Biographies

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Steven Udvarhelyi

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Steven Udvarhelyi joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana as president and chief executive officer in 2016. He is a board-certified internist and has more than 25 years of experience in the health insurance industry.

Prior to joining Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Dr. Udvarhelyi was with Independence Blue Cross (IBC) in Philadelphia for almost 20 years, most recently serving as executive vice president, health services and chief strategy officer. Before IBC, he worked for Prudential Health Care in a variety of roles, including vice president, operations for Florida and vice president, medical services.

Dr. Udvarhelyi received an A.B. degree from Harvard College, an M.D. degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Master of Science degree in Health Services Administration from the Harvard School of Public Health. Prior to his career in the managed care and health insurance industry, Dr. Udvarhelyi was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School with a focus on health services research.

Dr. Udvarhelyi currently serves on the National Board of Trustees for the Devereux Foundation. He has also served on the Board of Directors of NaviNet, which he chaired, the Board of Trustees of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, the Board of Managers for Tandigm Health,  the Board of Directors of NCQA, the Board of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Roundtable on Evidence-based Medicine and the IOM Committee on Comparative Effectiveness Research Priorities.

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Brian Keller

Brian P. Keller

Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

Brian Keller is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. He is currently responsible for the marketing functions of all group and individual products for Blue Cross.

Brian joined the company in 1996 as an Account Executive.  He has held the leadership roles of Regional Sales Director, Statewide Director of Individual Sales, Vice President, Individual Sales, and his current position of Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. Brian has extensive experience with both group and individual sales.

Coupled with his previous employment with two Fortune 500 companies, Brian’s entire career has
been in sales and marketing Keller, 52, is a native of New Orleans and is a 1988 graduate of Tulane University.

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Cindy Wakefield

Cindy Wakefield

Vice President, Strategic Communications

As Vice President of Strategic Communications, Cindy Wakefield oversees an award-winning creative team in developing and executing corporate advertising, public relations, media relations, internal communications, marketing communications, direct marketing, executive communications and digital experience, which includes the company’s online and social media presence. She also serves as Blue Cross’ company spokesperson.

Wakefield has more than 20 years of communications and journalism experience, with expertise in leading corporate communications functions at large, highly regulated and complex healthcare organizations. Before joining Blue Cross in 2018, she was Vice President, Corporate Communications for Tivity Health, Inc., a health services organization based in Tennessee. At Tivity Health, Wakefield developed and managed communications strategy and execution for major corporate projects, including the company’s multi-million-dollar corporate rebranding. She also implemented Tivity’s online presence and its corporate social media strategy and content development.

Before Tivity Health, Wakefield was Staff Vice President of Corporate Communications for Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc., a Fortune 30 healthcare company with more than 40 million customers and 57,000 employees. Joining Anthem in 2005, she held progressively responsible corporate communications and leadership roles at the company. She was a member of the core communications team for the company’s response to the January 2015 cyber-attack and served as Anthem’s spokesperson for several high-profile issues. While at Anthem, she was named PR News 2011 Crisis Manager of the Year.

Prior to joining Anthem, Wakefield held leadership roles for a number of nationally renowned healthcare providers, including the media relations lead for Emory University’s healthcare system in Atlanta. She earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Alabama.

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Dianne Eysink

Dianne Eysink

Director, Strategic Communications

Dianne Eysink has 20+ years of experience building and leading a strong, highly motivated and creative communications team.

She has led this creative team in the production of two decades’ worth of successful brand advertising campaigns as measured by increased market share, post-campaign research and analysis and business and industry awards and accolades.

Dianne has earned her expertise in crisis communications the hard way, through directing communications to internal and external stakeholders during crisis events such as hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, Rita and Gustav, the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill and major provider contract
disruptions.

Under her direction, the team also handles, among other things, the company’s public relations, internal communications, member communications, marketing communications, healthcare reform communications, media buying and direct response advertising. It also supports Clinical Partnerships and the unique communications needs of the state group (OGB), our largest group customer, with more than 200,000 members.

Dianne’s work passions include clear language, the nurturing and growth of our company’s strong brand, and creating and maintaining a positive and supportive environment where team members feel not only fulfilled, but empowered to employ creative solutions.

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Michael Tipton

Michael Tipton

President, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation

Michael Tipton began as President of the Blue Cross Foundation in June, 2015 after having served as Executive Director of Teach For America – South Louisiana from 2007 until early 2015 and after having founded Tipton Consultants which worked with non-profit organizations on talent recruitment, strategic representation and expansion across Louisiana.

Michael is a native of Louisiana and a graduate of LSU with degrees in political science and history. He earned a master’s degree in teaching from Pace University in New York while teaching high school English and History in the South Bronx through Teach For America. Michael is a graduate of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s Leadership Baton Rouge and the Council for a Better Louisiana’s Leadership Louisiana programs.

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Dr. Vindell Washington

Dr. Vindell Washington

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Vindell Washington joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana in 2017 as chief medical officer, where he serves as clinical thought leader and spokesperson and is responsible for developing and executing a strategy that both improves the quality of healthcare delivered to the company’s members and improves cost and efficiency.

As CMO, he is directly responsible for managing an integrated clinical operation that includes utilization management, case management, population health management, quality management and pharmacy management. He is also responsible for maintaining national accreditation for the organization. 

Previously, Dr. Washington led clinical teams and health IT initiatives as national coordinator for healthcare information technology in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Prior to that, Washington was at the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System in Baton Rouge for more than seven years, leaving as president of the medical group, which includes more than 500 medical providers and 1,400 employees. While at the health system, he also served as vice president of performance excellence and technology and chief medical information officer. 

Washington is a board-certified emergency medicine physician and a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians.  Before coming to Baton Rouge, he served as chief executive officer of Piedmont Emergency Medicine Associates, a large private group in Charlotte, North Carolina.

He received his undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University and his medical degree from the University of Virginia.  He also received a Master of Science degree in healthcare management from the Harvard University School of Public Health.

Washington and his wife, Kimberly, live in Baton Rouge and have four daughters, two of whom work in medicine.

Somesh Nigam

Somesh Nigam, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President Chief Analytics & Data Officer

Somesh Nigam brought to Blue Cross more than 25 years of experience in leading innovative healthcare data and analytics programs at major technology, pharmaceutical, medical device and health insurance companies. Nigam now oversees all analytics and data functions at Blue Cross, transforming how the organization gets, stores, analyzes and uses data to improve the health and lives of Louisianians.

Nigam was previously vice president of Information & Data Governance and Health Informatics in IBM’s Global Chief Data Office. He played a key role in establishing data as the foundation of its cognitive business transformation and was part of the Watson Health team.

Before joining IBM, Nigam was senior vice president and chief informatics officer at Independence Blue Cross (IBX) in Philadelphia. He championed cutting-edge data initiatives, working with other business areas to use reporting and analytics to cut waste and fraud, reduce costs and manage quality.

Nigam is a sought-after speaker at national healthcare analytics conferences and forums. He has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals. He holds a Ph.D. and a Master of Science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor.

Michael Bertaut

Michael Bertaut

Healthcare Economist

Mike Bertaut joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana in 2004 and is currently the company’s senior healthcare economist and exchange coordinator.

Bertaut is a certified health consultant and Professional of the Academy of Healthcare Management. He has 25 years of analytical experience in the healthcare, telecom and retail industry sectors. Since April 2009, he has engaged in more than 700 public discussions on healthcare costs and the impact of reform with stakeholder groups ranging from healthcare policymakers in Washington, D.C., to local public service clubs.

He is a Fellow of the Academy of Applied Politics at LSU and author of the white paper “Five
Questions Every Business Must Answer Accurately, Monthly, Forever,” which discusses in easy-to-understand language the steps a business must take to be compliant with the Affordable Care Act.

Bertaut is recognized as a national commentator on healthcare reform, quoted in the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and many local and state publications.

He is a financial modeler and forecaster, currently responsible for predicting membership activity for the 1.6 million Louisianans who carry a Blue Cross card.

Bertaut earned his bachelor’s degree and MBA from Louisiana State University and has celebrated more than 30 years as a cancer survivor. He and his wife of 29 years, Marla, have three children.

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Colleen Jackson

Colleen Jackson

Manager, Strategic Communications

Colleen Jackson joined Blue Cross in 1994 and helped grow the department into a full-service, in-house agency. She manages a talented team of writers specializing in various areas, including public relations, advertising, marketing communications, internal communications, Medicare programs, community relations, clinical programs, crisis communications and consumer experience. She has led creative teams on award-winning campaigns, including Believe in Blue, Louisiana 2 Step and Blue Bikes.

Colleen also oversees the Enterprise Translation team, which manages the company’s document translation requests. These multi-lingual, multi-talented individuals are able to translate, design and produce corporate documents in any language and several alternate formats, among other services that accommodate our customers’ needs.

Colleen earned her B.A. in journalism from LSU, with a major in advertising and minor in English. She holds an accreditation from the Health Insurance Association of America. She is also an active member of the American Advertising Federation–Baton Rouge, serving in several board positions over the past decade.

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