Rosemarie Pham was at the top of her game. She had just been promoted to supervisor in her business unit on the Health Solutions team, recently completed a master’s program, was engaged to be married, and was one week away from graduating from Ready to Lead, Blue Shield of California’s eight-month program designed to help our people develop their leadership skills and grow their careers.

And then, suddenly and unexpectedly, Rosemarie passed away.

“When I received the news, I was devastated,” said Contessa Rogers, one of the Ready to Lead orchestrators. “I couldn’t believe it. The stars seemed to be aligning for her. Everyone loved her, her energy was so positive, she was always smiling. She was someone you wanted to be around. She was an inspiration to her cohort, to all of us.”

Once the initial shock wore off, Contessa dreaded the next step she knew she had to take: “I had to tell Marc Harris.”

Marc, a director on the operations team, was Rosemarie’s Ready to Lead mentor. Though the program was entirely virtual due to the pandemic, Rosemarie and Marc had grown close during the process.

At the time of Rosemarie’s passing, Marc was on vacation in the United Kingdom with family. Contessa didn’t want him to learn the sad news via social media or email. When she reached out to him, she “could just feel the emotion on the phone even though he was across the pond.”

Rosemarie’s colleagues throughout the company were equally as devastated and brainstormed ways to pay homage to her. Soon they decided on creating the Rosemarie Pham Leadership Excellence Award, which honors her positive spirit and the supportive leadership she provided at Blue Shield.

Marc described Rosemarie as a high performer and the person her peers and new hires would look to for support. She offered to train others though that was not within her official capacity. “She took pride in her work. She made sure everyone was cared for, understood, and had value,” Marc said. And Rosemarie was always positive. “We had many conversations about challenges she was facing and yet her enthusiasm for life and supporting others never wavered,” Marc reflected. “We are poorer for not having her around now, but we are richer for being able to showcase, through this award, the commitment and determination she had for those around her. It was an honor to mentor her and I am so pleased that we are able remember her in this way.”

Recipients of The Rosemarie Pham Leadership Excellence Award are selected by R2L cohort peers who consider the following characteristics:

  • Embodies Blue Shield’s values of being human, honest and courageous
  • Influences others by building meaningful relationships within the cohort and inspires teammates to reach their goals
  • Continuously learns by being curious, participating in program offerings and putting feedback into action
  • Demonstrates inclusive leadership by creating safe, approachable spaces for all

The inaugural Rosemarie award went to Andre Mayberry, an operations supervisor. “I am shocked, honored, humbled and appreciative to receive this award in honor of Rosemarie,” Andre said. “She can never be replaced. I just hope I can continue to honor who she was. And I will do this by giving back, I plan to share as much as I can with others who are also trying to grow in their careers. Thank you to my peers. I appreciate this time we have spent growing together in this cohort.”

The Rosemarie Pham Leadership Excellence Award will be presented at the culmination of each future Ready to Lead cohort.