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Highmark Health announces Carolyn Duronio to join organization as General Counsel and successor to Tom VanKirk, who will retire at end of 2020

November 21, 2019
Carolyn Duronio
Carolyn Duronio

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Highmark Health today announced that Carolyn Duronio has been named General Counsel for Highmark Health as part of a succession plan for Tom VanKirk, executive vice president and Chief Legal Officer, who has announced his retirement at the end of 2020.

Carolyn Duronio, a Pittsburgh-based partner of Reed Smith LLP who has spent her entire 35-year career at the global law firm, will join Highmark Health in early January 2020 as General Counsel for Highmark Health as part of the organization’s succession plan, which includes a transition period during which Tom and Carolyn will work together to ensure a seamless change in leadership. Following that transition period, Carolyn will assume the position of EVP and chief legal officer and will report directly to David Holmberg, president and chief executive officer.

“Carolyn is a highly respected attorney whom we have worked with for many years and was instrumental in helping to craft our legal response to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s lawsuit earlier this year,” commented Tom VanKirk, EVP and chief legal officer, Highmark Health. “Her specialization in exempt organizations and knowledge of Highmark Health will be enormously valuable to our leadership team, and tax and legal departments as they undertake an ambitious transformation strategy during a volatile yet exciting period in the country’s health care industry. I have enjoyed my eight-year tenure at Highmark Health immensely and know my colleagues will work to make this a seamless transition.”

“While we are far from saying goodbye to Tom, I do want to express how much I have come to trust and rely on Tom both as a highly accomplished attorney and advisor, and as a friend,” commented David Holmberg, president and Chief Executive Officer, Highmark Health. “He has lived his life with purpose, passion, and a genuine desire to do the right thing and give back to the community, and we have all benefitted.”

Carolyn joined Reed Smith in 1984 and became a partner in 1992, building a nationally acclaimed practice that supports tax-exempt organizations. She has received numerous private letter rulings on behalf of clients that have permitted them to further their exempt purposes. She also has planned complicated restructurings of exempt organizations, including the creation of affiliated entities as well as the sale of exempt organizations to for-profit entities. She has particular expertise with respect to the legal issues affecting investments by nonprofit organizations. Clients rely on her to provide quick, concise answers to involved charitable-giving questions and to draft the appropriate documents; and she has written and spoken extensively on various issues relevant to exempt organizations and charitable giving as well. She has been recognized as the Best Lawyers™ “Lawyer of the Year” award in Pittsburgh in 2015 and 2017 for Education Law and Nonprofit / Charities Law, in 2019 for Tax Law, and in 2020 for Nonprofit / Charities Law.

Carolyn has served in numerous leadership positions at Reed Smith and is deeply committed to the Pittsburgh region, having lent her expertise to several leading institutions, serving on the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and the Frick Art & Historical Center, as Vice Chair of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and as a former Director for The Children’s Institute, WQED Multimedia and the United Way of Allegheny County, among others. At Reed Smith, she served as office managing partner of the firm’s Pittsburgh and Harrisburg offices (2001-2006), was a member of the firm’s management body (2007-2016), and served as its corporate secretary.

Mr. VanKirk joined Highmark Inc. in March 2012 following a 41-year career at Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney. In addition to overseeing the acquisition of West Penn Allegheny Hospital System and Jefferson Hospital as well as the formation of Highmark Health in 2013 and its affiliation with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of northeast Pennsylvania in 2015, he has managed the legal affairs of the company and the legal department, and serves on the company’s leadership team. He was also instrumental in the formation of Highmark Health’s strategic partnerships with Johns Hopkins Medicine and Penn State Health. Finally, he serves as the secretary of the board of directors of Highmark Inc. and Highmark Health.

While at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, Mr. VanKirk served as chairman and chief executive officer of the law firm, where he provided strategic leadership, including client relationship development and the recruiting of attorneys and groups of attorneys to the firm. He served as chief operating officer of the firm for more than 18 years before serving as chief executive officer from 2003 until 2009. While at Buchanan, Mr. VanKirk was a trial attorney specializing in antitrust and corporate takeover litigation and served as a corporate adviser to many Fortune 1,000 companies.

Mr. VanKirk appears in the 2006-2012 editions of The Best Lawyers in America® as selected by his peers. Mr. VanKirk is a graduate of Bucknell University, and he received his juris doctorate degree, cum laude, from Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law.

“I have worked closely with Tom and the leadership team at Highmark Health for the past several years and am honored to be asked to serve as their in-house legal counsel,” Duronio said. “It is an exciting time to be involved in this country’s health care system, as the industry is embarking on an era of significant transformation. I believe that Highmark Health is uniquely positioned to lead that effort. I have big shoes to fill as Tom’s successor, and I look forward to extending his legacy of excellence and dedication to making a positive difference and much improved health experience for consumers.”

About Highmark Health
Highmark Health, a Pittsburgh, PA-based company, is the lead company in an enterprise that employs more than 35,000 people who serve millions of Americans across the country and is the second largest integrated health care delivery and financing network in the nation based on revenue. Highmark Health is the parent company of Highmark Inc., Allegheny Health Network, and HM Health Solutions. Highmark Inc. and its subsidiaries and affiliates provide health insurance to more than 4.4 million members in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware as well as dental insurance, and related health products through a national network of diversified businesses that include United Concordia Companies, and HM Insurance Group. Allegheny Health Network is the parent company of an integrated delivery network that includes eight hospitals, more than 2,300 affiliated physicians, ambulatory surgery centers, an employed physician organization, home and community-based health services, a research institute, a group purchasing organization, and health and wellness pavilions in western Pennsylvania. HM Health Solutions focuses on meeting the information technology platform and other business needs of the Highmark Health enterprise as well as unaffiliated health insurance plans by providing proven business processes, expert knowledge, and integrated cloud-based platforms. To learn more, visit www.highmarkhealth.org.

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SOURCE Highmark Health