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John D. Forsyth

John D. Forsyth

Board Member

Des Moines, Iowa

John D. Forsyth served as chairman and chief executive officer of Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. He joined Wellmark as CEO in 1996 and was behind countless achievements that make Wellmark one of the leading health insurance companies in the country today. He has served in a variety of executive roles throughout his career including a 26-year career with the University of Michigan and president and CEO of the prestigious University of Michigan Health System.

Forsyth was the longest-serving Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO in the country and served on numerous committees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, including a term as chairman of the board.

Forsyth has also given generously of his time to improve the community and has served as the board chair for a number of state and national organizations including the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Iowa Business Council, National Institute for Health Care Management, United Way of Central Iowa, and the Variety Club Annual Telethon, to name just a few.

Some of his most impactful and notable achievements are reflected in his passion for diversity, inclusion, education and community giving:

  • He grew the Wellmark Foundation into the largest, health improvement-focused foundation in Iowa — since 1997, it has provided grants totaling more than $26 million.
  • In 2006, he formed the Wellmark Inclusion Council to drive heightened focus and awareness on building an inclusive company — this effort led to Wellmark being one of the first in the nation to offer benefits to domestic partners.
  • Forsyth partnered with Urban Dreams and Des Moines Public Schools to form the Beacon Program, an innovative high school internship program that provides students with a paid 10-week summer internship at Wellmark.

Under his leadership, Wellmark received numerous awards to recognize business integrity, diversity and workplace excellence. Personally, Forsyth is a 2017 inductee into the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame, is the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Iowa Advocate Award and was presented the 2020 Ally Award at the 2nd annual dsm LGBTQ Legacy Leader Awards.

Forsyth holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and a master's degree in economics from Michigan State University.