Executive biographies:
Ronald A. Williams

Retired Chairman and CEO of Aetna

Photograph of Ronald A. WilliamsRonald A. Williams is the former Chairman and CEO of Aetna Inc., a leading diversified health care benefits company that was named FORTUNE's most admired company in the Health Care: Insurance and Managed Care category for three consecutive years during his tenure. Mr. Williams served as both Chairman and CEO of Aetna from 2006 to 2010, and as Chairman from November 2010 to April 2011.

Mr. Williams currently serves on the President's Management Advisory Board, which was assembled by President Obama to help bring the best of business practices to the management and operation of the federal government. Appointed to the board in March 2011, Mr. Williams is particularly interested in developing a more efficient government operations model by bringing to the table a focus on transforming American health care into a more efficient system that delivers greater value to all Americans.

Under the leadership of Mr. Williams, Aetna has sought to make a positive impact on health care in America by serving as a catalyst for change, focusing the industry, public policy leaders, physicians and employers on issues aimed at increasing access and affordability. 

Joining Aetna in 2001, Mr. Williams has focused on creating innovation in the industry, especially through information technology, and bringing new levels of transparency to the health care system. In September 2001, Aetna became the first national insurer to offer a consumer-directed health plan. In August 2005, Aetna’s launch of a new online consumer tool to view physician-specific price information was widely recognized as the beginning of a new era of transparency in the health care marketplace. Aetna also led the effort to develop industry standards for electronic personal health records, which provide a new way for consumers to be more engaged in their health care.

In 2002, Mr. Williams was named President and joined Aetna’s Board. He was named CEO in February 2006 and Chairman of the Board in October 2006. Throughout his Aetna career, Mr. Williams has been outspoken in making the business case for quality in health care. He guided efforts to create Aetna’s Aexcel network to provide access to cost-effective, quality care in high-cost specialties.

Mr. Williams also is a strong proponent of meaningful health care reform. He was an early advocate in calling for an individual coverage requirement to expand access to health care and provide assistance to those who truly cannot afford it. He has championed specific reforms in op-ed articles he authored or co-authored in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Financial Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Mr. Williams lends his time and expertise to a number of organizations, such as the International Federation of Health Plans, the Healthcare Leadership Council, GE Healthymagination Advisory Committee, and the Wall Street Journal CEO Council. He serves on the Board of Directors of The Boeing Company and American Express Company. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Connecticut Science Center. Previously, he served as chairman of the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare from 2007-2010 and vice chairman of The Business Council from 2008 to 2010.  At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he served on the MIT North America Executive Board from 2002 to 2010 and is a former member of the Alfred P. Sloan Management Society. In January 2010, he co-chaired the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Prior to joining Aetna, Mr. Williams was Group President of the Large Group Division at WellPoint Health Networks Inc. and President of the company’s Blue Cross of California subsidiary. Mr. Williams joined Blue Cross of California in 1987 and accepted a series of increasingly prominent roles. Previously, Mr. Williams was co-founder and Senior Vice President at Vista Health Corp., group marketing executive at Control Data Corp., and President and co-founder of Integrative Systems.

Mr. Williams is a graduate of Roosevelt University and holds an M.S. in Management from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.