As vice president, chief equity officer, Bukata Hayes is responsible for the Blue Cross racial and health equity strategy, this includes working to integrating all diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) efforts across the entire company to fully embrace the values and practices of being an antiracist organization. Through this lens he serves as an advisor and strategic leader across the organization to identify and implement initiatives that bring about greater inclusiveness, representation, and lasting change. Hayes’ work places an emphasis on enhancing policies and programs that can more effectively address the specific needs of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) members and communities.
Hayes reports directly to the CEO and serves as a member of the Blue Cross senior leadership team. Hayes also works with the CEO to co-lead an internal cross-functional advisory group called the Racial Equity Action Committee for Health (REACH), which gives BIPOC employees an active voice in how Blue Cross can best address racial and health inequities in communities throughout Minnesota.
Hayes also serves as chair of the board of directors for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation. He first joined the board in 2015 and was named chair in 2021.
Hayes has more than 20 years of experience organizing and facilitating systemic change within large and small systems such as non-profit, K-12, higher education and rural communities. Prior to joining Blue Cross, Hayes spent 15 years as the executive director of the Greater Mankato Diversity Council. Before that, he served as the coordinator of the Multi Ethnic Center at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, the first-ever position of its kind at the college.
Hayes received his bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. Additionally, he is actively involved in numerous community-based organizations, including the MEDA Board of Directors, American Cancer Society (ACS), Minnesota Region Board of Directors, Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity (MBCRE) Advisory Committee, Minnesota Council of Health Plans, Health Equity Committee and the Blandin Foundation Board of Trustees.
For nearly 90 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (bluecrossmn.com) has supported the health, wellbeing and peace of mind of our members by striving to ensure equitable access to high quality care at an affordable price. Our 2.5 million members can be found in every Minnesota county, all 50 states and on four continents. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.