Member Highlight: Dr. John Lumpkin

In April, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation welcomed a new president, Dr. John Lumpkin.

In a recent Q&A released by the foundation, John said he is joining at a critical time for North Carolina. The state is currently debating whether to expand access to Medicaid.

“I am excited about the opportunities we have in front of us at the foundation to be able to participate in improving the health of North Carolinians,” he said. “Many national health policy experts are looking to North Carolina for good reason. The foundation has helped to set the stage for transformation of the systems that impact health in the state.”

Though John had an accomplished career in medicine – he was the first African-American trained in emergency medicine in the country after completing his residency at the University of Chicago – he has no shortage of philanthropic experience. Immediately before taking on his new role, he spent 15 years at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

John said his experience at a national funder offers plenty that can be applied at a state-based foundation.

“National philanthropies like RWJF have come to realize that the most effective and dynamic source of positive change are communities and states across the country,” he said. “Further, the evidence is strong that when people in communities from many sectors come together to work on problems they think are important, progress on improving health occurs.”

This embrace of cross-sector collaboration should align well with the foundation’s work. Even before John’s arrival, the foundation had started to refine its strategy to focus on social determinants of health, equity and the role of communities.

“It is absolutely critical that we as a state recognize that health happens where we live, learn, work, play, and pray, not in clinical settings. To become a healthier state, we must address the factors that influence health in each community, the drivers of health -- like access to healthy foods, safe places to exercise, affordable housing, and transportation,” he said. “While no one philanthropy has the resources to fund change in each community, we can partner with others to provide the tools to enable communities to learn from each other and help to change the policy environment to make it easier for communities to be successful in improving their health.”

John said he is particularly excited about the foundation’s Community-Centered Health initiative, which is set to expand after initial success in three North Carolina communities.

“The initial three communities have demonstrated that, working together, people in communities can make a difference and improve the factors that influence health,” he said. “We anticipate that the six newest communities will continue to model this and help us prove that community driven and led efforts to improve health can be successful in both rural and urban communities across North Carolina.”

Away from his work, John says he’s an avid movie fan with a strong interest in science fiction. He also enjoys working with mechanical objects, especially clocks, and toying with his new 3D printer. John earned his bachelor and medical degrees from Northwestern University Medical School and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Illinois.


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