Champions of Health Care 2021: Dr. Andrea Willis - Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Dr. Andrea Willis at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee on Thursday, July 22, 2021.

Creating more inclusive practices across health care - from greater access for underserved communities to more minority representation among providers - is a deeply personal mission for Dr. Andrea Willis.

"My birth certificate says I'm colored, and you think about what that means, what that means in the South," says Willis, the chief medical officer for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. "It was something I was born into. You don't want to see those things persist."

Willis was raised in rural Alabama, and grew up knowing she wanted to be a doctor so she could help other people, she says.

"I was raised with the mindset that you're blessed to be a blessing to others," Willis says. "I went into pediatrics so I could be a role model to children, get to them before the world imposes so many things on them."