About Leonard D. Schaeffer

Leonard Schaeffer HeadshotLeonard D. Schaeffer is the founding Chairman & CEO of WellPoint, (now Elevance), which serves 47.5 million medical members and has annualized revenues of $156.6 billion. He is currently the Judge Robert Maclay Widney Chair and Professor at the University of Southern California (USC) and is a Senior Advisor to Whistler Capital Partners, a private equity firm.

Schaeffer was Chairman & CEO of WellPoint from 1992 through 2004 and continued to serve as Chairman through 2005. Under his leadership, WellPoint was selected by FORTUNE magazine as America’s “Most Admired Health Care Company” for six consecutive years; named by BusinessWeek as one of the 50 best performing public companies for three consecutive years; and identified by Forbes magazine as America’s best large health insurance company. Schaeffer was selected by BusinessWeek magazine as one of the “Top 25 Managers of the Year” and by Worth magazine as one of the “50 Best CEOs in America.”

In 1986, Schaeffer was recruited as CEO to WellPoint’s predecessor company, Blue Cross of California, when it was near bankruptcy. He managed the turnaround of Blue Cross of California and the IPO creating WellPoint in 1993. During his tenure, WellPoint made 17 acquisitions and endowed four charitable foundations with assets of over $6 billion. Under Schaeffer’s leadership, WellPoint’s value grew from $11 million to over $49 billion.

In 2009, Schaeffer established the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at USC which emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to research and analysis to support evidence-based health policy. In 2014, he established the Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service program which has supported 318 undergraduates to date in high-level, summer government internships. He has also endowed chairs in health care financing and policy at the Brookings Institution, Harvard Medical School, the National Academy of Medicine, U.C. Berkeley and USC.

Previously, Schaeffer was President and CEO of Group Health, Inc. of Minnesota, a staff model HMO. Schaeffer was also EVP and COO of the Student Loan Marketing Association, the national secondary market for student loans and earlier was a Vice President of Citibank and a consultant specializing in design and installation of large scale financial and management information systems.

In the federal government, he served as Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (now CMS) and was responsible for the U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs. He was also the Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget of the federal Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, Schaeffer was Director of the Bureau of the Budget for the State of Illinois and also served as Chairman of the Illinois Capital Development Board and as Deputy Director for Management, Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.

Schaeffer is active on the boards of numerous businesses, philanthropic and professional organizations. He was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters (Hon) from USC and received the inaugural USC Sol Price Award for his lifetime achievements as a business leader, policy expert and philanthropist. He was the Regent’s Lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley, a Gilbert Fellow at Princeton, and a Williams Fellow at RAND. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the Roundtable on Quality Care for People with Serious Illness. He is the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Brookings Institution. A native of Evanston, Illinois, he is a graduate of Princeton University where he now serves on the President’s Advisory Council.

Schaeffer and his wife, the former Pamela Sidford, have two children.

Affiliations & Awards

Articles, Publications & Media

  • The Future of Big Data (1979) PBS – Mr. Schaeffer’s predictions on advancements in information technology (that turned out to be spot on) for how we access data and user-centered technology accessible by individuals.
  • Harvard Kennedy School of Government Case Study: Managing Change – Leonard Schaeffer at HCFA and Blue Cross California (1992) – Managing change is an important undertaking for any leader, and provides unique challenges in large organizations. Mr. Schaeffer has managed change at large organizations in the public and private sectors. This case study highlights the methods he used to achieve positive results in both sectors.
  • Harvard Business Review: The Leadership Journey (2002) – In this article, Mr. Schaeffer shares his personal leadership journey as chairman and CEO of WellPoint Health Networks (now, Anthem), one of the nation’s largest publicly traded health care companies. Mr. Schaeffer describes lessons learned during his time with WellPoint such as the need to employ different leadership approaches to address disparate challenges.
  • USC Pharmacy Magazine (Spring 2013, p. 14-17) – In recognition of Mr. Schaeffer’s endowment of the Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California, the school’s pharmacy magazine published this article detailing his career and his analysis for improving health care.
  • RAND “Leonard Schaeffer Medals” – the video below explains the intention behind Mr. Schaeffer’s 2018 gift to endow the RAND Medal Awards that recognize outstanding RAND employees.
  • “From Punch Lines and Punch Cards to Public Spirit”, Princeton University Class of 1969 (2018) – This article outlines Mr. Schaeffer’s career path in public service from his start at Princeton University where he held a summer internship with Illinois Senator Paul Douglas through his rise in the Illinois state government by age 30. Mr. Schaeffer describes his professional experiences and the inspiration behind his creation of the Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service program.
  • ETHS Foundation 2023 Recipient of the Crystal Spoon Award: Leonard Schaeffer ’63 – The Evanston Township High School Crystal Spoon award recognizes impactful donors. ETHS produced a video about Mr. Schaeffer, the first person to receive the award after the school’s long-time superintendent for which the award is named.