28 June 2021Asset management analysis

Highmark Health hires Blue Cross Blue Shield exec to replace retiring CIO

Highmark Health has hired a new chief investment officer to replace Dennis Cronin, who is set to retire by the end of 2021.

John Orner joins Highmark as senior vice president and chief investment officer, overseeing the treasury services division, including investment activities and corporate insurance functions for all its organisation entities. He also supervises debt issuance and monitoring activities for Highmark, including AHN and Highmark long term debt and all lines of credit and shorter-term borrowings with financial institutions.

Orner also assumes responsibility for managing all Highmark banking and portfolio management relationships and co-owns the organisational capital deployment strategy, alongside the senior vice president of Highmark Health corporate finance.

Orner has more than 30 years of treasury, business development, and investment experience, primarily with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota (BCBSM) where he was vice president, treasurer, and chief investment officer since 2009, overseeing $4.5 billion of assets. He has also held roles in BCBSM’s business development and treasury operations.

Cronin has held financial and risk management leadership positions within Highmark Health for over 28 years. He previously served as chief financial officer of HM Insurance Group (HMIG) and vice president of financial investigations for Highmark. He was responsible for placing over $2 billion of debt for the enterprise and managed a portfolio of $16 billion in assets across the enterprise encompassing operational, pension, and savings plan portfolios.

He also led Highmark Health’s pandemic response team in its early stage, focused on protecting its employees and was instrumental in guiding his team to create the Highmark Health organization capital planning tool and enterprise risk management programme.

After retiring he will dedicate more time to family, his community, and other endeavors, including membership on the board of Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Saurabh Tripathi, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Highmark Health, said: "John brings extensive expertise in health care finance and treasury services. I am eager to bring him into the Highmark Health family and look forward to partnering with him on future treasury and investment opportunities.”