Medicaid leaders are responsible for administering a broad range of services to support the health needs of millions of individuals, while balancing other federal and state priorities around fiscal stewardship, quality assurance, and program integrity. Despite the significant roles they play, however, few opportunities exist to support the leadership development of these senior leaders, especially individuals with diverse backgrounds, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color; people with disabilities; and individuals with lived or personal experience with Medicaid or another publicly financed program. These senior leaders provide long-term continuity for Medicaid programs and serve as the talent pool for future Medicaid directors. Increased investment in Medicaid leadership, especially individuals with diverse identities and experiences, can help states and territories improve the health and well-being of people served by publicly financed health care.

The Medicaid Pathways Program, led by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is a unique initiative designed to bolster the leadership capacity of senior Medicaid leaders. This nine-month leadership training program is designed for individuals who are new to Medicaid leadership roles and/or are interested in advancing to a more senior role in the future. The program supports a diverse cohort of senior leaders within Medicaid, especially individuals with lived experience with Medicaid or another publicly financed program (such as SNAP or TANF). Senior leaders eligible for the program include deputy- and executive-team level positions (e.g., deputy director, chief financial officer, chief medical officer) and senior managers (e.g., bureau/section/unit chiefs, policy directors). The program:

  1. Strengthens participants’ skills and develops their capacity to effectively serve in leadership roles in a complex organization like Medicaid; and
  2. Facilitates the advancement of senior Medicaid leaders, including enhancing opportunities to support more diversity in leadership positions to reflect the communities served by Medicaid.

Selected participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Practice a competency-based leadership model. Participants receive expert training that follows a competency-based leadership framework designed for senior executives working in the public sector.
  • Engage in individualized and group leadership coaching. Participants work with a leadership coach to craft an individualized leadership development plan.
  • Discuss best practices in Medicaid leadership. Participants are exposed to Medicaid leaders and faculty to apply leadership concepts to real-world policy issues pertinent to leading Medicaid programs.
  • Attend group meetings and affinity groups to converse with national experts in an informal setting and connect with fellow participants.

Now in its second year, 40 senior Medicaid agency leaders representing 25 states and diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and lived experience have participated in this executive training program since the program launched in 2021. Learn more about the participants.