Staff photo by Tim Barber/ Dalya Qualls is director of corporate communications at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

Dalya Qualls is a health care industry veteran who also has a keen interest in sports.

Qualls, who joined BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee in Chattanooga in September as its director of corporate communications, works on Sunday afternoons in Nashville providing game-day media relations for the Tennessee Titans football team.

"I work in the press box, hand out stat sheets," says Qualls, who worked in sports information in the athletic departments of a couple of colleges before entering the health care realm. "I want to keep my hand in it."

Qualls, 42, also says she's looking forward to plugging into the Chattanooga community.

"I'm interested in meeting my peers in communications and in other areas," she says, adding that she wants to find opportunities to serve outside of BlueCross.

Prior to joining the state's biggest health insurer, Qualls was communications manager with HCA Healthcare in Nashville. There, she directed that company's media strategy and oversaw the team that developed content for digital platforms.

Additionally, she worked with more than 180 hospitals to identify storytelling opportunities for employees and external audiences, securing national media coverage for many of those stories.

Qualls says the BlueCross BlueShield post opened up and she saw that as an opportunity.

"Chattanooga's a growing and thriving city," she says. "I didn't know a ton about BlueCross, but I started researching it and what attracted me most was the culture."

The BlueCross official cites the company's recognition in Forbes magazine's list of top employers, for example. Qualls also looked at the makeup of the company's leadership team.

"You get here and you see it's real. Leadership is approachable and wants to hear from employees," she says.

Overseeing a team of about 22 employees, Qualls is responsible for internal and external communication strategies in the company that has more than 5,300 employees in the Chattanooga area.

"It's valuing employees and being transparent about what's going on in and outside our organization," she says.

Qualls was born in San Antonio but moved around a lot as her father was a 25-year U.S. Air Force veteran. She received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Qualls earned a master's degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.

Previously, Qualls was deputy communications director for the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, where she held primary spokesperson duties and handled media strategy for related agencies.