, MSN, MHA, RN | 858-642-3839

Associate Director, Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive

Ms. Concepcion joined the executive leadership team effective August 21, 2016. She previously served at the VA Boston Healthcare System where she has held a range of leadership positions including Associate Chief Nurse of Community Living Center/Spinal Cord Injury. Among other roles at the Boston VA, she has also served as the Chief, Sterile Processing Service (SPS), Nurse Manager for Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, and Acting Nurse Manager of Medical/Surgical Telemetry Ward. Ms. Concepcion has a demonstrated focus on patient-centered care, and has made significant contribution in various leadership roles she has held. She has shown a record of consistently delivering results by aligning departments with organizational initiatives. Ms. Concepcion is a member of Board of Directors of the Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA) and has represented that group at both the local and national level. In this capacity, she actively supports the mission and vision of NOVA in ensuring our veterans receive the highest quality care throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs. Ms. Concepcion has earned a dual master’s degree in nursing and health administration from University of Phoenix in 2013 and a Bachelor’s of Science in nursing from Emmanuel College in 2006.

Sarah E. Guerard, MHA, Assistant Director

Sarah E. Guerard, MHA | 858-642-3839

Assistant Director

Ms. Sarah Guerard was appointed as the Assistant Director for the VA San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS) in November 2018. In this capacity, she is responsible for Police Service, Environmental Management Service, and the Veteran Experience Program. She serves as the executive liaison for Prosthetics, Canteen Service and the Community Based Outpatient Clinics. Ms. Guerard joined VASDHS in October of 2014 and has held various roles including Health System Specialist to the Medical Center Director, Acting Chief of Environmental Management Service, and Acting Assistant Director. Prior to her role as Health System Specialist she was the Operations Administrator of the VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Healthcare System from 2010 to 2014. She also served as the organizations System Redesign Coordinator and was responsible for the Environmental Management Service. Prior to joining VA, Ms. Guerard worked for North Central Baptist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas where she completed her fellowship in healthcare administration and then served as the Director of Operations. Mrs. Guerard is a native of Sacramento, California, received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Hawaii Pacific University, and a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration from Trinity University in San Antonio. Ms. Guerard is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and a graduate of the VA Healthcare Leadership Development Program (HCLDP). She is a certified mentor and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.