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Wellmark Foundation announces new leadership

September 1, 2020

Des Moines, IA — The Wellmark Foundation announced new leadership transitions and the appointment of new board members. The Foundation was formed in 1991 and has grown to one of the largest health improvement-focused foundations in Iowa and South Dakota. The new leadership is part of a long-term succession plan based on the retirements of the Foundation's key leaders. The changes, effective immediately, include:

  • Cory Harris, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield's President and CEO-Elect, has been named as the Foundation's Board Chairman. Harris will succeed John Forsyth, Wellmark's current Chairman and CEO, who will continue to serve as a member of the Foundation's Board of Directors. Forsyth, who has served as the Foundation Chairman since 1997, recently announced opens in new window his retirement from Wellmark.
  • Mary Lawyer has been named as the Foundation's Executive Director, replacing Becky Wampler Bland who retired in July. Lawyer joined Wellmark in 2015 as the Director of Community Health Improvement to lead the Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark initiative. Prior to Wellmark, she was a Director with the Iowa Department of Economic Development and served as the President of the Des Moines Partnership's Downtown Community Alliance.
  • Thomas Cink, M.D. has joined the Foundation as a board member. Dr. Cink is a retired radiologist and former clinical professor of radiology. He was a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians and the American College of Radiology and has published a number of breast cancer research articles.

"It has been an honor to lead The Wellmark Foundation and bring our mission of improving the well-being of Iowans and South Dakotans to life," said Forsyth. "I am proud of the legacy we have built and will never tire of hearing how the projects we have funded are working to improve the long-term health of those in our communities. This transition is made even easier knowing Cory shares my passion in this area."

The Foundation has provided more than $52 million to Iowa and South Dakota organizations since it was formed in 1991. The funding has supported more than 500 grants that promote community-based wellness and prevention initiatives working to create safe and healthy environments in which to be active, and provides expanding access to healthy foods. In addition, BluesCare Giving — the employee philanthropy program — has provided matching gifts and volunteer hours to local groups and organizations.

"The Wellmark Foundation has been helping families and communities for nearly three decades," said Harris. "I am grateful for John's many years of thoughtful leadership and am looking forward to the opportunity to work with Mary and the board to grow the Foundation's impact in the communities we serve."