CommHIT is a 501(c)(6) headquartered at the Kennedy Space Center with additional locations in U.S. Virgin Islands, and Arizona. Although CommHIT works nationally, it was initiated in 2008 and established in 2011 at the request of Florida stakeholders (e.g., leadership of learning institutions, economic development, medical facilities, behavioral health, schoolboard, VA).
CommHIT focuses on the discovery and efficiency of processes and technologies dealing with the remote care of people—particularly those in rural, underserved, and other remote areas. Although CommHIT works on “Earth,” CommHIT’s work deals with efforts that can be used for people in space—as they are remote.
CommHIT increases community health, develops workforce, and improves lives by planning & operationalizing complex programs that involve combinations of community, health, & technology in areas that are rural, underserved, or otherwise remote.
CommHIT helps communities & businesses access training, technology, and transportation that takes into account the resources they lack or barriers they face. It also provides resources and services where gaps exist. CommHIT’s resources and services include:
- Community-based Health Information Exchange — MyHealthStory
- Connections to Care through Transportation — MyHealthDrīv
- Community-engaged Research — OneFlorida+ Clinical Research Network & Data Trust, PROMOTE-UP Smoking Cessation Clinical Trial NCT05415761, Chronic Pain Management Decision Support Clinical Trial NCT05256394, Rural HPV Vaccine Uptake NIH R37 grant, UF Project CONTINUITY
- Digital Connectivity — CommHIT FCC-approved Consortium
- Digital Security & Risk Management — CommHIT Information Sharing and Analysis Centers
- Workforce Development — DoL-supported Rural Roads to Connected Care and Tech Quest Apprenticeship Programs, Florida Department of Education-registered Technology and Health Apprenticeship Program (THAP), U.S. Virgin Islands DOL-registered CommHIT-USVI Apprenticeship Program, and Health Resources and Services Administration-supported Rural Public Health Workforce Training Network Program
CommHIT is endorsed by Enterprise Florida, the business development arm of the state of Florida. CommHIT was developed through two federal Rural Health Network Development grants (awarded in 2008 and 2011). The grant projects’ overarching purpose was to ensure that no communities would get left behind in the digital divide as healthcare delivery became electronic with the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. CommHIT prioritizes the individual, social factors, and the local workforce in the care continuum of communities.
Meet the Team
Kendra Siler, PhD
CommHIT President and CEO Kendra Siler is a nationally recognized leader in technologies and workforce development to support rural and underserved communities’ needs, digital security, and information sharing. She has 25 years of experience in complex healthcare, transportation, and communication issues, particularly in rural and underserved settings. Alongside CommHIT’s Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) David Willis, MD, Dr. Siler founded the CommHIT Initiative in 2008 as well as the CommHIT 501(c)(6)—established in 2011—located at the Kennedy Space Center.
Dr. Siler was an appointed stakeholder advisor to the Trump Administration White House Office of American Innovation, the Obama Administration White House Rural Council, and works in an advisory role to federal agencies. After COVID was first discovered and became a pandemic, Dr. Siler was a panelist for a United Nation’s Event as an expert addressing how technologies can be used to reduce COVID severity and spread.
Dr. Siler received her PhD from the University of Florida (UF) where she specialized in Immunology and Biochemistry, a boon in the COVID-affected world. In 2000, she was inducted into Gamma Sigma Delta (ΓΣΔ), the Honor Society of Agriculture and Animal Science. She received a National Research Service Award Fellowship to do post-doctoral research at the McKnight Brain Institute. During her time at the McKnight Brain Institute, she started working on the best ways to protect the privacy and security of centralized health data. Dr. Siler currently serves as the UF Health Cancer Center’s Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) Advisory Council Chair, which works with all UF cancer researchers to ensure that UF cancer research is connected, and contributes value, to the UF service area.
Starting in 2008, Dr. Siler led the development of the nation’s first rural-based Health Information Exchange (HIE); this HIE was appointed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allow veteran-initiated electronic sharing of their My HealtheVet health records with civilian providers to improve veterans’ healthcare access—also a national first and White House-supported.
She is the Wave 1 Lead of the HHS 405(d) Task Group and was a keynote panelist at the 2017 HHS healthcare cybersecurity initiative inaugural event alongside the HHS Chief Information Officer. The federal-award winning HHS 405(d) Program is a public-private partnership required under federal law to help healthcare organizations of all sizes improve their digital security practices.
Dr. Siler has been an appointed expert for the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Transportation Research Board Panel for Emergency Management in State Transportation Agencies. In 2014, Dr. Siler developed the Care Coordination Neighborhood model, which is the evidence-based foundation for Community Health Workers (CHWs) incorporating transport into their daily work with the community members they serve. In 2008, she spearheaded the development of the American Planning Association (APA)-recognized Community Health Element that was one of the State of Florida’s first county “health” elements in a Comprehensive Plan.
In 2022, Dr. Siler developed CommHIT’s Florida Department of Education-registered apprenticeship program called the Technology and Health Apprenticeship Program (THAP) [Florida registration GNJ (2022-FL- 111571)]. THAP houses apprentice occupations that are particularly important in communities that are rural or underserved. As of 2023, CommHIT also has a Virgin Islands Department of Labor-registered apprenticeship program called CommHIT-USVI (2023-VI-117744).
For Dr. Siler’s depth and breadth of work in helping the nation’s rural health systems understand and adopt HIT, she received a 2013 Critical Access and Rural Hospital Champion Award from the head of the U.S. Office of the National Coordinator. Her work focuses on leveraging community health technologies, innovative healthcare access models, patient safety, and connected communities—ultimately creating a strong and flexible COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKFORCE that can help patients in all communities day-to-day and in times of emergencies.
David C. Willis, MD
Dr. David Willis is a Board-Certified Family Physician who has served as Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) for Munroe Regional Medical Center and Chief Medical Officer for the Heart of Florida Federally Qualified Health Center, a NCQA Level-3 Certified Medical Home with eight clinical locations offering the following services: pediatric and adult medicine and dental, maternity, and behavioral health. He continues his clinical practice in a Direct Primary Care practice in Ocala, Florida.
Dr. Willis completed his undergraduate training in mathematics at Stetson University and obtained his Medical Doctorate at University of South Florida. He completed his training at the Florida Hospital Family Practice Residency in Orlando in 2000, and then returned to Ocala to practice. Starting in 2005, he was instrumental in establishing Healthy Ocala, one of the first community-based HIEs.
As CommHIT’s Co-Founder and CMIO, Dr. Willis merges his clinical and technology expertise to assist medical providers and social service organizations with cybersecurity, community engagement research, and better uses of technology to improve community health. Dr. Willis also serves as CommHIT’s Honest Broker for the OneFlorida+ Data Trust Program.
For Dr. Willis’ depth and breadth of work in helping the nation’s rural health systems adopt health information technologies, Dr. Willis received a 2013 Critical Access and Rural Hospital Champion Award from the U.S. Office of the National Coordinator.
Kevin Salzer, MSP, AICP
Kevin Salzer is CommHIT‘s Chief Technology Officer. Salzer leads MyHealthDrīv, CommHIT’s evidence-based transportation program. This program has been shown to reduce 911 calls in Marion County, FL and is used in multiple community-engaged research projects. Before dedicating his efforts to CommHIT, Salzer served as the Transportation Innovation Officer for Jacksonville Transportation Authority in Jacksonville, Florida. He developed and applied strategies to adapt emerging technologies and diverse transportation modes to better move people in Northeast Florida—a rural and urban mixed landscape. Salzer’s experience in Applied Research comes from his prolific work as a Senior Research Associate at the University of South Florida’s Center of Urban Transportation Research (CUTR). There he performed applied research on emerging technology solutions including connected vehicles, shared mobility, transit operations, service planning, health access, and emergency food systems.
Salzer served as one of four US expert delegates on the International Standards Organization (ISO) TC204 Work Group 8 for Intelligent Transport Systems.
Within the US, he served on two national Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) panels. TCRP is an applied research program sponsored by the US Federal Transit Administration that develops near-term, practical solutions to problems facing public transportation.
Salzer holds a Master of Science Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida State University and has been a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners since 2012.
Todd Hillis serves as CommHIT’s Head Cyber Sentinel. Hillis has 40 years of experience providing IT security services and training to government, military, and corporate personnel. Hillis has in-depth knowledge and experience with vulnerability management, computer forensic acquisition and examination, perimeter security, operational security, and enterprise security management. For CommHIT’s PH-ISAC, Hillis’ efforts revolve around the acquisition, tracking, and compromise of Internet-based criminal activity, hacking, botnets, and Internet predators.
Hillis retired from the United States Navy in 2004 after 21 years of Active Duty service. During his Naval career, he acted as the Information Systems Security Manager for the Southeast Region of the United States. He was also instrumental in assisting the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), Jacksonville Field Office in the implementation of its forensics capabilities.
Hillis previously served as Principal Secure Systems Engineer for the BAE Systems Center of Excellence where he was the technical and capture lead for the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) and Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) initiatives. During his tenure at BAE, he selected, architected, and won four of the main DOD Information Assurance programs that are in use today including the Host Based Security System (HBSS). He also provided research, testing, and evaluation of software product suites, as well forensic and computer security services to BAE Systems for many of the different vertical business units.
Hillis harnesses his experience in source intelligence collection, information security, and network defense to support IACI’s mission of information sharing, analysis, and network protection for its customers.
Hillis has received sustained recognition and awards from the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service for assistance in software development, forensic examinations, training, and technical support. For instance, during his Naval career, Hillis received recognition from the U.S. Naval Institute and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) as a Copernicus Award winner. The Copernicus Award is given annually to people who show exceptional individual contribution in the disciplines of command, control, communications and computers, information systems, and information warfare (C4I). The solutions he architected saved the Navy alone over $30M.
Alexander Suvorov, PhD, CISSP
Alexander Suvorov, CommHIT’s Security Lead, is a highly skilled IT professional, with significant experience in organizational leadership and mentorship. Dr. Suvorov uses his extensive experience and education to help CommHIT’s clients deploy and operate cost-effective and reliable digital security programs that can be managed and matured from within the organization once deployed. He also leads CommHIT’s OneFlorida+ Data Trust technical operations. The OneFlorida+ Data Trust houses claims and encounter data for 17M patients, including Floridians enrolled in Medicaid and robust patient-level electronic health record data from public and private healthcare systems. Data include diagnoses, procedures, medications, patient demographics, unique patient codes for re-identification by network partners, exposome data on the natural, built and social environments, and other data elements. Dr. Suvorov is perfectly suited for these roles as he has specialized in leadership of enterprise IT systems in multi-faceted healthcare settings for over 18 years.
Dr. Suvorov’s extensive education and years of professional experience allow him to communicate well with interdepartmental executive leadership and team members alike. He ensures that the work he does aligns with overall organizational goals and reduces their security risks.
Dr. Suvorov always aims for the highest standard of self-improvement and is continually mastering his personal and technical skills. He holds many industry-standard technical certifications that emphasize security, networking, and data center management.
Keith Smith, CommHIT’s Technical Project Manager, comes to CommHIT with over 10 years of IT experience ranging from helpdesk to network security and electronic health record system development. Smith’s strengths are software development, databases, and project management. Much of his experience has been in the Mental Health industry, where data privacy and information governance are particularly important.
In addition to his technical work, Keith has 10 years of Law Enforcement experience. During his career, he served on the SWAT Team, Color Guard, and Canine Training details. Keith has an Associate of Science Degree from Full Sail University.
Gwen Garris, the founder and owner of G2 Telecom, is the CommHIT Consortium Federal Funding Specialist. Garris supports the financial viability of healthcare facilities and education systems with two federal programs: the Healthcare Connect Fund and E-Rate Programs.
Prior to establishing G2 Telecom, Garris served as a Wireless Business Solutions Consultant and Account Manager. As an Independent Agent, she represented various wireless carriers: Sprint, Nextel, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. Along with wireless services experience, Garris has represented several software and hardware products as well as business services, ranging from location-based services, time-clock integration, payroll, and more recently, customized telecom restructuring for businesses.
Garris attributes her longevity in the industry to establishing rock solid client relationships. She prides herself in being accessible and available to work with clients through detailed and complex funding requests. Garris builds long-term relationships based on trust and respect by consistently delivering results while minimizing the burden on clients’ staff time.
Andrew Post, MA
Andy Post serves as CommHIT’s VP of Operations. He administers the CommHIT’s Florida Department of Education-registered Technology and Apprenticeship (THAP) and is the Project Director of CommHIT’s Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) Rural Public Health Workforce Training Network Program grant program entitled Community Connected Care Workforce (or C3w+ for short). Post began working with CommHIT in 2011, where he assisted in identifying and securing community partners, establishing budgets for identified projects, coordinating community meetings, and submitting reports to state and federal partners. Post has a BS degree in Sociology and a MA in Applied Sociology with an emphasis in Health and Human Service.
Jaquesha Jefferson, CommHIT’s lead Data Analyst, obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences on a Pre-Clinical Track from the University of Central Florida in August 2022. She is currently enrolled at Florida State University, pursuing her Master of Public Health degree. Jefferson’s degree focuses on policy, which has made her interested in understanding what changes can be implemented at the governmental level to eliminate health disparities faced by individuals residing in rural communities. Previoously, Jefferson worked for the Florida Department of Health as the FLEX Grant Coordinator. Jefferson has a true passion for serving others, and expanding access to care for all individuals, ensuring that the quality of life is great for all.
Lila Guertin, MSHI
Lila Guertin, MyHealthStory’s VP of Practice Accounts, combines her experience in healthcare delivery and education in health informatics to assist providers and patients to use the MyHealthStory system to its fullest, privately, and securely. Guertin is a certified MyHealthStory Technology Evolution Specialist. Guertin is also the director of the Cardiovascular Technology Program at Santa Fe College, where she teaches echocardiography, vascular sonography, and patient care. In addition to assisting providers and practices with MyHealthStory implementation, Guertin lead the CommHIT Team in the development of the Health Information Technology Certified Manager – Physician Practice (HITCM-PP) Certification Program for the national Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM). Guertin’s education includes a Bachelor’s of Health Sciences degree from Florida Gulf Coast University and a Master’s degree in Health Informatics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.