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International Women’s Day  Celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield gives more than lip service when we state that we invest in our employees. Educational initiatives, such as the company’s Leadership Development Institute (LDI), are building the company’s future leaders.

Wendy McCullar, consumer web marketing coordinator for under-65 products in Corporate Marketing, was pleasantly surprised when she was nominated for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Leadership Development Institute (LDI).

“It felt good to know that my supervisor, Kelly Whitehorn, saw potential in me as a leader,” Wendy says. “Kelly has been an outstanding mentor and an example of what I can aspire to be here at Arkansas Blue Cross.”

The LDI program started in 2008 to provide professional development to future leaders in the company. The 15-month program includes:

  • Assessments and activities
  • Training classes
  • Mentoring and coaching assignments
  • A "stretch" project that requires participants to work in areas they don’t have experience
  • Access to members of the Executive Steering Committee and Corporate Executives through presentations

LDI participants like Wendy are nominated for their leadership potential. The program favors people who seek opportunity, display a positive attitude for change, collaborate well and operate with integrity.

LDI participants’ stretch projects are in addition to their regular workload, so time management is essential. Wendy’s stretch project was in the Compliance Department, meeting a tight four-month deadline to implement the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Section 1557 --- the nondiscrimination provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Section 1557 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in certain health programs and activities. As the project manager, she was tasked with managing the implementation of posting notices of nondiscrimination practices and language taglines to alert individuals of available assistance. The information had to be available on company websites and included in significant documents such as applications, correspondence about eligibility and participation, provider directories and more.

When asked if there were any surprises along the way, Wendy responded, “No. I knew the scope of my project and had the support I needed at every step. I particularly enjoyed meeting people in other departments to get a sense of how they contribute to Arkansas Blue Cross.”

Wendy is no stranger to juggling multiple priorities. She has managed similar cross-departmental projects at Arkansas Blue Cross and previous companies – and has a full schedule volunteering in the community at her children’s schools.

When Wendy joined Arkansas Blue Cross in 2013, she hit the ground running to create and implement an online shopping experience for several of Arkansas Blue Cross’ plans. Under Wendy’s leadership, the number of products people can purchase online has doubled.

To date, 43 employees have graduated from the LDI program. With each stretch project, they’ve offered innovative solutions for the company and developed new skills to use in their current and future positions.

“I am glad that Arkansas Blue Cross values its employees and invests in them through the Leadership Development Institute,” said Wendy. “It is an honor to participate.”

*Actual program length can vary depending on participant’s stretch project.