Erika Kirby: 2019 Woman of Influence

While Erika Kirby has been working to make South Carolina healthier for more than six years at the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, it is a mission she has been working on throughout her professional career.

“I want us to be the best that we can be, and health is paramount to that equation. The work at the Foundation is about helping create and foster healthy environments and helping individuals have better physical health, as well as good mental health and well-being,” says Kirby, executive director of the Foundation. “From a community perspective, we want the healthiest children. We want healthy futures. We have to create those environments, homes and workplaces that best support health.”

It is that drive and purpose that landed Kirby among other notable women in the state on the 2019 Women of Influence list from the Columbia Regional Business Report, which honors women who are working to make the Midlands a better place.

Kirby’s work with the Foundation affects the whole state. Given the Foundation’s statewide presence, Kirby and her team have been able to replicate projects from one community to another, customized to meet each community’s needs.

“I thoroughly enjoy being able to play a role in the larger health care system. We can help accelerate changes in promoting health and removing barriers to good health,” she says. “I love working with different organizations across the state. I love getting to know communities and learning how we can help find solutions to the challenges they face in becoming healthier.”

In her position as executive director, Kirby views her role as finding solutions and supporting action where other funding sources may not be able to do so. She wants to support innovative remedies for health challenges.

Photo of Erika Kirby

“The Foundation is able to lend its voice to pressing health issues across the state — things that we already know to be true, yet also trying to look down the road and into the future of what are those issues that we need to get ahead of on the front end,” she says.

One current project supports mental health first aid, which is like a CPR certification, but for mental health. It trains people in the community to know the signs and symptoms of individuals struggling with a mental health crisis. The goal is to increase awareness of what mental health looks like and get someone to a stable place more quickly.

Being named a Woman of Influence is an honor, Kirby says.

“I’m just trying to role model what I think is best to serve our state,” she says. “If being a Woman of Influence helps accelerate the importance of how health impacts our state, then that’s certainly a message I will carry.”


Erika Kirby, Executive Director, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation

Aug. 22, 2019

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