Denise Gonick likes to keep fit.
She walks, runs and also makes it a point to exercise both sides of her brain.
On Monday, Gonick was appointed president and CEO of MVP Health Care. The second person to hold the position since the Schenectady-based company was founded in 1983, she replaces David Oliker, who had the job for nearly 30 years.
Being at the helm of the health insurance company at a time when heath care reform is in full swing is sure to give Gonick plenty of mental exercise.
Her aim is to see MVP thrive in the changing health care environment. She said she believes the company, which employs about 1,700 people, can play an important part in improving the overall health of the community.
“I think our involvement in the [health insurance] exchanges and our involvement in Medicaid and other government programs are a great way for us to be able to do that. So we’re really looking to focus on those things, in addition to continuing to work on innovative products that will support our commercial business as well,” she said.
Gonick plans to keep consumers’ needs at the forefront.
“I think we really need to keep things fresh for consumers,” she commented. “We need to constantly be responsive, as well as ahead of things for them.”
Gonick, a 46-year-old Guilderland resident, has a 17-year history with MVP, which began in 1995 with a position in the legal department.
She has also served as executive vice president of administrative services, chief legal officer, and earlier this year was named president of operations.
“This is a company that I’ve worked for for a long time and obviously love, and to have the opportunity to be the leader during at time that is, frankly, challenging is very exciting to me,” she said.
Gonick’s educational background includes degrees in both creative studies and law. The combination of the two dissimilar areas of study has helped her to become a leader who isn’t afraid to think outside the box.
“I like to think that it gives me a chance to exercise both sides of the brain — the analytical side as well as the creative side. And I think that the more broadly you can think, the better off you are,” she said.
According to Karen B. Johnson, who led the search committee for the MVP Board of Directors, eight candidates culled from a nationwide search were interviewed for the president and CEO position.
Gonick’s commitment to MVP, strong leadership skills, integrity, transparency when dealing with people, and openness to the ideas of others were the qualities that set her apart from the rest of the applicants, Johnson said.
“We’re very excited to be moving on in this next phase in our development,” Johnson commented, noting that she believes Gonick will “provide leadership in the company in the same vein as we started out [with], but even stronger, as we march forward into a health care system that’s changing as fast as anything in the world could.”
Prior to joining MVP, Gonick was a member of Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield’s legal department. Before that, she spent several years practicing public sector labor law.
She is a trustee of Union Graduate College in Schenectady, where she also serves on the finance committee and chairs the strategic planning committee. She was a trustee of the Schenectady Museum from 2003 until 2011, serving as co-president of the museum’s board from 2009 to 2010.
In 2006, Gonick was named one of the Business Review’s 40 Under Forty business leaders.
When not at work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children and exercising. She said she tries to set a healthy example for her 10- and 14-year-old daughters.
“As a parent, you want to send a good message,” she commented. “When I get up early in the morning to get on the treadmill or go out for a run, they see that.”