Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative names three to new executive management team

MILWAUKEE, WI (June 5, 2012) – Building on its launch into the market as a new choice for affordable, quality healthcare in Wisconsin, the board of directors of the Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative today announced the appointment of three members to their new executive management team.

Robert De Vita, a former senior vice president and chief operating officer with Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group with 38 years of experience in healthcare, will serve as the cooperative’s chief executive officer. Essie Whitelaw has been appointed chief strategy consultant, and interim chief executive officer Cathy Mahaffey has been named chief operating officer.

The 12-member board of directors believes De Vita’s experience in healthcare and knowledge of both local and national healthcare needs make him the best fit to lead the new organization.

“Bob has an impressive record of accomplishments in the health care industry,” said Bob Connolly, chairman of the board of directors. “His experience in working with health care providers and health plans will be instrumental to our development. Bob’s commitment to the community to bring more affordable health insurance to individuals and small businesses who are currently struggling with this issue makes him the right choice to lead Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative.”

Both Whitelaw and Mahaffey also bring decades of experience in the healthcare industry to each role. Whitelaw previously served as senior vice president of operations for Wisconsin Physician Services. She brings more than 15 years in various executive management positions, including roles as president and chief operating officer and vice president of national business development at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin.

Mahaffey has worked in the health insurance industry for some 20 years, previously working at The Alliance, a non-profit cooperative located in Madison. She also served as the executive director for the Farmers’ Health Cooperative of Wisconsin, a non-profit purchasing cooperative for farmers and agribusinesses.

“We are fortunate to have identified these highly experienced individuals to build our cooperative,” Connolly said. “They will work diligently to bring small employers, nonprofits, and individuals innovative products that will help them manage costs and improve health while delivering world class service.”

In February, Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative was awarded a loan from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to build the new nonprofit organization and bring affordable health insurance to the region beginning January 1, 2014.

In addition to the executive team, Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative also recently hired Christopher Meyer as vice president of provider contracting and quality management. Meyer, another seasoned healthcare professional, has spent 19 years in healthcare finance and managed care with payers and providers, the last ten as Columbia St. Mary’s Managed Care Officer.


About Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative

Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative is a member-governed and operated nonprofit health insurance company serving the seven-county (Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha, Ozaukee, Washington and Walworth) area in Southeastern Wisconsin. The Cooperative’s mission is to deliver the finest in affordable health insurance solutions to individuals, small businesses and nonprofits throughout Wisconsin by putting health first. Founded in 2012, the company will begin insuring residents January 1, 2014. For more information, visit