Wellmark chairman and CEO receives 2019 Outstanding Iowa Advocate award | Wellmark
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October 15, 2019

DES MOINES, IA – Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John D. Forsyth was named the 2019 Outstanding Iowa Advocate by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Central Iowa chapter. The award is given to a non-member individual, group or organization who has contributed to the enhancement of the state’s regional, national or international reputation. Forsyth was presented with the award on Oct. 10 at the organization's annual PRSA OctoPRfest event.

"I want to thank everyone for this most prestigious award," said Forsyth. "The PRSA chapter and I share a dedication to continuous education and investment in the communities we serve. Thank you to my senior leadership team for their support and to the Wellmark team for this nomination."

Some of Forsyth's contributions shared at the event include:

  • Early in his tenure at Wellmark, he formed an Inclusion Council to help drive heightened focus and awareness on building an inclusive company for our employees, members and communities. Through his leadership, Wellmark was one of the earliest adopters in the nation to provide benefits to domestic partners.
  • As chairman of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Forsyth helped negotiate for state grants that helped build several downtown attractions, including the Iowa Events Center and the downtown library.
  • He partnered with Urban Dreams and Des Moines Public Schools to form the Beacon Program, an innovative high school internship program for North High School students.
  • His decision to keep the Wellmark headquarters — and 1,900 employees — downtown spurred the development in the Western Gateway area.
  • Forsyth led a historic Des Moines land swap that eventually resulted in the new Wellmark YMCA and expanded courtroom space for Polk County.
  • As chairman of The Wellmark Foundation, Forsyth helped to grow the Foundation into the largest health improvement-focused foundation in Iowa.
  • Forsyth's personal gift to the Isiserettes in 2018 resulted in the organization naming a new studio in his name.

"For more than 20 years, Mr. Forsyth has demonstrated a commitment — beyond his professional obligation — to the betterment of the state of Iowa and its residents," said Ryan Johnson, PRSA Central Iowa Chapter president-elect. "His professional achievements, combined with his strategic and philanthropic community investments, made him worthy of the PRSA's Outstanding Iowa Advocate Award."