Women to Watch, Professional Services | Carolyn Belisle, Blue Cross & Blue Shield R.I.
Community relations is no longer an accessory to business strategy. It’s “a business imperative,” said Carolyn Belisle, managing director of community relations for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.
The nonprofit health plan has always connected to the people of Rhode Island, she said, “but to an even greater extent today, consumers, employees, regulators and others want to engage with companies that support the communities where we live and work.”
Belisle has spent 17 years at the company, now leading the team to continuously find ways to partner with local programs and create philanthropic activities for the 1,000 people who work there.
“The #RecessRocksinRI initiative is one [project] I’m particularly proud of,” said Belisle. “The vision, the impact and the growth has been amazing to witness. Since 2015, 55 elementary schools and more than 21,000 children have benefited from the intervention we’ve partnered on to improve outcomes and provide opportunity for children across the state to become more physically and socially healthy.”
Belisle also initiated “Blue Across Rhode Island” in 2012. More than 75 percent of the company’s workforce volunteered for activities such as assembling children’s nutrition bags, assisting in landscaping and painting projects, and supervising wellness screenings for the uninsured.
‘We can achieve so much more together than we ever could alone.’
CAROLYN BELISLE, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, managing director of community relations
“I’m inspired by the generosity of my colleagues who we deploy every year on a large, powerful day of community service,” she said. “Since launching that effort, we’ve partnered with nearly 50 nonprofits across Rhode Island, generating nearly 22,000 volunteer hours, and impacting the lives of nearly 100,000 Rhode Islanders. … I’m also a deep believer and practitioner of collaboration and partnership. We can achieve so much more together than we ever could alone as individuals, so the work I lead at [Blue Cross] always starts from that place.”
“I can’t say enough about Carolyn’s warm, engaging personality, her keen intelligence, her visionary leadership and her ability to bring people together to make progress on a vitally important community goal,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director for Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, a statewide organization supporting healthy children. “She is a person that people across the state want to work with and learn from.”