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Officers

 

John D. Forsyth
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Education
A native of Saginaw, Michigan, John Forsyth holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and a master's degree in economics from Michigan State University.


Career

John Forsyth is Chairman and CEO of Wellmark, Inc.  Wellmark is the largest health insurer in both Iowa and South Dakota and issues or pays health benefit claims for more than 2 million Iowans and South Dakotans.

 

Forsyth joined Wellmark as CEO in August 1996 and was named chairman in 2000.  During his tenure, he has repositioned Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield as a health improvement company dedicated to serving the people of Iowa and South Dakota. 

 

Under his leadership, Wellmark has achieved exceptional operating efficiencies and results.  As testament, medical trend and administrative costs for Wellmark now rank among the lowest in the nation.  Further, membership has grown by over 60 percent.

 

Believing that the extensive health care data maintained by Wellmark can be a powerful catalyst for action to improve community health, Forsyth has transformed the company's sharing of appropriate information with community leaders, policymakers, customers, and others. Complementing this approach, the company is currently on a journey to build a sustainable health care system by reducing the rate of increase in medical expenses and reducing the average rate increase to the level of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) by 2015. A significant component of this work includes improving the Well-Being of all Iowan’s.  Forsyth is co-chairing a team that has been charged with developing a plan to Make Iowa the Healthiest State.  This plan will have a significant emphasis on changing the environment in which Iowans live, work and play and will be announced by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad yet this summer.

 

Before joining Wellmark, Forsyth served in a variety of executive roles over a 26-year career with the University of Michigan.  In 1985, he was named president and CEO of the University of Michigan Health System, one of the largest and most prestigious health systems in the nation. 

 

In April 2000, at Governor Tom Vilsack’s request, Forsyth led a state-wide task force on teacher compensation, which resulted in precedent-setting changes to teacher pay in Iowa.  In April 2003, Forsyth was named by Governor Vilsack to the Iowa Board of Regents, and he served as president of the board from April 2004 to January 2005. 

 

The Wellmark Foundation, under Forsyth’s leadership, focuses its philanthropic activities on key areas of health improvement for all Iowans and South Dakotans.  The Foundation awards more than $1.5 million annually to fund community-based health initiatives in Iowa and South Dakota.  Since 1997, over $18 million has been awarded to nearly 450 grant recipients.

 

A contributing author and editor for various publications throughout his career, including the Journal of the American College of Healthcare Executives, Forsyth served on the Detroit Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago board of directors from 1992-1996 and was Chair from 1995-1996. 

 

Forsyth served as president of the Federation of Iowa Insurers, and is a member of the Iowa Business Council, serving as chair of that organization in 2004.  He has also chaired the board of directors of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, United Way of Central Iowa, and the Variety Club Annual Telethon.  In September 2003, he was elected to the board of directors of Baxter, International, Inc., and in May 2004 named chair of the Compensation Committee.  He is a member of the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) board of directors and currently serves as chairman of that organization.  He has chaired the Investment Committee of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and in November, 2008 was named to their initial board of directors.  In October, 2010, Forsyth joined the REACH (Realizing Education and Career Hopes) Board, which is a college program for students with learning and cognitive disabilities that is affiliated with the University of Iowa, and on July 1, 2011, Forsyth became the first Public Member to sit on the Board of Directors of the American Board of Radiology Foundation. 

 

Forsyth served, and continues to serve, on numerous national committees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, including serving on its board of directors and chairing the Health Policy and Legislative Committee.  In November 2008 Forsyth served as co-chair of the NAACP Des Moines Branch’s 33rd Annual Freedom Fund Banquet, and under his leadership, Wellmark received the 2008 Better Business Bureau Integrity Award, the 2009 Sioux Empire Society for Human Resource Management Workplace Excellence Award, the 2010 Greater Des Moines Partnership Diversity Award, and the 2010 NAACP Merit Employer Award. In 2011, Forsyth was a recipient of the Diversity Journal CEO Leadership in Action Award.  

 

 


 

David Brown
Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Education

David graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Washington University in St. Louis. He also earned an MBA with High Distinction from the University of Michigan. He is a certified public accountant. 


Career

David joined Wellmark in May, 2011. As the company’s executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer, he is responsible for the finance functions, including accounting, tax, actuarial, underwriting, investments, procurement, analytics and property management.


David also serves on the Boards of the Des Moines Redevelopment Company and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.


Prior to joining Wellmark, David spent twelve years with Capital One Financial, most recently as managing vice president where he led the finance function for Capital One’s Domestic Credit Card business. David also has experience in management consulting with Bain and Company, and started his career in public accounting with PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

 


 

Matt Brown
Vice President, Property Management
 

Education

An Iowa native, Matt Brown received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Iowa State University and is a registered architect in the State of Iowa.  


Career
As Vice President, Property Management, Matt is responsible for management of Wellmark buildings across Iowa and South Dakota, which include nearly 800,000 square feet of office space. Matt serves as the corporate face in the community for all Wellmark property and facility related matters including land acquisition and disposition, and represents Wellmark’s interests on relevant community and industry boards.

 

Prior to joining Wellmark, Matt spent almost five years as construction manager and vice president for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Corporate Real Estate, in West Des Moines. In that capacity, he was responsible for implementation of major site construction projects totaling over 2.0 million square feet and a combined budget of $421 million, with primary focus on the Wells Fargo West Des Moines Campus Project, a 965,000-square-foot facility that had a budget of $260 million. Prior to his role at Wells Fargo, Matt practiced Architecture with a regional design firm.

 

 


 

Kenny E. Chasten
Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer
 

Kenny earned his Bachelor of Arts in Business from William Penn University. He is a Fellow, Life Management Institute (FLMI), and Associate, Customer Service (ACS) in the Life Office Management Association.

 

Kenny came to Wellmark in March 2008 as a consultant for the procurement of purchases and contract negotiations related to the new corporate headquarters. In February 2010, he transitioned to Director, Strategic Sourcing where he has been instrumental in achieving significant administrative savings through contract negotiations. He was then promoted to Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer for Wellmark, Inc. In this role, Kenny is responsible for providing company oversight and control for the development, negotiation, implementation and contract administration of all supplier contracts while aligning the procurement strategy with the strategy of the business. In addition, Kenny serves as a member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Strategic Sourcing Advisory Council.

 

Prior to his career at Wellmark, Kenny was a Partner and Vice President at Midwest Procurement Partners, LLC after working at the Principal Financial Group for 13 years in Strategic Sourcing and Procurement. In addition, he served in the U.S. Army Reserve and retired after 21 years of service in the medical field as a Medical Technologist. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

 


Marcelle (Marci) J. Chickering
Executive Vice President People and Process

Education

Marci received her bachelor’s degree in Management from the University of Northern Iowa. She earned her Masters in Business Administration with an emphasis in Human Resources from the University of Iowa.


Career
Marci joined Wellmark in 2003 and served in multiple HR roles prior to her appointment of Senior Vice President - Human Resources in September 2009.  Currently, Marci has the accountability of the Human Resource and Process Excellence functions serving as Executive Vice President – People and Process.  She is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and is certified in the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument. She currently sits on the Greater Des Moines Partnership and Workforce Development/ Education Board.

 


Jason G. Cooper
Vice President, Business Analytics

Education

Jason earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science from West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. He earned his second Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering, with an emphasis on healthcare informatics, from Duke University in Durham, NC.


Career

Jason began his career with Wellmark in April 2012 as Vice President, Business Analytics. In addition to analytics strategy, tactics and oversight, he is responsible for organization-wide business analytics and informatics including data governance, exploratory analyses, opportunity mining, program evaluation, client consulting and reporting.

 

Jason has more than 20 years of experience in analytics and informatics covering for-profit, non-profit and government domains, including leading analytic teams at Cigna and CVS Caremark. He also has experience with verification and validation of NASA spaceflight software. He serves on the Board of Directors for Easter Seals of Iowa and chairs its Community Outreach committee. He is a member of the American Medical Informatics Association and is an editorial board member for the American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits.  Jason also advises and/or collaborates with the University of Iowa's colleges of business, engineering and public health, Des Moines University's healthcare administration program, Drake University's informatics programs and Simpson College's healthcare administration program.

 


Mike J. Crowley
Vice President, Finance & Controller

Education
Mike Crowley holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Iowa, with a major in accounting. He is also a certified public accountant (CPA).


Career
As Vice President, Finance & Controller, Mike is responsible for Wellmark's investments, cash management/treasury functions, billing operations, financial analysis, mergers and acquisitions and competitor intelligence. He has been with the company since 1985, serving in a variety of financial and provider network positions. Prior to his current position, he served as the group leader for Financial Planning and Analysis as well as leadership positions in Large Group Underwriting and in Provider Network Development and Management. He has also held staff positions as a Medicare auditor, an internal auditor and PPO coordinator.

 

Crowley is a Health Insurance Associate (HIA) and Managed Healthcare Professional (MHP) in the Health Insurance Association of America; a Professional in the Academy of Healthcare Management (PAHM); and a Fellow, Life Management Institute (FLMI) in the Life Office Management Association. He is a member of the Iowa Society of CPAs, a board member of the House of Mercy, and is a graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute.

 


Philip M. Davis
President and Chief Operating Officer of Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, and President and Chief Executive Officer, First Administrators Inc. (FAI) 

Education
A graduate of Arizona State University, Phil Davis received a bachelor of science degree in business administration.

 

Career
Davis is president and chief operating officer of Wellmark of South Dakota Inc., dba Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota. He also is president and CEO of FAI. He began his Blue Cross and Blue Shield career in 1973, where he served in various management positions with South Dakota Blue Shield. In 1995, he was named president and chief executive officer of South Dakota Blue Shield. Following the Iowa/South Dakota merger in 1996, he served as senior vice president and chief operating officer of Wellmark of South Dakota until assuming his new duties in 1999. He was named president and CEO of FAI in June, 2012.

 

In addition to his current work duties, Davis is very active within the Sioux Falls community having served on the board of several organizations, including the American Lung Association of South Dakota and the Center for Active Generations. He has also served several years on the South Dakota Symphony board and on the board of the Wegner Health Science Information Center and the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Davis also has been active in the Sioux Empire United Way.

 

In 2003, he was appointed by Gov. Mike Rounds to serve on the South Dakota Health Care Commission.

 


Ellen G. Diedrichsen

Vice President, Underwriting 

Education

Ellen received her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Iowa State University.  She is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. 


Career

As the vice president of Underwriting, Ellen's responsibilities include development of new business and renewal rates for fully insured and self-funded business and medical underwriting for individual policies.  She is also responsible for the Financial Planning and Analysis Team (Budget Office), which develops and maintains the corporate budget by company and market segment in addition to managing and reporting for the operating expenses budgets. She began her career at Wellmark in April 1996 as a senior actuary and later as the budget director.  Prior to her career at Wellmark, she was a Health Actuary at American Family Insurance, American Republic Insurance and Farmland Insurance.

 

Ellen is currently serving on the board of directors of the Employee and Family Resources Foundation and WellPac, the voluntary political action committee sponsored by Wellmark, Inc.

 


Mike Demand
Vice President, Health & Care Management 

Education

A native of Ohio, Mike earned an undergraduate degree with honors from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  He also holds a Ph.D. in medical sociology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Career

Mike joined Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in March 2011, and leads the company's health and care management functions.  This includes utilization management, medical review, case management, disease management, wellness and accreditation programs.  

 

Mike has experience in managed care, health care analytics and program management. Prior to joining Wellmark Mike served as Vice President, Care Management for Bravo Health, and on the leadership teams of Pfizer Health Solutions and Veridign Health Solutions.  He also served as a director in the Health Services division at Independence Blue Cross.  

 

Mike has published and spoken on health lifestyles, care management program design and effectiveness, and Medicare Advantage.


 


Michele A. Druker
Vice President, Associate General Counsel & Assistant Board Secretary 

Education
Michele Druker received her bachelor’s degree with honors from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and received her Juris Doctor degree with highest honors from the University of Iowa College of Law, where she served as Articles Editor of the Iowa Law Review.


Career
As vice president, associate general counsel and assistant board secretary, Druker oversees all legal and insurance regulatory services including litigation, corporate transactions, contracts, legal services, and insurance filings for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and its subsidiaries. She also serves as secretary of The Wellmark Foundation. Prior to joining the Wellmark Legal Department in 1988, Druker was a partner at the Dickinson Law Firm in Des Moines, Iowa. She also was a law clerk for Donald Lay, chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

 

Druker is a member of the Iowa State Bar Association, American Health Lawyers Association, Polk County Bar Association and is admitted to practice before the State and Federal courts in Iowa. Druker is a member of the Board of Directors and Treasurer for the Central Iowa Chapter of the American Red Cross. She also serves on the Children and Families of Iowa Foundation Board of Directors.

 


Michael D. Fay
Vice President, Health Networks
 

Education
Mike Fay earned his bachelor of business administration degree in accounting from Iowa State University. He is also a Health Insurance Associate (HIA) and Managed Healthcare Professional (MHP), as designated by the Health Insurance Association of America and a Professional as designated by the Academy for Healthcare Management.


Career
Fay joined Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield in 1984 and was promoted to vice president of Provider Economics in June of 1998. In that role, he led the Provider Economics team in developing, implementing, and maintaining all hospital, physician, and other provider compensation strategies and claims-payment editing processes at Wellmark. He was actively involved in the development and implementation of the universal contracting and provider compensation strategy for the Iowa market. In his new role as vice president, Health Networks, he is providing strategic direction and leading teams in building and maintaining provider alliances (Network Relations), performing best in class credentialing and contract administration  (Network Administration), designing and implementing competitive provider compensation strategies (Network Economics) and retaining and expanding our provider focused quality programs (Collaboration on Quality®, Clinical Integration and Physician Data Sharing).  Mike is currently a member of the Iowa Chapter of the HealthCare Financial Management Association and is a graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute.

 


Scott Froyen
Vice President, Customer Experience 

Scott Froyen

Education
Scott is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa with a B.A. in Accounting. He holds designations of Certified Public Accountant, Fellow, Life Management Institute, and Six Sigma Black Belt.

  Career
Scott joined Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield in 1987 and currently serves as vice president of Customer Experience, responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership to drive transformational efforts on behalf of our customers.
 
Previously, Scott has served as vice president, Sales; vice president, Sales Operations; vice president, Membership & Enrollment; vice president, Controller, and director, Process Excellence at Wellmark. Prior to joining Wellmark Scott was a manager at KPMG servicing clients in the financial services industry. He is a member of the LifeServe Blood Center Board of Directors and is a past chairman. 



Mike Gerrish
Vice President, Corporate & Marketing Communications

Education

A native of Illinois, Mike Gerrish received a bachelor’s degree in Public Communications and Human Relations from Western Illinois University. He also earned a master’s degree in Organizational Communications from Western Illinois University.

 

Career

Gerrish joined Wellmark in 2009 and previously served as the Director, Marketing Communications. In September 2011, he was named Vice President of Corporate and Marketing Communications.

 

Gerrish has a diverse corporate and marketing communications background in retail and  financial services that has focused on direct to customer strategies to build strong brands from the inside out. Prior to joining Wellmark, he was the Store Communications Manager for Payless ShoeSource with Collective Brands, Inc. where he led operational communication efficiencies for more than 25,000 employees at 4,600 Payless ShoeSource locations in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America and introduced communication tools to measure associate engagement. Gerrish also served as the Director of Internal Communications with Discover Financial Services, managing and implementing the corporate communication strategy to more than 14,000 employees across nine locations.

 


Timothy R. Gutshall, MD
Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Education

Dr. Tim Gutshall is a native of Ohio and came to Iowa in 1975 to play football for the Iowa Hawkeyes. He was the captain of the 1978 Hawkeye football team and won many awards for his combination of academic and athletic talents. He went on to medical school at the University of Iowa, receiving his medical degree in 1983. Gutshall chose to attend Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for his Family Medicine residency which he completed in 1986.

 

Career

Dr. Gutshall opened a practice in Des Moines in the summer of 1986 and got a quick lesson in the challenges of running a busy primary care clinic practice. He was an original partner in the formation of the Iowa Physicians Clinic in 1988.

 

In 1995 Dr. Gutshall transitioned to the emergency room as a full-time staff physician at Iowa Methodist. He was charged with coordinating the ER experience of the internal medicine residents, enjoying his role in teaching future clinicians. Gutshall was a part of the Iowa Health System merger in Des Moines in the late 1990s assisting in combining the Iowa Methodist ER physicians with the Iowa Lutheran ER physicians to form Health System Emergency Physicians.

 

In 2007 Dr. Gutshall became the Senior Clinical Director of Telligen, formerly Iowa Foundation for Medical Care. He developed his skill set in quality improvement methodologies and communication skills. He has used his experience and skills on the local, state and national scenes to engage CEO's, CFO's, physicians and nurses to understand the importance of process improvement and communication skills in impacting the quality of care in the clinical micro system. He has lectured in over 70 hospitals and in multiple national venues, including the Institute of Healthcare Improvement. He became Chief Medical Officer at Telligen in 2010 and continued in that role until joining Wellmark in March of 2012.

 

Dr. Gutshall is affiliated with the Iowa Medical Society, American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Medical Association. He is currently on the Board of the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative and is a past board member of the Health Access Partnership.

 


Cory R. Harris

Executive Vice President and General Counsel

Education
Cory holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Iowa, and his Master of Business Administration degree and Juris Doctor degrees from  Drake University where he graduated with high honors and Order of the Coif.


Career

Cory is the Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Wellmark.  He joined Wellmark as Senior Vice President and General Counsel in October 2011, and was promoted to his current position in January 2014. In his role, Cory has overall accountability and oversight for Wellmark’s Legal Division, which includes Legal, Government Relations and Public Policy, Corporate Governance, Compliance, Privacy & Security, Special Inquiries and Appeals, Internal Audit, and Performance Auditing and Reporting. 

 

Prior to joining Wellmark, Cory spent 11 years with Iowa’s largest law firm, Nyemaster Goode, P.C., representing various health insurance clients (including Wellmark) in areas such as provider agreements, antitrust, fraud and abuse, licensing, Medicare, Medicaid, HIPAA (privacy and security), compliance programs, and other legislative and regulatory issues. 


Lisa Heagle

Vice President, Process Excellence

 

Education
Lisa earned her Bachelor of Science degrees in Chemistry and Marketing from the University of Northern Iowa. She is a Six Sigma Master Blackbelt, as well as Certified Lean Master.


Career

Lisa joined Wellmark in Septemeber of 2013. She is responsible for leading the Process Excellence team, working closely with executive leadership and other service departments within Wellmark to help identify and deliver on strategic opportunities, strengthening the value we bring to our customers, while obtaining substantial cost savings.

 

Lisa has more than 20 years experience applying quality concepts to manufacturing, insurance, financial services and retail processes. Prior to joining Wellmark, Lisa served as Vice President, Quality and Process Improvement with Krause Gentle Corporation. She was also with Wells Fargo for seven years as Vice President, Operational Excellence. Prior to her time with Wells Fargo, Lisa worked for Wellmark and was a member of the Process Improvement team.

 


R. Mathew Hosford, RPh

Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer

Education

A native of Wales, UK, Matt received his pharmacy degree from Drake University and has been a registered pharmacist in the State of Iowa since 1996. He is a member of the American Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy and the Iowa Pharmacist's Association.


Career

As Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer, Matt leads the clinical and operational facets of the Wellmark pharmacy program which includes serving as the chair of Wellmark's Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee which is responsible for guiding clinical decisions that are the foundations of a diverse pharmacy product portfolio. Additionally, Hosford oversees vendors and utilization management programs in order to successfully contain rising drug costs. Matt has served in various roles within the pharmacy department since joining Wellmark in 2007.

 

Matt has over 15 years of experience in pharmacy benefit management and has served in an account management role with First Health Services, a Coventry HealthCare Company, where he was responsible for the implementation of pharmacy benefit management programs for various state Medicaid programs. Matt also served as the Director for Medical Affairs for AdvancePCS (now CVS Caremark) where he was responsible for formulary management and drug utilization review programs for more than 78 million covered members.

 

Matt is a veteran of the US Army Reserve where he most recently served as a combat support officer and a company commander. Matt was twice awarded the Bronze Star and a Combat Action Badge for his service during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

 

Matt is a diplomat for the Drake University Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy Student Chapter, a member of the Iowa Pharmacist Association New Practice Model Task Force and a member of the BlueCross BlueShield Association National Council of Physician and Pharmacist Executives.

 


Laura Jackson
Executive Vice President, Health Care Innovation & Business Development
Laura Jackson

Education
Laura Jackson received her undergraduate degree from Iowa State University, and a master's degree from Marymount University in Arlington, Va. 

 

Career

Laura joined the company in 2002, and served as the senior vice president of Human Resources.

 

In the fall of 2008, she led the development of an expanded strategy to collaboratively build a sustainable health care system in Iowa and South Dakota. This ultimately means that the average increase in health care costs for our members will be equal to the Consumer Price Index, a standard measure of inflation. As a result, she was appointed to executive vice president, Health Care Strategy and Policy.  

 

Another major component of Jackson’s responsibility is the Blue Zones Project™ announced in September of 2011, as a cornerstone of the Healthiest State Initiative launched by Governor Branstad in August of 2011. The Blue Zones Project™ seeks to help all Iowans live longer, happier lives with lower rates of chronic disease and higher quality of life by applying the learnings from the New York Times bestselling book, “The Blue Zones — Lessons for Living Longer, from the People Who’ve Live the Longest.”  This project brings common elements into our everyday environment through a series of small evidenced-based changes that make the healthy choice the easy choice.

 

Currently, as Executive Vice President, Health Care Innovation & Business Development, Laura is responsible for sales, marketing, public relations, management and compensation of the provider network, pharmacy, health and care management, wellness, and health care sustainability and strategy. The combination of responsibilities under Laura’s leadership allows complete integration and collaboration to ensure holistic solutions are applied to meet customer needs.

 

Prior to joining Wellmark in July of 2002, Laura was second vice president of Human Resources at The Principal Financial Group in Des Moines. Before that, she worked in Human Resources at Professional Property Management, Inc., and Younkers, Inc., both in the Des Moines area, and at Michael Baker, Jr., Inc., and Short Brothers, Inc., both in Virginia. 

 

Laura is a current board member of the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative, Healthiest State Initiative, YMCA of Greater Des Moines, Wellness Council of Iowa, and co-chair of the Wellness Capital (Capital Crossroads Project). She is also a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Child Health & Wellness and Iowa State University’s Food, Science and Human Nutrition Advisory Council. She is a past sub-committee member of the Iowa Business Council, and a former board member for Salisbury House and Orchard Place Foundations. In 2013, she was chosen as one of eight women to receive the Des Moines Business Record’s Women of Influence Award. Laura was chosen by Iowa State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to receive its 2014 Citation of Merit Award.

 


Jim Knoepfler

Vice President, Marketing

Jim Knoepfler

Education
Jim is a graduate of the University of Iowa with a Bachelors of Business Administration degree and a major in Marketing.

 

Career

Jim joined Wellmark in 2006 as the Director of Marketing for First Administrators, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Wellmark Inc.

 

In 2011, Jim became the Interim President of First Administrators and held this position until August 2012, when he assumed the position of Vice President, Sales Operations. In March 2013, Jim became Vice President of Marketing, leading efforts for the strategy, tractics and marketing programs for Wellmark.

 

Jim's background includes more than 20 years in the benefits industry. Prior to joining Wellmark, he held numerous positions with the Principal Financial Group in its Group Operations and Marketing areas.

 


Jared Landin
Vice President, Audit Services
Jared Landin

Education
Jared Landin earned his Bachelor's degree in Accounting from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.  

 

Career

Jared joined Wellmark in May 2012 as Vice President of Audit Services. Jared is responsible for Wellmark's Internal Audit, Performance Audit, and WellSOX teams.

 

Before joining Wellmark, Jared spent the last two years leading the Minneapolis office of Resources Global (a spinoff of Deloitte). Prior to that, he spent nine years with Jefferson Wells in a variety of roles in Minneapolis and London, UK, including: Managing Director overseeing the Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Iowa territories; Minneapolis Internal Audit and IT Audit Director; National Technology Director; Global Financial Services Industry Leader; and, in London, European Regional Risk and Advisory Director, and Director of Internal and IT Audit.

 

Prior to Jefferson Wells, Jared spent approximately four years with McGladrey and Pullen in a National IT practice that focused on SAS 70s, IT Audit and Security, and Business Continuity Planning. He began his career as in Internal Auditor and IT Auditor with ReliaStar Financial (now owned by ING).

 


Sean McTaggart
Vice President, Sales

Education
Sean earned a Bachelor’s degree in management and economics from Wartburg College.


Career

Sean joined Wellmark in July 2013 and previously served as director of Strategic Sales Operations. As Vice President of Sales, Sean is responsible for providing strategic direction in selling and renewing groups and individual policies. He provides strategic leadership over sales strategy, operations, process and culture, channel choice and management, and customer advocacy.

 

Prior to joining Wellmark, Sean was chief of Wellness Strategy & Operations at Principal Wellness and served various roles at Principal Financial Group, including strategy development, network contracting, regional vice president for a 15-state region and plan president. Prior to Principal, Sean had 16 years of sales experience primarily in the pharmaceutical industry.

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Tom Newton
Vice President, Network Engagement

Education
A native of Iowa, Tom holds a bachelor's degree in environmental planning and political science and a master's in public policy from the University of Northern Iowa. He is also a graduate of the State Health Leadership Institute, a program of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.


Career
Tom serves as the vice president of Network Engagement for Wellmark and is responsible for engaging Wellmark's provider network - specifically working with hospitals and physicians to better understand their business challenges, develop new programs, and build a strong foundation of quality health care. He joined Wellmark in 2011.

 

Prior to joining Wellmark, Tom spent eleven years with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), where he served as a community health consultant, division director for environmental health, and most recently as its director. His accomplishments as director of IDPH included: working with health care stakeholders and policymakers to implement Iowa's Health Care Reform Act of 2008, advocacy for and passage of Iowa's Smoke-free Air Act, and the public health response to historic flooding and the H1N1 influenza outbreak.

 

Tom is a current board member of the Iowa Sports Foundation and Polk County Advisory Board of Health. He also represents the Iowa Federation of Insurers on the executive committee of the Iowa Health Information Network.

 


Elaine M. Palmer
Vice President, Operations 

Education
Elaine Palmer obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa.


Career

Elaine Palmer joined Wellmark in 1993 and currently serves as vice president of Operations for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Her leadership responsibilities include claims administration, customer and provider service, Inter- Plan Programs/BlueCard and the Federal Employee Program.

 

Palmer’s background includes more than 27 years of experience in health insurance, leading teams in both operations and information technology. Before joining Wellmark, she held various operations and information technology leadership positions for McNerney Heintz, Inc., most recently serving as vice president of management information systems specializing in integrated systems supporting managed health care and physician/clinic practice management. Before serving as vice president, Operations, Palmer served as vice president, Customer and Provider Service. Prior to that, she was vice president,  Claims Administration, for Wellmark.

 


Debra A. Parker
Vice President, Operations Business & Technical Support 

Education
Deb Parker’s 28-year career in health insurance began with a degree as a Certified Medical Assistant, earned at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa.


Career

Before joining Wellmark in 1986, Parker managed the practice of an oral surgeon in Fort Dodge. Her experience at Wellmark includes system implementations supporting customer/provider service, claims, and membership/enrollment processes, as well as various leadership roles.

 

Parker provides oversight and direction to the Operational technical teams supporting the implementation of system upgrades and enhancements, including support of business system integrators, business analysts, system liaisons and model-office testing staff. She has been responsible for resource planning, reporting, quality assurance and SharePoint throughout her tenure with Wellmark.

 

Parker is engaged in many cross-functional teams responsible for compliance with mandated and regulated system enhancement, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Health Care Reform and technical implementations.

 


Tim Peterson
Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer 

Education
Tim earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in Management Information Systems from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he graduated Cum Laude, and his Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance, Strategic Management and Marketing from the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management, where he graduated Cum Laude.


Career
Tim joined Wellmark in November 2011. As Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO), Tim is responsible for Wellmark’s Business Technology Services division, which includes oversight of application development, data warehousing, enterprise architecture, infrastructure, security, enterprise program/project management, business planning and analysis, and quality assurance.
 
Prior to joining Wellmark, Tim spent nearly 12 years at UnitedHealth Group, where he was most recently CIO for its OptumHealth Care Solutions business. He also held various other leadership roles across UnitedHealth Group within the areas of enterprise data and analytics strategy; global IT operations/infrastructure; and information security. Earlier in his career, Tim worked in network architecture and information security at IBM.

 

In the fall of 2012, Tim was appointed by Governor Branstad to the State of Iowa Technical Advisory Council.  During 2012, he also became a board member of the Technology Association of Iowa and currently serves on the association's Executive Board.  IDG’s Computerworld named Tim a 2014 Premier 100 IT Leader honoree. He also holds Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP®) and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) designations.

 


Vicki Signor
Executive Vice President, Operations

Education
Signor graduated from William Penn University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. 


Career 

Signor was appointed as Executive Vice President of Operations in August of 2011.  She joined Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in 1977.  She has 33 years of health insurance experience leading teams in training, information technology, membership/enrollment, customer/provider service, claims, and supporting national account operations as BlueCard Executive and Director of Inter-Plan operations.  She most recently served as the Vice President, Claims Administration.

 

Signor serves as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association District IX and X Inter-Plan Chair and Section Chair for Claims, Customer Service, and Membership/Enrollment.  In these roles, she works with Plan leadership to gather best practices, facilitate meetings, and prepare a report which is presented to the District IX and X Plan Presidents each year.  She has served in this capacity since 2007 and has been appointed to continue in both leadership roles through 2014.

 

Signor graduated from William Penn University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and is enrolled in the Masters Program at the University of Iowa.  She is a member of Holding Tiny Hands Board of Directors and is involved with several other charitable organizations.

 


Sameer Sonalkar
Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, Business Technology Services

A native of Glastonbury, Conn., Sameer holds a bachelor's degree in computer engineering from the University of Pune, located in India.

 

Sameer joined Wellmark in October, 2012. As Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Business Technology Services, Sameer has accountability for Enterprise Architecture, Technology Innovation and Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) initiatives. In addition, Sameer will also have delivery responsibility for the Core Platform Program.

 

Sameer came to Wellmark with 23 years of experience in the health care and financial domains. Before joining Wellmark, Sameer served as a principal consultant for Booz & Company, based in New York, N.Y., where he consulted with firms such as WellPoint, Cigna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and Kaiser Permanente. Prior to Booz, Sameer was the Vice President and Chief Architect at UnitedHealth Group and held an IT leadership role at Aetna.

 


Frank J. Stork
Vice President & Senior Counsel, Regulatory & Government Affairs, Board Secretary

Education
Frank Stork is a graduate of Loras College and the University of Iowa College of Law, where he served as Notes & Comments Editor of the Iowa Law Review. He also received a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Iowa.


Career 
Stork is responsible for developing, implementing and overseeing the company’s government relations program at the state and federal levels.  Also, as a member of the legal staff, he provides legal support for the company’s public policy initiatives and other business areas.  Stork joined Wellmark as a corporate officer in 2001.

 

Prior to joining Wellmark, Stork served as executive director of the Iowa Board of Regents.  He also practiced law in Des Moines and was a partner/shareholder in both the Gamble & Davis and the Dickinson law firms.  He has extensive experience in state government, including employment as director of state relations at the University of Iowa, Secretary of the Iowa Senate, and assistant attorney general in the Iowa Department of Justice.  Stork has served on several public boards and commissions, including the Iowa Board of Regents, the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, the Iowa College Student Aid Commission, the State Board of Tax Review, and the Iowa Supreme Court Commission on Unauthorized Practice of Law.

 

Stork is also a member of the South Dakota Health Insurance Risk Pool Governing Board, the Federation of Iowa Insurers Board & Executive Committee, ChildServe's Board of Directors, and a former board member of Mentor Iowa.

 

As recognition of his work in the Iowa Senate and many years of legislative advocacy, the General Assembly in 2013 inducted Frank as a member of the Iowa Pioneer Lawmakers Association during a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives.


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