Marking Milestones for Health at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska

As Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) celebrates its 85th anniversary in 2024, the health insurance company’s president and CEO celebrates a milestone of his own: One year of service. Jeff Russell joined BCBSNE in June of 2023, becoming part of the company’s rich legacy of being there for Nebraskans along their health journeys and taking the lead in mapping out how BCBSNE will support its members and communities in the decades to come.

Russell’s approach? Ensuring BCBSNE remains true to its roots while widening the aperture of what it means to support the health of Nebraskans. “For 85 years, our promise has been to be there when our members need us when they access the health care system,” Russell said. “I hope to only access the health care system a few days a year. How can we support members the rest of the year, helping them live their best and healthiest lives? That’s our opportunity and our responsibility as a company.”

The launch of the Nebraska Blue Foundation in April reflects BCBSNE’s commitment to championing the health of its members and the communities it serves through new avenues. The foundation powers BCBSNE’s philanthropic initiatives and supports programs improving the well-being of Nebraskans and the economic vitality of the state.

“As our name makes clear, we are ‘of Nebraska,’” Russell said. “Our customers and employees have lived, worked, and made memories here for generations. The Nebraska Blue Foundation builds on our legacy of supporting the communities we serve and will play an important role in our next chapter as it expands our capacity to be there for Nebraskans.”

The foundation has made two inaugural gifts, a $75,000 donation for workforce pipeline programming and community health navigation at the Community Wellness Collaborative, and a $200,000 donation for the completion of the Douglas A. Kristensen Rural Health Education Building on the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s campus.

“These donations reflect the two parts of our state, rural and urban,” Russell said. “Our gift to the Collaborative will help address emerging community health needs in addition to funding health care scholarships. We recognize the need for more health care providers in rural parts of the state and are proud to support the building of this new facility on the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s campus.”

Relationships will also play a key role in BCBSNE’s next chapter. For Russell, that includes building strong relationships with the company’s employees. “We’re in the relationship business,” he said. “It’s important that I have strong relationships with our teams so that I can support the relationships they have with our customers.”

Reflecting on his first year, Russell is most proud of seeing employees live the company’s new mission of championing health and well-being. “We could not continue to be there for Nebraskans without the time, dedication, and commitment of everyone on Team Blue. Our employees are part of BCBSNE’s legacy and are helping shape our history for years to come.”

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