Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has appointed Bukata Hayes as the organization’s first-ever vice president of racial and health equity. The appointment aims to advance strategic priorities stemming from the public health crises of systemic racism and health inequities. Hayes comes to Blue Cross from the Greater Mankato Diversity Council, where he served as executive director for nearly 15 years. He will take charge on March 29, Blue Cross said.
- In this new role, Hayes is expected to identify and coordinate the specific steps Blue Cross can take to ensure that a racial and health equity lens is applied to every aspect of its work and culture. He will serve as an advisor, bridge builder, strategic leader and partner, supporting other leaders across the organization to identify and execute initiatives that can bring about greater inclusiveness, representation, and lasting and meaningful change.
- Blue Cross said a specific focus will be placed on enhancing policies, programs and health benefit plans in order to address the specific needs of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) members and communities more effectively.
- Hayes will work with the CEO to co-lead an internal cross-functional advisory group called the Racial Equity Action Committee for Health (REACH), which gives BIPOC associates a voice in how Blue Cross can best address racial and health inequities in communities throughout Minnesota.
- Dr. Craig Samitt, president and chief executive officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, said “Embracing diversity of opinion, experience, cultural norms and insights is what makes companies vibrant, innovative and distinct. Bukata is a great fit with our organization and the ideal person for leading this important journey to deliver racial and health equity, both within our organization and in the communities we serve.”
- Hayes has more than 20 years of experience organizing and facilitating systemic change within large and small systems such as non-profit, K-12, higher education and rural communities. Before joining the Greater Mankato Diversity Council in 2006, he served as the coordinator of the Multi Ethnic Center at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, the first-ever position of its kind at the college.