|Ben Chandler (AP photo)
Ben Chandler, who as state attorney general filed the lawsuit that led to the creation of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, was named president and CEO of the foundation Monday.
Chandler, 56, was state auditor in 1992-95, attorney general in 1996-2003 and Sixth District representative in Congress from 2004 to 2012, when he lost a bid for re-election. He lives near Versailles and has been executive director of the Kentucky Humanities Council.
As attorney general in 1997, Chandler sued Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kentucky to recover the charitable assets Anthem received after merging in 1993 with non-profit Blue Cross. In 1999 Anthem Inc. agreed to put $45 million into an independent, charitable foundation that would address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians. The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky was created and had its first board meeting in 2001.
Chandler succeeds Susan Zepeda, who has been president and CEO since 2005 and announced last year that she would retire at the end of the year. Zepeda came to Kentucky after serving as CEO of The HealthCare Foundation for Orange County in California, and before that as head of the health agency and hospital in San Luis Obispo County.
Chandler said in a press release, “Having fought so hard for a healthier Kentucky during my time as attorney general, I am beyond thrilled to be invited to build on the good work of Susan Zepeda and her team and to lead the foundation to even greater impact. The health challenges in our state are very real, but so is the commitment to a healthier future for all our citizens.”
Foundation Board Chair Chris Roszman, who chaired the search committee, said, “Ben’s past experiences as a bipartisan leader in championing health policies through collaboration and effective consensus-building will serve the foundation well as we continue to address the unmet healthcare needs of Kentuckians.”
Search committee member Robert Slaton, a former state health commissioner who chairs the foundation’s Community Advisory Committee, said in the release, “Sixteen years ago Ben had a vision. To welcome him to continue that vision today is very exciting.”
The nine-member search committee consisted of business and health leaders from across the state, the press release said. All were current or former members of the board or the Community Advisory Committee. “In an extensive, six-month process, the search embraced a broad array of potential contenders from across the commonwealth and from 21 other states and the District of Columbia,” the release said.
Chandler earned both his B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of Kentucky. He studied at the University of London and Trinity College in Dublin, including an internship in the British Parliament. He practiced law with Brown, Todd & Heyburn, specializing in health-care law, and later with Reeves & Graddy in Versailles. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children, live on the family farm and attend Pisgah Presbyterian Church, where he is a trustee.