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This article is part of a series of posts from National Life’s Women’s Inclusion Network. WIN is a concentration of bright and forward-thinking women (and men!) who collaborate on the leadership development, diversification, and empowerment of National Life’s female field affiliates and home office employees.

Yvette D. Bright, elected to the National Life board in 2017, is the president of Brighter Horizon Foundation, whose mission is to support high school students in becoming the first in their family to pursue a four-year college degree or an associate’s degree in the trades.

Ms. Bright retired in 2018 as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia. During her 27-year tenure, the company grew to more than $16 billion in revenue with 10,000 employees, ranking as one of the nation’s largest health insurers with approximately 8 million members in more than 25 states. She was the first woman of color to join the company’s C-suite and to have accountability for Commercial and Medicare lines with revenues of $6 billion.

Ms. Bright graduated from Tulane University and received her master of business administration in health care management from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

Can you share one or two turning points in your career that brought you to your executive leadership level?

A turning point for me was realizing I didn’t have to be an expert in all things, but instead I needed to listen, learn, and create a cohesive team all aligned to the same goals to be effective in delivering results. I would also advise that perfect is the enemy of good, and sometimes you have to just jump in and figure out how to land the plane!

What did you want to be when you “grew up”?

A doctor (or so I thought).

How did you become a board member for National Life Group? And what attracted you to National Life?

I was introduced to CEO Mehran Assadi by a mutual friend. I spent some time getting to know the leadership team and subsequently the Board. National Life’s mission and its values resonated with me. I have always been passionate about helping people from all walks of life ensure they can provide for their families and have security and peace of mind. My career was focused on health and wealth, so this was a perfect fit for me after a decades-long career in healthcare.

Is there a particular woman who has inspired you in life?

My grandmother and mother (both homemakers), who always encouraged me and never put any doubts in my mind about what I could achieve at any stage in my life. They instilled in me the confidence to spread my wings and use my talents to help and inspire others.

What advice would you give to young women who are just beginning their careers?

  • Make your voice heard and always be open to learning and growing in all aspects of your career.
  • Know your strengths and areas of opportunity — play your own game.
  • Be open to feedback and be vulnerable.
  • Treat others with respect and fairness, always.

What leadership qualities would you recommend new leaders aspire to?

Be a good listener. Be open and transparent. Set clear goals and expectations — don’t expect others to read your mind. Don’t ever be afraid to fail and press restart!

Do you have a cause or a favorite “Do good” passion?

Supporting first generation students in underrepresented areas who want to pursue a higher education. 

What would you tell someone who is considering either joining the National Life team or doing business with us?

National Life is true to its mission, has a unique culture that inspires and supports the growth and development of each member of the team, and lives its servant leadership values every day. The campus has a beautiful sense of community, with a fun, positive energy for those doing the important work of helping policyholders secure their financial futures and build a legacy for their families.