As president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation and vice president of community affairs at Independence Blue Cross, the Rev. Dr. Lorina Marshall-Blake is constantly on the go. Yet, she makes time to serve as a mentor in the Macy Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program at Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, a certificate program that helps students develop leadership skills.
“I think it’s vitally important that we mentor, that we give back,” Marshall-Blake says. “Is it convenient? No, it’s not. But guess what? It’s something that you need to do. For me, it’s like breathing. I couldn’t imagine not being of assistance.”
A MODEL AND A LEADER
Marshall-Blake also is a strong advocate and supporter of Drexel’s Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services, which she calls “a model and a leader.” 11th Street, as it's commonly known, is one of 44 clinics in the five-county Philadelphia region the foundation supports under its Blue Safety Net program to provide health services to the uninsured and underinsured. The program also has a nursing internship program that places an intern at 11th Street each year.
“Because you may be challenged economically, it doesn’t mean that you don’t want good healthcare for you and for your family,” says Marshall-Blake, who has helmed the foundation since it started in 2011. “11th Street does that, every single day.”
A KEY COMMUNIT Y PARTNER
Starting with support for the Nursing for Tomorrow program in 2004 through today, Independence Blue Cross and its Foundation have invested more than $6.2 million to strengthen Drexel’s nursing and health professions programs. Marshall-Blake credits the late G. Fred Dibona Jr., the former Independence Blue Cross and chief executive, with having the vision to see the critical role nursing plays.
“Fred realized that nursing was such a key partner, not only in our business, but in the community,” she says. “Nursing is a sweet spot for us. And that’s an area we will continue to be in for a long, long time.”