CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), the largest health plan in the mid-Atlantic region, has named A. Tonya Odom as its Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). In this role, Odom will champion the DEI team’s efforts to develop and implement diversity and inclusion strategies throughout CareFirst’s workforce, workplace and practices. She will lead the company’s continued commitment to recruiting, developing and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce to design innovative healthcare solutions for the people and communities CareFirst serves.
“Tonya knows how teams grow stronger and more effective when they embrace diversity and inclusion as a core value; helping organizations and agencies incorporate this value has been a cornerstone of her career,” said Angela Celestin, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer for CareFirst. “Tonya’s background and vision of diversity – that diversity is everyone’s responsibility – will help us continue to create a team that truly represents the people we serve in order to deliver meaningful and significant impacts on their health and healthcare experience.”
Odom brings 25 years of experience in strategic diversity planning and leadership to this critical role. Before joining CareFirst, Odom served as the first Chief Diversity Officer for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), leveraging data and statistics, collaboration and accountability to elevate diversity to a mission-critical core value. In her 13-year tenure with the FBI, she served as its leading advocate for diversity and inclusion. Her most recent role was Chief EEO Officer, where she was principal advisor to the FBI Director, Deputy Director and other key executives on all aspects of equity, accessibility and equal employment opportunity. Throughout her time with the FBI, she helped to expand how diversity was viewed – from thinking about ethnic and racial diversity to diversity in terms of gender, sexual orientation, ability and other dimensions.
“A lot of work must be done in the healthcare field to reach equity for all, and this work begins in-house,” said A. Tonya Odom. “I was impressed with CareFirst’s clear prioritization of DEI and know that with the company’s values and goals guiding and pushing us, we can make even larger strides in this area of the healthcare industry.”
As a former civil rights attorney and chief administrative judge for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C., Odom brings broad experience to her role. Odom graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from Howard University and earned her Juris Doctorate at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.
“Tonya has worked with and supported the people who make up the diverse communities CareFirst serves,” said Celestin. “We must represent our communities internally if we are to effectively serve them. I’m excited to work together with Tonya to advance our workplace culture and enrich our efforts to transform healthcare for all.”
Odom grew up internationally, with a father who served in the military, and in the State Department’s foreign service. Her experience living overseas, in locales from Ecuador to Hong Kong, allowed Odom to “really appreciate different cultures, perspectives and ways of thinking,” she said: “Those experiences steered me into my work in equity and diversity because I’ve actually lived it.”
“Change can seem like it’s happening slowly but when you look at the whole journey, you can see it is happening, and the results are beneficial for everyone,” said Odom. “The organizations that are succeeding are the ones doing a great job building diversity into the fabric of their cultures. It’s not a coincidence: actively embracing inclusion and diversity is a smart and effective way to do business.”
About CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
In its 84th year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit healthcare company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.5 million individuals and employers in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2021, CareFirst invested $26.2 million to improve overall health, and increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of healthcare throughout its market areas. To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, visit our website at www.carefirst.com and our transforming healthcare page at www.carefirst.com/transformation, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.
This press release was provided by CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.