At the Chamber's May 18 Leadership Luncheon honoring the 2017-18 class of Leadership Chattanooga, the Leadership Chattanooga Alumni Association (LCAA) presented the Julie Baumgardner Leadership Award to Ronald Harris, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.
Harris, co-founder of the BlueCross BlueShield Association Diversity Alliance, which connects BlueCross plans across the country to share best practices, is the second recipient of this prestigious award. The Julie Baumgardner Leadership Award, named after its first recipient who spent 15 years on the Leadership Chattanooga curriculum committee, honors someone with a laudable record of leadership in the community, who has made special contributions to Leadership Chattanooga, the region’s premier leadership development program.
“Like Julie, Ron has contributed greatly to Leadership Chattanooga in many ways for many years, impacting hundreds of us in this room and beyond,” said Cynthia Fagan, President of Firefly Social Media and LCAA board member.
Chattanooga native, Army veteran, and Leadership Chattanooga grad (class of 2001) Harris has contributed greatly to the field of diversity and inclusion, speaking regularly at conferences and businesses nationwide concerning subjects that affect our workplaces, such as unconscious bias, cultural competence and generational diversity. Harris has been featured in well-known publications including USA Today, Equal Opportunity Publications and African American Career World, and is nationally recognized for his compelling records of leadership and service to local communities.
“I’d like to thank our more than 1,100 leadership graduates,” Harris said in his acceptance remarks. “Also, I’d like to thank my colleagues at BlueCross. I have a staff of 6,111 people. Thank you so much. It is a true honor.”