Tina Anderson is market head of Community Activation, Community Affairs at Aetna, a CVS Health business, working with the local markets of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, North and South Dakota and Southern Illinois. She has strategic accountability to activate the Aetna brand in the community and manage the external presence. Additionally, she also works alongside senior leadership to develop business strategies for success geared toward community engagement and the enhanced consumer experience. She is founder and chair of Aetna’s first St. Louis Chapter of the African-American Employee Resource Group.
St. Louis American: Tell us about your current position, its responsibilities and challenges and how you are able to make a difference.
Tina Anderson: I work with all lines of business which includes Commercial, Medicare and Medicaid in Kansas. I also work with all kinds of people both internally and externally. My role demands high level collaboration and cooperation and consultation on strategic community engagement. It also requires that I stay connected to our communities so I will be able to inform and recommend best practices. I would say the biggest challenge is striving for consistency across several states while also paying attention to the specific needs of each community.
I’m able to make a difference because at the core of who I am is an advocate. Advocacy shows up whether I’m in the board room or the community and I make every effort to be honest with people and fair. Honesty in all settings is not always well received; however, it has served me well and I believe in the words of Harriet Beecher Stowe who shared: “The truth is the kindest thing we can give folks in the end.” I am also able to make a difference because I have a grassroots approach to business in that I get to know as many people as possible both internally and externally. I’m that person in the corporate office who will speak to everyone and see people for who they are without regard for their titles.
St. Louis American: Business is a team sport. Tell us about your current team, how you fit into it, and who helps to support your work.
Tina Anderson: I am a member of Aetna’s national My Community Affairs team with colleagues across the country. We operate as a family and lean on each other for support, encouragement, idea sharing and morale building. We also celebrate each other and have a ridiculous amount of fun doing it. We have an awesome leader, Floyd Green III, who is the Vice President of Community Affairs. He encourages creativity and excellence while frequently reminding us to “dream the impossible” when it comes to being impactful in our communities. His leadership – along with that of my current immediate supervisor, Miguel Centeno – has been nothing short of a blessing. Our St. Louis Local Market President Frank D’Antonio is another key supporter who has a heart for the community. He and I talk regularly about how we can increase our presence in the community and do the right thing for the right reasons.
St. Louis American: Tell us about any previous positions you have held, in business or any other field, that contributed to your development and helped prepare you for your current role.
Tina Anderson: My professional career began as a community social worker here in St. Louis. For several years I worked with families in crisis as well as children in foster care and adults with mental illness. After over 15 years I was completely burned out. I witnessed several success stories of family empowerment and repair; however, I knew that it was time for me to go because I had no more to give. I advocated so hard for the families I worked with, and it often left me completely drained. Social work is a difficult job that renders few accolades and appreciation. I left the profession with respect for my fellow social workers and a continuous prayer for them as I know first-hand how helping to build people and putting families back together after tragedy and brokenness is such a heavy lift.
Laddering over to the insurance industry and corporate America interestingly enough seemed pretty easy after the amount of work I was used to doing on the social work side. Most of the skills were easily transferable such as engagement, planning, assessments, documentation and flexibility. The clinical experience dealing with challenging behaviors has also come in handy. Insurance is such a fascinating industry in that there are literally endless opportunities. You can work independently as a broker or you can partner with a major carrier. You can work property and casualty or health and life while laddering over to the financial services side. As a former social worker it has given me the continued opportunity to help people and to help them live better. With Aetna the helping comes by educating about health and wellness and advocating around social determinants of health. I’ve also been able to help internally through my work around employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, employee volunteerism and working to create a healthy workplace culture.
St. Louis American: Tell us about any mentors crucial to your development.
Tina Anderson: I have been blessed to have some amazing mentors throughout this journey. They are the people who have challenged me to be better and to show up as the best version of myself. They are fearless and inspirational; powerful yet humble and approachable. These folks have poured into me and most importantly they have been willing to see me for who I am and what I have to offer and to love on me. One of my early mentors shared that he had “built a bridge” and challenged me to figure out how to get across it. The lesson behind that was clear. Mentors are there to support however you have to be willing to give your time, talent and energy to obtain success. They will not do the work for you, but they will cheer you on and celebrate with you.
St. Louis American: Tell us about your educational journey.
Tina Anderson: After graduating high school at University City High I went on to the University of Missouri-Columbia to study journalism. However, while studying I found that I was more interested in social sciences and earned my Bachelors of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies of Psychology, Family Studies and Sociology which I would use to launch my social work career. I’ve held my insurance producer license in health and life and have participated in several career and leadership development programs over the years such as the St. Louis Business Diversity, Cohort 11.
St. Louis American: Tell us about your future goals in business.
Tina Anderson: The ability to do meaningful work that will continue to improve humanity is the kind of business goal I will always have. I’m currently researching business ideas that will assist with transition to adulthood and employment for adults with disabilities. My 21-year-old son lives every day with autism, and I am thinking that my skills, background and connections may offer an opportunity to create something innovative and useful.
St. Louis American: Tell us about any relevant personal information you would like to share with the community – your family, friends, home church, passions.
Tina Anderson: I’ve been married for the past 24 years to my husband Sam who works in education and serves in the ministry. He has been a strong supporter and has loved me through my career changes reminding me along the way to trust God with the process. We have two adult dynamic children: Christina and Sam. Christina is a recent graduate and now legacy of the University of Missouri-Columbia like her mom and is currently in graduate school at Rutgers University. She is incredible and we are ridiculously proud of her. Sam, who lives with autism, has probably prepared me the most for business excellence in that in being his mom I was called to a higher level of existence and advocacy. Sam is always top-of-mind when I’m thinking about work around diversity and inclusion or performing at the highest level so that I can continue to assist with his care.
St. Louis American: Feel free to add anything else you would like to share with the community about business or yourself.
Tina Anderson: Currently I am the local chapter president of the National African-American Insurance Association(NAAIA)-St. Louis. NAAIA which seeks to unite African-American insurance professionals for the purpose of support, networking and mentorship. NAAIA also supports community initiatives such as improving financial literacy and introducing the insurance industry and its limitless possibilities to the insurance professionals of tomorrow.
I am also serving on the board for COCA (Center of Creative Arts). This is a fairly new volunteer experience, and I am impressed with COCA’s reach into the communities across the St. Louis area to bring the arts to as many people as possible for life changing experiences.