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John D. Forsyth
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

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.



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. 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.


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, Wellmark’s administrative costs and rates now rank among the lowest in the nation.


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). A significant component of this work includes improving the well-being of all Iowans. Forsyth is a leader in the effort to make Iowa the Healthiest State. This effort has a significant emphasis on changing the environment in which Iowans live, work and play.


The Wellmark Foundation, under Forsyth’s leadership, focuses its philanthropic activities on health improvement and community wellness for all Iowans and South Dakotans. Through the BluesCare Giving employee philanthropy program, The Foundation awards approximately $1.5 million annually to nonprofits through employee volunteer hour designations and matching gifts. In addition, the Foundation has funded more than 500 grants to Iowa and South Dakota organizations totaling more than $22 million since the Foundation was formed in 1991.


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. 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, he was named by Governor Vilsack to the Iowa Board of Regents, and served as president of the board from April 2004 to January 2005.


Forsyth has 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. In September 2003, he was elected to the board of directors of Baxter, International, Inc., and in May 2004 was named chair of the compensation committee, a position he holds to date. In July, 2015, he was named to the Baxalta Inc. Board of Directors and chairs their compensation committee. He is a member of the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) board of directors, and served as chair from 2008–2011. In 2008, he was named to the initial board of directors of the Association of American Medical Colleges, (AAMC) and chaired their investment committee. In 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 committees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, and served as chairman of the board from November 2013 – November 2015.


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, serving on that Board for three years. 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 November 2008, Forsyth served as co-chair of the NAACP Des Moines Branch’s 33rd Annual Freedom Fund Banquet. Under his leadership, Wellmark has 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.



Rona Berinobis
Vice President, Inclusion and Organizational Development


Rona Berinobis holds a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Bellevue University and a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Upper Iowa University. She’s secured designations as a Certified Health Consultant and Professional of the Academy of Health Management.


Berinobis has been with Wellmark since 1993. Before moving into her current role, Berinobis was the director of national accounts. Since 2008, in collaboration with Chairman and CEO John Forsyth, she has led Wellmark’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. In this role, Berinobis has developed and executed comprehensive strategies for leveraging diversity and inclusion for the workforce, workplace and marketplace to maximize organizational effectiveness. In 2013, she assumed accountability for talent acquisition efforts with focus on attracting and securing quality talent for the company. In 2015, Berinobis’ role was expanded to lead the organization’s talent development and learning programs.


Berinobis is the vice-chair of Wellmark’s Inclusion Council second in command to Wellmark’s Chairman and CEO John Forsyth. She has been appointed to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Diversity Alliance Council, is past chair of the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Diversity Council and is the Chair for the Iowa Asian Alliance Board of Directors. Rona is also a member of the Talent Management and Diversity Executive Human Capital Executive Research Board.


Since assuming her current role, Wellmark has earned the CISHRM Diversity Award, Diversity Journal’s CEO Leadership in Action Award, Diversity Journal Diversity Leader Award, Diversity Champion Award, NAACP Merit Employer Award, Greater Des Moines Partnership Diversity Award, Better Business Bureau Integrity Award, Professional Women’s Magazine Diversity Best of the Best, Hispanic Network Magazine Diversity Best of the Best, Black Journal Diversity Best of the Best, and South Dakota SHRM Workplace Excellence Award.


David Brown
Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer


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


Brown joined Wellmark in 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.


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


Prior to joining Wellmark, Brown 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. Brown also has experience in management consulting with Bain and Company, and he started his career in public accounting with PricewaterhouseCoopers.


Kenny E. Chasten
Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer


Kenny Chasten 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.



Chasten came to Wellmark in 2008 as a consultant for the procurement of purchases and contract negotiations related to the new corporate headquarters. In 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, Chasten serves as a member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Strategic Sourcing Advisory Council.


Prior to his career at Wellmark, Chasten 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 as a medical technologist. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.


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


Marci Chickering received her bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Northern Iowa. She earned her master’s in business administration with an emphasis in human resources from the University of Iowa.




Chickering joined Wellmark in 2003 and served in multiple HR roles prior to her appointment of senior vice president — Human Resources in 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 in the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument. She currently sits on the Greater Des Moines Partnership and Workforce Development/Education Board, the University of Iowa REACH Advisory Board and Prevent Child Abuse Iowa Board.



Mike J. Crowley
Vice President, Finance & Controller

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).

As vice president, Finance and Controller, Crowley 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 and Managed Healthcare Professional in the Health Insurance Association of America; a Professional in the Academy of Healthcare Management; and a Fellow, Life Management Institute 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

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


Davis is president and chief operating officer of Wellmark of South Dakota Inc., dba Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota. 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 First Administrators Inc. 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 on the boards of South Dakota Symphony, 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 Governor Mike Rounds to serve on the South Dakota Health Care Commission.


Mike Demand
Vice President, Health & Care Management 


A native of Ohio, Mike Demand 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.


Demand 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.  


Demand has experience in managed care, health care analytics and program management. Prior to joining Wellmark, Demand 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.


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


Ellen G. Diedrichsen

Vice President, Underwriting 


Ellen Diedrichsen 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. 


As the vice president of Underwriting, Diedrichsen’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 operating expenses budgets. She began her career at Wellmark in1996 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.


Diedrichsen is currently serving on the board of directors of WellPac, the voluntary political action committee sponsored by Wellmark, Inc.


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

Michele Druker received her bachelor’s degree with honors from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. She 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.

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 serves as secretary of The Wellmark Foundation and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa. Prior to joining the Wellmark Legal Department in 1988, Druker was a partner at the Dickinson Law Firm in Des Moines, Iowa. She was also 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


Paul Eddy
Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer

Paul Eddy earned his bachelor degree in computer science from the University of Iowa.

As executive vice president and chief information officer, Paul leads the Wellmark Technology division. In this role, he is responsible for technology and information assets and strategy including: platform transformation and modernization, innovation, applications, data, enterprise architecture, infrastructure, security, emerging technologies, and enterprise portfolio management.


Prior to joining Wellmark, Paul served as group vice president and CIO of various areas within the Walgreens Boots Alliance. Earlier in his career, Paul held technology leadership roles as senior vice president with National City Corporation (now PNC Financial Services), vice president with Northern Trust Company, and began his career with Hewitt Associates (now Aon).


Paul currently serves as a board member of the e-Health Initiative in Washington, D.C and previously served on the Illinois Health Information Exchange Advisory Committee.


Kris Fagen
Vice President, Iowa Operations — Claims and Membership and Enrollment

Kris Fagen received her Bachelor of Science degree in human resource administration from Upper Iowa University

Kris Fagen joined Wellmark in 2004 and currently serves as vice president of Iowa Operations — Claims and Membership and Enrollment for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Her leadership responsibilities include membership and enrollment, claims administration, and Inter-Plan Programs/BlueCard.


Fagen has more than 20 years of experience in health insurance, training, and leading teams in operations. Before joining Wellmark, she held various operations positions at CIGNA Healthcare, and most recently served as BlueCard Executive and director of Operations for Wellmark. As the BlueCard Executive, Fagen was responsible for acting as the liaison between partner Blue Plans, as well as the BlueCross BlueShield Association. Fagen is actively involved as a core volunteer at Living History Farms, is a member of the Waukee Schools Diversity and Inclusion Team, and serves as a board member for Drive Away Cancer.


Michael D. Fay
Vice President, Health Networks

Mike Fay earned his bachelor’s 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.

Fay joined Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield in 1984 and was promoted to vice president of Provider Economics in 1998. In that role, he led the Provider Economics team in developing, implementing, and maintaining all hospital, physician, and other provider compensation strategies. He also was responsible for claims editing and payment policy processes at Wellmark including the development and implementation of the Universal Contracting Strategy. In his current role as vice president, Health Networks, he is involved in numerous strategic initiatives (i.e., product pricing, innovation around product, networks and distribution, health care reform, and, strategic consulting with key accounts). He also provides strategic direction and leadership to the Network Economics and Network Innovation teams. Fay 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.


Jerry Fiala
Vice President, Business Analytics
Jerry Fiala


Jerry Fiala graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from the University of Minnesota and later obtained his MBA from Brigham Young University.


As the vice president, business analytics, Jerry is responsible for leading business analysis, data reporting and data governance.


Jerry started his career as a software engineer at Honeywell developing navigational avionics. After the completion of his MBA, he held brand management roles at PepsiCo and Sony Electronics. He then transitioned into financial services as a business analyst leader for Advanta, where he was responsible for their digital acquisition and customer management strategy.


Jerry then spent 16 years at Capital One as a business analysis leader for digital strategy, customer acquisitions, cross sell, customer management and loss mitigation.


Mike Gerrish
Vice President, Customer Experience and Marketing Communications


A native of Illinois, Mike holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and human relations and a master’s in organizational communication from Western Illinois University.


Mike joined Wellmark in 2009 and previously served as the director, Marketing Communications. In 2011, he was named vice president of Corporate and Marketing Communications responsible for customer research, internal and external communications, brand communications (advertising, public relations, sponsorships, social media and creative services) and Wellmark’s digital experience (Web and mobile).


In 2013, he was also named executive director of The Wellmark Foundation — the private, nonprofit organization focused on health improvement and community wellness for all Iowans and South Dakotans. The Wellmark Foundation awards approximately $3 million annually to nonprofits through employee volunteer hour designations, matching gifts, and several annual grant programs. In 2015, he took on an expanded role by leading Wellmark's Customer Experience initiative. This resulted in his current role as vice president, Customer Experience and Marketing Communications.


Prior to joining Wellmark, Mike led retail communications at Payless ShoeSource and internal communications at Discover Financial Services.


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


Dr. Tim Gutshall is a native of Massillon, 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.



Dr. Gutshall opened a practice in Des Moines in 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 fulltime 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 the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care. He developed his skill set in quality improvement methodologies and communication skills, which he has used on the local, state and national scenes to engage CEOs, CFOs, physicians and nurses to understand the importance of process improvement and communication in impacting the quality of care in the clinical micro system. He has lectured in more than 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.


Cory R. Harris

Executive Vice President and General Counsel

Cory Harris 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.


Harris 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 2014. In his role, Harris has overall accountability and oversight for Wellmark’s Legal Division, which includes the teams of 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, Harris 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


Lisa Heagle 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

Heagle joined Wellmark in 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.


Heagle has more than 20 years’ experience applying quality concepts to manufacturing, insurance, financial services and retail processes. Prior to joining Wellmark, Heagle 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, Heagle worked for Wellmark and was a member of the Process Improvement team.


R. Mathew Hosford, RPh
Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer


A native of Wales, United Kingdom, Matt Hosford 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.



Hosford is vice president and chief pharmacy officer, and leads the clinical and operational facets of the Wellmark pharmacy program. That position 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.


Hosford has more than 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. Hosford 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.


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


Hosford 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

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



Jackson 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 2011, as a cornerstone of the Healthiest State Initiative launched by Governor Branstad that year. The Blue Zones Project™ seeks to help all Iowans live longer, healthier 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, Jackson is executive vice president, Health Care Innovation & Business Development, she 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 Jackson’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, Jackson was second vice president of human resources at The Principal Financial Group in Des Moines. Before that, she worked in various human resources roles in Des Moines and in the Washington D.C. area.


Jackson is a current board member of the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative, Healthiest State Initiative, YMCA of Greater Des Moines, 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, a former board member for Salisbury House and Orchard Place Foundations, and past chair of the Wellness Council of Iowa. In 2013, she was chosen as one of eight women to receive the Des Moines Business Record’s Women of Influence Award. Jackson was also chosen by Iowa State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to receive its 2014 Citation of Merit Award.


Jared Landin
Vice President, Audit Services
Jason Landin

Jared Landin earned his bachelor's degree in accounting from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Iowa’s Tippie School of Management, with anticipated graduation in the fall of 2015. 



Landin joined Wellmark in 2012 as vice president of Audit Services. Landin is responsible for Wellmark's Internal Audit, Performance Audit, Enterprise Risk Management, and WellSOX teams.


Before joining Wellmark, Landin led 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, United Kingdom, including: managing director overseeing the Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Iowa territories; Minneapolis Internal Audit and Technology director; National Technology director; Global Financial Services Industry leader; and, in London, European Regional Risk and Advisory director, and director of Internal Audit and Technology.


Prior to Jefferson Wells, Landin 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 an internal auditor and IT auditor with ReliaStar Financial (acquired by ING).


Sean McTaggart
Vice President, Sales

Sean McTaggart earned a bachelor’s degree in management and economics from Wartburg College

McTaggart joined Wellmark in 2013 and previously served as director of strategic sales operations. As vice president of Sales, McTaggart 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, McTaggart 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, McTaggart had 16 years of sales experience primarily in the pharmaceutical industry.


Tom Newton
Vice President, Network Engagement

A native of Iowa, Tom Newton 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 a graduate of the State Health Leadership Institute, a program of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Newton 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, Newton 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.


Newton 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, Iowa Operations—Customer Service

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

Palmer joined Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield in 1993 and currently serves as vice president, Iowa Operations. She is responsible for customer and provider service and the Federal Employee Program. Her key focus is on developing and implementing new approaches to providing service to our groups and members and moving from a call center environment to a Customer Experience Advocacy Center of Excellence.


Palmer’s background includes more than 29 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, Iowa Operations, Palmer was responsible for customer and provider service, membership and enrollment, and claims processing. Prior to that, she was vice president, claims administration for Wellmark.




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

Deb Parker has a degree as a certified medical assistant, earned at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa.


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, and technical implementations.




Patrick (Pat) Ryan
Vice President, Actuarial
Pat Ryan

Pat Ryan graduated with a bachelor of science degree in actuarial science from the University of Iowa. He is a Fellow of Society of Actuaries and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries.

As the vice president and chief actuary, Pat is responsible for leading a sound and consistent actuarial policy to provide decision support and direction for the pricing and developing of products, rating programs, trend analysis, estimating of outstanding liabilities and impacts of legislative activity. Pat joined Wellmark’s Actuarial Department in 1999 and assumed responsibilities for the pricing and financial monitoring of Wellmark’s individual and small group business. He also provided actuarial insight and representation for legislative activities. Before joining Wellmark, Pat worked in pension actuarial related positions as a senior actuarial consultant at Deloitte and pension actuarial analyst at The Principal Financial Group.


Pat currently serves on the board of directors for the Iowa Comprehensive Health Association. He is a member of the Iowa Actuaries Club and served as a past president. He also served on the Society of Actuaries examination committee, developing exam questions and grading candidate examinations.




Vicki Signor
Executive Vice President, Operations

Vicki Signor graduated from William Penn University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. 

Signor was appointed as senior vice president of operations for Wellmark in 2011 and promoted to executive vice president in early 2014. She oversees the day-to-day operations of the company for Iowa and South Dakota with responsibility for claims, customer and provider service, membership and enrollment, the operational technical teams, benefit configuration and member documents.


She joined Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in 1977 and has over 38 years of health insurance experience leading teams in training, information technology, membership/enrollment, customer/provider service, claims processing, and supporting national account operations as BlueCard executive and director of inter-plan operations. She previously served as the vice president, claims administration.


Signor serves on the inter-plan programs subcommittee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. She is a board member of Variety: The Children's Charity, and has served in leadership positions and been actively involved with many other charitable and service organizations.




Valerie Snyder-Rivera
Vice President, Product Strategy and Implementation

A native of Iowa, Valerie holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing from Iowa State University.

Valerie serves as vice president and leads Wellmark’s product strategy and implementation. She has been instrumental in supporting Wellmark’s transition into the changing health care landscape with health care reform (ACA), collaborated to create a comprehensive product portfolio, and continuously improved processes in order to ensure compliance with the new regulations introduced by the ACA. In addition, she represents Wellmark on a variety of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association governance committees and national workgroups.


Valerie joined Wellmark in 2005 and has served in multiple roles within marketing including director of marketing programs, director of small group and senior segment manager for Medicare and U65. Prior to Wellmark, Valerie worked for Pillsbury, Tone Brothers Inc., and has experience in a variety of sales, marketing and product development roles. Valerie is on the board of Des Moines University’s MHA program and Prairie Ridge Church.




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

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.

Stork is responsible for developing, implementing and overseeing the company’s government relations program at the state and federal levels. As a member of Wellmark’s 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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