Aetna President Karen S. Lynch considers herself an advocate for a more holistic view of health that connects both mental and physical wellness. Lynch traces her commitment to finding innovative ways to humanize health care to her experience with the system during the illness of a beloved aunt.
“Health care is not just about insurance; there is an emotional connection,” Lynch said. “We work to create an environment where our employees can really help people achieve their best health.”
For her quick rise to Aetna’s top ranks and efforts in helping to create change in the health care system, Lynch was named one of Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business for 2016. Debuting at No. 26, Lynch is one of the highest-ranking newcomers to Fortune‘s list.
In 2015, Lynch became Aetna’s first female president in the company’s 160-year history. Working with Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini, Lynch is responsible for the strategic execution of the company’s vision on behalf of Aetna’s 46 million members, playing a key role in developing the company’s strategy to drive consumer-focused, high-value health care.
“During my career, I chose to branch out and began a vibrant and rewarding career in health care. As opportunities presented themselves along the way, I would regularly raise my hand and volunteer for new roles and assignments,” Lynch said. “Although change can be difficult, the growth and development that comes from challenging yourself is unsurpassed.”
Fortune started the list in 1998 to recognize women who play a large role within the business industry. The list is published each year, and fellow leaders this year include women leading several of Aetna’s customers and partners, such as Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Ginni Rometty of IBM, and Helena Foulkes of CVS Health.
Lynch joined Aetna in 2012 as an executive vice president and head of specialty products, which provide members and customers with ancillary products, such as dental, vision, disability and life insurance, as part of medical offerings or stand-alone items. She oversaw the integration of Aetna’s acquisition of Coventry Health Care, and in 2013, she began managing local and regional businesses – a combined business unit dedicated to serving the varied health care needs of individuals and employers.
Outside of her work at Aetna, Lynch serves as the director of U.S. Bancorp, acts as a trustee of The Bushnell Performing Arts center, and is an advisory board member of NEADS/Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, a non-profit that provides independence to people through canine assistance.
Lynch is also an avid runner, and has served as the honorary co-chair of the Komen Connecticut Race for the Cure for the last three years.