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Independence Blue Cross promotes two leaders to senior vice president

By December 1, 2022February 20th, 2023Company Culture Company Updates Featured Leadership

Pictured left to right: Kortney Cruz, Sushma Akunuru

Independence Blue Cross (Independence) announced the promotions of Sushma Akunuru to Senior Vice President of Business Technology Services and Kortney Cruz to Senior Vice President of Government Markets.

“We are proud to welcome Sushma and Kortney, two incredible leaders, to our senior leadership team. These well-deserved promotions reflect their significant contributions and our confidence in their ability to make an even greater impact. Their dedication to our members, customers, and associates is helping advance our mission to improve the health and well-being in the communities we serve,” said Independence President and CEO Gregory E. Deavens.

Akunuru is a champion of women in leadership and technology. She had served as Vice President of Business Applications since joining Independence in 2020. In that role, she worked on solutions that meet emerging market demands, improve efficiencies, and strengthen the company’s security posture. In this new role, she will continue these efforts while working to align the organization’s technology, application, and security teams.

Akunuru spearheads Independence’s Women in Technology and Analytics event that is designed to encourage careers in technology at Independence. She also shares her expertise by engaging with the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association CIO Roundtable, the Wharton Health Care Business Conference, and as a member of the Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies digital transformation advisory board. She is a strong proponent of instilling STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in young minds. She supports this by mentoring and tutoring robotics to children in her community.

Akunuru earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer sciences at Osmania University in India. She earned her MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Cruz, who joined Independence in 2013, continues to bring strong and impactful leadership to Independence’s Government Markets team. She will be instrumental in developing innovative solutions that help the company continue to grow in that space. She was most recently Vice President of Medicare Sales and Marketing, where she played a vital role in launching the Age Fearless initiative to engage and educate individuals 55 years and over on holistic health and well-being. Cruz also formed the Medicare Member Retention team, which has enabled Independence to communicate digitally (through email, text, or both) with nearly 70 percent of its Medicare Advantage members.

Cruz is a member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s Medicare senior leadership workgroup, where she collaborates with other Blue Cross Blue Shield plans and shares best practices in Medicare marketing. She is also active with Independence’s associate volunteer program, the Blue Crew, and is an executive sponsor of the iLead (Inspiring, Lifting, and Empowering the African Diaspora) associate resource group. She has a degree in marketing and strategic management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.