Leonard D. Schaeffer

Advisory Board Chair, USC Schaeffer Center
Judge Robert Maclay Widney Chair, University of Southern California
Founding Chair and CEO, WellPoint

Leonard D. Schaeffer's Bio

Leonard D. Schaeffer is the founding Chairman & CEO of WellPoint, (now Elevance), which now serves 47.0 million medical members and has annualized revenues of $170.2 billion. He is currently the Judge Robert Maclay Widney Chair and Professor at the University of Southern California (USC) and is a Senior Advisor to Whistler Capital Partners, a private equity firm.

Schaeffer was Chairman & CEO of WellPoint from 1992 through 2004 and continued to serve as Chairman through 2005.  Under his leadership, WellPoint was selected by FORTUNE magazine as America’s “Most Admired Health Care Company” for six consecutive years; named by BusinessWeek as one of the 50 best performing public companies for three consecutive years; and identified by Forbes magazine as America’s best large health insurance company. Schaeffer was selected by BusinessWeek magazine as one of the “Top 25 Managers of the Year” and by Worth magazine as one of the “50 Best CEOs in America.”

In 1986, Schaeffer was recruited as CEO to WellPoint's predecessor company, Blue Cross of California, when it was near bankruptcy. He managed the turnaround of Blue Cross of California and the IPO creating WellPoint in 1993. During his tenure, WellPoint made 17 acquisitions and endowed four charitable foundations with assets of over $6 billion. Under Schaeffer’s leadership, WellPoint’s value grew from $11 million to over $49 billion.

In 2009, Schaeffer established the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at USC which emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to research and analysis to support evidence-based health policy.  In 2014, he established the Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service program which has supported 368 undergraduates to date in high-level, summer government internships. In 2024, he established the Schaeffer Institute for Public Policy & Government Service. He has also endowed chairs in health care financing and policy at the Brookings Institution, Harvard Medical School, the National Academy of Medicine, U.C. Berkeley and USC.

Previously, Schaeffer was President and CEO of Group Health, Inc. of Minnesota, a staff model HMO.  Schaeffer was also EVP and COO of the Student Loan Marketing Association, the national secondary market for student loans and earlier was a Vice President of Citibank and a consultant specializing in design and installation of large financial and management information systems.

In the federal government, he served as Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (now CMS) and was responsible for the U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs.  He was also the Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget of the federal Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, Schaeffer was Director of the Bureau of the Budget for the State of Illinois and also served as Chairman of the Illinois Capital Development Board and as Deputy Director for Management, Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.

Schaeffer is active on the boards of numerous businesses, philanthropic and professional organizations.  He was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters (Hon) from USC and received the inaugural USC Sol Price Award for his lifetime achievements as a business leader, policy expert and philanthropist.  He was the Regent’s Lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley, a Gilbert Fellow at Princeton, and a Williams Fellow at RAND.  He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.  He is Chair of the USC Health System Board, and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Brookings Institution.

Affiliations and Awards

Board Memberships

  • Brewster Foundation: Chairman, Board of Trustees
  • The Brookings Institution: Vice Chair, Board of Trustees
  • Harvard Medical School: Board of Fellows
  • Health Affairs: Editorial Board
  • RAND Corporation: Board of Trustees
  • Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service: Chair, Advisory Board
  • scPharmaceuticals Inc.: Board of Directors
  • USC Board of Trustees
  • USC Health System Board: Chairman
  • USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics: Chair, Advisory Board

Other Affiliations

  • National Academy of Medicine (NAM): Elected Member
  • Partnership for Public Service West Coast Advisory Council
  • Princeton University: Gilbert Fellow
  • RAND Corporation: Williams Fellow
  • University of California, Berkeley: Regents Lecturer


  • Citation for Outstanding Service: American Academy of Pediatrics
  • CEO IT Achievement Award: Healthcare Information Management Systems Society
  • Crystal Spoon Award: Evanston Township High School Foundation
  • Distinguished Public Service Award: U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare
  • Doctor of Humane Letters, USC (Hon)
  • Executive Leadership Award: UCLA Anderson School of Management
  • Health Insurance Person of the Year: National Association of Health Underwriters
  • Honorary Alumnus, USC School of Pharmacy
  • Leadership in Innovation Award: Adaptive Business Leaders Organization
  • Leadership in Public Health Award: UCLA School of Public Health
  • Louis Sullivan Award for Executive Leadership: Electronic Data Interchange Foundation
  • Sol Price Award, USC School of Public Policy

Recent Work