Jeri Jones is the CEO for the west region of UnitedHealthcare Community & State, a business segment of UnitedHealthcare committed to providing Medicaid coverage for more than six million people. Accountable for Medicaid health plans in seven west region states, Jones is driving additional growth efforts. She works closely with state governments to understand their needs, and the needs of their residents, and ensures that the company is exceeding expectations for all involved.

A primary focus for Jones over the past 18 months has been the integration of physical and behavioral health care – within UnitedHealthcare Community & State and across the Medicaid landscape. In most Medicaid programs, these systems are separate entities, resulting in inefficient spend and missed opportunities for holistic care. She has worked with UnitedHealth Group leaders, state partners, individual providers and community organizations to demonstrate the importance of an integrated, whole-person approach to care. So far, 12 states have adopted a more fully integrated model of care.

Jones is a champion of UnitedHealth Group’s five core values – integrity, relationships, innovation, compassion and performance – not only at work, but in everything she does. An active member of her community, she currently serves as the chair of the board of directors for the American Heart Association and sits on the board of Downtown Phoenix Inc.

This CEO believes that businesses that embrace diversity and inclusion outperform their peers by driving innovation and responding to the wants and needs of their diverse customer base. To be successful, businesses must build a diverse and inclusive culture by hiring diverse talent, creating an inclusive environment and inviting diverse ideas.

As an active participant in UnitedHealth Group’s mentoring program for women, Jones mentors colleagues on their way up. She has also coached many women through various connections and boards. “I encourage female leaders to find strong male and female mentors, and surround themselves with diverse views,” she says. She also advises women to be open to the possibility of making lateral career moves if they seem beneficial and to create challenges for themselves along the way.