By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media

This Women’s History Month, California Black Media is profiling three Black women on the leading edge of California’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic: Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris, California Gov Operations Secretary Yolanda Richardson and Kimberly Goode, Senior Vice President of External Affairs at Blue Shield of California. The profiles explore how these exceptional women have brought their experience, knowledge and leadership abilities to driving California’s COVID-19 recovery efforts. It also looks at the challenges they have faced, the successes they have won and how they balance the rigors of their public roles with the responsibilities of their private lives.

Profile: Kimberly Goode, the Implementer

During a time when an all-out effort is underway to get Californians vaccinated, a few women leaders in California are leading the charge to reach the communities hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, including Black families in “hard-to-reach” areas across the state.

Kimberley Goode, the Senior Vice President of External Affairs for Blue Shield of California) is one of those Black women in on the frontlines.

Blue Shield of California is the state’s “third-party administrator” as California ramps up its push to get its 40 million residents vaccinated. Goode says the company, with headquarters in Oakland, has taken a number of steps to support the state’s goal to get vaccines to all Californians – particularly those who have been disproportionately impacted — in a way that is safe, equitable and swift. Blue Shield’s provider network boasts more than 1,200 vaccination sites in California, including community clinics, multi-county entities, hospital systems, medical groups, pharmacies and others.

“The state makes final allocation decisions. The state makes all decisions around eligibility,” says Goode. “Our job is to make sure that the robust network that we’ve built is able to get that vaccine to the providers who are throughout every community in the state of California – to reach every zip code.”

Goode says their distribution efforts target areas in the state where data shows there are higher incidents of infection and death. “Those are the places we really want to double down on and make sure that we have more vaccines there, more quickly,” she said. “We make sure we partner with local community clinics, trust

“Our goal is two reach 3 million doses per week by March,” Goode added.

A public-relations specialist, Goode’s position with Blue Shield of California puts her in charge of communication and outreach on behalf of the nonprofit that generates more than $20 billion in annual revenue and serves more than 4 million members in commercial, individual, and government markets.

“There is a lot of concern about the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and, in particular, the African American community,” says Goode. “One of the things that should give comfort to people in this process is that there are a lot of people who care about equity, and two state leaders I work with, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris and Secretary Yolanda Richardson – they are two very important voices that are ensuring that equity is at the forefront of the decision-making process, and the implementation of the vaccine distribution.”

She has more than 25 years of communications experience with several global companies, including Kellogg’s, Prudential Financial, American Express, and Allstate. She also spent time as the vice president of Corporate Communications and Corporate Affairs at Northwestern Mutual, where she was responsible for leading the company’s internal and external communications strategy.

In the summer of May 2017, Goode joined Blue Shield of California to provide strategic leadership in corporate communications, government affairs, and corporate citizenship. She is also responsible for building relationships that help advance the nonprofit health plan’s mission.

“If that’s not enough titles, I get to work on the communication, education, and equity workstream for the third-party administration work that we’re doing on the behalf of the state for the vaccination program,” said Goode, who chairs Blue Shield of California’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Council.

Goode is active professionally and in the community with a number of organizations, including the Executive Leadership Council, the Bay Area Council, Children Now Leadership Council and California Women Lead Advisory Council, Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and The Links, Inc.

At home, Goode says she has been working from home and sheltering in a “four-generation family bubble” with her husband, her two daughters, her 75-year-old mother and her 95-year-old grandmother.

“The silver lining of this pandemic has been that it has really helped me to reflect on what matters most and prioritize my time with my family – to focus on the things that are meaningful. We engage in some old fun activities. We play “Black Panther Monopoly.” It’s a board game that is a ton of fun. Just having fun with family in ways that we used to take for granted.”

But the greatest reward of her work right now, Goode says, is working for a “mission-driven company.”

“This is work that enables us to help every Californian,” she said. It is very gratifying to know that when I wake up and come to work every day (even though it is in my living room), it is not

focused on ‘how I can help Blue Shield today.” It is focused on “how can Blue Shield help Californians across the state.’”