As the Executive Director of Strategy and Marketing at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, D’Amico sought the EMP to provide a greater contextual framework for healthcare policy and data-driven decision-making.
Headshot of Rebecca D’Amico
Rebecca D’Amico

Rebecca D’Amico, Executive Director of Strategy & Marketing at Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), had to respond quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic. In leading teams to analyze how the pandemic impacted businesses and communities, she saw an opportunity to think critically about how to address healthcare inequity. “COVID-19 shined a spotlight on health disparities because of the way it disproportionately impacted communities of color. And, unfortunately, disparities exist across every single health condition. We have the ability to really figure out how to solve this problem by analyzing data and asking the right questions to uncover what we can do, and what needs to be done, differently.”

After earning a degree in Healthcare Management & Policy from Georgetown University and working for several years as a management consultant in the healthcare industry, D’Amico joined BCBSA in 2013. She was drawn to the Association because of its geographical reach and direct impact on healthcare’s biggest issues. Over the past eight years, D’Amico has led several teams—research, insights and intelligence, and strategy— allowing her to draw connections across various aspects of development and decision-making at BCBSA. In her current position, D’Amico leads a team that informs the strategic discussions of the Board of Directors to serve the collective needs of 35 BCBS Plans across the country.

Asking what BCBSA could do to move the needle on health disparities in light of the pandemic ultimately led to the creation of a system-wide strategy to advance health equity in local communities across the country. To do so effectively, D’Amico wanted to better understand the policy decisions that would need to be put into place to enact change and make it last. “During discussions with our Board, it became clear to me how important understanding the policy decisions that would enable change would be. When I found the EMP program, the stars aligned for me. My job in healthcare strategy has always had incredibly strong linkages to the policy that enables and supports it, but COVID-19 made policy relevant to my work in a different, important way.”

Harris’ core curriculum, coupled with D’Amico’s work environment over the past year, motivated her to enroll in the Harris Public Policy Evening Master’s Program. “When I started looking at the curriculum, the focus on data analytics, and how critical thinking is an underpinning of the entire program, it was a no-brainer for me.”

D’Amico hopes that the EMP will give her work a stronger contextual framing. She found that the program’s coursework directly mirrors her experience at BCBSA—as the groundwork of crafting successful strategy is a strong understanding of data and analytics. Having just finished her first quarter of classes, D’Amico already feels the tangible benefit of the program: “I quickly felt very validated in the decision to pursue the EMP at Harris. It’s already been both incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding.”

D'Amico also said she appreciates how the EMP has provided the needed flexibility to both be a full-time industry leader and a mother of three—including twin one-year-olds. “I have found remote learning to be wonderful. I have the flexibility to watch pre-recorded lectures when I have time. It’s been effective and flexible in meeting the needs of where I am in my life.”

And to students considering Harris, D’Amico offered this advice: “I would encourage prospective students to think about how important critical thinking is to your job. You might not be the smartest person on the topic, but knowing how to engage, be a critical thinker, and understand enough about the underpinnings of analysis to ask the right questions is key. If these are pieces of your job, the EMP program might be right for you.”