Blue Shield of California Elects Kristina Leslie As First Woman to Chair

Blue Shield of California, a leader in diversity and gender equity, today announced Kristina (Kris) Leslie has been elected to be chair of the nonprofit health plan’s board of directors, effective Oct. 1, 2020. Leslie is the first woman to lead the board in the company’s 81-year history.

The company also announced today two new appointments to the board of directors to fill pending vacancies on Oct. 1 that will result in the 12-person board achieving gender balance. Additionally, women will now lead four of the board’s five standing committees. The tax-paying nonprofit, which has nearly 7,000 employees and $22 billion in annual revenues, is one of the largest companies in California to achieve gender balance on its board.

Blue Shield achieved pay equity for its employees across gender and ethnicity in 2018. It has a balanced representation of women and men in leadership roles (Director and above), and it was recently selected as one of America’s Best Companies for Women to Advance by

“We are committed to making Blue Shield a place where people of all genders, races, and backgrounds feel comfortable making it their professional home,” said Paul Markovich, president and CEO, Blue Shield of California. “I look forward to working with Kris in her new role as we strive to create a health care system worthy of our family and friends, and sustainably affordable. I want to thank Doug Busch, our outgoing chair, for his incredible support for more than a decade.”

Leslie has served on Blue Shield’s board since 2013. She has a distinguished professional career, including serving as chief financial officer of DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc., which has produced some of America’s best known computer-generated, animated feature films. Leslie also serves on the board of directors for CVB Financial Corp. and Justworks, Inc., and she has served on the boards of several other public and private companies including Glassdoor Inc., Orbitz Worldwide, Inc., Pico Holdings Inc., Obagi Medical Products, and Methodist Hospital of Southern California.

She succeeds Busch, a Sacramento-based business executive who has served four, three-year terms on the board, the maximum allowed under company bylaws.

“We deeply appreciate Doug’s service to Blue Shield’s 4.4 million members, to his fellow board members and to Blue Shield’s senior team. We will continue to build on his contributions and push for affordable, high quality and accessible health care for all residents of California,” Leslie said. “I am inspired to serve as chair of the board of a company so committed to lead change, champion diversity, equity and inclusion and stand for what’s right.”

Two New Board Members

Busch and fellow board member Mohammad Qayoumi, Ph.D., a chief adviser to the President of Afghanistan and President Emeritus from San Jose State University, will complete their service on the board of directors on Sept. 30.

Colleen Johnston and Guillermo Diaz, Jr. will join the board of directors on Oct. 1.

Johnston is a retired senior executive from TD Bank Group, where she served for 10 years as chief financial officer. Diaz has served as chief information officer at Cisco and is now the CEO of Kloudspot, Inc., an artificial intelligence supported analytics platform provider.

Blue Shield has received several important, recent recognitions for its diversity and inclusion efforts that include:

  • Ranked #1 on the 2020 Diversity Inc. Top Regional Companies List for Diversity, with more than 40% of the employee base participating in employee resource groups
  • Scored 100 out of 100 on the 2020 Disability Equality Index

Blue Shield was also recognized this month as a certified Great Place to Work, with 92% of employees rating the company a great place to work overall – a nearly 10% increase from last year.

About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of its family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association with over 4 million members, 6,800 employees and more than $20 billion in annual revenues. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare healthcare service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $500 million to the Blue Shield of California Foundation since 2002 to have an impact on California communities.

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