Inside Blue KC
Mar 8, 2023
7 Minute Read

The Women of Blue KC

From our first member to our current CEO, women have played an instrumental role in the rise and success of Blue KC, helping us become the largest not-for-profit health insurer in the state of Missouri.

It all began in 1938, as our first group hospitalization plan – then known as Group Hospital Services – began operating in Kansas City before later changing its name to Blue Cross of Kansas City. Starting with just two employees and $3,025 (around $63,000 today) in working capital provided by local physicians, hospitals, and individuals, Blue Cross of Kansas City landed its first group in 1939: beloved Kansas City grocer, Wolferman’s. The company’s payroll supervisor at the time, Betty Grace Jackson, facilitated the contract, thereby becoming Blue Cross of Kansas City’s first official member, holding prestigious card number 001.

Jackson, who would later serve on Blue KC’s first Board of Directors, worked at Wolferman’s for over 40 years. A lover of music, Betty sang in the choir at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church for 17 years and played piano for the “Music Makers.” She led an incredibly full life, passing away in 2010 at the age of 102. Betty’s legacy remains a foundation for Blue KC’s commitment to Kansas City and a reminder to always stay focused on our members. 

In 1943, just a few short years after Wolferman’s and Betty Grace came aboard, Blue Cross of Kansas City added a popular new plan called Kansas City BlueShield. It provided members with a prepayment plan for physician services, holding contracts with more than 300 companies and serving more than 14,000 members within a year of inception. And in 1950, non-group enrollment was introduced, offering memberships without age limit. It was the first plan in Jackson County to make membership available to everyone in the community.

These innovative offerings paved the way for group partners like Cottey College, an independent liberal arts and sciences women’s college in Nevada, Missouri, which enrolls up to 350 women from 40 states and 26 countries. Virginia Alice Cottey founded the institution in 1884 on a firm belief that women deserved the same quality of education as men. She bequeathed the school to the P.E.O. Sisterhood in 1927, making it the only nonsectarian college owned and supported by women. The P.E.O. Sisterhood – a philanthropic educational organization of over 225,000 members – is dedicated to providing educational opportunities for women. Signed in 1954, the college remains Blue KC’s longest-tenured group partner.

Virginia Cottey – who dedicated her life to helping young women become confident leaders and role models – would have enjoyed the success women have within Blue KC. Half of Blue KC’s current corporate officers are women, including Blue KC CEO Erin Stucky. Stucky, who began her tenure as president and chief executive officer in 2019, succeeded Blue KC’s first ever female CEO, Danette Wilson, who spent more than three decades with the company. Upon her retirement, Blue KC established the Danette K. Wilson Scholarshipto support the next generation of women leaders at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Wilson’s alma mater.

From senior leadership and throughout our corporate structure, countless women make a significant, daily impact in our organization. These women help make Blue KC the most trusted health provider in the region.

Kathy Gates-Mosley
HR Recruiter, Senior

“I really enjoy mentoring other women in the workforce, people who are new in their career. I like to provide the ‘resources’ in ‘Human Resources’ so others can empower themselves. I offer mock interviews. I help them with their resumé, I get a chance to watch them develop and witness their career achievements. It’s very rewarding.”

Denise Soliz
Manager, Appeals
Government Relations

“As a woman, to me, empowerment means value. Your value to me, your value to the customer, to the company. The professional world is beginning to embrace and empower more women to be leaders and not just workers.”

Shantenie Tyner
Project Manager I-Customer Experience
Operations Customer Experience

“To me, leadership is how you carry yourself. I try to be a positive and encouraging influence that can help the next woman feel like she can get past any barriers and succeed.”

Fouzia Khan
Scrum Master I
IT Governance

“It’s so important to compliment somebody’s hard work, somebody’s attention, especially another woman in the workplace. To let them know, “I see you. You are here and you are important.” Every conversation is a learning experience. Connecting with another human empowers us.”

Angela Cheatem
Manager, Sales Enablement and Benefit Education
Sales Operations

Studies have shown that diversity, even in terms of thought, will produce better outcomes and more innovation. Offering a safe space at the table for others to feel comfortable being heard. As a working woman, it’s rewarding for me to have the freedom to make decisions and to see those decisions come to fruition, to see successful outcomes.”

Women have had a profound and lasting influence on Blue KC throughout the years, helping shape policy, drive innovation, and connect with customers. With our commitment to diversity and opportunity, the next generation of female leaders are set to take their place within Blue KC’s storied history.

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