Tech Tonics: Sarah Iselin of Florida Blue – Bringing Light to the Darkness
Growing up on Capitol Hill in a Washington, DC political family, Sarah Iselin did the obvious thing, at least to her, by rebelling and going to art school. But when her practical self realized that was going to make for a hard living, she eventually found her way to healthcare through an internship at the Visiting Nurses Association that launched her into a long and successful career. A serendipitous connection to a lifelong mentor, Andrew Dreyfus, now CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, led Sarah down a long and successful path at BCBS Massachusetts and its Foundation. This path then winded it’s way to the Massachusetts State House where she was instrumental in designing what we now call RomneyCare and served as Commissioner of Healthcare Finance and Policy in the administration of Governor Deval Patrick.
To know Sarah is to know she is pure sunshine. She is always smiling and ready to embrace you with a positive attitude. Yes, she has rapidly climbed the healthcare ladder, driving innovation as both payer executive and government official. But she is especially excited today to use her current leadership position as SVP and Chief Strategy Officer at Florida Blue Cross Blue Shield (aka Guidewell) as a platform to drive social justice by addressing community challenges like access to effective mental health care.
Sarah is exquisitely aware of the challenges people face when depression, anxiety and worse come calling. Because despite all of her success, Sarah has had, like so many others, also experienced the lowest of the lows. The love of her life committed suicide 3 ½ years ago and then, while she was reeling from that, her son experienced some severe mental health issues and spent a long time in psychiatric facilities and programs on his way to getting better.
Navigating the care process for her son laid bare the difficulties people face in accessing effective mental healthcare when they need it. Her openness on this topic and her willingness to talk openly about these experiences also serve to remind all of us that everyone has a story, and that even the most successful and accomplished people face the very real ups and downs of life.
We are so excited to have Sarah on the show today to learn about her work and life, and for her also to demonstrate the power of resilience.
We are grateful to GE Ventures for their sponsorship today. GE Ventures – Multiple Paths to Big Impact.