Kristin Binns: 40 Under 40 2014

VP of PR, WellPoint
Age: 33

Kristin Binns is used to working in a politically charged environment. Early in her career, she served as press intern for Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) during the post-9/11 invasion of Iraq – an experience that set the stage for her career in the health insurance industry, which has been the focus of intense political, legislative, and regulatory debate for several years.

At WellPoint, the second-largest health insurer in the country, she led the PR team during the tumultuous healthcare reform debate and has also led the communications strategy for major mergers and acquisitions.

At just 28 years old, she was named VP of PR, the youngest officer ever appointed at the company.
When caught in the crossfire, the company has had to cope with leadership changes and challenges to its reputation.   

Through it all, Binns, who has been with WellPoint since 2008, has kept a cool head, helping to communicate its vital role in the rollout of reform and the new health insurance exchanges.

The numbers show her hard work has paid off, as WellPoint has enjoyed an increased stock price and revenue is up by $6 billion in the past five years.

With the public able to shop for health insurance for the first time, Binns has worked to build valuable relationships with mom bloggers and craft key messaging around exchanges. As a result, at the close of the first open enrollment period, membership to WellPoint plans exceeded 500,000.

Key to Binns’ success has been her canny restructuring of her 20-plus-strong communications operation, providing a new focus that has seen a 60% increase in positive press for WellPoint since 2012.

Widely respected for her business savvy, Binns is also known for her "think-outside-the-box" mantra.

"Kristin leads by example both in her approach to media relations and in the way she has structured her team, often pushing the boundaries of the industry’s more traditional media approach," explains Jill Becher, corporate media relations director at WellPoint. "With Kristin helping to lead the charge, the future for the organization looks bright."

 

• Binns is the executive sponsor for one of WellPoint’s associate resource groups, the Healthcare Young Professionals Exchange, which aims to provide insights into issues that matter to young professionals

• She plays a key role at annual meetings of the industry trade association, America’s Health Insurance Plans

• Binns served on the board of the Girl Scouts

• Proficient in Spanish, she has also been active in Big Brothers Big Sisters for the past decade, mentoring students studying English as a second language

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