Member Highlight: Michael Tipton

Cross-sector partnership is already integral to Michael Tipton's work - his role as the head of a corporate foundation puts him at the intersection of philanthropy and the private sector.

Now, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Louisiana president is looking forward to exploring partnership from a new perspective, as a member of the SECF Board of Trustees.

"I think foundations in our region can be critical partners with government, the nonprofit sector, business and others in addressing some of our most critical issues," Michael said. "Serving on the Board of SECF gives me a window into how other foundations and our region is approaching this opportunity and gives me a chance to support our collective efforts to give back in strategic ways to the communities in which we live and work."

Michael leads the foundation's efforts to improve health outcomes in Louisiana - a state that is far behind the rest of the nation on many health-related metrics. However, Michael sees several bright spots that can serve as inspiration for the rest of the state, and the region.

"We're proud of Louisiana communities who are stepping up to address some of their most persistent health issues," he said. "From a community in North Louisiana that is working to become Louisiana's first truly walkable city and, through that, address long-term inequity and health issues, to efforts in New Orleans to lower the uninsured rate and address chronic health conditions, we see power in communities identifying issues and working together to address them in comprehensive ways."

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation supports successful efforts like these, with an eye toward scaling them to the statewide level and beyond, through its New Horizons grant program.

"We are funding a number of pilots and proofs of concept that could have the ability to be really groundbreaking for our state and beyond," Michael said. "And we're excited by the opportunity to support projects underway and to lead in new ways on issues that are critical to our state but where there might not be the groundswell of community focus that we might otherwise like."

Between his work at the foundation and his new role as a Board member, Michael knows he will be busy, but didn't hesitate to accept the invitation to serve.

"While there is a significant time and energy commitment, I'm excited to say yes to service for all it means we can do together and for all it means I can bring back in support of our work in Louisiana," he said.

Michael said he plans to use his first year on the Board as an opportunity for learning and contributing wherever he's needed.

"I'm looking forward to getting to learn about other Board members, about their foundations, and about the important work of SECF across the region. I'm familiar with much of the work but I'm sure there is plenty I'm not aware of, so I look forward to learning," he said. "Beyond that, I look forward to diving in, to giving back in whatever ways I can, and to hopefully shape thinking and next steps as needed on behalf of our collective work."

Michael became president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Louisiana in 2015. Previously, he spent eight years as executive director of Teach For America's South Louisiana program. A Louisiana native, Michael graduated from Louisiana State University with degrees in political science and history. He earned a master's degree in teaching from Pace University in New York while teaching high school English and History in the South Bronx through Teach For America.


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