Our Staff

Leslie Barden joined SAHA in August 2023 as its current CEO following the retirement of long-time leader Bill Bedsole. She comes to SAHA bringing a rich array of experience in strategy, business development and growth, transformation to create new models of care focusing on improving population health based on new payment models, and most importantly to this role, many years forming and leading productive partnerships.

Barden has been working in healthcare on the provider side since 1986 when she started at United Health Services in Binghamton, NY as an Administrative Resident for her graduate work at Xavier University. She grew professionally at UHS serving the organization for over 15 years and advancing into executive leadership. She also served as an executive at Methodist Health in Dallas, VHA (now Vizient), Blaze Advisors (now Alera Health), and St. Peter’s Health Partners a member of Trinity Health. While at St. Peter’s Health Partners, she simultaneously held the role as Chief Strategy Officer as well as CEO of the Innovative Health Alliance of NY (IHANY) which is a clinically integrated network with ACO level contracts with Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and commercial payers.

She is passionate about providers transforming care to create stronger HEALTH based on a whole person model of care supported by a changed business model in healthcare. But she is very much in tune with the business drivers for health care providers and the balancing act of needing to sustain themselves in a fee for service payment environment while effectively leading new models of value based care.  This deep appreciation for the business realities of today and how they are changing serves her well in leading the SAHA members through knowledge sharing, networking, collaboration, and aggregation.

She holds an undergraduate degree in biology from St. John Fisher University in Rochester, NY, and a graduate degree in health administration from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. She is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives where she has been an active participant in the Mentorship program for ACHE of North Texas. Her husband John is a CPA and dean at the University of Texas at Dallas, and they have three adult children.

Click here to contact Leslie


Swati Bhardwaj joined SAHA in August 2007 as a Project Manager and currently serves as the Director of Operations for SAHA.  In this role, Swati provides day to day oversight and support for SAHA staff while serving as a networking liaison for SAHA members. 

Swati also chairs  several SAHA teams involving a variety of initiatives, exploring both educational and cost saving opportunities for the membership. Some of the teams Swati is currently working with include the SAHA CNO team, Pharmacy, Case Management, Business Office, Quality and Patient Safety teams.

Swati has an M.H.A from The Ohio State University and also a Master's degree in Microbiology. Her previous work experience includes working as a consultant on various process and quality improvement initiatives in a variety of healthcare settings. She has worked extensively on projects related to patient satisfaction and outcomes improvement. In addition to this she also ran the registration department at a community hospital and was closely involved with the business office operations.

Swati is a certified Master trainer for TeamSTEPPS and recently earned her Green Belt certification in Lean Training.  She is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), the Triangle Healthcare Executives Forum of North Carolina (THEF)  and currently serves as the Chapter President, as well as the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ).  Swati is an active member of the North Carolina Association for Healthcare Quality (NCAHQ).   

A member of the North Carolina HFMA, Swati is also a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE), a professional certification sponsored by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).  She recently earned certifications in Patient Safety, as a Certified Professional in Patient Safety (CPPS), sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement IHI) and Healthcare Quality, as a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ)  a coveted certification through the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ).  

Click here to contact Swati


Cindy Nobling is the Executive Assistant to the CEO and Office Manager for SAHA. She joined SAHA in March 2006. Prior to joining SAHA, Cindy worked in the operations and human resources departments at First Citizens Bank. She has extensive experience in planning and directing executive level administrative affairs. 

Cindy's current responsibilities include communications to the SAHA Board, Executive Committee and Finance Committee and she serves as the recording secretary for the SAHA Board of Directors. Cindy manages team meeting schedules and coordinates all on and off-site executive meetings. She also serves on the Board of the North Carolina Healthcare Administrative Professionals (NCHAP) as the Immediate Past President and is currently the Membership Chair as well as serving on other various committees.  

Cindy keeps operations running smoothly to enhance the success of our team.  


Click here to contact Cindy

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