Chang brings dynamic leadership experience in federal, state, and community health
SAN FRANCISCO (Feb. 12, 2020) – Blue Shield of California Foundation announced today the appointment of Debbie I. Chang as president and chief executive officer, overseeing its programs of more than $30 million in annual grantmaking to meet the diverse health needs of all Californians and to address the root causes of poor health and violence.
Chang, currently senior vice president and chief policy and prevention officer at Nemours Children’s Health System, which is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, with operations in five states and Washington, DC, has an extensive history of developing innovative national programs, leading ambitious health partnerships, and advocating policies to promote the health of children and families.
“Debbie is a dynamic, positive, and motivating leader with deep experience at the federal, state, and community levels,” said Raymond Baxter, PhD, the Foundation’s president and chief executive officer. “She embraces our strategy to create a healthy California by improving the lives of those who face the greatest challenges, and we expect a smooth, energizing transition.” Baxter, a Foundation trustee who has been a global voice for public health over 40 years, temporarily stepped in when long-time leader Peter Long, PhD, became senior vice president at Blue Shield of California.
With more than 30 years’ experience, Chang has held key positions including Deputy Secretary of Health Care Financing for the state of Maryland, overseeing its Medicaid program, and was the first national director of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She was also Principal Investigator of a $20 million, five-year project with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to improve healthy eating and physical activity for children.
Chang, who holds a master’s degree in Public Health Policy and Administration from the University of Michigan, has served on numerous national boards and steering committees, including at the National Academies of Science. She has an extensive record of developing innovative national partnerships that promote good health by spreading and encouraging on-the-ground adoption of evidence-based solutions.
Most notably, she spearheaded a national partnership to combat childhood obesity and promote public health with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, and worked with other foundations to establish the Convergence Partnership and Partnership for a Healthier America, national collaboratives that brought together funders and private sector leaders, respectively, to address the obesity epidemic. At Nemours, she helped lead its transformation to focus on value-based care and health outcomes, and the expansion of its clinical model to work with communities to improve the social determinants of health.
“Debbie has a deeply ingrained sense of commitment to creating equity and inclusion in the healthcare system that stems from her own upbringing,” said Paul Markovich, president and chief executive officer of Blue Shield of California. “She comes by that passion honestly, brings tremendous experience, and will undoubtedly advance the Foundation’s mission of building lasting and equitable solutions to make California the healthiest state.”
Evelyn Dilsaver, the Foundation’s board chair, said she expects it to thrive under Chang’s leadership. “She has been a catalyst for innovation in addressing social determinants and for strong collaboration in prevention. As we continue to address big issues at the root of good health and healthcare, Chang’s leadership will invigorate us and keep our eye on the value of the crucial programs and research we support.”
“I am deeply honored to join such a visionary Foundation and advance the organization’s audacious, inspiring goals and its pivotal work supporting programs that address the complex social drivers of poor health and domestic violence,” said Chang, who assumes her role March 9. “I look forward to working with our dedicated staff and Board, along with all our grantees and partner organizations.”
About Blue Shield of California Foundation
Blue Shield of California Foundation builds lasting and equitable solutions to make California the healthiest state and end domestic violence. We believe that when we work together to remove structural barriers to health and well-being, particularly those affecting our state’s most vulnerable residents, and to support inclusive, resilient communities where all Californians have good health and positive relationships, we can create a more just and equitable future for all of us. For more information, visit: www.blueshieldcafoundation.org.