Linda A. Willett is Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, the largest health insurance company in New Jersey with almost $12B in revenue in 2020. She works with the Company’s CEO and management team to set strategy and drive business outcomes including transforming businesses to prosper in the face of health care and tax reform. Ms. Willett has led the teams responsible for: communications; public affairs; government affairs; legal and regulatory matters; enterprise risk management; and, compliance. The Horizon BCBSNJ Foundation reports to her and focuses on charitable giving in the State of New Jersey. Ms. Willett works directly with the Company’s Board of Directors and Board Committees on all aspects of corporate governance.
Ms. Willett gained extensive business experience in several global industries including the consumer product, medical device and pharmaceutical sectors prior to attending law school. She has P/L expertise through her work at Shulton, Inc. managing the development of new consumer products. Ms. Willett’s career, after attending law school, includes high-profile positions in the public and private sectors at various corporations and as a partner at a national law firm. All of her roles, including in her current position, involved extensive interaction with state and federal regulators and legislators in an advocacy capacity.
Raised in a western Pennsylvania steel town, Ms. Willett attended undergraduate and graduate school to become a science teacher. She taught biology at the secondary school level during which time she attained a master’s degree in library and information science. In the 1980s, Ms. Willett moved through a series of positions within the American Cyanamid Company (Cyanamid) family of companies, transitioning from work within the pharmaceutical division (Lederle Laboratories) to the Shulton, Inc. subsidiary where she led product development for major consumer brands such as Old Spice and Breck Hair Care.
Ms. Willett left the Cyanamid companies to attend law school and joined the firm of McCarter & English after graduation. She became National Coordinating Counsel for a large pharmaceutical company in its silicone breast implant litigation, overseeing the work of law firms in all fifty states and, internationally, in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. Ms. Willett achieved partnership during her fourth year at the firm and built a practice defending medical device and pharmaceutical companies in mass tort litigation.
Ms. Willett joined her largest client, Bristol-Myers Squibb, in 1996 and was appointed Vice President and Deputy General Counsel. Her work involved leadership of significant business activities, including overseeing the risk management of major mergers and acquisitions projects and global business opportunities in Europe, India and China. Her work in Europe led her to co-found The European Justice Forum, an organization of companies formed to focus on the impact of private litigation on European businesses and economies. She was the first Chair of the European Justice Forum Board and helped that organization create a funding base to sustain its work.
Ms. Willett was elected the 24th President of the Women’s Forum of New York, the founding affiliate of the International Women’s Forum for 2018 -2019. She is a member of the Economic Club of New York, the Metropolitan Club and the Devon Yacht Club.
Ms. Willett has been recognized for her leadership in the legal profession. She has received awards from the New Jersey Legal Education Experience Program for her work in promoting diversity in the legal profession and from the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice for her work as a “community builder” in raising funds to support the Newark Boys Chorus School. In 2020, she was recognized by Indiana University of Pennsylvania as a Distinguished Alumni and has been invited to be the 2021 Keynote Speaker at the university’s annual “Women in STEM” conference.