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Highmark Health Announces New Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Analysis  |  By Melanie Blackman  
   January 11, 2021

Robert James, JC, MBA, MHA has been promoted to lead the organization's diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy.

Pennsylvania-based healthcare organization Highmark Health appointed a new chief diversity and inclusion officer Monday morning.

Robert James, JC, MBA, MHA has been promoted to lead Highmark Health's enterprise-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy.

According to Highmark, in his new role, James will work with Allegheny Health Network's (AHN) Chief Clinical DEI Officer, Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, who joined AHN in September.

Related: Tips for DEI Recruitment in Healthcare

James will focus on implementing and leading Highmark Health’s DEI strategy, while Dr. Larkins-Pettigrew will focus on AHN workplace culture.

James joined Highmark Health in 2015 to serve as the organization's supplier diversity director. Previously, he served as CEO of a diversity and inclusion consulting firm. He has served as a practicing lawyer for over 20 years, and "spent several years facilitating Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) financings nationally for capital projects through a U.S. Department of Education program," according to the press release.

"As a leader in health care, we are committed to being a diverse and inclusive organization at its core, to closing the health disparity gap, and to actively investing in people, suppliers and communities of color," Larry Kleinman, Highmark Health Chief Human Resources Officer, said in a statement. "Robert’s vast experience and deliberate approach will be invaluable in driving forward a measurable and comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion strategy."

Highmark Health is the parent company of Highmark, Inc., Allegheny Health Network, and HM Health Solutions, and provides health insurance "to more than 5.6 million members in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware," dental insurance, and health products including IT and integrated cloud-based platforms.

Related: Allegheny Health Network Appoints VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Related: Highmark Health to Build Missing Link in Healthcare Delivery with Google Cloud?

Melanie Blackman is a contributing editor for strategy, marketing, and human resources at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

Photo credit: Pittsburgh, PA, USA, 2020-01-11: Downtown Pittsburgh with Highmark building in view / Editorial credit: CiEll /

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