Medicaid leaders are responsible for administering services to support the health needs of millions of individuals, while balancing other federal and state priorities around fiscal stewardship, quality assurance, stakeholder engagement, and program integrity. Few opportunities exist, however, to develop the leadership capacity of these senior leaders, especially individuals with diverse backgrounds, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color; people with disabilities; individuals who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community; and individuals with lived or personal experience with Medicaid or other publicly financed programs. 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 enhance their capacity for and improve outcomes.

The Medicaid Pathways Program, led by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is 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 is designed to:

  1. Strengthen participants’ skills and develop their capacity so they can more effectively lead in a complex organization like Medicaid;
  2. Facilitate the advancement of senior Medicaid leaders, including creating opportunities to support more diversity in leadership positions to reflect the communities served by Medicaid; and
  3. Build peer relationships and foster a network of Medicaid leaders for idea sharing, problem-solving, and support.

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 entering its third year, 60 senior Medicaid agency leaders — representing 29 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico — with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and lived experience have participated in this executive training program since the program launched in 2021. Learn more about the participants.